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COMMUNITY NEWS

February 23 , 2017

MCOE Unveils 6th Annual Education Report With Focus on Special Education

The Merced County Office of Education unveiled the 2016 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at an event in Merced today.
The report, sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union, details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Special Education in Merced County and how MCOE works with school districts and several other organizations throughout the county to serve this student population.
The report also highlights the work of school districts throughout Merced County.
Several videos shown at the event showcased the history of special education in Merced County, programs and services available to students with special needs in Merced County and community organizations that work with this student population to enrich their lives.

 

The report can be viewed here: https://issuu.com/mercedcountyofficeofeducation/docs/annualreport16_spreads
Videos from the event can be viewed here:
History: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jv5I3KZb6g
Programs and Services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Azfg7cXyM
Community Partnerships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb32dNKMxZ0

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February 22, 2017

ACE To Resume Full Service February 22nd

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will resume full service of four daily round trips between Stockton and San Jose starting Wednesday, February 22nd. Earlier weather related outages caused service interruptions throughout Northern California, impacting ACE service.
To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com.


Riders are encouraged to stay up to date with any service outages or changes by signing up for our alerts, or following us on Twitterand Facebook.

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February 22, 2017

Thursday Town Hall meeting at Tenaya Middle School

The last Town Hall meeting will be held in South Merced at Tenaya Middle School, 760 8th St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 23.
People in the South Merced neighborhood are encouraged to attend to discuss City issues. Comments will be used in preparation of the budget.
As at prior Town Hall meetings, there will be Spanish and Hmong translators available.


The wrong date for the Tenaya Town Hall meeting was listed in the City newsletter.

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February 18, 2017

Special district results, cannabis consultant
on agenda

Results of the special district elections and hiring a consultant for medical marijuana regulations are on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Meetings are usually held on Monday night, but due to the Presidents Day holiday, the meeting is being held on Tuesday.

Property owners voted on fee increases in three maintenance districts: Oakmont No. 3, Campus North, and Mansionette. Only the Oakmont increase passed with 65.8 percent of the voters approving. The Oakmont assessment will be $89.75 a year, with an annual budget of $27,554.

Because of the failed election the Campus North assessment will remain at $31.30 a year and the annual budget will be $11,000. The Mansionette assessment will stay at $1.14 a year and the budget will be $1,446.

The Council is being asked to hire SCI Consulting Group to prepare regulations and the selection process for the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries. The $108,290 contract will be compatible with Proposition 64, the voter initiative that legalized recreational marijuana.



SCI has experience working with San Luis Obispo County and the cities of Avalon, Coalinga, La Mesa and Vallejo.

Also on the agenda is a presentation from Finance Officer Brad Grant on the CalPers discount rate change and how it will affect the City’s budgeting process.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss performance evaluations of the finance officer and the city manager and meet with property negotiators regarding the price of the Merced Sun-Star building.

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.

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February 18, 2017

Students Celebrate Perfect Attendance

Students at Franklin Elementary School enjoyed the star treatment on Friday. Those who had perfect attendance throughout the entire second quarter had a chance to walk the red carpet – or dance down it – while their classmates and family members cheered for them. They received certificates of achievement and special water bottles featuring their school colors. The Parent Teacher Club also provided juice and snacks during the assemblies, which took place throughout the day for each grade level.

This celebration is one of many ways schools throughout the Merced City School District provide incentives and recognition for outstanding attendance. Those efforts support the district’s goal to maintain an average daily attendance of 97 percent. Research shows good attendance is a critical component of student success.

Franklin Elementary serves students in transitional kindergarten through third grade. More than 100 of those students were recognized for having perfect attending during Friday’s assemblies.



 



Students at Franklin Elementary School



Franklin Elementary Principal Cesar Hernandez hands out
certificates to students


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February 18, 2017

Homeless Count shows number of homeless down

 

By the numbers:
Total homeless in Merced County: 454 (down 12.5% from 2016)*
• Homeless in City of Merced 177 (down 18.8% from 2016)
• Homeless in Los Banos 78 (up 25.8% from 2016)
• Homeless in Atwater/Winton 26 (down 7.1%)
• Homeless veterans 17 (down 32% from 2016)
*156 people live in homeless shelters or housing, 34.4% of the homeless population

12.5% drop in County, 18.8% drop in City of Merced from 2016

The number of homeless people in Merced and Merced County is down, according to the January Homeless Count.

The number of homeless people in the City is down 18.8 percent from last year, with 177 people counted living on the streets of Merced compared to 218 last year.

The total number of homeless people in Merced County living in shelters and on the streets was 454, down 12.5 percent. More than a third, 156 people, were living in shelters or transitional housing programs in the County.

“These are solid, reliable numbers,” said Steve Carrigan, the chair of the Merced County Continuum of Care, the group that organizes the annual count.

Carrigan said there were 166 people conducting face-to-face interviews with people during the count. The previous method was to survey the landscape and make estimates based on what was seen. Previous counts also had far fewer participants. In 2015 there were only 30 people counting in the entire County.

The homeless count numbers were released Friday during the Homeless Summit 2017, sponsored by the Continuum to highlight the programs addressing the needs of the homeless.

There were 17 homeless veterans counted this year, compared to 25 reported in 2016. There was a 81 percent decline in homeless veterans from the 88 reported in the 2015 count.


 

The majority of the homeless on the streets -- 94.3 percent -- were located in the three cities of Merced, Los Banos and Atwater/Winton. There were 78 homeless people counted in Los Banos, up 16 or 25.8 percent from 2016. In Atwater/Winton there were 26 homeless people counted, a decline of two people, or a 7.1 percent.

Carrigan, who also is Merced’s City Manager, said some people don’t believe there is a decline in the number of homeless people in the City because they still see them on street corners, Downtown or in parks.

“The homeless are on the move. We want them to get help. We want them to use the shelters,” he said. “We don’t want people sleeping on the streets, in the bushes or the parks. It’s not humane, it’s not civilized. It’s not anything that we should want for our brothers or sisters, son or daughters.”

“But they have to be trying to get the help we have available, or they need to move on somewhere else,” he said.

More help is on the way. A group of outreach workers will be hitting the streets shortly assessing homeless people and directing them to housing and other help.

“Our new Homeless to Housing Team (H2H) is going to focus on people who have been languishing on the streets,” said Carol Bowman of the United Way. “We will be getting them into permanent housing using the best practices that have been proven to work.”

There will soon be additional housing for the homeless, too. There are seven projects underway in Merced that will provide the homeless with more than 130 beds.

Carrigan said the progress made by the Continuum of Care has helped position the City to receive more than $2 million in state funding.

“The Continuum is effective,” said Joe Colletti,of Urban Initiatives, a consultant for the group. “”This year’s homeless count shows that what the Continuum is doing is working and that next year it will be able to do even more to help end homelessness in Merced County.”

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February 18, 2017

Costa Calls Attention to Dangerous
Flooding in Merced

MERCED, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown regarding the dangerous flood conditions in Merced County. Late on Thursday night, a levee along the Merced River failed because of the high volume of water releases from Lake McClure.

“First let me thank you for including Merced County in your initial request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for January 3rd-12th. However, Merced County’s citizens need your help again,” wrote Rep. Costa. “I want to call your attention to the current flood conditions in Merced County. As storms continue to hit the California Central Valley, state and county emergency officials are working hard to handle the amount of water flowing along the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers. We need you to request additional federal assistance to help deal with flooding as a result of rising water levels.”

Full text of the letter follows:

February 17, 2017

The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

First let me thank you for including Merced County in your initial request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for January 3rd-12th. However, Merced County’s citizens need your help again. I want to call your attention to the current flood conditions in Merced County. As storms continue to hit the California Central Valley, state and county emergency officials are working hard to handle the amount of water flowing along the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers. We need you to request additional federal assistance to help deal with flooding as a result of rising water levels.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

Just last week, I joined officials in Merced County, for a helicopter tour of the flooding and saw first-hand just how severe the flooding is, and anticipate because of the coming storms, for things to get much worse. I can attest to the substantial and widespread nature of the devastation caused by the storms that you indicated to President Trump in your letter of request for a disaster declaration. Causing further and serious issues, just recently the Merced River crested a private ditch gate near Snelling, CA flooding Merced River Road because of the high volume of water releases from Lake McClure.

My staff has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and we have been told you have the flexibility to add more locations and time periods to the Presidential disaster declaration request. Therefore, I am respectfully asking that the recent flood events in Merced County be included in your request for a Presidential disaster declaration.

Thank you for your attention to this severe situation affecting the residents of Merced County.

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February 18, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY DUE TO FLOODING

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between Sandy Mush Road and West Dickenson Ferry Road due to flooding in the area. The closure is a long-term, full highway closure with no estimated time of opening.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays to detour the area. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

DETOUR:

Southbound SR-59
• Take West Dickenson Ferry Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn left and take Gurr Road south to West Sandy Mush Road;
• Turn left and take West Sandy Mush Road east towards SR-59.

Northbound SR-59
• Take West Sandy Mush Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn right and take Gurr Road north to West Dickenson Ferry Road;
• Turn right and take West Dickenson Ferry Road east towards SR-59.


This work is ongoing and is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 165 BETWEEN AUGUST AVENUE
AND BRADBURY ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 165 (SR-165) between August Avenue and Bradbury Road near Hilmar, CA, beginning Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Thursday, February 23, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for highway construction.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road to SR-140 to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect from Tuesday, January 31 through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO
DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM JENSEN ROAD
TO THE STANISLAUS/ SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY LINE

Stanislaus County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from Jensen Road in Newman to the Stanislaus/San Joaquin county line to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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February 18, 2017

MCAG recruiting Executive Director

Merced – Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking an enthusiastic, experienced professional to serve as its new Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and resourceful leader to help shape the future of the agency.
The ideal candidate is an energetic, results-oriented, visionary leader with excellent communication skills and the proven abilities to facilitate change, develop and strengthen relationships, and build consensus with MCAG’s many regional partners. Strong candidates will have a track record of developing effective relationships with a diverse governing body and the leadership and people skills to unite divergent viewpoints into a common goal. The ideal candidate will possess a strong understanding of transportation funding and project delivery; be familiar with regional transportation and land use planning principles associated with demographics, air quality and natural resource protection; and have experience/knowledge of the diverse issues facing suburban and rural areas.

 

MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority.
MCAG is working with CPS HR Consulting to lead this recruitment effort. Please visit http://www.cpshr.us/recruitment_current.html for a full brochure of position details and requirements. The final filing date is Friday, March 17, 2017. For further details or information, please contact Stuart Satow at (916) 471-3134 or ssatow@cpshr.us.

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February 18, 2017

Assemblyman Gray’s New Law Erases
$59 Million in Workers’ Compensation Fraud

 

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced that his Assembly Bill 1244, which was signed into law last year, has prevented more than $59 million in fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claims.

“This is an example of a common sense policy actually working to make doing business in California cheaper and easier,” said Gray. “Since becoming law, we have seen a reduction of more than $1 million of fraud per day.”

The new law requires the state to suspend any medical provider convicted of fraud from participating in the workers’ compensation system. The Division of Workers’ Compensation recently announced it


used the provisions of Gray’s bill to suspend seven fraudulent medical providers who had filed more than 8,500 claims totaling at least $59 million.

“Workers Compensation fraud is out of control, and the problem is growing,” said Gray. “Last year we made significant strides to put crooked doctors and lawyers on notice, and we are starting to see the fruits of that labor. But the fraud is not gone and the fight is not over. I have introduced legislation this year to further protect employers and employees from becoming victims of these con artists.”

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February 17, 2017

 

Costa Statement on Major Disaster Declaration and Upcoming Storms

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement as more storms begin to hit California’s San Joaquin Valley.

“Since January, there have been mandatory evacuations up and down the state of California. In Merced County, families have been forced to leave their homes, and the county estimates that there is $3-3.5 million in damage due to the storms during the beginning of January,” said Rep. Costa. “As a result of the storms events in the past of four weeks, the cost of damages is only continuing to rise, so while I welcome the major disaster declaration issued by Governor Brown and President Trump, it’s simply not enough. The current declaration only enables public entities in Merced, not individuals, to recoup costs from flood damages that took place at the first of the year.”

Rep. Costa continued saying, “As Californians gear up for another storm system today and into the weekend, I will be monitoring flood damages and impacts closely. If the time comes, I will be sending letters and picking up the phone to call Governor Brown and the White House to ensure that residents in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties receive the resources they need to address any catastrophic damages.”


Congressman Jim Costa

On February 14, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the State of California. The major disaster declaration activates support and resources from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to counties in California that have affected by storm events that took place January 3 through January 12. Merced County is one of 34 counties that are eligible to apply for public assistance grants. For-profit entities and individuals are not eligible to apply for public assistance grants.

Separately, on February 14, President Trump issued an emergency declaration for Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties for storms events that began on February 7 and is continuous.

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February 17, 2017


ACE To Run One Train Friday, February 17th

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run one train on Friday, February 17th. ACE is negotiating with Union Pacific to run two trains on Monday, February 20th for the President’s Day holiday. Weather related delays in repairs to Union Pacific tracks are still a factor.
The planned ACE schedule through Monday is below.
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
For riders still impacted by the service changes, there are some other local alternatives to explore.

Local Car Pools: My Commute Connection
Bus: RTD Route 150 (bus from Stockton and south San Joaquin County to BART)
Capitol Corridor will honor validated ACE tickets between Fremont and San Jose during the duration of the outage

To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 16, 2017

Get ready for more stormy weather

A new series of winter storms are expected to hit Merced bringing several inches of rain to the already soaked City. Emergency officials caution people to be prepared for potential flooding.

“City crews are checking the City’s storm drains and gutters for debris that could lead to street flooding and looking for other weather hazards,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “Creeks running through the City will be monitored once the storm event begins to watch for potential flooding.”

Residents should be prepared in case of a potential power outages, and the possibility of high, fast rising water that could cause localized flooding. Drivers are cautioned to slow down in the rain and on wet streets.

Sandbags are available at Fire Station 51, located at 99 E. 16th St. Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City and people need to bring a shovel.

The City has stored sand in 10 locations throughout the City and sandbags are available at Fire Station 51 during regular business hours. Sandbags also can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. A map showing the sand locations is available at the City website, www.cityofmerced.org.

The City website also has links to the National Weather Service website that contains detailed information on the storm, including forecast information, radar maps, and any warnings that have been issued. The City website also contains links to information regarding water levels on Bear Creek and other local streams.



Sand distribution points are:
• Buena Vista and Sarasota
• Parsons Av. and Brookdale Dr.
• Parsons Av. And Oregon Dr.
• Childs Ave. and G St.
• 1200 block of W. 9th St.
• W.N. Bear Creek and Shadow Brook Dr.
• Cheney Dr. and Buckner Rd.
• East Side of Mansionette between Kingfisher & Mercy Ave.
• Campus Dr. and Line Dr.
• W. 24th and K St.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

City offices closed Monday for the holiday

City of Merced offices are closed Monday, Feb. 20, to celebrate the Presidents Day holiday.
The City Council meeting regularly scheduled for Monday will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
There will be no refuse collection on Monday. Trash pickup will be delayed by one day for the entire week.

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February 16, 2017

CALTRANS INSTALLING SAFETY FEATURES ON 32 MILES OF
STATE ROUTE 33 IN STANISLAUS AND MERCED COUNTIES

Stanislaus/Merced County – Caltrans is preparing for a project that will add centerline, edgeline and shoulder rumble strips to 32 miles of State Route 33 (SR-33).

The project is scheduled to begin the week of February 20, and be completed June 2017. No work is scheduled for Memorial Day (May 29).

Crews are scheduled to work Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. One way-traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15 minute delays.

Work will be performed at the following locations:

• In Merced County, from McCabe Road to SR-140, a total of 9 miles;

• In Stanislaus County, rumble strips will be added from Jensen Road to Poppy Avenue, and from Walnut Avenue to the San Joaquin County line, or 23 miles.

This $516,000 project has been awarded to Linear Options of Durham.

Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave the traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.

Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction-related issues.


For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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February 16, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Legislation to Strengthen Child Marijuana Protections

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 729, to combat the purchase and consumption of marijuana by children and people under the age of 21.

“With the legalization of recreational use marijuana under Proposition 64, it is more important than ever that safeguards are put in place to ensure marijuana stays out of the hands of children,” said Gray. “Anyone that has read the proposition can see the chapter titled ‘Protecting Minors’ is sparse on details to actually accomplish that goal.”

AB 729 will fill in the gaps in Proposition 64 to prevent the purchase and consumption of marijuana by people under the age of 21 by applying similar laws on the books for alcohol and tobacco to marijuana. Specifically, the bill:
• Requires mandatory license suspension or revocation for repeat offenders who sell marijuana to a person under 21.
• Allows law enforcement to enter and conduct inspections of licensed locations.
• Adds implementation language for law enforcement to conduct underage sting operations.

 


• Requires licensed retailers to maintain an unobstructed view for law enforcement into their establishment.
• Allows retailers to seize false identification.
• Requires cultivators and retailers to post a “No Person Under 21 Allowed” sign outside and inside their business.
• Adds playground, hospital, and church to the list of locations from which a licensee may not be located within 600 feet.

“The California Legislature, and specifically the Governmental Organization Committee which I chair, has a long history of regulating age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco,” said Gray. “We have passed a number of laws to successfully reduce the use of these products by children. It is incumbent on the Legislature now to ensure the same child protections are enacted into law for California’s newest age-restricted product – marijuana.”

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February 16, 2017

 

ACE To Run Modified Service 2/16, 2/17 and 2/20

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run modified service on Thursday, February 16th, Friday, February 17th, and Monday, February 20th. The trains that will be in operation are:
Thursday, February 16th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06

Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 15, 2017

Costa Nominates El Capitan High School Student to the U.S. Air Force Academy

MERCED, CA — On Friday, February 10th, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) visited El Capitan High School to meet with Ethan Torres. Ethan is a senior and the first student at El Capitan High School to ever receive a congressional nomination to a military academy. Ethan was nominated to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The young men and women who receive a congressional nomination to attend our nation’s military academies are well-rounded, bright, and committed, and Ethan is no exception,” said Rep. Costa. “I’m confident that Ethan has a great future ahead of him. I commend Principal Shaw and his faculty and staff for always striving to ensure that their students are well-educated and prepared for the future.”

“It’s an honor to be nominated to the Air Force Academy,” said Ethan Torres, student at El Capitan High School and nominee for the U.S. Air Force Academy. “I would like to thank Congressman Costa and my family, friends, teachers, and school for all of the support.”

"We are extremely proud of Ethan for being the first El Capitan student to receive this recognition, said Principal Shaw, El Capitan High School. “Ethan is a positive influence on campus and is leaving his legacy by receiving this nomination. He has set an example for future students as to what is possible for their lives."

Congressman Costa joined Ethan Torres, his parents, Principal Shaw, and teachers for lunch to celebrate Ethan’s nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

 


Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, Principal Shaw, and Torres Family

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, El Capitan Faculty and Staff

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

picture to left

Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, and Arturo Fuentes (Senior Counselor, El Capitan High School)

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February 15 , 2017

 

ANNUAL DANCE KALEIDOSCOPE COMES TO MERCED COLLEGE STAGE

The best young talent from area dance studios will perform when Dance Kaleidoscope returns to the Merced College Theater on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Presented by the Merced Dance Teachers Cooperative and Merced College Community Services, Dance Kaleidoscope is the collaborative effort of local dance studios. The event showcases many of the young talent being trained in the area’s premier dance studios. Dance Kaleidoscope performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Dance Kaleidoscope features dancers from Denisa’s School of Dance, Mariposa Academy of Performing Arts, Merced Academy of Dance, STEPS Dance Studio, The Dancers’ Studio, and The South Pacific Dance Company.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for Merced College student body card holders, children under 12, military, and seniors.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Merced College Business Resource Center located at 630 W. 19th Street, online at mccd.tix.com, or at the Merced College Theater Box Office one hour before the show.
For more information, call 209.384.6224.
Dance February 2016

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February 15 , 2017

 

Merced County Fair Announces
2017 Entertainment Line-Up
Great Musical Entertainment and Action-Packed Grandstand Shows Are a Winning Combination
for the Fair

 

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, February 13, 2017…The Merced County Fair is excited to announce its full entertainment line-up for the 2017 Table Mountain FREE Concert Series presented by Coors Light, which is held on the Outdoor Theatre Stage, as well as its Grandstand Entertainment presented by Table Mountain Casino, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Coors Light and Rancho San Miguel Markets.
“We switched a couple things up with entertainment and I’m really excited to see how the community responds to it,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of The Merced County Fair. “This year we are bringing in a Michael Jackson tribute show on opening night to kick of the Fair. Then we will also have a Bull Competition in the Grandstand where you can see young bucking bulls graded before they enter into the rodeo circuit. It’s unlike anything we have had before and has really gained in popularity.”
DATE -- TIME -- SHOW -- ARTIST WEBSITE:
June 7-- 8:30 p.m. -- I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience
http://iamkingtheshow.com/
June 8 -- 8:30 p.m. -- John Michael Montgomery
http://www.johnmichael.com/
June 9 -- 8:30 p.m. -- WAR
http://www.war.com/
June 10 -- 8:30 p.m. -- Moonshine Bandits
http://moonshinebandits.com/
June 11 -- 7:30 p.m. -- Noel Torres (Show starts at 7:30 p.m.)
https://www.facebook.com/NoelTorresMusica


Admission to these concerts is free with your paid Fair admission, which is $8 for Adults and $4 for kids 12 and under (remember, kids 5 and under are always free) at the gate entrance. Save big on your Fair admission and carnival rides now with a special, online only pre-sale starting Wednesday, March 15 at 10 a.m. Pre-sale Admission tickets will be just $6 for Adults; Season Passes are only $25 and you can visit the Fair every day if you want; and Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristbands are just $25 and are good for any one day of the Fair! Pre-sale tickets can be purchased www.MercedCountyFair.com.
Last year the Grandstand shows boosted the biggest crowds in years and part of that can be attributed to the new mix of shows such as the return of monster trucks. Merced County Fair Management expects big crowds again with this year’s great line-up. All shows begin at 7 p.m. and are $5. Children 5 years and under are free. DATE -- SHOW -- EVENT -- WEBSITE:
Wednesday, June 7 -- Auto Racing
http://www.racemerced.com
Thursday, June 8 -- WGAS Motorsports’ Monster Trucks,
Free Style Moto X & Tuff Truck Racing
https://www.wgasmotorsports.com
Friday, June 9 -- Bull Competition
http://www.goldcoastbuckingbulls.com
Saturday, June 10 -- Valley Tractor Pullers’ Tractor Pull
http://www.vtpapullers.org



MORE INFROMATION ON OUTDOOR THEATRE ARTISTS:

I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience takes the audience on a musical and visual journey into the world of the “King of Pop” featuring an incredible cast of talented musicians and Broadway and Las Vegas dancers to bring Jackson to life! These talented tribute artists sing live while mastering the intense dancing that Jackson was so famous for. It’s a show you don’t want to miss featuring hits like “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Man in the Mirror” and many more!

John Michael Montgomery’s career has spanned more than two decades, featured more than 30 top Billboard country chart singles, include seven that reached #1: "I Love the Way You Love Me," "I Swear,” "Be My Baby Tonight," "If You've Got Love," "I Can Love You Like That," "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," and "The Little Girl." Many have described his ability to connect to the audience and relate to fans as one of the many reasons he has had such a long, successful career.

