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COMMUNITY NEWS

January 23, 2019

MCSD Debuts New “Family Help Station”

The Merced City School District now has a new way for families to access helpful resources.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon for a new “Family Help Station” at Hoover Middle School. The station is located in the front office and includes a touchscreen device that parents or guardians can use to check their children’s attendance, grades, and other important information. The device can also be used for registration, parent surveys, and to access items such as free/reduced price lunch applications, transportation schedules, and athletics information. The station is stocked with brochures from local community organizations that provide services for students and their families as well.
The Family Help Station is the result of a collaborative effort led by Director of Curriculum and Categorical Compliance, Elena Castro and Title 1 Coordinator for Student and Family Engagement, Kate McClatchy with support from the district’s Community Outreach Specialists as well as Information Technology and Hoover Middle School staff members. The device and signage feature information in English, Spanish, and Hmong.
Ms. Castro says, “We know how important it is for parents to be involved in their children’s education and to feel welcome as soon as they walk onto our campuses. This is one more way we’re working to help families stay connected to our schools and provide access to both online and printed resources in a convenient way.”
The Family Help Station is a pilot program at Hoover Middle School. The district plans to expand it to all other campuses in phases over the next two years.


Click here to view video https://we.tl/t-SUeWDA0yJw


MCSD Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran and parent representative Carmen Flores cutting the ribbon with support from other MCSD staff members and an ambassador from the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce.

 

January 23, 2019

All-New California Food Expo Presents Exclusive Opportunity to Connect
With Golden State’s Innovative Food and Beverage Companies

Fresno, California – January 22, 2019…The all-new California Food Expo is proud to announce buyer and exhibitor registration is now open. The Expo will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center on September 9 -10, 2019, a shift from the Expo’s traditional summer dates. Special exhibitor pricing is available now.
The all-new California Food Expo offers grocery retail and foodservice buyers from across the globe an exclusive opportunity to connect with California food companies in a convenient and approachable setting. To ensure the Expo’s platform is satisfying the growing demand for diverse and innovative California brands, insight and guidance from the newly-formed
Retail Advisory Council will help put the Expo at the forefront of industry trends and sustain its long-term viability.
“There are so many producers I’ve never heard of or seen before at the Expo.” said Randy Ducummon, Vice President for Whole Foods Market, Northern California & Reno, and a member of the Expo’s Retail Advisory Council, “It makes the Expo experience a great way to find new and emerging items that are on trend.”
With twice as many food and beverage manufacturing facilities than any other state, nearly 400 different crops grown annually and a commodity value that is double that of any other state, Expo organizers are committed to telling the story and celebrating California’s $72.27 billion food industry.
“California is home to world-renowned food producers, growers and innovators,” said Amy Fuentes, Manager of the California Food Expo. “We’re excited that our new Expo date will showcase an expanded variety of products from over 15 different categories crafted by large-scale manufacturers, boutique brands and budding food entrepreneurs. It will be a true reflection of California’s dominating food industry.”

The Expo’s expanded two-day agenda will include: New Product Awards, educational sessions, keynote speakers, networking opportunities and a diverse show floor featuring hundreds of food and beverage products: fresh produce, meat, dairy, deli, bakery, grocery, frozen, beverages, wine and craft brews— all exclusively from California food companies.
Directors are encouraged to send buyers for every category. With qualifying business credentials, retail and foodservice buyers can register to attend free of charge
California food and beverage companies can take advantage of special exhibitor pricing by registering to exhibit before April 1st.
For additional information, event updates and to register for the California Food Expo, please visit www.CaliforniaFoodExpo.com or contact Amy Fuentes, Manager, California Food Expo, at
(559) 227-9999 or mobile at: (559) 790-3204.

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About The California Food Expo
The California Food Expo was created in 2018 by the organizers responsible for the production of the annual Fresno Food Expo from 2011-2017. The California Food Expo empowers California food and beverage brands by facilitating business relationships, connecting industry peers and elevating the California food brand around the world. The Expo is a 501c-6 that is
governed by a 13-member Board of Directors comprised of Presidents and CEOs from leading California food industry companies. Additionally, a Retail Advisory Council of appointed retailers whose priority is to sell and promote local California products works in partnership with the Expo’s Board for insight and guidance.

 

January 19, 2019

Parking issues, police HQ on Council agenda

The City Council will hear a presentation on parking requirements for accessory dwelling units and consider a professional services agreement regarding the future police headquarters at its Tuesday night meeting.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council is meeting Tuesday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday. The Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

Accessory dwelling units are small housing units on properties that were recently permitted under state law. Council is being asked to provide policy direction on parking requirements and owner occupancy requirements for the accessory dwelling units. Staff will incorporate the direction into a zoning ordinance.
Council is being asked to consider a $165,850 contract with LPA, Inc. to conduct a needs assessment for the future police headquarters. The current building was constructed in the 1950s and remodeled in the Seventies. It is too small for the existing Department, and staff is looking for a new facility for future growth.

Also on the agenda is a contract for $331,434.65 to FBD Vanguard Construction to install sidewalks at John Muir Elementary School on 25th Street from I to K streets.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session to confer with labor negotiators and property negotiators and counsel regarding anticipated litigation.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council will hear a presentation on parking requirements for accessory dwelling units and consider a professional services agreement

 

regarding the future police headquarters at its Tuesday night meeting.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council is meeting Tuesday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday. The Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

Accessory dwelling units are small housing units on properties that were recently permitted under state law. Council is being asked to provide policy direction on parking requirements and owner occupancy requirements for the accessory dwelling units. Staff will incorporate the direction into a zoning ordinance.
Council is being asked to consider a $165,850 contract with LPA, Inc. to conduct a needs assessment for the future police headquarters. The current building was constructed in the 1950s and remodeled in the Seventies. It is too small for the existing Department, and staff is looking for a new facility for future growth.

Also on the agenda is a contract for $331,434.65 to FBD Vanguard Construction to install sidewalks at John Muir Elementary School on 25th Street from I to K streets.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session to confer with labor negotiators and property negotiators and counsel regarding anticipated litigation.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

 

January 18, 2019


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING
STATE ROUTE 140 IN FERGUSON FIRE BURN SCAR OF MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol re-opened State Route 140 (SR-140) in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar just after 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

SR-140, which was shut down just after 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, was closed for more than 11 hours. This was due to an ongoing storm that impacted the roadway.

The closure was implemented for the sake of public safety.

The closure took place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance.

Crews hauled away approximately 50 yards of rock and other debris from the roadway and are working on clearing a plugged culvert (underground drainage structure). There was also debris flow across the road at or near the Yosemite National Park entrance.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process. Please remember to read up on Caltrans’ Winter Driving Tips before you hit the road: http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html .

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY AND RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 59/DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59)/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way will close from Childs Avenue to the junction with SR-99 for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration.

The closure is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, January 21, 2019.

There are also scheduled various full on- and off-ramp closures from southbound SR-99 to SR-59/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

A signed detour will be available using Childs Avenue. The California Highway Patrol and the Merced Police Department will oversee traffic control.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to Linden Avenue in Gustine beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in Merced beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Hayden Road to Cunningham Road east of Planada beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.

• The Merced/Mariposa County line to Ponderosa Way between Midpines and Briceburg beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each work location.
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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January 18, 2019

MCOE to Host Annual Report on Schools Jan. 23 in Merced, Jan 24 in LB

Dr. Steve Tietjen, county superintendent of schools, will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Jan. 23-24 in Merced and Los Banos. This is the eighth time this comprehensive report on local educational efforts has been shared with the public.
“As county superintendent, I will do everything I can to keep the public informed about the great things happening every day in classrooms across our county, as well as the internal and external factors influencing public education,” Tietjen said.
The session Jan. 23 will be at Yosemite Church on Yosemite Avenue in Merced. A separate session is planned Jan. 24 at the Los Banos Community Center. Both events are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch is provided.
This year’s presentation will focus on student achievement, innovative teaching practices and bilingual education. Information and data on student achievement will be shared. A student performance from Delhi High School’s mariachi band also is planned, plus videos highlighting students and teachers prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and shot in classrooms in several school districts throughout the county.
“For nearly a decade the Merced County Office of Education has hosted an annual event to bring the community together and focus on education and the many partnerships we have throughout Merced County,” Tietjen said.



“Through these partnerships we create a stronger educational experience for our students and create schools that have so much to offer those students, their families and the community.”
The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, the Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union.
For more information about the event, contact MCOE at (209) 381-6601 or make a reservation for the events at rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

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January 17, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety. The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris such as rocks onto highway lanes. Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening to traffic. This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and other issues..


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

 

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January 16, 2019

City of Merced offices will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The regularly scheduled Monday City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
There will be no trash collection on the Monday holiday, and all garbage pickup will be delayed one day for the rest of the week.

The Martin Luther King Jr. March will assemble at the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, starting at 10 a.m. Monday. The March will begin at 11 a.m. and proceed to the Merced Theatre, 301 Main St. At the Theatre there will be a program beginning at noon. There is no charge for the activities.

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January 14, 2019

Atwater High CTE Students Work Together

Written by:Atwater FFA

With the state and national focus renewing efforts to strengthen Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that provide students the knowledge and skills associated with today’s job and career occupational needs, students with the Atwater High School Agriculture and Graphic Arts programs worked together in providing “real world” products towards needed marketing and promotional materials.

For students of the Atwater FFA and Atwater High School agriculture program, they had an interest in creating and purchasing various marketing banners utilized at trade shows and educational presentations to showcase the various opportunities agriculture education provides in terms of academic success, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration. “Agriculture education is not just for students who have an interest in agriculture, but all students who have an interest in various personal, academic, and career knowledge, skills, and development,” said Atwater FFA President Emmanuel Mejia. The project was budgeted with FFA fundraising efforts by the students and was originally going to be contracted out to create the layout and submit to a company for printing.

With the Merced Union High School District’s re-focus and investment in CTE classes, the Atwater FFA did not have to look far for a resource to get the job done as they turned to Atwater High School’s Photography and Computer Graphic Arts department and their students. Under the leadership of Laura Eckman, students from her department and classes gathered photographs from the agriculture students and prepared various marketing banner layouts utilizing today’s technology and software. The project covered three weeks of student involvement and effort. “This is an example of a school utilizing the knowledge and skills learned by students and applying that knowledge and skills in a professional setting that benefits all stakeholders involved,” said Atwater agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “The product produced by the students was ‘first class’!”

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School Photography and Graphic Arts student Angela Esau showcases the marketing banners designed by the high school CTE students to Atwater High School Agriculture student Kaya Briscoe.


Abigail Ramirez, Angela Esau, Gage Xiong, Dimineka Miranda, and Alexis Masasso of the Atwater High School Photography and Graphic Arts department gather in front of the agriculture banners designed by them for the high school's Agriculture department.

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January 14, 2019

The Merced Police Department will hold the swearing in ceremony for our newest Police Officer, Tucker Zazueta. The ceremony will take place at the Merced Civic Center Council Chambers located at 678 W. 18th Street on Friday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 p.m.


Officer Tucker Zazueta #275

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January 12, 2019

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENT
Free for Merced County residents

Merced – The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (Authority) is hosting a
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection event on Saturday, January 19, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. This event is for Merced County residents and Conditionally-Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG) and will be held at the Highway 59 Landfill HHW Facility, 7040 N. Highway 59, Merced.

HHW is any leftover household product that contains ingredients that are corrosive, reactive, flammable, and/or toxic. Examples of HHW include: ammonia-based cleaners, non-empty aerosol cans, fluorescent tubes, automotive and household batteries, paint, pool chemicals, solvents, and used motor oil (in containers no larger than five gallons).

Before bringing items out to the facility, please call 209-723-4481 ext. 224 to identify the amount and type of HHW that will be dropped off. 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 apply. Fees apply for CESQGs.

For more information, please visit www.mcrwma.org/31/Household-Hazardous-Waste or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 224.

The Merced County Association of Governments is the organization responsible for administering the Regional Waste Authority. The Regional Waste Authority operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

For more information, please visit www.mcrwma.org/31/Household-Hazardous-Waste or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 224.

The Merced County Association of Governments is the organization responsible for administering the Regional Waste Authority. The Regional Waste Authority operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

Click here to see Flyer

 

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January 12, 2019

Education Foundation Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit Arts, Outdoor Education

A night of dinner theater and virtual trip to Camp Green Meadows are planned Feb. 9 in Merced to raise funds for arts programs and outdoor education in Merced County.
The event, presented by the Merced County Education Foundation, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Merced Multicultural Arts Center on West Main Street.
Stacie Arancibia, executive director for the MCEF, said event proceeds will be used to help support arts programs in the county's schools as well as Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School.
This is the first year arts programs have been added to the fundraiser. In the past two years the dinner has raised funds for the outdoor school near Yosemite National Park for modernization and to build a new nurse’s station.
Performances by a variety of students are planned, along with a choir, individual actors and an entire class presentation. Bob Bassett, principal of Camp Green Meadows, also will speak.
Along with capital improvements, the MCEF uses funds to sponsor foster youth or other needy students to attend summer camp or a local arts program. The MCEF also recently approved a number of grants to support arts programs in a variety of districts. The foundation's motto is "Creating Educational Experiences Beyond the Classroom."


Tickets are available for $50 each and table and event sponsorships opportunities are available. Tickets can be purchased at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mcef/event/797066/ or by contacting Stacie Arancibia at sarancibia@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6602

Click here to see Flyer

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January 11, 2019

MCOE, Probation Department Partner for Phoenix Project

A collaborative project between the Merced County Office of Education and the county’s probation office is giving participants a new chance to live productive lives and contribute to society.
It’s the Phoenix Project and like the proverbial bird rising from the ashes a dozen graduates have completed the voluntary training program and eight of them have already found jobs.
Holly Newlon, MCOE director of educational services, said Phoenix Project participants are feeling a sense of hope for the future and they’re realizing they have talents.
“Research has shown how the dignity of a job and employment is a proven factor helping people not return to crime. People who have not been successful yet are getting a feeling they are smart and just need an opportunity to demonstrate they are smart,” Newlon said.
Toula Moua-Eccles, a career educator with the Educational Services office at MCOE, also is encouraged by the program’s early success.
“It’s given them a lot of hope,” Moua-Eccles said. “It’s life-changing; their lives are changed and all the lives around them, their parents, children, friends and families. They are also talking with others and sharing their successes by word-of-mouth.”
Jeff Kettering, the county’s chief probation officer, praises the program.
“This collaboration with MCOE has given our clients a chance to show that individuals can change the path their lives have taken. The success seen during the first year of the Phoenix Project has exceeded my expectations and I look forward to seeing continued success in the future.” Kettering said.
Howard Nelson, 53, of Merced said he would recommend Phoenix to anybody, especially young people. He’s a finish carpenter who completed six months of classes and is certified in numerous skill sets. He helped build a greenhouse at Merced County Juvenile Hall along with an 8-foot by 10-foot house.
“It is real helpful,” Nelson said. “The staff are excellent and they take care of you. Anyone who is an ex-convict or felon can do this program. It’s cost-free and anyone on probation or parole should jump on the wagon. You have got to want change in order to change.”
Phoenix Project costs are funded through probation money and participants are referred to the program through probation officers. Fifty-two people have been referred for training and only six have dropped out. Newlon said there’s an 88 percent completion rate and that is incredibly high.
Moua-Eccles said participants’ transportation costs, uniforms, interview clothes and necessary work tools have been furnished. Bus passes and transportation stipends for those who must travel for training are provided and Phoenix has helped its clients get driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
Newlon said the most common age group of participants is 35 to 44; the oldest was 56 and anyone over 18 can take part. Free tutoring is offered so participants can get their GED.
Typically, about half of those referred will attend a series of seminars and then meet with Moua-Eccles who helps assess their natural strengths and interests and what might be needed to bolster mathematics and academic skills. She helps her clients come up with a career action plan and sees they get the career training to fulfill high-demand jobs.
Newlon said the end goal of the year-round program is to help people get and stay employed and reduce recidivism. She foresees the program continuing for some time and notes it’s making an impact.
Moua-Eccles said participants have enrolled in classes in truck driving, maintenance mechanic, construction, welding and solar installations, all fields with high demand for qualified workers.
She meets with participants to go over career assessment results and talk about any personal barriers to advancement. They hone in on vocational interests and what the person wants to do professionally.
“Their confidence level starts medium and then goes high; their confidence goes through the roof,” Moua-Eccles said.
Jamieson Diaz of Dos Palos has just gotten hired as a truck driver for Button Transportation of Merced. The 45-year-old Phoenix graduate will go to Dixon to attend company orientation and then drive 18-wheelers hauling agricultural products throughout the state.
“I knew I wanted to find a career. I enjoy driving and the scenery. Phoenix is a good experience; it’s excellent and they got me focused about what would be best for me. Truck driving was at the top of my list. It was a process but I was willing to do it,” Diaz said.
Diaz said God had a plan for his life. He was determined from the start and is grateful for all that has been done for him. He attended the truck driving school through Advanced Career Institute.
William Swindle of Hilmar just got hired as an industrial maintenance mechanic at Foster Farms. The 41-year-old said you get out of it what you put into it. He attended Modesto Technical College for seven months.
“I’m blessed to have had the opportunity. Seize the opportunity if you get the chance,” Swindle said.


 


Phoenix Project graduates pose for a photo at MCOE.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation at MCOE.


Merced County Probation Chief Jeff Kettering speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation at MCOE.


MCOE Career Educator Toula Moua-Eccles speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

Click here to see video

 

VIDEO COURTESY MERCED EDUCATION TELEVISION (METV)

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January 11, 2019

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TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE TO GRIFFITH ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane on southbound State Route 99 from just north of the Merced/Stanislaus County line in Turlock to Griffith Road for striping.

Work is scheduled beginning Tuesday, January 15, 2019, through Thursday, January 17, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

This work is part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on both northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of the Bradbury Road overcrossing to just north of the county line. Construction is scheduled to conclude by spring 2019.

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
LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM ALLEN ROAD TO COTTONWOOD ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 from Allen Road to Cottonwood Road for pavement work.

Work is scheduled beginning Monday, January 14, 2019, through Friday, January 18, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays. Please use an alternate route if 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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January 9, 20


DISCOUNTED STUDENT PASSES AVAILABLE TO RIDE THE BUS

MERCED– Students returning to school this month are eligible to ride The Bus at reduced rates. All high school and college students receive a 25 percent discount for unlimited monthly passes on all fixed routes throughout the County or a 40 percent discount when they buy a pass for the whole semester.

“Students are an important, and growing, demographic in our region who may need a dependable and affordable mode of public transportation,” said Artis Smith, Transit Director. “We want to do our part to support educational attainment by giving young people the resources they need to be successful.”

Student passes can be purchased at The Bus’ office located at 1810 K Street in Merced. In addition, Merced College students can obtain a pass at the bookstores on either the Merced or Los Banos campuses and CSU Stanislaus students can purchase theirs at the Student Union on the Turlock campus. UC Merced students receive riding privileges by using their ‘Cat Card’. Presentation of a valid student ID or evidence of enrollment is required at the time of purchase. Cash, debit and credit cards are all acceptable forms of payment.

The Bus schedules and fare rates can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.

 

 

The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG). For more information, please visit www.mercedthebus.com and www.mcagov.org.

 

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January 8, 2019

Atwater FFA Officers Escape to Hilmar Cheese

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Fourteen Atwater High School FFA leadership students visited Hilmar Cheese for a unique leadership retreat designed to strengthen teambuilding and student relationships. Members of the veteran FFA chapter officer team joined newly elected freshman FFA Greenhand officers at Hilmar Cheese for various workshops, cheese industry presentations, and the new Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room. “This was an opportunity to strengthen and build student relationships and team building between some of our veteran agriculture students and our newly elected freshman agriculture leaders,” said Atwater FFA advisor Kim Macintosh.

The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to experience the Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room. The goal is to use teamwork, communication, creative thinking, determination and a sense of urgency to find clues, decipher puzzles and solve activities to complete the challenge of “escape”.

“I thought the trip and activity was going to be pretty boring, but boy was I wrong!” said Atwater agriculture student Ethan Slate. “The opportunity to experience the AgXscape, learn about the Hilmar Cheese Plant, and the opportunity to learn about my fellow school and classmates was awesome.”

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater FFA members Alfredo Elizarraraz, Emmanuel Mejia, Cristal Venegas, Luz Soto, Alyssa Carrillo, Kaya Briscoe, and Elisabeth Garner fell a little short escaping from the Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room during their recent leadership retreat.


Members of the Atwater FFA Chapter and Greenhand Officer team (back row) Gurkirath Gandhok, Tristan Cardey, Michael Bray, Ethan Slate, Thomas Garner, Alfredo Elizarraraz, Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Emmanuel Mejia, (front row) Cecelia Venegas, Iysis Villafan, Kaya Briscoe, Luz Soto, and Elisabeth Garner received an industry and cheese processing presentation at a recent visit at Hilmar Cheese.

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January 8, 2019

City Fire Department holding fire training exercises

The City of Merced Fire Department will be conducting a controlled structural firefighting training exercise from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 9, 11 and 13.
These burns allow firefighter’s to practice necessary skills regarding fire suppression and analyzing fire behavior.
The training burn will be located at 1800 Stretch Road. During this training burn, traffic may be interrupted on Stretch Road between Hawthorne Avenue and Country Drive. The smoke produced from the burns is anticipated to move in a southeast direction.
Control burns allow firefighters to practice tactical decision-making regarding fire suppression, hose line deployment, search and rescue efforts, as well

as other techniques that assist in the protection of life and property. These techniques are utilized under the direct supervision of highly trained and qualified personnel. The public will see numerous fire apparatus in this area as well as a columns and drifting smoke during parts of this exercise.
The City of Merced Fire Department would like to give a special thanks to the City of Merced for donating this property and completing all of the requirements to allow this building to be utilized for a training burn,” said Acting Fire Chief Billy Alcorn.

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January 5, 2019

Atwater FFA Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Eight Atwater FFA agriculture students showcased their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) projects at a recent Merced-Mariposa sectional contest that recognizes students throughout the county for their FFA, agriculture-related project(s). 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. Over one hundred students throughout the Mariposa and Merced counties participated, and they will be recognized in early February at an awards banquet in early February at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

Atwater High School agriculture students first participated at the local level with various Atwater administration and community members serving as judges. The students then participated at the county level where they were judged and evaluated by various community and industry representatives. Student representatives and competitors at the sectional level included: Colby Flatt (work experience, orchard maintenance, and poultry), Kaya Mattis (rabbits), Kiah Betschart (horses and goats), Liliana Vargas (floral), Michael Bray (rabbits), Nick Giesbrecht (agriculture mechanics), Tristan Cardey (rabbits and goats), and Zion Brigham (sheep).

The experience provides students the opportunity to communicate and share their 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.

 

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture student Liliana Vargas showcases her floral skills with current Atwater High School agriculture instructor Taylor Helton and administrator Rita Schroeder during the FFA Project Competition event.


Atwater High School agriculture mechanics student Nick Giesbrecht demonstrates the operation of a wood / logging mill machine to Atwater High School administrator Rita Schroeder.


Atwater High School agriculture student Kaya Mattis shares various rabbit record keeping techniques to Atwater High School administrator Rita Schroeder during the local FFA competition.

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January 5, 2019

HUD Plan, Hazard report on Council agenda

The City Council will hear a presentation on the 2019 HUD Annual Action Plan and a presentation on a study of hazardous materials in the City at its Monday night meeting.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

The Council will be asked for direction on the annual Department of Housing and Urban Development Annual Action Plan. The City is holding community meetings to seek comments from the public on the plan.

Council also will hear an update on the proposed Childs Avenue and B Street Affordable Housing Project. The project is a mix of affordable housing, housing for homeless and veterans housing, with supportive services available to residents.

The City received a California Office of Emergency Services grant to study the hazardous commodities that travel through the City and are used in the City. The study also analyzed the level of risk and how to plan for the risks involved with the materials.

Also on the agenda is a request to close Martin Luther King Jr. Way from W. 8th Street to Main Street on Jan. 21 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, March and Celebration.

