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COMMUNITY NEWS

January 19, 2018

Merced Almond Farmer and Recording Artist “Shares the World”
To benefit the Merced Multi-cultural Arts Center
March 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Merced Theatre

By day, Eric Stephen Bocks is a fifth generation farmer. His family has been farming in Le Grand since 1974. By night, Eric is a composer, singer and songwriter bringing original musicals to the Merced area for the last twenty years. Now, after raising his children, he is pursuing his music career.

Last year he went to Nashville and recorded his new album, To Share the World. His music combines jazz, rock, pop and country music styles to create what we call “revolutionary pop.” His clear vocals have a smooth soulful finish, a hint of the blues and as always those intricate scat lines take you to a place few artists command.

He is now taking it on the road to share it with the rest of the world. March 10th at 7:30 pm will be his first performance at Merced Theater.

“When Eric Stephen Bocks takes the stage he sings and plays his original music, he also tells stories, reaching out to engage life and all its experiences,” creating a Theatrical Concert Experience.

The album release will be kicked off at a party hosted by the Merced County Arts Council at the MAC on February 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm. Come get to know Eric and his music and support local talent.

The public is invited to Eric’s debut of “To Share the World,” a benefit concert for the Merced Multi-cultural Arts Center. Tickets are $25 per person. The concert promises to be a theatrical story telling experience weaving life’s journeys into expressive moment after moment filled with the promise of a song.

 

 

About Eric Stephen Bocks
Eric has also written and composed music for “Heart of the Lion” which played for five years in Europe, and off Broadway hits such as “Gameshow” and “Life as a Dog.” When he is not making music it is probably a sure bet to find him flying his peregrines at great heights or writing his children's book series, “WING OVER WENDOVER,” which are based off his exploits as a falconer.

He is called a “Renaissance man” and “Maestro” and is proud to be a fifth generation farmer. He was featured on Ag Stories in 2016: http://www.agstories.com/renaissance-ag-man/

Originally from Santa Clara, California, Eric currently lives, farms, and creates in the Central Valley of California. He has two great kids and an amazing wife.

Click here for flyer

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January 19, 2018

Playground equipment closed

The playground equipment at Applegate Park has been closed to public use due to safety concerns, according to Public Works Director Ken Elwin. The equipment, which is more than two decades old, has been fenced off from the public.
"Protecting our children's safety is our No. 1 priority,” Elwin said. “Public Works is working closely with all departments, including the Police Department, to ensure that our local parks stay safe at all times."
Staff is working on options to replace the playground equipment with new features of a similar size and layout. They will bring the plans to the City Council at its Feb. 5 meeting.

 

Anyone with questions regarding the equipment can call the Public Works Department at 385-6800.

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January 19, 2018

State of Jefferson Informational Meeting is Tuesday January 23, 2018 at 5:30 pm Happy Burger Diner Meeting Room. Bring your questions about the State of Jefferson and the pending Representation Lawsuit.

These meets are informal, informational and interesting! Plus, if you want you can come a bit early and get yourself something yummy to eat.

We hold these meetings every 4th Tuesday, same location same time. See you there!

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January 18, 2018

TRAVIS CREDIT UNION OFFERS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM


VACAVILLE, CA – Great news for college bound seniors – Travis Credit Union announced today that it will award twenty, $2,000 scholarships.

Travis Credit Union encourages all graduating seniors to apply. Each applicant must be a high school senior with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, bound for a two–or four–year college or university and a member of Travis Credit Union in good standing. Students who live in Travis Credit Union’s twelve-county service region and are not yet members may join the credit union and apply for a scholarship at the same time.

“In the last 14 years, we have received a tremendous response from young members who have exhibited a commitment to academic excellence and community service. We look forward to recognizing even more of our deserving young members this year,” says Barry Nelson, Travis Credit Union’s president and CEO.

The Travis Credit Union Board of Directors established the scholarship program in 2004 and named it the Mary Keith Duff Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of a long-time board member, who passed away in December 2004 and has awarded more than $313,000 in scholarships since the scholarship was established.

Scholarship applications are available at any branch location or online at Travis Credit Union’s website at www.traviscu.org. In addition to a completed


application other requirements include: a 250-word essay, a certified high

school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Completed applications must be received no later than the close of business Monday, March 5, 2018.

“As a credit union, we are founded on the philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ and we stand behind the principles that promote human development and social responsibility,” adds Nelson. “Offering these scholarships is just one way Travis Credit Union adds value for our members and is assisting them with the increasing cost of higher education while reinforcing our commitment to their financial success.”

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 13th largest credit union in California with more than 190,000 members and more than $2.9 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo 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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January 18, 2018

Riverbank, CA, January 17, 2018 – Virginia Madueño, Democratic Candidate for US Congress (CA10) announced that she had received the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Bold PAC. Bold PAC is “the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate. It champions progressive Democrats fighting for change.”
With an early endorsement of California Boating & Waterways Commissioner, Virginia Madueño for Congressional District 10, its members have sent a clear message - Commissioner Madueño has the proven knowledge and track record to fight for working families, immigration reform and healthcare for residents of California’s Central Valley.
This endorsement follows PODER PAC’s endorsement last quarter, a PAC that’s mission is to elect more pro-choice Latina’s to Congress.
“I am honored to be recognized by BOLD PAC,” Madueño said Thursday. “They are committed to electing progressive leaders that are representative of the communities they serve. In Congress, I look forward to fighting for the hard-working families here in California’s Central Valley ”

 

"As BOLD PAC Chair, I am thrilled to announce our endorsement Virginia Madueño. Virginia embodies the hardworking residents of California's 10th Congressional District. I continue to be impressed with the level of energy Virginia brings so early in the cycle. The American people have made it perfectly clear that they are sick of partisan bickering, divisive rhetoric, and destructive policies. They want real leaders and real solutions, and that's exactly why BOLD PAC was proud to endorse Virginia Madueño for Congress." BOLD PAC Chairman, Congressman Tony Cardenas said of the early endorsement.
##
Small business owner and former Mayor of Riverbank, California, Valley native Virginia Madueño currently serves as an appointee by the Governor Brown administration to the California Boating & Waterways Commission

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January 17, 2018


MCOE to Dedicate Admin Building to Longtime Educator Denard W. Davis

The Merced County Office of Education will dedicate its historic administrative building on 13th Street to longtime educator and champion of equality Denard William Davis at a public event on Friday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.
Davis served as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Affirmative Action Officer at MCOE. He worked at MCOE for 31 years in those positions.
After serving as a teacher and coach at Tenaya Junior High School in Merced, Davis was hired by MCOE in 1965 to reform hiring practices and diversify staffing. Davis implemented recruiting and hiring procedures that promoted both fairness of job opportunity and selection of quality employees.
He worked as a leader at MCOE and guided many county school districts to follow those principles. In accomplishing these goals, Davis changed the culture of Merced County toward comprehensive inclusiveness.
Davis was a leading force for improvement of the lives of children, youth and especially those limited by racial bias. During his life, he labored with dignity, intelligence and determination on behalf of better education and increased opportunities. Davis died on September 8, 2015 at 81 years old.


The event on Jan. 19 will feature a performance from the Golden Valley High School Jazz Band, remarks from officials, friends and family, the unveiling of the new front of the administrative building and refreshments immediately following the event.
The event is planned at the entrance to MCOE on 13th Street. If it is raining, the event will be moved to the Clark/Newbold rooms.
For more information, call (209) 381-6601

.EDITORS: The event is planned at the entrance to MCOE on 13th Street. If it is raining, the event will be moved to the Clark/Newbold rooms.

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January 17, 2018

MCAG scholarship program accepting applications

MERCED- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is accepting applications for the 2018 Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship. The MCAG Governing Board and staff established this scholarship program in 2010 to honor the memory of Anna Maria Fuentes, Grants Program Manager at MCAG.
The Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior in Merced County with a grade point average of 3.8 or higher who has demonstrated a high level of participation in extracurricular activities including positions of leadership. Applicants must provide a personal essay that describes their need for scholarship in order to pursue higher education goals.
The 2018 scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 and will be eligible to receive additional awards of $1,000 each year for three years based on scholastic performance and documentation.
Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street, Merced and must be received by 3:00pm on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.


The selected scholarship recipient will be notified by May 1, 2018.
Interested applicants can access the scholarship application and instructions at http://www.mcagov.org/217/Scholarship. General inquiries can be directed to Eva Garibay, Public Programs Specialist, at eva.garibay@mcagov.org or 209-723-3153 x 108.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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January 17, 2018

High-Speed Rail Authority Names New CEO

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - As the California High-Speed Rail Authority continues to move from the planning phase to full construction of the nation’s first high-speed rail system, the Board of Directors today announced that it has selected a new Chief Executive Officer, Brian P. Kelly, to lead the organization, effective February 1, 2018.

“Brian Kelly is a proven problem-solver and the leading expert on California’s transportation sector. He has been a dynamic Transportation Secretary, leading strategic approaches to modernize the state’s passenger and freight rail systems, and effectively dealing with natural disaster impacts on roads, bridges and highways,” said Chairman Dan Richard. “Brian has been a keen advocate for the development of high-speed rail as a core component of California’s future transportation networks. As a respected leader and skilled manager he will provide the right leadership as the project moves into the delivery and commercialization phase.”

“Brian has ably led the California State Transportation Agency since its inception and is uniquely qualified to move the nation’s first high-speed rail project forward,” said Governor Jerry Brown.

Kelly has served as Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency since the Agency was created in 2013. As Secretary, Kelly oversaw one of the largest portfolios in the State of California with more than 38,000 employees and a total budget of more than $18 billion. During his tenure as Secretary, the Agency led efforts to:



* Enact Senate Bill 1, the single largest investment in California’s transportation infrastructure;
* Implement AB 60, a Department of Motor Vehicles program to provide an estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants the opportunity to apply for and receive driver licenses in California;
* Develop first-in-the-nation autonomous vehicle regulations for the testing and deploying of this new transformative technology.

Prior to his appointment to the Brown Administration, Kelly was at the center of major transportation policy decisions in the State for more than two decades, having served as chief transportation policy consultant for four successive Senate President pro Tempores. The compensation is $384,984 for this position.

With Kelly’s departure at the California State Transportation Agency, the Governor has named Brian Annis as Acting Transportation Agency Secretary. Annis has served as Undersecretary at the Agency since 2013.

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January 13, 2018

Rose Garden, Public Facilities Update on Agenda

An update on the City’s rose garden and the public facilities projects are among the items on the City Council agenda for Tuesday night.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The meeting is usually held on the second Monday of the month but because of the holiday was postponed until Tuesday.
The City has a rose garden in Applegate Park that suffered during the drought, but also have been subject to vandals and theft after it was renovated. City staff will present Council with plans for replanting the garden, and improving the irrigation system to enhance the watering of the roses.
In addition, the historic Laura’s Fountain in the park is leaking and staff is seeking direction on how to get it repaired.
Staff will be asking Council for direction on how to fund new public facilities in the City. There is a need for a new police headquarters, an additional fire station, improvements and expansion at the Public Works yard and renovations to park restrooms.
Staff will explain the possibilities of a public facilities ballot measure, and the timing of it.
Also on the agenda is a report on a local business preference policy that would give local vendors a preference under some circumstances when the City is making some purchases.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to confer with labor negotiators, discuss anticipated litigation and discuss employee employment of the City Attorney and Finance Officer.
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.

 

City offices closed Monday, MLK celebration set
The offices of the City of Merced will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
There will be no trash collection that day. All refuse pickup will be delayed one day the entire week.
The City Council meeting regularly scheduled for the second Monday of the month will be held Tuesday, Jan. 16. at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced City Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march and celebration will be held on Monday, Jan. 15. The march will line up at 10 a.m. at 8th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The procession will start at 11 a.m. and proceed towards Main Street.
The program honoring Dr. King will begin at noon at the Merced Theatre and end at 2 p.m.

 

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January 13, 2018

Costa Continues Work for Valley Infrastructure, Joins Problem Solvers in Bipartisan Infrastructure Recommendations

Washington, DC — In his ongoing efforts to improve infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) joined his colleagues in the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus in releasing their report with policy recommendations for improving and investing in America’s infrastructure. Rep. Costa has a long history of working on repairing and building new infrastructure in the Valley. As a California State Senator, Costa was integral in the expansion of California’s SR 180, with the segment between Route 99 and Chestnut Avenue now named “Senator Jim Costa Highway.” Since being elected to Congress, Costa has worked to secure federal funds for the widening of Highway 99 and for the ACE railway corridor project. Additionally, from leading the state legislation that created the Kern County Water Bank and carrying multiple California water bonds while in the California legislature, to securing federal funds to connect Fairmead to Madera County’s water system and $10 million of federal money for Black Rascal Creek flood control and ground water recharge in Merced County, Rep. Costa has been especially active in improving water infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The health and development of our economy and communities rely on our infrastructure, which is why I have always made, and will continue to make, improving the infrastructure in our San Joaquin Valley a priority,” said Rep. Costa. “We know from our country’s history that infrastructure projects move forward most effectively when local, state, and federal governments all do their part. The state of California and all three counties in my district have stepped up, raising their own money for critical transportation and infrastructure improvement projects. Now it’s time that the federal government match the commitment made by our local and state governments.”

“We must stop living off the investments our parents and grandparents made over the last two generations and take seriously our obligation to invest intelligently in infrastructure and create long-term policy solutions to both repair our broken infrastructure and develop and innovate for the future,” continued Rep. Costa, member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and supporter

 


Congressman Jim Costa

 

of the caucus’s recommendations. “The Problem Solvers Caucus policy recommendations are critical starting points for the bipartisan, deliberative process required for this type of legislation, and I hope our recommendations can serve as a foundation of consensus on which bipartisan collaboration can build policy that repairs, advances, and invests in America’s infrastructure.”

The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group of representatives working to find a path forward for responsible governance. The caucus’s Infrastructure Working Group met with over one hundred stakeholder organizations, congressional leaders, and the Administration to produce the report and provide the recommendations. The recommendations address both rural and urban infrastructure needs and cover numerous types of infrastructure, including roads and bridges, transit and railways, ports and airports, water and sewer systems, energy systems and the power grid, and broadband and communications networks.

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January 13, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM CHILDS AVENUE TO 14TH STREET IN MERCED
FOR DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY PARADE

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close State Route 59 (SR-59)/Martin Luther King Jr. Way for 0.7 miles from Childs Avenue to 14th Street in Merced County for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade.

The closure is scheduled for Monday, January 15, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 12 p.m. (noon.)

Detours are as follows:

Traveling north on SR-59
- Turn right on Childs Avenue
- Merge onto northbound SR-99
- Take the R Street exit
- Turn right onto R Street
- Turn left onto 16th Street
- Merge onto northbound SR-59

Traveling south on SR-59
- Turn left onto 16th Street
- Turn right onto R Street
- Merge onto southbound SR-99
- Take the Childs Avenue exit
- Turn right onto Childs Avenue
- Turn left onto southbound SR-59

For access to southbound SR-59 from SR-99
- Take the Childs Avenue exit
- Turn onto westbound Childs Avenue
- Turn left onto southbound SR-59



There will also be a full on and off-ramp closure on northbound and southbound SR-99 at SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way during the event, from 9:00 a.m. until 12 p.m. (noon.) There will be an additional on-ramp closure from SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way to southbound SR-99 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for drain cleaning and inspection.

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.

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

 

 

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January 12, 2018

Hoover Students Accept Rachel’s Challenge

Students at Hoover Middle School in Merced are taking part in a new initiative to support a positive learning environment. It’s called Rachel’s Challenge. It’s based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine school shooting in 1999. The goal of the program is to equip and inspire participants to replace acts of bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness, and compassion.

The challenge kicked off on Wednesday with assemblies for all Hoover students. The presentation included powerful videos about the tragedy at Columbine and inspiring messages that Rachel expressed through her diary and an essay she wrote just weeks before her death. That essay focused on the idea that one act of kindness can spark a chain reaction. The presenter, David Hills, asked students to accept Rachel’s Challenge by doing the following:

• Look for the best in others
• Dream big
• Choose positive influences
• Speak with kindness
• Start your own chain reaction

After the morning assemblies, Mr. Hills met with approximately 100 students who were selected to be part of a club called Friends of Rachel, which will continue to promote the challenge throughout the year. He asked the seventh and eighth graders to share how the presentation impacted them and then provided ideas for creating and sustaining a culture of kindness and compassion on their campus. Later in the evening, Mr. Hills also led an assembly that was open to parents and other community members.

Hoover Assistant Principal Chuck Pirtle says, “We know that bullying is a concern nationwide, and we really believe this program can make a positive impact for our students during a transformative time in their lives.”

Rachel’s Challenge complements the Merced City School District’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), which is now being used at all 18 campuses. PBIS is a research-based, nationally recognized framework that promotes a positive culture of making good choices on school campuses. It includes clear expectations for the students as well as incentives and intervention plans.



Hoover Assistant Principal Chuck Pirtle introduces Rachel’s Challenge presenter, David Hills, during Wednesday’s assembly

Presenter David Hills speaks to students who are now part of the “Friends of Rachel” club, which will continue to promote kindness on compassion on the Hoover Middle School campus

A Hoover Middle School student speaks about how the Rachel’s Challenge assembly impacted him

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January 11, 2018

BUCKS FOR BOOKS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE NOW
Scholarship awards $1,000 to be used for college books

LODI, CA – Who doesn’t need help paying for college? The Lodi Grape Festival Bucks for Books Scholarship Committee is now accepting applications from high school seniors or college students who graduated from a school in the Lodi Unified School District or whose primary residence is within the District boundaries.
“Since the inception of the scholarship fund in 2004, the Lodi Grape Festival has awarded $92,000 in scholarship money to deserving area students,” said Mark Armstrong, Lodi Grape Festival General Manager. “We have helped many students continue their education, whether it is at a trade school, junior college or beyond. The individual scholarships are up to $1,000 which can go a long way towards paying for books.”
The deadline to submit the application is March 1, 2018 so act now! For more information or to receive an application please e-mail info@grapefestival.com or call (209) 369-2771 or visit www.grapefestival.com.

For more information visit www.grapefestival.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter at @lodigrapefest and Instagram at @lodigrapefestival.
Lodi Grape Festival and Event Center
P.O. Box 848, Lodi, CA 95241
(209) 369-2771 ~ FAX (209) 369-9185
www.grapefestival.

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January 11, 2018

MCOE to Unveil 7th Annual Education Report With Focus on Early Education

The Merced County Office of Education will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at public events in Merced and Los Banos in February.
The report details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Early Education in Merced County.
There are two Report on Our Schools events scheduled to unveil the annual education report. The first event is Thursday, Feb. 15 at Yosemite Church, 2230 East Yosemite Ave. in Merced, and the second is on Friday, Feb. 16 at the Los Banos Community Center, 645 7th St. in Los Banos. Both events are from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.and include lunch. RSVP is required to Lori Ward at rsvp@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6601.


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

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January 11, 2018


Merced County Office of Education Hosts Merced County Speech Festival

The Merced County Office of Education will host the 2018 Merced County Speech Festival at the MCOE complex, 632 W. 13th St., on Jan. 16 through 18 and hold the awards reception on Jan. 24.
The speech festival will be held in the Clark/Newbold conference rooms, on the corner of 13th and M streets in Merced, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 and 17 and in the Clark/Newbold, M, and J-2 conference rooms from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 18.
27 schools are expected to participate from 13 school districts throughout Merced County with more than 200 students competing.
The speech festival spans from grades 4 to 8 and is open to all Merced County students in those grades.
Students may give a speech about any subject using one of the specified categories, which are based on some of the categories from the Spring Writing Festival. The categories are Persuasive Speech, Tall Tale Speech, Legend Speech, Fable Speech, or Speech on a Report of Information.

Students will stand in front of the audience and a panel of three judges to deliver their speeches. First, second and third place winners will be announced at school sites after the competitions along with fourth through eighth place earning an honorable mention.
The award ceremony is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in the Clark/Newbold conference rooms at MCOE. First place winners will be invited to give their award-winning speeches that evening in front of other students, family, friends, teachers, principals and superintendents.
For more information, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 11, 2018

 

ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project – Notice of Preparation of an EIR

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), acting as lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), intends to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project.

The ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project would include Phase I and Phase II improvements. Phase I improvements would support the ACE service extension to Ceres and Phase II improvements would support the ACE service extension to Merced. Phase I improvements include new stations, upgrades to track, a new track connection, a temporary Ceres Layover Facility, an interim bus bridge between Merced and Ceres, and two operational scenarios. Phase II improvements include upgrades to existing track and addition of new track between Ceres and Merced, new stations, a new permanent Merced Layover Facility, and two operational scenarios. No improvements are proposed along the existing ACE corridor between Stockton and San Jose.
The purpose of the Notice of Preparation (NOP) is to notify agencies, organizations, and individuals that SJRRC plans to prepare the EIR and to request input on the scope of the environmental analysis to be performed. The NOP provides a more detailed description of the project as well as the potential environmental effects and can be viewed online here or by visiting: www.acerail.com/About/Projects-Initiatives/Current/ACE-Extension-Lathrop-to-Ceres-Merced Connection to ACEforward:
A prior NOP was issued for the ACEforward project in June 2013, and the draft EIR was released in May 2017. The ACEforward project included the expansion of ACE service between the San Joaquin Valley and San Jose, as well as extension of ACE service to Modesto and Merced.
As the ACEforward project has progressed, funding for the entirety of ACEforward improvements has been uncertain. However, as part of SB 132 passed in April 2017, SJRRC was awarded $400 million for the ACE service expansion in the San Joaquin Valley. Through the ACEforward project development and environmental review, substantial financial, environmental, and logistical challenges were identified with some of the improvements necessary to increase ACE service levels to San Jose. In addition, SJRRC ridership studies have shown that expansion to Ceres and Merced would provide substantial increases in ACE ridership without the financial, logistical, and environmental challenges of some of the improvements necessary to increase service levels to San Jose. As a result, the feasible and fundable extension of service in the Central Valley is now the focus of SJRRC vision


-------------------------------------------------------
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) is the managing agency for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). ACE is primarily a commuter rail service that runs four round-trips from Stockton to San Jose,
Monday through Friday. ACE carries over 1.3 million passengers annually.

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

for commuter and intercity passenger rail services for ACE. The improvements envisioned in the ACEforward plan no longer represents the intention of SJRRC for ACE. For this reason, SJRRC is rescinding the prior ACEforwardNOP and draft EIR and intends to prepare a new EIR for this ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project. Since the ACEforward project is not moving forward, response to comments received on the ACEforward draft EIR will not be responded to and will not be part of the administrative record for this new EIR.

Scoping Period:
From public agencies, we are inviting comments on the scope and context of the environmental information that is germane to each agency’s statutory responsibilities with regard to the proposed project. We are also requesting interested individuals’ or organizations’ views on the scope of the environmental document.

Written responses and comments on the scope of the ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project will be accepted until 5:00 PM on Friday, February 9, 2018. Please send written comments to:
Email: ACEextension.south@gmail.com
Mail: San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission
Attn: ACE Extension Lathrop to Ceres/Merced Project
949 East Channel Street
Stockton, CA 95202

Scoping Meeting:
SJRRC will hold a public scoping meeting to provide an opportunity for SJRRC to explain the project and to give interested agencies, organizations, and individuals an additional opportunity to comment on the scope and content of the EIR.
Date & time: Monday, January 29, 2018, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Ceres Community Center
Small Assembly Room
2701 Fourth Street
Ceres, CA 95307

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January 10, 2018

Merced County Fair Board Officers Selected for 2018

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, January 9, 2018 – The Merced County Fair proudly announces the 2018 officer positions for the 35th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors, which was made official on December 12 after a Board vote at its monthly meeting. Those positions are: Emily Haden, President; Lori Gallo, First Vice President; and Carol Sartori-Silva, Second Vice President.
Emily Haden, 35, of Merced, has served on the Merced County Fair Board since 2012. Haden has been an owner at the Haden Law Office since 2014, where she has been an attorney since 2010 and was a legal assistant from 2009 to 2010. She was a legal assistant at the Merced County District Attorney's Office from 2009 to 2010, a certified law student in the Misdemeanor Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California from 2008 to 2009 and a legal assistant at Robert T. Haden PC in 2007. Haden was a customer service representative at the Merced Irrigation District in 2006. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Lori Gallo, 43, of Merced, has served on the Merced County Fair Board since 2013. Lori works on various projects for Joseph Gallo Farms maker of Joseph Farms Cheese, where she has been employed since 2008. Prior to that Gallo was a realtor for Century 21 Salvadori Realty from 2002 to 2008. Gallo currently serves as a diplomat for the University of California, Merced University Friends Circle and is a member of the University of California, Merced Early Childhood Education Center Advisory Council. She is also a member of Women for Agriculture, Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Merced County Chamber of Commerce, Italian Catholic Federation and the Merced Theatre Foundation.
Carol Sartori-Silva, 67, of Atwater, has served on the Merced County Fair Board since 1998. Sartori-Silva served as a fiscal supervisor for the Merced County Welfare to Work Department from 1982 to 2001 and formally served as a civil assistant in the Merced County Marshal’s Office from 1979 to 1982. Sartori-Silva has previously served as a member of the California Women in Agriculture, Merced County Historical Society and the Western Fairs Association. She was also a charter member of the Friends of the Merced County Fair.


Lori Gallo

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About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 127 years of operation this year. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President, Emily Haden; First Vice President; Lori Gallo; Second Vice President, Carol Sartori-Silva; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2018 Merced County Fair will run June 6 - 10. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter(@Merced_CA_Fair) and now Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).


Carol Sartori-Silva


Emily Haden

 

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January 9, 2018

Costa Joined by Local Leaders and Veterans to Honor Hmong and Lao Veterans

Fresno, CA — Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted a press conference in front of the Lao Hmong American War Memorial in Fresno County’s Courthouse Park as part of his ongoing efforts to honor Hmong and Lao American veterans. Rep. Costa was joined by Mr. Chi Neng Vang of the Special Guerrilla Units (SGU) Veterans – who is the youngest son of General Vang Pao – Executive Director Peter Vang of the Fresno chapter of Lao Veterans of America, and Hmong and Lao veterans from across California’s Central Valley to discuss the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act and its significance for the Hmong community. Costa introduced the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act into the U.S. House of Representatives on December 21, 2017, and the legislation would extend burial benefits to Hmong and Lao American veterans who served alongside U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

“Many people across our country do not know about the brave Hmong and Lao men and women who risked their lives, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers during the Vietnam War,” said Rep. Costa, who has made honoring Hmong and Lao American veterans a priority over the course of his career in public service. “This is why, for years, I have been working with veterans organizations, other members of Congress, and local leaders to get these courageous Hmong and Lao men and women the recognition they deserve. These veterans deserve our nation’s deep gratitude and the choice of being laid to rest alongside their brothers-in-arms in our national cemeteries, such as San Joaquin National Cemetery in Santa Nella.”

During the Vietnam War, the CIA covertly trained Hmong men and women in Laos and then led them into direct combat in support of U.S. forces, an operation often referred to as “The Secret War.” Following the Vietnam War,

 


thousands of Hmong veterans and their families resettled across the United States and in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Although there are only an estimated 5,000 Hmong veterans still alive, thousands live in the San Joaquin Valley.

Peter Vang, Executive Director of Lao Veterans of America, Fresno shared, “The (Hmong and Lao) veterans’ journey from war to the U.S. was not easy. We feel obligated to get them th[is] benefit because they tell us, ‘I want to make sure I will be honored at an American Military Cemetery and show my children I fought with American soldiers.’”

The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act has bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In addition, both the national and San Joaquin Valley chapters of the Special Guerrilla Units (SGU) Veterans & Families Development organization and Lao Veterans of America endorse the legislation.

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January 9, 2018

Atwater FFA Releases New Website

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Eleven years ago, the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA launched one of the state’s first school agriculture program websites focused as a communication tool for students and their community. The website received state FFA recognition and awards for its design and implementation.

With today’s improved software, technology, and web design products, the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA released its new website – AtwaterFFA.org. The redesigned site remains a communication and informational resource for students and the community, however expands its layout and information more efficiently and effectively. The site was designed and created by staff and students within the Atwater High School Agriculture department over the winter/holiday recess.

“Technology and the internet continues to be an expanding resource for everyone and we wanted to improve our resource regarding agriculture education, academic opportunities, student leadership & success, and recognize our community and industry support through our new website,” says Atwater Agriculture Instructor Dave Gossman.