Formed in 1969, WAR was one of the most popular funk groups of the '70s and also one of the most eclectic, freely melding soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae and rock influences into an effortlessly funky whole. WAR’s career spans more than four decades and hits have included: "Spill the Wine," "The World Is a Ghetto," "The Cisco Kid," "Why Can't We Be Friends?," "Low Rider," and "Summer." Over time, members of WAR have changed but the unique musical style is unwavering, consistently led by founding member Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan.

High School friends from Los Banos, Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren and Brett “Bird” Brooks first formed their country-rap group Moonshine Bandits in 1999 and later released their first album Soggy Crackerz in 2003. Formed at a time when only Bubba Sparxxx, Haystak and a few other artists were mixing country, rap, and rock – the Moonshine Bandits stood out with their unique sound, energetic show and outlaw music anthems. Their music has included collaborations across musical genres; Bubba Sparxxx on their 2006 Prohibition album, as did Danny Boone from the group Rehab. Bay area rapper, E-40, lent his skills to 2009's Divebars and Truckstops album. In 2011, Moonshine Bandits released Whiskey and Women, then in 2014, Calicountry was released and reached #22 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and then Blacked Out (2015) topped out at #13.

Regional Mexican singer and songwriter Noel Torres from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, grew up around music with his father singing at family gatherings and parties. Influenced by the music of Los Tucanes de Tijuana and Ramon Ayala, Noel Torres loved to sing romantic ballads and corridos. Torres released his first album, Al Frente y de Frente in 2011, with its single, "El Tiempo Contigo" landing on the charts. He followed quickly with a second album that year entitled Llegamos, Estamos y Seguimos. The first single, "La Guanábana," spent 20 weeks on the airplay charts and was nominated for Corrido of the Year at the 2012 Premios de la Radio awards. A second single, "Sigo Sencillo," spent almost six months on the chart. He released his third album La Estructura in 2013 and then his fourth album La Balanza in 2014, off which he earned five top singles including "Me Interestas" and "Para Que Tantos Besos.” Recent singles include "No Andan Canado Venados" and "Pensarte."

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 126 years of operation this year. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President; Flip Hassett, First Vice President; Emily Haden, Second Vice President; Lori Gallo; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; Carol Sartori-Silva; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2017 Merced County Fair will run June 7 - 11. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter (@Merced_CA_Fair) and now Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

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February 15 , 2017

Annual Parent Institute Conference Aims to Empower, Educate Parents

About 600 people are expected to take part in the Parent Institute Dream Big Conference Feb. 25 at Merced’s Golden Valley High School. The fourth-annual event staged by the Merced County Office of Education and several other agencies stresses the role parents have in raising their children.
Christie Hendricks, MCOE assistant superintendent in charge of the Early Education department, said students from birth to college age are targeted at the conference.
“There’s something for everyone regardless of the age of the children,” Hendricks said. “This is an opportunity for parents to come together and learn about programs and organizations throughout the county.”
Participants from Merced, Madera, Stanislaus, Tulare and Fresno counties are expected for the event that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school, 2121 E. Childs Ave.
Rosa Barragan, MCOE program manager for resource, referral and alternative payment, said the goal is to have more than 100 exhibitors, including the Livingston Medical Group, all area high schools, UC Merced, Merced College, the county’s Human Services Agency, parenting initiatives, mental health, credit unions, law enforcement, special education and migrant education programs.
Barragan said about 25 workshops will be conducted in English, Spanish and Hmong languages. Barragan and Sol Rivas, a former Head Start assistant director and educational consultant, are co-chairmen of the event, which started out four years ago with about 400 parents participating.
All of the exhibits, events and presentations are tied to supporting families in some way, Hendricks said.
Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch of Texas, a veteran, author and motivational speaker, and university professor Dr. Francisco Reveles of Yuba City are keynote speakers for the conference.
Barragan said one of the biggest takeaways from the conference is for parents to learn about what’s available in the community and how to connect with these organizations.
“We don’t have all the answers. It’s such a great satisfaction when parents come up to you to thank you. It’s a great feeling,” Barragan said.
Hendricks said conference preparation is a yearlong planning process. She said the conference is an uplifting experience and a day where parents are empowered to get and stay engaged with their children throughout their educational careers.
She stressed how much children look up to their parents and what role models they are in their eyes. The keynote speakers will focus on adults who made a difference in their lives, she added.
Barragan said part of the conference is a strand for 13 to 17 year olds. About 40 teens are expected to participate in concurrent goal-setting activities.
Hendricks said the “dream big” theme came to pass since every parent has big dreams for their children. The conference is a reminder that no dream is too big for their children and parents should encourage their children to reach for higher aspirations.
“No one has done anything of this scale. There’s nothing else like this,” Hendricks said.
For more information about registering for the conference, call (209) 381-6793.

Merced County ROP Students Participate in Several California Competitions

Students from two Merced County high schools brought home key awards from a recent Bakersfield conference focusing on marketing and virtual enterprise business programs.
Dos Palos High School students of business teacher Jenny Hunger and Atwater High School students in Elaine Post’s Regional Occupational Program marketing class excelled at the California State Virtual Enterprise Trade Show Jan. 18-19 at the Rabobank Convention Center in downtown Bakersfield.
Nineteen of the 21 Dos Palos juniors and seniors took part in the two-day event. They placed first overall for their booth, second place for business card, sixth place for their website and eighth place for their catalog, along with honorable mentions for their marketing and sales presentations.
Fourteen sophomores through seniors from Atwater took a first place award for their prowess in a hypothetical job interview for a bank and for a payroll supervisor position.
They also received honorable mentions for a commercial for their virtual enterprise firm Green-E Apparel and for a human relations manual.
Hunger said 150 schools with 1,500 students from throughout California participated in the annual show. She said each year her students get a little better with their products and presentations. Through their “Hydrus” company, the students developed a “shower bomb” product containing corn starch, baking soda and essential oils which is activated in a shower. The students have been selling their product as a fund-raising effort.
Post said students can take her ROP marketing class each year and 10 of her students will return next year. Her students have been marketing polo shirts, T-shirts and hoodies made from recycled water bottles originally developed by a South Carolina firm.
In another competition in the Bay Area in January, two of Lisa Benson’s students in her marketing foundations community class at Merced High School qualified as overall finalists at the recent DECA Northern California District Career Development Conference in San Ramon.
Joshua Rashe was named a finalist in the principles of marketing competition and Alex Gonzales earned similar honors in the principles of business management category. About 800 Northern California high school students competed in the Jan. 13-15 competition.
Benson said DECA programs prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management areas. Eight MHS sophomores through seniors accompanied Benson to the conference. Students took part in exams and role-playing competition during the event.
Seven former DECA students accompanied students as alumni mentors. She said her students enjoyed networking with other students during the conference and speaking competitions serve to raise the students’ confidence.

 

Le Grand Restorative Justice Helps to Resolve Conflict, Create Positive Culture

Six years ago the Le Grand Union High School District started a program that has had a profound effect on the way students interact with each other and their teachers. It’s called restorative justice and other school systems want to know how it works.
Superintendent Donna Alley said before restorative justice was launched, students did not have the tools to resolve conflicts.
“The culture here is more peaceful. I would say it didn’t happen overnight,” Alley said. “This is about relationships. There are no programs that change children, but relationships do. Students thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level.”
When an incident occurs in a classroom, instead of sending the offending student to the office, he or she is sent to the “thinkery” or a place where they can reflect on what they did wrong. A meeting is set up between the student and the teacher and provides opportunities for the student to be heard by the teacher and vice-versa, Principal Javier Martinez explained.
An eight-student panel called the Restorative Justice League listens to the issues that come up and helps decide how to solve the problem, Alley said. She is encouraged by statistics recorded before and after the program was instituted in 2011.
In the 2010-2011 school year, 80 students were suspended. In the 2015-2016 school year, only two suspensions were recorded. In 2010-2011, there were eight student expulsions; five years later, there are none.
Alley said restorative justice is keeping students in school and engaged in education.
The respect between students and staff also has grown dramatically.
Educators from Utah, Arizona, Fresno, as well as Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II and representatives of the governor’s office have visited Le Grand to learn about the program. The district has 504 students from ninth through 12th grades.
Conflict resolution leader Fernando Maciel facilitates mediations between students and teachers. Martinez said what they find many times is the circumstances that prompted the classroom issue emanated from outside the school setting.
“A lot of times in school you want instant resolution,” Alley said. “That can’t happen instantly; you have to be patient. We try to resolve the issue within a 24-hour period. With student-to-student issues, we try to remediate them right away. Before restorative justice, the problem would have festered before they forgot what was going on.”
Often students say they overreacted to a situation and apologize. The students shake on it and move forward.
“We see this as a process that helps students succeed, not just in school but in life. We started a mentoring program with seniors and incoming freshmen. They meet for academic support, advice and to address social concerns,” Alley said.
Martinez puts it another way.

McSwain to Celebrate Reading is Fun Week

McSwain School students will celebrate the wonder of books Feb. 21-24 during Reading is Fun Week.
Librarian Ronda Douglas said a number of events are planned in the 17th annual observance to accentuate the importance of reading.
“Books matter; they are valuable. We’re just celebrating reading,” Douglas said. “We have seen a decline in reading. We want our students to have a balanced educational experience and reading always has first place.”
Reading is Fun Week will include community members and area educators reading to students along with the appearance of Los Angeles actor Tom Katsis, who is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. As guest presenter, Katsis will speak at three assemblies and meet with third grade students who have been reading biographies of famous people, including President Lincoln. He is expected to share his experiences researching the life of Lincoln with the students, Douglas said.
Thursday night will be Camp Read-A-Lot. The family literacy night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will include parents meeting with students and then enjoying a campfire-like experience in the West Campus Cafeteria, with storytelling and singing led by Douglas and the library staff, along with district Superintendent Helio Brasil.
Douglas said today’s students are mightily distracted with many things competing for their attention and more work is needed to get children to want to read. She said parents are encouraged to read with their children at home and the importance of reading is becoming a culture at school.
Friday’s all-school readathon is being conducted in conjunction with the McSwain Foundation. Students have garnered pledges for the number of books they have read during the day. In years past, McSwain students have raised between $10,000 and $15,000 for the foundation through their reading.
The library also is hosting a book drive. Donations of like-new or gently used picture books or early readers are being encouraged from fourth through eighth grade students who have outgrown them.

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February 14, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Earn High Honors at State Competitions

Written by: Atwater FFA

Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students filled a charter bus and joined (a record) 1300+ high school students representing nearly 100 high schools throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day on February 4th. The FFA Field Day marks the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various agriculture skill contests. In Modesto, six Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure students completed along with 30 other high school teams from as far south as San Luis Obispo to as far north as Orland at the annual Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 2nd overall with Dillon Guillen (1st overall), Kelso Kamesch (2nd overall), Jennifer Valazquez, and Luz Soto leading the team. Other contestants included Felicity Garcia, Lj Sanchez, and Vanessa Verela. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. “We have a young, enthusiastic, and dedicated team that is developing their skills for future success,” said coach and FFA advisor Dave Gossman. Kendyll Cruz (4th overall), Odalys De La Torre (8th overall), Callie Norton, Leivy Craig, Luke van Warmerdam, Jose Montanez, Joseph Hayward, and Natalie Frontella competed in the contest.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. “This contest is all about ‘hands-on’ application of skills,” said coach and FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “We look forward to the opportunity to continue developing our skills and competing against other highly skilled individuals and teams throughout the upcoming contests.” Members of the Ag Mechanics team included Daniel Mesa (2nd overall), Nathaniel Cavallero (6th overall), Joel Rojas, and Daisy Flores-Mota. Other students who competed included Justin Sorginson.


The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team placed 2nd overall with a team composed of Arely Venegas (3rd overall), Samantha Theodozio (9th overall), Ariana Freitas, and Liliana Vargas. The students competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills. Other students who competed included Jessica Prado and Marissa Nuno.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team placed 6tht overall as they demonstrated their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair. The team was composed of Zion Brigham, Ricardo Ortega, Madison Hall, and Mathew Rogers. “The opportunity for our students to be exposed to hundreds of other high school students engaged in skill application competition generated tremendous enthusiasm from the students,” said coach and FFA advisor Shelby West.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team had a partial team complete with Daryl Dorsey placing 1st high individual and Jeff Clark placing 2nd high individual overall with their teammates competing at another contest. Both students demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

Job Interview contest was led by a 9th place individual finish by Daisy Flores. The contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment. Kayla Briscoe placed 6th overall in the FFA Creed contest. Other participants included Emily Junez, Kaya Briscoe-Mattis, Ana Lozano.


Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students competed in various agriculture industry related skill-based contests among 1300+ other state-wide high school agriculture students at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day.


The Atwater High School FFA Agriculture Mechanics team comprised of (left to right) Justin Sarginson, Daniel Mesa, Daisy Flores-Mota, Joel Rojas, and Nathaniel Cavallero placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.


The Atwater High School FFA Agronomy team comprised of (left to right) Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, LJ Sanchez, Felicity Garcia, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Luz Soto placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed 4th in their group at the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational with a team composed of Alyssa Carrillo, Mariah Castro, Michael Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, and Mayra Edith Alvarez.

This was the first contest of the year for the FFA Career Development Events (CDE’s) throughout the state of California. The primary judging season begins March 5th at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2017 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry sectors.

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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February 14, 2017


ACE Service Canceled Through Wednesday, February 15th

Due to persistent and developing weather factors, as well as additional unforeseen service disruptions since yesterday, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger service will be canceled through Wednesday, February 15, 2017. We will continue to provide service-related updates as information becomes available.


We are rerouting trains and diligently working to restore service to normal operations. We sincerely apologize for the disruptions and impact to our customers, commuter partners and the communities we serve.

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February 1 , 2017

MCOE, Preschool Network Host Workshop to Focus on Brain Development in Young Children

Transitional kindergarten and pre-kindergarten staff members can take part in a daylong workshop on March 25 in Madera to explore toxic stress, brain development and the importance of developing close relationships with young children.
The California Preschool Instructional Network’s social-emotional development arm from Region 7, which includes Merced County, will hear Dr. Ross A. Thompson speak at a session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Madera County Office of Education, 1105 S. Madera Ave., Madera.
The event is sponsored by the Merced County Office of Education’s Early Education office.
Dr. Thompson’s expertise focuses on early socio-emotional development in building close relationships.
His research explores the influence of relational processes on emotional growth, conscience development, emotion regulation, and self-understanding in young children. He has worked on early childhood mental health, school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention and research ethics.

 

Second, he has worked on the applications of developmental relational science to public policy problems concerning children and families, such as early childhood mental health, the constituents of school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention, and research ethics.
For more information about registration, contact Kathleen Nevatt at the Merced County Office of Education at (209) 381-6785.

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February 14, 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The latest numbers from the Homeless Count will be presented during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.

People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 14, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Introduces Service to Civilian Act

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of the Service to Civilian Act to assist retiring military servicemembers as they transition into civilian life.

“Despite having the nation’s largest veteran population, California’s policies are increasingly driving veterans out of the state,” said Gray. “Our policies are especially burdensome for newly retired, post-9/11 veterans just transitioning to civilian life.”

Unlike most other states, California provides no form of tax exemption for military retirement pay. Gray previously introduced legislation to fully exempt military retirement pay from the state income tax, but that measure stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to cost concerns.

“I continue to believe California should not balance its checkbook on the backs of veterans,” said Gray. “Military retirement pay should be fully tax exempt as it is in 20 other states. As we continue to make that case in Sacramento, the Service to Civilian Act is an important first step.”

 

The Service to Civilian Act would provide a depreciating tax exemption over the course of the first five years after a veteran retires from military service. The bill calls for 100 percent of military retirement pay to be exempt from state income tax in the first year of retirement, 80 percent the second year, 60 percent the third year, 40 percent the fourth year, and 20 percent the fifth year.

“Retiring from the service creates an incredible amount of uncertainty for military families,” continued Gray. “Newly retired veterans are less likely to have civilian employment or a place to live, and are more likely to struggle with post-traumatic stress and the lack of military structure. The Service to Civilian Act will give our veterans a running start at a time they and their families need it most.”

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February 14, 2017

Costa Statement on USDA Recommendation to Establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommendation to establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO).

“For years I have advocated and worked hard to give California dairy producers the opportunity to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order,” said Rep. Costa. “Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture released a proposal that would allow California's dairy producers to make their own determination of what is best for California’s dairy industry. Dairy producers have the opportunity to evaluate what joining the Federal Milk Marketing Order system will mean for their bottom line. I will continue working with California’s dairymen and cooperatives as they assess the USDA proposal and decide on the merits of remaining independent or joining the 10 other Federal Milk Marketing Orders around the country.”

In 2013, Rep. Costa joined in introducing the California Federal Milk


Congressman Jim Costa

Marketing Act to allow California dairy producers to decide if they want to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order. Rep. Costa advocated for the provisions in the legislation during Farm Bill negotiations, and the legislation was included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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February 11, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between Sandy Mush Road and West Dickenson Ferry Road for road repairs due to flooding in the area. The closure is a long-term, full highway closure with no estimated time of opening.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

DETOUR:

Southbound SR-59
• Take West Dickenson Ferry Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn left and take Gurr Road south to West Sandy Mush Road;
• Turn left take West Sandy Mush Road east towards SR-59.
Westbound SR-59
• Take West Sandy Mush Road west towards Gurr Road;
• Turn right and take Gurr Road north towards West Dickenson Ferry Road;
• Turn right and take West Dickenson Ferry Road to SR-59.

This work is ongoing and is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM CAMPBELL STREET TO FOWLER AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 165 (SR-165) from Campbell Street (south of Hilmar) to Fowler Avenue. Work will occur as follows:
• The right shoulder on northbound SR-165 at Campbell Street will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.;

• The northbound and southbound lanes on SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will alternately close with one-way traffic control on Monday, February 13, 2017, from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m.;

• The right shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD TO
STATE ROUTE 120 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from Bear Valley Road to SR-120 for drainage work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materialsand construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree workCrews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.


For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 

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February 11, 2017

Merced County Office of Education Announces Speech Festival Winners

The Merced County Office of Education announced the winners of the Merced County Speech Festival at an awards ceremony Feb. 8.
The competition was held in late January for fourth- through eighth-grade students and 23 schools from 11 school districts in Merced County participated in the event with 175 students competing.
Awards for the top three students in each grade and honorable mentions were presented at the Clark and Newbold Rooms at MCOE.
This year, speeches for the festival were an open platform. Students gave speeches about any subject using selected categories from the Writing Festival. The speech selections were: Persuasive, Tall Tale, Legend, Fable or a Report of Information.
Students stood in front of the audience and a panel of three judges — some memorized their speeches, some used props and others had vivid gesturing and staging.
First place winners were invited to give their award winning speeches at the awards reception.

Click here to see:

2017 Merced County Speech Festival Winners

 


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION



Winners from the 2017 Merced County Speech Festival pose for a photo with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson and MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia.


Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District winners pose with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson.


McSwain 6th grader Leah Chapman won first place for her speech about Chinese New Year.

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February 11, 2017

WAHNETTA HALL TRUST FUND APPLICATIONS DUE

The Wahnetta Hall Trust Fund was established in 1995. The Trust provisions require that the City of Merced use a specific portion of the trust for an endowment fund with income being used to establish and maintain a mini-train system and/or a band concert program in Applegate Park.
The Merced City Council annually disburses these funds to organizations that meet eligibility criteria and can perform the services as described in the Trust. This year there is $1,200 available for distribution. Past recipients have included the Kiwanis Club of Greater Merced for the mini-train operation, as well as the Merced County


Regional Arts Council, Merced Symphony Association, and Merced Community Band for band concerts at the Merced Open Air Theater in Applegate Park.
The application deadline for 2017 funding is March 17, 2017. Non-profit organizations interested in applying for funding should submit their letters of request to Mike Conway, Director, Office of Recreation, 678 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340. Please call 385-6298 for additional information on eligibility criteria and application requirements.

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February 11, 2017

COURT ISSUES FINAL JUDGEMENT AND INJUNCTION
IN SIESTA MOTAL PROSTITUTION ABATEMENT CASE

Merced County Superior Court Judge Brian McCabe issued a Permanent Injunction this week against the Siesta Motel, its owners and operators and ordered that they abate any illegal activities occurring on the premises, including any and all prostitution related activity.

The Motel has been on police radar over the last few years for being a place where prostitution, assaults, robberies, and drug-related activities take place, resulting in the Merced Police Department completing over 100 police reports from crimes that occurred on the Property from 2011-2014, said Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall.

“Crimes like prostitution, and drug dealing are quality of life offenses that can destroy neighborhoods and make it more difficult for neighboring businesses to succeed, said District Attorney Larry Morse II. We appreciate the focus Chief Andrade and his officers have brought to these urban flight offenses and we will continue to work with the City of Merced and the Merced Police Department to prosecute those who profit from prostitution and drug dealing, Morse added.”

The injunction will require numerous improvements to the property to address public safety and security, and to prevent prostitution and sex trafficking at this location Wall said. The motel owners will be

 

required to maintain a high resolution camera security system with remote access by the Merced Police Department and allow them unrestricted access to the property for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this injunction he added.

According to Wall, the injunction requires the Defendants to maintain an on-site manager at all times, to allow no loitering, for each resident guest to be identified upon entry onto the property, for towing of all unauthorized vehicles, for arrests of trespassers, record retention and access, no rentals for periods of less than 12 hours, termination of unit rentals for illegal activity, an agreed “do not rent” list, ample and abundant high intensity lighting, and costs to the City Police of $5,345 for investigation and remediation of the nuisance conditions on the property.

The judgements this week confirm several years of legal efforts in this case, and since the filing, the incidents of prostitution and related crimes have greatly diminished at the Motel, said Wall.

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February 10, 2017

Date Set for Bike Park Community Design Meeting

The City of Merced is interested in adding a unique bike park in Fahren’s Park that will appeal to people of all ages and abilities from Merced and regionally. A community design meeting will be held on Thursday, March 2, from 6-8PM at the Civic Center, 678 W. 18th Street to gather input from the community on the design. Bike riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to attend.


For more information call
Parks and Recreation at 385-6235.

Click here to see flyer

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February 9, 2017


A CREDIT SCAM HAS MADE ITS WAY
TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY

Following the recent arrest of two women who tried to use bogus paystubs to gain “pre-approval” for financing at a car dealership, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office is advising local businesses to be extra vigilant in processing credit applications.

The first woman to try using the fraudulent paystubs was successful in gaining “pre-approval” for a car and was able drive it off of the lot, said Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby. The financing company did decline the application due to the documents being fraudulent, but only after she made off with the car. The second woman was denied credit by the finance manager after he recognized the paystub and knew it was also fraudulent.

The paystubs were created on a website called calistubs.com and will often bear a watermark with the web address, as pictured below. The website allows users to create a paystub in a matter of seconds that may look genuine and print out the same, said Colby. Verifying employment information on a paystub prior to releasing vehicles or merchandise on a credit approval is one way to help protect yourself against fraud, he added.

If you have been a victim of this scam you can contact Anna Hazel, an investigator from Merced District Attorney’s Office at (209) 385-7381 ext. 4256.


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February 9, 2017

Costa Continues to Serve on House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) announced that in the 115th Congress, he will continue to serve on the U.S. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees.