The Council will meet in closed session to discuss existing litigation, confer with labor negotiators and discuss employee evaluations.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

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January 5, 2019

Caltrans Offers Safety Tips for Winter Driving

SACRAMENTO — Caltrans urges motorists to be prepared and use caution when driving this winter. Taking action and being proactive can help reduce the risk of injury and even death on the highways during the upcoming storm. Operators of vehicles must use their best judgment in all types of weather. Snow and rain are expected on Sierra Nevada highways this weekend (Saturday, January 5, and Sunday, January 6, 2019), and motorists are encouraged to allow for more travel time, slow down, carry chains and bring extra food and water. There is also rainfall expected for lower-elevation passes, like State Route 140 in Mariposa County. Caltrans expects to have crews patrolling SR-140 from north of Briceburg to Yosemite National Park on Jan. 5, watching for potential slide activity or debris flow. Crews will also check to ensure culverts and drains are clear and functioning. Before traveling, Caltrans recommends checking weather and road conditions. Caltrans QuickMap is an online resource with real-time traffic flow information, chain control alerts, and closure information. It is available at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or as a Google and Apple app. Motorists can also call 511 or the Caltrans Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-7623 for travel information. Live traffic cameras can also be useful to check conditions before traveling and are available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/video/.

Winter driving tips:
• Reduce your speed to match driving conditions and allow more time to reach your destination. Know that bridges and ramps may be more slippery than the roadway.
• Keep your fuel tank full. Bad weather may cause long delays or closures. • Turn on your headlights to see and be seen. Be observant and maintain a safe distance behind snow removal equipment. Do not pass snow plows unless directed to do so.
• When driving in fog, reduce your speed and use headlights on low-beam along with fog lights. Stay to the right along the white edge line and never stop in the road. If visibility is not adequate, pull off of the roadway when safe to do so.
* Do not drive through flooded areas. Safely turn around and find another route.
• If you start sliding on snow or ice, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal and steer in the direction you wish to travel. Do not lock your brakes. Pump the brakes if needed, or apply steady pressure if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes.
• Don’t use cruise control.
• Avoid in-car distractions while driving.
• If you are stalled, activate your hazard signals and stay with your vehicle.
* Conserve fuel by periodically turning your engine on and off while maintaining warmth, but be aware of possible exhaust and carbon monoxide issues.
• If you approach an emergency, maintenance, or any other vehicle stopped on the side of the road, move over when safe to do so or slow down. Be prepared. The following actions can help prevent vehicle failures and help if you become stranded:
• Winterize your vehicle. Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, heater/defroster, and exhaust system are in good working order. Make sure fluids are topped-off, especially windshield washer fluid.
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated and always carry tire chains.
• Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle with the following items: flashlight, blankets, extra clothing, water, snacks, towel, gloves, ice scraper, shovel, broom, sand, and carry a spare key on your person in case you lock yourself out of your vehicle.

 

All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires, should carry chains when traveling in snowy weather. Highway signs and QuickMap will indicate when chains are required, and drivers must stop and install chains. Motorists should pull off the roadway completely to install chains. If you need help, chain installers may be available to assist for a fee. Please note, chain installers are not Caltrans employees. They are independent business people who are licensed to install chains. Once chains are installed, obey the speed limit of 25 or 30 miles per hour, posted at various locations. Chain Control Information:
• R-1: Chains, traction devices or snow tires with proper tread depth of 6/32” are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles.
• R-2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. (NOTE: Four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
* R-3: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions. (NOTE: R-1 and R-2 are the most common chain controls. The highway will usually be closed before an R-3 control is imposed). For more information on winter driving, chain controls, and additional resources, visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html. Caltrans’ “Weathering the Storm” winter driving tips brochure is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/winter_driving2015.pdf.

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TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to SR-33/Santa Nella Boulevard in Gustine beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Kibby Road to Briceburg Road in Mariposa County beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each work location.

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 3, 2019

A Final Word to the People of Merced County from District Attorney Larry D. Morse II

At the conclusion of my time as Merced County District Attorney I wanted to take a moment to thank the people of Merced County for the opportunity to serve them these last 12 and a half years as District Attorney and provide an accounting of some of what we accomplished in our efforts to improve public safety.
I have been beyond blessed to have had an incredible management staff and employees throughout my tenure. Working together we transformed the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, literally and figuratively, into one of the most progressive and accomplished in the state.
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a District Attorney is to work for safer communities. I’m proud to report that I will leave office with the county far safer and less violent than when I was elected and, in fact, safer than it has been in decades.
Merced County law enforcement, through innovation and close collaboration, has dramatically reduced violent crime during the last three years, including a historic decline in the homicide rate. From 2005 to 2015 Merced County was averaging 27 homicides a year, including 30 or more in 2013 through 2015. These alarming numbers resulted in Merced County ranking number one, or in the top three, in California for murders per 100,000 people during that period. The vast majority of the violence was driven by criminal street gangs operating in Merced County, sometimes at the direction of high ranking inmates in California prisons.
Shortly after my election in 2006, I created Merced County’s first multi-agency gang task force, now known as MAGNET (Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team) to better coordinate law enforcement efforts against gang violence. In 2015 I brought to Assemblyman Adam Gray a proposal to create an intelligence unit attached to the District Attorney’s office to help law enforcement better track the activities of gang members in our communities. Through Assemblyman Gray’s skillful use of the state budget process, Merced County received $4.5 million to create the VIPER program which employs five intelligence analysts to monitor, assess and disseminate information regarding gang activity in our communities.
Since creating the VIPER program and coordinating its use with county law enforcement we have seen homicides drop to nine in 2016, 19 in 2017 and 14 in 2018. That means for the last three years we have averaged about 14 homicides a year after averaging 30 for the previous three years. The VIPER funding also enabled us to devote nearly half a million dollars to two programs to keep kids out of gang life which are now up and running in Merced and Los Banos.
Not coincidentally, gang violence has been substantially curtailed over the last three years which is the factor most responsible for the decline in homicides. VIPER has been a tremendous success and we owe Assemblyman Gray a debt of gratitude.

The soaring number of homicides also put an incredible burden on the attorneys in our office to get these cases to trial. Two years ago, we had 67 defendants charged with homicide. Chief Deputies Hal Nutt and Rob Carroll devised a priority process for reducing the backlog in homicides and it exceeded our hopes. Murder cases were fast tracked for trial and today there are 32 murder defendants awaiting trial, a decline of more than half.
Even more notable has been our jury trial success rate in homicide cases. In my opinion it is unsurpassed in California over the last 12 years. Since 2006 our attorneys have obtained guilty verdicts against 64 of the 67 defendants we prosecuted for murder. Of those, I’m proud to have personally tried five of them, including obtaining the death penalty against the gang member who murdered Merced Police Officer Stephan Gray. Our attorneys are some of the most talented and best trained in California and I am proud to have had the honor to lead them.
Another vital component of safer communities is ensuring we are doing everything possible to get our children through at least high school graduation. High school dropouts are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than graduates and one of my highest priorities as DA has been to forge a closer relationship with our county’s schools and educators. A decade ago I worked with Merced City School District board members and administrators to push back the school day for junior high students to a dismissal time after 3 p.m. to lessen the opportunities for unsupervised young teenagers to fall prey to gangs or juvenile crime. This has contributed, in some measure, to a dramatic reduction in juvenile crime statistics in our county.
Six years ago I also founded Merced County Project 10% in which UC Merced students are trained to visit eighth grade classrooms to share their own stories and struggles and encourage the eighth graders to commit themselves to graduating high school. Working with former Merced County Office of Education Superintendent Steve Gomes and current Superintendent Steve Tietjen, and administrators across the county, and other local leaders, these UC students have spoken with more than 10,000 eighth graders and we have seen high school graduation rates rise to their highest levels ever. That bodes well for public safety in the decades to come.
Dr. Tietjen and I last year also created a partnership in which a DA investigator is permanently assigned to the Merced County Office of Education to work with our school districts to reduce truancy, especially in K-8 classes. The investigator meets with parents and SARB (School Attendance Re view Board) personnel to target parents whose kids are chronically absent from school. After just one year we have already seen an increase in attendance throughout the county.
Reducing gang violence and fostering a closer working relationship with educators have been the primary challenges of my tenure as District Attorney and I believe we have made enormous strides that have resulted in safer communities. But we have done so many other things to improve the administration of justice in Merced County. Among the most notable are:
*Crime Stoppers – With former Chief Investigator Pat Lunney we created the county’s first Crime Stoppers program.
*Case Management – in 2012, we purchased and implemented, without county general fund dollars, a revolutionary new case management system to better process the thousands of cases we file each year. As a result, Merced County became just the second county in California to go paperless in the courtroom; and still remains one of the few; our attorneys use laptops instead of paper files for all of their courtroom work. We also now use our case management system, not paper exchanges, to transmit documents and information we’re required to provide defense attorneys. We’ve also completed an interface with the Merced Sheriff’s Department to electronically transmit police reports and evidence and are nearing completion of a similar agreement with the Merced Police Department. Interfaces with other county law enforcement agencies are slated to take place in 2019.

 


Larry D. Morse II

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*Mock Trial program – working with Dr. Tietjen at MCOE two years ago we began a program with Merced County schools in which volunteer prosecutors from our office and other local attorneys teach students how to prepare and present a case in a courtroom. Competitions among local high schools have been held at the Old County Courthouse in 2017 and the new Robert M. Falasco Courthouse in Los Banos in 2018, with new competitions slated for 2019.
*New Facilities in Merced and Los Banos – in October of 2011, the District Attorney’s staff moved into the former County Bank building at 550 W. Main St., in Merced following the purchase and renovation of the 30,000 square foot office and parking structure. The project was paid for with federal and state tobacco tax funds, not county general fund revenue. The move allowed the DA to consolidate all of its Merced employees in one location after having rented five buildings during the previous five years at an annual taxpayer cost of $350,000.
In March of this year, the DA’s Westside employees also moved into newly renovated facilities in the old Los Banos Courthouse at 445 I St, after spending more than a decade in a trailer adjacent to the courthouse. Both moves are expected to provide ample space for the District Attorney’s office for decades to come.
*Collaboration with CASA – the District Attorney facilitated a grant award of $350,000 to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Merced County to provide expanded services to children in foster care.
*Smart Water – the District Attorney and Sheriff Vern Warnke, working with the Merced County Farm Bureau unveiled a revolutionary new program in February of 2018 to assist farmers in their ongoing battle against theft of agricultural property and equipment. SmartWater CSA is an ultraviolet light that enables farmers to mark and identify their property and provides traceability and undeniable proof of ownership when stolen property is recovered.
*Conviction Integrity Unit – recognizing that mistakes can happen in the criminal justice system, the District Attorney created another safety net to review criminal convictions when legitimate factual or evidentiary questions are brought to our attention. A review panel consisting of a Chief Deputy District Attorney, a Supervising Deputy District and a local defense attorney review additional evidence and determine whether a conviction should be revisited.
*Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center – the District Attorney’s new office in Merced permitted creation of in-house rooms to conduct interviews of child victims of sexual assault. The interviews are conducted by a forensically trained social worker in a safe, nurturing and child friendly facility to minimize the trauma of young sexual assault victims.
*Judges – two former chief deputies and one former supervising deputy district attorney were appointed to the Merced County Superior Court. Judge Dave Moranda, Judge Mark Bacciarini, both served as my chief deputies before their appointment to the bench. Earlier this year, my former supervising Deputy District Attorney, Steve Slocum, also was appointed to serve as a Superior Court judge. Each was a highly respected member of the DA management team.
*Appointments of Women – In 2016 Nicole Silveira was appointed the DA’s office’s first woman supervising deputy district attorney; in 2017, Anna Hazel was appointed the office’s first woman to supervise the Bureau of Investigations.
None of these achievements would have been possible without the incredible efforts of Director of Administrative Services Jeannette Pacheco, Chief Deputies Harold Nutt and Rob Carroll, Chief Investigator Bill Olson, former Assistant District Attorney Joe Tresidder and former Chief Investigator Pat Lunney and our other managers. No one could have been better served by a management team than I was and the people of Merced County have benefitted enormously from their talents and dedication.
For 26 years I have been a member of the District Attorney’s office and serving these last 12 years as the elected District Attorney has been the highest honor and privilege of my life. I cannot adequately express the character and commitment of the men and women who work in this office. They are the finest of public servants. I am grateful to the people of Merced County for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading these amazing public safety professionals for three terms. I wish the new District Attorney, Kimberly Helms Lewis, great success and the same enjoyment and satisfaction that I have taken in trying to make Merced County a safer place for all of us.

God Bless You
Larry

 

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January 3, 2019

Access to Yosemite National Park will be Limited Along the Highway 41 Corridor Due to the Lapse in Federal Appropriations

Yosemite National Park remains open, however there will be limited access to the park along the Highway 41 corridor from the South Entrance to the Badger Pass Road during the hours of highest visitation due to continuing issues with human waste and resource damage.

Park Rangers will staff a check point at the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, anyone arriving at the checkpoint with a reservation for lodging or camping inside the park will be allowed to proceed. All other visitors will be asked to enter Yosemite using the Highway 140 entrance and enter the park via the El Portal Road. Local residents and guests staying in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite West, and Wawona will be permitted access to drive along Highway 41, the Wawona Road.

Visitors planning to visit the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area will be asked to enter the park via Highway 140.

Visitor services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations. During the government shutdown, national parks are working to remain as open and accessible to the American people as possible.

Unfortunately, the following facilities and areas inside Yosemite National Park are closed due to impacts from human waste and public safety concerns: Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Crane Flat Snow Play Area, and Goat Meadow Snow Play Area, located just outside the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. All park visitor centers remain closed.

All normal park rules and regulations still apply and violators will be cited. Dogs are not permitted on park trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and are permitted in developed areas, on sidewalks, and on bicycle paths. For more information on pet regulations, please visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/pets.htm.

Restroom facilities are very limited throughout the park, especially along Wawona Road (Highway 41), El Portal Road (Highway 140), and Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West). Visitors are encouraged to stop and use restroom facilities in the gateway communities before entering the park. Visitors are also encouraged to practice leave no trace principles and please pack in and pack out all trash. Custodial services are very limited at this time.

All roads within the park are subject to chain control or temporary closures due to hazardous winter driving conditions. All motorists are required to carry tire chains, even if their car is equipped with four-wheel drive, while driving in the park during the winter months.

Additional facilities and areas may close within Yosemite National Park at any time for the health and safety of park visitors.

-NPS-


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January 3, 20


YARTS Fare Increase starts January 1

MERCED – Effective January 1, 2019, Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) service has a new fare rate structure that reflects a fare increase - the first in more than 10 years. The increase was approved in October 2018 by the Joint Powers Authority Board and the Authority Advisory Committee, which is made up of members of the public, local businesses, as well as agencies that work closely with Yosemite National Park. The new rates were sought in order to cover the increasing costs associated with providing the popular bus service to Yosemite from Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tuolumne and Mono counties.

“We were fortunate to maintain operating costs for the service as long as we did,” says YARTS Assistant Manager Cindy Kelly. “Our main goal is to provide a safe and reliable alternative mode of transportation to Yosemite. These new fares will allow us to do just that.”

YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite from Merced and Mariposa along Highway 140, and from Highways 120, 395 and 41 during summer months. In 2018, the service transported more than 26,000 passengers to and from the National Park.

A roundtrip ticket from Merced, Sonora, or Jamestown to Yosemite has increased from $25 to $32 and from Mariposa to Yosemite from $12 to $16. For a complete YARTS fare schedule, route information, or to reserve tickets, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.

YARTS is a California Joint Powers Authority comprised of Merced, Mariposa and Mono Counties in partnership with Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service and the United States Forest Service. The Merced County Association of Governments provides administrative services and operational support for YARTS.


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January 3, 2019

MCOE to Host Annual Report on Schools Jan. 23 in Merced, Jan 24 in LB

Dr. Steve Tietjen, county superintendent of schools, will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Jan. 23-24 in Merced and Los Banos. This is the eighth time this comprehensive report on local educational efforts has been shared with the public.
“As county superintendent, I will do everything I can to keep the public informed about the great things happening every day in classrooms across our county, as well as the internal and external factors influencing public education,” Tietjen said.
The session Jan. 23 will be at Yosemite Church on Yosemite Avenue in Merced. A separate session is planned Jan. 24 at the Los Banos Community Center. Both events are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch is provided.
This year’s presentation will focus on student achievement, innovative teaching practices and bilingual education. Information and data on student achievement will be shared. A student performance from Delhi High School’s mariachi band also is planned, plus videos highlighting students and teachers prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and shot in classrooms in several school districts throughout the county.
“For nearly a decade the Merced County Office of Education has hosted an annual event to bring the community together and focus on education and the many partnerships we have throughout Merced County,” Tietjen said.



“Through these partnerships we create a stronger educational experience for our students and create schools that have so much to offer those students, their families and the community.”
The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, the Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union.
For more information about the event, contact MCOE at (209) 385-6601 or make a reservation for the events at rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.


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December 28 , 2018

MCAG TO HOLD UNMET TRANSIT NEEDS PUBLIC HEARINGS

Merced – The Merced County Association of Governments’ Social Services Transportation Advisory Council is holding public forums to seek input from residents and discuss the future of bus service in the region. The eight public hearings (listed below) are scheduled throughout the County to receive testimony from community residents on unmet transit needs that may exist within the current bus system. These hearings are part of the ongoing commitment to improve the overall transit system and provide efficient bus service to the greatest number of people in Merced County.

CITY OF LOS BANOS
Thursday, January 31
4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Los Banos Community Center
645 7th Street, Los Banos CITY OF ATWATER
Tuesday, February 5
4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Atwater Council Chambers
750 Bellevue Rd, Atwater

CITY OF MERCED
Thursday, February 7
4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Merced Council Chambers
678 W 18th Street, Merced

PLANADA
Monday, February 11
4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Planada Community Center
9167 Stanford Ave, Planada

 

The Bus will provide free fixed route bus service to members of the community who are interested in attending a public hearing. For members of the community who are ADA eligible, transportation can be arranged by reservation by calling (209) 384-3111. Spanish interpretation services will be available at each hearing. For additional language accommodations, contact Eva Garibay at (209) 723-3153 x 108 or eva.garibay@mcagov.org.

Residents who are unable to attend a hearing but would like to provide comments may use this online survey https://www.mcagov.org/312/Unmet-Transit-Needs-Survey or contact Natalia Austin at 209.723.3153 ext. 127 or natalia.austin@mcagov.org by February 12, 2019.
The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG)

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December 27 , 2018

FORMER COUNTY CEO DEMITRIOS TATUM ADDED TO PLAQUE AT DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

When the Merced County District Attorney’s office moved into its new facilities in the old County Bank building on M and Main Streets in October of 2011, a plaque was placed on the wall outside the office listing the names of those who were responsible for the project. It included the architectural firm, the members of the Merced County Board of Supervisors, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, and former County Executive Officer, Larry Combs. Missing from the names on the plaque, according to Morse, was the county official most responsible for getting the project accomplished, former Merced County Executive Officer, Dimitrios Tatum.
On December 24th, Morse corrected what he termed “a serious oversight” by presenting Tatum with a new plaque to hang on the wall that includes Tatum’s name. “We literally would not have been in this building these last seven years were it not for Dee Tatum’s innovation and leadership,” Morse said.
In the summer of 2006, shortly after Morse had taken office, a fire gutted the old county courthouse on 21st and M Streets, followed soon after by a flood at the building they also shared with the Probation Department and the Public Defender’s office across M Street. The two calamities forced the District Attorney’s office to seek new lodgings. That began a five year odyssey in which the DA’s employees were scattered among five office buildings in downtown Merced at an annual rental cost of $350,000 a year. “It was a logistical and management nightmare having our employees spread all over town,” Morse said, he set about finding office facilities that would house all of the DA’s Merced employees in one location.
At that time, County Bank, which had become a casualty of the Great Recession beginning in late 2006 and closed its doors in February of 2009, had shuttered its flagship office building at Main and M Streets and it sat empty and slated for the auction block. When Morse learned the building was going to be sold he approached Tatum and inquired about the possibility of the county acquiring the building for use by the DA’s office.
“Too often in government we hear again and again why things can’t be done. It gets very tiresome and frustrating,” Morse said. “That was never Dee’s
could do.” County general fund dollars were not an option, but Tatum quickly identified federal and state tobacco tax funds that Merced County possessed
as a source for purchasing the building. “As
Dee was fond of saying, the tobacco tax revenue could only be used ‘for

sticks and bricks,’” Morse said. However, the purchase and renovation of the County Bank building was a permissible use of the tobacco funds and Tatum immediately put together a successful $7 million bid through local realtor
Mike Salvadori to buy the nearly 30,000 square foot building and adjacent parking structure and allocated another $3.4 million for a complete retrofit and remodel. In October of 2011, the District Attorney staff moved into its new facilities. Morse described being able to put all of his employees together in a central office “one of my proudest moments as District Attorney.”
Morse also lauded the purchase of the County Bank Building as one of the county’s best financial moves. At the time the building was purchased the county was mired in the recession and had already abandoned plans for a new office building to house the District Attorney as the cost had soared
to nearly $20 million, he said. “Without Dee’s vision, we would have continued to rent buildings far into the future. Instead, we have a beautiful, functional office that will serve the District Attorney’s needs for decades to come,” Morse said. He noted that the county’s general fund has already saved nearly $2.5 million in rent payments and that figure will continue to grow.
The District Attorney’s office also serves as a downtown anchor tenant, Morse said, and its more than 80 employees contribute significantly to the downtown economy. “To have had the foresight to seize an opportunity and green light this project during the midst of a crushing recession was courageous, fiscally shrewd and a testament to Dee Tatum’s management skills,” he said. “Unfortunately, Dee had retired as County Executive Officer before the project was completed and dedicated and his name was inadvertently omitted from the plaque placed on the building,” Morse said.
“If anyone’s name deserved to be on the District Attorney’s office building, it was Dee Tatum’s. It always rankled me that it was missing and I’m delighted to have been able to correct that error,” Morse
said.

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December 22 , 2018

 

FFA Students Extend School Efforts Through the Holiday Break

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Throughout the holiday season and winter break, hundreds of Atwater FFA members took part in various holiday and community service projects that represented the joy, spirit, and good will associated with Christmas and the New Year holidays.

During the last week of the 1st semester, just before the Christmas break, over 200 Atwater FFA students braved the cold weather and rain while gathering 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 stood 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 fifteen years, the Atwater FFA utilizes its December FFA meeting as a way to gather and socialize over hot chocolate, hot cider, and muffins and proceed to the main corner of the school to greet, wave, and wish everyone a “Happy Holiday” and “Merry Christmas” 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!”

Throughout the end of the semester and during the winter recess, the Atwater High School Floral Design students participated in making Christmas wreaths and other Christmas floral arrangements for family and community members. “It’s an opportunity for ‘hands-on’ learning and applying one’s knowledge, skill, and creativity on a class related project that brings happiness over the holiday season,” said AHS agriculture instructor Kaylyn Davenport. Nearly 150 wreaths and Christmas floral arrangements were sold and delivered throughout the community.

Just prior to the Christmas holiday, the entire 1100+ Atwater High School agriculture student body participated in a month long canned food drive where over 5000 canned food items were collected by students just prior to the semester/winter break. The cans were donated to the Rotary Club and distributed to families throughout the local Atwater Community. In addition to the canned food, students harvested organs from local community growers who donated them to the cause. “I think the experience of delivering the food to families in need throughout the community was a powerful impact with our students as they understood firsthand how fortunate they are in comparison to the challenges many in our community face,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. “The enthusiasm and efforts of our students towards the gift of “giving” is really what the holiday season is all about.”

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


For the fifteenth year in a row, nearly 200 Atwater High School agriculture students gathered for a morning meeting followed by the "morning wave" in front of the school as part of their annual holiday cheer.


Atwater High School FFA members Hayley Vargas, Aaliyah Keene, Gilbert Rios, Morgan Cook, Gabriela Moreno, and Elaisha Gaeta help load over 5000 canned food collected by Atwater FFA members during the last week of the semester.


Atwater High School agriculture student Jaylen Allison shows his enthusiasm while making Christmas wreaths in his Floral design class at the high school.


Atwater High School Floral Design class and agriculture student Eroka Silva spends time during her holiday school recess on making holiday floral arrangements ordered by community members in support of the school's student-run floral shop.