Areas of focus within the new website include information on the high school agriculture program, FFA, staff, and FFA officer team. Additional layouts include high school agriculture courses for students, events/activity calendar, press releases and photographs of events/activities, and important agriculture links for students to utilize.


Atwater High School agriculture student and Atwater FFA Reporter Grace Reyes works on the newly renovated and created Atwater FFA website over the recent school holiday recess. The new site "www.AtwaterFFA.org" is now published and available online.

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

“We encourage students and the community to explore the site as we feel it provides a valuable resource and informational site for all to use,” says Gossman.

 

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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January 9, 2018

There’s a time and a place for sharing, and cold and flu season isn’t it!
Don't spread the flu. Don't share your germs. And don't call 911 unless it's a real emergency!
Attached are some reminders from our colleagues at the Merced County Department of Public Health on how to avoid spreading the flu and how to keep everyone a little healthier during this winter.

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January 9, 2018

The CCSPCA kicked off our fifth annual Home for the Holidays adoption promotion with a goal to find homes for 800 animals from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve. Thanks to the generous outpouring of support from the Central Valley community, 583 dogs and 249 cats went home for the Holidays. We exceeded our original goal with a grand total of 832 adoptions!
Thank you to everyone who adopted this year. The success from this promotion would not be possible without you and your open hearts. Home for the Holidays is also backed by the support of the CCSPCA Board of Directors, and the generosity of our donors and supporters.
Although last year’s promotion is over, we cannot forget about the animals looking for forever homes throughout the year. Many animals are currently awaiting adoption! Please visit our adoption center at 103 S. Hughes, Fresno, CA 93706 to find your new best friend!


We are open seven days/week from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Wednesdays). You can also view our adoptable dogs and cats online at ccspca.com, Facebook, and Instagram.
For more information about the adoptable in our care, please email adoptions@ccspca.com.

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January 3, 2018

Christopher Goodwin named interim police chief

Christopher Goodwin has been named interim police chief of the Merced Police Department, replacing Norman Andrade who retired at the end of 2017.
Goodwin, a 21-year veteran of the Department, has been serving as a captain.
“Chris will be a good transition for the Department as we go from one Chief to the next,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He knows the operation thoroughly, he knows the men and women on the team, and he can provide the high caliber of leadership needed while we go through the search process.”
Goodwin was hired as a patrol office and worked his way up as a sergeant, then lieutenant before his promotion to captain. Along the way, he has worked in the Street Crime Unit, as a Field Training Officer and as a Detective. Goodwin served in the Gang Violence Suppression Unit, in the Defensive Tactics Unit and on the SWAT team. He helped start the Department’s Active Shooter Program in 2001.
Carrigan said the City has already begun the process to hire a new police chief. An executive search firm will be hired to assist in finding a police chief. Recruitment materials will be sent out with the focus on the Western United States.
After the 30-day recruitment period has closed, Carrigan said the best candidates will be selected for the interview process. The City Manager said he will take community and professional input on the candidates before he makes his final selection.
“We want the best chief for Merced, whoever he or she will be,” Carrigan said. “That person will recognize that our community is changing, that we are growing, that we are transforming, but that we have lots of traditional Valley values that we still cherish. We want a police chief who can lead our officers into the next decade and have the community join with them. It’s a big job, it’s a challenging job, but the people of Merced deserve this in their police chief.”
The position of police chief pays up to $157,372 a year.


Christopher Goodwin

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January 3, 2018

FFA Students Extend Efforts Through the Holiday Break

Written by: Grace Reyes - 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.

The Atwater High School wood shop classes built nearly 300 wooden toy trucks utilizing the state-of-the-art wood shop equipment and their classroom/shop skills. The project was in partnership with the Lion’s Club and the Kops for Kids program. Students extended their time and efforts on the project after school and during the weekends leading up to the event. “To see students take an interest towards making a difference in the lives of others within their community is extremely heart-warming,” said AHS agriculture instructor Dan Flatt. “They worked very hard in the project and took tremendous pride at seeing the faces of community members and children who took the trucks for Christmas.”

The Atwater High School floral design classes 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.

The entire 1000+ Atwater High School agriculture student body participated in a month long canned food drive where nearly 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 Natalie Borba. “The enthusiasm and efforts of our students towards the gift of “giving” is really what the holiday season is all about.”


Atwater High School floral students Dillon Guillon and Callie Norton spend time during their holiday break to finish up last minute Christmas floral arrangements for local community members.


Atwater High School "Agriculture Mechanics - Wood" pathway students Adrian Valencia, Alonzo Villanueva, Antonio Aguirre, Daniel Lopez put the final assembly touch to the various toy trucks made by the students for the holiday season.

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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January 3, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT 16TH STREET IN MERCED

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform sign work on State Route 99 (SR-99) at 16th Street in Merced County.

There will be a full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Tuesday, January 2, 2018, through Friday, January 5, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Due to the New Year’s Day holiday, there is no scheduled road work for Monday, January 1, 2018.

This work is part of a project that is providing safety improvements to northbound and southbound SR-99 in Merced and Stanislaus counties.

This project includes the relocation of overhead sign structures on ramps and installing guardrail to shield those structures. Projects like this one aim to improve the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists in Merced and Stanislaus counties.

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.

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



 

 

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

 

 

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December 27, 2017

MCOE to Dedicate Admin Building to Longtime Educator Denard W. Davis

The Merced County Office of Education will dedicate its historic administrative building on 13th Street to longtime educator and champion of equality Denard William Davis at a public event on Friday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.
Davis served as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Affirmative Action Officer at MCOE. He worked at MCOE for 31 years in those positions.
After serving as a teacher and coach at Tenaya Junior High School in Merced, Davis was hired by MCOE in 1965 to reform hiring practices and diversify staffing. Davis implemented recruiting and hiring procedures that promoted both fairness of job opportunity and selection of quality employees.
He worked as a leader at MCOE and guided many county school districts to follow those principles. In accomplishing these goals, Davis changed the culture of Merced County toward comprehensive inclusiveness.
Davis was a leading force for improvement of the lives of children, youth and especially those limited by racial bias. During his life, he labored with dignity, intelligence and determination on behalf of better education and increased opportunities. Davis died on September 8, 2015 at 81 years old.
The event on Jan. 19 will feature a performance from the Golden Valley High School Jazz Band, remarks from officials, friends and family, the unveiling of the new front of the administrative building and refreshments immediately following the event. For more information, call (209) 381-6601.


Denard William Davis

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December 27, 2017

Costa Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Honor Hmong Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA-16) was joined by Vietnam veteran Congressman Paul Cook (R-CA-8) in introducing H. R. 4716, the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act. The bipartisan legislation would extend to Hmong and Lao Americans who served alongside U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War burial benefits in national cemeteries. Congressmen Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36) and Don Young (R-AK-At Large) are cosponsoring the legislation, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate, which currently has seven cosponsors coming from both sides of the aisle.
“The United States has not done enough to honor the courageous Hmong men and women who fought on behalf of the United States during the Vietnam War,” said Rep. Jim Costa, who has been working for years to extend burial benefits to Hmong veterans. “These brave individuals conducted direct missions and entered combat shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. soldiers. Hmong forces saved countless American lives, and more than 100,000 Hmong made the ultimate sacrifice over the course of the war. These heroes deserve our nation’s deep gratitude, and granting Hmong veterans the honor of being laid to rest in our national cemeteries, such as Santa Nella’s San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, is long overdue.”

Following the Vietnam War, thousands of Hmong veterans resettled across the United States and in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Currently there is only an estimated 5,000 Hmong veterans still alive, with thousands living in


Congressman Jim Costa

 

the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to having bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act is supported by the national and San Joaquin Valley chapters of the Special Guerrilla Units Veterans & Families Development organization and the Lao Veterans of America. The legislation would not change eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

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December 27, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE
TO ATWATER BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform guardrail work on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue in Merced to Atwater Boulevard in Atwater. Due to the Christmas holiday, there is no scheduled road work for Monday, December 25, 2017. Work will occur as follows:

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning Wednesday, December 27, 2017, through Thursday, December 28, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closures from northbound and southbound SR-99 to SR-140/Central Yosemite Highway in Merced beginning Wednesday, December 27, 2017, through Thursday, December 28, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street in Merced beginning Wednesday, December 27, 2017, through Thursday, December 28, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to Atwater Boulevard beginning Wednesday, December 27, 2017, through Thursday, December 28, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

This work is part of a project that is providing safety improvements to northbound and southbound SR-99 in Merced and Stanislaus counties.

This project includes the relocation of overhead sign structures on ramps and installing guardrail to shield those structures. Projects like this one aim to improve the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists in Merced and Stanislaus counties.

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.

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



 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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December 22, 2017

Atwater FFA “Waves” in the Holiday Season

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

During the last week of the 1st semester, just before the Christmas break, over 200 Atwater FFA students braved the cold weather and gathered at the Ag Department for the annual “Morning Wave” at 6:30 am. The idea was created by FFA advisor Dave Gossman who, while residing in Bermuda in the late 1990’s, was inspired by the country’s famous Johnny Barnes who 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 fourteen 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” 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!”


Atwater High School agriculture students Alyssa Carrillo, Arly Gonzalez, Janell Gonzalez, and Lizette Vargas join in on the annual Atwater FFA "Morning Wave" meeting this past week at the high school.

 

 

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


Over 200 Atwater High School agriculture students gathered together for the annual FFA "Morning Wave" meeting which extended out to the corner of Winton Way and Fruitland Ave to "wave in" the holidays.


Over 200 Atwater High School agriculture students gathered together for the annual FFA "Morning Wave" meeting which extended out to the corner of Winton Way and Fruitland Ave to "wave in" the holidays.


Atwater High School agriculture students Giselle Sanchez, Maren Reed, and Chaenney Puthoff spend the early morning hours "waving in" the holiday season during the recent FFA meeting held at the high school.

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December 22, 2017

Christmas trees go in the green can

If you are disposing of your Christmas tree, cut it into 4-foot lengths and put it in your green can. Flocked trees need to be put in the gray trash can. Do not put trees at the curb.
But you can’t get rid of your tree on Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day either. The offices of the City of Merced will be closed on Christmas, Monday, Dec. 25, and New Year’s Day, Monday, Jan. 1.
There will be no trash collection on those days. All refuse pickup will be delayed one day for those holiday weeks. If you have any questions about trash collection, please call Public Works at 385-6800.

 

And the Council meeting normally held on the first Monday of the month will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers due to the holiday.

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December 22, 2017

Costa Statement on House Passage of Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Open

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels through January 19, 2018:

“Today’s vote is a continuation of the dysfunction in Washington, and it further illustrates the damage that results from partisan politics and irresponsible leadership. It is unacceptable that we have to resort to funding the government for weeks at a time because we cannot sit down together – Democrats and Republicans – and negotiate a real budget bill. One of our key responsibilities as members of Congress is to keep the government open, which is why I voted for the spending bill today. Yet another equally-important responsibility is providing the stability and certainty the government needs to operate well and Americans need to invest and plan for their futures, and Congress has failed to fulfill this responsibility in 2017. We must do better. When Congress returns to Washington in January, I will continue to advocate for the bipartisan, stable policy solutions and the good governance Americans need and deserve.


Congressman Jim Costa

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December 20 , 2017

City Offices have Holiday Closures

The offices of the City of Merced will be closed on Christmas, Monday, Dec. 25, and New Years Day, Monday, Jan. 1.
There will be no trash collection on those days. All refuse pickup will be delayed one day for those holiday weeks. If you have any questions about trash collection, please call Public Works at 385-6800.

The Council meeting normally held on the first Monday of the month will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers due to the holiday.

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December 20 , 2017

Costa Statement on House Passage of Tax Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the House passed the conference committee’s version of the tax bill:

“Today’s vote reflects a missed opportunity to use bipartisan comprehensive tax reform to return our nation to a fiscally-responsible path while making our tax system fairer and simpler. Instead, the House passed a partisan tax bill which will increase our national debt by $2.2 trillion and which pays for permanent corporate tax cuts by increasing taxes on America’s middle class and families in 2025. The legislation the House passed today is fiscally-reckless and a sad excuse for reform, and it will harm people across our country and the San Joaquin Valley.

“History shows us that tax cuts are less effective at growing the economy than revenue-neutral reform, so adding $2.2 trillion to our national debt is not only irresponsible, it is senseless. By limiting the individual state and local tax deduction to $10,000, the bill will essentially be punitive double taxation on many individuals who live in states where both property and sales tax are high, such as California. By eliminating the individual health care mandate, the legislation will also increase both the cost of premiums and the amount government pays in health care subsidies while decreasing the number of
individuals with health insurance. The California Hospital Association estimates that this will cause 40,900 individuals in my district to lose coverage


Congressman Jim Costa

and 1,810,000 individuals in California to lose coverage by 2025, all while adding to the national deficit.

“Although there are some good things in this bill, overall the bill does more harm to Americans and to the American economy than it does good. I simply could not vote for a bill that we all know is fiscally-irresponsible, and that we all know will hurt so many people in our Valley.”

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December 18, 2017

Coleman Elliott sworn in as police officer

Coleman Elliott was sworn in as a police officer today by Acting Police Chief Christopher Goodwin.

Elliott, 28, completed the Fresno Police Academy as a trainee sponsored by the Merced Police Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Stanislaus State.

An Atwater native, Elliott enjoys camping, backpacking and long-distance rifle shooting.
The Merced Police Department has 87 sworn officers and is budgeted for 97. The pay for police officers is $5,042 to $6,129 a month.

The Merced Police Department is hiring now. It is looking for both POST certified/lateral applicants and is also willing to put people through the police academy while paying them. For more information go to www.cityofmerced.org.

 


Coleman Elliott is given the oath of office by Acting Police Chief Christopher Goodwin.


Coleman Elliott has his badged pinned on him by his father, Rick Elliott, as Acting Police Chief Goodwin looks on.

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December 18, 2017

FFA Leads School in Operation Christmas Child

Written by: Grace Reyes - 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 a couple years ago by Atwater FFA graduate Amanda Skidmore who inspired and led the students at Atwater High School in “Operation Christmas Child. The program is coordinated through an organization called Samaritan’s Purse where school supplies, toys, and hygiene items are collected and placed in shoe boxes and distributed globally to impoverished countries.

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

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


Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members Abby Wilson, Kara Isham, Chelsea Thompson help organize gift boxes for the annual Operation Christmas Child event.

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“This was a school-wide and community effort,” said Guillen. “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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December 18, 2017

Merced County School Boards Association Offers Mini-Grants to Local Teachers

Teachers are continually seeking ways to expand learning opportunities for their students. While funding to provide these experiences isn't always available, the Merced County School Boards Association hopes to change that.
The Something For Kids Mini-Grant for 2017-2018 has been updated and now available for teachers in Merced County public schools to access.
John Magneson, assistant superintendent of Educational Services for the Merced County Office of Education, said this year up to $10,000 is available in mini-grants for county teachers through the Merced County School Boards Association. This organization includes trustees from the 20 local school districts, which serve the county's students from kindergarten through high school.
Generally speaking, Magneson said, grants awarded range from $500 to $3,000 and the number of grants

awarded will depend on the amounts requested by successful applicants.
The deadline to apply for these grants is Feb. 14.
These grants have been available for at least 21 years and likely longer, Magneson said.
"Most of the projects involve the purchase of resources that support the sciences – a mannequin to teach forensic sciences, a salmon growing aquarium, robotics – tools that enhance lessons and engage students in learning," Magneson said.
For more information on how to apply, visit https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CZ_0iDofEbAXu16h85nikxhBCPAfX_MQQnOM3eMeSxw/edit.

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December 16 , 2017

Cannabis fees, Town Hall dates before Council Monday


Setting fees for cannabis business permits and setting town hall dates are among the items on the City Council agenda for Monday night.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City’s cannabis business ordinance goes into effect Jan. 3 and Council is being asked to set fees for cannabis business permits and regulatory fees for commercial cannabis businesses.
Application fees would be set at $964 for the initial application, then $8,577 for dispensary applications and $6,250 for other cannabis business applications. The annual regulatory fees would range from $6,259 for testing labs to $18,193 for cultivation businesses that are up to 10,000 square-feet. Fees are based on staff time and costs.
Every year the Council hits the road and holds Town Hall meetings in South, Central and North Merced to hear from residents about issues and concerns that face them. The comments and ideas that come out of the meetings are used to help craft the annual budget.

Council will be asked to select dates for the upcoming Town Hall meetings and the dates will be publicized for residents.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to confer 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.

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December 16 , 2017

Costa Statement on Conference Committee Tax Bill

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to the tax bill reported out of the conference committee:

“Since being elected to Congress, reforming the U.S. tax code to make it fairer, simpler, and incentivize pro-growth investment in America’s economy has been one of my priorities. Our tax plan should not add to our national debt or deficit, and we must ensure that it does not unfairly benefit certain groups while asking other groups to carry a disproportionately high amount of the costs. This type of comprehensive tax reform must be done through a bipartisan, transparent, and deliberative policy process.

My Republican colleagues did not engage in an open process involving expert testimony or bipartisan negotiations, the results of which are seen in the overall quality of their tax bill and their inability to get a majority of Americans to support it. Yet, regardless of the rushed and partisan course Republicans have taken up to this point, I still take seriously my duty as a member of Congress and as a representative of the San Joaquin Valley. My staff and I will spend this weekend examining the tax bill reported out of the conference


Congressman Jim Costa

committee, paying especially close attention to the legislation’s expected effects on the national debt, America’s middle class, and the Valley’s agriculture system, economy, health care, students, and families.”

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December 15, 2017

New Police Officer Being Sworn In

Please join us on Monday, December 18th as Acting Chief, Chris Goodwin swears in our newest police officer – Coleman Elliott. The brief ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, and light refreshments will be served. Please come by and show your support for the newest addition to the MPD and City of Merced family.


Officer Coleman Elliott #262

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December 13 , 2017

Assemblyman Adam Gray & Senator Cannella to Host Annual Holiday Open House Dec 20th

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) will continue their annual tradition of hosting a holiday open house at Gray’s Merced District office located at 690 W. 16th Street in Merced.

This is the fifth year of the bi-partisan gathering and constituents are encouraged to come for a brief legislative discussion and quality time with their representatives. Attendees are requested to bring an unwrapped toy donation for needy families in Merced County. The social will take place from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on Wednesday, December 20th. For more information, please call 209-726-5465.


Assemblymember Adam C. Gray represents the 21st Assembly District

Senator Anthony Cannella represents the 12th Senate District

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December 12, 2017

FFA Students Treated Like Kings

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Being an FFA member involves events and activities that extend beyond agriculture. Some of the opportunities involve recreational activities that encompass friendship and new experiences. Members of the Atwater FFA traveled to Sacramento this past week for an NBA game featuring the Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors. 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 efforts this past Fall.

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 Shelby West. In addition to the game, the Sacramento Kings provided the students an opportunity to attend a VIP Question and Answer session after the game. Sacramento Kings’ Frank Mason III spoke following the game and talked to the students while signing autographs and taking pictures. “I give credit to Frank Mason in going beyond expectations after the game and allowing EVERY student an opportunity to meet him, take photos, and get autographs,” said Atwater FFA advisor Dave Gossman. “He showed a lot of class and made the experience for our students one they will always remember.”


Atwater High School FFA member Sidney Miller was one of many Atwater FFA students who got to meet Sacramento Kings' player Frank Mason III following the basketball game.


Members of the Atwater High School FFA attended the Sacramento Kings vs the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball game this past week where most students experienced their first professional sporting event.

 

 

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

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 .


Atwater High School agriculture instructor Sheby West and Atwater High School FFA member Callie Norton gather at the famous Sacramento Kings cowbell during the recent game between the Kings and the Raptors.

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December 12, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM AUGUST AVENUE
TO BRADBURY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close State Route 165 (SR-165) from August Avenue in Hilmar to Bradbury Road for 11 hours for construction work.

Work is scheduled beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 18, 2017, until 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.

Detours are as follows:

Traveling Northbound on SR-165
1. Turn right on August Avenue
2. Turn left on Golf Link Road
3. Turn left on Bradbury Road
4. Turn right on northbound SR-165

Traveling Southbound on SR-165
1. Turn left on Bradbury Road
2. Turn right on Golf Link Road
3. Turn right on August Avenue
4. Turn left on southbound SR-165

There will still be local access on SR-165 between August Avenue and Bradbury Road.
This work is part of a project realigning a segment of SR-165 at the intersection with Fowler Avenue. The project involves realigning Fowler Avenue, installing left-turn pockets for both the northbound and southbound directions, and widening the shoulders in each direction on SR-165.
The widening will require drainage work, utility relocation, acquisition of new right of way and improved truck turning at the intersection.
This project will improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.
Motorists should expect 10 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 COMPLETES 30-MILE REPAVING PROJECT
ON STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed an $11.5 million project to repave the existing roadway, shoulders and intersections on State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-99 in Merced to SR-33 in Gustine.

The project also included upgrading 16 curb ramps in Merced.

This 30 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement, in both cities and rural areas in the region, and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

Due to Senate Bill 1, more projects like this one will begin across the state to improve roadways. Caltrans broke ground on 13 pavement projects this summer and is expediting the design of an additional 50 projects that will break ground over the next year.
Caltrans would like to extend our appreciation to motorists for their patience and understanding during this project.

 

 

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

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December 9 , 2017



MERCED RESIDENTS SUPPORT PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICES
RESIDENTS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY

Merced, CA – A recently commissioned independent survey shows Merced residents are concerned about crime, poverty, and homelessness. Nearly 50% of residents believe that local parks are unsafe at night, and 62% believe that crime in general has increased over the last few years. As a result, many residents prioritized protecting, maintaining, and expanding public safety services as services the City should focus on.
The community survey was conducted October 24th through October 29th, 2017 by opinion research firm FM3 Research, who has extensive experience polling in the Central Valley.
Residents expressed strong support for the City’s public safety services, with residents prioritizing services such as responding quickly to neighborhood fires, retaining qualified police officers, and preventing gang activity in the City.
“Over the last few years, we have taken the initiative on protecting our residents’ safety, by expanding local neighborhood police patrols, responding quickly to 911 emergencies, and working hard to keep our children out of gangs,” said Acting Merced Police Chief Christopher Goodwin. “We will continue to build on our success, and keep our neighborhoods safe, clean, and secure.”


Residents expressed support for other public safety services, including improving 911 emergency response times and bringing the City’s fire department in line with national best practices. Said Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson, “National best practice standards recommend 7 fire stations for a city of our size. With only 5 fire stations located far from where they are most needed, our city isn’t in compliance with recommended professional safety standards.” He added, “We must work diligently to find the resources to ensure that everyone in Merced can receive fire and medical responses quickly.”
“We look forward to continuing to discuss our vital community service needs and evaluating how best to maintain these services, particularly public safety and the growing challenge of addressing our homeless and poverty situation,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “Over the coming months, we will continue to engage the community to develop long-term strategies that maintain the high quality services our residents expect and deserve.”
For the survey results, go to the City’s home page at www.cityofmerced.org.

Contact: City Manager Steve Carrigan (209) 325-9810
For questions regarding survey methodology, contact pollster Curtis Below at (510) 451-9521

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December 8, 2017

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

The Merced City School District took the top slot in both the elementary and junior high Merced County Spelling Bees this week.
Nikhil Parikh, a 6th grader at Sheehy Elementary School, and Daniel Chen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School both won their respective spelling bees. Both Parikh and Chen took first place in each spelling bee last year, as well.
During the elementary bee, Parikh clinched the first place position when the other remaining spellers were knocked out of the competition with the word sacrilegious. Additional words were then given to determine 2nd and 3rd place until the final word stumped the remaining students.
The elementary spelling bee was held Dec. 6 at the Atwater Community Center and the junior high spelling bee was held Dec. 7 at the Merced County Office of Education.
Ninety-four students, grades 4, 5 and 6, from 47 elementary schools competed in the elementary bee and 32 students, grades 7 and 8, from 16 junior high schools competed in the junior high bee.
Kathy Niino, English Language Arts coordinator at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the elementary competition and Stacy Shasky, Teacher Induction Program coordinator at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the junior high competition.
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: Resuscitate

1st Place
Nikhil Parikh – 6th Grade
Sheehy Elementary, Merced City School District

2nd Place
Nicole Nguyen – 6th Grade
Burbank Elementary, Atwater Elementary School District

3rd Place
Samika Judge – 6th Grade
R.M. Miano Elementary, Los Banos Unified School District


Junior High Winners:

Final Word: Hachures

1st Place
Daniel Chen – 8h Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District

2nd Place
Janie Vue – 8th Grade
Rivera Middle School, Merced City School District

3rd Place
Luke Almeda – 7th Grade
Cruickshank Middle School, Merced City School District



From left, second place elementary winner Nicole Nguyen from Burbank in Merced, first place elementary winner Nikhil Parikh from Sheehy in Merced and third place elementary winner Samika Judge from R.M. Miano in Los Banos. This is the second year in a row Parikh took the top slot for the elementary competition.


From left, second place junior high winner Janie Vue from Rivera in Merced, first place winner Daniel Chen from Cruickshank in Merced and third pace winner Luke Almeda from Cruickshank. This is the second year in a row Chen took the top slot for the junior high competition.

 


Students compete in the Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee on Dec. 6 at the Atwater Community Center.


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December 8 , 2017

Assemblyman Adam Gray: Need Real Changes for Water Future

Everything is On Table For California's Water Future

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Now is the time to unite and plan California's water infrastructure. That’s what Adam Gray told California Ag Today recently. Gray is the California State Assembly representing the 21st Assembly District, Merced and Stanislaus Counties. He said there is an urgent need for unification in regards to California's water and the need for real changes to be made for future generations.
“It's that famous quote, ‘Water's for fighting. Whiskey's for drinking.’ All we do is spend our time fighting, and we cannot continue to divide the pie. We have to grow the pie. That means targeted, intelligent investments in storage, projects like Temperance Flat, projects like Sites Reservoir,” Gray explained.
It is hoped that these reservoirs get California through years of drought, and will help us utilize water and years of heavy rain.
“It also means recycling, groundwater recharge, desal, and it means communities working together to make sure we have the conveyance systems in place to move that water around and meet the need of every Californian, and stop forcing people into false choices,” Gray said.


Assemblyman Adam C. Gray

“The environment versus drinking water for schools. These are false choices. We can do better, we can do more,” he continued.
“We, as Californians, need to look past the short term into the long term. It's important to look out for future generations and keep their needs in mind, as well,” Gray said.
“There's no silver bullet solution, as is true with anything. There are always costs of doing business, there are always compromises to be made, if we can agree on the target.” he noted. “And the target being meeting the needs of not just of this generation, not just today, but of our children's generation and our grand-children's."
“We need to make the same smart, significant investments that our grandparents made to provide us with this great economy that we have here in this great agricultural valley,” Gray said.

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December 8 , 2017

California Department of Education Unveils New Dashboard Accountability Website

The California Department of Education announced today the launch of the fall 2017 California School Dashboard, a website that provides valuable information on multiple topics regarding school and student performance in an easy-to-understand report card format.
Instead of relying only on test scores like the previous accountability system, this new method gives easy-to-understand information, including high school graduation rates, career and college readiness, English learner progress and suspension rates, while still incorporating test scores.
The launch follows a pilot version released in March. The release of the Dashboard coincides with the unveiling of a new Statewide System of Support for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and schools that provides assistance for all districts, but has special targeted support for districts that face significant challenges in lifting the performance of struggling student groups.
The Dashboard is a key component of the changes underway in California schools aimed at preparing our students for college and careers in a rapidly changing economy. These include higher academic standards, high quality tests, more local control over funding decisions and more resources for those with the greatest needs, including English learners, foster youth and those from low-income families. The system has a focus on equity and is designed to shine a light on the students who need the most help.
“Annual updates to the Dashboard will measure improved outcomes for all students, with a strong focus on those students who have traditionally been underserved. Continuous improvement leads to improved outcomes for all students that, in turn, lead to a narrowing of the achievement gap,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen.
County offices of education in California will serve as a resource for school districts, providing assistance and support in areas identified by the new Dashboard.
COEs will work alongside local districts to identify strengths and challenges and assist them by providing guidance and support necessary to achieve an


ongoing process of continuous improvement.
The California School Dashboard incorporates a total of six state performance indicators and four local indicators. The six state indicators are:

• Academic, which includes results on standardized tests
• Career/College Readiness
• English Learner Progress
• Graduation Rate
• Suspension Rate
• Chronic Absenteeism

Local educational agencies and schools receive one of five color-coded performance levels for each state indicator for all students and for each student group. The performance standards are based on status — how each school or district fared last year, and change — how much they have improved or declined over time. Schools are rated based on a combination of these measures and assigned one of five performance levels. From highest to lowest, the categories are: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red. Because data on chronic absenteeism and career/college readiness will be displayed for the first time, schools and districts will not receive a color-coded evaluation on those indicators.
To view the Dashboard, visit www.caschooldashboard.org.