Rep. Costa will maintain his position as the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. The subcommittee oversees livestock, dairy, and poultry issues along with foreign agriculture assistance and trade promotion programs. Costa will also serve on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, Research that oversees specialty crops, plant pests and diseases, research, and education.

Costa will continue to serve on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans and Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Water, Power, and Oceans is responsible for the nation’s water resources, interstate water, and ocean issues. The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee oversees energy production and mining on federal lands, both on and off-shore.

“In order to maintain and grow our San Joaquin Valley economy, we must have a secure water supply and a thriving agriculture industry,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “As a member of both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, I have the distinct opportunity to advocate for many policies that impact our Valley, like working to ensure a reliable water supply and supporting the San Joaquin Valley


Congressman Jim Costa

farmers who produce the highest quality food and fiber for the world. Additionally, I will be a leader in negotiating the 2018 Farm Bill, which will not only have a direct effect on farming, ranching, and dairy operations, but also on funding for nutrition assistance, conservation, and rural development programs.”

Rep. Costa has served on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees since he took office in 2005. As a third-generation farmer who was raised on a dairy farm in the San Joaquin Valley, Costa advocates for policies in both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees that ensure the future economic viability of the Valley.

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February 8, 2017

Costa Says Attacks against High-Speed Rail are Political and False

Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to a letter sent to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao from the California Republican delegation regarding high-speed rail.

“California is leading our nation in investments to improve our transportation infrastructure with the construction of high-speed rail. In 2015, the high-speed rail groundbreaking took place in my district, and two years later, over 119 miles are now under construction. As a direct result, the San Joaquin Valley’s economy has experienced increased job creation and business growth.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues in California are continuing their political attacks on the High Speed Rail Authority in a public letter to Secretary Chao, and the notion that funding for High Speed Rail is a waste of federal tax payer dollars is simply false. The dollar expenditures that are used to back their claims are simply inaccurate.

“The positive impacts of High Speed Rail construction can be seen in the Central Valley and throughout California. We can and we must


Congressman Jim Costa


·improve our state’s transportation systems and high-speed rail will provide easy connectivity through California, providing a state-of-the-art transit system across the state, from Los Angeles to San Diego and further north to San Francisco and Sacramento.”

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February 7, 2017

DANGEROUS COCKROACH POWDER SOLD AT
LOS BANOS FLEA MARKET

An illegal cockroach powder that has been sold recently at the Merced Spring Flea Market is not safe for humans or animals and should not be used in the home, District Attorney Larry Morse II announced today. The Merced District Attorney’s Office became aware of this potential health hazard after a woman came forward and said that she had purchased the powder at the Flea Market.

The powder was advertised on Face book, in a Spanish magazine, as well as on business cards that were left on doorsteps, with the names “El Mejor Remedio” or “El Mejor Polvo.” The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office has arrested Julio Pino Reyes for making, advertising and selling the powder.

If you did purchase and use this product keep it in a dry location and away from other materials Morse advised. Sean Runyon from the Merced County Department of Agriculture recommends that if you have already applied the powder inside of your home, to contact your local fire department and they can then evaluate the safety of the home. Seek medical attention if you are suffering any pesticide related symptoms, and do not throw this product away in your trashcan or put it down the sink.

You can bring it to either of these locations at no charge: Highway 59 Landfill at 7040 N. State Highway 59, Merced, CA 95348 Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or to the Los Banos Spring Cleanup/Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday April 8th only, from 7:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. at the Los Banos Spring Fair Parking Lot. If you have any additional questions, you may contact Jennifer Halpin with the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 24.

 

 

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February 7, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by: Atwater FFA

Ten Atwater FFA Students earned honors at the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition Banquet held at the Merced County Fairgrounds last week. 93 FFA students throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties were recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. A SAE program is the actual, hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural classroom. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers, and other adults who assist them in development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

Throughout late November and early December, various community and business representatives visited various FFA students at their homes and/or work place to learn about their projects. Students conducted a 15-20 minute overview presentation of their agricultural project and/or agricultural work experience. In addition, students were required to demonstrate a skill pertaining to their SAE. During the banquet, students were awarded a “gold” or “silver” award based on their presentations. Scholarships were also awarded to senior students. “The students and the SAE projects recognized in this county are some of the best in the entire state of California,” said Merced College Agriculture instructor and Program Director Darol Fishman.

The participants and results of Atwater FFA students were as follows: Audrey Esau (Silver), Austin Burris (Gold), Callie Norton (Gold), Colby Flatt (Gold), Courtney Creighton (Gold), Daniel Mesa (Gold and Merit Award), Katelyn Baptista (Gold), Kaya Briscoe-Mattis (Gold), Stephania Valdovinos (Gold), Zion Brigham (Gold). In addition of the results, $750 scholarships where were given out to the most deserving seniors who had competed for three or more years. Austin Burris receive a “Judges Selection” scholarship for his rabbit project, and Courtney Creighton received the Migliazzo & Sons Dairy scholarship for her poultry SAE.

The students plan to attend Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Fresno State University, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, UC Davis, and Chico State University to pursue careers associated with their SAE.


 

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Ten Atwater High School agriculture students along with the Atwater High School agriculture staff joined twelve other county high schools and students for the annual FFA Project Competition Banquet where students were recognized for their agriculture related projects.


Atwater High School agriculture student Zion Brigham receives recognition for his FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) sheep project from Merced County representative and community member Jim Cunningham.


Atwater High School agriculture student Daniel Mesa receives recognition for his FFA FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) ag mechanics project from Merced County representative and community member Jerry O'Banion.

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February 7 , 2017

Merced High Wins 9th Consecutive Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 11 Merced County high schools converged at Merced College on Feb. 4 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon, and for the ninth consecutive year, Merced High School took top honors.
The 36th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science. This year’s theme was World War II.
High schools that participated this year are: Atwater, Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Los Banos, Merced, Merced Scholars Charter, Valley Community School – Atwater and Valley Community School – Los Banos.
Merced High was the highest scoring team for the Super Quiz and team member Steven Yeung was the top-scoring student at the event.
Merced High will go on to represent Merced County in March, 2017, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are the Community Foundation of Merced County, Merced College, Educational Employees Credit Union, Mani Nallasivan, M.D. – Merced Vein & Vascular Center and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,500 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.
Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.
Attached is the complete list of awards for all categories.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.

 



Merced High School earned the top spot for the ninth year in a row at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.


Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union scholarship awardees pose with representatives from the credit union after the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M Tietjen hosts the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced High student John Richey takes the music test at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.

 

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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February 7 , 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Overhaul of State Water Management

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 313, to overhaul California’s water management structure.

“Water management at the state level is broken,” said Gray. “Anyone who has tried to work with the state on water knows that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, conflicts of interest are the norm, and state agencies act as their own prosecution, judge, and jury. The net effect is an ineffective bureaucratic maze which leaves us unable to capitalize on vital opportunities and prioritizes special interests working behind the scenes over good public policy.”

AB 313 proposes to restructure the administration and enforcement of water rights and the State Water Project. Authority and enforcement over water rights would be moved from the State Water Resources Control Board and housed under the Department of Water Resources (DWR) with enforcement proceedings conducted separately by the Office of Administrative Hearings. DWR’s current authority and water rights underlying the State Water Project would be transferred to a new State Water Project Authority to eliminate the conflict of DWR both administering and enforcing water rights while simultaneously possessing water rights of its own.

“The way the state enforces water rights is like letting a pitcher call his own strikes and balls,” continued Gray. “The State Water Board writes the regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and put folks on trial in a court they run themselves. Where is the umpire? Where are the checks and balances?”
California’s water management structure has gone largely unchanged since the current model was adopted in 1969. Emphasizing the need to tackle the issue now, Gray cited a 2010 report from the Little Hoover Commission, titled Managing for Change: Modernizing California’s Water Governance, which urged the Governor and the Legislature to modernize and restructure this antiquated system to improve transparency, oversight, and accountability.

“These changes have been a long time coming,” said Gray. “California has failed to manage and plan for the future, because responsibilities are dispersed throughout different departments of government and no one talks to each other. To meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and an ever expanding economy, we need to integrate water governance in a way that allows progress instead of gridlock.”

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February 7 , 2017

Three railroad crossings closing for repairs in the City

Three crossings of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad will close so that the company can repair the tracks. The BNSF line is the northern train line through town closest to Bear Creek.

The railroad will be cleaning the tracks, installing new ballast rock and then stabilizing the track to prevent any alignment or surface deviations. The work will allow the trains to travel safely at maximum speeds through town.

The R Street crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 10 through 2 p.m. Feb. 17.


The Glen Avenue crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 13 through 2 p.m. Feb. 20.
The Tower Road crossing, near Highway 140, will close starting at noon Feb. 15 through noon Feb. 22.

Detour signs will be posts at the crossings to guide drivers. Please drive carefully, especially around Glen Avenue because of the schools impacted by the RR crossing closure.

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February 4 , 2017

Special district elections, bridge contract on
Council agenda

A public hearing on proposed maintenance district increases and the awarding of a contract for bridge repairs are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.

Property owners are voting on fee increases in three maintenance districts: Oakmont No. 3, Campus North, and Mansionette. During the public hearing Monday night, people can comment on the proposed increases.

The increases are to cover the increased costs of providing services for the three districts. The ballots are due by Feb. 6 and the results of the election will be announced at the Feb. 21 Council meeting.

Council is being asked to award a contract to Viking Construction Company of Rancho Cordova for $2,716,573 for the repair of the G and M Street bridges. The other bidder on the project was Myers & Sons Construction of Sacramento.The work to be done will include rehabilitation of the M and G Street bridge structures, creek channel, and roadways to fix deteriorated


conditions and add upgrades to comply with new standards. There will be some traffic disruptions during the construction work.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss anticipated litigation and the performance evaluations of the city manager and the finance director.

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.

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February 4, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND MISSION AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound onramp to State Route 99 at Mission Avenue for landscape work.

Crews will work on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 5 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 6, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 6, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect from Tuesday, January 31 through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 AT STATE ROUTE 152 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps at the State Route 152/State Route 33 interchange for shoulder work. Closures will occur as follows:

• The southbound on-ramp from State Route 33 (SR-33) to SR-152 will be closed on Monday, February 6, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for shoulder work;

• The westbound off and on-ramps from State Route 152 (SR-152) to SR-33 will be closed from Tuesday, February 7, 2017, through Wednesday, February 8, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. or shoulder work.

Motorists should expect 5 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

 

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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February 4 , 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The results of the January Homeless Count will be released during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.
People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 3 , 2017

Elementary Students Participate in Signing Day

High school athletes aren’t the only ones making commitments as part of National Signing Day 2017. Hundreds of elementary students in the Merced City School District signed their names on posters and banners this week as a symbol of their commitment to education.

At Gracey Elementary, staff members called out the name of each student who signed on Wednesday, and their classmates clapped and cheered for them. UC Merced students were also on hand to offer materials about the university and a little extra inspiration. They asked the children what they want to be when they grow up and spoke about how education can help unlock those opportunities. The Signing Day event was an extension of an assembly Gracey held on Monday, which focused on higher education.

At Reyes Elementary, students enjoyed a similar event on Thursday. They were invited to sign their names on large banners featuring motivational phrases, which were displayed in the multi-purpose room. The students and staff members were also encouraged to wear clothes representing their favorite college or university, and they took part in a door decorating contest to show their spirit as well. Staff members also made special announcements throughout the week and showed video clips highlighting college and career readiness.

Administrators say it’s important to get children thinking about their futures at an early age so they will embrace the idea of continuing their education in order to achieve their goals and dreams.


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary

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February 3 , 2017

 

Three Town Hall meetings set

The Merced City Council invites residents to attend their neighborhood Town Hall meeting this month. Three meetings have been set up so that the public can let the Council know what issues they are facing.
Comments and ideas help the City Council and staff prepare the annual budget and address issues in their neighborhoods.
The meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m. The meetings are:


North Merced — Feb. 8, Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr.
Central Merced — Feb. 16, Merced MultiCultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.
South Merced — Feb. 23, Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. 8th St.

The wrong date for the Tenaya Town Hall meeting was listed in the City newsletter.

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February 3 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE FOUNDATION TO HOST
2017 STATE OF THE COLLEGE LUNCHEON

The 5th annual State of the College Address and Presentation of the President’s Medallion, sponsored by the Merced College Foundation, is scheduled for Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held at the College’s gynasium.
This year, Merced College will honor Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center in recognition of its support of the College’s nursing and scholarship programs.
Individual tickets to the catered lunch are $50. Table sponsorships for eight guests are $500, and corporate sponsorships are $1,000 for a table of eight. Table sponsors receive recognition during the event and added benefits are provided to corporate sponsors
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or online the PayPal at www.mercedcollegefoundation.org.
For more information, or to reserve your table, contact the Merced College Foundation.

 

 

 

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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February 1 , 2017

Students Learn about Mosquitoes and Safety Measures

Students at Peterson Elementary School in Merced enjoyed a special science lesson Tuesday morning. Representatives from the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District visited three classrooms to teach third graders all about mosquitoes. They spoke about the diseases the insects can spread, their life cycle, and how our immune systems respond to being bitten.

Students had a chance to see one of the pests under a microscope and to examine samples of their egg rafts, larvae, and pupae. The presentation also included an animated movie with facts about mosquitoes in the Central Valley, along with a booklet full of puzzles and other games related to the lesson.

One of the goals of this ongoing educational program is to spread awareness about the importance of removing standing water around homes to keep insects from laying eggs in those areas. Biologist Jason Bakken is one of the presenters who travels to schools across the county. He says, “Backyards are the most difficult areas for us to reach. We hope by educating the students, they will share that message with their families to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

The Merced County Mosquito Abatement District has been collaborating with school districts throughout this area since 1992. Staff members expect to reach their 100,000th student later this year.


The view from a camera looking through a microscope lens at a mosquito slide


Merced County Mosquito Abatement District biologist Jason Bakken speaking to third grade students at Peterson Elementary


Peterson Elementary third graders looking at samples of mosquito egg rafts, larvae, and pupae


A Peterson Elementary third grader looking through a microscope at a mosquito slide

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February 1 , 2017

MCOE Schedules Events in Merced, Los Banos to Unveil 6th Annual Education Report

The Merced County Office of Education will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at public events in Merced and Los Banos in late February.
The report, sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union, details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Special Education in Merced County and how MCOE works with school districts and several other organizations throughout the county to serve this student population.
There are two Report on Our Schools events scheduled to unveil the annual education report. The first is Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Yosemite Church, 2230 East Yosemite Ave. in Merced, and the second on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Los Banos Community Center, 645 7th St. in Los Banos. Both events are from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include lunch. RSVP is required to Lori Ward at rsvp@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6601.

 

 

Event sponsorships are available by contacting Lori Ward.
For more information about the event, call MCOE Media and Communications Manager Nathan Quevedo at (209) 381-6658.

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February 1 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for maintenance.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, January 30, 2017, through Friday, February 3, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

 


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 30, 2017, through Friday, February 3, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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February 1 , 2017

Atwater FFA Earns Top Finish at Parli Pro Speaking Contest

Written by: Atwater FFA

Twenty-six novice and advanced parliamentary procedure teams representing high schools throughout California gathered at Minarets High School this past weekend the annual Minarets FFA Parliamentary Procedure Invitational. The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team placed 2nd overall with senior Daryl Dorsey earning the Advanced Chairman award. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed in the middle of the pack. “Today was a pretty good day as this was the first big contest for many competitors,” said FFA advisor Shelby West. “They put forth a tremendous effort and the experience provides us with a foundation to build upon.”

Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules, ethics, and customs governing meetings of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies, and other deliberative assemblies. FFA students throughout California participate in various parliamentary procedure contests where students demonstrate their public speaking, understanding, and implementation of skills.
“This is an opportunity to get students involved in an application that develops and strengthens public speaking, critical thinking, and leadership skills that can be applied towards any academic and career endeavor,” said West.

Atwater High School’s agriculture program continues to grow. “With the growth and expansion of agriculture instructors over the past few years, we have been able to expand opportunities for students outside the classroom in college and career related skills that will serve and benefit their futures,” said agriculture instructor Sam Meredith. “It’s all about providing opportunities for students to enhance their personal growth, academic success, and career development.”

Students who competed on the team included (Advanced) Daryl Dorsey (Outstanding Chair award), Dayana Argueta, Amanjot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, Courtney Creighton, Callie Norton, Paige Brigham, Natalie Frontella, Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Micheal Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, Stephanie Aguanui, and Vanessa Varela. The team will be heading to the UC Davis Parliamentary Procedure Invitational on March 3rd to compete again with sectional, regional, and state final competition coming up in the coming two months.


The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team students Paige Brigham, Amanjot Gandhoke, Daryl Dorsey, Natalie Frontella, Dayana Argueta, Callie Norton, Jeff Clark, and Courtney Creighton placed 2nd overall at the Minarets Parliamentary Procedure Invitational this past weekend.


The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team students Stephanie Anguiano, Vanessa Varela, Cristal Venagus, Hayley Vargus, Emmanuel Mejia, Alyssa Carrillo, Micheal Bray, and Itzel Chavez competed in their first contest of the year with a middle of the pack finish.

 

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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February 1 , 2017

‘World War II’ is theme of the 36th Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 11 Merced County high schools will converge at Merced College on Feb. 4 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon. This year’s theme: World War II.
The 36th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science.
High schools participating this year are: Atwater, Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Los Banos, Merced, Merced Scholars Charter, Valley Community School – Atwater, and Valley Community School – Los Banos.
There are also communications tests, which include essay writing, the delivery of a prepared and impromptu speech, and an oral interview.
Teams compete for awards, scholarships and a chance to represent Merced County in March, 2017, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are the Community Foundation of Merced County, Merced College, Educational Employees Credit Union, Mani Nallasivan, M.D. – Merced Vein & Vascular Center and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,500 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.


Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.
Whether they are donating money, serving on the board, or volunteering on competition day, Wayne and the MSEFCU have been one of MCAD’s key contributors.
The public is invited to attend the Super Quiz portion of the Decathlon at 3:15 p.m. at the El Capitan High School gym, 100 Farmland Ave. just north of Merced, and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. in the Merced College Theater, 3600 M St. in Merced.

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January 25, 2017

Costa Gives Merced County Sheriff’s Posse Tour of U.S. Capitol Building

WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, January 21, 2017, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) gave the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse a tour of the United State Capitol Building.

On Inauguration Day, Americans celebrate our nation’s democratic principles and the peaceful transition of power. It was truly an honor to have the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse representing the San Joaquin Valley in the President’s Inauguration Day parade,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “On Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking the Sheriff’s Posse on a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, and we had the opportunity to go on the platform of where the swearing-in of President Donald Trump took place. It was special to have Sheriff Vern Warnke, the Sheriff’s Posse and their families in Washington, D.C. to participate in a historical moment for our nation.”

"Words can't express just how grateful and blessed I feel to have been able to participate is such a historic event," exclaimsMerced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. "Collectively, the Posse and I, count the entire experience as amazing. Our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude to all who made this trip possible and a huge success. A special thanks to Rep. Jim Costa for his continuous support and belief in law enforcement and the Sheriff’s Posse."

 

 

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January 25, 2017

MCOE, Merced County DA Team Up for County’s First Mock Trial at Historic Courthouse

On January 11, for the first time since 1950, the original Merced County Courthouse hosted a trial.
But this trial had high school students from throughout Merced County as the prosecution and defense and Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II will serve as the presiding judge.
The Merced County Office of Education in partnership with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office hosted the county’s first Mock Trial and students from Dos Palos High School, Pacheco High School in Los Banos and Delhi High School participated in the trials in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the iconic building in Courthouse Park.
The hypothetical case, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which runs the program statewide, involves human trafficking and false imprisonment.
Students learn the gamut of roles and responsibilities in the courtroom and participate as the defense and the prosecution attorneys, witnesses, the court clerk and even the bailiff. Students may also serve as courtroom artists and journalists. The Mock Trials also give students a better knowledge of the legal system and increase their analytical abilities, self-confidence and communication skills.
At an awards reception the next day, participating schools were awarded based on scores tallied up during the Mock Trials by scoring attorneys. Local attorneys Eric Beiswanger, Corbett Browning and David Foster served as the scoring attorneys.
Dos Palos High took first place, with Pacheco High in second place and Delhi High in third. The outstanding role winner was Ashlyn Climer from Dos Palos High; prosecution team expert in human trafficking was Dana Greyjoy; and courtroom artist winner was Calista Jones from Delhi High.
For more information, please contact MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.


Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse III, acting as presiding judge in the county's first Mock Trial event, listens to testimony from a witness.

PHOTOS COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Students from from throughout Merced County participated in the county's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Dos Palos High School placed first in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Pacheco High School in Los Banos placed second in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Delhi High School placed third in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.

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January 25, 2017

Livingston, Planada Students Work With Mural Artist to Paint a Picture

Livingston's Campus Park Elementary School has a new focal point: A wall on one of its classroom buildings now is adorned with a spacious mural that shows what its students, teachers, staff members and parents can do when they come together on a common project.
The 20-foot by 60-foot mural shows its school mascot, the bald eagle, towering over scenes of its students and San Joaquin Valley landmarks. The full-color mural involved all 500 transitional kindergarten through fifth grade students as well as renowned international muralist Joel Bergner and UC Merced art professor Richard Gomez.
It took the campus community about five full days to complete the mural on the long wall of the C building. It was subsequently dedicated at an unveiling ceremony at the 1840 H St. school.
Livingston Union School District Superintendent Andres Zamora beams as he recounts what went into the project designed to cement the importance of art into the overall curriculum.
"I think the mural looks fantastic and that's special. It's something we put up," Zamora said. "It's not every day you have a local muralist partnered with an international artist and that's so engaging for our kids. We were able to give all 500 of our students an opportunity to leave their mark behind."
The district's first mural was done in 2015-2016 at Livingston Middle School and Zamora is hoping Livingston educators can continue the collaboration with Gomez and other artists in future projects at other school sites.
Zamora said as students walk out of the Campus Park cafeteria their eyes are certainly drawn to the mural which now is a highlight for the school.
Further south in Merced County, Gomez, Bergner and the Planada community collaborated on a large mural on the bleachers, retaining wall and buildings at Glen Davis Ballpark on the east side of Planada Elementary School.
The two-week project culminated in a December ceremony where the mural was dedicated.
Planada School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez said actual work on the mural was preceded last spring by a six-month goal-setting process. Planada Elementary School Principal Idelfonso Nava said the community came together to rejuvenate the wall, which had been the victim of tagging.
Bergner said the Planada mural was a collaborative effort where a variety of social issues were addressed.
A larger-than-life rooster looks over a local landscape featuring other animals and an embodiment of the culture of Planada, Gonzalez said.
Back in Livingston, Campus Park Principal Jorge Arteaga said creation of the mural helped the school incorporate art lessons into the classroom. Aerosol paints were used, making it resemble an oil painting.
"It created a really positive opportunity to engage our parents and students in the arts," Arteaga said. "Students were just excited to be in school. It's one of those experiences the kids will remember for a lifetime."
The towering eagle and its massive wings is Campus Park's mascot and the whole idea of the mural was to bring the school's values to the forefront, Arteaga said. The campus slogan is "Where Eagles Take Flight and Soar to New Heights Above and Beyond."
Gomez said the new mural seems to be well received and he has received a lot of support from the Livingston community. Gomez heads up the university's GAST program, which stands for Global Art Studies.
Getting 500 students to complete a sizable art project is quite an accomplishment, Gomez believes.
Zamora said the Campus Park project is part of the district's overall goal of providing enriching opportunities for its students and keeping them engaged academically.
Livingston's police chief, Reuben Chavez, helped develop the mural concept and provided the artists with breakfast and lunch while they guided the students. A community workshop was held beforehand to define the design features of the mural.