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December 22 , 2018

Four firefighters join the ranks of Merced FD

The Merced Fire Department held a badge pinning ceremony for four new firefighters Friday afternoon in ceremonies before family, friends, fellow firefighters and City staff. Acting Chief Billy Alcorn swore in Mickey Brunelli, Daniel Gragg, David Van Noy Reher and Alexander Steindel.

The Department has 62 firefighters who serve in five fire stations strategically placed throughout the City. The City has one vacancy for a fire chief.

Brunelli is from Merced and has 18 years of fire experience, including 13 years serving the City of Merced where he rose through the ranks and became a fire captain. He recently returned to Merced after serving as the EMS Coordinator for the Santa Clara County Fire Department. He served as the regional vice president and director of operations for the Sierra Medical Service Alliance. He’s been a licensed paramedic for 16 years.

He has been an adjunct faculty for the Columbia Community College Fire Technology and Career Technical Education Program. Brunelli, 37, holds an associate’s degree in Fire Science and is working on his bachelor’s degree. He received the Chief’s Letter of Commendation in 2013, and the Merced Fire Department Firefighter of the Year in 2015.

He and his wife, Jennifer, live in La Grange with their son, Richard, and daughter, Rilee. He’s been a member of the Sonora High School Ag Boosters, and a sponsor of the Sonora High Football and Trap Club.

In his spare time he supports his daughter’s barrel racing/equestrian competitions, and goes hunting, fishing and camping.

Gragg grew up in San Bruno and graduated from Milpitas High School. He attended the Columbia College Fire Academy, and also Modesto Junior College.

He worked at Gragg Paving, the family-owned paving business during high school and college, and also worked at the Paradise Point Marina as a dock hand. Gragg, 24, enjoys snowboarding and basketball.

David Van Noy Reher, 26, is from Lodi and worked at the Woodbridge Fire District as a firefighter and for American Medical Response in Stockton as an EMT. He started volunteering as a firefighter for the Stockton Fire Department in 2013.

He has served as a group leader for his church’s junior high and high school youth groups and volunteered as a coach and referee for Upward Sports.

In his spare time, Van Noy Reher is restoring his 1970 Chevy pickup with his dad and hanging out with his yellow lab. He enjoys spending time in Tahoe hiking, climbing, swimming and skiing. Family time is spent going to taco trucks and visiting wineries for a relaxing afternoon. He’s welcoming a son in March.

Steindel, 29, is from Antioch and worked as an EMT for AMR Contra Costa, as a reserve firefighter for the Willow Oak Fire Protection District and a volunteer firefighter for the Crescent Mills Fire Department.

He has an associate’s degree from Los Medanos College and Firefighter 1 Academy from Butte College.

In his spare time he enjoys hiking, snowboarding and most sports.

His family includes his parents, Mark and Karen Steindel, and sister, Lauren Royson.

The annual pay for a firefighter ranges from $53,311 to $67,230.96.


Acting Fire Chief Billy Alcorn shakes hands with Mickey Brunelli.


Acting Fire Chief Billy Alcorn swears in Daniel Gragg, l to r, David Reher, Alexander Steindel and Mickey Brunelli.


Daniel Gragg had his badge pinned on him by his grandparents, Bob and Margie Gragg.


Alexander Steindel had his badge pinned on him by his mother, Karen Steindel.


David Reher had his badge pinned on him by his mother, Sheri Smith.


Mickey Brunelli gets his badge pinned on by his wife, Jennifer.


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December 21, 2018

Congress Passes Legislation Critical for Valley Survivors of Child Abuse

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives updated and reauthorized funding for programs in the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA) today, including Children’s Advocacy Centers and support organizations. These programs are vital for providing Valley survivors of child abuse the services and justice they need to heal and live healthy, productive, and full lives.

“This is an important step to support some of the most vulnerable in our communities: victims of child abuse,” said Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), lead Democrat on the House’s version of the bill and co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus. “Addressing these cases can be very difficult, but we know that Children’s Advocacy Centers are effective at bringing together community and government resources to support victims. We have seen the power of these Centers and this approach in the Valley, across California, and throughout the country. Our goal with this legislation is to ensure that all of our children – especially victims of these horrendous crimes – have the support they need to grow up healthy and safe and pursue their fullest potential.”

There are currently five Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) located in Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties providing services for thousands of children in the Central Valley. For example, VOCAA funds support the Family Healing Center in Fresno, which provides trauma-informed forensic interviews and therapy to 300 children every year. The Valley Children’s Hospital clinic sees another 1000 cases per year. To better address the unmet need, this reauthorization includes resources to create, train, and support new CACs in underserved areas.

“Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC) fully supports the reauthorization of the Victims of Child Abuse Act,” said Erin Harper, Executive Director of CACC. “With over 58 counties in California, we have seen the incredible impact Children’s Advocacy Centers have in helping abused children heal from abuse, and helping communities hold offenders accountable. VOCAA funding makes communities safer, children healthier, and investigations more efficient. We very much appreciate Rep. Costa's commitment to achieving justice and healing for abused children in California. He is a leader in the mission to ensure that all children are safe, healthy, and whole.”

Over the past twenty years, CACs have been proven successful at effectively and compassionately serving victims of child abuse. In recent years, the number of child abuse victims served by CACs has tripled, reaching nearly 335,000 children in 2017 alone.

 


Congressman Jim Costa


“As the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers, National Children’s Alliance not only thanks Representatives Jim Costa and Ted Poe, as well as Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Chris Coons, and other CAC champions for their leadership in introducing the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018, but also in championing the cause of children on Capitol Hill,” said Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of the National Children’s Alliance. “This crucial bill is something our nation’s CACs and our children rely on, and is the only federal program solely dedicated to developing CACs and improving the services they provide to kids that have been abused. With Congress in our corner, CACs now serve more than 330,000 abused children every year, and have provided healing mental health services to more than a million children over the past decade.”

“Every day, children suffer from a heinous crime at the hands of evildoers – child abuse,” saidCongressman Ted Poe (TX-2), lead Republican on the House’s version of the bill and Rep. Costa’s fellow co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus. “The passing of the Victims of Child Abuse Act ensures that Children Advocacy Centers across the country are able to continue to expedite the prosecution of offenders, reduce violent encounters, improve safety in communities across the country, and most importantly, protect our children.”

The legislation updating and reauthorizing VOCAA programs passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and by a vote of 388 – 2 in the House of Representatives. It will be sent to the President to sign into law.

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December 19, 2018

Tietjen, MCOE Board Members Take Oath of Office

At the regular Merced County School Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, Dr. Steve M. Tietjen and three Merced County Board of Trustees took the oath of office.
Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen administered the oath to all four elected officials.
With his wife Rebecca standing next to him at the ceremony, Tietjen took the oath for the second time as county superintendent of schools, a position that leads the Merced County Office of Education, which operates programs throughout the county and has a staff of about 1,300.
In addition to Tietjen taking the oath of office, longtime Merced County Board of Trustees members Dennis Hanks, Chris Chavez and Tom Bates, who all ran unopposed, were sworn in to office. Hanks represents Board Trustee Area 1, which encompasses the northern part of the city of Merced, Chavez represents Board Trustee Area 2, which encompasses the south and southeastern parts of the city of Merced, Le Grand and Planada; and Bates represents Board Trustee Area 5, which encompasses the western and southern parts of Merced County.
Tietjen served as superintendent for the Los Banos Unified School District for nearly a decade before being appointed as county superintendent for the remaining two years of Steve Gomes’ four-year term.
Tietjen also served as superintendent in Woodlake, Ca. and has worked in education for nearly 40 years, starting his career as a history teacher in Visalia in 1980.

 


Dr. Steve M. Tietjen takes his oath of office


Dennis Hanks, Chris Chavez and Tom Bates takes their oath of office

 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


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December 19, 2018

MCOE to Host Annual Report on Schools Jan. 23 in Merced, Jan 24 in LB

Dr. Steve Tietjen, county superintendent of schools, will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Jan. 23-24 in Merced and Los Banos. This is the eighth time this comprehensive report on local educational efforts has been shared with the public.
“As county superintendent, I will do everything I can to keep the public informed about the great things happening every day in classrooms across our county, as well as the internal and external factors influencing public education,” Tietjen said.
The session Jan. 23 will be at Yosemite Church on Yosemite Avenue in Merced. A separate session is planned Jan. 24 at the Los Banos Community Center. Both events are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch is provided.
This year’s presentation will focus on student achievement, innovative teaching practices and bilingual education. Information and data on student achievement will be shared. A student performance from Delhi High School’s mariachi band also is planned, plus videos highlighting students and teachers prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and filmed in classrooms in several school districts throughout the county.
“For nearly a decade the Merced County Office of Education has hosted an annual event to bring the community together and focus on education and the many partnerships we have throughout Merced County,” Tietjen said. “Through these partnerships we create a stronger educational experience for our students and create schools that have so much to offer those students, their families and the community.”
The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, the Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union.
For more information about the event, contact MCOE at (209) 385-6601 or make a reservation at rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

 

 




FILE PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


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December 19, 2018

Costa Stands with Hispanic Caucus to Ensure Humane and Safe Treatment for All

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement regarding the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – of which he is a member – visiting Lordsburg Station to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin while she was in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody:

“I would like to thank CHC Chairman-elect Joaquin Castro and all CHC members who were able to travel to Lordsburg today for being leaders in the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin.

“As a nation, we must ensure our facilities and policies support our American values. This includes treating all people humanely, justly, and with dignity. While I could not be with my fellow CHC members today, I stand in solidarity with them in their investigation. As Americans, we must ensure the health and safety of those seeking refuge at our borders.”

 


Congressman Jim Costa


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December 18 , 2018

 

Ag Students Take on Heat During FFA Event

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Being an Atwater High School FFA member sometimes provides opportunities, events, and activities that extend beyond agriculture, and for over sixty students, staff, and family members that opportunity was to attend and experience a live professional hockey game. Members of the Atwater FFA traveled to Stockton this past weekend for an AHL minor league hockey game between the Stockton Heat and the Bakersfield Condors. This FFA event is part of the annual Atwater FFA Hockey/Basketball Trip scheduled each December. The trip provided students with charter bus transportation, game tickets, and an action packed game. Many students earned the trip free as an incentive towards their fundraising effort and/or their volunteer contribution towards organizing and implementing various activities and events during the 1st semester of the school year.

For most students this is the first time they have ever attended a professional sporting event. “The best part is seeing the smiles and enthusiasm of our students when they travel and experience something new,” said FFA advisor Taylor Helton. “The Heat provided our group with free hats, great seats, a group photo on the ice, and an opportunity to meet the players after the game!”

This activity coincides with the recreational aspect of FFA and the agriculture program as it creates an opportunity for FFA members to participate in recreational activities and develop one’s social and team building skills. It is an opportunity for students to travel, explore new places, gain more experiences and most importantly, have some fun!


For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Students, staff, and family members of the Atwater High School FFA joined together for an FFA Stockton Heat hockey trip where the Heat organization provided the FFA group with a photo on the ice and the opportunity to meet players for autographs after the game.


Atwater High School FFA and agriculture students Hayley Vargas, Gabriella Lucas, Yusdivia Rojo,Hunter Boyenga, Kaya Briscoe, Dalton Wilson Gurkirath Gandhok, Anthony Pitchford, Kiah Betschart, Nandani Patel,Chelsea Thompson, Tanner Bristow, Morgan Cook, Lou Layton, Everett Hill, Perla Caballero, Cristal Venegas, Emmanuel Mejia, Tyler Brawley, Sabrina Lopez, and Anessa Cardenas joined Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Stockton Heat hockey game this past weekend.

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December 18 , 2018

Gregg Camfield Named Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, today announced the appointment of longtime faculty member and administrator Gregg Camfield as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.
Camfield has served in the role on an interim basis since the retirement of Thomas W. Peterson on June 1. His appointment follows a nationwide search that included input from throughout the campus community.
“As UC Merced enters its next phase of growth and maturity, we are coming into our own as a pillar of the University of California system,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Gregg Camfield is a distinguished scholar and has been a steady presence on our campus for years, and he is well positioned to lead us to the next level of academic distinction and research excellence.”
Camfield, a scholar of American literature and culture and the Vincent Hillyer Chair in Early Literature, joined UC Merced in July 2007. As the university’s new executive vice chancellor and provost, he will provide leadership for campus administrative operations and serve as the university’s chief academic officer.
Responsible for planning, development and improvement of all academic programs, policies and infrastructure, Camfield will oversee faculty recruitment, retention and renewal processes, as well as the rigorous review of faculty appointments, tenure and promotion. He will also oversee the planning, quality and delivery of student education, working closely with the Merced Division of the University of California Academic Senate.
In addition, he will convene vice chancellors and other senior administrators to address issues that cut across divisional lines, oversee the campus budget-request process, and lead strategic planning and other strategic campus initiatives in close collaboration with the chancellor.
“I very much appreciate the support of the campus community and remain excited to contribute to the construction of UC Merced,” Camfield said. “I am proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to working with colleagues across campus and throughout the UC system as we build on the strong foundation we have established so quickly.”


In his time at UC Merced, Camfield has served as chair of UC Merced’s initial accreditation team, chair of the Undergraduate Council and chair of the humanities faculty group. Most recently, he served for four years as UC Merced’s first Vice Provost for the Faculty.
Camfield earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He has held academic appointments at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of the Pacific, where he also was director of the University Honors Program.
He has authored two books on Mark Twain, one on American literary humor, and several editions. He has also published more than 40 scholarly research articles and reviews, and has shared his scholarship more broadly by contributing to websites, museums, government reports, school curricula and documentary films.


UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest member of the University of California system, and is the youngest university to earn a Carnegie research classification. The fastest-growing public university in the nation, UC Merced enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in campus construction and design, and supports high-achieving and dedicated students from the underserved 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 18 , 2018

Caltrans Has Completed Bridge Repairs on Interstate 5
and State Route 152 in Merced County Due to SB 1 Funds
Project Extends Service Life of Bridges & Provides a Smoother Commute for Motorists

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans has upgraded and rehabilitated 18 bridges on Interstate 5 and State Route 152 in Merced County, due to the funds from Senate
Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act
of 2017.

“This SB 1 funded project has repaired key bridges on I-5 and SR-152, which are used daily by local residents, commuters, and those with commercial and agricultural business,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “Now the roads are smoother, safer and better equipped to handle the high volume of traffic traveling through these areas.”

Approximately 65,000 vehicles per day use these stretches of SR-152 and I-5 to reach their destination. More than 75 percent of the trucks on this stretch of I-5 and 65 percent on SR-152 are heavy five-axle trucks that add to roadway wear and tear.

“Local residents of Merced County, many of whom transport their livestock or agricultural goods on I-5
and SR-152, will quickly see the benefits of this project,” said Caltrans District 10 Director Dennis T. Agar. “Its completion supports Merced County’s vital dairy industry, as well as California’s economy.”




Myers and Sons Construction of Sacramento completed the work on this $4.7 million project. Crews improved the structure of the bridges, repaired and restored road surfaces, and increased traffic safety. The improved bridges are at the San Luis Dam Forebay and the


California Aqueduct on SR-152, and 16 locations on I-5 ranging from Ortigalita Creek to West Bank Road.

More information and updates on projects can be found atwww.dot.ca.gov/d10/projects.html or on Twitter via @CaltransDist10.

SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027.

Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

 

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL OFF-RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 TO ATWATER BOULEVARD

ATWATER – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the off-ramp from northbound State Route 99 to Atwater Boulevard in Merced County for utility work.

The closure is scheduled Tuesday, December 18, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (noon).

Motorists should expect 5-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 15 , 2018

MCSD Students Enjoy “Shop with a Cop”

Students from throughout the Merced City School District enjoyed a heartwarming holiday treat on Thursday. Administrators from each of the district’s 18 campuses selected one deserving student for the annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

Officers from the Merced Police Department picked up the children at their schools and drove them in patrol cars to the Merced Mall. They took photos with Santa before setting out on a shopping spree funded by donations. The officers helped the students pick out gifts for their loved ones and also encouraged them to buy something for themselves. After all of the shopping, the children were treated to lunch.

This event is a special experience for the students, some of whom have faced hardships or challenges. It also gives the officers a chance to help their young partners see law enforcement in a positive light. Officer Julian Nava said, “It’s great. It’s a warm feeling in your heart giving back to the kids and showing them we’re here to help them out.”

Officer Nava was paired with Oscar Melendez, a sixth grader from John Muir Elementary, who staff members describe as kind, respectful, and generous. He was excited to shop for his family and his teacher, and also planned to surprise his new friend in blue with a present. He added, “When I grow up, I want to have a K-9 unit and be a police officer so that’s kind of exciting for me to come be with a police officer and have a K-9 right here.”

The Merced City School District would like to thank the Merced Police Department, the Merced Mall, and all of the donors who help make this annual event possible.


 

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December 15 , 2018

New Council to be sworn in Monday night

A new City Council will be sworn in after the election results are certified by the Merced City Council Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

Fernando Echevarria will take the seat for District 2 and Delray Shelton will assume the seat for District 6. Incumbent Kevin Blake will take the seat for District 4. This is the first time that all six district seats have been filled. Mayor Mike Murphy will be sworn in for his second term.

A Transition Reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the second floor foyer Monday to welcome the new Council and to say farewell to departing Council members Michael Belluomini and Josh Pedrozo.

On the agenda for the Council is selection of Town Hall meeting dates. Every year before the budget is formulated the Council holds Town Hall meetings in south, central and north Merced to hear from the public about ideas, concerns and issues from the public. The feedback is incorporated into the budget that is adopted by the Council in June.

The Council will hold a public hearing on the annual report on development impact fees as required by the state. The report details what fees are being collected and what projects they will be spent on.

The Council will meet in closed session after the regular meeting for anticipated litigation.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

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December 15 , 2018

State Water Board Adopts Final Bay Delta SED
MID: our community is prepared to fight as long and as hard as is necessary to protect our region’s water supply

Merced Irrigation District has vowed to take any and all action necessary to protect the region’s water supply after the State Water Board adopted the Bay Delta SED Plan Wednesday evening.
“Every resident in California should be concerned. If the state succeeds in setting this legal precedent on our backs in the disadvantaged San Joaquin Valley, this can happen to any community in the State of California,” said John Sweigard, General Manager of Merced Irrigation District.
The long-expected vote Wednesday by the State Water Resources Control Board solidifies the state’s intent to take up to 50 percent of eastern Merced County’s water supply and send it north to the Bay Delta. The Bay Delta serves as the state’s water hub providing vast amounts of water to communities throughout the Bay Area, and Central and Southern California.
“The State has ignored thousands of pages of science and data that counter the Bay Delta SED plan. The state’s plan will fail to meet its own objectives of improving salmon numbers. And in its failing, it will cause irreversible devastation to our local water supply, water quality and economy,” said MID’s Sweigard.
The State Water Board is comprised of five members appointed by the Governor of California and its staff. The State Water Board staff proposed the Bay Delta SED several years ago for the purported benefit of improving salmon populations.
Merced Irrigation District owns and operates Lake McClure. The reservoir is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills: it provides local water supply, flood control, hydroelectric generation and water for the local environment and wildlife preserves.
Backed by scientific and biological studies, MID has repeatedly stated that simply diverting more water away from eastern Merced County will not support salmon.
Most of the historical, natural floodplain habitat around the Bay Delta and Merced River has been reclaimed and converted to farms and cities. Significant parts of the waterways flowing to the Bay Delta have also been altered by human activity causing loss of floodplain habitat for salmon rearing.


At the same time, juvenile salmon are subject to predation in the rivers and in the Delta by non-native predatory bass: in fact, juvenile salmon from the Merced River hatchery are currently transported in trucks around the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers, and most of the Delta, to avoid predation.
For years, Merced Irrigation District has sought to support the state’s objectives of improving salmon populations on the Merced River through a reasonable settlement proposal. In 2016, the Merced River S.A.F.E. Plan (Salmon, Agriculture, Flows, and Environment) was unveiled by MID. This would have:
* Provided immediate increased flows on the Merced River during key salmon lifecycle times.
* Restored 5.5 miles of salmon-rearing habitat – destroyed decades ago by dredge mining – on the Merced River, near Snelling.
* Addressed predation from non-native bass.
* Made investments in the Merced River Salmon Hatchery to increase production.
“MID staff, our biologists, and our community have supported efforts to address the salmon lifecycle locally on the Merced River within our region. However, it is absolutely unreasonable to demand our community’s water supply be diverted for the benefit of others as part of a misguided attempt to mitigate environmental problems created by others three counties away,” said MID’s Sweigard.
“MID is willing to participate in a reasonable comprehensive salmon improvement program – which includes additional, logical amounts of water in the Merced River. However, our District and our community are prepared to fight as long and as hard as is necessary to protect our community’s water supply.”
The State Water Board has held one local, public meeting in Merced to discuss the Bay Delta SED. That was a one-day hearing less than a week before Christmas in 2016.

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December 14 , 2018

Gray Calls for Lawsuit to Halt Implementation of State Water Grab

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement after the State Water Resources Control Board voted to adopt proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Plan:

"This plan is dangerous. It fails to protect people, it fails to protect the environment, and it fails to justify destroying thousands of jobs in one of the highest unemployment areas of the state. Despite the legitimate and comprehensive alternatives put forward by our local irrigation districts, the Water Board shoved their fingers in their ears and adopted their plan as is.

Board Member D'Adamo did a yeoman’s job breaking down the issue and offered up real solutions. But her efforts were in vain.

The Water Board had a clear choice to make tonight. They could have embraced settlement agreements and secured real tangible improvements for


Assemblymember Adam C. Gray

fish and habitat within less than a year. Instead they chose to adopt their disastrous plan and guaranteed a decade’s worth of litigation.

"We will see you in court."

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December 14 , 2018

 

Costa Reacts to State Water Board Vote, Determined to Protect Valley from Water Grab

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement after the California State Water Resources Control Board voted to adopt amendments to the Bay-Delta plan that will direct more water from the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus Rivers to the ocean:

“It is my fear that the vote by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will only further inflame the conflict over California‘s most precious natural resource: its water. I will use every tool at my disposal to protect the communities I represent from this water grab.

“The action taken by the SWRCB is incredibly frustrating. This was a missed opportunity to reset the water wars of the past and to find a better path forward by delaying adoption of the staff proposal to allow continued negotiations to occur on the Merced and Stanislaus rivers.

“Instead of adopting the staff proposal, I believe that a negotiated solution for both the San Joaquin and the Sacramento watersheds would have been reached – one that would lead to real improvements for California’s fisheries, such as improved habitat, better predator control, and functional flows. Instead, the Board refused to provide additional time and chose to adopt the staff’s proposal – a proposal that doubles down on the failed policies of the past and brings harm to San Joaquin Valley communities and to California’s agricultural economy.


Congressman Jim Costa

“I commend the U.S. Department of the Interior, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the many water users for their herculean efforts to negotiate a balanced solution. If allowed to take place, in my opinion, it would improve fishery outcomes without unnecessarily harming Valley communities. Sadly, the Board failed to provide time to finalize this balanced compromise.

“In light of the voluntary agreements that were reached which increase outflow standards, it is essential that Congress act now to extend the WIIN Act with authorization for the Secretary of the Interior to collect funds to implement these voluntary agreements.

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December 14 , 2018

 

Education Foundation Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit Arts, Outdoor Education

A night of dinner theater and virtual trip to Camp Green Meadows are planned Feb. 9 in Merced to raise funds for arts programs and outdoor education in Merced County.
The event, presented by the Merced County Education Foundation, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Merced Multicultural Arts Center on West Main Street.
Stacie Arancibia, executive director for the MCEF, said event proceeds will be used to help support arts programs in the county's schools as well as Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School.
This is the first year arts programs have been added to the fundraiser. In the past two years the dinner has raised funds for the outdoor school near Yosemite National Park for ongoing modernization and to build a new nurse’s station.
Performances by a variety of students are planned, along with a choir, individual actors and an entire class presentation. Bob Bassett, principal of Camp Green Meadows, also will speak.