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December 7, 2017

Costa Continues Holiday Tradition, Collecting Cards for Servicemembers and Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) launched his annual holiday card drive for San Joaquin Valley servicemembers and veterans. In what is now a yearly tradition, Congressman Costa collects holiday cards at his Fresno and Merced district offices to be delivered to servicemembers and veterans receiving care at the VA Medical Center in Fresno. In addition to inviting residents of California’s 16th Congressional District to mail or drop cards off at his district offices, Rep. Costa also partners with local elementary schools in Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties, collecting handmade cards from Valley students for these Valley heroes.

“Our servicemembers, veterans, and their families sacrifice so much to protect our freedom, and it is important that we let them know that we value them and everything they do,” said Costa. “That’s why I hold the holiday card drive every year, to encourage people across our district to join in showing their gratitude, and to make sure veterans and servicemembers in our Valley know just how thankful and appreciative we are for them.”

Cards can be dropped off or mailed to Congressman Costa’s district offices through December 21st. All cards should be signed with a few lines of appreciation and placed in unsealed, unaddressed envelopes. Please refrain from purchasing or making cards that include glitter. Cards cannot containpictures or illustrations of guns, blood, war scenes, or death. If mailing cards,


Congressman Jim Costa

please place cards in a separate envelope and send to Rep. Costa’s Fresno office at:

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.

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December 6, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE – RAMPS OPEN
STATE ROUTE 33 BRIDGE OVERCROSSING
INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the State Route 33 (SR-33) bridge at Interstate 5 (I-5) for 43 continuous hours for repairs. All ramps will remain open during the closure.

Work is scheduled beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday, December 8, 2017, until 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, 2017.

Detours are as follows:

Traveling Northbound on SR-33 to continue on SR-33 (north of I-5)
1. Take Southbound I-5
2. Take Eastbound SR-152 off-ramp (loop)
3. Take Northbound I-5 on-ramp (loop)
4. Continue on Northbound I-5
5. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on SR-33 to continue on SR-33 (south of I-5)
1. Take Northbound I-5
2. Take SR-140 off-ramp
3. Turn left on SR-140
4. Take Southbound I-5
5. Take Southbound SR-33

Traveling Northbound on I-5 to access SR-33 (north of I-5):
1. Use normal off-ramp to SR-33 (north)

Traveling Northbound on I-5 to access SR-33 (south of I-5):
1. Take Westbound SR-152 off-ramp (loop)
2. Continue on Westbound SR-152
3. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on I-5 to access SR-33 (north of I-5):
1. Take Southbound I-5
2. Take Eastbound SR-152 off-ramp (loop)
3. Take Northbound I-5 on-ramp (loop)
4. Continue on Northbound I-5
5. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on I-5 to access SR-33 (south of I-5):
1. Use normal off-ramp to SR-33 (south)

This rehabilitation project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be escorted across the bridge to ensure safety during construction.

Emergency vehicles may be escorted across by the California Highway Patrol if required.

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.


 

FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE – POSTPONED
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM AUGUST AVENUE
TO BRADBURY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has postponed the closure of State Route 165 (SR-165) originally scheduled beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, December 11, 2017, until 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

A date for the closure has not yet been determined.

The closure is scheduled for northbound and southbound SR-165 from August Avenue in Hilmar to Bradbury Road.

This work is part of a project realigning a segment of SR-165 at the intersection with Fowler Avenue. The project involves realigning Fowler Avenue, installing left-turn pockets for both the northbound and southbound directions, and widening the shoulders in each direction on SR-165.
The widening will require drainage work, utility relocation, acquisition of new right of way and improved truck turning at the intersection.
This project will improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.
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 5 , 2017

Early Literacy Key to Academic Success

By Steve M. Tietjen, Ed.D.
Merced County Superintendent of Schools

A child’s capability to read and write is paramount to their success in school and life.

As an educator for nearly four decades, I see firsthand how students who are more literate are successful in their school work, better prepared and ready to learn. As a parent and grandparent, I believe in the importance of reading to children and instilling the love of reading at an early age.

A troubling statistic is that one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read. That’s right — 25 percent of children grow up without the ability to read adequately. Studies have shown that poverty rates and illiteracy rates have a direct correlation.

Research during the past few decades has confirmed that students who struggle with schoolwork likely have a deficit in their reading ability. That is, their reading achievement stalls near the third-grade level. These are the students who continue to struggle with school and career success. Though there are outreach programs that target adult literacy, identifying and supporting remediation for a reading deficit is most effectively addressed at the earliest ages.

We must do more to give young children access to books and other reading materials if they are going to be successful students that grow into successful adults.

That’s why the Merced County Office of Education is working with the Merced County Housing Authority and school districts across the county to ensure students have increased access to books.

The Little Lending Library program aims to provide students localized access to reading materials in regions where children aren’t able to easily access books. MCOE installed the first of many libraries at the Felix Torres Farm Worker Housing Center in Planada in October. These little libraries will give students and adults the opportunity to check out a book from one of three age-appropriate library “houses” with reading levels ranging from preschool to adult. When they are finished with one book, they can exchange it for another book.

These houses are constructed and installed by Merced and Los Banos Valley Community School students as a part of their construction trades class. This class is meant to expand students’ use of modern construction technology equipment, while also providing them with hands-on working experience. While helping literacy efforts in Merced County, these students are also learning real-world skills.

One of the most significant factors influencing a child’s early education success is an introduction to books and the ability to read at home prior to a formal education in a school setting. We hope that the Little Lending Libraries will do just that and empower students and adults alike with the magic of a good story. By providing families access to books, we can change the culture of our county.

MCOE is looking for support to install nearly 100 of these Little Lending Libraries throughout the county. Each library costs $100 to construct and our goal is to install about 100 of them countywide. The Merced County Education Foundation is planning outreach efforts aimed at the entire community to get this project off and running.

Let’s work together to foster a love of reading throughout the community and give our children access to books and a pathway to success.

For more information on how you can help, contact MCOE Coordinator Matt Edwards at medwards@mcoe.org.


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December 5, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Embark on Public Speaking Opportunities

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Thirteen Atwater High School agriculture students participated and competed in the annual Mariposa FFA Creed and Impromptu Public Speaking contest held at Mariposa High School on December 2nd. 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!”

Freshman agriculture student Nandani Perez led Atwater FFA with a 2nd place finish in the Creed contest. The FFA Creed contest involves 1st year agriculture students reciting the FFA Creed followed by a question and answer format from a panel of judges. Atwater FFA’s Adriana Espinosa (4th place), Kendra Schonwald, Supreet Gandhoke also competed and put forth a strong effort in the competition.

Sophomore Atwater FFA member Cristal Venegas had a 3rd place finish in the Impromptu contest. The contest involves students having 1 minute to prepare a 2 minute speech pertaining to an agriculture related topic. Other members that competed were Litzy Suastigui, Michael Bray, Emmanuel Mejia, Marissa Nuno, Hayley Vargas, and Luz Soto.


Thirteen Atwater High School agriculture students comprised of Nandani Patel, Daisy Flores Mota, Adriana Espinosa, Jasmine Sandoval, Marissa Nuno, Litzy Saustigui, Michael Bray, Hayley Vargas, Cristal Venegas, Luz Soto, Kendra Schonwald, Emmanuel Mejia, and Supreet Ganhok) participated in the annual Mariposa FFA Public Speaking Contest held at Mariposa High School.

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

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

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

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December 5 , 2017

Warming Center is open again

The Merced Rescue Mission has opened its Warming Center again this year. The Center is open from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. today through March 31 at its Merced Avenue location.
The Warming Center is open when the D Street Shelter is full, along with temperatures forecast to be below 40 degrees, or rain or dense fog.
The Mission is providing transportation to the Center. Those needing a ride

are asked to be at D and 15th at 8 p.m. They will be returned to that location at 6 a.m.
Funding is provided by a Community Development Block Grant provided through the City of Merced.
For more information call 209-722-9269.

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December 2, 2017

Cannabis tax discussion before Council Monday

As an ordinance creating cannabis businesses goes up for final approval Monday night, the City Council also will be asked for direction regarding a potential ballot measure for a cannabis tax.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City had been on track to create an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the City after approval Aug. 1, 2016. However, in November of that year, California voters passed Proposition 64, the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” which legalized recreational cannabis.
The ordinance before the City Council would allow both medical and recreational cannabis sales, along with delivery services, manufacturing, commercial cultivation, testing labs and distribution businesses.
Council is being asked to provide staff with direction on placing a ballot measure on the June 5 or Nov. 6 ballot for the taxation of cannabis sales and commercial activity within the City limits. Based on previous ballot measures, the cost to place the tax measure on the ballot would be approximately $20,000.

Also on the agenda is the second reading of the ordinance adopting regulations for commercial cannabis businesses in Merced. If approved by the Council the ordinance would go into effect Jan. 3.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to confer 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.

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December 1, 2017

Burbank Receives Buddy Bench

Students at Burbank Elementary in Merced now have a special place to go during recess if they’re feeling lonely or just want to make new friends. It’s a buddy bench donated by Pizza Factory.
The company’s C.E.O., Mary Jane Riva, and marketing director, Mary Kay Haas, presented the bench to the school on Wednesday. They were also joined by the owners of Merced’s Pizza Factory, Alok and Bhavna Shukla, whose children attend Burbank.
Riva explained that the bench is a place where children can sit any time they are feeling left out or can use a friend. Other students are encouraged to go reach out to that classmate and help them to feel included.
Bhavna Shukla says, “It’s very important to us as a family to donate this and to have a corporation and a franchise that thinks that this is so important.”
Principal Jill Settera says she and her staff are extremely grateful for the bench, which ties in with the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) system. It also complements the Burbank Dolphins’ “SWIM” motto, which stands for “Show respect, Work hard, Interact positively, and Make a difference.”
Pizza Factory is donating buddy benches to schools in each of the 110 communities where it has a franchise.


Pizza Factory CEO Mary Jane Riva speaks to Burbank Elementary students about their new buddy bench



A look at the new buddy bench at Burbank Elementary


The owners of Merced’s Pizza Factory and their children unveil a new buddy bench at Burbank Elementary on Wednesday


Burbank Principal Jill Settera, Learning Director Sarah Medlin, Pizza Factory CEO Mary Jane Riva, Marketing Director Mary Kay Haas, along with Merced Pizza Factory owners Bhavna and Alok Shukla and their children, Neel and Neha (who are both Burbank students)

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December 1, 2017


Costa Joins Bipartisan Efforts to Continue and Strengthen Environmental Clean-up Program

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3017, the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017, with a vote of 409 to 8. If enacted, the bill will expand and increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, which provides grants for the clean-up and revitalization of properties polluted by industrial and other types of contaminants. The Brownfields Program has broad support as it works to clean up contaminated properties, helps make polluted and rundown land usable again, and often relieves pressure to develop pristine open land by providing the newly-usable land as a safe and viable alternative.

“The Brownfields Program has a track record of success, both in our San Joaquin Valley and across the U.S.,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who supports the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017.“In my district alone, we have 34 properties the program has helped to revitalize in Chowchilla, Fresno, Gustine, Livingston, Madera, and Merced, with Castle Air Force Base being perhaps the most notable. Castle Air Force Base was so contaminated with facility waste and hazardous chemicals it was designated a Superfund site, and now, thanks to the Brownfields Program, we have cleaned up the waste and chemicals and have 2,777 acres of clean, usable land. This program is widely supported by


Congressman Jim Costa

local and state governments, environmental and industry groups throughout the country, and Republicans and Democrats alike, so I hope the Senate passes this bill and we can see it signed into law soon.”

As of October 1, 2017, the Brownfields Program has made over 69,000 acres of land usable again. The legislation has strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously in support of the bill in June.

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December 1, 2017

MCAG seeking applications for committee appointments

MERCED - Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking applicants for appointment to the Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC). The SSTAC is a nine-member council appointed by the MCAG Governing Board to solicit the input of transit-dependent and transit disadvantaged persons regarding transit needs in Merced County. The SSTAC is convened annually, at minimum, for the Unmet Transit Needs process as required by the Transportation Development Act.
SSTAC members are appointed to serve a three-year term. The council is comprised of a broad representation of social service and transit providers representing the elderly, the handicapped, and persons of limited means while striving for geographic and minority representation. Currently, MCAG is seeking candidates for appointment to the council in the following areas:
? Social Service Transportation Provider for the Disabled
? Local Social Service Provider for Persons of Limited Means
? Local Social Service Transportation Provider for Seniors
Applications for the SSTAC can be obtained at www.mcagov.org or at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street, Merced. For more information, please contact Natalia Austin at (209)723-3153 x 127 or natalia.austin@mcagov.org.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

 


Operation Holiday Toy Drive

MERCED- The Transit Joint Powers Authority, The Bus will once again partner with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office and Merced County Human Services Agency for the Operation Holiday Toy Drive “Stuff The Bus” to benefit children in Merced County.
The Bus will be located at the Walgreens parking lot on the corner of G Street and Olive Avenue in Merced on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 8:00am-2:00pm to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys from the public. Cash donations, as well as, new coats and blankets will also be accepted.
“We are happy to be part of such a great program again this year,” said Transit Director Artis Smith. “Our goal is to stuff the bus with gifts so we can help make this holiday season special for children in Merced County.”
For those who are interested in donating but unable to make it to the toy drive, barrel sites are located throughout the county, including The Bus administration office, 1810 K Street, Merced. All donations will benefit children in Merced County.
For more information about the toy drive, please contact CJ Jones with Merced County Human Services Agency at (209)385-3000 x 5285.

Click here to see flyer

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November 30, 2017


FORMER PRIEST PLEADS TO POSSESSION OF CHILD PORN

Former Catholic Priest Robert Gamel, 67, of Los Banos pled no contest in Merced County Superior Court on November 28, 2017 to felony possession of child pornography with a prior conviction, and admitted to a violation of his probation, said Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II.
Gamel was previously convicted of possession of child pornography in May of 2016, and was sentenced to 11 months in jail and four years of probation.
During a routine probation search of his Merced home, probation officers found a single briefcase in an empty closet, and inside they located one manila envelope containing three child pornography images. The images were the same images, of the same victim, of which Gamel was convicted of possessing in 2016, but in printed form, according to Detective Eduardo Solis of the Los Banos Police Department.

"Both the Probation officers and the Officers of the Los Banos Police Department did a terrific job of working together to bring this case forward and see that justice is done,” said Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby, who prosecuted the case.
There was no plea deal offered to Gamel, who will be sentenced on January 4, 2018 in Department 3 of Merced County Superior Court and faces a maximum of six years and eight months in prison.

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November 28, 2017

Atwater Agriculture Students Showcase Their Project Skills

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Ten Atwater FFA Students participated in the FFA Local Project Compeition in preparation for the Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition. The Atwater High School agriculture students will be part of a hundred sectional finalists competing in the next two weeks throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties. Agriculture students will be recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. A SAE program is the actual, hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural classroom. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers, and other adults who assist them in development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

Earlier this month, various Atwater High School administrators and business representatives visited various FFA students at their homes and/or work place to learn about their projects. Students conducted a 15-20 minute overview presentation of their agricultural project and/or agricultural work experience. In addition, students were required to demonstrate a skill pertaining to their SAE. “This is an opportunity for students to showcase and demonstrate real-world life and employment skills they have learned and developed during their high school agriculture education tenure,” said Atwater High School Agriculture Sam Meredith.

The Atwater High School participants and their SAE projects were: Ana Lozano (poultry), Audrey Esau (equines and swine), Colby Flatt (poultry and work experience), Haley Hultgren (beef), Kaya Mattis (rabbits), Kendall Flatt (goats), Liliana Vargas (floral), Michael Bray (rabbit), Nick Giesbrecht (agriculture mechanics), and Zion Brigham (sheep).

Results from the sectional finals will take place during an awards banquet in February at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

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 Nick Giesbrecht demonstrates his woodworking and shop skills during the Atwater FFA Local Project Competition where students showcase their knowledge and industry-related agriculture skills to judges during the competition.


Atwater High School agriculture student Michael Bray (center) demonstrates and shares information regarding rabbit care and maintenance to Atwater High School Athletic Director Scott Wine and Atwater High School Agriculture Mechanics instructor Sam Meredith.

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November 28, 2017

MCOE to Host 2017-18 Merced County Elementary and Junior High Spelling Bees

The Merced County Office of Education will host two Merced County Spelling Bees next week in Atwater and Merced.
The 2017-18 Merced County Spelling Bees will be held Dec. 6 at the Atwater Community Center and Dec. 7 at MCOE.
Grades 4, 5 and 6 will compete beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 6 at the Atwater Community Center; and on Dec. 7 at 9 a.m., students in grades 7 and 8 will compete at MCOE’s Clark/Newbold conference rooms.
Kathy Niino, English Language Arts coordinator at MCOE, is the wordmaster for the elementary competition and Stacy Shasky, Teacher Induction Program coordinator at MCOE, is the wordmaster for the junior high competition.
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 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.
For more information about the Spelling Bees, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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November 22, 2017

City offices closed for the holiday

The City of Merced offices will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23 and 24.
There will be no refuse collection Thursday. Trash pickup will be delayed one day for the rest of the week. Thursday service will be on Friday and Friday customers will have their trash collected Saturday. Call Public Works at 385-6800 if you have questions about refuse service.

Enjoy the holidays and remember to designate a driver if there is alcohol going to be consumed.

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November 22, 2017

Costa Joins a Bipartisan Majority in House Urging Senate Action to Improve Career and Technical Education

FRESNO, CA – Last week 237 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, calling for the committee to take action on H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. There is strong bipartisan support for the legislation in the House, where it has 40 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle and passed unanimously on June 22nd. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has taken no action on the bill since it was referred to the committee after its passage in the House.

“Career and technical education programs have played a critical role in helping many of our young people find long-term employment or develop a career, especially in our rural and underserved communities,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who joined 236 of his House colleagues in sending the letter. “In our San Joaquin Valley, Madera Unified School District has twenty-two career pathways which include on-the-job training and education in multiple industry sectors. We have seen these programs make a real difference in the lives of our students. Companies and organizations across numerous industry sectors also support these programs, as they train students to be job-ready upon graduation. This legislation is good for our students, our communities, and our businesses, which is why we came together in the House – Republicans and Democrats – to pass this legislation in June, and why we are joining together to urge the Senate to act on this bill.”

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act aims to both modernize career and technical education (CTE) programs and fund grants for these programs through fiscal year 2023. In addition to other provisions, the bill calls for more input at the state and local level from teachers, school administrators, and industry representatives when developing and designing CTE programs. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will likely need to consider and vote on the legislation before the entire Senate votes on the bill, which is why the 237 members of the House sent their letter to the Senate committee.

The full text of the letter is below.


Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. As Members of Congress committed to increasing access to high-quality career and technical education (CTE), we respectfully request that the Senate HELP Committee begin consideration of this legislation.

If signed into law, H.R. 2353 will reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act for the first time since 2006, ensuring that the federal policy governing CTE is modern, robust and well-engineered. As you know, CTE plays an important role in the success of both traditional and non-traditional students and improves the profitability of all sectors of the American economy.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

 

Business owners depend on Perkins Act programs to bridge the skills gap and increase the number of job-ready candidates. Thanks to skills-based learning, employers can be confident that students will have the tools they need to succeed in a number of career pathways, including manufacturing, information technology (IT) and agriculture as they enter the job market.

With this in mind, we believe it is incumbent upon this body to pass legislation that will help millions of Americans access the skills and technical knowledge they need to build promising futures. We greatly appreciate your dedication to this issue and look forward to working in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to reauthorize the Perkins Act.

Thank you for your leadership and we look forward to your timely reply.

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Costa Statement on FCC Leadership’s Plan to Roll Back Net Neutrality Protections

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced his proposal to repeal net neutrality rules issued by the FCC in 2015:

“An open internet, with equal access for all, is important to our future. In our society and across the global economy, the internet has become an essential tool for businesses and individuals to connect, engage, innovate, raise their voice, and share their vision. Net neutrality is a principle that provides equal access to content, platforms, and websites. This is why I support net neutrality and why we need a stable policy that protects individual consumers, businesses, and all Americans equally.”

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November 21, 2017

Chief Andrade announces his retirement

After nearly 29 years on the Merced Police Department, Chief Norman Andrade has decided to retire from the force and put away his badge.
“I have enjoyed being an officer in Merced for three decades,” Andrade said, “However, now it is time to spend more time with my wife and my grandkids. I will miss all of the men and women in the Department, and all of my co-workers in the City, but it’s time for a new chapter in my life.”
Andrade, who has been Chief since August, 2009, announced his retirement Monday. His last day will be Dec. 31.
City Manager Steve Carrigan said Andrade has been a solid rock in the Department. “Norm has been an anchor in the Merced Police Department, dependable, reliable, steady, someone you can count on, day-in, day-out. He has years of institutional knowledge that is invaluable and will be impossible to replace. We are going to miss Chief Andrade both in the Department and in the City organization.”
“The Chief has been a great asset to the Department, the City and the community. I appreciate the hard work and devotion he has given,” Carrigan said. “Like all public safety officers, he has missed countless dinners, holidays and family events, now he can spend time with his wife and family in retirement and enjoy time with them.”
Mayor Mike Murphy said Andrade has been a key bridge to the Merced community. “Chief Andrade believes in community-oriented policing and has ties to a vast number of groups throughout the City. Whether it is attending the Hmong New Year or sitting at a neighborhood meeting in someone’s living room, the Chief believes in tearing down walls and opening doors between his Department and the community.”
No interim chief has been named, but Carrigan said he plans to have the interim shadow Andrade over the next six weeks.
Andrade joined the MPD in January 1989. Four years later he was promoted to a Senior Police Officer and in less than a year Corporal Andrade was patrolling the streets of Merced.
Andrade was promoted to Sergeant in 1997 and became a Commander in 2003.
Among the specialized schools he attended, Andrade is a graduate of the FBI Academy.


Merced Police Chief Norman Andrade

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November 21 , 2017

CALTRANS TO PARTICIPATE IN PUBLIC MEETING ON
SAFETY AND MOBILITY PROJECT IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is participating in a public meeting to discuss a potential project that would improve safety and efficiency for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the town of Santa Nella.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 30, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of Romero Elementary School at 13500 West Luis Road in Santa Nella. The presentation is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

This project, which would stretch 2.5 miles along State Route 33/Santa Nella Boulevard from the Delta-Mendota Canal to McCabe Road, would widen existing pavement to allow the installment of bike lanes and new sidewalks and curb ramps, and feature the reconstruction of existing curb ramps.

This project would be part of the Active Transportation Program (ATP), which focuses on promoting complete, safe and efficient streets on the state highway system. ATP increases the proportion of trips accomplished by biking and walking, increases safety and mobility for non-motorized users and enhances public health in general.

To join our contact list for updates, please e-mail District10PublicAffairs@dot.ca.gov with “Santa Nella Notify Me” in the subject line.


 


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

 

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November 20, 2017

Cannabis ordinance comes before Council Monday

An ordinance that would allow commercial cannabis businesses in Merced will go before the Merced City Council Monday night.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City had been on track to create an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the City after approval Aug. 1, 2016. However, in November of that year, California voters passed Proposition 64, the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” which legalized recreational cannabis.
The ordinance before the City Council would allow both medical and recreational cannabis sales, along with delivery services, manufacturing, commercial cultivation, testing labs and distribution businesses.
There is a limit of four dispensaries/retail sales outlets, but no limit on the number of other cannabis businesses. The ordinance does regulate where the businesses can be set up to keep them away from schools, youth centers and homes and within certain zones.
Under Proposition 64, people are allowed to grow up to six plants inside their homes and possess up to an ounce of marijuana that they can consume in private. It is still illegal to drive under the influence.

Also on the agenda is a request to refund the bonds at Bellevue Ranch West to take advantage of lower interest rates. The action could save property owners up to $930,000 over the next 19 years.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to confer 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.

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November 20 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED
TO BRADBURY ROAD IN DELHI

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue to Bradbury Road. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no scheduled road work for Thursday (November 23) or Friday (November 24). Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from Childs Avenue to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full connector-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 in Merced beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street in Merced beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from G Street to southbound SR-99 in Merced beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Merced beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from R Street to southbound SR-99 in Merced beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from Winton Parkway to northbound SR-99 in Livingston beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.


• Full on-ramp closure from Collier Road to northbound SR-99 in Delhi beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from South Avenue to northbound SR-99 in Delhi beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Shanks Road to southbound SR-99 in Delhi beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from Bradbury Road to southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 19, 2017, through Wednesday, November 22, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

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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November 17, 2017

The Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno honored the City of Merced today by placing the City logo on an F-15 Eagle Fighter. The plane’s new logo was unveiled today with the help of Merced Mayor Mike Murphy and Base Commander, Col. Reed Drake. Guardsmen from Merced were also honored during the ceremony.

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November 17, 2017

 

 

FFA Students Earn Their FFA Degrees

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

The Atwater FFA Chapter held its 39th annual Greenhand - Chapter FFA Degree Ceremony earlier this month at Atwater High School. The purpose of this annual event was to recognize over 600 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, Callie Norton opened the meeting and welcomed students, parents, and guests to the ceremony. In addition to the presentation of the FFA degrees, the 2017-2018 FFA Greenhand officer team was announced with Ulyette Curiel (President), Nandani Perez (Vice President), Elizabeth Carner (Secretary), Simarjot Gandhoke (Treasurer), Arly Gonzalez (Reporter), Lilian Sackett (Sentinel), Haley (Historian), and Biana Valencia (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.