LIVINGSTON PHOTOS COURTESY LIVINGSTON UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT - PLANADA PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Renowned mural artist Joel Bergner speaks with Planada students at Glen Davis Ballpark near Planada Elementary School.


Campus Park Elementary School students gather to celebrate the unveiling of a mural on one of the classroom buildings.


Campus Park Elementary School students help paint a mural on one of the classroom buildings at the school.


Planada students and community members helped to create a mural at Glen Davis Ballpark on the east side of Planada Elementary School.

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January 25, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Qualify for Regional Speaking Finals

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA joined 141 FFA speaking contestants, representing fourteen high school agriculture programs at the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Public Speaking Sectional Finals at Merced College January 21st. The “top 4” individual finalists in each speaking contest advance to the regional prelims in February. Atwater FFA had eleven of the twenty sectional finalists advancing to the regional prelims next month.

Atwater High School agriculture program senior Jasmine Flores placed 1st overall in Extemporaneous Speaking with Kendyll Cruz (3rd overall) also qualifying for the regional prelims. In Extemporaneous Speaking, students are presented with a choice of three questions related to agricultural current events and, in 30 minutes, prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. Topics range from local-specific issues to national-world concerns relating to agriculture. The speech is delivered from memory. Stephania Valdovinos (5th overall), Ana Lozano, and Jennifer Velazquez also participated in the section finals event.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Callie Norton placed 2nd overall in Prepared Public Speaking with senior Julianna Dailey (4th overall) also qualifying for the regional prelims. Both speeches was on cybersecurity in the agriculture industry and fear marketing. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 speech on an agriculture related topic/issue, a written manuscript which is scored, and a question and answer period between the contestant and judges following the speech. Dillon Guillen and Kaya Briscoe-Mattis also participated and earned top finishes.

Atwater High School agriculture program sophomores Anessa Cardenas (3rd overall) will be moving onto the regional finals in the Impromptu Speaking contest. The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion. Emily Junez (5th overall), Lilianna Vargas, and Natalie Frontella also competed in the sectional finals.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Joel Rojas placed 8th overall in the Job Interview contest which involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment. Other Atwater FFA members that competed in the Job Interview contest included Ashley Bond, Christina Aguilar, Daisy Flores, and Kelsi Kamesch.

Freshman agriculture students Luz Soto (5th overall) and Alyssa Carrillo (11th overall) made it to the section’s final round and placed in the top one-third of the competitors. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the


The Atwater FFA Sectional Impromptu Speaking contest participants included Liliana Vargas, Emily Junez, Anessa Cardenas, and Natalie Frontella where members qualified at Merced College for the FFA regional finals next month..


The Atwater FFA Sectional Extemporaneous Speaking contest participants included Ana Lozano, Kendyll Cruz, Jasmine Flores, and Jennifer Velazquez where members qualified at merced College for the FFA regional finals next month.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner. Members boost their self- confidence and earn recognition. Alyssa Carrillo, Mariah Castro, Daisy Flores-Mota, Katelyn Hawthorne also competed in the section finals.

“Being a good communicator is one of the foundations off success towards personal and career development,” says Atwater FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh. “I’m very proud of our students’ efforts, participation, courage, and enthusiasm in this event!”

 

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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January 25, 2017



Merced County Office of Education Hosts Merced County Speech Festival

The Merced County Office of Education will host the final day of the 2017 Merced County Speech Festival on Jan. 25 and hold the awards reception on Feb. 8.
The final day of the speech festival will be held in the Clark/Newbold, M, and J-2 conference rooms at MCOE, on the corner of 13th and M streets in Merced, from 9 a.m. to noon.
23 schools are expected to participate from 11 school districts throughout Merced County with nearly 175 students competing.
The speech festival spans from grades 4 to 8 and is open to all Merced County students in those grades.
Students may give a speech about any subject using one of the specified categories, which are based on some of the categories from the Spring Writing Festival. The categories are Persuasive Speech, Tall Tale Speech, Legend Speech, Fable Speech, or Speech on a Report of Information.

Students will stand in front of the audience and a panel of three judges to deliver their speeches. First, second and third place winners will be announced at school sites after the competitions along with fourth through eighth place earning an honorable mention.
The award ceremony is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the Clark/Newbold conference rooms at MCOE. First place winners will be invited to give their award winning speeches that evening in front of other students, family, friends, teachers, principals and superintendents.
For more information, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 24, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE ANNOUNCES SELECTION
OF NEW DEAN OF INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

Merced College has hired its first Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, a position that will place Dr. Baba Adam in a position to lead the College in areas of institutional research and planning. Dr. Adam has a long and successful history of directing institutional research programs in community colleges and universities, most recently as the director of institutional research at Butte College, which serves students in Chico, Oroville, and nearby communities.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Adam’s wealth of experience and deep knowledge in institutional effectiveness and accreditation,” said Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli. “He brings well-needed expertise and energy to our team.”
Dr. Adam will lead a team of three institutional researchers responsible for a host of college programs that promote and support strategic planning, data analysis and assessment, program review, accreditation, student success and equity, enrollment management, grants, and other critical initiatives.
“With the nation’s growing concern for accountability, which is driven by our accreditation agencies, as well as state and federal regulations, becoming more efficient and successful with our limited resources is good for our students and good for our taxpayers,” Dr. Adam said.
With that that in mind, President Vitelli noted that the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness is a new position at the College, but one that serves a vital need.
“Dr. Baba Adam has the experience, knowledge, and background to establish our new Office of Institutional Effectiveness,” he said. “As we approach our external accreditation and the development of a new strategic plan, his leadership in these areas is perfect timing.”
Dr. Adam, a native of Nigeria, earned his Doctorate of Education from the University of Oklahoma in 1995. He and his wife Zarah have four children.



Dr. Baba Adam settles into his office as Merced College’s Dean of Institutional Effectiveness.

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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January 24, 2017

Fathers, Father Figures, and Role Models Invited to Breakfast

The cafeteria at Gracey Elementary was filled with special guests this morning as the school hosted a breakfast for all of their students’ fathers, father figures, and role models.
The adults could enjoy doughnuts, pan dulce, coffee, and juice provided by the Parent Teacher Club or purchase a school breakfast (which is always free for all students). Then they sat down for some quality time with their children and a chance to interact with other parents.
Principal Jose Munoz said he and his staff held this event because Gracey has great participation from mothers and other female relatives of their students, but they want to make sure fathers and other male relatives feel comfortable being involved as well. He explained, “We wanted to encourage dads to come to school, come and visit their kids, see the school, be with their kids, and learn a little more about what their kids are doing at school.”
Fourth grader Catalina Ramirez was one of the many children who enjoyed spending the morning with her father. She said, “It feels fun, and it feels like a lot of company with him…I love him for coming.”






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January 24,2017

Merced PD lobby closed for maintenance Friday

The Merced Police Station lobby at 611 W. 22nd St. will be closed to the public Friday, Jan. 27 due to routine maintenance. People needing assistance can use the phone outside the building to reach Dispatch. The station will reopen Monday, Jan. 30.


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January 24, 2017

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in the city of Merced for maintenance.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, January 23, 2017, through Friday, January 27, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 23, 2017, through Friday, January 27, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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January 18, 2017

UC Merced Expanding Entrepreneurial Reach
Campus Gets $2.2 Million From State to Expand Entrepreneurial Reach

UC Merced’s share of $22 million in state funds through Assembly Bill 2664 will help the campus fulfill some of its primary goals: transforming the region economically and providing people with greater opportunity.
Each of the 10 UC campuses is receiving $2.2 million in one-time funding from AB 2664, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.
A proposal put forth through the UC Merced Office of Business Development calls for expanding the resources available to entrepreneurs across the region.
“Success of new businesses is heavily dependent upon connecting to networks,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Peter Schuerman said. “To increase the success rate of new job creators, our expansion program will continue to build partnerships in the region that deliver funding opportunities, mentorship, legal advice and space to grow.”
The multi-pronged plan calls for:
• Significantly expanding the UC Merced Venture Lab, in downtown Merced, to include sites in Atwater and Modesto, making the program more accessible, expanding its network, fostering the development of new startup companies, and attracting new startups to the region;
• Supporting innovators and the improving the program’s sustainability by launching a product development center to spark and develop innovations and advance ideas to the marketplace;
• Establishing a proof-of-concept fund targeted at "graduating" innovations developed at UC Merced;
• Growing Central Valley Ventures, a legal assistance network established in partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Law, to address the needs of entrepreneurs across the entire region, with a special focus on rural entrepreneurs; and
• Extending the UC Davis Venture Catalyst and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneurship Academy and its mentor network southward, to give participants a firm grounding in entrepreneurial principles and access to a broader mentor network.
California’s Central Valley includes some of the poorest regions in the nation. In 2013, 20 percent of Central Valley families lived below the poverty line, as compared to 12.6 percent for all Californians.

Merced’s experience has been typical of other Valley communities, with unemployment consistently exceeding the statewide average over the years.
Part of the problem has been the lack of a diverse economic base, which is where a UC campus can help.
Groundbreaking research is a hallmark of the venerable UC system. The UC generates five inventions each day and more patents than any other university in the country. UC graduate students found new startups every two weeks, and UC-affiliated companies employ more than 38,000 workers across a wide range of industries, adding more than $20 billion in value to the state economy.
“Our program complements this strength of the UC to support and develop innovation by connecting it to entrepreneurship,” Schuerman said. “Innovation makes a promise about the future, and entrepreneurship delivers on that promise. Our program is about liberating innovation so that we can deliver new jobs and a more diverse economy.”
The UC Merced campus has contributed $1.4 billion into the San Joaquin Valley economyto date, and more than $2.6 billion into the state’s economy. At UC Merced, researchers — from undergraduate students through faculty members — are encouraged to explore practical and even commercial applications of their work. Through the UC Merced Venture Lab, students, faculty members, staff, alumni and members of the broader community are developing a new generation of startups. AB 2664 funds will allow the program to continue to grow to meet their needs.
Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, authored AB 2664 to help convert UC research into products that benefit society and help campuses execute long-term plans that play to their strengths and address local and regional needs.
“The possibilities these funds bring have injected a great sense of excitement and energy within each UC campus,” said Christine Gulbranson, UC’s senior vice president for research innovation and partnership. “The new infrastructure and programs to support student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship made possible through Assemblywoman Irwin’s vision, the Legislature’s support, and the governor’s backing will pay educational and economic dividends to California for decades to come.”

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January 17,2017

Bridge funding, traffic study money on Council agenda

Grant funds for bridge repairs and money for an engineering and traffic study are on the agenda for consideration during Tuesday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. The Council normally meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, however because of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday the meeting was moved to Tuesday.

The Council has approved a project to repair the bridges at G and M Streets that cross Bear Creek. The roadway overlay need replaced, barriers need to be installed, erosion controls need to be improved and the bridges need to be made compliable with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bids opened in August for the project were over the engineer’s estimate. Staff secured $1,298,482 in additional federal grants that Council is being asked to accept at the meeting. Total cost of the project will be $3,735,715.

State law requires a speed zone study to be conducted every seven years to determine appropriate speeds for the City’s streets. The engineering and traffic speed survey also allows the enforcement of traffic laws through the use of radar. The study is expected to
cost $100,000.


 

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss existing litigation and the performance evaluations of the city manager and the finance director.

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.

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January 17,2017

City of Merced swears in four new officers

Four new police officers were sworn in by Merced Police Chief Norman AndradeFriday. The officers will begin their field training with a veteran officer before hitting the streets by themselves.

With the arrival of the four new officers, the Department now has 89 sworn officers and is budgeted for 94.

The new officers are:

Badge No. 251: Enrique Rodriguez, 36, who worked as a dispatcher for the City of Merced for 7 ½ years. He is a graduate of Golden Valley High School. He had his badge pinned on him by his wife, Maria. The couple has two boys. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer.

Badge No. 252: Tyler McCannon, 23, is a graduate of Golden Valley High School who is attending Merced College. In his spare time, he enjoys boxing, jujitsu and video games. He had his badge pinned on him by his grandfather, David Rosenberger.

Badge No. 253: Jacob Fister, 27, is a Golden Valley High School graduate who also attended Merced College. Fister is a fourth-generation police officer. He worked for Riggs Ambulance for a number of years as an EMT and MTO. He had his badge pinned on him by his wife, Megan. The couple is expecting a baby. In his spare time, he enjoys remodeling his house, where his current project is redoing a bathroom.

Badge No. 254: Jessica Morehead, 22, a graduate of Syracuse High School in Utah. She received a medical assistant certificate from DACT, Utah, where she was in the Honor Society. She worked at the California Health Care Facility in French Camp. She is engaged to be married. She had her badge pinned on her by her aunt, Mary Morehead, a dispatcher at Delta College, who inspired her to go into law enforcement. In her spare time, she’s been a volunteer in the Fallen Officer Hockey Night and enjoys playing soccer.


Officers Jessica Morehead, Jacob Fister, Tyler McCannon and Enrique Rodriguez were sworn in today by Merced Police Chief Norman Andrade.


Jacob Fister, right, gets his badge pinned on him by his wife, Megan, while Jessica Morehead, left, waits for her aunt, Mary Morehead, to pin her badge on her.

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January 17, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Friday, January 20, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Friday, January 20, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

 


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT THIRD AVENUE IN GUSTINE

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform maintenance activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 between Third and Fourth Avenues in the City of Gustine.

Work will affect the left shoulder, right shoulder and bike lane for utility work beginning Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Thursday, January 19, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken when possible.

Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.


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January 17, 2017

Beatles and Stones show settles an old score

Abbey Road and Satisfaction tribute bands face off at the Merced Theatre

MERCED, CA (01/23/17) No doubt the 60s are long gone – but the mods and the rockers are it again in February.

Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown will pit Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance on February 21 at the Merced Theatre.

From Mick Jagger’s (Sir Chris Legrand) infamous gyrations to Keith Richards’ (Trey Garitty) sweet Tele licks, Brian Jones Vox Teardrop, and the band’s original wardrobe, Satisfaction brings all the authenticity of an old Stones show smack into 2017.

“Some of the ‘Keith-isms’ that fans love are the blacked-out-tooth, electrical tape around the snakeskin boots, and the disjointed walk he was famous for,” said Garitty.

“We’ve done everything to present the music just like the original album versions, because that’s what fans have been singing along to for the last 50 years and that’s the way they want to hear it."
Show producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle auditioned over 200 Beatles hopefuls at a casting call in 2008, many of whom played in their own Beatles tribute bands.

“Most of them came in Beatles costumes and wigs – they were all in character,” Nagle said.

For their part, the members of touring Beatles tribute band Abbey Road bring the mop top haircuts, harmonies, and boyish charm of everybody’s favorite Liverpudlians to the stage. They also play modern reissues of the exact same instruments and amps used by the Fab Four.

Axel Clarke (“Ringo Starr”), a high school and college teacher by day, prepares for his time behind the drumkit by studying old video footage, listening to band interviews, and mimicking Starr’s very specific performance style.

“Ringo's style and physical approach to the drumset were unique,” said Clarke.

“He sat very high with his drums low, used big sweeping arm movements, punched at his cymbals more than striking them, bounced his torso in time and kicked his head to the side on big accents — and smiled like a goon at all times. That's Ringo 101 for you!”

Clarke and his bandmates also spend time mining the original Beatles recordings for specific nuances, and unintentional flubs that ended up on the final cut.

“There are subtle mistakes all over the Beatles’ recordings. In 'All My Lovin,' Ringo forgets the form of the song and goes into the chorus beat by mistake," said Clarke.

"He plays that beat for one bar, realizes his error, and switches back to the verse beat. Most people might not notice things like that, but it adds a level of authenticity and would feel weird if it wasn’t there.”

Kicking off the show in signature A Hard Day’s Night-era black suits, the band runs through several costume changes, including mustaches and wigs (a la Sgt. Pepper’s) and full-on Abbey Road attire, before the night is up.

Onstage, the bands alternate mini sets and trade improvised barbs and banter between songs to act out the famous rivalry.

Since 2011, the Beatles vs. Stones cast members have traded improvised barbs and banter to sold out audiences all across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Whether you’re a mod or a rocker, a John or a Mick supporter – Beatles vs. Stones is your ticket back in time to “Yesterday”!

Six alternating power sets with the two bands coming together on stage for an amazing encore makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Here is some additional information about Satisfaction: “Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Show" is the international touring tribute show to the World's Greatest Rock & Roll


Chris Legrand ("Mick"), John Wade ("Bill Wyman") and Trey Garitty ("Keith Richards").


Chris Paul Overall ("Paul"), Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo") and Jesse Wilder ("George")

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Band. This Billboard & Pollstar highly rated show are entering their 20th year in production with over 3000 performances listed to their credit. Their client list include the nation’s top casinos, performing arts centers, music halls and corporate clients. Performing up to 150 shows a year, this highly acclaimed production showcases the most authentic cast & costuming of its kind. The likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and cast bring a colorful performance to over 50 years of classic hits. They have been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, Showbiz Magazine, Las Vegas Today, CBS Sunday Morning news and hundreds of national newspapers, magazines, television & radio as the world’s greatest show honoring the Rolling Stones and their legacy.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2005: The production became the first ever Rolling Stones show to debut on the Las Vegas strip as part of Legends In Concert Show. They received outstanding reviews as well as feature cover stories in the Las Vegas Sun and ShowBiz magazine.
2007: The group was a featured artist on national television news in the CBS News/New York special on the rising popularity of the tribute industry.
2008: The show was chosen by Paramount Pictures and the IMAX Corporation to perform promotional concerts for the Rolling Stones concert film “Shine a Light” by Martin Scorsese throughout the USA.
2010: The group received their highest accolades ever as they were approved by the Rolling Stones to perform long term engagements with the Walt Disney Corporation. They also embarked on their first ever tour of Russia with sold out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
2011: The group launched a new project entitled “A Symphony for the Devil” featuring the group performing with symphony orchestras around the world.
2012/2013: The group’s World Tour was in honor of the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary.
Las Vegas Sun: "Shined just like the real Stones on the strip"
CBS News New York: "A must see...go get Satisfaction"

New York Examiner: "The best show of its kind...ever!"

"Washington Post: "A spot on portrayal to the Rolling Stones"

Showbiz Magazine: "They have you in the aisles like Jumping Jack Flash"

Here is some additional information about Abbey Road:

With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom–tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world.

The members of Abbey Road perform in a nationally touring theatrical production called "In My Life - A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles." The band headlines Knott's Berry Farm, numerous Harrah's properties, the Coach House and the Belly Up.

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January 13, 2017

MERCED COUNTY FAIR DEBUTS NEW BRAND
WITH A RENEWED FOCUS
ON ATTRACTING YOUNGER FAIRGOERS

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, January 12, 2017 … The Merced County Fair Board of Directors, CEO, Teresa Burrola, and staff are excited to debut the new Merced County Fair corporate logo, which can now be found on the Fair’s website and social media, then will begin to appear on signage around the Merced County Fairgrounds in the coming months. The new corporate logo with its crop rows and flag, replaces the old logo that had featured an antique plow that had been used since 1974.

“The creation of our updated brand for the Merced County Fair is rooted in our proud agricultural heritage. It represents the unwavering commitment of our richly diverse county; its present-day look is more relevant to a broader demographic base and more applicable for use in digital platforms where a wider audience can become more engaged in all that the Fair has to offer,” explained Merced County Fair CEO, Teresa Burrola. “We are committed to remaining true to the core attractions of our Fair, while staying relevant to younger generations by adapting to new platforms to communicate and engage them.”

For the past 125 years, the Merced County Fair has been an integral part of the fabric of Merced’s community. At a time when some California fairs have struggled greatly and a few have even ceased to exist, Merced County Fair is coming off of a record year in 2016 with a 14% increase in attendance, drawing in more than 74,000 people during the five-day Fair. “That is a testament to the role our Fair plays in the community; it is an annual tradition where everyone comes together,” said Burrola.


Plans are already underway for the 2017 Merced County Fair, which will run June 7 – 11. Entertainment is being secured, as well as new attractions and of course, food. Expect more announcements regarding the 2017 Merced County Fair in the coming months. To stay connected, follow the Fair on Facebook, Twitter and now, Instagram.

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating its 126th anniversary in 2017. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: Mark Erreca, President; Flip Hassett, First Vice President; Emily Haden, Second Vice President; Vicky Banaga; Lori Gallo; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; Carol Sartori-Silva; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2017 Merced County Fair will run June 7-11. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com.

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January 13, 2017

Summer Academy Enrollment Now Open

Students throughout the Merced City School District will have exciting opportunities during the annual Summer Academy from June 12 – July 14.

The five week session will include hands-on learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). Each grade level will have its own unique theme and project. For example, the youngest students will learn about energy and forces with the help of a marshmallow catapult, while fourth graders will make their own instruments as part of the study of sound waves. All participants will also enjoy a special performance and/or an educational excursion to places such as local zoos, performing arts centers, colleges and universities.

Summer Academy is available to all MCSD students currently in TK/kindergarten through seventh grade. Classes will be offered at Alicia Reyes and Ada Givens elementary schools for elementary students. Current sixth and seventh grade students will be the first to ever attend the cutting edge STEAM Center that is currently under construction on the Givens campus.

New this year is an online foreign language program, which allows participants to learn a variety of languages. This offering will be available to students currently in grades four through seven, on a first come, first served basis. Additionally, online mathematics will continue to be made available for students currently in sixth and seventh grade.

Summer Academy is designed to help students extend their learning through fun and enriching experiences, avoiding the dreaded “summer slide.” According to the California Department of Education, “Research spanning 100 years shows that children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.” Studies also show that high quality summer learning programs can help English learners, as well as English only students improve their vocabulary, support good attendance, and provide a smoother transition from elementary to middle school.

Families can now enroll their children at the school they attend through May 12. Registration forms are available on the MCSD website: http://www.mcsd.k12.ca.us/District/Portal/summer-academy
Administrators and support staff at each school site will be available to answer any additional questions.






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January 12, 2017

Local high school string quartet to join the pros

MERCED, CA (1/09/2017) When the touring show Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown comes to the Merced Theatre on February 21, the John H. Pitman (Turlock) High String Quartet will have the privilege of joining the professional musicians on stage to add some orchestral texture to the evening.


The show pits Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance. The string quartet will perform seven songs on stage with the bands.


Here's the rundown:

The show: The two greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time face off in "Beatles vs. Stones - A Musical Showdown." Taking the side of the Fab Four is Abbey Road, one of the nation's top Beatles tribute bands. With brilliant musicianship and authentic costumes and gear, Abbey Road plays beloved songs spanning the Beatles' career. They engage in a "showdown" of the hits with Stones tribute band Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show, who offer a faithful rendition of the music and style of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the bad boys of the British Invasion. The production includes multimedia, period costumes and vintage instruments. It has toured for years, with a critic for the Orange County Register at one point declaring, “If you see one tribute show, see this one – smart and loads of fun." The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique tribute show in decades.