Along with capital improvements, the MCEF uses funds to sponsor foster youth or other needy students to attend summer camp or a local arts program. The MCEF also recently approved a number of grants to support arts programs in a variety of districts. The foundation's motto is "Creating Educational Experiences Beyond the Classroom."
Tickets can be purchased for $50 each and table and event sponsorships opportunities are available. Tickets can be purchased at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mcef/event/797066/ or by contacting Stacie Arancibia at sarancibia@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6602

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December 14 , 2018

 

HOLIDAY REMINDER: BATTERIES ARE HAZARDOUS WASTE

MERCED – All types of batteries are considered hazardous waste and are prohibited from being thrown out in the garbage or placed in curbside recycling bins at home. Rather, the Merced County Association of Governments and the Regional Waste Authority for Merced County are reminding residents that they should keep their batteries separate for alternate disposal.

“The holidays are the time of year when lots of batteries are being used, replaced and disposed of improperly. This can cause serious fire safety issues for our recycler, waste collection drivers and the staff at our landfills,” says Brooks Stayer, Director of Waste Management. Stayer notes that fires attributed to lithium ion batteries have been on the rise statewide in collection trucks, at recycling centers, and at landfills. Lithium ion batteries are more prevalent than ever and found in cell phones, e-readers and other commonly recharged items in the home. “Unfortunately, the problem is very real for us. These items can easily catch fire when they are being compacted, and our number one concern is for people’s safety,” he said.

 

When properly separated from other waste, batteries can be disposed of for free at both Lowe’s and Home Depot stores in Merced and Los Banos, at the landfills, or at local “Community Clean-ups” beginning in January.

More information about Community Clean Ups can be found at: www.mcrwma.org, and details about lithium ion, and other batteries, at: https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/reducewaste/batteries.

The Merced County Association of Governments is the umbrella organization responsible for administering the Regional Waste Authority which operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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December 14 , 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 59/DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY
AND STATE ROUTE 140/V STREET IN MERCED

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close on and off-ramps on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at SR-59/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and SR-140/V Street for landscaping work.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-59/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Full on-ramp closure from SR-140/V Street to southbound SR-99 on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Thursday, December 20, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Dell Street to Owens Creek Road beginning Monday, December 17, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, December 17, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Merced/Mariposa county line to the south junction of SR-49/SR-140 beginning Monday, December 17, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, December 17, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each work location.
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
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 120 FROM MARIPOSA/TUOLUMNE COUNTY LINE
TO BIG OAK LODGE WEST OF YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lanes on eastbound and westbound State Route 120/Big Oak Flat Road from the Tuolumne County line to the Big Oak Lodge for drainage work.
Work is scheduled beginning Thursday, December 20, 2018, through Friday, December 21, 2018, from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 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
LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM QUINTO CREEK BRIDGE TO COTTONWOOD ROAD

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Quinto Creek bridge to Cottonwood Road for pavement work.

Work is scheduled at the Quinto Creek bridge/Butts Road, and from Allen Road to Cottonwood Road, beginning Monday, December 17, 2018, through Tuesday, December 18, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.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 13 , 2018

Valley Farmers and Families Win Big as Farm Bill Moves to Enactment

Washington, D.C. – The San Joaquin Valley will see significant benefits in this year’s Farm Bill, which cleared the final congressional hurdle to enactment today when passing in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) – senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, who also served on the Farm Bill Conference Committee that negotiated the final legislation – called on his colleagues to support the bill shortly before it passed today.

“As a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee, I am proud to support this bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill,” said Rep. Costa. “A third-generation farmer myself, I have the honor and privilege of representing one of the largest and most diverse agricultural regions in the world. This bill is good for the San Joaquin Valley, California agriculture, and farmers and families throughout the nation. It feeds Americans and supports our agriculture producers as they work to put food on dinner tables across the U.S. every night.”

Rep. Costa was a leading advocate for including numerous programs crucial for Valley communities in the Conference Committee’s version of the Farm Bill, including support for fruit, vegetable, and nut producers, conservation programs, and nutrition assistance.

“The Farm Bill is a crucial piece of legislation for the Central Valley,” said Chairman Jerry O’Banion of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “It not only affects farmers, but also impacts trade, rural development, and food and nutrition programs. The passage of this bill is a fine example of bipartisanship and what can be accomplished when lawmakers work together.”

More than half of America’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California, with the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance stating this version of the Farm Bill “represents positive policy changes for specialty crops.”

“We are pleased that the farm bill negotiators have completed their task as the 2018 Farm Bill acknowledges the growing importance of the specialty crop industry to American agriculture and offers real progress on many of our top priorities,” said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “We applaud the committee leaders, conferees like Rep. Costa, and staff for their diligence in producing a strong, bipartisan farm bill.”

Included in the bill’s conservation programs is a strengthened Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which Valley farmers and conservation groups have used in cooperative projects to increase water quality, protect wildlife habitat, and improve farm operations. Congressman Costa introduced a standalone bill strengthening the RCPP in April, with numerous provisions now incorporated into the Farm Bill.

“Audubon’s partnership with California dairy farmers to protect Tricolored Blackbird populations would have been impossible without the Farm Bill and NRCS and impossible without champions like Congressman Costa,” said Audubon California’s Director of Land and Water Conservation, Meghan Hertel. “Increases in conservation funding in RCPP, ACEP, EQIP, and the Watershed Act in the 2018 Farm Bill build on the agency, landowner, and conservation partnerships that helped protect hundreds of thousands of birds over the last decade, while also providing landowners with the technical and financial assistance to make their operations profitable and ecologically sound. In addition to welcome funding boosts, we appreciate the improvements that allow for renewing successful projects and removing barriers to create new future partnerships.”

A principal point of contention in Farm Bill negotiations was provisions surround the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which approximately 25% of individuals living in California’s 16th Congressional District use to fight hunger and food insecurity. The final negotiations include no cuts to SNAP benefits, no changes to the already existing work requirements, and increased funding for voluntary SNAP Employment and Training programs like Fresno’s Bridge Academy.

“We applaud Representative Costa’s leadership on SNAP and other core nutrition issues that impact Valley residents in the Farm Bill,” said Rachel Tucker, Senior Policy Associate at California Association of Food Banks. “We are pleased that the conference report chooses to protect SNAP and invests in proven supports like SNAP Employment & Training that are so valuable to our efforts to reduce hunger and poverty as opposed to the harsh cuts proposed in the House bill that would have worsened hunger and hardship.”

“We are deeply appreciative of Congressman Costa’s relentless commitment to securing the funding to support SNAP beneficiaries becoming self-sufficient through voluntary employment and training programs at Fresno Bridge Academy and the other nine national pilots originally funded by the USDA under the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Pete Weber, Founder and Chair of the Fresno Bridge Academy.

The legislation is now headed to the President to sign into law.

 

For more on Valley victories in the Farm Bill, click here.


Congressman Jim Costa

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

Valley Programs Receive Significant Support as Farm Bill Moves Forward

Washington, D.C. – The Farm Bill moved one step closer to enactment today, with the Conference Committee filing its report featuring the negotiated version of the bill.

“The Farm Bill is America’s food bill, and the legislation we negotiated is designed to support our farmers and families, feed Americans, and increase our nation’s food security,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) after signing the report today. Costa, who served on the Farm Bill Conference Committee and is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, continued with, “I fought hard to ensure we negotiated a strong Farm Bill that strengthens crop insurance, treats specialty crop producers equitably, supports conservation programs and new farmers, and protects nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable.”

The Conference Committee’s version of the Farm Bill supports efforts critical for the San Joaquin Valley, including:

• Trade programs proven successful at securing markets vital for California producers – who earn approximately 44% of their revenue through exports – such as:
o Market Access Program (MAP), which helps develop export markets for California agricultural commodities
o Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), which maintains foreign markets for California exports

• Programs supporting farmers who grow fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other specialty crops – with half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables grown in California – such as:
o Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC), which helps farmers overcome the regulatory and technical requirements for exporting their products
o Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which focuses on addressing disease and pest threats to crops as well as developing innovative approaches to help strengthen production, including mechanized harvesting to address the agriculture labor shortage
o $25 million specifically designated to help prevent and combat citrus greening disease, which could devastate the $3.3 billion California citrus industry
o Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative – whose funding was doubled – and Organic Certification Cost Share Program

• Conservation programs that allow Valley farmers to continue and to increase their environmental stewardship, such as:
o A strengthened Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which incorporates policies Rep. Costa introduced to assist Valley farmers meet the challenges of increased groundwater management and wildlife habitat conservation
o Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which assists farmers in implementing processes and practices that improve water, air, and soil quality while simultaneously strengthening their agricultural operations

• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and education and training programs designed to help SNAP recipients become self-sufficient, including:
o Continued funding for SNAP with no changes to already existing work requirements, a nutrition program which approximately 25% of those living in California’s 16th Congressional District use to help fight hunger and food insecurity
o $103.9 million in funding for SNAP Education and Training Programs, including priority funding for successful programs like Fresno’s Bridge Academy

The Conference Committee’s Farm Bill also:
• Increases funding for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program – commonly referred to as the 2501 program – which producers across the Valley have used to begin and continue their family agriculture operations
• Creates and funds the new Animal Pest and Disease Prevention and Response Program and corresponding vaccine bank to ensure the health and security of California livestock
• Excludes the King Amendment original incorporated into the House’s Farm Bill, which would have harmed California egg producers

This version of the Farm Bill now moves to the House and Senate for a vote, with no opportunities to amend the measure. The critical votes are currently expected to occur this week.

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December 11 , 2018

 

Industry and FFA Students Join in Ag Expansion Project

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

With the help of local industry volunteers, Atwater High School Department agriculture mechanic students implemented their classroom and shop skills towards a school agriculture facility project designed to expand learning and skill-based opportunities for students. Agriculture students installed a small concrete slab designated for a new shed that will be utilized for increased student rabbit projects.

“The opportunity for students to work with industry professionals in a work-based industry related project allows student learning to be enhanced and make a connection towards what they learn in school and how it is relevant in the ‘real world’,” said agriculture department instructor Dan Flatt. “The experience serves as another opportunity for student involvement outside of the classroom.”

Representatives from Briscoe Enterprises, Triple C Inc., and Interstate Concrete Pumping volunteered their time to share their knowledge and assist the students with various skills. After the concrete was completed, a new shed was installed that will hold various rabbit project feed and supplies.

“We find an increase in pride and enthusiasm when students are part of the process and investment associated with our growing agriculture program and facility”, says agriculture department Sam Meredith. The project will result in more students being able to participate in rabbit projects for the fair and enhance learning lab opportunities associated with the Animal Science pathway courses.

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School FFA and agriculture mechanics student Ethan Slate showcased the final product of a concrete slab and new shed designed for the expansion of student rabbit projects for the fair and various animal science learning labs.


(Photo by Emmanuel Perez - AHS Photography student) - Triple C, Inc.'s Clay Berlier assists Atwater High School agriculture mechanic students Drew Boesch and Ethan Slate with the pouring of concrete for a new slab that will be utilized as a pad for a new FFA rabbit project supply and feed shed.

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December 11 , 2018

MERCED MAN FOUND GUILTY OF THREE COUNTS OF
FIRST DEGREE MURDER

On December 7, 2018, a Merced County jury found Pete Valenzuela guilty of three counts of first degree murder, one count of first degree attempted murder and a count of assault with a semi-automatic handgun, along with various special circumstance allegations and enhancements. Valenzuela is scheduled to be sentenced on January 4, 2019 and is facing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The case stems from several incidents occurring in 2012. The first was the murder of Antonio Jacobo on October 7, 2012 on West 6th Street between T and S, in front of Sheehy Elementary School. Pete Valenzuela shot Jacobo multiple times with a semi-automatic pistol. That case remained unsolved with Merced Police Detectives working diligently to collect evidence and develop suspects, until December 1, 2012 when the bodies of Luis Morales and Benjamin Mariano were found in the early morning hours near the corner of West 23rd and Canal. Both had been shot, multiple times at about 2:30 a.m. but were not discovered until two hours later. Investigators determined that both had gotten into an argument with Pete Valenzuela over gang issues, at a party in an apartment nearby. He followed them down the street and shot both to death. Before that case could be completely investigated, Defendant Pete Valenzuela, along with Patrick Cervantes and Israel Barajas attacked a

Merced man who had returned from town after completing Navy boot camp and was visiting the girlfriend of Patrick Cervantes. This occurred in the early morning hours of December 23, 2012. During the attack, all three severely beat the man and as he ran for his life, fired two rounds from the same semi-automatic pistol that had been used to kill Jacobo, Morales and Mariano.
Merced Police Department detectives, led by Joe Deliman worked tirelessly to build the case, bringing it to the District Attorney’s office for filing. The prosecutors trying the case were Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt and Deputy District Attorney Tyson McCoy. “On behalf of the District Attorney’s Office and the People of the State of California, we would like to thank the jurors who agreed to sit on this lengthy and complicated trial” stated Harold Nutt. “Because of their hard work and diligence, we were finally able to see that justice was done. Hopefully, this will help to bring closure to the families of those who were killed

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December 11 , 2018

More than $600 Million in Funding Approved for Hundreds of
Transportation Infrastructure, Rail and Local Projects
Nearly $80 Million Funded Entirely or in Part by SB 1

RIVERSIDE — Caltrans announced today that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated more than $600 million in funding for hundreds of transportation projects, which includes $80 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

“Caltrans will focus on repairing and rehabilitating the state highway system by improving pavement, bridges, culverts, and intelligent transportation systems, which are included in the performance requirements of SB 1, to improve transportation for all of our residents and visitors, no matter their mode of transportation.” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman.

More than 200 transportation projects will improve and maintain California’s current transportation system. Most of the projects receiving funding allocations are part of the State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP), which is the state highway system’s “fix-it-first” program that funds safety improvements, emergency repairs, highway preservation and some operational highway improvements. While funding for this program is a mixture of federal and state funds, a significant portion comes from SB 1.

Area projects receiving funding include:


State Route 99 – Merced Roadway Rehabilitation Project
This project will replace deteriorating pavement for 4.9 miles of northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) in and near Merced, from south of Childs Avenue to south of Franklin Road. This is part of a series of projects rehabilitating SR-99 in Merced County, including another SB 1 funded project that will widen the highway from two to three lanes near Livingston. Construction for the Merced Roadway Rehab project is scheduled to begin in spring 2021.

State Route 4 and Interstate 5 – San Joaquin County Culvert Rehabilitation Project
This project will repair and/or replace several culverts (drains) on SR-4 and Interstate 5 (I-5) in western and southern San Joaquin County. The three locations are: on SR-4 two miles east of the Contra Costa County line; on SR-4 one mile west of the Middle River Bridge and I-5 at the SR-132 junction.

 

Other projects are designed to reduce congestion, improve freight transportation, and provide funds for local government improvement projects.

These vital programs tackle congestion, support valuable trade corridors and bolster local agency efforts to invest in transportation.

Seventeen Active Transportation Projects to encourage walking and biking, such as new bike lanes and walking trails, were also approved for $12 million.

The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program funds projects to modernize transit systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety were allocated nearly $32 million in SB 1 funds for four rail and transit projects.

SB 1, the landmark transportation infrastructure bill signed by Governor Brown in April 2017, invests $54 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and puts more dollars toward transit and safety. These funds will be split equally between state and local investments.

Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov



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

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December 7, 2018

Travis Credit Union Brings Holiday Joy to the Needy Continued

As the holiday season approaches, it is time to remember those in our community who are financially unable to provide holiday gifts for their families. Many of our branches will be adopting a family for the holidays. To help meet that need, Travis Credit Union staff work to purchase gifts, new shoes, clothing, toys and sometimes even a Christmas tree for the family. Adopting a family for Christmas is a very rewarding and hands-on way to share holiday cheer with the neediest among us.
To show respect and appreciation, employees will be coming together with the community to honor our fallen Veterans at the Annual Wreath Laying event in Dixon on Saturday, December 15, 2018, at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon.
Employees also participate in Operation Cookie Drop by baking and hand delivering cookies to airmen living on Travis Air Force Base during the holidays. To ensure that all airmen experience holiday cheer at TAFB, Travis Credit Union will sponsor the USO’s Operation Home Away From Home meals to airmen at their duty location on Christmas Day.


Christmas Wish 2018 – TCU employees gathering gifts

 

“Through these programs and others like them, we are reaching out to people in need,” says Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “We are proud to be helping the community and at the same time making a difference in people's lives.”
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 14th largest credit union in California with more than 203,000 members and more than $3.1 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo, Napa and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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December 7, 2018

Merced City, Los Banos Unified Take Top Spots in Merced County Spelling Bees

The Los Banos Unified School District took the top spot in the Elementary Spelling Bee and the Merced City School District took first and second in the Junior High Spelling Bee at the Merced County Spelling Bees this week.
Harneet Sandhu, a 4th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, and Nicole Nguyen, a 7th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, both won their respective spelling bees.
During the elementary bee, Sandhu clinched the first-place position when the other remaining spellers were knocked out of the competition with the word ecstasy.
At the junior high bee the next day, Nguyen placed first with the final word phyllophagous.
The elementary spelling bee was held Dec. 5 at Atwater Valley Community School and the middle school spelling bee was held Dec. 6 at the Merced County Office of Education.
Ninety-two students, grades 4, 5 and 6, from 46 elementary schools, competed in the elementary bee, and 34 students, grades 7 and 8, from 17 junior high schools, competed in the junior high bee.
Amy Mejia, English Learner Development coordinator at MCOE, was the wordmaster for Elementary and Audry Garza, English Language Arts coordinator at MCOE was the wordmaster for the Junior High.
Some words and definitions have been given to students and they are also encouraged to study the dictionary and words from newspapers, magazines and books. First and second place winners from both competitions will represent Merced County at the state championships accordingly.
The elementary study suggestion list is provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which holds the Elementary State Spelling Bee Championship. The Marin County Office of Education provides the junior high word list and holds the state championship in San Rafael.


Elementary Winners:

Final Word: ecstasy

1st Place
Harneet Sandhu – 4th Grade
Westside Elementary, Los Banos Unified School District

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

3rd Place
Mariah Dhillon – 6th Grade
Winton Middle School, Winton School District


Junior High Winners:

Final Word: phyllophagous

1st Place
Nicole Nguyen – 7th Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District

2nd Place
Luke Almeada – 8th Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District

3rd Place
Samika Judge – 7th Grade
Los Banos Junior High, Los Banos Unified School District

 

 

 

PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 

 

 

 


Harneet Sandhu, a 4th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, took first place in the elementary competition of the Merced County Spelling Bee. She is pictured here with Wordmaster Amy Mejia, a coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education.


Nicole Nguyen, a 7th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place in the middle school competition of the Merced County Spelling Bee. She is pictured here with Wordmaster Audry Garza, a coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education.


Nicole Nguyen, a 7th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place in the middle school competition of the Merced County Spelling Bee.


From left, Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee winners Mariah Dhillon took third place, Arvin Judge took second place and Harneet Sandhu took the top spot.


From left, Junior High Spelling Bee Wordmaster Audry Garza, a coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, poses with third place winner Samika Judge, first place winner Nicole Nguyen and second place winner Luke Almeada.

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December 7, 2018

School Districts and DA Continue to Combat Chronic Absenteeism

Attendance is one of the most critical factors when it comes to student success. Research shows that chronic absenteeism is linked to dropping out of school, unemployment, and even incarceration. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year, but the most serious cases often involve students who miss upwards of 60 days or more out of the 180 day school year. That is why school districts throughout Merced County continue to collaborate with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office to hold parents accountable when all other efforts have been exhausted.

On November 27, three parents were arrested during a truancy sweep, and one was cited to appear before a judge. That brings the total for this school year to 23 arrests/cites. These are all cases in which the children have been chronically absent for multiple years, and the parents have failed to comply with prescribed support services. For example, in one case from the Merced City School District, a current 8th grader has missed 165 days of school since 5th grade. That’s nearly an entire school year worth of missed days.

These punitive measures are a last resort for school districts and the District Attorney’s Office. Numerous efforts are made at multiple levels to help parents get their children to school and provide resources to address specific challenges they may be facing. The process may differ slightly among school districts, but it typically includes daily phone calls, letters sent home to inform families about truancies, support from counselors, nurses and/or social workers, home visits by site administrators, and School Attendance Review Team (SART) meetings that focus on finding solutions. If students continue to have attendance issues, they are referred to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), which is comprised of various law enforcement and community agencies as well as school officials. The Board works to provide supports, and the family enters a contract with specific directives.

Students and parents who continue to have attendance issues are referred back to the SARB panel. The Board will again evaluate each situation and may refer the most serious cases to the Merced County Truancy Officer, who is an investigator for the District Attorney. This officer will make home visits for chronically absent students, conduct investigations, and connect families to community-based resources. If the investigator determines that a parent has failed to follow prescribed interventions and their child is still not attending school then a SARB referral may be submitted to the DA’s Office for review. If charges are filed, a warrant can be issued for the parent/guardian’s arrest.

Merced City School District’s Director of Pupil Services, Brian Meisenheimer, says “Our schools put in a tremendous amount of effort to provide information, support, resources, and interventions to assist in getting these students to school. When we have exhausted every other option then we have to refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office. These are cases in which students have multiple years of poor attendance, some with 40, 50, 60 or more school days missed a year. It is a shame as these students are being robbed of an education. We are determined to do everything we can to help get them to class so they can succeed in school and later in life.”

Lori Mollart, Director of Child Welfare, Attendance and Safety for the Merced Union High School District adds, “MUHSD prides itself on being proactive in improving student attendance. To address chronic absenteeism our school sites have employed attendance liaisons to make home visits to find students who are not attending. In addition, school nurses are available to assist with medical issues, and student therapists help with social-emotional issues.”
While criminal charges are the last resort, they have been shown to work in multiple cases. For example, one student missed 81 days of school in 2016, 17 days in 2017, and zero days this year after going through the SARB process and ultimately the parent’s arrest. Another student missed 85 days in 2016, 32 days in 2017, and four days this year.
Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse explains, “Prosecution is truly our last and least preferred option. But, parents who fail to ensure their kids are attending school are damaging those children’s future, plain and simple. Failing to send your child to school is a crime under state law. Sometimes, standing before a judge and being held accountable for their neglect is the only thing that will get their attention.”
The ultimate goal of all these efforts is to give students the best chance for bright futures.
County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen explains, “Thirteen percent of the children in Merced County are chronically absent from school. This is above the state average by two percent. When a child attends school regularly they have a much better chance of school success and building a productive life. We want the best for Merced County’s children, and I’m happy to partner with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office to improve attendance for our children most at risk of failure.”

• For questions about the truancy sweep/Merced County District Attorney’s Office, please contact: Anna Hazel, Supervising Investigator at AHazel@co.merced.ca.us
• For questions about MCSD, please contact: Sara Sandrik at ssandrikgoins@mcsd.k12.ca.us
• For questions about MUHSD, please contact: Lori Mollart at lmollart@muhsd.org
• For questions about MCOE, please contact: Nathan Quevedo at nquevedo@mcoe.org

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December 7, 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
REPAIR WORK ON STATE ROUTE 140 IN FERGUSON FIRE SCAR

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is making ongoing emergency repairs and engaging in rehabilitation work on State Route 140 in the Ferguson Fire burn scar – from Briceburg to the Yosemite National Park boundary.

The Ferguson Fire ravaged areas on and near SR-140 both inside and outside Yosemite in summer 2018, creating a need for repairing and replacing culverts (drains), removing and/or trimming potentially hazardous trees and doing roadside slope maintenance
.
This $6.1 million project was awarded to Crook Logging, Inc. This project, which started construction in November 2018, was needed immediately to prevent and mitigate the loss and/or impairment of life, health, property and essential services.

One-way traffic control is being used and motorists should expect 10-20 minute delays. Work will occur day and night through April 2019. Occasional full road closures may be needed for short-duration intervals during rock scaling and removal to protect public and worker safety.

Caltrans District 10 is also co-piloting a weather monitoring program with the National Weather Service’s Hanford office to protect motorists and infrastructure on SR-140 in the Ferguson Fire scar. When more than 1 inch of rain per hour is in the forecast for multiple hours then Caltrans will pre-emptively close SR-140.

This occurred from 2 a.m. on November 29, 2018, through 12 p.m. (noon) on November 30, 2018, and proved worthwhile as three-to-four mudslides occurred overnight. The closure helped keep motorists safe and allowed Caltrans crews a chance to safely clear and re-open the road.