Two hundred and thirty six FFA Greenhand degrees were eligible to be awarded with and 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 Adrian Acosta, Yureili Aguila Murguia, Alan Aguilar, Anthony Aguilar, Charles Aguilar, Christina Aguilar, Esperanza Aguilar, Martin Aguilar, Vanessa Aguilar Garibay, Fabian Aguilar-Garcia, Antonio Aguirre, Karina Aguirre, Jessica Agundis, Cecilia Ahumada, Madison Ainslie, Joseph Alaniz, Sergio Alcazar, Andres Alcocer, Bryan Alcocer, Guadalupe Aleman, Nancy Almaras, Sonia Almaras-Anaya, Marco Alvarado, Stephanie Eileen Alvares, Isaiah Alvarez, Jasmin Isabella Amezcua, Alejandra Anguiano Lopez, Adrian Aparicio- Sanchez, Celina Arellano, Lizbeth Arias, Ricardo Arreola, Guillermo Arroyo, Guillermo Arroyo, Jaime Arroyo, Oscar Arroyo, Priscila Arroyo, Briana Arteaga, Brianda Arteaga, Isaac Arzola, Zachary Atkisson, Adrian Avila, Andres Avila, Oswaldo Avila, Grecia Ayala, Keanu Bado, Alma Barboza, Jesus Diaz, Evan Duarte, Jay Dugdale, Destiny Duggan, Isaac Duran, Kayla Duran, Markus Duran, Mikeal Duran, Sarai Duran Lopez, Peyton England, Austin Escobar, Megan Escobar, Oralia Espino, Adriana Espinosa, Alyssa Espinoza, Jimmy Espinoza, Angelo Espinoza - Rodriguez, Jose Fajardo, Shelli Faulk, Aileen Fierros ,Isaac Figueroa, Syvanah Fink, Kendall Flatt, Angel Flores, Angel Flores, Gizell Flores, Manuel Flores, Sera Flores Campanario, Felipe Fonseca, Kiana Fox, Jaquelin Franco, Adam Freitas, Franklin Fuller, Elaisha Gaeta, Benjamin Gallegos, Noemy Galvan-Moreno, Supreet Gandhok, Simarjot Gandhoke, Jessica Garcia, Luis Garcia, Natalie Garcia, Rosemary Garcia, Rosendo Garcia, Vanessa Garcia, David Garibay, Karla Garibay, Madelyn Garibay, Marisol Garibay, Patsy Garibay, Armando Garibay Rios, Elisabeth Garner, Kristina Gaut, Linda Gaytan, Daisy Godoy, Marley Gonzales, Ariana Gonzalez, Arly Gonzalez, Fabian Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Guadalupe Gonzalez, Jesus Gonzalez, Manuel Gonzalez, Miguel Gonzalez, Naomy Gonzalez, Rosa Gonzalez, Thalia Gonzalez, Vincent Gonzalez, Maria Gonzalez- Gomez, Johnathan Govia, Natalie Griffin, Jesus Gudino, Andres Guijosa, Gisela Guillen, Javier Guillen, Aziel Gutierrez, Gilbert Gutierrez, Julian Gutierrez, Natalie Gutierrez, Robin Gutierrez, Jesus Gutierrez-Perez, Angela Guzman, Joniel Guzman, Jose Guzman, Estevan Guzman Campos, Allison Hall, Kaleb Hand, Taylor Harpine, Logan Hazel, Natalia Helms, Alexia Hernandez, America Hernandez, America Hernandez, Catarino Hernandez, Dayana Hernandez, Emmanuel Hernandez, Enrique Hernandez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Hernandez, Miranda Hernandez, Xitlali Hernandez,
Hector Hernandez Valencia, Jimena Hernandez- Rodriguez, Logan Herrera, Sarha Herrera, Elijah Hill, Everett Hill, Micah Hise, Andrecya Hollins, Eduardo Huerta, Isaac Huerta, Tatiana Huerta, Haley Hultgren, Yvette Hurtado, David Ibarra, Diego Ibarra, Alexis Inacio, Jacqueline Iniguez, Edgar Isguerra, Yovani Jaime, Hannah Jenkins, Malachi Jensen, Miguel Jimenez, Cervantes, Anai Jiorge, Ivan Jiorge, Yeraldy Joaquin, Hinojosa, Destiny Johnson, Shaelaeugh Johnson, Dakota Jones, Malachi Jones, Alondra Landa, America Lara, Julian Ledezma, Nevaeh Leyba, Adriana Lopez, Alejandro Lopez, Alex Lopez, Daniel Lopez, Roque Lopez, Jennifer Lopez Garcia, Jennifer Lopez Garcia, Kristi Lopez-Loaiza, Jesus Lopez-Medina, Leslie Loza, Jose Lozano, Diego Lua, Gabriella Lucas, Jonathan Luciano, Maria Lugo, Kevin Lupian Velez, Zoe Machuca, Jacob Macias, Jakelyn Macias, Fidelmar Madrigal, Jasmine Madrigal, Juan Madrigal, Diana Madrigal- Hernandez,
Cesar Madriz Santiago, Vinea Magallanes, Emilano Magana, Alex Magdaleno, Diana Maldonado, Eric Maldonado, Natalie Manzo, Adam Martin, Beatriz Martinez, Esmeralda Martinez, Jacqueline Martinez, Osvaldo Martinez, Tania Martinez, Edwin Martinez-Juarez, Angelica Mata ,Francisco Mata, Danny McCullough, Kayla McNutt ,Danielle McPhee, Gonzalo Medina, Sandra Medina, Yoselin Medina, Hector Medina-Valencia, David Mejia, Leopoldo Mejia-Sigala, Patricia Mena, Alexa Mendivil, Anthony Mendoza, Brianna Mendoza, Cristian Mendoza, Nohemi Mendoza, Carlos Mendoza, Adrian Mercado, Belen Mercado, Guillermo Mojica, Ivan Molina, Cristal Mondragon, Jared Mooneyham, Nathaniel Moore, Diego Mora, Jennyfer Mora, Estefania Moreno, Gabriela Moreno, Jaime Moreno, Jose Moreno, Bryan Moreno-Soto, Isabel Murillo, Jose Murillo, Juan Murillo, Daniel Narez, Ariana Navarrete, Maria Navarro, Maritza Navarro, Jose Navarro-Agraz, Enrique Negrete, Bryan Nolazco, Adilene Noriega Campos, Gillienne Nutt, Jesus Ochoa, Christina Ogle, Erick Olivares, Omar Olivera, Raul Olivera, Imelda Olmos, Mark Olmos, Adrian Ornelas, Julian Ornelas, Clarissa Orozco, Elias Orozco, Jose Orozco, Alexus Ortega, Ivan Ortega, Francisco Ortiz, Jaqueline Oseguera, Viviana Oseguera, Esgardo Padilla, Evelyn Padilla, German Padilla, Patricia Papin, Dylan Parga, Camille Parker, Simon Parker, Nandani Patel, Julius Peacock, Pauline Peavy, Ginger Pemberton, Agustin Pena, Michell Pena, Alejandro Pena-Alvarado, Emmanuel Peral, Joseph Pereira, Alyssa Perez, Antonio Perez, Jorge Perez, Juan Perez, Noah Perez, Oscar Perez, Saul Perez, Denisse Perez Garcia, Cesar Perez-Espinoza, Hannah Peterson-Padilla, Mallory Pickle ,Zachary Pickle, Perla Ponce, Braulio Portillo, Isaac Prado – Perez Debbie Pulido, Melisa Pulido, Genesis Quezada, Jacqueline Quezada, Ulixis Quezada, Samuel Quezada Ayala, Angel Quintero, Seth Radford, Alejandro Ramirez, Alfonso Ramirez, Anaie Ramirez, Joel Ramirez, Lizbeth Ramirez-Inda, Alberto Ramos, Andrew Ramos, Angel Ramos, Arturo Ramos, Mayah Rankin, Caden Regalado, Brandon Reyes, Alexis Reyes Reyes, Cody Rhoads, Jacob Rhodes, Favian Richards, Gilbert Rios, Paola Rivera, Joseph Rivero, Anthony Robles, Ruby Rocha, Abraham Rodriguez, Dianna Rodriguez, Emily Rodriguez, Jayleene Rodriguez, Jerry Rodriguez, Jesus Rodriguez, Roman Rodriguez, Zulema Rodriguez, Alyssa Rojas, Yajahira Rojas, Lizbeth Rojas-Perez,Marisol Romo Franco, Cruz Rosales, Sergio Rubio, Ismael Ruelas, Maria Ruelas, Daniela Ruiz, Escarleth Ruiz Cruz, Summer Russell, Anthony Russo, Samari Russo, Fernando Ruvalcaba, Lillian Sackett, Lizbeth Salas, Jose Salcedo-Ortiz ,Mohammed Saleh, Rafael Salgado, Nancy Salmeron, Evelyn Sanabria, Alexis Sanchez, David Sanchez, Gerald Sanchez, Guillermo Sanchez, Saray Sanchez, Stefanie Sanchez, Grecia Sanchez Aviles, Brenda Sanchez


Atwater High School agriculture students Nandani Patel, Adriana Espinoza, and Erika Silva showcase their "green hands" as part of the FFA Greenhand Degree activities that took place during the annual FFA degree ceremonies.


Atwater High School agriculture students Arly Gonzalez, Daniel Lopez, Dakota Jones, and Jasmin Amezcua participate in the "green" hand-dying activity representing their accomplishment earning the FFA Greenhand Degree as a first year FFA member and high school agriculture student.


Greenhand.Chapter Officers - Atwater High School FFA members Jasmine Sandoval, Anessa Cardenas, Ulyette Curiel, Nandani Patel, Elizabeth Garner, Dillon Guillen, Zion Brigham, Simarjot Gandhoke, Arly Gonzalez, Grace Reyes, Jnathan Garcia, Lilian Sacket, Briana Valencia, Stephania Valdovinos, and Haley Hultgren gather as 2017-2018 FFA Greenhand and Chapter Officers during the recent FFA degree ceremony.

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Madriz, Santiago Sanchez Madriz, Aimee Sanchez- Fernandez, Anthony Sandoval, Giovanni Sandoval, Juan Sandoval, Michael Sandoval, Wendy Sandoval, Yulissa Sandoval, Yulissa Sandoval, Rodolfo Sanguino, Michell Santacruz, Daisy Santana, Aaron Santellan, Adilene Santos, Gladys Santoyo, Jocelyn Santoyo, Brian Sarabia, Patience Sargent, Kendra Schonwald, David Shadel, Wyatt Shambaugh, Miguel Sigala, Mayra Silva, Rafael Silva, Sophie Silva, Summer Silva, Summer Silva, Haylee Silveira, Makayla Silveira, Robert Smid, Danelle Smith, James Smith, Isaac Soria, Seth Soriano, Ambrose Soto, Manuel Soto, Nicholas Southworth, Kelvyn Sterling, Alexander Stout, Jose Talavera, Neha Tamber, Gabriel Tapetillo, Natalie Tapia, Frank Tejeda, Madison Templeman, Haleigh Thomas, Llaneth Tinajero, Rose Tobias-Bautista, Eduardo Torres, Freddy Torres, Rodolfo Torres, Leslie Trejo,Steven Turner, Sarai Uriostegui, Mayra Valdez, Adrian Valencia, Kelsey Valencia, Brianna Valencia Cuevas, Elizabeth Valle, Amy Vang, Jaelyn Vang, Joshua Vann, Aidan Vargas, Federico Vargas, Joel Vargas, Kathy Vargas, Nathaniel Vargas, Elizabeth Vasquez, Saul Vasquez, Osvaldo Vazquez, Yuliana Vazquez, Jose Vazquez-Alaniz, Adrian Vega, Daniel Vega, Joseph Vega, Jennifer Velazquez, Jonathan Velazquez, Adrian Veloz, Arely Venegas, Angeles Vera, Isaac Vera, Maria Vera, Luis Vicente, Abbi Vierra, Eric Villa, Viviana Villa, Jonathan Villagrana, Ricardo Villalobos, Alonso Villanueva Serrano, Ninel Villasenor, Ziana Villegas, Juan Virrueta, Teresavirrueta Mendoza ,Osbaldo Vizcaino, Rylie Wagner, Stetsen Wagner, Faith Ward, Allison Warnock, David Warren, Sydney Weimer, Jennifer Wey, Kaleb Williams, Pearl Xiong, Jeremy Zambrano, Cristian Zamora, Isaiah Zamora, Gabriela Zapien, Vanessa Zaragoza, Ricardo Zavala Valdez, Araceli Zuniga, Benjamin Zuniga, Braulio Zuniga.
Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were Maria Aguayo, Anthony Aguilar, Seth Aguilar, Fatima Agundis, Flor Agundis, Daniel Ahumada, David Alatorre, Kelly Alcaraz, William Alvara, Victoria Alvarado, Mayraedith Alvarez, Yobani Alvarez, Daniela Alvarez-Mora, Jennifer Ambriz, Mayra Angeles, Stefanie Anguiano, Albanie Aparicio, Gavin Archer, Azul Arellano, Dayana Argueta, Gabriela Arias, Eduardo Arroyo, Adrian Arroyo Saephanh, Rafael Avila, Saul Avitia, Sarah Baird, Nikel Barcenas, Ajanea Barnes, Yesenia Becerra, Michael Bray, Connor Briner, Dylan Brown, Hailey Burris, Nathaniel Capuras Thompson, Angelica Cardenaz, Valerie Carlos, Jonathan Carranza, Alyssa Carrillo, Fernanda Castillo, Mariah Castro, Viviana Cebrero, Josie Cervantes, Matha Cervantes- Castillo ,Carlos Chavoya, Morgan Collins, Janell Cribbs, Erica Cruz ,Leonardo Cruz, Eduardo Diaz, Sebastian Duran, Allen Eagles, Fatima Esparza, Marlen Espinoza, Enrique Esquivel, Daniel Estrada, Virginia Estrada, Josue Fermin, Colby Flatt, Yazmin Flores, Daisy Flores-Mota, Natalie Franco, Kati Galindez, Gabriela Gamble, Brissa Garcia, Daicy Garcia, Ethan Garcia, Felicity Garcia, Lilia Garcia, Lorena Garcia, Jose Garcia Martinez, Alejandro Garibay, Enrique Garibay Garcia, Jake Garmen, Manuel Gomez, Erika Gonzalez, Janely Gonzalez, Yazmin Gonzalez, Virginia Granados, Dezmond Grant, Fernando Gudino, Lizbeth Gudino, Aryany Guerrero, Solenne Guerrero, Kaielee Gumbs, Ernesto Gutierrez, Meliton Gutierrez, Sophia Gutierrez, Katelyn Hawthorne, Joseph Hayward, Marcos Hernandez, Monserrat Hernandez, Andrew Higgins, Kayla Higgins, Connor Hill, Danielle Hunt-Donohue, Abraham Ibarra, Alejandro Inda-Ahumada, Evelyn Iniguez, Samuel Jenkins, Fernando Jeronimo, Joseph Kamykowski, Jeremy Kangris, Tyler Keiki, Nathan Knight, Lou Layton, Jim Lee,
Sabrina Lopez, Adrian Lozano, Junior Lozano, Francisco Lua, Alonso Madrigal, Axel Magana Anguiano, OmarMarin, Briana Martinez, Miguel Martinez, Teodoro Martinez, Alexis Masasso, Aleesha McDow, Priscilla Medina, Elizabeth Medreno, Victor Mejia, Lea Mena Alcala, Deisy Mendoza-Rios, Juan Mendoza-Ayala, Brisa Mijares, Amado Miranda, Andrea Moisa, Aileen Moreno, Luella Muliaga, Anthony Murillo, Chad Nash, Jerrod Nickerson, Cody Niehus, Thomas North, Marissa Nuno, John Ochoa, Alberto Ochoa Aguilar, Ivan Olguin, Bryan Olmos, Jayden Oneil, Shaila Ortiz, Adaleena Oyervides, Alec Palafax, Marcos Peralta, Maria Peralta, Angel Perez, Ashley Perez, Gustavo Perez, Juanabel Perez, Noemi Perez, Aidan Perry, Katie Porter, Juan Prado, Cassandra Preciado, Hannah Prewett, Cristina Pulido-Montanez, Chaenney Puthuff, Kaden Ramirez, Mario Ramirez, Steven Ramirez, Edgar Ramirez-Sanchez, Juliana Ramirez-Sanchez, Melissa Ramos, Victor Raya, Maren Reed, Monica Reyes, Rodrigo Reyes, Yajaira Reyes, Roman Reyna, Janelle Reynoso, Sophia Rhoades, Angel Rivas, Marisol Rivas, Hunter Robles, Anthony Roblrs, Nitza Rodriguez, Raquel Rodriguez, Rossana Rodriguez, Oscar Romo, Marissa Salas, Ulises Salas, Aaron Sanchez, Christina Sandoval, David Sandoval, Isaac Santiago, Yesenia Santillan, Andres Serrano, Jennifer Serrano, Aneyle Silvestre, Adrian Simonian, Simren Singh, Aaron Smith, Nicholas Smith, Sacia Smith, Gilberto Solorio, Jonathan Soria-Sanchez, Luz Soto, Ryan Stearly, Jillian Stewart, Travis Stockam, Litzy Suastigui, Nathan Thao, Sindi Thor, Cristian Torres, Jocelyn Torres, Jose Torres, Gerardo Trejo, Julio Valdivia, Adamaris Valdovinos, Arturo Valdovinos Burgueno, Bryan Valencia, Cha Vang, Ace Vargas, Anthony Vargas, Daniel Vargas, Hayley Vargas, Raymond Vargas, Jennifer Velazquez, Leandro Velazquez, Estrella Venancio, Cristal Venegas, Monica Verdugo, Abigail Wilson, Jorge Zuniga.

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 17, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS WORK ON STATE ROUTE 165
AT FOWLER AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recent started construction on a project realigning a segment of State Route 165 (SR-165) near the city of Hilmar at the intersection of SR-165 and Fowler Avenue.
The project involves realigning Fowler Avenue, installing left-turn pockets for both the northbound and southbound directions, and widening the shoulders in each direction on SR-165.
The widening will require drainage work, utility relocation, acquisition of new right of way and improved truck turning at the intersection.
This project will improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2018. Work will be done with one-way traffic control, and drivers should plan for 10-minute delays and seek alternate routes.
Teichert Construction of Sacramento, CA, is performing the work under a $4 million contract.

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



 

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

 

 

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November 17, 2017

Costa Statement on Passage of the House Tax Bill

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

“Our tax code is inefficient, too complicated, and filled with too many gimmicks and loopholes. For years I have called for fiscally-responsible comprehensive tax reform that makes the American tax system fairer and simpler while incentivizing intelligent pro-growth investment in our economy. Although the tax bill the House passed today does make changes to our tax code, these changes do not meet the test for the real, balanced reform Americans need.

“If enacted, I believe the bill will have unintended negative consequences that will be felt across the country and in our San Joaquin Valley. Under this legislation, well over half of the people in my district will pay more in taxes when certain provisions for individuals expire in 2027, and important tax benefits critical for agriculture and education in our Valley will be eliminated immediately. The House bill would also partially eliminate the State and Local Tax Deduction, which saved money for over 133,000 families in Fresno, Merced, and Madera counties in 2015. The New Markets Tax Credit – an economic incentive that has created over 2,700 jobs in my district and brought $69.5 million in investments to Fresno and Merced – would also be eliminated under the legislation.

“What’s more, this legislation would add over $2 trillion to our national debt over the next ten years. Today, America’s debt is over $20 trillion, the largest it’s been in our country’s history. Increasing our debt will slow wage growth, hamper further economic development, and lead to fewer jobs and higher interest rates over time. It is irresponsible and immoral to saddle future generations with our debt because Congress is failing to work together to make the tough choices necessary to put our fiscal house in order.


Congressman Jim Costa

“Although there are some provisions in the bill that would provide tax relief in many areas, I have to consider both the pluses and minuses, just as I do with all legislation. Overall, the bill the House passed today is not good for our Valley, our nation, or our future generations. We need fiscally-responsible comprehensive tax reform that incentivizes investments in our economy and serves the economic interests of all Americans. Sadly, this legislation fails to meet that test.

“I want to make bipartisan tax reform happen, and I’ve demonstrated that for years. My hope is that, when this legislation comes back to the House in a different form, my Republican colleagues will include those of us who want to see bipartisan tax reform happen in a real way. History shows that, when Congress works together in a bipartisan process, we can successfully reform our broken tax code in a responsible way. This is the type of leadership and good governance Americans want. The people of the Valley, and all Americans, deserve a better process and a better result.”

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November 15 , 2017

EIGHT PARENTS ARRESTED FOR FAILING TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL

Eight parents were arrested last week and charged with failing to send their children to school, in the second countywide truancy sweep coordinated by the Merced County District Attorney’s office and the Merced County Office of Education, announced Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II.
The eight parents arrested yesterday were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Esmeralda Saldana, 40, and Cesar Saldana, 46, both of Merced, and Ann Ornelas, 34, and Michael Perez, 33, both of Winton were taken directly to court by their arresting officer and arraigned before Merced County Superior Court Judge Carol Ash. Billie Breniak, 43, and Lonita Robertson, 47, of Merced, were arraigned in front of visiting Judge Donald Shaver.
Ruby Santos, 32, and Jose Rubio, 30, both of Los Banos were taken to the Merced County Superior Court in Los Banos and arraigned by Merced County Superior Court Judge David Moranda.
“We will continue to conduct these sweeps against parents who are impeding their children’s futures by failing to send them to school,” said Morse. “Kids who miss substantial periods of school are more likely to become high school dropouts, and high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated. These kids deserve better,” Morse added.
Steve Tietjen, Superintendent of the Merced County Office of Education, emphasized that the arrest warrants are sought “only after every other effort

to get these kids to school has been exhausted.” Many school districts have School Attendance Review Boards (SARB), he noted, and parents who are not sending their kids to school go through a SARB process in which meetings are held with the parents and school officials to try to determine why a child is missing school. It is only after the parent has failed to comply with the terms of attendance set forth by the school district that the case is referred to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
“I am hopeful that our efforts to communicate to parents the tremendous importance of regular student attendance at school are making a difference. We want parents to know their important role in their children’s success,” Tietjen added.
Other agencies who participated in the sweep were the Merced Police Department’s school resource officers, the Atwater Police Department’s school resource officer, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s school resource officer and, the Los Banos Police Department’s school resource officer.

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November 14, 2017

 

 

Atwater FFA Cotton Team Places 4th Overall in State

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA Cotton team placed 4th overall at the 2017 California FFA State Cotton Judging Finals at Fresno State University on November 4th. “I am very proud of the effort and commitment made by our students,” said FFA advisor and coach Natalie Borba, “They had a very successful cotton judging season this year which is represented in their placing and the quality of schools and teams that competed this year.”

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 team consisted of Belinda Espinoza (8th high individual overall), Emily Junez (11th high individual overall), Emmanuel Mejia (14th high individual overall) and Anahi Diaz. Chowchilla FFA placed 1st overall followed by Hanford (2nd), Madera-Madera South FFA (3rd), and O’Neals- Minerets FFA (5th) high team in the state.


Atwater FFA's Team "A" and Team"B" cotton judging team comprised of Simarjot Gandhoke, Michael Bray, Kaya Briscoe, Anahi Diaz, Belinda Espinoza, Emily Junez, Luz Soto, Emmanuel Mejia, and Daisy Flores-Mota with the "A" team placing 4th overall at the state cotton championships.

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Atwater FFA had five additional students that included Michael Bray, Luz Soto, Daisy Flores, Simerjot Gandhoke, and Kaya Mattis compete on the “B” team. “The skills and experience of all students who compete will carry over next season as they continue to work hard in strengthening and developing both agriculture related and “real-life” skills,” said Borba.

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 10 , 2017

RED CROSS INSTALLS FREE SMOKE ALARMS FOR LOCAL FAMILIES

Fresno, Calif., November 9, 2017 — The American Red Cross of Central Valley is holding a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event on November 11, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Volunteers will begin the day at the Los Banos Fire Department, 333 7th Street, Los Banos, CA 93635 before canvassing neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms and help families create escape plans.

Community volunteers may still sign up for this event. Visit redcross.org/cencalhfc to learn more and register.

“So far in 2017, our local Red Cross has responded to help over 330 families affected by home fires. In fact, home fires are the biggest disaster threat our community faces, killing seven people in this country every day,” said Executive Director Barry Falke. “Please help us Sound the Alarm by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires.”
The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. That’s why the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, in order to end these tragedies and save lives.

The local Red Cross is able to provide free smoke alarm installations, critical preparedness education, and disaster relief to Central Valley families thanks to the generosity of the community. To learn more about the work of the local Red Cross, visit redcross.org/centralcalifornia.

About the American Red Cross Central California Region


The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The American Red Cross Central California Region provides services to the ten counties across Central California that is home to more than 4 million people. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

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November 10 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED
TO BRADBURY ROAD IN DELHI

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue to Bradbury Road. Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from Childs Avenue to northbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full connector-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at 16th Street beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from G Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from R Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from 16th Street to northbound SR-99 on Saturday, November 18, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for shoulder work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Winton Parkway to northbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.



• Full on-ramp closure from Collier Road to northbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from South Avenue to northbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Shanks Road to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from Bradbury Road to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, November 13, 2017, through Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

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

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

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

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November 10 , 2017


California State Transportation Agency and High-Speed Rail Authority Release Draft NEPA Assignment Application for Public Review and Comment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority), in partnership with the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), today made available for public review and comment a draft application to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to assume the federal environmental responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws. The State of California is seeking federal environmental responsibilities to enable more efficient reviews and approvals of the environmental documents required to advance the high-speed rail program and related rail projects.

Through this process, the State of California would assume federal environmental responsibilities on all projects comprising the Phase 1 system of the high-speed rail program connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim, and projects extending service to Sacramento and San Diego as part of the Phase 2 system. Additionally, the State is applying to include the ACEforward project on the Altamont Corridor Express System, and projects that will directly connect to stations on the high-speed rail system such as Link Union Station (Link US) and West Santa Ana Branch Extension projects in Southern California.

Through NEPA Assignment, the Authority will manage both NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document preparation for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 system of the high-speed rail program, finding efficiencies where possible to complete the process faster without diminishing the rigor of the environmental analysis or the opportunities for the public meaningfully to engage with the program.



The official comment period begins Thursday, November 9 and ends on Monday, December 11.

There are several ways to submit a comment regarding the NEPA assignment application:
• Online via our web comment form
• Via email at NEPA@hsr.ca.gov
• Mail your comment to:
Attn: NEPA Assignment Application
California High-Speed Rail Authority
770 Street, Suite 620 MS-1
Sacramento, CA 95814
• Provide written or oral comment at the Authority’s Board of Directors meeting on November 15, 2017.
Comments received during the public comment period will be reviewed and considered before submitting the final application to the FRA. The state anticipates the completion of NEPA Assignment in spring 2018.

To view the draft NEPA Assignment Application visit: http://hsr.ca.gov/Programs/Environmental_Planning/nepa_assignment.html

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November 10 , 2017


House Holds Subcommittee Hearing on Newhouse-Costa Proposed Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing this morning to examine a Discussion Draft of the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act. The proposal is for bipartisan legislation led by Congressmen Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) that would amend the citizen suit provision of the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) with respect to agricultural operations. The Newhouse/Costa Discussion Draft of the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act aims to protect farmers, who are trying to do the right thing and comply with applicable requirements, from citizen lawsuits if the state or Environmental Protection Agency is already actively working with the agricultural operation through a civil, criminal, or administrative action to address identified problems.

“This legislation is straightforward and limited in scope to the citizen suit provisions under RCRA. Simply put, this legislation covers only the agricultural activities that are already exempt under EPA’s RCRA regulations,” said Rep. Newhouse, who is sponsoring the bill. “I firmly believe farmers have and must continue to lead the charge on good stewardship and conservation. The discussion draft before you today seeks to protect farmers who are trying to do the right thing with state or federal agencies to address nutrient management issues.”

“Farmers, ranchers, and dairymen know better than anyone just how much


Congressman Jim Costa

they depend on the land for their livelihoods, and they have always been some of our best environmental stewards,” said Rep. Jim Costa, a Democratic cosponsor of the bill. “My home state of California produces more food and fiber than any other state, all while complying with some of the most rigorous environmental regulations in the world. Farmers acting in good faith to improve their environmental practices should not be targeted by lawsuits while they are actively working to meet regulations. This commonsense legislation would go a long way to both improve the environment and allow our San Joaquin Valley to continue to put food on dinner tables throughout the nation.”

 

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November 9 , 2017

City offices closed Friday, lots of activities Saturday

The City of Merced offices are closed Friday, Nov. 10, to celebrate Veterans Day. Refuse collection will be on the regular schedule. The City newsletter incorrectly stated the closure would affect trash pickup.
The City will be holding a Veterans Memorial Bridge Dedication/Re-opening Ceremony at 9 a.m. Sat., Nov. 11 on the bridge at Bear Creek.
The annual Veterans Day Parade will take place on Main Street in Downtown Merced starting at 1 p.m. Sat., Nov. 11.

The Field of Honor at Merced College will have closing ceremonies at 4 p.m. Sat., Nov. 11.
And, work into your schedule the Central California Band Review that kicks off at 10 a.m. Sat. Nov. 11 around the Golden Valley High School campus.

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November 9 , 2017

House Passes Bill to Cut Red Tape on Hydropower

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017, by a vote of 257 to 166. Currently the various permitting processes for hydropower projects are complex and require action on behalf of numerous agencies. The legislation passed in the House today would make a single agency responsible for managing these processes. By reducing redundancies, increasing coordination, and streamlining permitting processes, the bill aims to decrease the cost of hydropower, the wait time associated with the construction of new hydropower projects, and the uncertainty surrounding the extension of licenses on existing facilities. This should, in turn, make electricity cheaper for consumers, increase the number of hydropower projects across the country, and increase the amount of power generated by facilities.

“The hydropower permitting process is broke, plain and simple,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who spoke on the House floor, urging his colleagues to support the bill shortly before it passed. “We see this clearly in our San Joaquin Valley, where the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts have spent more than 8 years and over 30 million dollars to relicense the Don Pedro power facility, and the Merced Irrigation District has spent 10 years and more than 20 million dollars to relicense the Exchequer hydroelectric project. After all of these years and over 50 million dollars, the relicensing of these projects is still not complete, and the people of the San Joaquin Valley are covering these costs every time they pay their electric bill. Although the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act we passed in the House today could go further to improve the permitting process, this bill is an important first step in doing so.”


Congressman Jim Costa


According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee report, less than 3 percent of the dams in the United States produce electricity, and the U.S. could increase its production of hydropower by almost 50 percent by 2050. In its testimony to the committee, the National Hydropower Association stated that the current licensing process for hydropower plants often costs $10 million or more and takes on average 8 or more years.