The string quartet: Pitman High students Kayla Rodenburg, Steven Courney, Marissa Staffero and Dennis Lawson will join the bands for the songs "Eleanor Rigby," "Yesterday," "A Day in the Life," "Hello Goodbye,""Hey Jude," "As Tears Go By," and "Ruby Tuesday."


In addition to performing with Pitman High's Chamber Orchestra, the school's most advanced orchestra, quartet members play with prestigious area symphonies, including the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Modesto Junior College Orchestra and the Stanislaus County Music Educators Association Honors Orchestra. The young musicians consistently receive superior ratings at solo and ensemble competitions. Staffero is the highest ranked viola player with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra and received a ranking of "command performance" as a soloist at a solo and ensemble competition and Rodenburg is the Concert Mistress for the Pitman Chamber Orchestra.

How the "Beatles" and "Stones" connection was started: The producers of "Beatles vs. Stones" approached Pitman Orchestra Director Don Grishaw looking for a talented ensemble which could hold their own with two rock bands in front of an audience. The show commonly uses a local quartet to augment the production while on tour.


Quartet for hire: The Pitman High String Quartet performs at community and private events and may be contacted by calling Don Grishaw at (209) 620-0968 or emailing him at dgrishaw@turlock.k12.ca.us.

The quartet's Beatles and Stones fans: Rodenburg, Courney and Staffero are the quartet's Beatles fans.


Rodenburg's favorite Fab Four tune is "Eleanor Rigby." "I'm excited that we get to perform that song during the show in Merced," she said.


Lawson is the quartet's Rolling Stones fan and his favorite Stones song is "Paint it Black."


The details The two greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time face off as the Merced Theatre hosts tributes to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Renowned tribute bands Abbey Road and Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show engage in a musical “showdown” of the hits. “Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Shootout” performs on Tuesday, February 21 at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30 - $50 and may be purchased online atwww.tickets.mercedtheatre.org, by phone at 209.381.0500 or by visiting the Theatre Box Office Tuesday - Friday between 1 pm - 5 pm. The Merced Theatre is located at 301 W. Main Street in Merced 95340. The show is appropriate for all ages.


Steven Courney, Dennis Lawson,
Kayla Rodenburg, and Marissa Staffero

Kayla Rodenburg, 17, has been playing the violin for 11 years and is the Concert Mistress of the Pitman Chamber Orchestra. She has played with MSYO for six years and has performed with SCMEA Honors Orchestras.
"I like the violin because there are so many different genres you can play with it," said Rodenburg. "I can play a Beatles show on one night and classical music the next."
"I love the way all the different instruments blend together in orchestra," she said. "When playing, it's like you're in your own world."
Rodenburg has been involved with ballet and jazz dance for many years and is a member of her school's Interact Club. The senior plans to attend a four year university after high school graduation.
She is a Beatles fan and her favorite Fab Four tune is "Eleanor Rigby."
"I'm excited that we get to perform that song during the show in Merced," she said.

Steven Courney, 17, has been a violinist for seven years and also plays electric bass and guitar. In addition to performing with the Pitman Chamber Orchestra, Courney played three years with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra and with MSYO.
"The violin has a unique sound compared to other instruments," said Courney. "I like that you can play both high and low on the violin."
"I enjoy playing in orchestra," said Courney. "We're like a family."
The senior plans to attend a four year university in the fall and major in English and Philosophy.
His favorite Beatles song? "When I'm Sixty Four."

Marissa Staffero, 16, has been playing the viola for eight years and also plays violin, piano, cello and guitar. In addition to performing with her high school's highest orchestra, Staffero has played with the Modesto Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Modesto Junior College Orchestra. She received a solo command performance rating at a solo and ensemble festival and is the first viola with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra.
"I love the quality of the sound and the range of the viola," said Staffero. "It's like having a violin with another string attached."
"In orchestra, I like learning from others and playing music with your friends," she said.
When not playing music, Staffero enjoys feeding homeless persons with her grandmother. The junior plans to attend a four year university after high school and major in psychology.
Staffero is a long time Beatles fan and her favorite Fab Four tune is "Can't Buy Me Love."


Dennis Lawson, 17, has been playing the cello for seven years. He plays with the Pitman High's Chamber Orchestra and was a member of the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the SCMEA All-Honors Orchestra.
"I decided to learn to play the cello because it sounds just like a human voice," said Lawson.
"Our orchestra is a tight knit group and we have a fantastic teacher," said Lawson.
Lawson plays tennis for Pitman High. The senior hopes to attend Stanford or Yale in the fall and major in biochemistry. He aspires to become a patent lawyer.
He is a Rolling Stones fan and his favorite Stones song is "Paint it Black."

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January 12, 2017


MERCED COLLEGE’S CUSTOMER SERVICE ACADEMY
TO BEGIN NEW ROUND OF WORKSHOPS

Merced College’s Customer Service Academy is once again partnering with the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce in offering a series of professional development training workshops.
The Customer Service Academy workshops will be held at the College’s Business Resource Center, located at 630 West 19th Street in downtown Merced, and will feature comfortable training rooms with state-of-the-art technology.
Workshops will be offered the last two Thursdays of each month from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Topics include Customer Service, Communication, Attitude, Team Building, Conflict Management, Stress Management, Time Management, Values and Ethics, Decision Making and Problem Solving and Managing Change.
“This is the 17th year Merced College has offered the Customer Service Academy,” said Jonae Pistoresi, professor of Business and Management.
“Hundreds of employees from throughout the county have participated, and the feedback we continue to receive from participants is extremely positive.”
The aim of the workshops is to provide participants with skills to better interact with their co-workers and to be able to deliver better internal and external customer service. The program has won multiple awards, including a national award as an economic development best practice. Dozens of California Community Colleges offer the Customer Service Academy to businesses and organizations throughout the state, training thousands of employees each year.

Some statewide participants include the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Beringer Wine Group, Wyn-River Casino, Frances Ford Coppola Presents, Hilton Hotels and Westfield Malls.
The first workshop in the series is “Communication in the Workplace” and will cover topics such as “how to be a better communicator and better listener on a team,” according to Pistoresi.
Non-verbal communication will be covered as well as barriers to good communication in the workplace. The two-day workshop will be held on January 19 and 26. The cost is just $23 and earns a half-unit of college credit.
To register, or for more information, call the Merced College Business Resource Center at 209.386.6733.

 


FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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January 12, 2017

The Merced Police Department will be swearing in four new officers this Friday, January 13th at 1:30 p.m., Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Please join us to show your support and welcome these new officers to the MPD and City of Merced family. Thank you!


Ofc. Enrique Rodriguez

 


Ofc. Jacob Fister


 


Tyler McCannon

 


Ofc. Jessica Morehead

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January 12, 2017

DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES VICTIM SERVICES GRANT

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office has been selected to receive $373,000 through the federal Victims of Crime Act to expand their victim services programs through a partnership with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today.

CASA is an organization comprised of highly trained and dedicated adult volunteers who advocate for the best interest of children in the foster care system. The grant will enable the DA’s office to hire a victim witness advocate who will work with the CASA program and provide resources for CASA to recruit and train more advocates.

“CASA volunteers and I believe we have a moral obligation to change the life path for these children who, through no fault of their own, often find themselves adrift and rudderless when they most need help and guidance. The advocacy provided by CASA volunteers can literally save foster kids from becoming sad statistics in our community,” Morse said.

For an abused or neglected child, a CASA volunteer is someone who listens to and fights for that child, by reaching out to teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, parents, lawyers, caregivers and anyone else who can address that child’s needs, Morse said. “The CASA volunteer is someone whose sole mission is to help a foster child find a way out of the complex, overburdened child welfare system and into a safe, permanent home,” he added.

“Hundreds of kids pass through the Merced County Foster Care system each year,” said Shar Herrera, Executive Director of CASA and co-author of the grant. “These children are removed from their homes and placed in unfamiliar environments through no fault of their own. Many of them live in a state of constant crisis and, understandably, feel very much alone – until they find their Court Appointed Special Advocate,” she said.

Herrera said CASA currently has 82 advocates serving 110 foster children. “While we cherish each of our volunteers, there is so much more that needs to be done. There are more than 550 children in foster care and our goal is to have a CASA advocate for each and every one of them,” she said.


Morse said the foster system is “inextricably tied” to public safety. Nearly half of our foster children have chronic medical problems and many have serious emotional issues. Close to half of all children in the foster system never graduate from high school. An alarming number of these children will become homeless within 18 months of exiting foster care and almost half of the children in foster care will become incarcerated, he added.

“Statistics have long shown that foster kids and high school dropouts are the two most consistent categories of individuals who end up in jails and state prisons,” Morse said. “Unfortunately, fewer than 15% of the children in the foster care system receive the type of services and support that can be delivered to them through CASA and the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Assistance Program, he added.

CASA volunteers must complete 30 hours of training and 10 hours of court observation before being sworn in as an Officer of the Court. They are trained to advocate for foster children in the courtroom, classroom, and community. Each CASA volunteer is matched with a child and a volunteer Peer Coordinator who guides them as they work with a child. The CASA volunteer visits with the child on a regular basis and provides information to the Court. CASA volunteer spends an average of 8-10 hours a month on their foster children’s cases.

Morse encouraged those interested in helping create a brighter future for a foster child to contact CASA of Merced County today at (209) 722-2272 or Mercedcasa.org.

“It’s hard to imagine a more important contribution any volunteer can make than to be the lifeline for a vulnerable child caught in a system they can’t escape without help. CASA volunteers truly change lives,” Morse said.

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January 12, 2017

Merced Symphony Performs for Fourth Graders in Merced, Los Banos

More than 3,000 third- through fifth-grade Merced County students will enjoy a performance by the Merced Symphony Orchestra this week.
Two performances are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13 at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre. There will also be two performances at Pacheco High School in Los Banos on Thursday, Jan. 12.
The orchestra will play two 50-minute sets at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Merced, and the performances will begin at 9 a.m. in Los Banos. The performances are for students, school staff and media by arrangement.

For more information on the school performances, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 10, 2017

FFA Students Attend State Leadership Academy

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

Sixteen Atwater High School FFA students joined over three hundred and fifty students from central and northern California FFA regions for the Made For Excellence (MFE), and Advance Leadership Academy (ALA) conference on January 6th and 7th at the Hilton Arden West in Sacramento, California. This two-day conference is designed primarily for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The MFE curriculum focuses on the personal growth of each individual. Students learned about using conflict resolution techniques appropriately, setting goals, and building self-esteem. Each student created a plan of action which outlined a game plan to accomplish their individual high school and career goals. The ALA course focuses on improving leadership skills, identifying important agriculture issues, and communicating these important aspects to the school and community.

The National and California FFA Organization offer FFA members a series of five leadership and personal growth conferences. Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, the Atwater FFA has sent students to various California locations to participate in the Greenhand Leadership, Made-for-Excellence Leadership, and Advanced Leadership Academy, Sacramento Leadership and Washington DC Leadership conferences.

“We are fortunate to have a strong support network with our school administration, district, and especially the Atwater community who have supported fundraisers that have raised $5,000 to help pay for student conference and transportation fees,” explains Natalie Borba, one of seven current serving Atwater High School FFA advisors. “Our number one priority is getting students involved and providing them opportunities for scholastic, personal, and career success, and without the support of parents, the Atwater High School administration, and members of the community, we would not be able to provide students the opportunity to participate in these special events.”

Atwater FFA members who attended the leadership conference were (MFE) Ashley Bond, Zion Brigham, Kayalynn Briscoe-Mattis, Anessa Cardenas, Natalie Frontella, Emily Junez, Grace Reyes, and Chelsea Thompson, (ALA) Belinda Espinoza, Audrey Esau, Daisy Flores, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, Ana Lozano, Callie Norton, and Joel Rojas.


Atwater High School agriculture student Joel Rojas is presented with his FFA Advanced Leadership Academy certificate by California Department of Education representative Hugh Mooney.


Sixteen Atwater High School agriculture students joined over three hundred and fifty other California high school agriculture students at an FFA leadership conference focused on personal growth, career exploration, and leadership skills.


Atwater High School FFA members Zion Brigham and Ashley Bond explore agriculture careers information during the FFA Made for Excellence conference held in Sacramento, California.


Atwater High School FFA members Ana Lozano, Callie Norton, and Dillion Guillen participate in in a "plan of action" activity related to college/university and career goals during the FFA Advanced Leadership Academy in Sacramento, California.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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January 10,2017

City weathers the storm, but there’s still a flood watch

The City of Merced weathered the weekend storm with minor street flooding as the streams running through town stayed within their banks. However, the National Weather Service has a flood watch for Merced through 4 p.m. Wednesday and predicts the City could receive more than an inch of rain by then.

The storm brought 2.27 inches of rain in three days and Bear Creek crested at 18.5 feet, well below the 23-foot flood stage. The flood of April 4, 2006 saw Bear Creek reach 24.65 feet.

“Fortunately, Bear Creek didn’t crest,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin. “If that had happened it would have been a whole different story. We were preparing for the worst but it didn’t happen. Hallelujah.”

Elwin said crews didn’t need to use the 1,200 sandbags that were filled in case of an emergency.

There were some minor storm-related issues:
• A section of McCombs Drive flooded when a valve was shut because the creek was too high. A City vacuum truck was sent in to clear the water until the creek level dropped enough to reopen the valve.
• There was a small amount of flooding at Shadowbrook and Julie Drives due to a valve that was shut because of the high creek levels. A submersible pump was set up to deal with the water there.
• Childs Avenue and Highway 59 flooded several times during the storm. Crews closed it off and pumps were set up to drain the water.
“Our Public Works crews deserve a big thanks for the hard work they did over the weekend keeping the drains clear and the roads open,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “They were out in the middle of the night when it was pouring rain checking valves and storm drains to make sure the water didn’t back up and create major flooding.

“We also owe a debt of gratitude to our police and firefighters who were out making sure the streets were safe and reporting on any problems they spotted during the bad weather,” Murphy said.

“We asked the public for their help this weekend. We asked them to stay home and stay safe and they listened,” said Assistant City manager Stephanie Dietz. “The calls for service for both police and fire were way down over the weekend. And, luckily, there were only a few minor fender-benders.

“There’s a flood watch for Merced until Wednesday afternoon,“ Dietz said, “So we are asking people to continue to be careful when they go to work and school.”

More than 2,000 sandbags were handed out to people starting on Thursday when the storm starting becoming big news, said Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson. The number is deceptive because many people came in earlier in the year for sandbags when other rain events came through.

There are still 30,000 sandbags ready for people if needed. People can get sandbags at the main station, Fire Station 51, 99 E. 16th St. anytime. Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City.

Click here for Sandbag Map

Click here for Sandbag  information

 


 

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Meeting to answer assessment district questions

Wondering about the ballot you got in the mail for an assessment district? Not sure what the district does?

There will be a Town Hall meeting to answer questions from the public regarding the ballots for the Campus Park, Mansionette and Oakmont assessment districts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at Cruickshank Middle School, 601 Mercy Ave.

City staff will be on hand to answer questions that people may have regarding the ballots they received in the mail.

Energy and service costs for the districts have increased. Those three districts don’t have enough funding to pay for the costs of landscaping, irrigation, pumps, and other maintenance. Residents are being asked to increase how much they pay per year towards those fees.

Campus Park and Mansionette districts are responsible for landscaping and also storm pump maintenance and operation. Oakmont is only a landscaping district.

All money collected by the assessment district can only be spend within the district.

Depending on the district, maintenance can include litter pickup, plant pruning, tree replacement, fertilizing, landscape irrigation, mowing and edging and weed control. It can also include pump and motor repair and parts replacement and other work as needed.

Ballots are in prepaid envelopes and must be returned by Feb. 6. A public hearing will be held at the City Council meeting that night.

People with questions about their assessment district can call Michael Miller at 385-6800.

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January 10, 2017

MCOE, Merced County DA Team Up for County’s First Mock Trial at Historic Courthouse

On January 11, for the first time since 1950, the original Merced County Courthouse will host a trial.
But this trial will have high school students from throughout Merced County as the prosecution and defense and Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II will serve as the presiding judge.
The Merced County Office of Education in partnership with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office will host the county’s first Mock Trial and students from Dos Palos High School, Pacheco High School in Los Banos and Delhi High School will participate in the trials in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the iconic building in Courthouse Park.
The hypothetical case, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which runs the program statewide, involves human trafficking and false imprisonment.
Students learn the gamut of roles and responsibilities in the courtroom and participate as the defense and the prosecution attorneys, witnesses, the court clerk and even the bailiff. Students may also serve as courtroom artists and journalists.
Mock Trials are held in more than 30 other counties up and down the state, but was started in Merced County by District Attorney Morse, whose office provided volunteers to participate as attorney coaches to teams, assisted with recruiting scoring attorneys and will be the presiding judge. Local attorneys Eric Beiswanger, Corbett Browning and David Foster will serve as the scoring attorneys provided by the Merced County Bar Association.



Students who participate in the Mock Trials will gain a better knowledge of the legal system and increase their analytical abilities, self-confidence and communication skills.
An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Merced County Office of Education Clark/Newbold Conference Room. Medals will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams as well as the outstanding role award and a winner for courtroom journalist and artist.

For more information, contact MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 7,2017

Merced storm update

City staff met this afternoon to receive a storm update and discuss plans should local creeks and streams overflow their banks this weekend.

The major effects of the storm are expected to be felt Sunday evening into Monday as the water flows down from the foothills, deposited by an “atmospheric river” carrying up to 3 inches of rain.

City Manager Steve Carrigan said City staff has gone through the checklists several times to make sure all the boxes were filled in. “We’ve done all that we can to be prepared for this one,” he said. His advice: “Stay home and stay dry.”

The Public Works Director Ken Elwin, Fire Chief Michael Wilkerson and Police Chief Norman Andrade toured the City’s historic flood spots today, checking for new hazards. Sandbags have been strategically placed in the City at historic flood points. Agencies have been contacted regarding evacuation and emergency housing if needed. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is ready. The creeks were even checked for beaver dams to make sure the water wouldn’t get backed up.

Public Works has numerous crews on standby. With winds expected to be 20 mph, gusting to 30 – tree crews also are on standby. The Merced Fire Department will have a captain ready to serve as a liaison at the Merced County EOC if/when it is activated. Major flooding at Childs Avenue and Hwy 59 is expected due to the volume of rainfall predicted.


If residents need sandbags, they are available at Fire Station 51 on 16th Street. Sand has been deposited at 10 locations through the City. A map and sandbag information is attached.

Sand is available at:
Buena Vista and Sarasota
Parsons Avenue and Brookdale Drive
Parsons Avenue and Oregon Drive
Childs Avenue and G Street
1200 block of W. 9th St.
W.N. Bear Creek and Shadow Brook Dr.
Cheney Drive and Buckner Road
East Side of Mansionette between Kingfisher and Mercy Avenue
Campus Drive and Line Drive
W. 24th and K Street

Click here for Sandbag Map

Click here for Sandbag  information

Click here for County Sandbag information

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January 7, 2017


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 9, 2017, through Friday, January 13, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on Monday, January 9, 2017, through Friday, January 13, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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January 6,2017

City prepares for major storm expected this weekend
‘Wet atmospheric river’ takes aim at California threatening floods: NWS

The National Weather Service is predicting a huge storm for the weekend that could bring up to 3 inches of rain to Merced. Flood warnings have been issued throughout the state because a “wet atmospheric river will take aim at California.”

“City crews have spent the week preparing for this storm,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “They’ve been clearing streets and gutters of leaves and debris, checking storm drain pumps and taking other precautions to safeguard local residents.”

“If you have to be out driving this weekend, please be careful and allow extra time to reach your destination,” said Mayor Mike Murphy.

“Please don’t forget your neighbors. If you have elderly neighbors, consider checking in on them to make sure they are OK. They could probably use some assistance or company,” Murphy said.

The City has stored sand in 10 locations throughout the City and sandbags are available at Fire Station 51 during regular business hours. Sandbags can also be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. A map showing the sand locations is available at the City website, www.cityofmerced.org.

The City website also has links to the National Weather Service website that contains detailed information on the storm, including forecast information, radar maps, and any warnings that have been issued. The website also contains links to information regarding water levels on Bear Creek and other local streams.

The City has worked with local homeless providers to check local creeks to make sure there are no people camped along the streams.

Our Emergency Operations Center is on standby in case it needs to be activated.

City staff urges everyone to be prepared in case of power outages. Have batteries for flashlights, not candles for light in your home. Have alternative power sources for your cellphone and have a full tank of gas in advance of the storm. If you are dependent on a medical device, make sure you have a power source for it.

Below is information provided by FEMA on what to do during a power outage and also information on assembling a three-day disaster supply kit for the family.

Information is provided by FEMA. For more information, go to Ready.gov
Before a Power Outage
Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. For more information visit: Get Tech Ready
Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices.
Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
Keep your car’s gas tank full-gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device determine a back-up plan. For more planning information tips visit: Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs

During a Power Outage: Safety Tips
Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. For more information about food safety visit our food page.
Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.

After a Power Outage
Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.


Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Local maps
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional emergency supplies
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula and diapers
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Fire extinguisher
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
First aid kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may suffer an injury. If you have these basic first aid supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.
Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
Antibiotic ointment
Burn ointment
Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
Thermometer
Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
Non-prescription drugs:
Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
Anti-diarrhea medication
Antacid
Laxative
Other first aid supplies:
Scissors
Tweezers
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

Supplies for the Unique Needs
Remember the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when making your emergency supply kit and family emergency plan.
For Baby:
Formula
Diapers
Bottles
Powdered milk
Medications
Moist towelettes
Diaper rash ointment
For more information about the care and feeding of infants and young children during an emergency, visit the California Dept. of Public Health website.
For Adults:
Denture needs
Contact lenses and supplies
Extra eye glasses
Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.
If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:
Jacket or coat
Long pants
Long sleeve shirt

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January 4, 2017

Beatles and Stones show settles an old score

Abbey Road and Satisfaction tribute bands face off at the Merced Theatre

MERCED, CA (01/23/17) No doubt the 60s are long gone – but the mods and the rockers are it again in February.

Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown will pit Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance on February 21 at the Merced Theatre.

From Mick Jagger’s (Sir Chris Legrand) infamous gyrations to Keith Richards’ (Trey Garitty) sweet Tele licks, Brian Jones Vox Teardrop, and the band’s original wardrobe,Satisfaction brings all the authenticity of an old Stones show smack into 2017.

“Some of the ‘Keith-isms’ that fans love are the blacked-out-tooth, electrical tape around the snakeskin boots, and the disjointed walk he was famous for,” said Garitty.

“We’ve done everything to present the music just like the original album versions, because that’s what fans have been singing along to for the last 50 years and that’s the way they want to hear it."
Show producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle auditioned over 200 Beatles hopefuls at a casting call in 2008, many of whom played in their own Beatles tribute bands.

“Most of them came in Beatles costumes and wigs – they were all in character,” Nagle said.

For their part, the members of touring Beatles tribute band Abbey Road bring the mop top haircuts, harmonies, and boyish charm of everybody’s favorite Liverpudlians to the stage. They also play modern reissues of the exact same instruments and amps used by the Fab Four.

Axel Clarke (“Ringo Starr”), a high school and college teacher by day, prepares for his time behind the drumkit by studying old video footage, listening to band interviews, and mimicking Starr’s very specific performance style.

“Ringo's style and physical approach to the drumset were unique,” said Clarke.