The Ferguson Fire started on July 13, 2018, in Mariposa County and burned more than 96,900 acres causing power outages, roadway damage, and complete roadway closures.

The burnt vegetation and trees have exposed the slope for potential erosion, mud flow, slip-out and rock fall during the rainy season.

Slope stabilization measures, drainage repairs and removal of burnt trees are required to protect the roadway prior to the upcoming winter season.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE
TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park.

Work will occur as follows:

• One-way traffic control from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Indian Flat Campground beginning Monday, December 10, 2018, through Friday, December 14, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for a striping operation.

• One-way traffic control from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, December 10, 2018, through Friday, December 14, 2018, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

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
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 TO STATE ROUTE 59/DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the off-ramp from northbound State Route 99 (SR-99) to SR-59/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Merced for highway repair due to a roadway incident.
Work is scheduled on Monday, December 10, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. There is also a partial off-ramp closure (left-turn lane) from southbound SR-99 to SR-140/SR-59 (V Street) on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for landscape and irrigation work.
Motorists should expect 5-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
LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM FRESNO/MERCED COUNTY LINE
TO STANISLAUS/MERCED COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various lane closures on Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Fresno/Merced county line to the Merced/Stanislaus county line.

• #1 (left) lane on northbound and southbound I-5 from Quinto Creek Bridge to the Merced/Stanislaus county line for pavement work beginning Monday, December 10, 2018, through Friday, December 14, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Moving closures on northbound I-5 from the Fresno/Merced county line to the Merced/Stanislaus county line for a spray operation on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.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
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM MADERA/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE TO PRINCETON WAY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) to the Madera/Mariposa county line to Princeton Way near Mariposa for a striping operation.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• Northbound and southbound SR-49 from the Madera/Mariposa county line to the south junction with SR-140 in Mariposa beginning Monday, December 10, 2018, through Friday, December 14, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

• Northbound and southbound SR-49 from Whitlock Road to Princeton Way beginning Monday, December 10, 2018, through Friday, December 14, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
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 6 , 2018

This Saturday, December 8th we have a great opportunity to double donations. A donor has donated funds to provide a matching grant for every $20 bill or larger or check donated in a kettle in Merced or Atwater this Saturday December 8th 11:00-7:00. We will have kettles at Hobby Lobby, Raly’s SaveMart in Atwater and Merced, and WalMart Atwater and Merced. The recent rainy days we have had have caused a large decrease in donations so this is a great opportunity to make up that difference. We are also in need of volunteers to ring the silver bells at a red kettle to bring holiday cheer and raise funds to make a difference in the community. On average, each hour volunteering provides food for a week for a family or a hot meal for 10 homeless people in our community. To volunteer for 2 hours or more visit registertoring.com.

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Services we provide

During Christmas 350 families receive a special Christmas food box as well as toys for each child

The Linked After School program provides a safe enriching opportunity for 40 children 4 days a week to receive homework help, a digital learning course on financial literacy and computer safety, music and art, recreation, and a character building troop program.

During the summer children can spend a week at camp in the redwoods of Scott’s Valley

The Saturday before school starts 250 children receive a backpack, school supplies, and a haircut as well as the entire family receiving a hot meal

 

 

 

Four days a week 100-150 people are provided a hot breakfast

Family Services provides food boxes, hygiene kits, emotional spiritual care

In a disaster we provide hot meals, emotional and spiritual care, and work with other agencies to provide unmet needs

How the community can help

Register to volunteer for a 2 hour shift or all day at a kettle site at registertoring.com

Pick an angel tag off a tree at the Walmart in Merced or Atwater, Panera Bread, Central Valley Community Bank, M&M Realty, N&S Tractor, Fitness Republic, Tumble Time gymnastics, Merced Mall and purchase a toy and clothes for a local child.

Donate in a kettle

Mail a check to PO Box 191 Merced, CA 95341

Donate online at merced.salvationarmy.org

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December 6 , 2018

 

Holiday fun for everyone


Lights Before Christmas

The Merced Applegate Park Zoo is hosting its 4th Annual Lights Before Christmas Dec. 14 and 15 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Night life will be decked out with Christmas lights and areas of the zoo will be decorated by local businesses and community organizations. Special activities include holiday crafts, craft vendors, music, animal appearances and, of course, Santa Claus. The cost is $4 per person, children under 5 are free. The event is held at Applegate Park Zoo, 1045 W. 25th St., Merced. For more information, call 385-6235.

 

Santa’s Workshop “Little Helpers Needed”

City of Merced Parks and Recreation is hosting its 3rd Annual Santa’s Workshop Dec. 19 from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. in the Sam Pipes room at City Hall. Participants 3 to 8 will have a chance to create holiday crafts, enjoy the Christmas environment and have a sweet Christmas. Kids will also get a chance to meet with Santa Claus. This is a family fun experience. It’s all happening at the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St., Merced. For more information, call 385-6235.

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December 6, 2018

 

Costa Statement on President George H. W. Bush’s Leadership and Legacy

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement regarding President George Herbert Walker Bush’s leadership and legacy:

“Today we celebrate the life of President George Herbert Walker Bush who served our nation with great distinction, honor, and success.

“We thank you for all you have given us and your example of what true leadership means. A grateful nation can never ever say thank you enough.

“God bless you, President Bush. May you rest in peace, for your mission here on earth is complete, and we are the better for your efforts.”


Congressman Jim Costa

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December 5 , 2018

 

Le Grand Elementary Students Work With Stanford to Recover Weather Balloon

It literally fell out of the sky.

A weather balloon launched by some Stanford University engineering students fell into a Le Grand farmer’s field and it may be the seed for a scientific partnership between curious future scientists and equally inquisitive Le Grand youngsters.

Scott Borba, superintendent of the Le Grand Union Elementary School District, is excited about the prospects of partnering with the Stanford Space Initiative to continue space exploration.

Borba explained a Stanford student emailed the school district, wanting local folks to be on the lookout for the balloon, one of three launched by the group, which is a club of newer students with a deep interest in science. She sent the coordinates where the balloon likely fell.
“Opportunities like this don’t fall from the sky every day,” Borba said. “There’s no end to the possibilities.”

Borba had his middle school students write a three-paragraph essay detailing their interests in working with Stanford students on future space exploration. Eight students responded with essays describing their motivation to get involved.

Armed with the coordinates, Borba and the school’s vice principal went out to search for the balloon but came back empty-handed. Local residents thought the general location might be on Mario Bianchi’s farm and he was asked to keep an eye out for the balloon. A couple days later, Bianchi found it and brought it to the school office.

Students with the 200-member Stanford Space Initiative want to be the first university to explore space. Borba said his students are equally inquisitive and have formed the Le Grand Space Initiative.

One video conference between the Palo Alto-based Stanford students and their Le Grand counterparts has already taken place and another more extensive session is planned late this winter or early next spring.

Borba has a larger mission in mind — he wants his Le Grand students to realize they can go to Stanford one day and that attending the prestigious university is more than a faraway dream.

The 2-foot by 8-inch weather balloon was made of a Styrofoam block encircled with duct tape and a latex balloon that had popped. The balloon had a GPS system and a camera. They recovered its experiment: a raw egg that survived the high-altitude journey without breaking, along with some coins.

Stanford students launched three weather balloons. Two were recovered in the Hollister area. The intent was for the balloons to reach 92,000 feet, which is considered part of the space realm.
Borba is wondering why his students can’t collaborate with their Stanford counterparts and launch their own balloons. What will be sent up has yet to be determined.

Sixth-grader Lena Harris would like to see Oobleck be launched on a weather balloon. Simply made with water and flour, the substance glamorized by Dr. Seuss fascinates Harris.
“When you put a good amount of force on it, it hardens and acts like a solid. On the other hand, when you lightly touch it or submerge your hand or finger, it acts like a liquid. It really is an interesting experiment and toy,” Harris wrote in her essay.

She’s intrigued to know how Oobleck will react and if it would solidify or melt. Her great uncle worked with weather balloons in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, to determine the point where freezing took place. That way it could be determined where jets could fly without a telltale contrail that the North Vietnamese could use to shoot them down.

Seventh-grader Thomas Walling would like to use a weather balloon to send various objects into space to see how they resist the cold or what their breaking point is. He would like to send one of those plastic parachute Army men and watch the balloon slowly fall down.

PHOTOS COURTESY LE GRAND UNION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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Stanford students are studying atmospheric pressure and weather patterns to determine the effects of altitude. One project the Stanford club students are considering is sending a balloon up and then launching a rocket from space.

“A lot of my sixth to eighth grade students are fascinated, too,” Borba said. “What if they sent their own payload up? I want them to learn and be engaged in the process. Our kids are inquisitive as well as those at Stanford.”

Borba jokingly said he is holding the Stanford balloon hostage so the two groups can collaborate on a project. With this undertaking, the sky’s the limit.

 

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December 5 , 2018

Expand, Build New School



In the next few years, Sandra Schiber hopes Atwater will have another elementary school.
Schiber, superintendent of the Atwater Elementary School District, admits that’s an optimistic projection but is hopeful it will come to pass.
“Two years from now, that would be great,” Schiber said. “It’s a little ambitious but we’ll give it a shot.”
On Nov. 6, district voters approved Measure E, a school facilities bond that will raise $20 million for a new school, likely to be built in the Buhach area, which has the greatest need.
Fifty-nine percent of voters, 4,183 people, favored the bond, while 2,895 voted against it. The bond needed 55 percent approval to pass.
Schiber said right now the majority of Atwater campuses don’t have an empty classroom available and there’s no classroom availability for growth. The bond charges $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The median home in Atwater is valued at $250,000, meaning the bond will cost taxpayers about $70 a year.
Schiber reported the district has experienced steady increases in enrollment for the past several years. In the fall, enrollment has gone up 25 to 30 students, sometimes more.
She said the biggest area of need is in the Buhach area, with new subdivisions going up in the Avenue One and Avenue Two areas. Two portable classrooms had to be added at Thomas Olaeta and Shaffer elementary schools to accommodate growth.
Besides the Buhach area, there’s the potential for another 155 new students generated by other subdivisions. The district did a seven-year projection in 2014 and it showed capacity would need to be added by 2022; the district already is a year ahead of estimates.
District trustees have been putting money aside for renovations and new facilities. With the passage of Measure E, that money can be used for modernization programs at other schools.
“We need multi-purpose rooms to accommodate the size of our schools. We have four lunch periods at some of our schools to handle some students,” Schiber said.


District leaders will soon meet with their architect to draw up plans. Plans then are sent to the Department of State Architect in Sacramento for approval.
“We’ll move rather quickly, as fast as the process allows us to,” Schiber said.
The school district owns two pieces of property in the Buhach area. Trustees have not decided which one will be used for the new school.
Also yet to be decided is whether the new school will be for kindergarten through sixth grade students or kindergarten through eighth grade students.
Schiber stressed all money will be spent locally for the new school and an oversight committee will be established. She said the Measure E committee worked diligently on a grass-roots campaign and no outside consultant was used.
She credits retired school administrator Peggy Weaver of Scotts Valley for leading the campaign and is thankful for the community’s support of local schools.
The Atwater district has eight campuses, including Aileen Colburn, Peggy Heller, Thomas Olaeta, Bellevue, Elmer Wood, Mitchell K-6 and Mitchell Senior and Shaffer schools. The district has 5,125 students and 600 staff members.
Campaign literature said the bond would provide smaller class sizes and allow for more individual attention for students, thereby increasing student achievement. Bond passage allows the district to qualify for matching funds to lower project costs.
Bond funds cannot be used for salaries, benefits or pensions and can’t be taken by the state.

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December 5 , 2018

 

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY PORTUGUESE FESTIVAL 2019

Livingston, CA - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - The Carlos Vieira Foundation is proud to host the San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival! The celebration is open to ALL people to come discover the culture and heritage of the Portuguese people and honor their contributions to the San Joaquin Valley and the state of California. The Festival will be held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA on Saturday April 13, 2019 from 9:00 am to midnight.
This family-friendly event will showcase traditional Portuguese dancing, music, and cuisine. The Festival will be kicked off by a traditional Portuguese parade followed by plenty of activities including folklore performances, tourada á corda (running with bulls held on a rope), philharmonic performances, Chamarita (Portuguese traditional dance) lessons, a Portuguese bazaar, traditional Portuguese games, and a cultural exhibit. We will also have plenty of room for Portuguese food and craft vendors to join us.
Other activities will include a wine and cheese tasting area, carnival rides, live performances including a Fado (traditional Portuguese opera type) singer, the Portuguese Kids comedy show, and Eratoxica (Portuguese rock band). The highlight of the festival will be the live performance of Portugal’s very own, Roberto Leal!
Join us for the exciting festivities, performances, and a great family environment. Vendor and sponsor opportunities are available. Proceeds benefit the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign. For more information please visit our website at www.carlosvieirafoundation.org, call us at (209) 394-1444, or email us at info@carlosvieirafoundation.org. Like and follow us on Instagram (@carlosvieirafoundation) and Facebook (@CVFoundation) for updates.


Click Here See Flyer

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December 4 , 2018

 

Atwater FFA Students Embark on Public Speaking Opportunities

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Six Atwater High School agriculture students participated and competed in the annual Mariposa FFA Public Speaking contest held at Mariposa High School on December 1st. 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!”

Atwater High School agriculture program sophomore Emma Garcia placed 1st overall 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. Jaimie Colores and Adriana Lopez also competed in the sectional finals.

Atwater High School Agriculture program junior Anessa Cardenas placed 2nd 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. Atwater High School junior Jose Montenez was a contest finalist and Michael Bray also competed in the contest.


Atwater High School agriculture students Jose Montanez, Jaimie Colores, Emma Garcia, Anessa Cardenas, Adriana Lopez, and Michael Bray competed with nearly one hundred other high school FFA members in a public speaking contest held in Mariposa.

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Nearly a hundred 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 Jose Vargas. “Opportunities for students such as this establish foundation skills for success.”

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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December 1 , 2018

Wells and conflict of interest code on Council agenda

Well work and a conflict of interest code update are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

Council will consider a contract for $115,853 for Quad Knopf, Inc., for engineering design services at three municipal well sites. The contract will go towards improvements for three above ground water well sites in the City.

Also on the agenda is a resolution for Council to update the City’s Conflict of Interest Code. The Political Reform Act requires City’s to amend the Code to add or delete positions that are subject to provisions of the act. For example, the recently created Arts and Culture Advisory Commission was added to the list that must have members submit statements of economic interest.

The Council will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers to hear an appeal on a cannabis business permit.

 

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:30 p.m. to meet with labor negotiators.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

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December 1 , 2018

Congressman Costa Launches Annual Holiday Card Drive for Veterans and Military Servicemembers

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) launched his annual holiday card drive for servicemembers and veterans today, continuing what has become a Valley holiday tradition.

Each year, Rep. Costa invites residents of California’s San Joaquin Valley to drop off or mail holiday cards to his Fresno and Merced district offices to be delivered to servicemembers and veterans. Costa also partners with local schools in Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties, where students make cards to thank these Valley heroes and wish them a happy holiday season.

“It is so important that we let our military servicemembers, veterans, and their families know how much we value them and everything they do,” said Congressman Costa. “Every year I hold the holiday card drive to encourage people across our Valley to join me in thanking our servicemembers and veterans, showing them just how much their service and sacrifice mean to us.”

Cards can be dropped off or mailed to Congressman Costa’s district offices through December 14th. All cards should be signed with first names only and a few lines of appreciation, and then placed in unsealed, unaddressed envelopes. Cards cannot contain glitter or images of guns, blood, war scenes, or death.

If mailing cards to Rep. Costa’s office for collection, please place cards in a separate envelope and send to:

Congressman Jim Costa
“Holiday Cards for Veterans”
855 M Street, Suite 940
Fresno, CA 93721

For more information, please contact Rep. Costa’s office at 559-495-1620 or 209-384-1620.


Congressman Jim Costa
signing cards


Congressman Jim Costa

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Congressman Costa on Democratic Leadership for the 116th Congress

Washington, D.C. – Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the House Democratic Caucus voted on Caucus leadership positions and nominations for the 116th Congress:

“When the Democratic Caucus voted Wednesday on our leadership for the next Congress, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi received a significant majority of Caucus votes, but fell short of the 218 votes she will need on January 3rd to become the next Speaker of the House.

“Leader Pelosi and Congressman Jim McGovern worked closely with the Problem Solvers to make changes in the rules that I believe will positively impact the next Congress. But there are other concerns that I would like to see addressed before the January 3rd vote.

“The San Joaquin Valley, like many regions of our country, has challenges the next Speaker must commit to address. We need assurances that the House will focus on a bipartisan infrastructure proposal, one that would increase investments in our future water needs and improve transportation. We also must work to improve our healthcare system, lower prescription drug costs, and resolve ongoing immigration issues.

“In debates and candidate forums during the last campaign, I indicated I thought it was time to develop new leaders in the Democratic Party, which is important in ensuring that the diverse ideas of our membership are represented. I appreciate the effort Leader Pelosi has initiated that would provide opportunities for new leaders over the next two years. It will make a difference as we look forward to the elections in 2020 and beyond.

“It is my intention to continue my conversations with Leader Pelosi and other colleagues who have similar concerns.

“We have a chance to work together and show the American people that their faith in our democratic institutions is not misplaced. To do so, we must have a unified Democratic Caucus committed to doing the work necessary to improve the lives of those we have the privilege to represent. I am hopeful that my ongoing conversations with leadership will be successful. While I did not vote for Leader Pelosi this week in the Democratic Caucus, is it my hope to cast my vote for Speaker Pelosi on January 3, 2019.”

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December 1 , 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol re-opened State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) on Friday, November 30, 2018. This closure was due to an ongoing storm that led to multiple mudslides and debris such as rocks coming onto the roadway.

This closure was in place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. The closure began overnight at 2 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 and lasted roughly 34 hours.

There will be one-way traffic control on SR-140 for the time being in the area of the Ferguson Fire scar due to culvert (drainage system) repairing and clearing. Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.

There is no estimated time for the completion of the culvert work.

Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris on highway lanes. Caltrans is co-piloting a weather monitoring system for the Ferguson Fire scar area with the National Weather Service office in Hanford, which led to this pre-emptive closure. The U.S. Forest Service and several other partnering agencies are helping with this system.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

 

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM QUINTO CREEK TO
STANISLAUS/MERCED COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various lane closures on Interstate 5 (I-5) from Quinto Creek to the Stanislaus/Merced County line. Work will occur as follows;

• #1 (left) lane on northbound I-5 will close from Quinito Creek Bridge to Butts Road for paving on Friday, December 7, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• #1 (left) lane on southbound I-5 will close from Allen Road to Cottonwood Road for paving beginning Wednesday, December 5, 2018, through Thursday, December 6, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• #1 (left) lane on southbound I-5 will close from Garzas Creek to the Stanislaus/Merced County line for paving beginning Monday, December 3, 2018, through Tuesday, December 4, 2018, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.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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November 29, 2018

Tioga and Glacier Point Roads in Yosemite National Park Close for the Winter Season

The Tioga and Glacier Point Roads in Yosemite National Park are closed for the winter season. There have been several storm systems that have moved through the park over the past two weeks.

The Tioga Road is a seasonal road that closes each season, based on weather and road conditions. The road is closed from Crane Flat junction to park line at Tioga Pass, 5 miles west of Lee Vining and US 395.

The Glacier Point Road is also closed for the season, from the Yosemite Ski and Snow Board Area to Glacier Point. This section of road closes each season, based on weather and road conditions.

A series of winter storms are expected to pass through the Yosemite Area, beginning on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 and continuing through the weekend. Snow and rain are expected throughout the park. Motorists should be prepared for winter driving conditions and possible delays.

Yosemite National Park is open year-round with snow removal on all other roads within the park. Highway 120 West, Highway 140, and Highway 41 remain open year-round and provide access to Yosemite Valley. The Hetch Hetchy Road is open for day use throughout the winter months.


All roads within the park are subject to chain control or temporary closures due to hazardous driving conditions. All motorists are required to carry tire chains, even if their car is equipped with four-wheel drive, while driving in the park during the winter months. Chain control may go into effect at any time. The following chain control guidelines exist:

- “R-1” requires vehicles to have mud and snow tires or tire chains
- “R-2” requires vehicles to have 4-Wheel drive or tire chains
- “R-3” requires all vehicles to use tire chains

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200.

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November 29, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BEAR CREEK TO FORESTA ROAD
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning overnight at 2 a.m. Thursday, November 29, 2018. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety.

The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek to Foresta Road – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance.

The National Weather Service is forecasting potentially more than 1 inch of rain per hour between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 29. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris such as rocks onto highway lanes.

Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening to traffic.

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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November 28, 2018

Billy Alcorn named Acting Fire Chief

Deputy Fire Chief Billy Alcorn has been named Acting Fire Chief to replace Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson. Wilkinson abruptly retired Monday evening.
Alcorn started at the City in 2004 as a firefighter and has worked his way up the ranks of the City of Merced Fire Department becoming the Deputy Fire Chief in 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.
Alcorn served as the Acting Chief prior to the appointment of Wilkinson.
Wilkinson was appointed chief Nov. 21, 2016. Prior to becoming permanent chief, he held temporary assignments as the City’s Fire Marshall, Fire Division Chief and interim Fire Chief. In addition he had more than 35 years of experience as a firefighter and instructor in instructor in Northern California.
A national search for the next fire chief will begin after the holidays.


Billy Alcorn

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November 28, 2018


Merced County Spelling Bee Scheduled Next Week

The annual Merced County Spelling Bee will be held next week, with 124 students in elementary and middle school grades challenging themselves and others for a chance to advance to state competition.
Ninety-two elementary students will compete at 9 a.m. Dec. 5 in the gym at Atwater Valley Community School. Thirty-two middle school students will test their spelling prowess Dec. 6 at 9 a.m. in the Clark/Newbold Rooms of the Merced County Office of Education, 632 W. 13th St., Merced.
Stacey Arancibia, events planner for the Merced County Office of Education, said this spelling bee is different in that contestants write out the selected words rather than pronounce them orally.
Participating schools from throughout the county as well as private schools hold their own spelling bees and the top two students advance to the county event. The top two finishers from the county spelling bee will advance to state competition.
Arancibia said the students are well-prepared. They begin practicing for the event when school starts in the fall and some even bone up on spelling words during the summer,

Spectators are allowed at both events and usually the rooms are full. While attendees are encouraged to be quiet, Arancibia acknowledges when it gets down to the last few words, there is some cheering by well-wishers.
“It’s always interesting when it gets down to the top 10 students,” Arancibia said. “You know they are all good and have worked hard. At the end the words become more difficult but the kids are so well-prepared.”
The wordmaster for each bee picks the words, reads them and applicable sentences. For the last several years, county finalists have finished in the top 10 in state competition.

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November 28, 2018

Caltrans Has Completed Repairs on State Route 140 in Mariposa County Due to SB 1 Funds
Pavement Project Improved More Than Six Lane Miles to Provide a Safer Commute for Motorists

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Caltrans has repaired and repaved more than six lane miles of State Route 140 from the SR-49/SR-140 junction to Whitlock Road, due to the funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

“State Route 140 is one of the main gateways into Yosemite National Park and is an essential link in supplying goods and services to the Mariposa, El Portal, and Yosemite communities,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “This SB 1 funded project will provide a safer and smoother commute for tourists, commercial traffic and local residents, whose livelihood depends on the good condition of the highway.”

SR-140 is an all-weather route into Yosemite National Park and is a critical asset for both tourists and the local economy.

Tourism is the county’s main industry and area’s largest employer. In 2016, visitors spent about $520 million in communities near the park, supporting more than 7,800 jobs in the local area, which had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of approximately $686 million.

More than five million people visit Yosemite National Park annually. Nearly 8,500 motorists per day use SR-140 to reach their destination, including more than 300 freight trucks per day. Nearly 35 percent of the trucks using this highway have heavy five-plus axles, adding to the deterioration of the roadway.

“Commercial trucks use SR-140 year-round to transport agriculture products, livestock, logs and other goods, causing significant wear and tear to the highway,” said Caltrans District 10 Director Dennis T. Agar. “Without this SB 1 funded project, the pavement would have continued to worsen, so we’re glad to have these much-needed repairs behind us as we transition to winter weather.”