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November 8 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for “Veterans Memorial Bridge” on M Street Saturday
Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing M Street aka “Veterans Boulevard” between Rambler Road and 27th Street from 8:00AM to 10:30AM on Saturday, November 11, 2017, for the ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony commemorating our veterans and the completion of the Bridge Project at Bear Creek. M Street, also known honorifically as “Veterans Boulevard” will reopen all lanes to traffic in each direction after the event. The ceremony is at 9 a.m.
Use alternative routes to avoid delays such as R Street or G Street as detours will be provided.

Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager or the City Engineer listed below:
Joel Svendsen, Project Manager 209-385-6820
Steven Son, City Engineer 209-385-6898
For the safety of the workers and other motorists, please slow down for the construction zone.
Viking Construction Company and the City of Merced would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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November 7 , 2017

 

 

Atwater FFA Earns Top Honors at National FFA Finals

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School agriculture program was the only California high school with three state winning FFA Career Development Event judging teams represented at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana. Atwater FFA was represented with the state champion Agronomy, Floriculture, and Nursery & Landscape team and all three earned a “gold award” in being one of the top finishing teams (states) at the national FFA Finals.

Atwater FFA’s Nursery & Landscape team was represented by Atwater High School graduates Daryl Dorsey, Amanjot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, and Dayana Argueta. The team placed in the top five (5th overall) in the nation and qualified for a summer horticulture trip to the Netherlands and Germany this summer. The National FFA Nursery/Landscape CDE is a competitive event in which FFA members test their knowledge and skills in nursery practices and landscaping. Participants must complete a general knowledge exam testing horticultural principles including plant anatomy, production, marketing, turf, landscape design and maintenance. Each participant must also complete practicums involving a landscape estimating, plant propagation or potting, identification of plants, disorders and equipment. All four students are 2017 Atwater High School graduates and current students at UC Davis, UC San Diego, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Atwater FFA’s Floriculture team was represented by Atwater High School students Liliana Vargas, Jasmine Sandoval, Jennifer Zavala, and Samantha Theodozio. In the National FFA Floriculture CDE, FFA members test their knowledge and skills in the production and retailing of flowers, plants and foliage. Participants must complete a general knowledge exam on the floriculture industry, identify plant materials, demonstrate problem solving and decision-making skills, employment and customer service skills, technical floral skills and the ability to work as a team. Jennifer Zavala is a 2017 graduate of Atwater High School and current student at UC Davis.

Atwater FFA’s Agronomy team was represented by Atwater High School students Belinda Espinoza, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Jasmine Flores and earned a 12th place national finish. The National FFA Agronomy CDE is a competitive event that allows students to apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations. Participants' knowledge of agronomic sciences was tested through several levels of competition including developing solutions for problematic scenarios; identification of seeds, insects, soil and crops, and other management practices.

In addition to the trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for the national finals, the students also earned a three day leadership experience trip to Washington DC where they participated in the wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Visists to Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, FBI Building tour, monuments, and a special tour of the US Capitol through Congressman Costa’s office were all additional highlights and experiences for the students.

The $30,000 cost of the trip was all sponsored and covered through various industry and community donations and fundraisers. “This was a well-earned experience for our students who got to go and visit places they may never have had the opportunity to visit if it wasn’t for the support of our agriculture industry and community members,” said Atwater High School instructor Dave Gossman. “This will always be a lifelong memorable experience for the students.”

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 653,359 student members who belong to one of 8,568 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 344,239 alumni members in 2,051 alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career


Atwater FFA members Liliana Vargas, Jasmine Sandoval, Belinda Espinoza, Samantha Theodozio, and Dillon Guillen gather at the US Capitol in Washington DC following a special tour provided by Congressman Costa's office.


Atwater FFA's Dillon Guillen, Belinda Espinoza, Samantha Theodozio, and Liliana Vargas participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery during the student's leadership experience trip in Washington DC.


Atwater High School FFA Nursery & Landscape team members Jeff Clark, Amanjot Gandhoke, Dayana Argueta, and Daryl Dorsey earned a "Top 5" national placing at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana and qualified for a FFA sponsored Horticulture trip to the Netherlands and Germany this summer.

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

success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs.

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 4 , 2017

Veterans Memorial Bridge ceremony Nov. 11

A dedication/re-opening ceremony for Veterans Memorial Bridge will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 on the bridge at M Street and Bear Creek.

The bridge repair work was part of a $2.7 million project. The M Street repairs stretched over the last seven months and traffic was reduced to two lanes during construction. Pavement and sidewalks were replaced and railings will be installed on the bridge, along with erosion control work that was performed beneath the structure. In honor of the bridge’s designation as Veterans Memorial Bridge, three flagpoles were added to both sides of the structure.

Local veterans will raise U.S. flags over the bridge for the first time as part of the ceremony.

The ceremony will include the unveiling of the new street signs that will honor local veterans who died in service to their country. The signs will be put along the cross streets to M Streets, which has been designated and named Veterans Boulevard by the City Council.

People attending the event are asked to park along 25th street or in Applegate Park.

The City is also working on the G Street Bridge. That work is not as extensive and the pavement work is expected to wrap up by the end of this month.

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November 4 , 2017

Council to discuss arts, welcome signs Monday

Arts commissions and welcome signs and slogans are scheduled for the Merced City Council agenda this Monday night.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
At the request of Council, city staff has researched what other communities are doing regarding a public arts commission and the results will be presented Monday. Staff will be seeking direction regarding potential creation of a commission, including roles, duties and numbers of the commissioners, terms, funding and the use of City staff to assist the commission.
The Council established a Welcome Sign and City Slogan Subcommittee and received 77 slogan proposals, 56 entry sign designs and three archway design entries. The Subcommittee is asking the Council to select sign designs for the Highway 99, 59 and 140 entrances to the City. In addition, staff is asked to get cost estimates for the designs, Caltrans preliminary approval and choose an archway for the Downtown.
The Council will hold a discussion on its regular starting time. When Council changed the meeting starting time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. in May, it asked for a follow up discussion in six months.

Also on the agenda is confirmation of the appointment of Sonia Alshami to the Planning Commission. On Oct. 4, she received a majority of the Council votes –3-2 -- for appointment to the Commission. However, the City Charter requires four yes votes to be appointed to a City board or commission.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to confer with labor negotiators and real property 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.

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November 4 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM CHILDS AVENUE
TO BRADBURY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Childs Avenue in Merced to Bradbury Road in Delhi. Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from Childs Avenue to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full connector-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to the SR-140 east separation beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at 16th Street beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from G Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way to northbound SR-99 on Sunday, November 5, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for tree work.

• Full on-ramp closure from R Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-140/SR-59 (V Street) beginning Wednesday, November 8, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for pavement work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Winton Parkway to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Collier Road to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from South Avenue to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full on-ramp closure from Shanks Road to southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

• Full on-ramp closure from Bradbury Road to southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for striping.

Due to the Veterans Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Friday, November 10.
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
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM STATE ROUTE 152
TO CANAL FARM LANE IN LOS BANOS

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close State Route 165 (SR-165) from SR-152 to Canal Farm Lane beginning Sunday, November 5, 2017, through Friday, November 10, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for utility work.

Due to the Veterans Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Friday, November 10.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents or related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 49 AT SHILLING ROAD IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 at Shilling Road for drainage work. (Due to the Veterans Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Friday, November 10.)

Work is scheduled beginning Monday, November 6, 2017, through Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 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.




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

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November 3 , 2017

“Learning with Lincoln”
Service Dog Supports MCSD Students

Students at Franklin Elementary School are enjoying the support of a special canine classmate this year. Lincoln and his owner, Mary Brown, began visiting first graders in Shirley Regert’s class on Wednesday for a program called “Learning with Lincoln.” The pair will continue to spend time with the children twice a week for the rest of the year to help the students with their lessons and to provide extra motivation for good behavior and academic progress.
Lincoln is an 18 month old, 81 pound Goldendoodle who is officially certified as a service dog. Mrs. Brown is a retired teacher who used to help her own students by bringing her poodle, Raven, to class for “Reading with Raven.” The longtime Merced resident was also a mentor to Mrs. Regert, and the two remain close friends to this day.
After Raven passed away, Mrs. Brown adopted Lincoln in hopes of training him to become a therapy dog. She later decided to have him certified as a service animal due to his large size. Mrs. Brown has taken him to visit the elderly and ill, but also believed he could benefit young children. She began bringing him to Mrs. Regert’s class last year, and the partnership has continued to evolve as the playful pup now begins his second year with a new set of students.
Mrs. Regert says Lincoln’s presence helps the children to stay focused and gets them excited to learn. The students are rewarded for being responsible and making progress by spending time with him in small groups. Regert adds, “With Mrs. Brown, she does their high frequency words, which is part of our core literature series. So the kids are motivated to practice and learn their words so they can read to Lincoln.”
Mrs. Brown also incorporates Lincoln into science lessons that focus on nature and art lessons that help the children add detail to their work. On Wednesday, they had a chance to pet Lincoln and study the color of his fur, the shape of his ears, and other features before sketching him with crayons. Seven-year-old Cassandra Duncan observed, “He’s really soft, and he’s cute. I feel happy that he’s going to be learning with us.”
Mrs. Brown believes it’s a perfect pairing because Lincoln is still expanding his knowledge and skills every day, just like the students. She says, “My goal is for Lincoln and me to help make learning really fun.”


First grade teacher Shirley Regert shows her students a photo book about their canine classmate called “Lincoln, the Big Black Dog.”



Lincoln the Goldendoodle poses for a photo while visiting students at Franklin Elementary School in Merced County.


Seven-year-old Cassandra Duncan pets Lincoln in her classroom at Franklin Elementary School.


Mary Brown tells Franklin Elementary students about a journal of her service dog’s activities, which she calls the “Lincoln Log.”

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November 3 , 2017

Extra Amtrak Railcars Onboard for Thanksgiving Travel - Additional capacity planned on Amtrak San Joaquins

OAKLAND – In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is prepared to accommodate the surge of holiday travelers with extra equipment and additional capacity on the Amtrak San Joaquins route, which travels between Oakland/Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield. Tickets sell out quickly, so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book early.

The San Joaquins feature comfortable seating and offer a wide variety of amenities including electrical outlets at each row, complimentary AmtrakConnectSM Wi-Fi, an on board Café Car offering seasonal sandwiches, snacks and beverages, bike racks and much more.

The San Joaquins is Amtrak’s 5th busiest route with 365 miles of track, 18 stations, and 1.1 million annual riders and provides a safe, comfortable, reliable way to travel throughout California. With the new 7th daily round-trip, the San Joaquins now has 5 daily trips between Bakersfield and Oakland and 2 daily round-trips between Bakersfield and Sacramento. In addition to the train service, Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway buses provide connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno.

Tips to ensure a smooth trip:
• Purchasing Tickets: Travelers can purchase tickets using the refreshed Amtrak.com site, at Quik-TrakSM ticket kiosks, ticket windows at staffed stations (where available), Amtrak mobile apps, or 800-USA-RAIL.

• Avoid the Rush, Arrive Early: The busiest travel days are the Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving week. Morning trains typically have more availability. Customers are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes before departure, especially if picking up tickets.

• Enhanced Experience: Trains feature free Wi-Fi, the freedom to always use electronic devices (no “airplane mode”), spacious seats, ample leg room and no middle seat.

Baggage Policy: Amtrak has the friendliest baggage policy in the travel industry. Customers can bring two bags and two carry-ons, up to 150 pounds collectively, for free!

• Check Train Schedules: Check holiday train schedules and status before arriving at the station on Amtrak.com, Track Your Train (on Amtrak.com), or Amtrak mobile apps.

• Carry Photo ID: Passengers are required to show valid photo identification when purchasing tickets and carry valid photo ID at all times aboard trains.

• Safety First: If you see something, say something. Report any suspicious activity or unattended items to an Amtrak employee or member of the Amtrak Police Department at (800) 331-0008, by calling 911, or by sending a text to APD11 from a smartphone, or to 27311 from a standard cell phone.

About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)
As of July 2015, SJJPA is responsible for the management and administration of the Amtrak San Joaquins service. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the 10 Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquin route. For more information on SJJPA see www.sjjpa.com.

About Amtrak®
Amtrak – America’s Railroad®’—is dedicated to safe and reliable mobility as the nation’s intercity passenger rail service provider and its high-speed rail operator. With our state and commuter partners, we move people, the economy and the nation forward, carrying more than 30 million Amtrak passengers for each of the past six years. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a 10 member board of directors, nine of whom are appointed by the President of the United States plus the Amtrak CEO. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily— at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph—connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Learn more at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and other information. Check us out at blog.Amtrak.com, Like us on Facebook.com and Follow us on Twitter @Amtrak.

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November 3 , 2017

Costa Statement on House Republican Tax Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the release of the House Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

“Americans need long-term tax reform that makes the tax system fairer, simpler, and incentivizes pro-growth investments that serve the economic interests of all Americans. This requires a bipartisan deliberative process that skillfully examines various options for reform and carefully considers their consequences. This is good governance.

“The drafting of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was not a bipartisan process, and it appears House Republicans are going to rush the bill through the chamber. I urge my Republican colleagues to change their course, reach across the aisle, engage in serious bipartisan negotiations, and give Americans the good governance they want, need, and deserve.

“Over the next few days, I will carefully review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and evaluate the policy based on how it would likely affect our national debt, and how it plans to incentivize intelligent investment in the American economy and our American future. I will pay especially close attention to how this bill would likely affect the State and Local Tax, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the New Markets Tax Credit, and our agriculture and small business communities.


Congressman Jim Costa


“Fiscally-responsible tax reform is policy that does not increase the deficit, does not unfairly harm one state, region, or group in order to disproportionally benefit another, and does not saddle future generations with our debt. I have always called for bipartisan fiscally-responsible tax reform, and I will continue to do so. We simply cannot mortgage our future.”

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November 2 , 2017

House Initiates Action to Address Wildfires and Improve Forest Management

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, by a vote of 232 to 188. In passing the measure, the House initiated action to address some of the weaknesses in the current national forest management system. The legislation would reduce the regulatory burden forest managers face when trying to combat wildfires, produce timber, and maintain the health and productivity of America’s national forests.

“For years California’s forests have been ravaged by wildfires, and I have been working to address how we manage our forests and combat these fires. As a result of arcane budgeting rules, funds intended to prevent wildfires have been used instead to fight them. This leads to an endless cycle of trying to minimize the devastation of these wildfires on our communities after they have started, as opposed to managing our forests to prevent fires in the first place,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “Although the bill we passed in the House will likely require improvements to pass the United States Senate, today the House took a step to address the many challenges we have managing our federal forests in a common sense way. Given the devastation of this year’s wildfire season, it is far past time that Congress finally address this issue with legislation that will help decrease the frequency and intensity of wildfires, increase our water supply, improve forest management, and, in turn, strengthen the economic vitality and health of California’s mountain communities.”

 


Congressman Jim Costa


The U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $2.3 billion on fire suppression in the 2017 fiscal year, the most ever spent in a single year to fight wildfires. Almost $576 million of this nearly $2.3 billion was originally designated for forest management activities.

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October 31, 2017

CALTRANS COMPLETES PAVING PROJECT
ON STATE ROUTE 59 IN MERCED COUNTY
SB-1 funding facilitating projects that aid local communities

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has completed a $2.8 million project that has improved and repaved the roadway, shoulders and portions of on and off-ramps on State Route 59 (SR-59), from SR-152 south of El Nido in Madera County to near Vassar Avenue in Merced.


This is just one of many accelerated fix-it-first projects due to begin across the state to improve roadways, including several that began before Senate Bill 1 even takes effect. Caltrans broke ground on 13 pavement projects this summer and is expediting the design of an additional 50 projects that will break ground over the next year. By the end of October, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission (CTC) will have advanced approximately $5 billion in “fix-it-first” projects for earlier completion because of SB 1 funding.

SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system, including $400 million specifically for bridges and culverts. 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 will also fix 7,700 traffic operating systems, like ramp meters, traffic cameras and electric highway message boards that help reduce highway congestion.


 

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, visithttp://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the pavement that was already in place and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.



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

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October 30, 2017

MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS TO HOLD PUBLIC
WORKSHOP IN PLANADA FOR MERCED COUNTY REGIONAL VISION

MERCED- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) will hold a public workshop in Planada on November 6, 2017 to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the Merced County Regional Vision – a collaborative effort between the County of Merced and the Cities of Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Los Banos and Merced. Merced County Regional Vision will provide the framework for investment in roads, freeways, public transit, bike trails and other ways people move around our County through 2042. It will also include a plan to accommodate the region's future housing needs and comply with the State- mandated legislation to reduce greenhouse gases (SB375).

“Community engagement is vital to this process as we work collaboratively to plan for how we will move people and goods throughout the County over the next 25 years – especially now that we have successfully passed Measure V,” said MCAG Deputy Executive Director Stacie Dabbs. “The workshop will give participants an opportunity to learn more about the planning process and weigh in on priorities for investments.”

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October 30, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM G STREET
TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99). Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from G Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, October 30, 2017, through Friday, November 3, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full connector-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to the SR-140 east separation beginning Monday, October 30, 2017, through Friday, November 3, 2017, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for bridge work.

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

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


 




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

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October 27, 2017

CONSTRUCTION/TRAFFIC ADVISORY UPDATE
BPMP Bridge Repairs on M & G Street over Bear Creek

Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing M Street between Rambler Road and 27th Street from 8PM to 5:00AM on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 through Tuesday, October 31, 2017 to finish installing traffic control devices and striping to complete the bridge repair work over Bear Creek. M Street will reopen with one lane in each direction during each day as before.

North Bear Creek Drive will remain closed to eastbound traffic as before. After 5:00AM Tuesday, October 31, 2017 all roadway work should be completed allowing M Street to open all lanes to traffic and the traffic signal should be fully operational.

Work on G Street at Bear Creek will begin late Tuesday evening on October 31, 2017 and is expected to end in the last week of November. Through the duration of the work, two traffic lanes will remain open for southbound traffic and two traffic lanes will remain open to northbound traffic with the center section of G Street to be closed. North and South Bear Creek Drive will remain open with restricted left turns. Detours will be provided.

For the first night of work only, we will need to close G Street to through traffic between North Bear Creek Drive and 27th Street to install traffic handling devices. This will occur between the hours of 8:00PM on Tuesday October 31, 2017 and 5:00AM on Wednesday November 1, 2017. Please use the detours provided through M Street.

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

Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager or the City Engineer listed below:
Joel Svendsen, Project Manager 209-385-6820
Steven Son, City Engineer 209-385-6898

Viking Construction Company and the City of Merced would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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October 27, 2017

Costa Joins in Bipartisan Call for Tougher Sanctions Against Iran

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 1698, the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanction Enforcement Act with strong bipartisan support. The bill aims to stop Iran’s development of ballistic missiles through a combination of expanding sanctions, intensifying sanction enforcement, and increasing reporting of Iran’s ballistic missile supply chain. The House voted on the legislation less than two weeks after President Trump decided to decertify the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement.

“I have long called for tough sanctions on Iran, and this legislation strengthens our ability to use sanctions to prevent Iran from further developing its ballistic missile program. In passing this bipartisan bill today, the House of Representatives came together to protect both American citizens and people all over the world,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), who cosponsored the bill. “This being said, America’s national security requires that the U.S. remain credible, which means we must keep our agreements, be a reliable international partner, and enforce our sanctions. Only with this credibility will we be able to work with our allies to make the world safer through a comprehensive strategy of diplomacy, sanctions, and deterrence.”

Congressman Costa was a member of the conference committee which drafted the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act in 2010, and he supports a plan for continued pressure on Iran. On October 11th, Rep. Costa called on the Administration to follow through with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

 


Congressman Jim Costa

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October 27, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 33 BRIDGE OVERCROSSING
INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the State Route 33 (SR-33) bridge at Interstate 5 (I-5) for 56 continuous hours for repairs.

Work is scheduled beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, until 4 a.m. on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Detours are as follows:

Traveling Northbound on SR-33
1. Take Southbound I-5
2. Take Eastbound SR-152 off-ramp
3. Take Northbound I-5 on-ramp
4. Continue on Northbound I-5
5. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on SR-33
1. Take Northbound I-5
2. Take SR-140 off-ramp
3. Turn left on SR-140
4. Take Southbound I-5
5. Take Southbound SR-33




This project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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.

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

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October 26, 2017

Community Celebrates New MCSD STEAM Center

Students, parents, teachers, administrators, elected officials, and other local residents came together for the Merced City School District’s STEAM Center dedication ceremony on Wednesday, October 25.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. The new facility is located next to Ada Givens Elementary but serves all of the district’s TK-8th grade students. The 5460 square foot center provides collaborative, hands-on learning experiences in a 21st century environment to help prepare students for bright futures in high demand fields. It also allows groups teachers to receive support and training while learning innovative ways to teach challenging concepts. Local scientists and engineers have also been visiting the center since it opened in August to speak with children about the subjects they are studying and the types of exciting careers that are connected to STEAM.
Student representatives from every MCSD school attended the dedication ceremony and helped to fill a time capsule with items that they and their classmates selected through an online survey. Those items included an iPod, a Chromebook, a fidget spinner, and current maps of our city and country. The time capsule is set to be opened in 2027. Students from Givens Elementary also participated by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and members of the Hoover Middle School Band performed The Star-Spangled Banner.
The ceremony included remarks by Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran, Board President Adam Cox, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Paula Heupel, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, and Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira. California School Boards President Susan Henry also spoke during the dedication and recognized MCSD for winning the prestigious CSBA Golden Bell Award for its STEAM program in 2016. The new STEAM Center is the latest expansion of that program, and Ms. Henry noted that it is the only one of its kind in the state because it serves all students in the district.
Mr. Cox expressed the importance of that decision during his remarks, saying, “The Merced City School District chose to create a space to benefit all of our children. That commitment to equity is at the core of everything we do. It is in our mission statement to ensure that every student excels academically, builds character, and is a productive member of our community.”
Dr. Parga Duran shared that same sentiment as she spoke directly to all of the students in audience telling them, “The Board of Education and our district built this magnificent STEAM Center because we believe in you! We believe you are the future scientists and leaders in technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.”

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

 


Students place items they selected into a time capsule during the MCSD STEAM Center dedication ceremony.




Current and former members of the MCSD Board of Education join other district leaders in cutting the ribbon at the MCSD STEAM Center dedication ceremony.


Students from Ada Givens Elementary lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance during the STEAM Center dedication ceremony.


MCSD Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran leads the audience in a celebratory activity during the STEAM Center dedication ceremony


MCSD Board President Adam Cox speaks to the crowd during the STEAM Center dedication ceremony.


California School Boards President Susan Henry speaks to the audience during the MCSD STEAM Center dedication ceremony.

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October 26, 2017

CALTRANS COMPLETES PROJECT ENHANCING PEDESTRIAN ACCESSIBILITY ON STATE ROUTE 140 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has completed a project to enhance pedestrian accessibility on State Route 140 (SR-140) in the town of Mariposa.

The project included the construction of new accessible curb ramps, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and widened the shoulder at and near the intersection of SR-49 and SR-140. The project also added approximately 80 feet of sidewalk and constructed two accessible curb ramps along SR-140 at the intersection of Coakley Circle.

This project is a part of a larger $2.2 million project that was awarded to George Reed, Inc.

Caltrans would like to extend our appreciation to motorists and residents for their patience and cooperation during the construction of the Mariposa pedestrian accessibility project.





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

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October 25 , 2017

News From Merced College

Hall of Fame Class Grateful for Start

A.J. Jenkins stood before the gathered crowd and talked about the opportunities afforded him thanks to his time at Merced College.
The former All-American linebacker’s story is a familiar one. A tremendous talent that somehow slipped through the four-year school cracks coming out of high school, but seized their opportunity at the JC level. Jenkins shined as a Blue Devil, earning a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton and ultimately being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.......................read more

High School Students Invade Allied Health

Dr. Bobby Anderson knew he was granted a rare opportunity.
For three years the Merced College Dean of Allied Health, Business and Public Safety has been in the thick of putting on the annual Growing Health Leaders High School Health Care Career Conference. But a rare mid-semester break in classes for Columbus Day paved the way for Merced College to play host for the first time. ..........read more

A Taste of Foods & Nutrition

Culinary arts students from around Merced County and Chowchilla got a quick glimpse of their possible futures on Thursday morning.
Nearly 100 students from Golden Valley, Merced, Buhach Colony, Pacheco and Chowchilla High Schools visited the Merced College campus for A Taste of Foods and Nutrition...........read more



Blue Devil Days

Merced College ramps up the school spirit with a week of events centered around the students and faculty who represent the blue and gold.
The four-day celebration -- known as Blue Devil Days -- cultivates participation from newcomers and returning students alike, with a wide range of activities.............................read more

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October 25 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 33 BRIDGE OVERCROSSING
INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the State Route 33 (SR-33) bridge at Interstate 5 (I-5) for 56 continuous hours for repairs.

Work is scheduled beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, until 4 a.m. on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Detours are as follows:

Traveling Northbound on SR-33
1. Take Southbound I-5
2. Take Eastbound SR-152 off-ramp
3. Take Northbound I-5 on-ramp
4. Continue on Northbound I-5
5. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on SR-33
1. Take Northbound I-5
2. Take SR-140 off-ramp
3. Turn left on SR-140
4. Take Southbound I-5
5. Take Southbound SR-33



This project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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.

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

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October 24 , 2017

 

 

FFA Members Attend aMAZEing Meeting!

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 250 Atwater High School FFA members attended the October FFA chapter meeting at the AHS Agriculture Department on October 19th with the 2017-2018 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, upcoming National Convention, COLC, Cotton State Finals, and the upcoming annual Greenhand / Chapter Degree Ceremony. Upcoming information was discussed regarding Operation Christmas Child.

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!”

The highlight of the evening was a trip to the Dell’ Osso Farm Corn Maze 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 .


Over one hundred Atwater High School agriculture students visited Dell Osso Farm including the corn maze, haunted house, and train rides which was all part of the Haloween meeting and festivities held last week.


Atwater High School agriculture students Marco Cisneros, Grecia Ayala, Garrett Creighton, Gabriella Lucas, Destiny Duggar, and Thomas North participate in the sack race held during the FFA meeting.


Atwater FFA member Mariah Castro Delgado participates in the pinata game with fellow student Jon Montanez operating the rope during one of many Halloween themed games held during the FFA meeting.

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October 24 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 33 BRIDGE OVERCROSSING
INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the State Route 33 (SR-33) bridge at Interstate 5 (I-5) for 56 continuous hours for repairs.

Work is scheduled beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, until 4 a.m. on Monday, October 30, 2017.

Detours are as follows:

Traveling Northbound on SR-33
1. Take Southbound I-5
2. Take Eastbound SR-152 off-ramp
3. Take Northbound I-5 on-ramp
4. Continue on Northbound I-5
5. Take Northbound SR-33

Traveling Southbound on SR-33
1. Take Northbound I-5
2. Take SR-140 off-ramp
3. Turn left on SR-140
4. Take Southbound I-5
5. Take Southbound SR-33

This project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM THE GUSTINE RAILROAD CROSSING
TO VIRGINIA AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from the Gustine railroad crossing to Virginia Avenue for pavement work.
Work is scheduled beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, through Friday, October 27, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
This work is part of a 33-mile-long project that will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

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
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM ATWATER BOULEVARD IN ATWATER
TO CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction and maintenance activities on State Route 99 (SR-99). Work will occur as follows:

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to Atwater Boulevard beginning Sunday, October 22, 2017, through Friday, October 27, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for sign work.

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-140/SR-59 (V Street) beginning Sunday, October 22, 2017, through Monday, October 23, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. for maintenance.

• Full on-ramp closure from SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way to southbound SR-99 beginning Tuesday, October 24, 2017, through Wednesday, October 25, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. for maintenance.• Full on-ramp closure from 16th Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Wednesday, October 25, 2017, through Thursday, October 26, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. for maintenance.

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning Wednesday, October 25, 2017, through Thursday, October 26, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. for maintenance.

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

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

 

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

 

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October 24 , 2017

Survey Now Live For Unmet Transit Needs in San Joaquin County

Stockton (CA) – A survey is now live to fill out information on Unmet Transit Needs. Unmet Transit Needs are vital information to show how improved or expanded service could benefit the riders or potential riders of local transit systems.