“He sat very high with his drums low, used big sweeping arm movements, punched at his cymbals more than striking them, bounced his torso in time and kicked his head to the side on big accents — and smiled like a goon at all times. That's Ringo 101 for you!”

Clarke and his bandmates also spend time mining the original Beatles recordings for specific nuances, and unintentional flubs that ended up on the final cut.

“There are subtle mistakes all over the Beatles’ recordings. In 'All My Lovin,' Ringo forgets the form of the song and goes into the chorus beat by mistake," said Clarke.

"He plays that beat for one bar, realizes his error, and switches back to the verse beat. Most people might not notice things like that, but it adds a level of authenticity and would feel weird if it wasn’t there.”

Kicking off the show in signature A Hard Day’s Night-era black suits, the band runs through several costume changes, including mustaches and wigs (a la Sgt. Pepper’s) and full-on Abbey Road attire, before the night is up.

Onstage, the bands alternate mini sets and trade improvised barbs and banter between songs to act out the famous rivalry.

Since 2011, the Beatles vs. Stones cast members have traded improvised barbs and banter to sold out audiences all across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Whether you’re a mod or a rocker, a John or a Mick supporter – Beatles vs. Stones is your ticket back in time to “Yesterday”!

And here is some additional information about Beatles vs. Stones - A Musical Showdown:
The British Invasion brought us the two most popular rock groups of all time, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the liveliest debate in rock history - which band is the greatest? These two legendary bands will engage in a musical “shoot out of the hits” courtesy of internationally renowned tribute bands, Abbey Road andSatisfaction - the International Rolling Stones Show.

Six alternating power sets with the two bands coming together on stage for an amazing encore makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime even


Chris Legrand ("Mick"), John Wade ("Bill Wyman") and Trey Garitty ("Keith Richards").


Chris Paul Overall ("Paul"), Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo") and Jesse Wilder ("George")

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is some additional information about Satisfaction: “Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Show" is the international touring tribute show to the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band. This Billboard & Pollstar highly rated show are entering their 20th year in production with over 3000 performances listed to their credit. Their client list include the nation’s top casinos, performing arts centers, music halls and corporate clients. Performing up to 150 shows a year, this highly acclaimed production showcases the most authentic cast & costuming of its kind. The likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and cast bring a colorful performance to over 50 years of classic hits. They have been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, Showbiz Magazine, Las Vegas Today, CBS Sunday Morning news and hundreds of national newspapers, magazines, television & radio as the world’s greatest show honoring the Rolling Stones and their legacy.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2005: The production became the first ever Rolling Stones show to debut on the Las Vegas strip as part of Legends In Concert Show. They received outstanding reviews as well as feature cover stories in the Las Vegas Sun and ShowBiz magazine.
2007: The group was a featured artist on national television news in the CBS News/New York special on the rising popularity of the tribute industry.
2008: The show was chosen by Paramount Pictures and the IMAX Corporation to perform promotional concerts for the Rolling Stones concert film “Shine a Light” by Martin Scorsese throughout the USA.
2010: The group received their highest accolades ever as they were approved by the Rolling Stones to perform long term engagements with the Walt Disney Corporation. They also embarked on their first ever tour of Russia with sold out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
2011: The group launched a new project entitled “A Symphony for the Devil” featuring the group performing with symphony orchestras around the world.
2012/2013: The group’s World Tour was in honor of the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary.
Las Vegas Sun: "Shined just like the real Stones on the strip"
CBS News New York: "A must see...go get Satisfaction"

New York Examiner: "The best show of its kind...ever!"

"Washington Post: "A spot on portrayal to the Rolling Stones"

Showbiz Magazine: "They have you in the aisles like Jumping Jack Flash"

Here is some additional information about Abbey Road:

With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom–tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world.

The members of Abbey Road perform in a nationally touring theatrical production called "In My Life - A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles." The band headlines Knott's Berry Farm, numerous Harrah's properties, the Coach House and the Belly Up.

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January 4, 2017

Statement by Assemblymember Adam C. Gray to the State Water Resources Control Board; January 3, 2017, Sacramento, California

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement to the Water Resources Control Board during the final hearing of the public comment period on an amendment to the Bay-Delta Plan which would double the minimum environmental flows from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers.

“The proposal before you today contains so many oversights and error and is so substantially flawed that I cannot possibly do every issue justice in the short time I have today.

Instead I will offer brief comments and submit a lengthy letter detailing the problems in full.

These hearings have offered a very public forum to display the enormous disconnect that exists between protecting San Joaquin Valley water supplies, environmental goals for fish populations, and what your plan actually proposes.

Environmental groups criticized this plan at the first Sacramento hearing for failing to demonstrate any legitimate benefit to salmon populations and asked that the plan incorporate nonflow measures without which they believe ecological goals cannot be achieved.

Agricultural interests have leveled the same criticism that, without nonflow measures, the proposal before you today simply wastes precious water without any discernable benefit.

You also heard from irrigation districts, as well as local city and county officials, who explained in great detail that the proposal will jeopardize the drinking water supplies of 1.5 million people in one the most disadvantaged areas of the state where 1 in 4 live in poverty and where unemployment consistently remains 5 points above the rest of the state.

In fact, the areas you have put on the chopping block face significant challenges beyond poverty – challenges like being the largest contiguous health professional shortage area in California, where life expectancy and educational attainment is among the lowest in the state, while violent crime rates, air pollution, and premature deaths are among the highest.

 

We disagree about the number of job losses this plan will cause as well as how severe the economic impacts will be – although it must be pointed out that while the SED predicts removing 300,000 acre-feet of water from the Northern San Joaquin Valley will cost just $68 million, your own economist working on the Delta Tunnels project predicts every 100,000 acre-feet of water has a total economic value of $1.4 billion.

The only source of consistent agreement throughout these hearings has been that all parties prefer the more immediate and enduring option of reaching voluntary settlements.

Unfortunately, because of your staff’s refusal to engage in discussions during the drafting of this report, failure to respond to comments submitted on the prior version, and the disingenuous manipulation of the facts contained in this latest proposal, there is strong and justified belief that you and your staff have not acted in good faith.

The obligation to restore confidence that legitimate settlements can be reached through negotiations is squarely on your shoulders.

There are far too many flaws contained in the current report for it to be considered a viable starting point.

My recommendation is that you call a mulligan – send this report back to your staff and your consultants with a directive to start over.

Quite frankly, the only other option is to spend years bitterly fighting this out in court.”


Click here to read Adam Gray's syatement to the board

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January 4, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work. Due to the New Year’s Holiday, there is no scheduled road work for Sunday, January 1st or Monday, January 2nd.

Crews will begin work on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, through Friday, January 6, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

 

 

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 

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December 29, 2016

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENT

MERCED – The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (Authority) is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste event at the Highway 59 Landfill on Saturday, January 21, 2017, for residents and Conditionally-Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG). The HHW facility is located at the Highway 59 Landfill, 7040 N. Highway 59, Merced.
Household hazardous waste (HHW) is any leftover household product that contains ingredients that are “corrosive, reactive, ignitable, flammable and/or toxic.” Examples of HHW include: ammonia-based cleaners, non-empty aerosol cans (empty cans may be placed into a curbside recycling can), fluorescent tubes, automotive and household batteries, paint, pool chemicals, solvents, and used motor oil.
Before bringing items out to the facility, please call 916-296-7478 to identify the amount and type of HHW that will be dropped off at the facility. Please note that under State of California transportation regulations, there are quantity limitations on how much HHW can be transported. There is no cost for residents within Merced County, but quantity limitations do apply. Fees apply for CESQGs.
For more information, please visit www.mercedrecycles.com/hhw.html or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 24.

 

The Merced County Regional Waste Authority is comprised of city and county governments, with members who meet to discuss and solve regional issues concerning solid waste. Members include one elected representative from each of the six cities and one elected official from each of the county’s five districts. The Authority is managed by MCAG. More information can be found at www.mcrwma.org or by calling (209) 723-4481, ext. 5.

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December 28, 2016

HOMELESS SUMMIT 2017


Friday, February 17th, 2017
8:00 am - 11:00 am

Merced Theatre located at
301 West Main Street
Merced, CA 95340

The purpose of the Homeless Summit is to bring together a wide range of representatives from public and private agencies who have never come together during one occasion to collectively focus on preventing and ending homelessness in Merced County.


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December 24, 2016

City offices closed next two Mondays

City offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26 for the Christmas holiday and Monday, Jan. 2 for the New Year holiday.
There is no trash collection when City offices are closed. so trash collection will be delayed one day both weeks.
The Merced City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz will be sworn into office at the meeting and there will be a badge pinning for Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson.


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December 23, 2016

 

MCOE Employees Get Into the Giving Spirit and Help Families in Need

Employees at the Merced County Office of Education rallied together this season to help those in need.
In the Educational Services Department at the MCOE, employees filled more than 250 shoe boxes that were picked up by the Merced County Rescue Mission and donated to local boys and girls. And the Business Services Department at MCOE collected nearly 700 food items that will help families throughout the county.
Sandra Betschart, who works in MCOE’s ASSETS Afterschool program, helped lead the charge in Educational Services after learning from Merced County Rescue Mission Executive Director Bruce Metcalf that because of a change to a large donation the Mission received in past years, the non-profit would be short by about 200 children’s gifts this year.
Betschart, who has participated in a program called Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child for nearly 20 years, suggested to her fellow MCOE employees that it might be a good project for her department’s Sunshine Committee to start collecting donations on a local level.
Donation stations were set up in buildings in the Ed Services department and e-mails with a list of suggested items and donation locations were sent to MCOE staff throughout the county. Donations poured in from all MCOE departments and a large donation of wrapped boxes and items to include in the boxes was delivered by Debbie Barcellos from the Hilmar Unified School District.
MCOE employees donated a variety of items, including toiletries, clothing, socks, hats, gloves, snacks, toys, games, books and art supplies. Shoe boxes were sorted in age ranges and by gender.
In MCOE’s Business Office, the annual holiday celebration culminated in employees coming together and taking a group photo around the 688 non-perishable food items that were donated to the Merced County Rescue Mission and the Gustine Lions Club.
MCOE hopes to expand these efforts in the future and reach more of the students and families its serves.

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Merced County Office of Education employees in the Business Services Department pose with the 688 food items the department donated to the Merced County Rescue Mission and the Gustine Lions Club.


Merced County Office of Education employees in the Educational Services Department pose with Merced County Rescue Mission Executive Director Bruce Metcalf before loading the shoe boxes into a van.


Merced County Office of Education employees in the Educational Services Department organize donations and pack them into shoe boxes for the Merced County Rescue Mission.

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December 23, 2016

 

Costa, Local Ag Leaders Announce Merced County ‘Wins’ in Federal Water Infrastructure Law

MERCED, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) and Valley water and agriculture leaders held a press conference to explain the key provisions for Merced County’s water system in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency.
“The enactment of the WIIN Act is a positive step in the right direction for the people of Merced County,” said Congressman Jim Costa. “As we all know too well in the Valley, due to the combination of the drought and flawed policies, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive agriculture land has gone fallow and the farming communities in Merced County have felt the devastating impacts. The newly enacted law provides funding and implements policies that will enable the city, county and irrigation districts of Merced to move forward with important water projects to strengthen their water supply reliability. It will also create additional resilience to the future droughts we know are sure to come and will provide more protection to areas that have been damaged during the rare years of flooding. This is a rare piece of legislation that has benefits in both the dry years and the wet years. Additionally, I would like to highlight the $10 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for Merced’s Black Rascal Creek Project. This funding complements the policies in the legislation and will result in improvements in flood control, water quality, soil quality as well as supporting an adequate wildlife habitat.”
“Local area flooding has been a chronic problem in Merced County going back as long as historical data has been documented on storm events,” said Merced County Supervisor Hub Walsh. “Flooding occurs on a routine basis, causing major damage to residential structures, personal property, infrastructure, sanitary systems, domestic water delivery systems, and valuable agricultural land. The Black Rascal Creek Flood Control Project would greatly reduce these incidents. Though there’s still a lot of work left to be done, we’re thrilled to see this project gaining momentum. We’ll do everything we can to make sure that continues. I'd like to thank the Congressman as well as our local Streams Group partners for their efforts on this project."
“We appreciate the hard work that Congressman Costa has done in getting the water legislation passed,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “The $10 million for the Merced Streams Group will fund a long-overdue feasibility study to improve the flood protection along Bear Creek and Black Rascal Creek. We need that study to devise a solution to protect the lives and property of City and County residents.”
“The authorizations included in this legislation are of significant importance in our ongoing effort to eventually complete the New Exchequer Storage Enhancement Project,” said Hicham ElTal, MID Deputy General Manager of Water Supply Rights and Supply. “Significant work remains. However, MID is absolutely better positioned to move forward with the project as a result of this legislation. We are absolutely grateful for the work done by our local Congress Member Jim Costa. He and his staff have remained engaged with MID throughout this effort. We also appreciate the support we have received from other members of the Valley delegation of congressional representatives. Further, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein. We look forward to all of their continued support as we proceed on this project.”
“Jim Costa, the Valley Delegation and Senator Feinstein have fundamentally changed water management in the Valley,” said Jason Peltier, Executive Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “This legislation moves us from a broken system, for both human needs and ecosystem needs, to a place where a sense of balancing competing needs is a reality. This is an essential first step toward more effective management of our water and fishery resources.”
"During his visit to the Central Valley, President Obama noted that California agriculture is important to every American,” said Joe Del Bosque, Owner, Del Bosque Farms. “Water is crucial for our farms to produce food, and for years we have been unfairly deprived of a sustainable supply. Our farmworkers and communities have suffered hardships and unreliable employment. This bill gives farms a fair share of available water without harm to the environment."
“The past couple of years, and this year notably, has been some of the worst for California agriculture,” said Breanne Ramos, Executive Director, Merced County Farm Bureau. “For a number of seasons, we have had to endure battle after battle. At the end of a long year, the passage of the WIIN Act is welcomed.”
$10 Million U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant for Black Rascal Creek Project:
Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a $10 million investment for Merced’s Black Rascal Creek Project. The funding comes from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is an agency that Rep. Costa advocated for during Farm Bill negotiations.
The Black Rascal Creek Project will provide flood protection to the communities of Merced and Franklin/Beachwood in California and surrounding prime agricultural lands, an area that has seen frequent and severe flooding. In addition to flood control, the project will address drought, water quality, soil quality and inadequate wildlife habitat. The project is sponsored by the Merced Streams Group, a partnership of Merced County, Merced Irrigation District, and City of Merced. The partners expect to triple the federal investment in the project.
The WIIN Act authorizes the following water projects in Merced County:
The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.


Congressman Jim Costa


· Modifying language in the bill that would provide for Merced Irrigation District to advance funds so it could complete a study to evaluate raising the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam. MID has been working on the New Exchequer Spillway Enhancement for several years. Lake McClure has a water storage capacity of approximately 1 million acre feet of water. The reservoir provides water to our community’s agriculture, local environment, replenishes groundwater and protects the groundwater quality relied upon by all residents and communities in our basin for drinking water. The project would raise the spillway gates of New Exchequer Dam, allowing for up to an additional 57,000 acre feet of carryover water storage.
California funding, reports and projects:
$1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
$20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
$70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
$375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation
The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:
Short-term provisions:
Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied:
o There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
o The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
o The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.
Long-term provisions:
$558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
$335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
o $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
o $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
o Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

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December 22, 2016

Economic Impact of Campus Rises to $2.6 Billion
UC Merced has directly contributed more than $1.4 billion to the San Joaquin Valley economy and $2.6 billion to the state since operations began in 2000, with more growth to come

MERCED, Calif. — Even before its unprecedented expansion through the Merced 2020 Project, the University of California, Merced, has directly contributed more than $1.4 billion to the San Joaquin Valley economy to date, and more than $2.6 billion to the state’s economy, according to the university’s annual Economic Impact Report.
Wages and benefits, construction contracts, research expenditures and the purchases of goods and services are the major drivers of the university’s financial infusion into the economy. These benefits will multiply significantly during and beyond the four-year construction of the 1.2 million gross-square-foot expansion that will allow for significant enrollment growth and hundreds of new faculty and staff positions.
“The placement of a UC campus in Merced has had an undeniably positive effect on the city, county and state,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We are proud to be part of this community and the future is looking brighter than ever. UC Merced is gaining a national reputation for student success, academic distinction, research excellence, sustainability and affordability, and we are enriching the Valley while transforming our students’ lives.”
UC Merced now employs more than 3,300 people, including student workers, making it one of the largest employers in Merced. The payroll since the campus began operations in July 2000 now totals more than $1.08 billion, and payroll for August 2016 alone was more than $14.31 million.
Research expenditures, fueling scientific discoveries and increasing spending in the local economy to more than $172.82 million; local purchases, contracts and wages since then add up to more than $1.44 billion; and statewide purchases, contracts and wages since 2000 total more than $2.64 billion.
Research conducted by the UC Office of the PresidentOpens a New Window. has shown that these investments generate economic “ripple effects” that typically double or triple the value of the original investment.
The campus plans to double its physical capacity through the Merced 2020 Project, which began construction this fall. Over the next four years, the campus will add 1.2 million gross square feet of academic, administrative, residential and recreational facilities to accommodate a projected enrollment of 10,000 students.

The expansion will add 400 permanent faculty and staff positions and many more jobs within the local community, and is expected to generate $1.9 billion in regional economic impact and $2.4 billion statewide over the next four years.
Separately, UC Merced is building a 67,400-square-foot facility in downtown Merced to provide additional capacity for administrative staff and to promote closer interaction with the community. The $45 million Downtown Campus Center is expected to be ready for occupancy in late 2017.
UC Merced is also increasing support for local business development through the UC Merced Venture Lab, in the Parcade Building near the new downtown center. There, UC Merced professors and students work closely with local entrepreneurs in a small-business incubator designed to convert ideas into commercially viable enterprises.
The campus is also being recognized externally for its impact on the region’s economy. Merced city and county officials have touted UC Merced as the “catalyst” for a number of new development projects and downtown renovations, and a recent report from Governing Magazine showed that the Merced metropolitan area has experienced the top personal income growth of any region in the nation since 2012.
“One big contributing factor to the region’s growth is the expansion of the University of California’s Merced campus,” the magazine wrote. “The school, which opened only a decade ago, continues to add students, faculty and staff. The expansion has further supported new developments around Merced, where long-vacant downtown retail spaces have started filling up.”

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UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

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December 20, 2016

Atwater FFA “Waves” in the Holiday Season

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

During the last week of the 1st semester, just before the Christmas break, over 200 Atwater FFA students braved the cold weather and gathered at the Ag Department for the annual “Morning Wave” at 6:30 am. The idea was created by FFA advisor Dave Gossman who, while residing in Bermuda in the late 1990’s, was inspired by the country’s famous Johnny Barnes who stands at the road leading into the city of Hamilton every weekday morning (rain or shine) to wave and greet everyone driving into work.

For the past fourteen years, the Atwater FFA utilizes its December FFA meeting as a way to gather and socialize over hot chocolate, hot cider, and doughnuts and proceed to the main corner of the school to greet, wave, and wish everyone a “Happy Holiday” season.

“It’s been a great tradition,” said FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “The best part is seeing the smile and enthusiasm on the passerby’s driving in their vehicles. I think we make their day!”

 

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 



Over 200 Atwater FFA High School agriculture students participated in the annual FFA "Morning Wave" meeting where students "waved" in the holidays early morning before school to wish everyone a :happy holiday".


Over 200 Atwater FFA High School agriculture students participated in the annual FFA "Morning Wave" meeting where students "waved" in the holidays early morning before school to wish everyone a :happy holiday".


Atwater FFA members Audrey Esau, Belinda Espinoza, Michael Bray, Victoria Lopez, Colby Flatt, Emily McCartney, and Kelsi Kamesch join in on the FFA "Morning Wave" meeting at Atwater High School.


Over 200 Atwater FFA High School agriculture students participated in the annual FFA "Morning Wave" meeting where students "waved" in the holidays early morning before school to wish everyone a :happy holiday".

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December 20, 2016

Cause still unknown for Main Street fire

The City of Merced Fire Department was dispatched to a commercial structure fire at 630 W. Main Street on December 19th, 2016 at approximately 10:09 a.m. Initial reports from dispatch advised multiple phone calls stating that smoke was coming from 630 W. Main Street. Approximately four minutes after being dispatched, the first fire resource arrived at scene and advised that heavy smoke was showing from the entire building. An offensive fire attack was initiated by fire personnel. The Incident Commander requested a second and third alarm, as well as mutual aid from other agencies. This fire took approximately three hours to control and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Approximately five engines, one truck, and one Battalion Chief from the City of Merced initially responded to this incident. Mutual aid was provided from Merced County Fire Department and the City of Turlock Fire Department. Merced PD provided assistance with traffic control and street closures. Riggs Ambulance service provided an ambulance and supervisor to assist with medical monitoring and firefighter rehabilitation. City of Merced Public works division also responded to ensure the water supply system was not compromised. The City of Merced Fire Department relied on off duty personnel to respond and staff reserve engines to maintain City coverage. A total of 52 firefighters responded to this incident and to assist with city coverage. 13 police officers, 2 public works personnel, 3 Riggs ambulance service personnel, and one building inspector also provided assistance during this incident.
At this time, fire investigators are working to determine the origin and cause of this fire. As previously stated, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The building and the contents of the building have been deemed a total loss. No firefighters sustained injuries during suppression efforts.


structure fire at 630 W. Main Street

The fire department is expected to have Main Street closed between M and N Street until the investigation is complete. During this time, all businesses along this street are open to the public.
Fire investigators are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to contact Battalion Chief Cory Haas at (209) 385-6891.

 

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December 20 , 2016

In-State Demand for UC Merced Admission Hits a Record High
The vast majority of the campus’s 21,509 applicants for Fall 2017 hail from California, and
UC Merced’s 10.1 percent increase in in-state applications is the highest in the UC system

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, received more than 18,000 applications from California high school seniors seeking admission for Fall 2017 — a 10.1 percent increase from the previous year, or the largest percent increase in the UC system.
The vast majority of the 21,509 applications to UC Merced were from California students, according to preliminary data released today (Dec. 19) by the UC Office of the President. UC Merced and UC Irvine had the highest increases in total first-year student applications, with each experiencing a 9.3 percent increase over last year’s total — triple the systemwide growth rate of 3.1 percent.
“It’s extremely rewarding to see our campus continue to attract a record number of qualified students for admission,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We believe the numbers are reflective of the strides we’re making in research and innovation, and the transformative educational opportunities we offer our students.”
The increasing demand comes at a time when UC Merced is beginning to be recognized on a national level.
Earlier this year, UC Merced became the youngest institution with an R2 designation in the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education — the second-highest classification for American research universities, signifying the campus as a “doctoral-granting university with higher research activity.” The campus also made its debut in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges guide, which evaluates major institutions with national reach, advanced degree programs and deep commitments to research.
It also ranked No. 5 in Washington Monthly for social mobility and value, and ranked No. 8 for “Best Bang for the Buck: Western Colleges” and No. 8 among all public schools nationally in GoodCall’s “2016 Best Schools for Scholarships.” According to U.S. News and World Report, UC Merced student loan debt is 43 percent less than the national average.
This recognition of research excellence, academic distinction and student success has helped increase the campus’s visibility.