This $4.1 million project was awarded to Teichert Construction, Inc., and focused on upgrading structures used to keep water off the road, repaving damaged stretches of the highway, and improving traffic safety. Six-inch striping and pavement markings with enhanced visibility for wet-weather conditions and nighttime driving were also installed.

More information and updates on projects can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d10/projects.html or on Twitter via @CaltransDist10.

SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027.

Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

 

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

 

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November 27, 2018

 

FFA Leads School in Operation Christmas Child

Written by:: 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 originally inspired three years ago by Atwater FFA graduate Amanda Skidmore who inspired and led the students at Atwater High School in “Operation Christmas Child. This year it was organized and executed by the Community Service committee and chairs Sophia Rhoades and Tyler Brawley. 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.

“We wanted to continue the tradition that was started,” said Tyler Brawley. “Knowing you can touch someone else’s life and make a difference is truly the best feeling one can have, especially around the Holidays.”

Sophia and Tyler’s goal was to get at least 200 shoe boxes organized prior to the Christmas holiday. They 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. When it was all completed, over two hundred boxes of various items was delivered to the Samaritan's Purse location in Merced, 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.


Atwater High School Agriculture students and FFA members Stefanie Anguiano, Adrianna Lopez, Jennifer Velazquez, Paola Rivera, Tyler Brawley, Jose Montanez, and Chelsea Thompson joined their Ag Leadership classmates in organizing and colecting boxes for Operation Christmas Child over the recent holiday break.

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

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

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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November 27, 2018

CALTRANS COMPLETES PROJECT REALIGNING SEGMENT
OF STATE ROUTE 59 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed work on a $4 million project realigning a segment of northbound and southbound State Route (SR-59) near Merced at the intersection of SR-59 and Mission Avenue/West Dickenson Ferry Road.

This project has improved the safety at the intersection by creating left-hand turning lanes in both directions.

Additional improvements included widening the shoulder on the southbound side and restructuring the drainage system impacted by the roadway widening.

Construction began in August 2018 and was completed in November 2018.
This projects follows another realignment improvement project that was completed in March 2018. That project realigned a segment of Fowler Avenue at SR-165 in Merced County.

The work on this project was done by Agee Construction Corporation of Clovis.
Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

 

 

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

 

 

 

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November 21, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE
TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park.

Work will occur as follows:

• One-way traffic control from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 26, 2018, through Friday, November 30, 2018, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for pavement striping.

• One-way traffic control from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 26, 2018, through Friday, November 30, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

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.

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY CALTRANS TO BEGIN RUMBLE STRIP INSTALLATION PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 49 IN TUOLUMNE AND MARIPOSA COUNTIES TUOLUMNE/MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing a project that will create more than 35 miles of center and shoulder rumble strips on State Route 49 (SR-49) in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. Work is scheduled to begin Monday, November 26, 2018, and the project is scheduled for completion in March 2019. Work will be performed at the following locations: • From the Mariposa/Madera County line to SR-140 in Mariposa County; • From West Whitlock Road to Princeton Way in Mariposa County; • From the SR-49/SR-120 junction at Moccasin to Harvard Mine Road, one mile south of Jamestown in Tuolumne County; • From Jack Page Road, just south of Sonora, to the Tuolumne/Calaveras County line. Work in Mariposa County is scheduled to be performed Mondays through Fridays, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Crews are scheduled to alternate between day and night shifts in Tuolumne County: Day work will be Mondays through Fridays, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., while night work will be Sunday through Thursday, from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Rumble strips are used to increase the safety of the roadway and reduce the likelihood of offroad collisions, head-on collisions and other incidents. Rumble strips alert motorists that they are accidentally leaving their lane or the roadway. This $854,000 project will be performed by Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
CONNECTOR RAMP CLOSURE
INTERSTATE 5 TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the connector ramp from northbound Interstate 5 to eastbound State Route 140 near Gustine for bridge work.

The ramp is scheduled to be closed beginning Monday, November 26, 2018, through Friday, November 30, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.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.

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November 21, 2018

Congressman Costa Elected to NATO Parliamentary Assembly Economic Security Role

Washington, D.C. – Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was elected Vice Chairperson of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Economic Security Committee yesterday during the Assembly’s 64th annual session in Halifax, Canada.

“NATO is one of the most significant international organizations in the world, and I am honored that my colleagues elected me Vice Chair of the Economic Security Committee,” said Rep. Costa. “The United States must continue to strengthen its relationships with our international allies. Together, we must consider the comprehensive long-term effects of our decisions and work strategically for global stability and peace.”


Congressman Costa Speaking During 2018 NATO Parliamentary Assembly Session in Halifax, Canada


Congressman Jim Costa

During this year’s session, Costa proposed three provisions on behalf of the United States, which the Assembly voted to move forward by sending to NATO leadership. The provisions aim to increase stability in the Middle East, provide defense assistance to NATO partners in the Middle East and North Africa, and strengthen NATO’s satellite and other space-based defense capabilities. Rep. Costa was elected Vice Chair of the key committee by delegates from the 29 NATO Parliamentary Assembly Member States.

Congressman Costa has been a long-time advocate for working with international allies and partners to make the world safer through a comprehensive strategy of diplomacy, sanctions, and deterrence. He is currently the Ranking Member of the U.S. Delegation to the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue and Co-chair of the Transatlantic Policy Network’s Steering Committee.

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November 21, 2018

CALTRANS COMPLETES PAVEMENT REHABILITATION PROJECTON STATE ROUTE 59 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has completed construction on a 6.8 mile pavement improvement project on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59)/Snelling Highway in Merced.

This project spanned from the south fork of the Black Rascal Canal to Oakdale Road.
This project has restored the roadway, extended the service life of the pavement and will limit costly maintenance efforts for the future, both for motorists and taxpayers. An overlay of rubberized asphalt concrete (RAC) was used to enhance this section of SR-59/Snelling Highway – a pivotal passage for local motorists and agricultural traffic.

The work on this $2.2 million project was completed by Teichert Construction, Inc., of Sacramento.

Construction work began in June 2018 and was completed in October 2018.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process. For more on current and upcoming Caltrans District 10 projects, go to http://dot.ca.gov/D10/projects.

 

CALTRANS COMPLETES PAVEMENT IMPROVEMENT PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 33 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed construction on a 13.3 mile pavement improvement project on State Route 33 (SR-33) from SR-152 to SR-140 in Gustine.

This project provided a slurry seal (a mixture which rejuvenates pavement), and hot mixed asphalt and rubberized hot mixed asphalt overlays to extend the service life of the pavement and improve the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists.

Slurry seal is economical, corrects existing distresses in the roadway like cracking in the surface and makes pavement waterproof to prevent further deterioration.

Granite Construction Company completed the work on this $3.8 million project. Construction began on Sunday, June 24, 2018, and finished on November 10, 2018.
This is the second project in the past year that has benefited SR-33, following the rehabilitation of the SR-33 bridge that crosses over Interstate 5.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

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

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November 20, 2018

City employee takes top driving honors

To say that Eric Berlier knows his stuff is an understatement. He recently received the top award for refuse truck drivers in the nation.
Berlier was the overall Grand Champion at the International Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Road-E-O held in Denver and took the first place in the front loader competition.
To make the cut, drivers had to place in the top of their regional competions and have impeccable driving records. Berlier took the grand champion award and first place in the front loader class in the state competion held in Santa Maria this summer.
Berlier is a Container Maintenance Worker and Relief Driver and has worked for the City since 2006.
“Competing in the Road-E-O’s inspires me to be a safer driver and helps keep my driving skills sharp,” Belier said. “It was an honor to represent the City of Merced on a National spotlight. I’ve worked hard to earn this award and I’m very proud. Thank you to everyone who supported me.”

 

City offices closed for the Thanksgiving holidays

The offices of the City of Merced will be closed for the Thanksgiving holidays Thursday and Friday, Nov. 22 and 23.
There will be no trash pickup on Thursday. Thursday’s service will be on Friday and the regular Friday collection will be on Saturday.
The National Weather Service is forecasting wet weather over the holidays, so slow down and drive carefully, whether you are staying locally or travelling out-of-the-area.


Eric Berlier

 

 

 

 

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November 20, 2018

Superintendent, Board of Trustees to Take Oath of Office

The Merced County Board of Education’s reorganizational meeting takes place next month, with the county superintendent of schools and three board members taking the oath of office.
The board will meet Dec. 17 at 12:30 p.m. in the Clark/Newbold Rooms at MCOE, 632 W. 13th St. The meeting is open to the public.
Steve Tietjen, elected to his first full term as superintendent, will be sworn-in by retired Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen. Tietjen was appointed and took the office in December, 2016 to fill the remaining term of Steve Gomes.
Also receiving the oath of office will be Trustee Dennis Hanks, representing Area 1, along with Chris Chavez from Area 2 and Tom Bates from Area 5.
All three trustees are incumbents.

Refreshments will be served after the reorganizational meeting. Then the school board convenes as the Virginia Smith Trust, with the regular business meeting scheduled to begin about 3:30 p.m.

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November 20, 2018

MCAG seeking applications for committee appointments

MERCED - Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking applicants for appointment to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC is a 17-member committee comprised of individuals from both the private sector and the community, who provide input regarding MCAG programs and advise the MCAG Governing Board on monthly agenda items. Meetings are held the first Friday of every month at 8:30 am at the MCAG office in Merced. The Committee members are appointed by the MCAG Governing Board to serve a four-year term based on the geographic location of their home or business or their professional background.

Current vacancies include representatives in the following areas:
• Real Estate
• Agriculture
• Engineering
• Student
• Construction
• Citizen at-large

 


Applications for the CAC can be obtained at www.mcagov.org or at the MCAG office, located at 369 W. 18th Street, Merced. For more information, please contact Joy Young via email at joy.young@mcagov.org or 209-723-3153 x 101.

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, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and administers Measure V funds. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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November 20, 2018

Tioga and Glacier Point Roads in Yosemite National Park will Close Beginning at 6:00 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Due to Incoming Winter Weather

The Tioga and Glacier Point Roads in Yosemite National Park will close to all vehicular traffic beginning at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 due to incoming winter weather. The road will reopen as weather and road conditions permit. This is not necessarily a seasonal closure.

A series of winter storms are expected to pass through the Yosemite Area, beginning on Tuesday evening through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Yosemite National Park is open year-round with snow removal on all other roads within the park. Highway 120 West, Highway 140, and Highway 41 remain open year-round and provide access to Yosemite Valley. The Hetch Hetchy Road is open for day use throughout the winter months.

All roads within the park are subject to chain control or temporary closures due to hazardous driving conditions. All motorists are required to carry tire chains, even if their car is equipped with four-wheel drive, while driving in the park during the winter months.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 49/MAIN STREET FROM ANGELS CREEK
TO DEMAREST STREET/MURPHYS GRADE ROAD IN ANGELS CAMP

CALAVERAS COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close State Route 49 (SR-49)/Main Street for more than one mile from Angels Creek to Demarest Street/Murphys Grade Road in Angels Camp on Saturday, November 24, 2018, from 4:30 p.m. until 6:15 p.m. for a special event.

The event is the parade for the Annual Angels Camp Gold Country Christmas celebration.

Motorists should take alternate routes and expect 10 minute delays.

This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents or related issues.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Caltrans to Close Mountain Passes
in Advance of Inclement Weather

STOCKTON – Caltrans is scheduled to close Ebbetts Pass (State Route 4) and Sonora Pass (State Route 108) due to incoming inclement weather in the Sierra Nevada.

These closures are currently expected to be temporary and not the long-term, seasonal closures that Caltrans performs on an annual basis.

The closures are planned as follows (subject to change depending on actual conditions):

• Ebbetts Pass (SR-4 in Alpine County) at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.

• Sonora Pass (SR-108 in Tuolumne and Mono counties) at noon on Wednesday, November 21, 2018.


The reopening of these routes is dependent upon the impact of the weather.

Tioga Pass, a continuation of SR-120 within Yosemite National Park, is scheduled to be closed at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20. Yosemite maintains and operates all roads within the park. Caltrans District 9 (which is based in Bishop in Inyo County) has already closed SR-168 West (Bishop Creek) and SR-203 (Mammoth Lakes) for the wintertime.

Several factors influence the temporary closing and opening and seasonal closures of our mountain pass roadways. Storms, accumulation of snow and overall road conditions are all considered in the decision-making process by Caltrans leadership. For the safety of motorists and Caltrans crews, these passes will be continually assessed until the seasonal closure of each is decided.

Check ahead: Please check local highway conditions before planning to travel to the high country by visiting the Caltrans Quickmap site at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov or call the California Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623). Also, the radio may be tuned to the Caltrans Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) at 530 AM, 1610 AM or 1670 AM for information about counties within Caltrans District 10, including Tuolumne, Mono, and Alpine.

For road conditions in Yosemite National Park, please visit
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm or call (209) 372-0200.

Be prepared: Winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly. Motorists should expect the worst conditions and be prepared when traveling in areas subject to hazardous conditions. Caltrans reminds drivers to carry chains and to be prepared for winter driving conditions.

Drivers without chains in their possession may not be allowed to proceed. When highway signs indicate that chains are required, drivers must stop and install chains or risk being cited and fined. We recommend carrying blankets, water, food, a shovel, gloves, a flashlight, and sand or kitty litter to provide traction in case your vehicle becomes stuck.
All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires should, additionally, carry chains/traction control devices when traveling during snowy weather.

Drivers without chains in their possession may not be allowed to proceed. When highway signs indicate that chains are required, drivers must stop and install chains or risk being cited and fined.

CHAIN CONTROL REQUIREMENT LEVELS:

No Restrictions: Watch for snow on pavement.

R-1: Chains are required on all commercial vehicles (large trucks or buses). All other vehicles must have either snow tread tires or chains on the drive axle.

R-2: Chains are required on all vehicles except four-wheel drives with snow tread tires. Four-wheel drive vehicles must carry chains in the vehicle.

R-3: Chains required – ALL VEHICLES – no exceptions.

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November 17, 2018

Arts appointments, quiet zones on City Council agenda

Appointments to the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission and quiet zones are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

The Council can select seven members for the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission, along with three ex-officio members and a Council member, who would also be an ex-officio member. Six commission members are from Council Districts and one is at-large. Twenty-two people applied for the open positions.

The Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Council on matters pertaining to public art, art projects, cultural programs and activities and the promotion of the arts in the City. The Commission’s first meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 10.

Council is being asked to appropriate $54,961 to fund a Railroad Quiet Zone Study for the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad line through the City. The work will include a feasibility study and will determine the cost of establishing a quiet zone. Coordination with stakeholders and researching potential funding sources also is included.

 

Also on the agenda is a presentation on the City’s financial five-year forecast and an update on CalPERS, the retirement program that City employees participate in.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss existing litigation.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

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November 17, 2018

CALTRANS CONTINUES EMERGENCY REPAIRS ON APPLEGATE ROAD OVERCROSSING ON STATE ROUTE 99 IN CITY OF ATWATER

Northbound State Route 99 Full Highway Nightly Closures
Scheduled through Sunday, November 18, 2018

MERCED COUNTY — The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing repairs of the Applegate Road Overcrossing on State Route 99 (SR-99) in the City of Atwater after the structure was hit by a big rig traveling on northbound SR-99 on the morning of October 11, 2018.

• Full highway closure of northbound SR-99 from East Atwater Overhead to Applegate Road beginning Saturday, November 17, 2018, through Sunday, November 18, 2018, from 9:30 p.m. until 8:00 a.m.

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, efforts began to reconstruct a damaged girder and will require nightly, full-highway closures of northbound SR-99 at Applegate Road from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., through Sunday, November 18, 2018. The preliminary schedule anticipated the repairs might be complete by November 10, but a more thorough analysis led to the extended schedule.

Following inspection by Caltrans bridge engineers, it has been deemed safe for motorists to drive under the overcrossing, although the Applegate Road Overcrossing over SR-99 has been closed to prevent vehicles from adding additional weight as they drive on top of the structure.

ALERT FOR HIGH-PROFILE VEHICLES:
The vertical clearance of the Applegate Road Overcrossing will be temporarily lowered to 14 feet, 6 inches during all repair work. Big rigs and other high-profile vehicles are suggested to take the Atwater Boulevard detour.

DETOUR INFORMATION:
Motorists traveling on northbound SR-99 will be directed to detour at the Atwater Boulevard Exit 196 approximately 1.5 miles south of Applegate Road, continue north on Atwater Boulevard, and then take the Atwater Boulevard on-ramp to northbound SR-99. Traffic on southbound SR-99 will not be affected. See illustration below.

Caltrans will continue to provide updates on the emergency repair efforts and any change in schedule for lane closures, highway closures or detour routes.

Safety remains the top priority for Caltrans and it will not re-open the structure until it is determined safe to do so.

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 TO EASTBOUND STATE ROUTE 140

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform various ramp closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County. (Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, no work is scheduled for Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23, 2018.)

Some of this work is part of a project funded by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This project will rehabilitate 18 bridge locations on I-5 and State Route 152 (SR-152) in Merced County.

• Full closure of the connector ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-140 for bridge work beginning Sunday, November 18, 2018, through Tuesday, November 20, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists can expect 15-minute delays, and alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

Work began the week of July 1, and crews will also work on SR-152 at the San Luis Dam Forebay and California Aqueduct bridges as part of this project.

There are no current plans for full highway closures on I-5 or SR-152. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead, use alternate routes, and Be Work Zone Alert.

The work schedule is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and/or construction-related issues. Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

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

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November 16, 2018

Le Grand HS FFA Graduate Wins National Award for Website

Jaryn Giampaoli has managed to put Le Grand on the map.
The 18-year-old Le Grand High School graduate has won national honors from the Future Farmers of America organization for his technical innovation and making his group’s website a model for others.
The 18-year-old captured the FFA’s Agricultural Communications Proficiency Award at the FFA national convention in Indianapolis. He’s now attending Merced College and majoring in computer science, as well as maintaining his love for agriculture and FFA. He plans to transfer to California State University, Fresno and major in agricultural communications.
Amanda Galan, Le Grand High’s FFA adviser, said Giampaoli has a desire to spread the word for agriculture. He designed the school’s website — legrandffa.org — from the ground up and is going to go places in the agricultural world, she said.
Donna Alley, Le Grand High School District superintendent, has high praise for Giampaoli.
“Technologically, he is amazing. He has brought the FFA website to its highest level. He’s a very sharp man and he’s put Le Grand on the map when it comes to the FFA,” Alley said.
Galan said Giampaoli is an exceptional student with an amazing worth ethic. In the past he’s earned the state FFA degree and helped the local chapter win the website award for two years in a row. He has worked at his family’s farming operation for years as well as local FFA offices. He also was integrally involved with the MyJobDependsonAg.com website.
“With the computer, he just took it and ran with it,” Galan said.


Jaryn Giampaoli

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November 16, 2018

 

FFA Students Earn Their FFA Degrees

Written by:: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

The Atwater FFA Chapter held its 40th annual Greenhand - Chapter FFA Degree Ceremony this month at Atwater High School. The purpose of this annual event was to recognize over 800 AHS agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand and Chapter FFA degrees. As students advance in FFA and their agricultural education, they can earn a series of “degrees” that represent their accomplishments. Each FFA degree recognizes a student’s progress in leadership, agricultural education, and their supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program which represent(s) an ownership and/or work experience project(s) in agriculture.

Over 350 students, family, and friends attended this special event. Atwater FFA Chapter President, Emmanuel Mejia opened the meeting and welcomed students, parents, and guests to the ceremony. In addition to the presentation of the FFA degrees, the 2018-2019 FFA Greenhand officer team was announced with Cecilia Venegas (President), Thomas Garner (Vice President), Elizabeth Ayala (Secretary), Ethan Slate (Treasurer), Iysis Villafan (Reporter), Gurkirath Gandhok(Sentinel), Xavier Cardenas (Historian), and Tristan Cardey (Parliamentarian) elected to Greenhand office. A slide show of the students who earned their degrees was presented along with a musical slide show of the numerous FFA activities that students have taken part in so far this year.

FFA Greenhand degrees are awarded with a bronze pin to first year agriculture students. Requirements of this degree include enrollment in an agriculture class, plans for an SAE program or project, and knowledge and understanding of the FFA organization. Two hundred seventy two FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were eligible to be awarded with a silver pin to second year agriculture students. Requirements for this degree include being an FFA member for at least one year, being active in a SAE program or project, involvement in group discussions and parliamentary law, progress toward individual achievement in the FFA awards program, and a satisfactory scholastic record.

The Atwater FFA advisors are committed to building a strong program that gets students involved and providing them with opportunities for scholastic achievement, personal growth, and career success. Although not every student is planning to pursue an education and career directly related to agriculture, the AHS Agriculture Program and FFA provides students the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience that will benefit ANY educational path and career.

“We provide our students with opportunities to grow and develop personally, academically, and professionally,” says FFA advisor Natalie Borba, “We challenge our students to take advantage of those opportunities and pursue their interests towards colleges, universities, and a successful career.”

Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand degrees were Tatiana Acevedo, Adamary Aguilar, Brenda Aguilar, Rebekah Aguilar, Yasmin Aguilar, Angel Aguilera, Alana Alacazar, Michaela Alaniz, Marcos Alberto, Carlos Alcalan, Antonio Alcauter, Sherilyn Aldrich, Jaylen Allison, Xitlalic Alvarado – Vargas, Carmen Alvarez, Fabian Alvarez, Javier Ambriz, Alejandra Amezcua, Alexia Amezcua, Elizabeth Amezcua, Natasha Amezcua, Abraham Andrade, Jocelyn Andrade, Dayanara Arce-Sanchez, Brycet Arellano, Moncerrat Arellano, Jessica Arias, Dayana Arredondo, Colin Arroyo, Jaime Arroyo, Jose Arroyo, Galilea Avalos, Gisselle Avalos, Eduardo Avelar, Xavier Avila, Uriel Ayala, Elizabeth Ayala, Lopez, Joel Baldovinos, Martin Barajas, Adrian Barocio, Eliza Barocio Barocio, Monserrat Barragan, Kevin Barreto, Adan Barron Montes, Alexzander Bates, Hazel Bautista, Luis Bautista, Adrian Beltran, Adali Benitez-Ferreira, Surinder Bhogal, Drew Boesch , Liliana Boesch ,Kaylee Bogle, Madison Bosworth, Hunter Boyenga, Homero brambila, Ethan Bratcher, Jacob Bratcher, Matthew Bresnyan, Kate Brigham, Connor Briner, Alejandro Briones, Tanner Bristow, Lillian Brock, Julia Callahan, Estevan Campos, Juan Jose Campos, Serjio Campos, Xavier Cardenas, Tristan Cardey, Luis Carrasco, Sergio Carrillo, Ignacio Castaneda, Rafael Castaneda, Marco Castillo, Yasmin Castro-Virrey, Mariana Ceja, Rene Ceja-Chavez, Daisy Cendejas, Melissa Cerevantes, Daisy Cervantes, Kathya Chairez, Julian Chargoy, Adrian Chavez, Alicia Chavez, Jaquelyn Chavez, Jesus Chavez, Jonathan Chavez, Kevin Chavez, Michelle Chavez ,Noelia Chavez, Viviana Chavez Gonzalez, Marlen Chavoya, Dylan Cisneros, Austin Coberley, Araceli Contreras, Faith Contreras, Giselle Contreras, Morgan Cook, Gabriella Coronado, Michael Coronado, Danixa Cortez, Michael Cortez, Brissayda Cruz, Klarithsa Cruz, Brian Cruz Aguilar, Matthew DaCosta, Justin Danel, Jenifer Daniel, Irvin DeLaCr, Daniela Delgadillo, Jacqueline Delgado, Yajahira Delgado Hernandez, Elizabeth Demott, Alexander Diaz, Damian Diaz, Gabriela Diaz, Janet Diaz , Luis Diaz, Julian Dominguez, Thomas Dooley, Maximillian Dos Santos, Nancy Duarte, Emanuel Duran, Lynette Duran, Royal Duran, Allen Eagles, Emily Enriquez, Natalie Enriquez, Juan Escalera, Jennifer Escalera-Sandoval, Angel Espinoza, Isabella Espinoza, Cristian Esquibel, Erik Esquivel, Heriberto Estrada, Natalie Estrada, Axel Farias, Dora Felix, Jafe Feliz, Keriam Feliz, Mariela Fernandez, Adrian Ferrel, David Fierros, Caleb Fitzgerald, Ceasar Flores, Monah Flores, Yahaira Flores, Lenna Foster, Nia Fox, Horeb Francisco, Pedro Franco, Andrea Gallegos, Alyssa Gamboa , Gurkirath Gandhok, Abisag Garcia, Bryan Garcia, Lexi Garcia, Citlali Garcia-Aguilar, Thomas Garner, Zoie Garza, Jaydon Genel ,Alyssa Gentry, Trystin Gibson, Damian Gomez, Edwin Gomez, Andrea Gonzales, Carlos Gonzalez, Geneses Gonzalez, Guadalupe Gonzalez, Jacqueline Gonzalez, Jessica Gonzalez, Joseph Gonzalez, Maximiliano Gonzalez, Conner Goodson, Courtney Gregory-Espinoza, Jessica Gudino, Rafael Guerrero Mendoza, Jennifer Guerrero Romero, Edwardo Gutierrez, Natali Gutierrez, Julian Gutierrez Gutierrez, Diego Guzman, Alexis Hardin, Christopher Hardin, Kaylie Helm, Kaden Hendrickson, Alisa Hernandez, Chantelle Hernandez, Gabriel Hernandez, Jasmine Hernandez, Jeslie Hernandez, Miguel Hernandez, Viviana Hernandez, Alexzandra Hernandez Cruz, Brian Hernandez-Garcia, Taylor Holcomb, Alondra Huerta, Cesar Huerta, Evelyn Huerta, Hector Huitron, Charles Jackson, Saul Jaime, Jayson Jantz, Adrian Jimenez, Atticus Jordan, Jesiah Jordan-Hensley, Brianna Juarez, Jocelyn Juarez, Daniel Junez, Bizzack Justin, Gerardo Lara, Anthony Lariosa ,Kenneth Le, Yumong Lee, Eryka Lepper, Sean Lo, Francisco Loaiza, Adamari Lopez, Cecelia Lopez, Cristian Lopez, Edgar Lopez, Jonathan Lopez, Katie Lopez, Maricela Lopez, Roque Lopez Alvarado, Andrew Lozada, Juana Lua, Juliana Lua, Rigoberto Lua, David Luis, Briana Macias, Christian Macias, Gustavo Macias, Joshua Macias, Jeluscee Mack-Love, Cristian Madrigal, Jonathan Madriz, Magdalena Madriz, Antonio Magallanes ,Ethan Magnone, Luke Mahy, Mackenzie Maloney, Julio Mandujano Valenzuela, Elias Mangipane, Felix Manuel-Reyes, Maya Manzanares, Adonna Manzo, Katelynn Marcos, Alejandro Marin, Yocelin Marroquin , Alexis Martin, Angelica Martinez, Melany Martinez, Jesus Mayor, Derek McNary, Erik Medina, Jimmy Medina, Elmer Mejia, Alexis Mendoza, Christopher Mendoza ,Deisy Mendoza, Evan Mendoza, Jose Mendoza, Jovanny Mendoza ,Karla Mendoza, Melissa Mendoza, Saira Mendoza Cruz, Jose Mendoza Sanchez ,Teresa Mendoza-Preciado ,Leonardo Menera, Richard Menezes, Kenneth Meyer, Anthony Meza ,Francis Miguel Millan, Maria Miranda, Juan Miranda Hernandez ,Liliana Molina, Abraham Montejo, Ruben Montero, Roberto Montes-Yepez, Kennedy Mooney, Francisco Morales, Adrian Moreno, Andrea Moreno, Angel Moreno, Joseph Morgado, Jazzlinn Mosby, Casey Mounce, Clarissa Mounce, Etuale Muliaga, Joseph Munguia Ruiz, Thomas Munoz, Sakura Musson, Jesus Navarro, Maria Nieto, Adilene Noriega, Alondra Ochoa, Christian Ochoa, Jerardo Ochoa, Edwin Ochoa Maravilla, Victor Olano, Maria Olivera, Cristian Ordonez, Anthony Ortiz, Ivan Ortiz, Angel Oseguera, Alonzo Pacheco-Madrigal, Arlyn Padilla, Nazareth Padilla, Silvestre Padilla, Sarmandeep Palak, Raphael Parra, Madison Parrish, Ariana Payton, Alexis Perez, Brian Perez, Bryan Perez, Clarissa Perez, Gabriel Perez, Jimmy Perez, Lilyana Perez, Paola Perez ,Hayley Petersen, Michael Piceno, Selena Pimentel, Odalys Pinon, Anthony Pitchford, Julia Portillo, Anthony Prieto, Ned Prothro, Miguel Pulido, Reagan Puthuff , Vicente Quesada, Miguel Quezada, Adriel Ramirez, Angel Ramirez ,Armando Ramirez, Edgar Ramirez, Monique Ramirez Chaidez, Ruben Ramirez-Munoz, Adrian Ramos ,Anally Ramos, Andrew Ramos, Gabriel Ramos, Jonathan Ramos, Ricardo Ramos, John Rettagliata, Alexis Reyes, Crystal Reyes, David Reyes, Claudia Reyna, Angela Reynoso, Areli Reynoso, Elizabeth Rico, Evelyn Rico ,Denise Rios, Krystal Rios, Jesse Rios-Vera, Milton Rivas, Miguel Rivera, Vanessa Rivera, Sarah Roan, Alondra Robles, Anisa Robles ,Isacc Robles, Ricardo Robles, Luis Robles-Chavez, Victor Rocha, Alex Rodriguez ,Amirah Rodriguez, Baleria Rodriguez, Elias Rodriguez, Javier Rodriguez, Jorge Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez ,Nidia Rodriguez, Richard Rodriguez, Kelly Rodriguez Jimenez ,Natalie Rojas, Yazmine Rojas, Yusdivia Rojo-Mercado, Alondra Romo, Jaime Romo, Maya Romo, Yanna Rosales-Perez, Cassandra Rosas, Indy Russell, Daniel Saavedra, Ernesto Salgado, Juan Carlos Salgado, Aimee Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez ,Guadalupe Sanchez, Leslie Sanchez, Maximiliano Sanchez, Omar Sanchez ,Rafael Sanchez, Andrik Oliver Sanchez Aviles, Leslie Sandoval, Zuleyma Santacruz, Maria Santana, Marissa Santiago, Deciderio Santillan ,Jose Santos ,Cristal Santoyo ,Perla Santoyo, Juliana Servin, Alan Silva, Erika Silva, Ethan Slate, Elijah Soares , Joana Solis ,Christopher Sorensen, Blanca Soria, Mariana Soria, Ashley Soriano, Gabriela Soto, Arianna Soto Valencia, Matthew Sousa, Madison Strauss-Bland, Thomas Stubbs, Jose Suarez, Skylar Sullivan, Arli Samantha Tapia, Ethen Thao, Kylene Thao, Mathew Thelen, Garrett Thinner, Jesus Tinoco, Adrian Torres, Jovanna Torres, Juan Torres, Lesley Torres, Genesis Torres Flores, Anthony Torres-Mendoza, Ramon Trujillo, Preston Tucker, Adrian Turner, Hector Udave, Daniel Valencia , Michael Valencia ,Maria Valenzuela, Nicolas Valenzuela ,Tyler Valenzuela ,Bo Valladao, Bo Valladao, Angie Vang, Ivan Vargas, Malia Vargas, Fabian Vargas-Jimenez, Valeria Vargas-Villanueva, Vanessa Vasquez, Celeste Velasco, Raudel Veloz, Cecilia Venegas, Esteban Vera, Rodrigo Vera, Yisela Vera-Rojas, Destiny Verver, Oscar Vicente, Manuel Vidrio, Iysis Villafan, Zaret Villagrana, Brianna Villarreal, Arli samantha Virgen Tapia, Jennifer Virrueta Martinez, Kyle Walsh, Don elias Wesley, Giovanni Wiggins, Christopher Williams, Cole Williams, Taylor Willson, Alyssa Wilson ,Dalton Wilson, Casey Xiong, Alvin Yang, Athena Yang, Shauntellie Yang, Carlos Yepez, Oscar Zapien, Eduardo Zavala, Alfredo Zuniga ,and Yadhira Zuniga.

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org


Members of the Atwater FFA's Greenhand and Chapter Officer team comprised of Tristan cardey, Kaya Brisco, Thomas Garner, Cristal Venegas, Cecilia Venegas, Emmanuel Mejia, Elizabeth Ayala, Elisabeth Garner, Iysis Villafan, Alyssa Carrillo, Xavier Cardenas, Luz Soto, Gurkirath Gandhok, Alfredo Elizarraraz, and Ethan Slate celebrated the Greenhand and Chapter Farmer degrees of over 800 Atwater High School agriculture students.


Atwater High School agriculture freshman student Thomas Garner is congratulated by Atwater FFA Chapter Vice President Cristal Venegas on earning his FFA Greenhand degree and being selected as Greenhand Vice President.


Atwater High School agriculture students Gabriela Moreno, Maria Ruelas, Gabriella Lucas, Kiah Betschart, Jay Dugdale, and Everett Hill were six of the 379 eligible FFA Chapter Farmer degree recipients representing their 2nd year in agriculture and the FFA.


Atwater High School agriculture instructor Kaylyn Davenport congratulates 1st year agriculture student Gurkirath Gandhok who earned his Greenhand degree and was elected to the Greenhand Sentinel office.

 

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Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were Yureili Aguila Murguia, Alan Aguilar, Fabian Aguilar-Garcia, Antonio Aguirre, Antonio Aguirre, Karina Aguirre, Cecilia Ahumada, Joseph Alaniz, Sergio Alcazar, Andres Alcocer, Guadalupe Aleman ,Nancy Almaras, Sonia Almaras-Anaya, Marco Alvarado, Stephanie Eileen Alvares, Isaiah Alvarez, Jasmin Isabella Amezcua, Adrian Aparicio-Sanchez, Ricardo Arreola, Oscar Arroyo, Priscila Arroyo, Brianda Arteaga, Isaac Arzola, Zachary Atkisson, Jose Luis Avelar, Andres Avila, Kayla Avila, Oswaldo Avila, Grecia Ayala, Destiny Baker, Alma Barboza, Jeremy Barrera, Jose Barreto, Noelia Barrios, Oscar Bautista, Paulina Bautista, Alfonso Belmonte, Marques Beltran, Evan Benner, Kiah Betschart, Cheyenne Borba, Brianna Bravo, Carlos Bravo, Tyler Brawley, Perla Caballero, Kenneth Capell, Anthony Cardenas, Ezekiel Cardenas, Dominic Cardoza, Fabiola Carrillo, Josue Carrillo, William Carrillo, Diego Castro, Teofilo Castro, Teresa Cavallero ,Jose Ceballos, Juan Ceja, Samantha Ceja Manuel Cerqueda,Brooklyn Cervantes, Celeste Chargoy-Velasco, Itzel Chavez Robles, Hayley Christensen, Evelyn Cisneros, Marco Cisneros, Amoni Claiborne, Jonathan Clayton, Jaimie Colores, Olivia Cone, Miguel Contreras, Moira Conway, Juan Cordero, Jesse Corona, Klahreesa Coronado, Efrain Covarrubias, Armando Cruz, Yulissa Cuevas, Ulyette Curiel, "David Dailey", Daniel De La Rosa, Naidalin De La Torre, Richard Delarosa, Kimberly DeLaTorre, "Andy DeLeon", Crystal Delgado, Magali Deniz, jesus Diaz, Mario Diaz, Jarad Dilim, Evan Duarte, Jay Dugdale, Jenna Dugdale, Kayla Duran, Markus Duran, Sarai Duran Lopez, Peyton England, Angela Esau, Adriana Espinosa, Jimmy Espinoza, Alexis Esqueda-Hernandez, Jose Fajardo, Shelli Faulk, Octavio Fermin, Syvanah Fink, Kendall Flatt, Gizell Flores, Hannia Flores, Felipe Fonseca, Adam Freitas, Franklin Fuller, Elaisha Gaeta, Kevin Galeano, Supreet Gandhok, Simarjot Gandhoke, Emma Garcia, Jessica Garcia, Rosemary Garcia, Vanessa Garcia, Jennifer Garcia Govea, Karla Garibay, Madelyn Garibay, Armando, Garibay Rios, Elisabeth Garner, Kristina Gaut, Daisy Godoy Quintero, Ariana Gonzalez, Arly Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Jesus Gonzalez, Manuel Gonzalez, Naomy Gonzalez, Thalia Gonzalez, Vincent Gonzalez, Yesenia Gonzalez, Ayleen Gonzalez-Gomez, Natalie Griffin, Isabelle Guerra, Gilbert Gutierrez, Jesus Gutierrez, Julian Gutierrez, Angela Guzman, Joniel Guzman, Estevan Guzman Campos, Allison Hall, Kaleb Hand, "Citlali Haro", Taylor Harpine, Logan Hazel, Natalia Helms, America Hernandez, Catarino Hernandez, Dayana Hernandez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Hernandez, Miranda Hernandez, Xitlali Hernandez, Hector Hernandez Valencia, Jimena Hernandez-Rodriguez, Jared Herrera, Logan Herrera, Everett Hill, Eduardo Huerta, Isaac Huerta, Yvette Hurtado, David Ibarra, Alexis Inacio, Edgar Isguerra, Yovani Jaime, Malachi Jensen, Miguel Jimenez Cervantes, Anai Jiorge, Ivan Jiorge, Dakota Jones, Malachi Jones, Alondra Landa, America Lara, Nevaeh Leyba, Adriana Lopez, Alejandro Lopez, Alex Lopez, Daniel Lopez, Kristi Lopez, Roque Lopez, Jennifer Lopez Garcia, Daniela Lopez Ortiz, Leslie Loza, Jose Lozano, Gabriella Lucas, Jonathan Luciano-Hernandez, Kevin Lupian Velez, Zoe Machuca, Jacob Macias, Juan Madrigal, Cesar Madriz Santiago, Emilano Magana, Manuel Magana Nieto, Eric Maldonado, Natalie Manzo, Maria Marcial, Alexis Martinez, Beatriz Martinez, Esmeralda Martinez, Osvaldo Martinez, Tania Martinez, Edwin Martinez-Juarez, Danny Mccullough, Hector Medina-Valencia, Leopoldo Mejia-Sigala, Patricia Mena, Anthony Mendoza, Breanna Mendoza, Brianna Mendoza, Nohemi Mendoza, Adrian Mercado, "Edgar Meza-Garcia", Ivan Molina, Jacky Molina, Cristal Mondragon, Diego Mora, Estefania Moreno, Gabriela Moreno, Jose Moreno, Bryan Moreno-Soto, Juan Murillo, Daniel Narez, Ariana Navarrete, Jose Navarro-Agraz, Bryan Nolazco, Adilene Noriega Campos, Alea Ochoa, Jesus Ochoa, Omar Olivera, Raul Olivera, Adrian Ornelas, Julian Ornelas, Clarissa Orozco, Ivan Ortega, Deja Ortiz, Esgardo Padilla, Patricia Papin, Dylan Parga, Simon Parker, Nandani Patel, Julius Peacock, Pauline Peavy, Agustin Pena, Michell Pena, Alejandro Pena-Alvarado, Emmanuel Peral, Joseph Pereira, Alyssa Perez, Juan Perez, Noah Perez, Oscar Perez, Saul Perez, Aaron Perez-Molinero, Mallory Pickle, Zachary Pickle, Eduardo Pimentel, "Christian Pineda", Lexuss Ponce, Perla Ponce, Isaac Prado – Perez, Jacqueline Quezada, Ulixis Quezada, Angel Quintero, Daniel Ramirez, Fatima Ramirez, Joel Ramirez, Lizbeth Ramirez-Inda, Alberto Ramos, Andrew Ramos, Caden Regalado, Brandon Reyes, Alexis Reyes Reyes, Jacob Rhodes, Favian Richards, Gilbert Rios, Paola Rivera, Christina Rivera-Ogle, Joseph Rivero, Ashley Robinson, Abraham Rodriguez, Dianna Rodriguez, Jayleene Rodriguez, Jerry Rodriguez, Roman Rodriguez, Deissy Rodriguez-Mondragon, Lizbeth Rojas-Perez, Maria Ruelas, Samari Russo, Fernando Ruvalcaba, Lillian Sackett, Diego Salas, Lizbeth Salas, "Jose Salcedo-Ortiz ", Nancy Salmeron, Evelyn Sanabria, Alexis Sanchez, Miguel Sanchez, Stefanie Sanchez, Grecia Sanchez Aviles, Santiago Sanchez madriz, Anthony Sandoval, Juan Sandoval, Michael Sandoval, Yulissa Sandoval, Michell Santacruz, Vanessa Santana, Aaron Santellan, Adilene Santos, Brian Sarabia, Kendra Schonwald, Alicia Serrano, Wyatt Shambaugh, Kirsten Silva, Rafael Silva, Sophie Silva, Haylee Silveira, Makayla Silveira, Robert Smid, Danelle Smith, James Smith, Isaac Soria, Seth Soriano, Ambrose Soto, Nicholas Southworth, Kelvyn Sterling, Jose Talavera, Gabriel Tapetillo, Natalie Tapia, Frank Tejeda, Haleigh Thomas, Llaneth Tinajero, Eduardo Torres, Freddy Torres, Leslie Trejo, Kilie Tucker, Sarai Uriostegui, Adrian Valencia, Leslie Valencia, Brianna Valencia Cuevas, Joshua Vann, Aidan Vargas, Federico Vargas, Kathy Vargas, Nathaniel Vargas, Elizabeth Vasquez, Osvaldo Vazquez, Yuliana Vazquez, Jose Vazquez-Alaniz, Jonathan Velazquez, Isaac Vera, Maria Vera, Abbi Vierra, Eric Villa, jonathan villagrana, Armando Villalobos, Ricardo Villalobos, Alonso Villanueva-Serrano, Jacob Villarreal, Ninel Villasenor, Kimberly Villegas, Rylie Wagner, Stetsen Wagner, Faith Ward, Allison Warnock, John Watters, Sydney Weimer, Jennifer Wey, Kaleb Williams, Joshua Womack, Pearl Xiong, Sheila Zavala, Ashley Zuniga, Benjamin Zuniga, and Braulio Zuniga.

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November 16, 2018

School Districts on Modified Schedules Due to Air Quality

School districts across Merced County have been on modified schedules due to poor air quality from the Camp Fire in Northern California.
On recommendation from the Merced County Department of Public Health, the modified schedules will continue tomorrow, which is the last day of school for most districts until after the Thanksgiving break.
“We understand that many families count on their schools to provide students with a safe and supervised environment,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “We take this responsibility seriously and are working closely with the Merced County Department of Public Health. At the recommendation of the Department of Public Health, we will continue to keep all activities indoors.”
School officials have been monitoring local air quality and have directed all outdoor classes, activities and sporting events indoors in line with recommendations for dealing with poor air quality. Some sporting events may be rescheduled; check with your local high school to see if CIF sports schedules have been changed.
School leaders will continue to monitor air quality and follow all recommendations by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and Merced County Department of Public Health.

Some tips to stay safe from poor air quality:
• Minimize or stop outdoor activities.
• Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
• Keep vehicle windows and vents closed.
To track Merced’s current Air Quality Index, click here: https://air-quality.com/place/united-states/merced-county/8ed40eda?lang=en&standard=aqi_us
The safety and well-being of students is our number one priority. If you have questions, contact you child’s school for additional information.

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November 14, 2018

Merced City School District Earns Top Statewide Educational Honor

The Merced City School District has been named the winner of a prestigious Golden Bell Award for its preschool program. This is the district’s second time receiving the state’s leading educational honor, after earning a Golden Bell Award in 2016 for its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) program.

The awards are sponsored by the California School Boards Association to recognize outstanding public school programs for innovation, sustainability and best practices that facilitate positive student outcomes.

The MCSD preschool program goes above and beyond requirements to provide outstanding early education for children from diverse backgrounds. The district has implemented an innovative model that utilizes a multi-tiered system of supports, professional learning communities, and meaningful family engagement to become a truly exemplary program. All of the district’s preschool sites have repeatedly received top ratings from the state due to a number of factors, including effective teacher-child interactions, program environment, and the qualifications of the lead teachers and director. The MCSD Board of Education has also carried out its vision to expand the capacity and accessibility of the program by having at least one preschool classroom at each elementary site that serves TK and up.

MCSD Board President Adam Cox says, “The MCSD preschool program is a source of pride for our district and a tremendous benefit to our community. It helps level the playing field by giving some of our youngest learners the tools they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”

The preschool program is led by MCSD’s Director of Preschool and Child Development Programs, Melanie Cole, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Paula Heupel, and Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran, Ed.D.

Dr. Parga Duran says, “I am so proud of our teachers and all of our staff for their commitment to our students and for keeping our district on the cutting edge. To win our second Golden Bell Award is a tremendous honor.”

The district will receive its award at a ceremony on Thursday, November 29 at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in San Francisco.

A 17-member judging panel made up of experts from school districts and county offices of education reviewed the written entries and made the initial recommendations for the awards. On-site validators then assessed the programs in action.

“The Golden Bell recipients exemplify the spirit of innovation and excellence for which all of California’s public schools strive,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “The Golden Bell Awards reflect the depth and breadth of outstanding education offerings in our state, and demonstrate the tenacity, vision and dedication of school leaders across California.”


Teacher Nancy Xiong works gets moving with her students in the Merced City School District’s award-winning preschool program. (This photo is courtesy of the Merced County Office of Education)


Students work on puzzles as part of the Merced City School District’s award-winning preschool program.


Teacher Edith Gutierrez leads her students through a lesson as part of the Merced City School District’s award-winning preschool program.

 

 

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November 14, 2018

REST AREA CLOSING
WESTLEY REST AREA ON SOUTHBOUND AND NORTHBOUND INTERSTATE 5 IN STANISLAUS COUNTY WESTLEY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the Westley Rest Area off southbound and northbound Interstate 5 to perform work on the facility’s water system. The rest area is scheduled to close from Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. until Friday, November 16, at 12:00 p.m. 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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November 13, 2018

 

Atwater High School Receives New Ag Ventilation Welding Tables

Written by: Atwater FFA

With a district and school focus on providing students current industry-related equipment to develop current industry-related skills, and a focus on the health and safety of the students, the Atwater High School Agriculture department received nine Lincoln 200M Downflex welding ventilation tables. The equipment replaces a direct updraft ventilation system and replaces it with new downdraft ventilation tables that takes in and filters the smoke, particles, and fumes associated with welding. “The students have observed a noticeable difference in the shop area’s air quality,” said Atwater High School Agriculture instructor Sam Meredith. “It’s a conscious effort towards improving technology that not only represents the trend in industry, but the trend in finding ways to better the environment.”

The new equipment also required an electrical upgrade and the source of funding came from the state’s Career Technical Education Incentive Grant as part of an effort to provide schools with funds to upgrade and expand resources for students associated with building and strengthening skills for today’s workforce.

“Any investment made in resources for our department and agriculture program is an investment in our students,” said Meredith. “It is our goal to make sure our community sees a positive return on that investment with student involvement and student skill development.”

The Agriculture department received community assistance from WestAir in Merced and from Lincoln Electric in setting up, fine-tuning the machines, and educating the staff and students on the equipment. “We appreciated the time, efforts, and customer service in ensuring everything was in proper working order and met the needs of the school and students,” said Meredith.


 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


The Atwater High School agriculture mechanic shop students have brand new DownFlex® workbench and extraction units designed specifically for the removal of welding fumes and as technology to clean the air in the shop area.


An Atwater High School agriculture Welding Technology I course student demonstrates the ability to weld utilizing one of the new DownFlex® workbench stations where welding fumes, smoke, and particles are taken into the table and filtrated rather than drifting up and outward into the working environment.

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November 9, 2018

City of Merced offices closed Monday

City of Merced offices are closed Monday in observation of the Veterans Day holiday.
To honor the men and women who have served our country there will be a Veterans Day Parade in Downtown Merced Sunday at 1 p.m. on Main Street. At 4 p.m. Sunday there is the Field of Honor Opening Ceremony at the Merced College Theater.