If you would like to find out more information on transit services in your area, or fill out the surveys in person, there will be four open houses being hosted at the following locations in San Joaquin County in conjunction with the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) and San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD):

Cabral Station
949 E Channel St
Stockton, CA 95202
October 24th, 10 am – 11:30 am

Lodi Transit Station
24 S Sacramento St
Lodi, CA 95240
October 25th, 5 pm – 6:30 pm

 

Mountain House
230 S Sterling Dr, STE 100
Mountain House, CA 95391
November 6th, 6:30 pm – 8 pm

Manteca Transit Center
220 S Moffat Blvd
Manteca, CA 95336
November 8th, 5 pm – 6:30 pm

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

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October 20 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION/TRAFFIC ADVISORY
BPMP Bridge Repairs on M Street over Bear Creek

Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing M Street between Rambler Road and 27th Street from midnight to 5:00AM on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 through Friday, October 27, 2017 to finish installing traffic control devices and striping to complete the bridge repair work over Bear Creek. M Street will reopen all lanes to traffic in each direction during each day.

North Bear Creek Drive will also be open to traffic in each direction during each day. By Saturday, October 28, 2017 all roadway work should be completed and the traffic signal should be fully operational.

Please allow for 15-20 minute delays during each day between Tuesday, October 24, 2017 and Friday, October 27, 2017 as the traffic signal will be on flashing red acting as a four-way stop. Use alternative routes to avoid delays such as R Street or G Street.

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

Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the Project Manager or the City Engineer listed below:
Joel Svendsen, Project Manager 209-385-6820
Steven Son, City Engineer 209-385-6898

For the safety of the workers and other motorists, please slow down for the construction zone.

Viking Construction Company and the City of Merced would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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October 19, 2017

Italian Underground an WWII Nazi Spy's Son to Speak at Castle Air Museum

Castle Air Museum, located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater is proud and honored to host Mr. Mike Lella, son of Italian underground spy and rescuer of Italian Jews Mr. Pino Lella during World War II to speak at Castle Air Museum onSaturday, October 28 at 10:30 AM in the Museum's banquet room. The story of Mr. Lella's heroic actions are highlighted in a novel titled " Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Author Mark Sullivan.

This promises to be a riveting account of how young men and women of high school age risked their lives to save and rescue innocent people from the brutality and persecution of the Nazi war machine during World War II in Europe.

For more information please contact the Museum at (209) 723-2178, M-F 9 am to 5 pm, or visit the Museum's website at :www.castleairmuseum.org.

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October 19, 2017

MCSD Students Learn from Local Scientists & Engineers

Several Merced City School District students received invaluable support with their science fair projects during the district’s first “Ask a Scientist or Engineer” night on Tuesday. It was held at the new MCSD STEAM Center, which was designed to provide integrated hands-on learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
The event began with an overview of the science fair process and introductions by the local experts. Many of them work or study at UC Merced, but their backgrounds and focus areas are very diverse, from soil ecology to psychology to applied mathematics and genomics. The children then had a chance to sit with the experts and ask questions about topics such as developing a hypothesis, collecting data, and presenting conclusions.
The district’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development, Dr. Elaine Keeley, said, “It was exciting to see our students connecting with experts from right here in our community. These interactions provide our children with role models in STEAM fields as well as inspiration for their science fair projects.”
The students will have a chance to showcase their work at school site science fairs, which lead up to the district fair on January 19. The top 20 projects will move on to the Merced County Office of Education STEM Fair on March 8. The winners of that event will have a chance to compete at the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles on April 23-24. Last year, MCSD students swept the top three spots at the county fair and proudly represented Merced at the state contest.
Two more “Ask a Scientist or Engineer” nights will be held this year. They are scheduled for November 7 and December 7 at 5 p.m. at the STEAM Center, which is located at 2900 Green Street. Experts who are interested in participating or serving as judges for the MCSD science fair can contact Public Information Officer Sara Sandrik at: ssandrikgoins@mcsd.k12.ca.us.

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

 








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October 19, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS CONTINUES REPAVING PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing an improvement project on State Route 140 (SR-140) to repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in Merced to SR-33 in Gustine.

Work for the stretch on eastbound and westbound SR-140 between Virginia Street and SR-99 in the city of Merced has been moved from the nighttime to the daytime this week. Work was originally planned beginning Wednesday, October 18, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., but crews are now scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The work will include intermittent lane and shoulder closures.

This 33-mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

Motorists should expect 10 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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October 19, 2017

Costa Commends Bipartisan Alexander-Murray Health Care Agreement

FRESNO, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after the leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) – announced their bipartisan agreement to improve the Affordable Care Act, which includes funding the cost-sharing reduction payments the Administration cut last week:

“The bipartisan health care agreement reached in the Senate takes seriously the need to address weaknesses in the Affordable Care Act, and I commend Senators Alexander and Murray for refusing to give into the partisanship that has thwarted previous efforts to improve the ACA. I am particularly pleased to see that the Senate plan parallels some of the core ideas of the bipartisan health care framework we in the Problem Solvers Caucus proposed in July, including stabilizing the individual market through funding cost-sharing reduction payments and reducing health care premiums. I have always said that we need bipartisanship to provide real and long-term solutions to fix our policy problems, and this health care proposal is a significant step towards giving Americans the stable, responsible health care policy they want and deserve.”

 


Congressman Jim Costa

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October 19, 2017

MCAG scholarship program now accepting applications

MERCED- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is now accepting applications for the 2018 Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship. The MCAG Governing Board and staff established this scholarship program in 2010 to honor the memory of Anna Maria Fuentes, Grants Program Manager at MCAG.
The Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior in Merced County with a grade point average of 3.8 or higher who has demonstrated a high level of participation in extracurricular activities including positions of leadership. Applicants must provide a personal essay that describes their need for scholarship in order to pursue higher education goals.
The 2018 scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 and will be eligible to receive additional awards of $1,000 each year for three years based on scholastic performance and documentation.
Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street,
Merced and must be received by 3:00pm on Monday, February 28, 2018. The selected scholarship recipient will be notified by May 1, 2018.

 



Interested applicants can access the scholarship application and instructions at http://www.mcagov.org/217/Scholarship. General inquiries can be directed to Eva Garibay, Public Programs Specialist, at 209-723-3153 x 108.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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October 18 , 2017

Cannabis ordinance on Planning Commission meeting agenda

The City of Merced Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed cannabis ordinance at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Oct. 18. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The City has a draft ordinance that would allow commercial cannabis businesses, including cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, deliveries and dispensaries/retail sales in certain zones. The businesses would not be allowed within 600 feet of schools, day cares and other youth-related facilities. There are other restrictions on the locations of the businesses.

 

 

There will be time for public comment on the ordinance during the public hearing.
The cannabis ordinance is scheduled to go before the City Council at its Nov. 20 meeting.

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October 18 , 2017

Livingston School District to Modernize Campuses Starting in December

By next summer, Livingston’s elementary schools will have a new look to them, as a $10.5 million modernization program sees aging portables replaced by modern modular structures.
Andres Zamora, superintendent of the Livingston Union School District, said the new construction will improve the overall appearance of district campuses. Construction will begin phases as early as December at Campus Park and Selma Herndon elementary schools, with work on Yamato Colony Elementary School to start next summer.
Even more importantly, Zamora said, the brand-new buildings will have a great impact on the teaching and learning environment for students and staff.
Nick Jones, the district’s director of maintenance, operations and transportation, said 24 new modular classrooms with staff and student restrooms are going in while 22 portable classrooms are being removed.
After a slab is laid on the ground, the prefabricated modular walls are fit together much like a puzzle. With the portables, there is a wood floor and a metal frame, much like a trailer on wheels, Jones explained. The modular walls will have a stucco finish, replacing the wooden siding long familiar on portables.
Zamora said the original intent years ago was that portables would be temporary, but in many school districts they became permanent. Two of the portables are being donated to the Livingston Police Foundation and will see further use.
The new classroom building will be more attractive and have better sunlight, ventilation and improved access to modern technology, Zamora said. There’s not much resale value for portables, which will be removed by contractors. The modernization is part of the district’s 10-year facilities master plan. Members of the community have been engaged in all stages of the planning process.
“We want our schools to be attractive and welcoming to our students,” Zamora said. “The staff is excited about the new buildings.”
Jones said these are the first new buildings in many years. He said the staff and students are excited about their future classrooms.
Zamora said construction was made possible by passage of Measure B in 2005; at that time, the possibilities were building a new school or modernization. The district’s enrollment has not increased since 2005 while the facility needs have mounted.

 

About $7.8 million of the bond funds are being used on the project with the rest paid for by a district special fund, Zamora said. The district intends to apply for state matching funds through Proposition 51; between 50 and 60 percent of all costs could be reimbursed through the proposition.
“It depends on when the state releases the bond money. It could be anywhere from three to five years before we are reimbursed,” Zamora said. “I credit our school board for their vision to take this opportunity to improve classrooms.”
JTS Modular in Bakersfield will be doing the construction. Bids will be sought for site work in the next couple weeks. Jones said removal of the portables will allow reconfiguration and expansion at Campus Park and Selma Herndon campuses.
The majority of the portable classrooms are more than 20 years old. The lifespan of portable classrooms is normally 10 years and it takes a lot of work for districts to make them last another decade, according to Jones.
“The new buildings will include water access in every classroom, a restroom facility and storage room. In addition to the modernized classrooms, surrounding sidewalks and playgrounds will be renovated. These much-needed improvements will significantly improve the learning environment for our staff and students,” Zamora said.
The district is taking all precautions to ensure students and staff are safe during the construction period. Construction work has been strategically planned in phases where there is the least amount of students on campus and disruption to the instructional day, Zamora said.

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October 17 , 2017

 

FFA Members Earn Public Speaking Honors

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Sixty Atwater High School 9th grade FFA members along with the Atwater FFA Chapter Officer team competed in the annual Fall FFA Sectional Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest at Gustine High School. Over four hundred FFA members from Buhach Colony, Dos Palos, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, El Capitan, Pacheco, Mariposa, Merced, Delhi, Stone Ridge Christian, and Golden Valley 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 (Gold) – President, Annessa Cardenas; Vice President, Jasmine Sandoval; Secretary, Dillon Guillen; Treasurer, Stephania Valdovinos; Reporter, Grace Reyes; and Sentinel, Jonathan Garcia; Atwater Team “1” (Gold )Luis Hernandez, Celeste Chargoy, Madison Ainslie, Dakota Jones, Arly Gonzalez, Kaleb Hand ; Atwater Team “2” (Silver) Simarjot Gandhoke, Perla Caballero, Moira Conway, Adam Frietas, Aileen Fierros, Miguel Contreras; Atwater Team “3” (Gold)Daniel Narez, Brianna Mendoza, Naomy Gonzalez, Viviana Villa, Jessica Agundis, Ulyette Curiel; Atwater Team “4” (Gold)Makayla Silveira, Cecilia Ahumada, Supreet Gandhok, Adriana Espinosa, Lilian Sackett, Stefanie Sanchez; Atwater Team “5” (Gold) Teresa Cavallero, Destiny Johnson, Evelyn Sanabria, Haylee Silveira, Gabriela Moreno, Maria de Rosario Ruelas; Atwater Team “6” (Silver)Eduardo Torres, Everett Hill, Amoni Claiborne, Ricardo Arreola, America Hernandez, Adrian Valencia; Atwater Team “7” (Gold) Logan Hazel, Olivia Cone, Adilene Noriega, Brianna Perez, Hector Hernandez Valencia, Jackie Oseguera; Atwater Team “8” (Gold) Evelyn Cisneros, Brianna Valencia, Aidan Vargas, Jasmin Amezcua, Marco Cisneros, Gabriella Lucas; Atwater Team “9”(Gold) Nandani Patel, Lizbeth Arias, Yoselin Medina, Alexus Ortega, Paola Rivera, Emily Rodrigez; Atwater Team “10” ( Gold )Sydney Weimer, Brianda Arteaga, Vinea Magallanes, Blaire Chua, Trinity Barkman.

Students who were recognized with “Outstanding Officer” awards included Stephania Valdovinos, Lilian Sackett, Kendra Schonwald, Nandani Patel, Lizbeth Arias, Jasmin Amezcua, Olivia Cone, Hector Hernandez Valencia, America Hernandez, Adriana Espinosa, Simarjot Gandhoke, Madison Ainslie.

“I’ve never experienced anything like the Opening and Closing Ceremonies Contest” said Atwater FFA member Simarjot Gandhoke, “I was still really nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun and an experience that I will never forget.”

“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.”


Sixty Atwater High School freshman agriculture students participated in the Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Opening and Closing Ceremony Speaking Finals held at Gustine High School.



Atwater High School FFA member Hector Hernandez Valencia is recognized with his "Outstanding Reporter" award given by Atwater High School sectional officer Emily Junez.


Atwater High School agriculture students (back row) Sidney Weimer, Adriana Espinoza, Lisbeth Anas, Nandani Patel, Kendra Schonwald, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Jasmin Amezcua, (front row) Lillian Sackett, Madison Ainslie, Stephania Hernandez, Hector Hernandez-Valencia, and Olivia Cone earned "Outstanding Speaker" awards during the sectional speaking contest.


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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October 17 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM STATE ROUTE 99
TO BUENA VISTA DRIVE IN MERCED

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from SR-99 to Buena Vista Drive for maintenance work. Work will be completed as follows:
• Full closure of northbound SR-59 from SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Sunday, October 15, 2017, through Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of southbound SR-59 from SR-99 to 16th Street beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Tuesday, October 17, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of northbound and southbound SR-59 from Cooper Street to 16th Street/Snelling Highway beginning Tuesday, October 17, 2017, through Wednesday, October 18, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

• Full closure of northbound and southbound SR-59 from West Olive Avenue/Santa Fe Drive to Buena Vista Drive beginning Wednesday, October 18, 2017, through Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 33 IN GUSTINE
TO VIRGINIA AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33, in Gustine, to Virginia Avenue, in the city of Merced, for construction work.
Work is scheduled beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 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
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTES 33, 99 AND 152 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction and maintenance activities on State Route 99 (SR-99), SR-33 and SR-152 in Merced County. Work will occur as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from Interstate 5 to southbound SR-33 on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Full off-ramp closures from northbound SR-99 to SR-140, and from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street, beginning Sunday, October 15, 2017, through Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:30 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-140/SR-59 beginning Monday, October 16, 2017, through Friday, October 20, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from westbound SR-152 to SR-33 on Monday, October 16, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• Fulll on-ramp closure from SR-33 to eastbound SR-152 on Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 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.

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

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October 17 , 2017

Atwater, Delhi Take Top Honors at Annual Excellence in Education Awards

A transitional kindergarten teacher from Atwater and a library clerk from Delhi took top honors at the 12th annual Merced County Excellence in Education Awards at the Merced Theatre on Oct. 3.
Parents, students, educators and community members celebrated with educators and school employees from throughout the county as the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union hosted the annual Excellence in Education Awards Reception.
Carrie O’Bara, who teaches at Peggy Heller Elementary School in Atwater, is Merced County’s Teacher of the Year and Marisela Picazo from Harmony Elementary School in Delhi is the county’s School Employee of the Year.
School districts submit teachers and school employees for the awards program and representative from local government, K-12 and higher education serve as the selection committee.
There were five nominees for school employee of the year and seven nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests enjoyed video vignettes produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in both categories and a dessert reception immediately after the ceremony. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year moves on to the state awards program.

Full list of District Nominees:

TEACHERS:
Carrie O’Bara Atwater Elementary School District
Cara Holland Delhi Unified School District
Mary Henderson Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Tuckie Burgess Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Stephen Eccles Merced Union High School District
Jenny Mendoza Preschool – Merced County Office of Education
Dawna McCreary Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Mary Monroe Atwater Elementary School District
Marisela Picazo Delhi Unified School District
Fernando Maciel Le Grand Union High School District
Jennifer M. Campos Merced County Office of Education – Human Resources
Donna L. Bandoni Merced Union High School District


Carrie O’Bara


Marisela Picazo

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October 17 , 2017

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

“Anchored” is the 2017-2018 theme for the California FFA Association as over ninety high school FFA chapter officer teams gathered at Gregori High School in Modesto for the annual Chapter Officer Leadership Conference (COLC) on October 7.

The purpose of this conference is to prepare student leaders in the planning and implementation of their FFA and agriculture program goals for the current school year. The conference is a way for students to interact with other students and schools while learning valuable communication skills. “I had a great time getting to know other chapter and sectional officers from the central region.” said Atwater FFA Chapter President Anessa Cardenas. “I gained new ideas towards being an effective and productive chapter officer.”

At the beginning of each school year, the Atwater FFA chapter officer team established a calendar of events, identified their goals, and also created a vision of success. With the assistance of local and state FFA members, various leadership conferences such as COLC, are held to assist students with the resources and tools needed to accomplish their tasks. “The FFA is a student run organization,” reminds Atwater FFA advisor Natalie Borba, “It’s up to the chapter officers as leaders to set the foundation, implement the game plan, and fuel the enthusiasm of their peers.”

Various presentations and workshops were delivered to assist each officer with their individual officer duties. Team building, student recruitment, and successful program of activities were also addressed. Over 600 students from Merced County up through the Sacramento area participated in the conference.

From these leadership opportunities, the Atwater FFA officer team was able to bring many new and exciting ideas back to the chapter. The chapter officers were also very excited to meet the new 2017-2018 State FFA and Central Region FFA officer teams. This year’s state FFA theme “Anchored” pertains to staying rooted in service, values, and agriculture encouraging students to stay true to themselves and remember why they have a love for agriculture and FFA. “Our officer team saw some great ideas and hope to bring the passion we felt at COLC back to Atwater.” said Atwater FFA Secretary Dillon Guillen. “It’s up to you to make things happen in life.”


Atwater High School agriculture student Dillon Guillen (center) is joined by California FFA Association's State FFA Secretary Genevieve Regli and State FFA Sentinel Robert Marchy during the recent FFA leadership conference.



Atwater High School chapter officers Stephania Valdovinos, Zion Brigham, Grace Reyes, Dillon Guillen, Anessa Cardenas, and Jonathan Garcia showcase their recent FFA COLC conference materials during the leadership workshop held in Modesto.
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The Atwater FFA officers that attended were Anessa Cardenas, President; Jasmine Sandoval, Vice President; Dillon Guillen, Secretary; Zion Brigham, Treasurer; Grace Reyes, Reporter; Jonathan Garcia, Sentinel; and Stephania Valdovinos, Historian.


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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October 17 , 2017

New Planning Commissioners Sonia Alshami and Jeremy Martinez were sworn in Monday morning by Assistant City Clerk John Tresidder during ceremonies in the City Manager’s Office, followed by a reception. The pair went to their first meeting Wednesday night when the Commission held a study session on cannabis businesses and the draft cannabis ordinance.


Sonia Alshami and Jeremy Martinez

 

 

Pumpkin Party time!

The annual Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party is set for 5:15 p.m. Weds., Oct. 25 in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. Bring your tots and tykes ages 3 to 8 to decorate a pumpkin, have some tricks and treats and enjoy some Halloween fun.
Space is limited so sign-up now. Cost is only $7 a child Register at the Parks and Recreation Department office, 632 W. 18th St. or by calling 385-6235. Costumes and parents are welcome!

Click here for Flyer

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October 17 , 2017

Draft 2018 State Rail Plan Supports Amtrak San Joaquins and ACE Expansion

Stockton (CA) – Caltrans has released its Draft 2018 State Rail Plan, which features near-term improvements for the two services managed by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), Amtrak San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan will help guide the state’s priorities for rail investments that will support California’s economy for future generations. Caltrans’ goal is to provide riders with more travel options that are more efficient, cleaner, faster, and have fewer delays.

For Amtrak San Joaquins, the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan focuses on expanded service to and from Sacramento, with new stations in Elk Grove and Sacramento, and a consideration of expanding the service further to Marysville. Sacramento service expansion is a key initiative of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), managers and administers of the San Joaquins service. Also, the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan supports the new Morning Express service to Sacramento launching in January 2018, which will deliver passengers to Sacramento before 8am.

The ACE service is featured in the 2018 State Rail Plan for its short-term goals of an extension to Modesto and Ceres, with funding already identified via SB1 and SB132, with a plan of post-2025 regional service frequency to Merced via Modesto and Ceres. Future ACE plans include increased service to the Bay Area with a goal of half-hourly peak period service and hourly off-peak service.

“The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan is a welcome look at improving passenger services on many levels, and we look forward to working with Caltrans on these projects to benefit our riders” said SJRRC Executive Director Stacey Mortensen.

The Draft 2018 State Rail Plan is more ambitious than previous rail plans, by proposing a statewide vision for an integrated high speed, intercity, and commuter passenger rail system with reliable timed connections and multimodal transportation options.

 

 

The passenger component of the California rail vision includes several key elements:
• Statewide System – Passenger rail service will tie together urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state.
• Integrated System – Multimodal hubs will connect all levels of service with a common fare system, which allows trips to be made on a single ticket.
• Coordinated Schedules – Services will be coordinated in a “pulsed” schedule across the network to reduce wait times and allow direct transfers.
• Frequent Service – Service frequency will make rail a timely option for travelers, meeting trip demands throughout the day.
• Customer Focus – Enhanced ticketing, scheduling, and passenger information will be supported by coordinated services.
The 60 day public comment period is open now, and will remain open until December 11th. Caltrans will be hosting seven public workshops across the state, as well as an online Webinar. For more information on the Draft 2018 State Rail Plan, please visit their Web site at http://www.dot.ca.gov/californiarail/

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October 17 , 2017

REPEAT FRAUDSTER IN MERCED COUNTY DENIED PAROLE

A Merced man, sentenced to 11 years in prison earlier this year for multiple counts of grand theft and diversion of construction funds in amounts exceeding $100,000, but already eligible for parole following the 2016 passage of Proposition 57, will have to remain in prison following a denial by the state Board of Parole last month, the Merced County District Attorney’s office announced.

Jesse Munoz, 31, pled no contest to five counts of diversion of construction funds and five counts of grand theft of personal property with a white collar criminal enhancement due to the amounts exceeding $100,000. However, Munoz was eligible for parole after only six months of incarceration since Proposition 57 changed parole eligibility for those convicted of so-called “non-violent” crimes.
Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, who served as state co-chair of the No on 57 campaign, said “prosecutors across California are closely watching parole decisions in the aftermath of Prop 57. It is ridiculous that a person sentenced earlier this year to 11 years in prison for extensive financial crimes would even be considered for parole after serving just six months in custody.”

 

Munoz’s past criminal history in Merced County includes a conviction in 2009 of six felony counts of obtaining money by false pretense. From 2007-2008 Munoz ran advertisements in the local paper and online promising quick returns on fraudulent real estate investments. He spent five years in State prison for this conviction, and upon release in 2014, he began to defraud additional victims with a new scheme, for which he is currently serving prison time.
In denying parole to Munoz, the Board of Parole cited his current offense, a significant prior criminal history, and letters opposing release received from the District Attorney’s office and five of the victims of Munoz’s crimes, Morse said.

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October 17 , 2017

Governor Vetoes Gray’s Fair Water Rights Hearing Legislation

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) expressed frustration and disappointment today upon learning that the Governor had vetoed Gray’s fair water rights hearing legislation.

“For more than half a century, the State Water Resources Control Board has kept a dirty little secret,” said Gray. “They are the judge, the jury, and the prosecution in the water world. They have zero accountability to the people of California, yet their decisions impact the daily lives of millions of people.”

Gray’s bill, AB 313, would have inserted checks and balances back into water rights enforcement. Rather than allowing the Water Board to write the rules and then unilaterally decide who breaks them as is done now, the bill would have required water rights enforcement hearings to occur at the Office of Administrative Hearings under the direction of an administrative law judge.

“I am disappointed that AB 313 was not signed by the governor,” said Senator Anthony Cannella. “For too long the water users believed that the process was stacked against them. This bill would have inserted a nominal step to make the process more fair. Those of us who represent the valley will not stop fighting for a fair process.”

Under current law, the State Water Board issues complaints against water users for allegedly violating water rights and provides 20 days for the water user to request an appeals hearing. The hearing occurs at the Water Board itself, with Water Board staff acting as the prosecution and a member of the Water Board acting as the judge. A legislative report found that out of more than 2,500 cases in the last decade, the Water Board has only overturned a single complaint.

“It’s no wonder the Water Board wins 99.9% of its cases when they are essentially being asked whether or not they agree with themselves,” said Gray.

“I’m disappointed that the Governor wasn’t able to sign AB 313 and help restore some faith in the State Water Resources Control Board process,” said Assemblyman Heath Flora. “This issue isn’t going away and we will continue to fight.”

In his veto message Governor Brown said that, while he could not support Gray’s bill, he is “directing the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate the potential role for administrative law judges and

provide a recommendation on improvements to the Board’s hearing process…”

“I am encouraged that the Governor recognizes the lack of transparency and fairness in the Water Board’s process,” said Gray. “The bureaucrats at the State Water Board have lost any and all credibility with the communities I represent. I will continue to pursue every avenue at my disposal to promote greater public transparency and expose this out of control kangaroo court of an agency.”

 

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After Nearly a Decade without State Funding Gray’s New Law Makes County Fairs a Priority Again

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded Governor Brown today for signing into law his bill, AB 1499, which partially restores the state’s investment in California’s network of 78 fairs.

“California was forced to make devastating cuts during the Great Recession, including cutting $30 million in annual funding from the fairs,” said Gray. “The investments promised by this new law significantly improve the financial outlook and economic viability of these important assets.”

Assembly Bill 1499 creates an economic incentive for fairgrounds by allowing them to keep a percentage of the sales tax revenue generated on their properties.

“While fairs are important economic engines in the communities they serve, they also act as evacuation centers and staging areas for fire and emergency services personnel during natural disasters,” continued Gray. “As fires continue to ravage Northern California, I applaud the Governor for recognizing the important role fairgrounds play and making their success a state priority.”

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October 17 , 2017

Costa Statement on House Budget Resolution Vote

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on House Continuing Resolution 71 and other alternative budget proposals, each of which would establish the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 and position budgetary levels for fiscal years 2019 through 2027:

“Today, the House voted on a number of budget alternatives that do not strike the needed balance between fiscal responsibility and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. The alternatives proposed by members of the Democratic Party do little to address our nation’s unsustainable and growing debt, while the proposed cuts in the Republican budget threaten the health care of over 121,000 individuals in our district alone and require the Agriculture Committee to cut $10billion from its programs. The Republican budget also calls for changes that will make fewer low-income students eligible for Pell grants and fewer of our disabled eligible for Social Security disability insurance. Although the resolution voted on today includes some positive reforms to our budget process, these positive process reforms do not outweigh the negative impact the budget itself will have on our Valley and our country.

“I have always, and will always, stand for fiscal responsibility, which means we must reduce our deficit and our debt, and we cannot abandon those who

need our help. Our votes in Congress reflect our values, and my votes today were informed by my adamant and unmovable support for real fiscal responsibility. I will continue to work for fiscally-responsible policies and budgets, and I welcome my colleagues – from both sides of the aisle – to join me in putting our country back on the right budgetary and financial track, while not abandoning our neighbors who need our help.”

Costa Statement on Executive Order Ending Health Care Cost-sharing Reduction Payments

FRESNO, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement today after President Trump signed an executive order to end cost-sharing reduction payments (CSR) to insurance companies providing health care to individuals enrolled in Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces:


Congressman Jim Costa



“The Administration’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments is irresponsible and illogical. Ending these payments will cause the government to spend more money to insure fewer people. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this decision will add $194 billion to the national deficit over the next decade while our nation’s most vulnerable lose coverage. Furthermore, we all know that markets must be stable for businesses to provide consumers with affordable, high-quality products. The cost-sharing reduction payments are crucial for stability in the individual health care market, which is why many of us in Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – have been advocating for making these payments permanent through legislation. Ending these payments will cause even more instability in the health care market, which will lead to higher premiums and fewer options for Americans across the country.

“Since its enactment, I have always believed that the Affordable Care Act has problems that must be addressed. But the way to fix problems is with bipartisan, commonsense solutions, not with partisan, senseless decisions and actions, such as this executive order.”