 

“The strong application growth demonstrates that Merced continues to be a destination for students seeking outstanding possibilities in undergraduate research, internships and degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Jill Orcutt said. “It is also an indication that what we are doing to reach students statewide to help increase college-going rates is working.”
UC Merced’s applications from California high school seniors reflect the campus’s diversity, with all ethnic groups showing an increase in applicants over Fall 2016. The number of American Indian applicants showed the largest growth, with a 16.4 percent increase. Hispanic applicants rose by 15.5 percent and African-American applicants by 13.4 percent, each the largest such increase within the system.
More than two-thirds of UC Merced’s in-state applicants (62.8 percent) come from families that meet the state’s definition of low-income, and 67.2 percent are first-generation college students. Both percentages are the highest in the UC system and a reflection of the campus’s commitment to equity and access to a research university experience for California residents.
The preliminary data does not include transfer applications, because the deadline for these applications was extended to Jan. 3.

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UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

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December 20, 2016

Statement by Assemblyman Adam C. Gray to the State Water

Resources Control Board; December 19, 2016, Merced, California
Welcome to Merced County. I want to express my appreciation to you for expanding the scope of the comment period on the substitute environmental document to include hearings in the impacted local communities of Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties.
The two hearings which have already taken place in Sacramento and Stockton were incredibly enlightening and have made clear to me, and I hope to you, that the proposal before you today is fundamentally incomplete and should not be considered a candidate for adoption.
At the prior hearings, you heard from stakeholders on entirely different sides of this debate raise the same point – any plan that focuses only on taking more water and ignores operational improvements, habitat restoration, and predator management will fail to achieve your stated goals.
Many comments have focused on the need to come up with creative solutions, and in fact, the chair and board members have made comments during the prior hearings in agreement that creative solutions are needed.
Despite a decade of work on this proposal, and what appears to be unanimous agreement from the public, the plan in print today is silent on nonflow measures and offers nothing in the way of creative solutions.
There also appears to be some confusion on behalf of the board whether or not you have the legal authority to consider nonflow options in your proposal.
Again, after 10 years of work, I would have hoped you had asked that question a long time ago.
You need to understand something about how this community perceives the Water Board.
You are the grim reaper.
Water is life in this region, and you appear to have no other purpose than to take that life away.
So you can understand our outrage when you announced a plan to double the amount of water you take from our community and create, what your own staff call, a permanent regulatory drought.
It is just beyond belief to me that you believe state law allows you to actually create a drought.
When we got a chance to read your report we learned that the authors have zero confidence in the models they used to determine benefits to fish and cannot tell us how many fish taking this amount of water will produce, although they did produce an estimate which they tried to hide in a graph which predicts an increase of just 1,104 salmon.

 

 

The report essentially ignores the existence of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to sidestep addressing the true impacts to groundwater and drinking water and finishes by low balling the negative economic consequences of taking this water from our region by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Riddled with omissions and errors as it is, the proposal in print fails to answer even the most basic questions.
It is no wonder we keep hearing about your preference for voluntary settlements.
If you truly prefer settlements as the Governor has instructed you to pursue, let me please offer some words of advice.
Acknowledge the inadequacy of the current proposal and do not move forward with it.
These public hearings have taught all of us a lot and there would be no shame in recognizing that in light of this new information, you need to go back to the drawing board.
Take an active role in settlement negotiations instead of kicking the can over to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to do it for you.
You are proposing this plan so you need to look us in the eye at the negotiating table.
Listen to, acknowledge, and actually incorporate into your plan the comments and issues raised by this community even when the answers are tough.
Do not refuse to address the hard questions like when you dodged answering how you will stop our schools from ending up on porta potties and bottled water when reduced surface water deliveries cause them to lose access to their groundwater.
Stop speaking about the fishing industry and environmentalism as if they are interchangeable terms.
Fisherman are out to make a living same as any dairyman or farmer.
They all deserve your attention and respect.
I am confident that if you follow this advice, you will find partners ready and willing to hammer out a settlement instead of ending up in court for years to come.

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December 19, 2016


MERCED COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
ANNOUNCES SELECTION OF CHRIS VITELLI
AS NEXT SUPERINTENDENT/PRESIDENT

The Merced Community College District Board of Trustees has announced the selection of Mr. Chris Vitelli as the college’s seventh Superintendent/President. The Board of Trustees announced the selection by unanimous vote during its meeting on December 13.
Vitelli, currently Vice President of Student Services at Merced College, has more than 12 years’ experience in management and administration, including senior administration-level experience serving in various capacities, including Chief Student Services Officer (CSSO), Chief Instructional Officer (CIO), and Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO).
Vitelli has also served as Dean of Instruction and interim Vice President of Student Services at Columbia College in Sonora, California. Other professional experiences include Director of Student Services for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida and Director of Business, Industry, and Community Services at Merced College.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as the next Superintendent/President of Merced College,” Vitelli said. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees for their faith and confidence in me to lead this District.
“I look forward to hitting the ground running and getting to the business of what we do best – serving students,” he added.
Vitelli has a demonstrated history of collaborative leadership required to implement educational and instructional programs, special projects, and budget management. These experiences have shaped Vitelli’s career trajectory as a “can do” innovative leader with strong vision, and have prepared him to lead the college by providing a deep knowledge base and familiarity with all aspects of a community college organization.
“I believe in the values and fabric of what makes Merced College the pillar of our community and one of the best places to live and work in the Central Valley,” he said.
Vitelli’s value of education is derived from a broad perspective of its benefits, as well as from personal experience. As a first-generation college graduate, he earned a bachelor’s of science in Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida, and a master’s of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University. He is currently working toward a doctorate degree at Arizona State University.
Vitelli has led efforts to make “students first” while at Merced College. Since his arrival as Vice President of Student Services, the College has expanded outreach efforts in the community and strengthened relationships with high school partners and four-year institutions, increased student equity and success initiatives, supported efforts to grow special services and programs such as veterans’ resources and foster youth, and enhanced student support services through technology and data.
“As a member of this community, I am uniquely mindful of the value and importance of Merced College to the community,” Vitelli said. “I look forward to working with our Merced College ‘family’ to build on the traditions and successes of this district.”


Mr. Chris Vitelli

QUICK FACTS ABOUT MERCED COLLEGE

The Merced Community College District was formed in 1962 and consists of Merced County and a portion of Madera County. The main campus is in the City of Merced with an educational center located in the City of Los Banos.
Enrollment in fall 2015 was 11,161 students.
Merced College offers 49 associate of arts degrees, 17 associate of science degrees, 15 A.A./A.S. Transfer degrees, and 55 Certificates of Achievement.
In fall 2015, Merced College employed 188 full-time faculty, 305 part-time faculty, and 310 management and classified staff.
According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by Economic Modeling Systems Incorporated (EMSI), Merced College generated $359 million in total economic activity in the region.


FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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December 19, 2016

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
Highway Closure
State Route 99 From State Route 59/140 to R Street in Merced

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at SR-59/140 for sign work.

Crews will begin work Monday, December 19, 2016, through Tuesday, December 20, 2016, from 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken when possible.

Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 from Martin Road to Yosemite national park

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, December 19, 2016, through Thursday, December 22, 2016, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERSTATE 5 At Volta Road in Merced County

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will alternately close the #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes on northbound Interstate 5 at Volta Road (north of Los Banos Creek) for maintenance activities.
Crews will begin work Sunday, December 18, 2016, through Thursday, December 22, 2016, from 7:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
Temporary Closure of Etcheverry Road in Merced countY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will temporarily close Etcheverry Road at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
Work is scheduled to begin Monday, November 28, 2016, through Friday, December 22, 2016.
Motorists that need access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south will not be impacted by the operation.
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This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

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December 19, 2016

 

Costa Announces That California Water Legislation Has Been Enacted into Law

 

FRESNO, CA - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act was signed by the President and enacted into law. The WIIN Act includes language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:
“The implementation of this legislation will improve California's water system as we know it,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “Its enactment is a positive step forward in a necessary series of efforts to create more reliable water supplies for the Valley and all Californians. Getting to this point required hard work and compromise from both sides of the aisle.”
Costa continued saying, “It is important for the California Congressional delegation to continue working together so we can build on this progress. Ensuring a reliable water supply for the people of the San Joaquin Valley has always been, and will remain, one of my highest priorities in Congress. Successes like this one can only happen when Congress works on a bipartisan basis. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House, Senate, and upcoming Administration to implement permanent solutions that ensure California has a dynamic water system for all the diverse needs of the state in the 21st century.”
“The authorizations included in this legislation are of significant importance in our ongoing effort to eventually complete the New Exchequer Storage Enhancement Project,” said Hicham ElTal, MID Deputy General Manager of Water Supply Rights and Supply. “Significant work remains. However, MID is absolutely better positioned to move forward with the project as a result of this legislation. We are absolutely grateful for the work done by our local Congress Member Jim Costa. He and his staff have remained engaged with MID throughout this effort. We also appreciate the support we have received from other members of the Valley delegation of congressional representatives. Further, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein. We look forward to all of their continued support as we proceed on this project.”
Information regarding the legislation Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act:
The legislation authorizes the following California water projects:
Merced County Impacts:
The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.
California funding, reports and projects:
$1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
$20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
$70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
$375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation
The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:


Congressman Jim Costa

Short-term provisions:
Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta.
Expediting reviews of water transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of water transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for water transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish, if they decide to pump at lower levels.
Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
Long-term provisions:
$558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
$335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
$30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
$50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
$36 million for projects to improve California’s ecosystems, like the acquisition of additional water supplies for the Grasslands Ecological Preserve in Merced County, and additional salmon habitat throughout California.
Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

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December 16, 2016


Dear Community Member:

Next week, the Water Board will be conducting full hearings in Merced and Modesto regarding the proposed plan to increase flows from our rivers. I ask that you please join me in person at the hearings to voice your opposition to the Water Board's plan.

As you know, this plan will have devastating effects on our economy, our drinking water, and our quality of life. It is imperative that we make a strong showing at the meetings. Members of the public will be able to make brief comments and those comments will become part of the official record.

Please note that the Water Board recently changed the location of the Merced meeting to the Merced Theater at 301 W. Main Street.


Meeting Times and Locations:
Merced County
Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main Street, Merced
Monday, December 19th 9 am
Stanislaus County
Modesto Center Plaza, Tuolumne River Room
1000 K Street, Modesto
Tuesday, December 20th 9 am


If you are unable to make it in person, written comments can be sent directly to the Water Board. Please click here to download the petition.

The last day for written comments is January 17, 2017.
Letters may be emailed to commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov
Mailing Information
Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814-0100


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December 16, 2016

New Merced Council sworn at Monday night meeting

The new Mayor and three new Council members will be sworn in during the Monday night Merced City Council meeting.
The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.
Mayor Mike Murphy and Council members Anthony Martinez, (District 1), Jill McLeod, (District 3) and Matt Serratto (District 5) will be sworn into office by Merced County Superior Court Presiding Judge Brian L. McCabe.
There will be a reception for the new Council members from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second floor landing of the Civic Center. The public is invited to attend.
Also on the agenda is a presentation by Economic Development Director Frank Quintero giving a year-end review of the City’s accomplishments. The review will cover a range of topics from the completion of the revenue sharing agreement with Merced County, to new businesses and industries that have come to Merced.

 

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.
The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.


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December 16, 2016

Surrogate Program for Special Needs Students Searching for


There is a growing need for surrogate parents to intercede on behalf of Merced County’s special needs students.
Maria Duran-Barajas, coordinator of the Merced County Office of Education’s Program and Special Education Local Plan Area, said she is looking to recruit at least 10 surrogate parents for the volunteer role. The countywide program now has less than five surrogate parents.
Surrogate parents take part in parent-teacher conferences involving special education children from 3 to 18 years of age. They can be involved in decisions about educational placement for special needs children and can advocate to have them evaluated for possible referral to specialized programs.
“Surrogate parents develop a close bond with students,” Duran-Barajas said. “They trust each other. The child has someone they can count on and trust to represent them in a school setting.”
Surrogate parents get involved if children are in group homes, their parents cannot be found or have given up their educational rights, are incarcerated or have abandoned the youngsters, she explained.
The MCOE coordinator has worked for the county schools office for about 15 years and has conducted the surrogate parent training sessions for about 10 years. Surrogate parents can be assigned to students in public and private schools.
Mary Jo Diaz has been a surrogate parent for about 10 years and knows she helps to make a difference in the student’s lives.
“It is rewarding to help the foster youth to get their educational needs met,” Diaz said. “I have fun with the kids; they are so used to being bounced around from different group homes so they have trouble trusting people. I am there to have someone to trust, listen and be sincere.”
Possible surrogate parents go through a three- to six-hour training session provided by MCOE. Surrogate parents meet at least once with a child before they are assigned and either party can opt out of the yearlong agreement.



Duran-Barajas said surrogate parents have developed a long-lasting relationship with a child. The procedure has been in place for years, mandated by the state Education Code.
“For retirees or those looking to give back to the community, this is the best thing to do. There is a minimal time commitment, as much time as they want to invest,” Duran-Barajas said.
Surrogate parents can represent more than one child and one surrogate might have as many as five children they are helping. She hopes that new surrogate parents will step forward so the load can be lightened on those currently involved.
Those prohibited from being surrogate parents are local school employees such as teachers or principals, or those with perceived conflicts of interest in the case. A relative caretaker, foster parent, court-appointed special advocate, foster care provider, retired teacher, social worker or probation officers are eligible.
Surrogate parent responsibilities include ensuring a student is enrolled in and attending school, ensuring a student is in the appropriate school program and receiving necessary educational services and support.
Those interested in becoming surrogate parents may contact Duran-Barajas at 381-6670, extension 4612, or email her at mbarajas@mcoe.org.


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December 15, 2016

New MCSD Board Members Take Oath of Office

During a ceremony prior to the start of the Merced City School District’s December 13 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran administered the oath of office to three newly elected Board members.
Mike Crass, Emily Langdon, and Miguel Lopez join Adam Cox and Jessica Kazakos, who both began their terms in December of 2009. During Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Cox was unanimously approved as Board President, and Mrs. Kazakos was unanimously named Board Clerk.
Mr. Crass has served on the Board for Area 1 since he was appointed to the vacant position in May, and he was elected to continue in that role by voters in November. Mr. Crass is a retired educator and consultant.
Dr. Langdon was elected to serve on the Board for Area 4. She is a university educator whose children attend schools in the Merced City School District.
Mr. Lopez was elected to serve on the Board for Area 2. He is a community relations representative at UC Merced.
While Board members are elected by the area in which they live, they each represent all of the district’s 11,000 preschool through 8th grade students across 18 campuses.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Cox said he looks forward to working with his colleagues to serve all MCSD stakeholders. He added, “We have wonderful staff, great parents, and outstanding students.”
Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran also welcomed the new Board members and said, “We appreciate their commitment to serving students and their families throughout the Merced City School District.”


Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran administering the oath of office before Tuesday’s Board meeting



(From left to right) Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran, Board Member Dr. Emily Langdon, Board President Adam Cox, Board Clerk Jessica Kazakos, Board Member Miguel Lopez, Board Member Mike Crass



Mike Crass and Emily Langdon taking the oath of office before Tuesday’s Board meeting


Miguel Lopez taking the oath of office before Tuesday’s Board meeting

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December 14, 2016

Zoo extends hours for residents to enjoy the “Lights”

“Lights Before Christmas” was such a hit, that the Applegate Park Zoo has extended its hours of operation from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 to Friday, Dec. 23.
The lights and displays are dazzling at night, along with the snow machines and other special effects, creating Merced’s Christmas wonderland.
It’s sponsored by the Merced Parks and Recreation Department and the Merced Zoological Society.
The Zoo is located at 1045 W. 25th (25th and R streets).

 

The Zoo’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff will take an hour break between regular hours and the extended hours start at 5 p.m.
Zoo admission during the day and for the extended displays are $3 for ages 16 and up, $1.50 for senior citizens 62 and up, ages 5 to 15 are $2 and under 5 are free.

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December 13, 2016

 

Dr. Steve M. Tietjen Takes Oath of Office for Merced County Superintendent of Schools

At its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 12 Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven E. Gomes administered the oath of office to Dr. Steve M. Tietjen.
With his wife Rebecca standing next to him at the ceremony, Tietjen takes the reigns of the Merced County Office of Education, which operates programs throughout the county and has a staff of nearly 1,400.
Gomes announced his retirement earlier this year and the Merced County Board of Trustees appointed former Los Banos Unified School District Superintendent Tietjen to the remaining two years of the four-year term.
Tietjen, who most recently served as superintendent in Los Banos, has served as superintendent in Woodlake, Ca. and has worked in education for more than 35 years, starting his career as a history teacher in Visalia in 1980.
In addition to Tietjen taking the oath of office, longtime Merced County Board Trustee Fred Honore, who ran unopposed, was sworn in to office. Honore represents Board Trustee Area 4, which encompasses the northwestern part of Merced County.


Dr. Steve M. Tietjen, center, with his wife Rebecca, takes the oath of office to become the Merced County Superintendent of Schools from outgoing Superintendent Dr. Steven E. Gomes at the Merced County Office of Education on Dec. 12.

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December 13 , 2016

Yara North America Supports UC Merced Students, Ag Research
Funding will provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships to support innovative research to help improve agricultural processes

MERCED, Calif. — A contribution from Yara North America will provide the University of California, Merced, with the potential to take agricultural research to a new level of innovation and improve crop yields, particularly in almonds.
Yara, known for its fertilizers, crop nutrition programs and technologies to increase yields, improve product quality and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices, has established the Yara North America Almond Scholarship and Fellowship Fund to help support a three-year graduate fellowship and scholarships to two undergraduate students each year for three years. Areas of research may include soil fertility, plant nutrition, and water- and nutrient-use efficiency across disciplines.
“This generous contribution from Yara North America allows UC Merced to expand on the outstanding agriculture-related research our faculty members and students are already conducting,” Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kyle Hoffman said. “It will give more students the opportunity to discover solutions to the agriculture industry’s most pressing questions.”
Yara has worked with farmers in North America for 70 years, but this is its first project to support students and research at a California university. The company entered into a similar collaboration this summer with University of Florida to encourage innovation to improve citrus crop quality and quantity. Yara believes that improving knowledge is key to increasing farmers’ profitability while protecting the environment.
Yara is exploring the opportunities and challenges facing California agriculture, and almonds specifically. The company leveraged its strong relationship with the Almond Board of California (ABC) to find the ideal research university partner.
As the only research university situated in the center of California’s San Joaquin Valley, and with ABC’s recommendation, UC Merced was an ideal match for Yara’s goals.
“Our goal is to utilize the university’s innovation methods to encourage the next generation of researchers to look at new ways to examine agricultural processes,” said Gary Vogen, Yara North America’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “We are combining resources to develop creative solutions to issues surrounding agriculture, such as conserving water, increasing crop health and yield, and improving the environment.”

Quick Facts • UC Merced has received $60,000 from Yara North America to support student scholarships and fellowships. • The contribution will expose students to agriculture through research. • Selected graduate and undergraduate students will examine new technologies that help better manage agricultural systems.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Numerous areas of faculty research at UC Merced are already significantly benefiting agriculture, including allied industries such as food processing. For example, UC Merced scientists at the Sierra Nevada Research Institute are researching methods of more accurate forecasting and measurement of water supply in the Sierra watersheds and in the groundwater aquifers of the Central Valley, and others are using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to monitor soil and crop conditions.
UC Merced is in the final stages of the scholarship and fellowship selection process and expects research to begin in the spring semester.
###
About UC Merced
UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.
About Yara
Yara’s knowledge, products and solutions grow farmers’, distributors’ and industrial customers’ businesses profitably and responsibly while nurturing and protecting the earth’s resources, food and environment.
Founded in 1905 to solve emerging famine in Europe, Yara has a worldwide presence with more than 12,000 employees and sales to more than 150 countries. Yara North America, Inc., serving the United States and Canada, is based in Tampa, FL.

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December 13, 2016

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERSTATE 5 At Volta Road in Merced County

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation is closing the #1 (left) lane on northbound Interstate 5 at Volta Road for maintenance.

Crews will begin work Monday, December 12, 2016, through Tuesday, December 13, 2016, from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

 

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 

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December 12, 2016

Incoming Superintendent to be Sworn in at Dec. 12 Board Meeting

At its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 12, Merced County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven E. Gomes will swear in the incoming superintendent, Dr. Steve M. Tietjen.
Gomes announced his retirement earlier this year and the Merced County Board of Trustees appointed former Los Banos Unified School District Superintendent Tietjen to the remaining two years of the four-year term.
Employees of the quarter and retirees will also be recognized at the Board meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 3 o’clock in the Clark/Newbold Room at MCOE, 632 W. 13th Street in Merced.


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December 12, 2016

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 from Martin Road to Yosemite national park

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.
Crews will begin work on Monday, December 12, 2016, through Friday, December 16, 2016, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

 

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

 


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December 12, 2016


Assemblyman Adam Gray & Senator Cannella to Host Annual Bi-partisan Holiday Open House Dec 15th

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) will host their annual bi-partisan holiday open house at Gray’s Merced District office located at 690 W. 16th Street, Merced on Thursday, December 15th from 3:00 – 5:00 pm.

The public is welcomed to come discuss state and legislative matters or just to stop by for a visit. For more information, please call 209-726-5465.