 

Refuse collection in the City will be delayed one day the entire week due to the holiday.

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November 9, 2018

Rep. Costa Leads Bipartisan Coalition in Calling for Farm Bill Support of Fruits, Vegetables, & Other Specialty Crops

Washington, D.C. – This week Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) led a bipartisan coalition of 42 members of the House Specialty Crop Caucus in calling on House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership to give specialty crops – such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts – equal treatment in ongoing Farm Bill Conference Committee negotiations.

“California produces more than half of America’s fresh fruits and vegetables, which are the staples of the healthy meals we all need,” said Rep. Costa, a longtime advocate for Central Valley agriculture. “Specialty crop producers face unique challenges that a strong Farm Bill must address so they can continue to put food on America’s dinner tables every night.”

The bipartisan coalition stated their priorities for supporting specialty crop producers in overcoming such challenges. These include programs which are critical for both California and Valley agriculture, such as:
• Plant pest and disease programs, which provided Fresno County with $1,641,751 in 2016-2017 to protect crops from pests and diseases
• The Specialty Crop Research Initiative, including the Emergency Citrus Disease Research & Development Trust Fund, which will be used in California to protect citrus from citrus greening disease
• Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, which helps producers answer the ever-increasing technical requirements for international trade, most notably supporting almond, wine grape, and walnut producers in the Central Valley
• Specialty Crop Block Grants, which last year brought $22.6 million to California to fund 83 projects that expand markets for specialty crops, provide nutritional education for consumers, and many other benefits


Congressman Jim Costa

 

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance – a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants, and other products – shared, “We applaud Congressmen Costa and Upton for leading this bipartisan letter to ensure that specialty crop industry priorities are included in the next Farm Bill. Thanks to their leadership, we are confident that Farm Bill conferees now further understand the importance of specialty crop programs, as well as the diversity of our industry that crosses all 50 states. The investments this new Farm Bill makes in areas such as research, trade, and nutrition are vital to specialty crops, and we look forward to continue working with them to get this legislation passed and signed into law.”

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November 9, 2018

Caltrans Has Completed Repairs on State Route 140 in Mariposa County Due to SB 1 Funds Pavement Project Improved More Than Six Lane Miles to Provide a Safer & Smoother Commute for Motorists

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Caltrans has repaired and repaved more than six lane miles of State Route 140 from the SR-49/SR-140 junction to Whitlock Road, due to the funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. “State Route 140 is one of the main gateways into Yosemite National Park and is an essential link in supplying goods and services to the Mariposa, El Portal, and Yosemite communities,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “This SB 1 funded project will provide a safer and smoother commute for tourists, commercial traffic and local residents, whose livelihood depends on the good condition of the highway.” SR-140 is an all-weather route into Yosemite National Park and is a critical asset for both tourists and the local economy. Tourism is the county’s main industry and area’s largest employer. In 2016, visitors spent about $520 million in communities near the park, supporting more than 7,800 jobs in the local area, which had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of approximately $686 million. More than five million people visit Yosemite National Park annually. Nearly 8,500 motorists per day use SR-140 to reach their destination, including more than 300 freight trucks per day. Nearly 35 percent of the trucks using this highway have heavy five-plus axles, adding to the deterioration of the roadway.
“Commercial trucks use SR-140 year-round to transport agriculture products, livestock, logs and other goods, causing significant wear and tear to the highway,” said Caltrans District 10 Director Dennis T. Agar. “Without this SB 1 funded project, the pavement would have continued to worsen, so we’re glad to have these much-needed repairs behind us as we transition to winter weather.” This $4.1 million project was awarded to Teichert Construction, Inc., and focused on upgrading structures used to keep water off the road, repaving damaged stretches of the highway, and improving traffic safety. Six-inch striping and pavement markings with enhanced visibility for wet-weather conditions and nighttime driving were also installed. More information and updates on projects can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d10/projects.html or on Twitter via @CaltransDist10. SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027. Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES INTERSTATE 5 TO EASTBOUND STATE ROUTE 140

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform various ramp closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County. (Due to Veteran’s Day, no work will be performed on Monday, November 12, 2018). Some of this work is part of a project funded by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This project will rehabilitate 18 bridge locations on I-5 and State Route 152 (SR-152) in Merced County. • Full closure of the connector ramps from northbound and southbound I-5 to eastbound SR-140 for bridge work beginning Tuesday, November 13, 2018, through Friday, November 16, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Motorists can expect 20-minute delays, and alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work began the week of July 1, and crews will also work on SR-152 at the San Luis Dam Forebay and California Aqueduct bridges as part of this project. There are no current plans for full highway closures on I-5 or SR-152. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead, use alternate routes, and Be Work Zone Alert. The work schedule is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and/or construction-related issues. Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

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

 

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park. (Due to Veteran’s Day, no work will be performed on Monday, November 12, 2018). Work will occur as follows: • One-way traffic control will be in effect from the Merced/Mariposa County Line to Yosemite National Park beginning Tuesday, November 13, 2018, through Friday, November 16, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for pavement striping. • One-way traffic control will be in effect from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Tuesday, November 13, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20 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.

CALTRANS CONTINUES EMERGENCY REPAIRS ON APPLEGATE ROAD OVERCROSSING ON STATE ROUTE 99 IN CITY OF ATWATER

Northbound State Route 99 Full Highway Nightly Closures
Scheduled through Sunday, November 18, 2018

MERCED COUNTY — The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing repairs of the Applegate Road Overcrossing on State Route 99 (SR-99) in the City of Atwater after the structure was hit by a big rig traveling on northbound SR-99 on the morning of October 11, 2018.

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, efforts began to reconstruct a damaged girder and will require nightly, full-highway closures of northbound SR-99 at Applegate Road from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., through Sunday, November 18, 2018. The preliminary schedule anticipated the repairs might be complete by November 10, but a more thorough analysis led to the extended schedule.

Following inspection by Caltrans bridge engineers, it has been deemed safe for motorists to drive under the overcrossing, although the Applegate Road Overcrossing over SR-99 has been closed to prevent vehicles from adding additional weight as they drive on top of the structure.

ALERT FOR HIGH-PROFILE VEHICLES:
The vertical clearance of the Applegate Road Overcrossing will be temporarily lowered to 14 feet, 6 inches during all repair work. Big rigs and other high-profile vehicles are suggested to take the Atwater Boulevard detour.

DETOUR INFORMATION:
Motorists traveling on northbound SR-99 will be directed to detour at the Atwater Boulevard Exit 196 approximately 1.5 miles south of Applegate Road, continue north on Atwater Boulevard, and then take the Atwater Boulevard on-ramp to northbound SR-99. Traffic on southbound SR-99 will not be affected. See illustration below.


Caltrans will continue to provide updates on the emergency repair efforts and any change in schedule for lane closures, highway closures or detour routes.

Safety remains the top priority for Caltrans and it will not re-open the structure until it is determined safe to do so.

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November 8, 2018

Costa Statement on State Water Board Pushing Vote on Bay-Delta Amendments to December 12th

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement after the California State Water Resources Control Board voted today to delay the final vote on amendments to the Bay-Delta plan until December 12, 2018:

“The Board’s decision today to allow negotiations on voluntary settlement agreements to continue until mid-December at the Governor and Governor-elect’s request is a positive one.

“We are presented with a unique opportunity – to reset the water wars of the past and find a better path forward by negotiating a solution that would minimize the conflict over California’s most precious natural resource: its water. Science shows that improving habitat, predator control, and functional flows will lead to improved fishery health while minimizing impacts to the reliability of water supplies and harm to California’s agricultural economy. Today’s action by the Board allows these negotiations to continue.”


Congressman Jim Costa

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November 6, 2018


Atwater FFA Wins Cotton Judging State Championship

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA Cotton team won the 2018 California FFA State Championship during the California Career Development Event (CDE) Cotton Judging State Championships held at Fresno State University on November 3rd. “We take tremendous pride towards the fact our program continues to expand opportunities for students to be successful,” said FFA advisor Natalie Borba. “We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the continuous support given by our school, district, community, and local agriculture industry that allows opportunities such as this available to our students.”

The Atwater FFA Cotton team was led by Michael Bray (1st overall in the state), Emmanuel Mejia, Luz Soto, and Simarjot Gandhoke. Cotton judging involves six main components spread out in a variety of categories and/or classes. The first area is the evaluation of the cotton plants based on uniformity, market yield, and balance. Cotton seeds are evaluated on maturity, lack of trash or foreign materials, uniformity, and quality. Cotton bolls are evaluated on color, size, lack of trash or foreign material, and uniformity. Cotton lint is evaluated on color, quality (free of naps or nips), and the lack of trash or foreign material. Students are also required to give oral reasons to a judge to communicate and justify their class placings. The final aspect is a written exam on the cotton industry and practices utilized within the industry.

The Atwater FFA Cotton “B” team also earned high marks placing 2nd overall with Kaya Briscoe-Mattis placing 3rd high individual overall, Emma Garcia placing 6th overall, and Sabrina Lopez placing 11th overall. Hanford High School, Exeter High School, O’Neals-Minarets High School, and Corcoran High School were the other top schools at the contest.

With there being no National FFA competition, the Atwater FFA Cotton Judging Team will join other FFA members in Washington DC next November as has been done with previous Atwater FFA state championship Career Development Event (CDE) teams. “The students worked hard, were committed, and made sacrifices in terms of putting in the time associated with preparing and working towards this accomplishment,” said Borba. “They get the opportunity to experience the rewards of their efforts and accomplishment associated with being a state champion!”


The Atwater High School FFA Cotton teams comprised of Simarjot Gandhoke, Emma Garcia, Emmanuel Mejia, Luz Soto, Michael Bray, Kaya Briscoe-Mattis, and Sabrina Lopez celebrate their state championship earned at Fresno State University.

 

 

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There are over 89,000 high school agriculture students in California representing over 335 high school agriculture programs, and the success of the Atwater FFA agriculture program can be attributed to the agriculture pathway sequence of courses at Atwater High School, the increased student involvement, and student participation outside of the classroom.

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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November 3 , 2018

Bike path, grant funding on City Council agenda

A bid to construct a bike path and grant funding to upgrade 911 and GIS systems are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

Council is being asked to award a $798,955 bid to Avison Construction, Inc. for the construction of a concrete bicycle path near the intersection of Highway 59 and Buena Vista Drive, and the installation of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Black Rascal Creek.

Funding for the project comes from the state and the local match of $129,000 comes from Measure V, the countywide transportation tax measure.

The Council is being asked to accept $346,000 from the California Office of Emergency Services to upgrade the City 911 system and $105,000 from the state to upgrade the Geographic Information System (GIS), a computer data program that helps dispatchers locate property and resources.

Also on the agenda is the donation of four pet oxygen kits from Girl Scout Troop 3003. The kits will allow the Merced Fire Department to save animal lives during structural fires.

 


 

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss existing litigation and labor negotiations.

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. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all Council meetings.

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November 3 , 2018

One promotion, one returning officer at Merced PD

The Merced Police Department saw a few more changes Friday with one promotion and one officer sworn back into the ranks.

Jeffrey R. Horn became the Department’s newest sergeant, and Dayton Snyder returned to the force. Police Chief Christopher Goodwin presided over the swearing in ceremony Friday.

Horn, 45, grew up in Kerman in a family that has deep roots in public service. His father was a fire captain for the City of Fresno and his mother was the secretary for a school principal. His daughter is a special education aid and coaches volleyball and softball while she completes her degree and teaching credential.

Horn started his career with the Los Banos Police Department in 1997 and came to the Merced PD in 2001. He has been a field training officer, served on the Gang Violence Suppression Unit and the Merced Multi-Agency Narcotic Task Force and as a detective in the major crimes unit. He received the Department’s Medal of Valor.

In his off duty time he enjoys bass fishing and fishing tournaments around the state. He coaches youth baseball and has been a volunteer coach for the past nine seasons. He has an AA degree in criminal justice.

Snyder’s hometown is Merced. He served in the Merced Police Department from 2003 to 2005 before joining the Atwater Police Department. At Atwater PD he had been awarded the Domestic Violence Officer of the Year Award. He had served as a corporal, sergeant and administrative sergeant in that department.

He and his wife, Michelle, have four sons, Christian, Brendan, Daniel and Noah.

Snyder, 44, has a master’s degree in public safety leadership administration.

Off duty, he enjoys spending time with his family and his grandbaby, and playing softball.
The Department has filled 92 of the 98 budgeted positions. Goodwin has made recruitment and retention a Department priority since taking over the Department.
The Department is continuing its recruitment efforts. The City is currently recruiting for both police officers and police officer trainees. The position of police officer pays $62,169.36 to $75,566.88 a year. Trainees can earn from $40,264.08 to $48,941.04. More information on the jobs can be found at the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org.

 


Jeffrey R. Horn


Dayton Snyder

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November 3 , 2018

 

San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) Awarded $12.3 Million Dollars in SB 1 Funding

Stockton (CA) - The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) has awarded an additional $12.3 million dollars in SB 1 funding through the State Rail Assistance (SRA), of which the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) and San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) received approval for both ACE® passenger rail and the Amtrak® San JoaquinsSM projects. SRA funds are focused investments to improve commuter and intercity rail service across the state, reduce air pollution, and ease traffic congestion.

For ACE service, the current funding award includes $3.4 million for extending the Fremont station platform to accommodate longer trains, and $500,000 for the Lyoth rail connection in Tracy. This junction currently requires ACE trains to slow down through the area due to the manual safety system for the short-haul freight line connecting to the mainline. The upgrade to an electronic safety system will allow for increased ACE train speeds through the junction.

For Amtrak San Joaquins, funding includes $7.1 million for a new track connection to ease congestion between Union Pacific, BNSF, ACE, and Amtrak San Joaquins trains in San Joaquin County, and $900,000 for additional parking at the Merced Amtrak station.

The funding will provide important improvements for passengers and performance for both ACE and San Joaquins services.

 


SRA awards provide California’s commuter and intercity rail agencies with dependable supplemental revenue that they can use to improve rail service in various ways, including:
• Operations funding for expanded service;
• Increased customer amenities such as discounted tickets;
• Capital investments such as new and cleaner-emissions rolling stock to increase capacity and reduce emissions, and;
• Track and station investments that can reduce travel times, delays, improve accessibility and enhance the customer experience.

Funding for the SRA program is created through Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) which directs a portion of new revenue to intercity and commuter rail.

Recent SB 1 funds and other state programs have also assisted with the purchase of additional passenger cars and locomotives, extending train platforms for easier boarding and expansion of service into several new corridors.

The SJRRC manages ACE passenger rail, with four-weekday round-trips between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley, and the SJJPA manages Amtrak San Joaquins, with seven daily round-trips, including five between Bakersfield/Fresno and Oakland, and two between Bakersfield/Fresno and Sacramento.

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November 3 , 2018


CALTRANS CONTINUES EMERGENCY REPAIRS ON APPLEGATE ROAD OVERCROSSING ON STATE ROUTE 99 IN CITY OF ATWATER Northbound State Route 99 Full Highway Nightly Closures Scheduled through November 10, 2018 MERCED COUNTY

The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing repairs of the Applegate Road Overcrossing on State Route 99 (SR-99) in the City of Atwater after the structure was hit by a big rig traveling on northbound SR-99 on the morning of October 11, 2018. On Saturday, October 27, 2018, efforts began to reconstruct a damaged girder and will require nightly, full-highway closures of northbound SR-99 at Applegate Road from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., through Saturday, November 10, 2018. Following inspection by Caltrans bridge engineers, it has been deemed safe for motorists to drive under the overcrossing, although the Applegate Road Overcrossing over SR-99 has been closed to prevent vehicles from adding additional weight as they drive on top of the structure. ALERT FOR HIGH-PROFILE VEHICLES: The vertical clearance of the Applegate Road Overcrossing will be temporarily lowered to 14 feet, 6 inches during all repair work. Big rigs and other high-profile vehicles are suggested to take the Atwater Boulevard detour. DETOUR INFORMATION: Motorists traveling on northbound SR-99 will be directed to detour at the Atwater Boulevard Exit 196 approximately 1.5 miles south of Applegate Road, continue north on Atwater Boulevard, and then take the Atwater Boulevard on-ramp to northbound SR-99. Traffic on southbound SR-99 will not be affected.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park. Work will occur as follows: • One-way traffic control will be in effect from the Merced/Mariposa County Line to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 5, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for pavement striping. • One-way traffic control will be in effect from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 5, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 15 minute delays at each location. 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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November 3 , 2018

 

FFA Members Attend aMAZEing Meeting!

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Over 300 Atwater High School FFA members attended the October FFA chapter meeting at the AHS Agriculture Department on October 23rd with the 2018-2019 chapter officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The student run meeting provided the students with an opportunity to share and discuss the recent calendar events and activities. Students were updated about the recent fundraisers such as the Take-Out BBQ, Beautification Day, the FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest, and the upcoming annual Greenhand / Chapter Degree Ceremony. Upcoming information regarding the local and sectional FFA Project Competition taking place later next month.

The meeting was followed by a free BBQ for the students. “It’s great to see the students get excited and involved,” said FFA Advisor and BBQ extraordinaire Sam Meredith. “I’m really proud of the students who have taken to become members of the elite Atwater FFA BBQ crew!”

Before the trip to the Corn Maze the chapter officers and meetings committee organized several games that the members could take part in. These games included ring toss, mummy wrapping, pie eating, pumpkin decorating and a piñata. The members who attended enjoyed either playing the games or cheering on their peers. FFA member Sabrina Lopez said, “This is my favorite meeting of the year because the games are always so much fun and really give members a chance to express themselves in a fun open environment.”

The highlight of the evening was a trip to the Dell’Osso Family Farm located in Lathrop, near Tracy. Over 100 FFA members attended the trip in two charter buses. “We went first class for a first class organization!” said FFA advisor Shelby West. Students were challenged with a 20+ acre corn maze and enthusiastic over the extra activities including the haunted house and the pumpkin blasters.

 

 

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture students Ninel Villasenor, Arly Gonzalez, Allison Hall, Ashley Perez, and Alyssa Perez join in on the Halloween fun during the Atwater FFA trip to Dell'Osso Family Farms.


Hundreds of Atwater FFA members including Tyler Brawley, Kiah Betschart, Sabrina Lopez, Gabrielle Lucas, Gaby Moreno, Maria de Rosario-Ruelas participated in various Halloween themed games that took place after school in the agriculture department.


Atwater High School FFA's Cristal Venegas, Stephania Valdovinos, and Michael Bray gather their Halloween pumpkins during the FFA's trip to Dell'Osso Family Farm in Lathrop.

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November 3 , 2018


FFA Members Earn Public Speaking Honors

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Sixty Atwater High School 9th grade FFA members along with the Atwater FFA Chapter Officer team competed in the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Sectional Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest at Gustine High School on October 17th. Over four hundred FFA members from Buhach Colony, Delhi, Dos Palos, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Mariposa, Merced, and Pacheco High Schools competed in this public speaking event.

The Atwater FFA had ten novice officer teams and one advanced officer team. An officer team is comprised of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, reporter, and sentinel. Official FFA ceremonies build pride, identity, and tradition among FFA members and chapters. All meetings are opened and closed using ceremonies written for those purposes. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest has students recite the responsibilities and duties of their respected office. Each team was scored and evaluated by a team of judges in areas that included memorization, delivery, posture, poise, uniform, and team behavior. The contest was also an opportunity for students to meet other FFA members from the other schools in the Merced- Mariposa Section.

The results and student participants from Atwater High School were: Advanced Officer Team (Sliver) – President, Emmanuel Mejia; Vice President, Cristal Venegas; Secretary, Elisabeth Garner; Treasurer, Kaya Briscoe; Reporter, Alyssa Carrillo; and Sentinel, Alfredo Elizarraraz; Atwater Team “1” (Gold ) Kathya Chairez, Cecilia Venegas, Elizabeth Ayala Lopez, Cecelia Lopez, Adamary Aguilar, Horeb Francisco; Atwater Team “2” (Silver) Jesus Mayor, Diego Guzman, Giselle Castro, Nazareth Padilla, Madison Bosworth, Genesis Torres; Atwater Team “3” (Gold) Ethan Slate, Tristan Cardey, Tanner Bristow, Hunter Boyenga, Bo Valado, Drew Boesch; Atwater Team “4” (Bronze) Viviana Hernandez, Cristal Santoyo, Angel Moreno, Preston Tucker, Briana Juarez, Miguel Rivera; Atwater Team “5” (Gold) Jeslie Hernandez, Lysis Villfan, Axel Farias-Zapien, Daniel Valencia, Cole Williams, Skylar Sullivan; Atwater Team “6” (Gold) Liliana Boesch, Kate Brigham, Magdalena Madriz, Tatiana Acevedo, Jocelyn Andrade, Anthony Pitchford; Atwater Team “7” (Gold) Giselle Contreras, Arianna Soto, Julia Callahan, Kevin Barreto, Christian Macias, Marco Castillo; Atwater Team “8” (Gold) Alexis Perez, Cristian Esquibel, Elijah Soares, Maya Romo, Katie Lopez, Fabian Vargas; Atwater Team “9”(Gold) Reagan Puthuff, Ned Prothro, Clarissa Mounce, Alexis Martin, Alyssa Gentry, Gabriela Soto; Atwater Team “10” ( Gold ) Saul Jaime-Ramirez, Lexi Garcia, Adonna Manzo, Taylor Wilson, Rebekah Aguilar, Gurkirath.

Students who were recognized with “Outstanding Officer” awards included Cecilia Venegas, Tristan Cardey, Brianna Juarez, Skylar Sullivan, Liliana Boesch, Kate Brigham, Anthony Pitchford, Christian Macias, Fabian Vargas, Reagan Puthuff and Adonna Manzo.

“I’ve never had to compete in a public speaking competition like the Opening and Closing Ceremonies” said Atwater FFA member Cecilia Venegas, “I was still really nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun and an experience that I will never forget.”


Atwater High School agriculture students Skylar Sullivan, Anthony Pitchford, Reagan Puthuff, Liliana Boesch, Brianna Juarez, Cecilia Venegas, Christian Macias, Kate Brigham, Tristan Cardey, Adonna Manzo, and Fabian Vargas earned "Outstanding Speaker" awards during the sectional FFA public speaking contest held in Gustine.



Sixty Atwater High School FFA students joined thirteen other area high schools consisting of four-hundred other high school students at the annual Merced-Mariposa Section FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies speaking contest held at Gustine High School.

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“The students were nervous and anxious prior to the contest, however they really showed their courage and enthusiasm at the event,” said FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh. “It was a tremendous opportunity and experience for the students as public speaking and communication is recognized as an important and valuable skill in one’s education and future career.”

For more information on the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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November 1, 2018

Soccer Brings Elementary and University Students Together

The Merced City School District will “kick” off its annual elementary soccer tournament on Thursday, and players from one school enjoyed a little last minute coaching from some special guests.
The UC Merced men’s and women’s soccer teams stopped by practice at Ada Givens Elementary Monday afternoon. The university’s players and coaches worked with the young athletes on fundamentals and led them through a variety of drills and games. It was a great opportunity for the children to improve their skills and interact with positive role models.
Fifth grader Nehemiah De La Cruz said, “I’m learning a lot of new stuff from them, how to hit the ball off my chest and kick it real fast and how to kick it with the laces. Right now we’re learning how to dribble, and they’re really nice and helpful.”
UC Merced sophomore Kyndra Kiser added, “It’s fun to give back to the community that I’ve been playing in for so long because I’m from the Central Valley originally. I actually coached back at home in Manteca, and it’s really fun to just be out here with kids again because we’re practicing with a competitive nature with people our own age all the time, but it’s fun to be working with kids and to teach them what we learned so long ago.”
A total of 24 teams and nearly 300 students from elementary schools across the Merced City School District will compete for the MC Cup championship. The tournament is open to all MCSD 5th and 6th graders. It encourages teamwork and good sportsmanship, while also providing an opportunity for physical activity and friendly competition.
The first games will be played at the district’s four middle schools November 1, 2, and 5. The semifinals and finals will take place at McNamara Park on November 6 and 7.



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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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