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October 3 , 2017

Digital Music Lab Creates Opportunities for Students
Home

October 02, 2017 Merced College is adding another skill to student résumés: music producer. The Merced College Music and Performing Arts Department are currently implementing courses that explore the technological side of the music industry.
With its new Introduction to Digital Music course the department takes music production into the 21st century. The classroom, located in the Vocational building, constructs individual workstations for the students, where they can compose, edit and orchestrate their own works through the click of a mouse. It allows to students familiarize themselves with technology and the vast world of multimedia production.
Dean of Music and Performing Arts John Albano said the program “promotes not only music composition, but all digital media, including graphic design, video production, audio production and digital art”.
The classroom is not simply a computer lab, however. Four individual rooms built within the space serve as multipurpose chambers. It becomes a sound booth, an editing space, a recording studio and a practice space where students can perfect their work. Albano hopes that these new facilities will provide opportunities for students to find practical applications and experience in the field of technology. He also says implementation of these programs are vital, as they allow the College to stay current with the changing job market. The global transition into a culture of the Internet and smart phones requires students to be knowledgeable in audio-visual media more than ever.
Courses will include techniques in recording, digital music notation, sampling, as well as composition and recording arts. There will also be opportunities for exploring these new terrains with courses in music theory, introduction to digital media and fundamental-based music courses. Albano hopes that these courses will attract music majors, as well as those looking to expand their horizons in the world of audio and visual media.


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October 3 , 2017


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT APPLEGATE ROAD
IN THE CITY OF ATWATER

ATWATER – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the on-ramp from Applegate Road to northbound State Route 99 in Merced County for maintenance work.
Work will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

 

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

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October 2, 2017

Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star Coming to Castle Air Museum

After three years of fundraising and planning the long awaited Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star has departed the Helena, Montana Regional Airport for the Castle Air Museum located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater, CA. The aircraft will make its way through several states roughly along the Interstate 15 corridor down through Las Vegas, across to Barstow, CA., and then onto Bakersfield, CA and up the Central Valley with an approximate ETA at the Museum in Atwater some time Friday evening October 6. This is a military adaptation of the classic Lockheed Constellation passenger aircraft of the 1950s and early'60's. The main load which is the aircraft's fuselage is over 150 feet in legnth from the front of the tractor to the rearmost portion of the fuselage. This is a monumental undertaking to save a piece of aviation history from becoming scrap and being lost forever. It is the mission of the Castle Air Museum, "to preserve military aviation heritage for future geneations, and inspire tomorrows aviators and engineers."
The aircraft once delivered will be reassembled by Worldwide Aircraft Recovery responsible for the work of disassembly, transport and reassembly for permanent exhibit at the Museum and to also be used in an educational role. The Museum would like to thank all of the generous individuals and business firms who donated to the Museum, a 501c3 non-profit organization to make this a reality!
For more information pleae contact Joe Pruzzo at the information provided.

 




Photo Credits courtesy of Worldwide Aircraft Recovery.

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September 30, 2017

 

FFA Students Prepare for Annual Fall Plant Sale

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 5000 flowering annuals, perennials, ferns, fruit trees, and miscellaneous ag mechanics projects will be on sale Friday, October 13th (8am-4pm) and Saturday, October 14th (8am-4pm) at the Atwater High School Agriculture Department for the annual FFA Fall Plant Sale. All of the plants were propagated and grown by Atwater High School agriculture and horticulture students.

The primary purpose of this sale is to generate funds to support the Atwater High School Horticulture program where funds go directly back into the program to assist in the funding of future student, school, and community horticulture and landscape projects.

A variety of annuals, perennials, and Merced County Fair award winning plants will be available to the community. “All plants are priced to sell,” says agriculture instructor Dave Gossman, “The students have put together great quality at a price that is under what you would find at our local stores and nurseries.”

The Atwater High School Agriculture program was the first-ever recognized certified high school horticulture program through the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC). The certification represents the quality of horticulture program, curriculum and facilities, career awareness by students in the horticulture industry, and encourages students to continue their education towards a career in horticulture. “People don’t realize that the horticulture industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of California”, said Gossman, “There are numerous opportunities for students to be successful in this field of agriculture.”

The goal of the Atwater FFA is to expand and develop plant products that meet the community’s needs and interests. This school year students have been taking part in horticulture class where they select and grow their own plants to sell at the school’s plant sales.


Atwater High School agriculture seniors Janell Cribbs and Mayra Valdez inspect the plant labels and health of the flowering annuals in preparation of the upcoming Atwater FFA Fall Plant Sale on October 13th and 14th.



Atwater High School agriculture seniors Mayra Valdez and Janell Cribbs inspect the flowering plant stock in preparation of the annual Atwater FFA Fall Plant Sale on October 13th and 14th.

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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September 30, 2017

MCOE, EECU to Host 12th Annual Excellence in Education Awards

Parents, students, educators and the community are invited to celebrate with educators and school employees from throughout the county as the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union host the annual Excellence in Education awards ceremony on Oct. 3 at the Merced Theatre.
The program, formerly Teacher of the Year, now has two categories: one for teachers and one for other school employees.
The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St. in Downtown Merced.
There are five nominees for school employee of the year and seven nominees for teacher of the year.
Honorees and their guests will enjoy video vignettes produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in both categories and a dessert reception immediately after the ceremony. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year will move on to the state awards program.
District nominees this year are:

TEACHERS:
Carrie O’Bara Atwater Elementary School District
Cara Holland Delhi Unified School District
Mary Henderson Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Tuckie Burgess Merced County Office of Education – Special Education

 

Stephen Eccles Merced Union High School District
Jenny Mendoza Preschool – Merced County Office of Education
Dawna McCreary Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Mary Monroe Atwater Elementary School District
Marisela Picazo Delhi Unified School District
Fernando Maciel Le Grand Union High School District
Jennifer M. Campos Merced County Office of Education – Human Resources
Donna L. Bandoni Merced Union High School District
To RSVP for the event or for more information on the Excellence in Education program, call Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or email events@mcoe.org.

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September 30, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140
IN the city of merced

MERCED – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the off-ramp from southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) to eastbound SR-140 for maintenance work.

Work will take place on Sunday, October 1, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

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.

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS BRIDGE REHABILITATION PROJECT
AT STATE ROUTE 33 AND INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently began a project to enhance the structure of the bridge on State Route 33 at Interstate 5 in Santa Nella.

The project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Work is scheduled to be done at nighttime, and the project is scheduled to be completed by February 2018.

Motorists should expect 10 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.

This $1.6 million project has been awarded to Viking Construction Co.

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September 29, 2017

 

FFA Cooks Up Successful Record BBQ Fundraiser

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 1,200 BBQ tri-tip and pork loin dinners were cooked, prepared, and picked-up by various community families through the annual Atwater “FFA Take-Out BBQ” dinner. With 5000+ lbs of tri-tip, pork loin, salad, beans, and rolls packaged and sold by Atwater FFA students, the BBQ dinner turned out to be a record event with the most meals ever prepared for this FFA fundraiser. “This is a win-win situation. The community gets a great tasting BBQ meal and the agriculture program benefits from the funds that will be focused directly on the students,” said FFA advisor and BBQ coordinator Natalie Borba.
This fundraiser is one of four take-out BBQ fundraisers for the Atwater FFA throughout the upcoming school year. The students sell the tickets in advance followed by the ordering of food. The Atwater FFA has worked closely with Atwater’s Smart & Final, Richwood Meats, and Costco as they have supported the program’s fundraiser every year. Also, this year we had a huge help with cooking all of the meat from Uncle Buck's BBQ. The morning of the BBQ, students arrive early in the morning to prepare the salads, meat, beans, and dinner bags. Throughout the day, students take a “hands-on” approach towards the preparation, cooking, and organization of all the meals. “The students are invested in this event as they put forth tremendous effort in organizing and implementing the event,” said FFA advisor and “BBQ Extraordinaire” Sam Meredith.
The “FFA Take-Out BBQ” is one of two current fundraisers for Atwater FFA. The other current fundraiser taking place is the placemat ad sales. “All the money that is raised goes directly toward the students in providing resources and opportunities for all of them to achieve personal growth, academic success, and career objectives,” said FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. Over $25,000 in funds and agriculture resources is expected to be raised this school year to help support the agriculture program’s operation and activities.
The success and growth of the Atwater FFA and agriculture program is due to the continued support of the Atwater High School staff and administration, the Merced Union High School District, the Atwater Ag Boosters, and the hundreds of local community members and parents.
“We want to ensure that there is a return on the community’s investment by motivating and encouraging our students to go after their educational and career interests,” said FFA advisor Dan Flatt, “The excitement and effort we are seeing this year from our students is generating just a “taste” of what is still to come!”

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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picture to right

Atwater High School FFA member Julian Ibarra delivers an Atwater FFA Take-Out BBQ meal to Atwater community resident Amy Vann where over 1200 BBQ meals were prepared for the the local community.


Atwater High School agriculture student Josue Agundis checks the temperature of over 3500 pounds of tri-tip cooked during the recent FFA BBQ fundraiser.


Atwater High School agriculture students (right to left) Flor Agundis, VanessaGarcia, Marissa Nuno, and Yasmine Chavez prepare the BBQ pork loins in preparation of pick-up by customers during the recent BBQ fundraiser.

 

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September 29, 2017

Delhi’s El Capitan Installs Playground, Shade Structure Thanks to Measure E

El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi is sporting a new look, blending modern and historical elements of the North 5th Street campus.
Work has been completed on a new plaza, which includes a playground area and shade structure. The complex cost more than $600,000 and covers about half of the school site.
Adolfo Melara, Delhi Unified School District superintendent, said the project is the outgrowth of voters passing the Measure E bond measure five years ago. It also includes $20,000 in funds donated by the El Capitan Parents Club following fund-raising efforts over the last few years.
Melara said the project creates a harmonious look by connecting the school’s charming original buildings with the state-of-the-art new multipurpose building.
“It provides the element our children deserve,” Melara said. “It completes our children’s education by ensuring they will have fun physical activity. It is a facility that will inspire them and show how much we care for them.”
El Capitan Principal Gena Buchanan beams as she considers the renovations, which took three months to accomplish.
“It’s amazing! It just gives our school a whole new feel. It brings old world charm to the modern world. This is the campus our students deserve,” Buchanan said.
Melara said actual construction took about three months. It required leveling the ground, upgrading the drainage system, pouring cement and adding the new shade structure and adjoining playground equipment. There are two full-sized basketball courts and a tetherball court.
“It’s difficult to learn in facilities that are not up to par. We are giving them beautiful surroundings, which are a reminder that they are our priority. “They (students) are just loving it,” Melara said.
Also completed during the summer was the repainting of the entire school in a tan color with dark blue accents. Mike Flowers, El Capitan’s maintenance lead person, said the plaza takes up an area of 80 square feet by 180 square feet. Near the shade structure is a cement strip with the handprints of all the students and staff from the 2017-2018 school year.
Jay Serratore, the district’s chief budget officer, said the renovations will change the environment at El Capitan School and how people look at it. He said the results have exceeded their expectations. The Docon Co. of Modesto was the contractor on the project designed by SIM Architects.
The grand opening for the El Capitan plaza project will be Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. at the school, 10115 N. 5th St.
Melara expects the upgraded surroundings will create more pride in the school by students.
It will inspire the community and the parents and contribute to students enjoying the daily environment more and boosting their academic performance, Melara said.









 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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September 29, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS BRIDGE REHABILITATION PROJECT
AT STATE ROUTE 33 AND INTERSTATE 5 IN SANTA NELLA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently began a project to enhance the structure of the bridge on State Route 33 at Interstate 5 in Santa Nella.
The project is designed to improve the road surface, efficiency of travel and safety for motorists traveling throughout Merced County. The sidewalk on the bridge will remain open throughout construction for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Work is scheduled to be done at nighttime, and the project is scheduled to be completed by February 2018.
Motorists should expect 10 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.
This $1.6 million project has been awarded to Viking Construction Co.

 

 


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

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September 29, 2017

MCAG Launches Measure V Website

Merced- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) has launched a new website to share information about the distribution of funds and the development of the implementation plan for Measure V, the half-cent transportation sales tax approved by voters in November 2016.
The website www.measurev-mcag.com will provide a breakdown of expenditures by local agency, as well as regional projects, transit investments and administration. It also includes detailed reports regarding revenue received by the agency and all meetings associated with the Measure V effort.
“We made a commitment to voters to ensure that Measure V funds are spent exactly as promised,” said Patrick Pittenger, MCAG Executive Director. “The website is just one element towards our goal of complete transparency in the implementation of Measure V.”
Visitors to the site can review the action of the Citizens Oversight Committee as well as the East and Westside Committees currently working to identify regional projects for funding. There is also a document library containing all relevant materials related to Measure V and a page where people can ask questions or comment on proposed expenditures.

 

 

“The site will be updated with new information as we move through this exciting time in local transportation planning,” added Pittenger. “We finally have the ability to fix our local roads.”
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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September 28, 2017

 

FFA State Officers Visit Atwater High School

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Representing over 87,000 current California high school agriculture students, the entire 2017-2018 State FFA officer team made a recent stop at Atwater High School to help inform, encourage, and generate enthusiasm towards FFA, agricultural education, and the opportunities FFA has in serving the personal, academic, and career interests of over 900 Atwater High School agriculture students.
Various workshops were presented by the state officers throughout the day. “Their visit inspired me and provided a learning experience in opportunities FFA and agricultural education has to offer.” said junior Jasmine Flores. The six state officers normally break into teams of two and visit 1/3 of the high school agriculture programs throughout the state each year. “This was a special opportunity to have all six officers visit Atwater High School as an opportunity for them to initiate and implement their workshops as an entire team,” said FFA advisor Natalie Borba. “It provides our students an opportunity to be exposed to a group of high character individuals and peers who have been influenced by their agriculture education experience towards their personal growth, academic success, and post-high school education and career endeavors.”
The FFA state officers are now traveling up and down the state of California as well as parts of Washington and Utah over the next few months promoting agriculture, leadership, academic, and career opportunities. “Our primary goal is to connect with students and establish relationships,” said State FFA Vice President and Atwater High School graduate Jasmine Flores. “Atwater FFA is nationally recognized as a top notch program that makes a positive difference in the lives of students.”

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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picture to right

The 2017-2018 California FFA Association's state officers Luke O'Leary, Hunter Andrade, Jasmine Flores, Armando Vevarez, Genevieve Regli, and Robert Marchy gather with Atwater High School Principal Torrin Johnson during a recent visit to the school campus.


Atwater High School alumni and current State FFA Association Vice President Jasmine Flores shares the 3-circle agriculture education model with students Evelyn Cisneros and Briana Arteaga.


Atwater High School agriculture students Ernesto Gutierrez and Joseph Hayward work with California FFA Association Luke O'Leary during a personality profile activity presentation


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September 28, 2017

First Phase of EMP Underway

September 27, 2017 The first phase of the new Educational Master Plan is underway and set to continue through November.
Spearheaded by Vice President of Student Services Dr. Michael McCandless, the EMP will course the direction of Merced College’s instruction, student support services, and administrative functions over the next four to five years.
Teaming up with the Collaborative Brain Trust (CBT), the College will collect data on the community and surrounding area, searching for improvements and potential areas of growth that will be beneficial to the student base. CBT is a consultant firm that specializes in higher education.
“The EMP is very important because it’s the guiding plan for the direction that the College will head in,” McCandless said. “The Facilities Mater Plan is based on the EMP as is your Strategic Master Plan. We last updated it in 2015-2016 prior to the accreditation team visit, but now we need a really evolved EMP that says this is where we are and where we need to go.
“The EMP is kind of the crux of everything for the College. All our other planning stems from this plan. Without the EMP it’s harder to get traction on the shorter-term stuff you want to get done. And without the EMP, you don’t have a direction for where you want to go, and so you’re kind of stuck wallowing in the status quo.”
The first phase of the project, which is set to be finished in March 2018, is data gathering and the piecing together a task force. McCandless said the task force will consist of 16 groups, composed of classified professionals, faculty and management.
While that’s happening, the CBT team will review existing data and documents at the College, complete internal and external scans of the Merced College environment and service area, and engage with people both on campus and in the community to discuss existing and future needs.


“I am pleased that Dr. Mike McCandless, Vice President of Student Services, is chairing this important task force for the District,” Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli said. “With his leadership and the team of constituents serving on the task force, we are certain to produce a meaningful and progressive plan serving as the guide for the future of Merced College.
“There are few plans, if any, more important than the Educational Master Plan for Merced College. It is truly the cornerstone of all future planning for the College."

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September 28, 2017

Merced River Utilizes Measure L Funds for Campus Improvements

Washington School has a new look about it, the result of an extensive remodeling made possible by voter-approved bonds passed four years ago.
The school at 4402 W. Oakdale Road, Winton, now has new floors, carpeting and laminate in the main building, brightening up five classrooms and the office, according to Superintendent Richard Lopez.
“We are trying to bring this up to speed, improve the learning environment for students and staff,” Lopez said. “It’s an investment in upgrading the facility. The community totally approves of these upgrades 100 percent; we have gotten nothing but positive feedback.”
Work last summer marked the second phase of the modernization project made possible by the $1.7 million Measure L approved by Merced River Union Elementary School District voters in 2013. Lopez said while the facilities were torn up for the renovation, the interior of the main building was repainted in navy blue and gray colors. Permanent walls were placed in the classrooms, replacing accordion-like dividers.
“While everything was torn up during the work, at the end of the day it’s going to be an immaculate building we can be proud of,” Lopez said. “We are slowly getting back to normal. By mid- to end-September, we will install a Jungle Jim for kindergarten through third grade kids. Once we are done, we will have a reception for the community to see the upgrades to the district.”
The district completely revamped its computer lab in December, upgrading 35 stations with Chromebooks. With an aging facility, it was important to modernize it and make it as user-friendly as possible for students and staff. The latest round of improvements is expected to cost between $115,000 and $130,000, Lopez said.
During the past few decades, Washington School and the district have undergone several significant changes. On March 18, 1975 an arson-caused fire razed the school, destroying a three-classroom wing. Decades later, with declining enrollment, trustees decided to consolidate all students at Washington School. Hopeton School was closed and now is used twice a week as a private adult campus, Lopez said.
Washington School began the current term with 173 students, five more than in June. The district has grown by at least 30 students since the end of 2015.
Six water-filling stations also have been installed around the campus and students have refillable water bottles with the school logo imprinted on the outside. The Aqua 4 All campaign aims to have students drink seven or eight bottles of water a day and reduce the use of sodas, Lopez said.
The architect for the school’s modernization program was Sugimura Finney of San Jose and the contractor was Dave Alexander of Merced, with Andy Taylor Backhoe of Winton helping with the project. Kevin Gibson Painting of Merced did the school’s painting work.



Thanks to funds from voter-approved Measure L, Washington School in the Merced River School District upgraded many buildings, including classrooms.




Thanks to funds from voter-approved Measure L, Washington School in the Merced River School District upgraded many buildings, including the breakroom.


Part of the Aqua 4 All campaign, this is one of six hydration stations available to students and staff at Washington School in the Merced River School District.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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September 23, 2017

Students Celebrate Constitution Week

Students and staff at Stowell Elementary School in Merced marked the end of Constitution Week with a patriotic sing-along on Friday. The children gave their best renditions of songs such as “This Land is Your Land” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Many also made their own festive headbands and waved handmade flags. The event began with two groups of students reciting the preamble to the Constitution and a passage from the poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.
Throughout the week, students also took part in other special activities that centered around the U.S. Constitution. It was a great opportunity to integrate history, social studies, and art.
Constitution Week was started by the Daughters of the American Revolution and is celebrated annually from September 17-23. To learn more, you can visit this website: https://www.dar.org/national-society/education/constitution-week

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September 23, 2017

Record-Breaking Class Pushes UC Merced Enrollment Near 8,000
Driven by increasing popularity and demand, the campus’s enrollment for Fall 2017 includes 2,449 first-year and transfer students and a 13 percent increase in graduate students

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, received the largest incoming class of students in its 13-year history this semester, as total enrollment neared 8,000 for the first time.
The fastest-growing university in the nation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, UC Merced now enrolls 7,375 undergraduate and 592 graduate students for a total of 7,967 students — an 8.6 percent increase from 7,336 in 2016, as reported in the university’s fall census.
“UC Merced’s record enrollment is fueled by growing popularity and increased demand, as demonstrated by a significant increase in applications and subsequent registrations to our campus,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We continue to support our students on their academic journeys by placing a strong focus on the development of academic programs, hands-on research opportunities for undergraduates and a growing array of student activities and amenities.”
The campus’s incoming class of 2,293 first-year students, 156 transfer students and 156 graduate students is its largest class. Among the incoming students are 173 from high schools in Merced County — the most in the campus’s history.
“This year we exceeded our enrollment targets thanks to increased recruitment and retention efforts across campus,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies said. “Even with our remarkable growth, we are committed to developing opportunities for our students to be successful academically and personally in order to make timely progress to their degree.”
UC Merced is an increasingly vital component of the UC system’s efforts to increase access for all qualified Californians, regardless of financial need.
Nearly all of UC Merced’s students hail from California, and as many as 75 percent of first-year students are first-generation college students. The campus enrolled an estimated 66 percent Pell Grant-eligible first-year students in 2017, representing students with the highest level of financial need, and expects to distribute approximately $150 million in financial aid and scholarships during the academic year.


Of its total undergraduate population, 72 percent are first-generation students and 63 percent are Pell Grant-eligible — the largest percentage within the University of California system.
U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” rankings, released earlier this month, positioned UC Merced as the No. 1 public university in the nation for financial aid given to first-year students, No. 15 in the U.S. for the lowest average debt among graduates from public universities, and No. 87 among public universities overall.
UC Merced also continues to expand its graduate student population — the campus’s 592 graduate students represent an increase of 13 percent over last year. Overall, graduate students comprise 7 percent of the student body, and the campus is making progress toward its goal of 10 percent by 2020.
“I’m proud to say that UC Merced continues to attract and enroll graduate students of the highest caliber,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie S. Zatz. “Our growth this year — nearly all of which is due to an increase in enrolled doctoral students — is indicative of the excellent faculty and research opportunities that our campus has to offer.”
To accommodate enrollment growth, a major campus expansion is well underway via the Merced 2020 Project. By this time next year, three new buildings will be completed, along with a new entrance to campus. By 2020, the campus will be large enough to accommodate up to 10,000 students.
More than 40 new ladder-rank professors — hailing from universities like Harvard, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — joined the UC Merced faculty this year. That’s the largest single group of faculty members since the campus broke ground in 2002 and brings the total number of faculty members to 260.
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UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollme
nt growth to 10,000 students.

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September 21, 2017

Annual Fundraiser Garners More Than $30k for Camp Green Meadows

The Merced County Education Foundation hosted the second annual fundraiser to support capital improvements at Camp Green Meadows on Sept. 10 at the Elks Lodge in Merced.
Attendees gave big — more than $30,000 — for the outdoor education facility near Fish Camp.
Camp Green Meadows is owned and operated by the Merced County Office of Education and has served tens of thousands of students from throughout Central California for more than 50 years, providing about 2,500 Merced County students the outdoor school and camping experience annually.
Green Meadows Principal Bob Bassett presented to the group about the school and how it serves students from throughout Central California and one of the school’s naturalists, Mark Touchstone, talked about working with students and how they were an early adopter of next generation science standards.
Unlike traditional schools, which receive a portion of funding through average daily attendance, Camp Green Meadows relies on visiting schools and private groups for its revenue, along with community support. MCOE works to keep fees low to minimize cost to school districts, which leaves very little resources for capital improvements.
MCOE has identified several areas of need at the outdoor school to ensure the facilities can serve new generations of students.
Upgrades include renovations of all boys and girls cabins and a renovated nurse’s station, which will provide easier access for wheelchairs, be a dedicated space for students who become ill and need first aid or monitor medication during their stay.
Funds raised from the community will be combined with MCOE funding to build a new nurse’s station and classroom building.
Pledges and multi-year donations of more than $2,500 included Rob and Andrea Baptie, Jim and Carlene Cunningham, Steve and Victoria Gomes, Larry and Dorlie Goodger, Steve and Rebecca Tietjen and Steve Tinetti.
Rob Baptie engaged the group toward the end of the fundraiser, stating that he would match every $100 donated. The group raised $4,600, and the Bapties contributed $10,400 in total donations that night.
Robert Haden and Betty Dawson also announced an annual $6,000 sponsorship for foster youth and students who were unable to attend Camp Green Meadows due to unusual challenges.
Other large sponsors include Education Employees Credit Union, Fluetsch & Busby Insurance, Merced Elks Lodge #1240, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, Rotary Club of Merced and North Merced Rotary Club.

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Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks North Merced Rotary Club President Richard Marchini for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Larry Whitney with the Rotary Club of Merced for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


From left, Rebecca and Steve Tietjen are recognized for their contribution with Merced County Education Foundation President Michele Fagundes at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.

 

 


More than 150 people attended the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Rob Baptie addresses the crowd and says he will match donations; collectively, the crowd raised $4,600, to which the Bapties matched $10,400. The Bapties are Camp Green Meadows largest donors.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Rob and Andrea Baptie for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Camp Green Meadows Principal Bob Bassett talks to the crowd about the outdoor school in Fish Camp at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, left, thanks Steve and Victoria Gomes for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.


From left, Steve Gomes poses with Robert Haden and Betty Dawson at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10. Haden and Dawson announced an annual $6,000 scholarship for foster youth and students who were unable to attend Camp Green Meadows because of an unusual challenge.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, right, thanks Mary Robinson with the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union for their support at the annual Camp Green Meadows fundraiser at the Merced Elks Lodge on Sept. 10.

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September 21, 2017

Delhi School District Schedules Community Cleanup Day on Saturday

Delhi students deserve a clean town.
That’s the sentiment of Adolfo Melara, superintendent of the Delhi Unified School District, which will be conducting a Community Clean Up program Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. around Delhi.
“It is time to once again roll up our sleeves and give to our community by beautifying it,” Melara says. “Last year we hit a ‘tipping point’ in Delhi when it became the norm to see cleaner streets and cleaner buildings. For those of us who were here three years ago, we can remember when that was not the case.”
At 8:15 a.m. Saturday, volunteers will meet at the Delhi Education Park, outside the school’s main office, to create teams and distribute equipment.
Projects will include cleaning up weeds and trash at the entrance of Highway 99 and Shanks Road, leading to Vincent Road and leading to the corner of Shanks Road and Letteau Avenue.
Cleanup also includes removing weeds and trash on Shanks, leading to the corner of Schendel Avenue. Efforts continue along Schendel across the street from the Ed Park, leading all the way to Merced Avenue.
Volunteers 18 years old and older also will clean up along El Capitan Way at the overpass, with graffiti abatement in affected areas.
Sarah Coey, a teacher at Delhi Middle School, says they are drawing positive attention to the community by showing the school loves the town. She says there are more volunteers working at each cleanup and it teaches the students how to serve.
“Delhi Clean Ups are a representation of how our Delhi community is just like a family,” Coey says. “I grew up in Delhi and now as an educator at Delhi Middle School it’s important to teach our students to get involved and be proud of their town. We feel a great sense of accomplishment from all of our volunteers who come out to beautify our streets.”
Pizza and soft drinks will be available to everyone at 11:30 a.m. on the tables outside the Delhi High School cafeteria.
Melara says up to 100 people get involved, including students, teachers, parents and community members. He says the district does a cleanup about every two months and he has been overwhelmed with the response for the request for help.
Tanya Abrams, a special education instructor at Delhi High School, said her hope is that as students see her working in the community they will realize that volunteerism is more than a high school assignment — it is a way of life.
“Our community clean ups are an opportunity to give back to the community that gives me so much,” Abrams says. “I think it is important for students to see us, teachers and administrators, volunteering in the community. They need to see us pulling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. They need

 

 

to see that we value our community and sometimes that means picking up trash, pulling weeds and giving up our Saturdays simply because we choose to invest in Delhi.”
Melara says the cleanup is modeled after the “Love Delhi” events, which are held twice a year.
He says when he came to Delhi three years ago, people felt Delhi was neglected. Through hard work and dedication, they have changed the face of the town.

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First 5, Department of Education Officials to Speak on State of Quality Early Education

The Early Education program with the Merced County Office of Education is planning an informational program Oct. 10 in Atwater for anyone interested in learning more about quality early education programs in the county and state.
The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at Valley Community School, 1800 Matthew St., Atwater. About 100 people are expected to attend. A light dinner will be provided.
Samantha Thompson, early education program manager with the county schools office, said Camille Maben of First 5 California and Sarah Neville Morgan of the State Department of Education’s Early Education and Support Division, will speak. They will highlight their continued commitment of partnering in implementing the Quality Ratings and Improvement System.
Thompson said limited space is available. To register, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/StateOfQualityInEE. For more information, call (209) 381-6719.