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December 12, 2016

Costa, Local Ag Leaders Urge Senate to Pass California Water Legislation

FRESNO, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) and Valley water and agriculture leaders held a press conference to urge the United States Senate to support the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency.
“The bill is a positive step in the right direction for the people of the San Joaquin Valley and all Californians,” said Congressman Jim Costa. “As we all know too well in the Valley, due to the combination of the drought and flawed policies, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive agriculture land has gone fallow and thousands of families do not have water to drink, cook, or bathe. I sincerely hope that this legislation is passed out of the Senate and that it gets signed by the President immediately.”
“If this bill is enacted, it will be the result of long tireless work by Members of Congress on both sides of Capitol Hill and both sides of the aisle,” said Tom Birmingham, General Manager, Westlands Water District. “The measure overwhelming passed by the House on a vote of 360-61, represents a bi-partisan compromise that will bring interim relief to communities all over the state while we pursue long term solutions to meet the water needs of the San Joaquin Valley and the state.”
“We want to express our sincere gratitude to Rep. Costa, his staff, and his colleagues in the House and Senate who have worked tirelessly for more than three years to improve the flexibility and operations of our water system during this extreme drought,” said Jason Phillips, CEO, Friant Water Authority. “The California water provisions in the WIIN Act provide important, but modest, short-term relief for the Central Valley. No matter the outcome of the forthcoming Senate vote, much work is left to be done to resolve California’s most persistent water challenges, and we look forward to working with Rep. Costa, other Members, and the new Administration on this issue in 2017.”
“Yesterday’s vote on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) was hopefully a sign of good things to come,” said Ret. Congressman George Radanovich, President, California Fresh Fruit Association. “From my time in Congress, I understand the difficulty in bringing people together, finding compromise and knowing when this is the best that can be done. Yesterday’s WRDA bill is not perfect, nor will it solve the entirety of California’s water issues, but it is a step forward and will help ease the pain inflicted upon many Californians during this long drought, including many of the growers that I represent.”
“I would like to applaud the entire Valley delegation for their continued support in helping pass this overdue legislation, said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO, Fresno County Farm Bureau. “California’s broken water system needs to be addressed. For two generations, we have done very little. Thousands of productive agricultural acres in Fresno County have gone fallow as a result. This is unacceptable. Water equals jobs in our economy, and WIIN produces water.”
“For the first time in a generation, thanks to Congressman Costa and his colleagues in the House and Senate we have a real opportunity to modernize our water infrastructure and recognize science that can assist all in providing water for our environment, families, communities and farms,” said Joel Nelsen, President, California Citrus Mutual. “We don’t rely upon 1960 model cars nor wear fashions from that time thus our subjectivity surrounding legislation from that era needs to be replaced with legitimate data. Our aged infrastructure designed for a smaller California populace requires expansion. Our sincere thanks to all for helping take our state into the future.”
“I would like to thank the Valley Congressional delegation, Congressmen Jim Costa, David Valadao, and Kevin McCarthy and Senator Dianne Feinstein for their hard work,” said Steve Chedester, Executive Director, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority. “This legislation is critical for our water supply. I look forward to working with the new Administration, rolling up our sleeves, and finding new solutions for regulatory relief.”
The Senate is expected to vote on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act tonight.
The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:
Short-term provisions:
Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water


Congressman Jim Costa


can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied:
o There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
o The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
o The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.
Long-term provisions:
$558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
$335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
o $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
o $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
o Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.
The legislation authorizes the following California water projects:
Merced County Impacts
The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.
California funding, reports and projects
$1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
$20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
$70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
$375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation


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December 9 , 2016

Students Support Toys for Tots

Students at Burbank Elementary in Merced are learning valuable lessons while supporting a great cause this holiday season.
On Tuesday, all of the kindergartners took a walking field trip to a nearby store to pick out stuffed animals, action figures, games, and other gifts for children in need. They used their own money as well as additional donations to pay for the items. Representatives from Toys for Tots then visited the campus to collect the presents so they can be distributed to local families in time for Christmas.
This donation day was one of several acts of the kindness the kindergartners have been doing during the past two weeks, which all correlate with their classroom lessons. Their current English language arts unit is helping the students to learn about being part of a neighborhood, and their social studies unit focuses on how to be good citizens.
Teacher Jeannette Wersinger says, “This is a great way for our students to learn about giving back to the community and how they can make a positive impact at a young age. They’re learning that they can do simple things like raking their neighbors’ leaves or opening doors for others. We hope they will continue to build on these lessons as they progress in school and in life.”

 

 

 

 





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December 9 , 2016

FFA Leads School in Operation Christmas Child

 

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

The holiday season is associated with “giving” and as a time to help others. A highlighted example of this spirit is Atwater High School’s FFA program that was inspired last year by FFA member Amanda Skidmore who inspired and led the students at Atwater High School in “Operation Christmas Child. The program is coordinated through an organization called Samaritan’s Purse where school supplies, toys, and hygiene items are collected and placed in shoe boxes and distributed globally to impoverished countries.

“I wanted to continue the tradition that was started,” said Atwater High School senior Jasmine Flores. “Knowing you can touch someone else’s life and make a difference is truly the best feeling one can have.”

Jasmine’s goal was to get at least 200 shoe boxes organized prior to the Christmas holiday. She communicated with the Atwater High School Leadership class and FFA Leadership class in organizing the event. The process expanded out to other departments and classes at Atwater High School. The school participated with various donations of goodies that went into each box. Additional funds were raised through a sponsored fundraiser at Applebee’s restaurant. When it was all completed, 232 boxes of various items was delivered to Gateway Church, loaded on a semi-truck, and shipped off to various countries where the boxes will travel via boat, plane, train, camel, and foot to various children and families.

“This was a school-wide and community effort,” said Flores. “It’s about making a positive difference in the lives of people and the effort of implementing the holiday spirit of giving.”


Atwater High School agriculture students Hannah Carrillo, Sayra Ramos, Melissa Martinez, and Emily McCartney put together some of the 232 gift boxes as part of the annual Operation Christmas Child program.

Atwater High School agriculture sophomore Garrett Creighton organizes gift boxes in the Agriculture Leadership class as part of the Operation Christmas Child program

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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December 9 , 2016

CALL TO ACTION FOR LOCAL STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD MEETINGS

It is imperative that the community attend the upcoming hearings of the State Water Resources Control Board on their proposal to increase minimum flows from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers by 40%. It is essential that our community make our extreme opposition to this proposal known to the Water Board.
This proposal will have profound negative effects on the economy, groundwater, and drinking water of Merced and Stanislaus County. It will radically alter our quality of life for many years to come. The Water Board will be taking public testimony at this hearing and it is important that we show up and speak out clearly and forcefully against this proposal.
The Board will be conducting full hearings in Merced and Modesto in the coming weeks.
Merced County
Monday, December 19th – 9 am – Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main Street, Merced
Stanislaus County
Tuesday, December 20th – 9 am – Modesto Centre Plaza, Tuolumne River Room, 1000 K Street, Modesto

 

The Water Board has scheduled these hearing during the holidays. Some think this was done because it will reduce the likelihood of many attending due to family and other holiday obligations. Regardless, we need to make a strong showing.
I urge community members to personally attend the hearing and make brief comments on your concerns. It is important because this is a formal proceeding, and our comments must be made part of the official record. Written comments can be sent directly to the Water Board. The last day for written comments is January 17, 2017. Letters may be emailed to commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov or sent by regular mail to:
Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814-0100

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December 9, 2016

Costa Urges Senate and President to Support House Passed California Water Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:
“Today’s House passage of California water legislation is a win for the San Joaquin Valley. The bipartisan Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act earned broad support from Democrats and Republicans in the California delegation, and I hope my Senate colleagues will join Senator Feinstein in voting for this important legislation. I strongly urge the Senate and the President to act quickly, so the short-term provisions, like authorizing increased pumping during storms in the winter months, can be implemented immediately. More water will be captured and delivered to Valley communities and farms as a result of the enactment of this legislation.
“Additionally, this legislation authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group, and will provide flood protection for the residents of Merced. There is also modifying language in the bill that would provide for Merced Irrigation District to advance funds so it could complete a study to evaluate raising the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam.
“The status quo in California is a result of flawed policies and five years in a row of record breaking drought, and current conditions will get exponentially worse if we do nothing. This bill will change the status quo and is good for all Californians, farmers, farm workers as well as the environment.”
Rep. Costa spoke on the House floor during debate in support of the water infrastructure legislation. His remarks can be viewed here.
Yesterday, Rep. Costa spoke on the House floor to bring attention to the human impacts of drought conditions in California’s San Joaquin Valley. His remarks can be viewed here.
The legislation authorizes the following California water projects:
Merced County Impacts
The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.
California funding, reports and projects
$1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
$20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
$70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
$375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation
The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:
Short-term provisions:
Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.


Congressman Jim Costa


1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied:
o There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
o The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
o The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.
Long-term provisions:
$558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
$335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
o $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
o $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
o Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

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December 8 , 2016

Atwater FFA Students Embark on Public Speaking Opportunities

 

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

Five Atwater High School agriculture students participated and competed in the annual Mariposa FFA Creed and Impromptu Public Speaking contest held at Mariposa High School. The opportunity is one of numerous public speaking opportunities and competitions that will take place in the coming months for agriculture students.

“Being a good communicator is one of the foundations off success towards personal and career development,” says Atwater FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. “I’m very proud of our students’ efforts, participation, courage, and enthusiasm in this event!”

Sophomore agriculture student Emily Junez led Atwater FFA with a 1st place finish in the Impromptu contest, with Anessa Cardenas following in 3rd place. The contest involves students having 1 minute to prepare a 2 minute speech pertaining to an agriculture related topic. Atwater FFA’s Liliana Vargas, Faith Ceja, and Natalie Frontella also competed and put forth a strong effort in the competition.

Nearly sixty students representing various central valley schools participated in the event which was geared towards allowing students an opportunity to practice and prepare for the sectional finals in late January. “This is an opportunity for students to develop, build, and strengthen critical thinking and speaking skills,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. “Opportunities for students such as this establish foundation skills for success.”

For more information on this event, upcoming events, and information on the Atwater FFA, log on their website at www.AtwaterFFA.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


The Atwater High School FFA Improptu speaking team comprised of Natalie Frontella, Liliana Vargas, Kim Macintosh (coach), Faith Ceja, Emily Junez, and Anessa Cardenas competed at the annual Mariposa FFA Speaking Contest to begin the FFA speaking competition season.


Atwater High School FFA Impromptu Speaking contestant Emily Junez placed 1st overall and Anessa Cardenas placed 3rd overall at the Mariposa FFA Speaking Contest held at Mariposa High School on December 3rd.

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December 8, 2016

‘Lights Before Christmas’ @Applegate Zoo is family fun

The stars of the Applegate Zoo will be highlighted this week on Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 for the “Lights Before Christmas” holiday extravaganza.
All of the Zoo animals will be hosting the event that runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. both days. The decorations will remain up through the month.
The Zoo is decked out in its best Christmas garb and decorations, a perfect evening for all the family.
Kids of all ages can make decorations in Santa’s Workshop, pet some of the “reindeer” and visit with Santa.

 

 

The cost is $3, with kids 5 and under $1.
It’s sponsored by the Merced Parks and Recreation Department and the Merced Zoological Society.
The Zoo is located at 1045 W. 25th (25th and R streets).
For a current listing of activities go to www.MercedZoo.org.

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December 8 , 2016

MCOE Seeks Community’s Linguistic Diversity For Biliteracy Program

The Merced County Office of Education is seeking assistance from the community for the SEAL of Biliteracy program.
The accolade, which is listed on student transcripts, is awarded by MCOE in partnership with county school districts in recognition of attained proficiency in English and at least one other target language by high school graduation.
Students participate in oral interviews and writing tasks to determine proficiency in their target language and earn the Seal of Biliteracy.
MCOE is in need of those in the community who are proficient in writing, speaking and reading the language to help with reading and scoring the target language essays and participate as an interviewer. The target languages are Portuguese, Punjabi, Hmong, Hindi, Gujarati, Filipino, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, Indonesian and Tagolog.

 

If you can help, please contact Amelia Jimenez at (209) 381-6761 or email her at AJimenez@mcoe.org.

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December 8, 2016

Costa Applauds Introduction of Bill Language to Fix California’s Broken Water System

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act was introduced with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:
“Today, effective and bipartisan language to fix California’s broken water system was introduced as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act. I applaud my House and Senate colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, who I have been working with for years negotiating these provisions, which are fair and balanced.
“If this language is enacted into law, California is authorized to receive additional federal resources to improve water infrastructure, including investments in additional storage, increased water recycling, and water desalination. Additionally, there are short-term provisions to improve water system operations, so more water can be made available to Valley communities, farmers, and farm workers.
“California is dealing with a devastating drought and may soon face six years in a row of record breaking dry conditions. The people of California, farmers, and our environment will all benefit if this legislation is enacted. As I have said time and again, continuing to operate under the same flawed policies and failing to provide funding for desperately needed water infrastructure is never to going to solve our water problems. Finally, something has the possibility of getting done, and all regions of state, especially those that have been most affected by the drought, will see positive impacts if this package is signed into law.
“While I appreciate the hard work that went into introducing this legislation, we are long overdue in getting here. Fixing California’s broken water system has been a political issue that has gone on for far too long. Families in California’s San Joaquin Valley are suffering without water and hundreds of thousands of acres of productive agriculture land have gone fallow. I sincerely hope that my colleagues will move past the hyperbole and look at the facts - this legislation is balanced and will provide benefits for cities, the agriculture industry, and the environment.
“I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to support this legislation and act swiftly, so it can be sent to the President’s desk for signature. Time is of the essence. The drought stricken communities in California, especially those in the San Joaquin Valley, deserve for this legislation to be passed immediately.”
The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:
Short-term provisions:
· Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
·
Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
· 1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same


Congressman Jim Costa


“block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied: o There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
o The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
o The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
· Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
· Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
· Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
· Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
· Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
· Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.
Long-term provisions:
· $558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
o $335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
o $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
o $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
o Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

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December 8 , 2016


Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Expands Free WiFi Service

Stockton (CA) – Starting early January, 2017 WiFi service will be expanded to all passenger cars for all four eastbound trains, and all four westbound trains during weekday commuter service on ACE. Previously, Wi-Fi service was limited to one passenger car per trainset. Due to an overwhelming request from passengers to expand this train amenity, all ACE riders will be able to stay connected to family and or work while on their ride to their destination using ACE’s extended WiFi service.

“We at ACE recognize the importance to all our riders in having the convenience of accessing WiFi service. With over 20,000 weekly commuters, many of which start their work day on ACE; responding to emails and engaged in telecommuting, depend on reliable connectivity to the digital world. Therefore, as of January 3, 2017 this free amenity will be accessible on every train and every passenger car” said Shawn Crary, ACE Community Engagement and Marketing Coordinator.


Possible Limitations
Due to the terrain of the rural areas along the ACE route from Stockton to San Jose, WiFi service most likely will be limited in certain areas. Specific areas where service has a tendency to drop are along the Altamont Pass (after the Tracy Station) to Vasco Road station, within the tunnels going towards Fremont, and within the Alviso area between Fremont and Great America stations.

About ACE
ACE, started in 1998 and serving over one million riders annually, runs four daily round trips starting at the Cabral Station in Downtown Stockton and stops in Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Vasco Road, Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont, Great America, Santa Clara and San Jose’s Diridon station. For more information on ACE, please visit www.acerail.com.

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December 5, 2016

Parking permits, conflict of interest on Council agenda

A public hearing on parking permits and the adoption of the City’s conflict of interest code are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.

Residents on Beals Avenue and Spalding Court have requested the City establish a residential permit parking zone in their immediate neighborhood. Residents said they are getting a number of Merced College students parking and loitering on the streets.

Residents went before the City Traffic Committee, which approved the permit parking zone. The Council is being asked to restrict parking so that on-street parking will only be allowed with a permit from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Council also will consider a revised Conflict of Interest Code. The new version updates the code to include recently added positions, such as the assistant city manager and deputy public works director.

 

The state Political Reform Act requires the City to review and update the Code every two years.

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.

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December 5, 2016

Merced City Clinches First Place for Elementary, Dominates Jr. High Spelling Bees

Can you spell catechism? How about condign or kleptomania?
These two words set the first place winners apart from the rest at the Merced County Elementary and Junior High Spelling Bees this week.
Nikhil Parikh, a 5th grader at Sheehy Elementary School, and Daniel Chen, an 7th grader at Cruickshank Middle School both won their respective spelling bees. During the elementary bee, Parikh clinched the first place position when the other three remaining spellers were knocked out of the competition with the word catechism. Additional words were then given to determine 2nd and 3rd place until the final words stumped the remaining students.
The elementary spelling bee was held on Nov. 29 at the Atwater Community Center and the junior high spelling bee was held on Nov. 30 at the Merced County Office of Education.
More than 95 students, grades 4, 5 and 6, from 48 elementary schools in the elementary bee and 37 students, grades 7 and 8, from 17 junior high schools competed in the junior high bee.
Michelle Symes, director of district services at MCOE, was the word master for the elementary competition and Kathy Niino, program specialist for Educational Services at MCOE, was the word master for the junior high competition.
Words and definitions were given to students before they put their spelling skill into action. First and second place winners from both competitions represent Merced County at the state championships accordingly.
The elementary study word list is provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which holds the elementary state spelling bee championship. Marin County Office of Education provides the junior high word list and holds the state championship in San Rafael.


Elementary Winners:

First Place Word: Catechism, Final Word: Condign (determined 2nd and 3rd Place)

1st Place
Nikhil Parikh – 5th Grade
Sheehy Elementary, Merced City School District

2nd Place
Samika Judge – 5th Grade
R.M. Miano Elementary, Los Banos Unified School District

3rd Place
Dakotah Timpson – 6th Grade
Peggy Heller Elementary, Atwater Elementary School District


Junior High Winners:

Final Word: Kleptomania

1st Place
Daniel Chen – 7th Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District

2nd Place
Jani Vue – 7th Grade
Rivera Middle School, Merced City School District

3rd Place
Arielle Talania – 8th Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Winners from the 2016 Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee from left: Daniel Chen, first place; Jani Vue, second place; Arielle Telania, third place.


Students participate in the 2016 Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee at the Atwater Community Center on Tuesday.


Daniel Chen from Cruikshank Middle School won first place in the 2016 Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee.


Winners from the 2016 Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee from left: Dakotah Timpson, third; Nikhil Parikh, first; Samika Judge, second.


Nikhil Parikh won first place in the 2016 Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee.

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December 5 , 2016

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM EAST ATWATER BOULEVARD TO GRIFFITH ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is alternately closing the #1 (left), #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes on northbound and southbound State Route 99 from East Atwater Boulevard to Griffith Road for line striping operations.

Crews will begin work beginning Monday, December 5, 2016, through Thursday, December 8, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken when possible.

Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM SAINT FRANCIS WAY TO SANTE FE GRADE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 165 for road construction activities.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on Monday, December 5, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


 

For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, December 5, 2016, through Friday, December 9, 2016, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERSTATE 5 AT VOLTA ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform maintenance activities on northbound Interstate 5 at Volta Road in Merced County.

The #1 (left) lane will be closed beginning Monday, December 5, 2016, through Friday, December 9, 2016, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. for bridge work.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken when possible.

Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will temporarily close Etcheverry Road at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
Work is scheduled to begin Monday, November 28, 2016, through Friday, December 22, 2016.
Motorists that need access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

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December 2, 2016

Beatles vs. Stones tribute show comes to Merced stage on February 21

Merced, CA (11/29/16) The debate between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has been going on ever since they first crossed paths on the charts 53 years ago. The argument at the time, and one that still persists, was that the Beatles were a pop group and the Stones were a rock band: the boys next door vs. the bad boys of rock. So who’s better? These two legendary bands will engage in an on-stage, throw down - a musical 'showdown' if you will - on February 21 at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre the courtesy of tribute bands Abbey Road and Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show.

Taking the side of the Fab Four is Abbey Road, one of the county's top Beatles tribute bands. With brilliant musicianship and authentic costumes and gear, Abbey Roadplays beloved songs spanning the Beatles' career. They face off against renowned Stones tribute band Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show, who offer a faithful rendition of the music and style of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the bad boys of the British Invasion.

Where did the idea for the show come from?

“Music fans never had a chance to see the Beatles and the Rolling Stones perform on the same marquee,” said Chris Legrand, who plays “Mick Jagger” in the show.

“Now, music aficionados can watch this debate play out on stage.”

The Merced show is part of a 125 stop tour of the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada and has been touring since 2011.The show also performs long term residencies for a number of the Harrah’s Casino properties. The production includes some of the more popular songs from the two rock pioneers and covers the scope of their musical careers, although the set list for Satisfaction usually includes Rolling Stones songs up to the 1980s.

"They certainly have more pop songs but we're a really great live show. The fans are in for an incredible night of music!" says LeGrand.


During the two-hour show, the bands perform three sets each, trading places in quick set changes and ending the night with an all-out encore involving both bands. The band members have their outfits custom-made, since avid fans know exactly what the Beatles and Stones wore onstage during different time periods in their careers. There’s a lot of good-natured jabbing between the bands as well.


Chris Legrand ("Mick"), John Wade ("Bill Wyman") and Trey Garitty ("Keith Richards").


Chris Paul Overall ("Paul"), Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo") and Jesse Wilder ("George")

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Without Beatlemania, the Stones might still be a cover band in London,” said Chris Overall, who plays "Paul".

“There’s no question that the Beatles set the standard.”

The audience naturally enjoys top shelf tributes to two legendary bands in the same evening. Like The Idaho Statesman said: "If you see only one tribute show, see this one...smart and loads of fun."

“It’s just a fun time and a cool back-and-forth nonstop show,” Overall said.

“We’re going to bring it all. It’s going to be an evening of high-energy music,” said Legrand.

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December 1, 2016

Wellness Fair at Weaver USD Shows Students Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Wellness is welcomed at Weaver.
Healthy and happy students are better prepared for learning, Weaver Union School District Superintendent John Curry believes. He says he’s pleased that the district is reaching out to educate its students on healthy lifestyles.
Farmdale Elementary School recently held an all-afternoon Wellness Fair in its central compound, with representatives from a number of public and private organizations on hand to advocate healthy lifestyles for students, staff and parents.
Farmdale Principal Kathy Moser say this was the third time a wellness event was held at the school, the last time was about five years ago. The event complements the district’s wellness policy and she hopes the wellness fair becomes an annual event.
“The purpose is just to help our community know the resources that are available,” Moser says. “We encourage healthy choices. Health in general is getting more attention. If basic health isn’t there, how can we be successful academically?”
Charlene Barney, Weaver’s general manager of cafeteria services and a Sodexo consultant, said the fair had a little bit of everything, including a Sodexo exhibit on healthy eating, a presentation on recycling, In-Shape City representatives promoting physical activity, the Castle Family Health Centers and Merced County Department of Public Health representatives.
The county Human Services Agency’s “All Moms Matter” and “All Dads Matter” groups had exhibits at the Farmdale event. The Merced County Office of Education passed out information on upcoming student competitions throughout the county.
Barney says she hopes students pick up habits to do more physical activity as well as eating healthy and taking care of their bodies as well as their minds.
Barney’s daughter Charla, a registered nurse and public health nurse from Fremont, was helping out. She passed out information encouraging proper hand-washing, eating healthy and exercising.
County public health representatives called attention to their programs and on-site classes on diabetes management, chronic disease management, workshops to relieve stress, nutrition and tobacco cessation.
Carl Schwesinger, also a Sodexo consultant and manager of food services programs for the Atwater Elementary School District, talked about composting and told students that Americans generate 200 million pounds of garbage in a year’s time. That’s enough to fill two football stadiums. Each person produces about four pounds of garbage in a day.
Schwesinger said students and their parents can preserve the environment by recycling. He demonstrated how certain materials can be recycled and should be put in their proper container.


Alex Pineda, Sodexo general manager for the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District in Stanislaus County talks to students about the importance of recycling at Farmdale Elementary School in November. According to Pineda, the average person in America creates 4 pounds of trash every day, which over one year's time is enough trash to fill two football stadiums.

PHOTO BY TIM RYAN COURTESY THE MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sandra Sanchez, also a Sodexo consultant and manager of Delhi schools’ cafeteria programs, manned the “rethink your drink” booth and told students how soft drinks and fruit drinks contain large amounts of sugar which can be detrimental to their health and contribute to childhood diabetes and tooth decay.
“Fruit juices are very high in sugar and some parents just don’t know that which is really unfortunate. A lot of kids are interested in this and if you tell them they will start to remember and tell their parents, too,” Sanchez says. She suggests healthier options such as water or flavored water.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merced Fish & Game, Inc 
proposes plans to develope
a Merced Public Range & Sporting Complex Olympic Training Center with City Council. To see proposal, go to Merced Fish & Game, Inc's website:
mfginc.org


Collyn Roper


Click picture to enlarge

The undertaking the Merced Fish & Game,Inc is proposing will be a professionally designed project consisting of:
• 40 Trap fields, 12 of which will be overlaid with Skeet fields,
• A sporting clays course in future plans,
• A meeting house,
• A registration building,
• Several bathroom facilities,
• The California Waterfowl Association Museum,
• RV parking with full hook-ups,
• Additional RV parking,
• Several storage facilities,
• One workshop,
• One pre-manufactured home for the resident manager,
• General parking for additional vehicles.

For Information or Questions:
Contact MERCED FISH & GAME, INC
by email:
mercedfishandgame@yahoo.com


 

 
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