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September 19, 2017

BILL OLSON APPOINTED NEW CHIEF INVESTIGATOR FOR MERCED DA OFFICE

Bill Olson has been promoted to the Chief Investigator position with the Merced County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, announced District Attorney Larry D. Morse II. Olson replaces Pat Lunney, who recently retired after serving as chief investigator for nearly 10 years.
Olson, 52, a native of Merced County, joined the Merced District Attorney’s office in 2016 as an investigator, and has been responsible for the implementation and oversight of our new VIPER (Violence Interruption Prevention Emergency Response) program since the beginning of this year. This program is one of the first county intelligence units in California.
“Under Bill’s leadership VIPER has been instrumental in providing information analysis to local law enforcement, including important work on Operation Scrapbook, and key intelligence data that has helped clear several high profile cases in Merced County,” Morse said.
Olson began his career in law enforcement in 1987 with the Merced Police Department. He was hired by then Police Chief Pat Lunney, and spent seven years with the MPD, until he joined the Department of Justice as a special agent for the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement in 1994. In 2001 he was promoted to Task Force Commander for the Yuba/Sutter Counties Narcotic Enforcement Team. In 2008 he was promoted to Commander of the Yolo County Narcotic Enforcement Team and in 2010 he was promoted to Task Force Commander-Placer County Special Investigations Unit, where he served until he retired from the DOJ in 2016.
He has also served as a Narcotics Instructor for the California Narcotics Officer Association and the Department of Justice, and was a Firearms/Tactical Instructor for the Department of Justice.
“I grew up here, attended elementary schools and graduated from Atwater High School, and although much has remained the same we live in a very different era of time. I look forward to working with all law enforcement agencies and representing the District Attorney’s Office, to make this community as safe as I remember it growing up,” Olson said.


Bill Olson

 

The Merced County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations is comprised of one supervising investigator, six full-time sworn peace officer investigators, three part-time sworn peace officer investigators, and three non-sworn investigative assistants.

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September 19, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Meeting Is A Splash Hit

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 300 Atwater High School agriculture students attended the school year’s first official FFA chapter meeting. The Atwater FFA “Pool Party” meeting was held in the school cafeteria on Monday, September 11th with the 2017-2018 FFA Chapter Officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Once the business portion of the meeting concluded, students were treated with a complimentary BBQ and swimming at the school’s swimming pool.

The chapter meeting consisted of committee reports which included the chapter’s Take-Out BBQ fundraiser with Jacky Sandoval informing the students that over 1200 tickets had been sold. “This fundraiser is always very successful due to the tremendous support of the community,” said Atwater FFA Chapter Sentinel Jonathan Garcia. “We are very privileged to have the support of the people in our local community.” Other items discussed on the agenda included announcements pertaining to the annual FFA Fall Plant Sale, upcoming football game BBQ crews, FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies contest, and the annual FFA Corn Maze meeting.

A free BBQ dinner was served to all of the students who attended following the meeting. “The FFA organization is a student run organization,” said FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. “The students prepared, cooked, and served all the food for the meeting and as they continue to take pride in being on the BBQ team.”

The highlight of the school year’s first meeting was the swimming pool. “The meeting was a lot of fun,” said junior Chelsea Thompson. “I am very excited to get involved with the FFA.” The Atwater FFA conducts monthly meetings that are organized, prepared, and run by the FFA chapter officers and the high school’s Ag Leadership class. “It’s great to see students pull together and work as a team in putting together such an exciting event,” said FFA advisor Natalie Borba.

Atwater FFA Chapter Vice President, Jasmine Sandoval best summarized the atmosphere best when he said, “FFA is a positive organization to get involved with because it is lots of fun, it keeps you interested, and everybody is a family.”

 

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 Joseph Alaniz, Francisco Aguilar, Santiago Sanchez, Jesus Manguia, and Rosendo Garcia make a splash during the recent FFA pool party meeting.


Atwater FFA students and staff members Gilbert Rodriguez, Joel Rojas, and Kaylyn Davenport serve food to FFA members Emily Ruiz, Ivette Maravilla, and Sara Baird following the meeting at Atwater High School.


Over 300 FFA members attended to recent FFA meeting including Jamie Arredondo, Stephanie Sanchez, Cassandra Precciado, Daniel Narez, Cristal Venegas, Camille Parker, Arly Gonzales, Alyssa Guitierez, and Madeline Garibay.

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September 19, 2017

Young Patriot Challenge Explores U.S. Bill of Rights in Modern Times

The Merced County Young Patriot Challenge will give county students an opportunity to give their perspective on the U.S. Bill of Rights in modern times through a poster, essay or speech.
The contest, which is celebrating its sixth year, is open to all Merced County students, including homeschooled students, and helps to assist teachers in complying with the federal mandate that the U.S. Constitution should be the subject of lessons and activities for appropriate classes during Constitution Day, which is Sept. 17.
The theme for the 2017 Young Patriot Challenge is “Is the Bill of Rights still Applicable in the 21st Century?” Middle school students compete by writing an essay and high school students will give a prepared speech explaining their position on the prompt. Elementary school students are asked to develop posters around the theme “Symbols of the Constitution,” which could include the legislative branches, the founding fathers, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc.
Young Patriot Challenge Chairperson Barbara Riis-Christensen said “The YPC does this as an opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge of the U.S Constitution.” She added, “as James Madison said ‘knowledge will forever govern ignorance.’ ”
An awards ceremony for parents and contest winners at all levels will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Rd.
For more information, call Riis-Christensen (209) 358-8404 and visit www.ypcusa.org.


Student winners, event organizers and elected officials pose for a photo at the 2016 Merced County Young Patriot Challenge in Atwater.

PHOTO COURTESY YOUNG PATRIOT CHALLENGE

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September 19, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Secures Rare Victory for Water Rights Holders

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray’s (D-Merced) announced the landmark passage of water rights fairness legislation after the bill received final approval on the last day of the Legislative session. The bill requires that unbiased administrative law judges conduct water rights enforcement hearings, instead of the State Water Board.

“The region I represent is the target of a massive water grab from the State Water Resources Control Board,” said Gray. “A water grab of this size would cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite receiving thousands of comments refuting the faulty science contained in their report, and repeated requests from community leaders to fully consider the impact of jeopardizing the drinking water supply of thousands of people, the water board is poised to dismiss our concerns and adopt the report. If there is any lesson this fight has taught me, it is that the Legislature has handed far too much power over to bureaucrats who simply do not care about the people I represent.”

AB 313 establishes a new water rights management structure, creating a new Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings to handle all water rights matters. The shift removes conflicts of interest and built-in biases in the current system. The State Water Board has the power to write regulations, initiate enforcement actions, and conduct hearings in its own



courtroom in which Board staff act as the prosecution and Board members act as judge and jury.
“Throughout my time in the legislature, I have been working to restore fairness and create checks on the power of unelected bureaucrats on the State Water Board,” continued Gray. “The passage of AB 313 is a step in the right direction. This bill levels the playing field by ensuring that water rights holders receive the same due process and objectivity that our justice system promises everyone – nothing more, nothing less.”

Under AB 313, administrative law judges in the new Water Rights Division would handle all water rights matters, providing a neutral body for hearings regarding those complicated, and often controversial, issues. The bill ensures an efficient, productive transfer of power to the new Water Rights Division, preventing any duplication of work or similar responsibility to fall under the SWRCB.

The bill now heads to Governor Brown for his signature.

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September 18 , 2017

Lights On Afterschool Scheduled Downtown, Features Parade, Costume Contest

Lights On Afterschool, which is celebrated in thousands of communities across the nation, is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26 in Downtown Merced.
Each October, millions of Americans in thousands of communities across the nation celebrate expanded, after school learning programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
This family event will feature student performances, informational booths, games, prizes and a costume contest at 7 p.m.
Lights On will also highlight the importance of early education with a parade featuring some of our youngest students.
The Lights On Afterschool celebration will be held in conjunction with Merced County Local Child Care & Development Planning Council and will feature an early education parade.
The parade begins at 5:45 p.m. with the formation area on the corner of K and Main Streets in front of the movie theater. Main Street between K and M Streets as well as Canal St to 18th Street will be closed to traffic starting at 1:30 p.m.

 

 

This is a walking parade, and while wagons and strollers are recommended for younger children, no motorized means of transportation will be permitted.
The parade will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call (209) 381-5934.

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September 18, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

The 2016-2017 Atwater FFA chapter officer team joined thirteen other FFA chapters from the Merced-Mariposa section at the FFA Sectional Officer Leadership Conference (SOLC) held at Merced College on earlier this month.

The annual Sectional Officer Leadership Conference is held each year to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and the responsibilities within their offices. The 2017-2018 Atwater FFA officer team is composed of Anessa Cardenas, President; Jasmine Sandoval, Vice President; Dillon Guillen, Secretary; Zion Brigham, Treasurer; Grace Reyes, Reporter; Jonathan Garcia, Sentinel; and Stephania Valdovinos, Historian.

This year the theme for the Merced Mariposa Sectional FFA is “Initiate”. Various activities were held at the conference which included understanding body language, proper etiquette, chapter fundraising, public speaking, facilitating a meeting, analytical skills, and finding team strengths. “I learned how to network and be a more effective communicator,” said Jonathan Garcia. This conference was the first of two leadership conferences the officer team will be attending this year. In early October, the officers will be attending a regional FFA leadership conference in Modesto. Nearly 200 chapter officers from the Central Region and the 2017-2018 California FFA Association State Officer Team will be attending the leadership conference. The skills that the students learn will be taken back to the high school and shared throughout the 2017-2018 school year.


Atwater FFA chapter officers and Merced-Mariposa sectional officers Dillon Guillen, Jonathan Garcia, Daisy Flores, Shelby Stillman, Grace Reyes, Selina Lopes, Jasmine Sandoval, Corie Falaschi, Anessa Cardenas, Josh Huepel, Stephania Valdovinos, and Emily Junez gather during the annual FFA SOLC at Merced College.


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Other FFA chapters that attended the conference included Buhach Colony, Delhi, Pacheco, Livingston, Merced, Golden Valley, Hilmar, Gustine, Dos Palos, El Capitán, Los Banos, LeGrand, Stone Ridge Christian, and Mariposa FFA.

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

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September 18, 2017

Housing Package is a Step in the Right Direction

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement today after the State Legislature sent Governor Brown a package of housing legislation:

“Time and time again, I have opposed legislation which prioritized the interests of the big cities and wealthy coastal regions while failing to make room for solutions to the problems we have in the San Joaquin Valley. But today is one of the rare occasions I can confidently say that the San Joaquin Valley was not forgotten.

After the State Budget this year dedicated $5 million to combat homelessness in Merced and Stanislaus counties, the housing bills passed today promise to multiply that initial investment by more than ten times and put a roof over the heads of thousands of people. The package includes $1 billion to house veterans, investments to build affordable housing, and mortgage assistance programs to help people afford to stay in their homes. Representing the epicenter of the subprime mortgage crisis, I have seen what happens to families when safety nets fail to protect them from a crashing economy. I do not want to see hardworking parents lose their homes again.


We will not solve our housing crisis overnight. But we have deliberated about what to do for years, and you cannot plow a field by turning it over in your mind. All of us have seen homeless individuals in the doorways of local businesses, in our parks, and in the alleys of our cities. Ensuring housing for the poorest in our communities is an essential element of our economic revitalization. We needed to take action, and today that is exactly what we did.”
Local realtors commended the passage of the housing legislation.
“We appreciate Assemblymember Gray’s hard work and applaud the passage of SB 2,” said Kim Rogina, President-Elect of the Merced County Association of Realtors. “The bill will help fund the creation of housing, which is greatly needed to address the housing inventory problems we face here in Merced.”

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September 14, 2017


Gray’s State Fair Funding Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) announced today that the California State Senate unanimously approved his bill to create an ongoing source of funding to California’s financially strapped network of fairs. AB 1499 would provide annual funding of approximately $15 million for reinvestment back into the state’s 78 fairs. AB 1499 now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“It is encouraging to see such widespread support for state fair funding here in the State Legislature,” said Gray. “Fairs have struggled to stay open since the state eliminated funding during the recession. This legislation restores a portion of that funding to keep these valuable assets open and thriving. Our fairs are economic engines that attract investments and create jobs, particularly in agricultural regions like Merced and Stanislaus Counties.”


“Our fair system is vital to our economy and our ability to support programs like 4H and Future Farmers of America for our local youth,” said Bill Mattos, current Vice-President and incoming President of the Stanislaus County Fair Board. “We appreciate Assemblyman Gray’s hard work on this important issue.”

“County fairs and the agricultural programs they feature are essential to Merced’s quality of life,” said Emily Haden, Vice-President of the Merced County Fair Board. “We are pleased that AB 1499 has passed the legislature and encourage Governor Brown to support our fairs by signing it into law.”

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September 14, 2017

CALTRANS REALIGNS STATE ROUTE 165 AT WESTSIDE BOULEVARD IMPROVING THE SAFETY IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has recently completed work on a project to realign a segment of State Route 165 (SR-165) at Westside Boulevard, south of the Merced River bridge, to improve safety and increase the efficiency of the intersection.

In addition to realigning the intersection, the shoulder has been widened with rumble strips ground into the pavement to alert drivers when their vehicles leave the traffic lane.

The Westside Curve Project is one of two recently completed projects on SR-165. Earlier this year, a flashing beacon system was installed at Henry Miller Drive to improve the safety of the intersection and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon/High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) was installed at Mercy Springs Drive in Los Banos. A fourth project is currently underway to create a left-hand turning lane at Fowler Avenue.

Taken together, these projects will ease congestion, improve mobility, decrease commute times, improve air quality and enhance safety throughout Merced County.
Caltrans would like to extend our appreciation to motorists and residents for their patience and cooperation during the construction of the SR-165 Westside Curve project.

 

 

 


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

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September 13 , 2017

Hilmar Embraces and Expands Technology Offerings for Students

Hilmar schools have been on the forefront of cutting-edge computer technology for years and the progression of computerization is continuing, Isabel Cabral-Johnson, Hilmar Unified School District superintendent, says.
Look no farther than Larry Rego, the district’s director of technology and data systems. He has started teaching computer skills to students and developing a squad of students who are learning to repair and replace the internal components of computers.
“This is our sixth year of 1:1 computer instruction,” Cabral-Johnson says. “We were the first in Merced County to offer 1:1 technology at the middle school. This year, we will have a parent component and will do parent workshops, possibly once a month. We will help parents understand how they can be in control of technology that comes into the home.”
Rego has a preliminary credential to teacher computer classes and has served as the technical director at Hilmar for 14 years.
Rego said career technical education is big and there are a number of state and federal grants in this area. This is the first year that Hilmar has offered a program for 10 sophomores through juniors who are taking a yearlong introduction to computer applications class. Students will spend a class period each day where they learn how to fix and replace computer components.
“The experience they get here is more than enough to do well in the working world,” Rego says. “These ‘soft skills’ are great for assimilating into the professional world. By the end of the year they will have more than enough skills to get a technology job.”
Rego said he didn’t have anything like this growing up.
All third through 12th grade students have Chromebook laptops assigned to them. Cabral-Johnson said the district is self-insured with its computers.
“It’s time for students to understand how to use computers in the community. We have started robotics in the middle schools. We have over 2,000 Chromebooks, which are surrendered in the summer months. But the sixth through 12th graders take them home,” Cabral-Johnson says.
Rego said today’s world is fast-changing for sure. Today’s students have smart phones, gaming systems and are familiar with technology. But most of the students don’t have knowledge about the workings of computers.
Matthew Freitas, one of the district’s technology support specialists, is a former student who went through the grades at Hilmar schools. He said students are becoming familiar with programming and game development. Ninth through 12th grade students are studying coding as part of a game development class. They are learning how to “speak” to computers and get them to perform certain functions.


Hilmar High School students in the Information Systems Support I class repair devices for high school and middle school students.

PHOTO COURTESY HILMAR UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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Cabral-Johnson says they are looking at integrating computer programs into the morning announcements, with graphics and special effects. She says the district’s computer labs are being repurposed or brought up to the next level. Computer towers are being reconfigured to do more complex tasks, such as game development, robotics and computer-aided drafting.
Cabral-Johnson says when computer technology was first implemented, teachers felt overwhelmed. This anxiety has eased as computer technicians are available regularly at individual schools.
“Teachers these days are no longer the sage on stage,” Jamie Tinley, technical support teacher on assignment, says. “They’re the guide on the side. Kids are eating it (technology) up. They’re ready for it and are eager to learn more and be challenged.”

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September 13 , 2017

 

MCOE ROP, Fineline Industries Partner for Manufacturing Day Activities

Between 30 and 50 Regional Occupational Program students will learn more about high-skill trade jobs available in manufacturing situations through a cooperative effort with a Merced industry and the ROP and Career Technical Education program at the Merced County Office of Education.
Merced County ROP and Fineline Industries, which manufactures Centurion and Supreme boats, will collaborate in Manufacturing Day activities on Oct. 6 at the Grogan Avenue facility near Merced Municipal Airport.
Mary Whited, ROP-CTE coordinator for MCOE’s Educational Services program, said students from throughout the county, especially those at Dos Palos, Delhi, Atwater and Buhach Colony high schools and other county schools, will take part in the program, most likely in the morning hours.
This is the second year Fineline Industries has teamed up with the ROP to offer tours at both of their facilities and share information on the types of jobs available in manufacturing, Whited said.

 

“Manufacturing Day is an international day that sponsors tours and open houses of manufacturing companies. We are fortunate to partner with a great local employer,” Whited said.
Students will get an overview on jobs available. Most manufacturing jobs in this area are agriculture-related and this is a splendid opportunity to learn about options outside that area, according to Whited.

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September 13 , 2017

U.S. News Ranks UC Merced No. 1 in the Nation for Financial Aid
The university again receives high marks for graduating students at better-than-predicted rates, and ranks No. 15 among all public universities for the lowest average debt among graduates

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, is the No. 1 public university in the nation for financial aid given to first-year students — and a strong performer in graduation and retention rates — according to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” rankings released today.
UC Merced is also No. 15 in the U.S. for the lowest average debt among graduates from public universities. And despite having just entered its 13th year in operation, the university is yet again among the nation’s top 100 public schools in U.S. News’ Best Colleges rankings, checking in at No. 87 among publics and No. 165 overall.
“UC Merced was established in part to fill a great need — to bring the best public higher education system in the world to students in an underrepresented region in the heart of California,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We measure our success by the success of our students, and these recognitions demonstrate that we are achieving that goal at a level that is all but unparalleled in the nation.”
Beyond simply offering generous financial aid packages, UC Merced also excels when it comes to helping students graduate at rates higher than expected. The university’s graduation rate is a full 10 percentage points above U.S. News’ predicted rate — a differential that ranks 11th in the nation.
“The majority of our students will be the first in their families to graduate from college, and many will do so while working one or more jobs to help support themselves and their loved ones,” Leland said. “I am proud to say that UC Merced excels at helping these students achieve academic success.”

And those graduates are giving back to their alma mater — despite most UC Merced alumni being under 30 and just starting their careers, the university’s alumni giving percentage ranks No. 63, ahead of many more established universities.
Last month, UC Merced placed among the top 10 universities in the nation for the success of its first-generation and underrepresented students, according to Washington Monthly’s College Rankings. The university was No. 3 in the nation for graduating Pell Grant recipients at higher-than-predicted rates, and No. 10 in the nation by the same measure for first-generation students.
In another recent ranking, UC Merced ranked as the 12th-best Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in the U.S. That list, compiled by College Raptor, ranked HSIs based on graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics.

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

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September 12 , 2017

 

Local FFA Agronomy Team Prepares for National Finals

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Three Atwater High School FFA state Career Development Event (CDE) teams will be representing their community and the state of California at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana in late October. The teams competing at the national finals are the Atwater FFA Agronomy, Floriculture, and Nursery & Landscape teams. The national contests will challenge the student’s knowledge and skills in the designated agriculture industry-related competition.

“Working with industry and the opportunity for them to work with our students in educating them on actual industry knowledge and practice is an aspect of preparation that will benefit our students at the national level,” says Atwater High School agronomy coach Kim Macintosh.

The Agronomy contest helps students gain an understanding of the most basic need for all agricultural pursuits, including healthy land on which to grow crops or raise livestock. Contest participants identify and evaluate soil samples for various indicators, grade plots of land for slope and drainage, and work to determine what type of activity the land would be best suited for. Throughout this month, the Atwater FFA Agronomy team has partnered with UC Davis professors and representatives of the United States department of Agriculture in touring various rice and grain facilities. The team learned the step by step process that rice goes through to find out how much the producer will be paying for the product, and how much the farmer will be losing based on defects found in the grains. Each defect that is found by machines and employees in the facility, the less they pay the farmer for that load. In order for the farmer to sell his product, it must first go through this process and get a USDA approval. Each batch of grains is “assigned” a grade at the end of the process, and this is how the farmer will be paid.

“At nationals, we will be given a grain grading scenario where we have to calculate the pricing numbers and defects found in seeds. This tour helped us prepare for nationals because we got to see the actual process of how to get these numbers,” said Atwater FFA agronomy team member Belinda Espinoza.

In addition to the USDA tour, the agronomy team went to Metzger Trucking where an employee showed them how to calculate the information from the USDA facility. The team members learned that these calculations will be used to determine how much the buyer is going to be paying and how much the farmer will be losing due to how many defects were found.

“Having industry work with our students showcases relevant, real-world applications in our student’s education and preparation,” said Macintosh. “We can’t be any more appreciative of their help, support, and contributions to the team!”

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


Atwater FFA's agronomy team members (left two) Jasmine Flores, Kelsi Kamesch and (far right two) Belinda Espinoza, Dillon Guillen meet with USDA representatives (center) James Rumsey and Jerry DelSol at Mezger Trucking, Inc during their industry tour and practice.


USDA representatives Vic Kushar and James Ramsey demonstrates the process of identifying and grading rice seed samples to Atwater High School students Kelsi Kamesch and Belinda Espinoza during the FFA agronomy team's recent industry tour.


USDA representative Jenna Smith (far right) demonstrates how the USDA grading facility calculates crop prices for seeds to Atwater FFA agronomy team students Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Belinda Espinoza.

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September 12 , 2017

The City Council will hold a joint meeting with the Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 to discuss the draft Cannabis Ordinance. The meeting will be in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Merced.

 

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September 9 , 2017

MCSD Students Celebrate International Literacy Day

Students at Chenoweth Elementary School in Merced celebrated International Literacy Day with some special guests on Friday.

Local leaders and community members visited a number of classrooms to read to the students and speak with them about the importance of literacy. The guests included a Merced Police officer, local firefighters, an opera singer, the president of Merced College, and Merced’s mayor. The children and school staff members also had an opportunity to dress up as their favorite storybook characters. The creative costumes included everything from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the Mad Hatter.

International Literacy Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) back in 1966. The theme this year is “Literacy in a Digital World.”

Literacy remains a key focus throughout the Merced City School District. The Board-approved district priorities include ensuring that all students achieve reading fluency by third grade.

Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran says, “We are grateful to all of the community members who took time to help instill a love of reading in our students in honor of International Literacy Day. We hope parents will continue these lessons at home by reading with their children or encouraging them to read on their own at least 20 minutes each day. It is this type of collaboration that makes a significant impact in helping our students succeed.”

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Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli gets some help from students to select which book to read to them in honor of International Literacy Day.



Merced Mayor Mike Murphy reads to students at Chenoweth Elementary School on International Literacy Day.

Chenoweth Principal Vance d’Escoto speaks to students while dressed as the Mad Hatter in honor of International Literacy Day.

Jenni Samuelson, an opera singer and UC Merced lecturer, reads to students at Chenoweth Elementary School

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September 9 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT CHILDS AVENUE, SOUTH AVENUE
AND GOLDEN STATE BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close off- and on-ramps on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at Childs Avenue, South Avenue and Golden State Boulevard in Merced County for maintenance work.
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Golden State Boulevard will close on Monday, September 11, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for pavement work
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at South Avenue will close on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for pavement work
• The off-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Childs Avenue will close on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. for tree work
• The on-ramp on southbound SR-99 at Childs Avenue will close on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. until 3 p.m. for tree work
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM WEBBER CANAL
TO EAST ATWATER ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane of southbound State Route 99 from Webber Canal to East Atwater Road in Merced County for guardrail repair.

The lane will be closed on Sunday, September 10, 2017, from 12:00 p.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
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO MERCED RIVER BRIDGE IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 from Bear Valley Road to the Merced River Bridge for drainage work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SEVENTH STREET
TO SMITH ROAD IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will alternately close the #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Seventh Street to Smith Road in Mariposa County for construction work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 ON EL PORTAL ROAD
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic countrol on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 on El Portal Road in Mariposa County for utility work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 33 TO SIXTH AVENUE
AND FOURTH STREET IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

GUSTINE – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 to Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street for a special event in the city of Gustine.

The route will be closed on Sunday, September 10, 2017, from 10 a.m. until 1 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.

Motorists should expect 3 hour delays and take alternate routes.

 


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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
INTERSTATE 5 FROM THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT BRIDGE
TO THE DELTA MENDOTA CANAL IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (right) lane and right shoulder on southbound Interstate 5 from the California Aqueduct Bridge near the San Luis Reservoir to the Delta Mendota Canal for maintenance work.
Work will be on Monday, September 11, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM STATE ROUTE 152 TO
DICKENSON ROAD AND MISSION BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from SR-152 to Dickenson Road and Mission Boulevard for construction work.

• There will be one-way traffic control on northbound and soutbbound SR-59 from SR-152 to Vassar Avenue on Sunday, September 10, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. for shoulder work
• There will be one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Vassar Avenue to Dickenson Road and Mission Boulevard on Monday, September 11, 2017, through Wednesday, September 13, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for utility work
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This 13 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. The project is expected to be completed October 2017.

This Teichert Corporation of Sacramento is performing the work.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 (SR-152) from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Additionally, the #2 (right) lane and shoulder on westbound SR-152 will be closed from the San Luis Forebay to the Gonzaga Road and Fire Station crossing on Friday, September 15, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

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

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 ON PLACER ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (right) lane and right shoulder of southbound State Route 33 on Placer Road in Merced County for utility work.

Work will begin Monday, September 11, 2017, through Wednesday, September 13, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM GUSTINE RAILROAD CROSSING
TO VIRGINIA AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Gustine Railroad Crossing to Virginia Avenue in Merced County beginning Monday, September 11, 2017, through Friday, September 15, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for shoulder work.

Motorists should expect 10 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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move towards the city of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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September 9 , 2017

Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party

Sign up your little ghosts or goblins for the City of Merced’s annual Tiny Tots Pumpkin Party. The Pumpkin Party is a time for kids ages 3 to 8 to decorate a pumpkin and partake in other Halloween fun. Costumes and parents are welcome. The party starts at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St. The cost is $7 a child.
Space is limited so pre-registration is required. Register at the City of Merced Parks and Recreation Department at 632 W. 18th St. Call 385-6235 for more information.

 

Merced Youth Council

The Merced Youth Council will be hosting another year full of cleanups and park renovations. This includes picking up debris around the park, minor landscaping, and painting parks. Majority of these parks are located in neighborhoods where they require special attention. Supporting our neighborhood parks will leave an everlasting impact in our community and will have a great effect on the youth who lives amongst these areas. To help participate, sign up to volunteer at cityofmerced.org or call 385-6235 for more information.

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September 8, 2017

 

Costa Announces Approval of Federal Emergency Grants to Fight Wildfires in Madera and Mariposa Counties

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) announced that two of the State of California’s requests for federal emergency grants to help fight wildfires in Madera and Mariposa counties were approved. Both grants are Fire Management Assistance Grants, which are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One grant request is for assistance suppressing the Railroad Fire, which has been burning in Madera and Mariposa counties since August 29, 2017. The second request asks for a grant to help fight the Mission Fire, which has been burning in Madera County since September 3, 2017. The FEMA administrator responsible for approving Fire Management Assistance Grants submitted for the region determined the destruction threatened by each fire would constitute a “major disaster.”

“The Railroad Fire and Mission Fire have devastated our Valley communities, and we must do everything we can to suppress these fires and help each other recover from the destruction they have caused,” said Rep. Costa. “This is why I asked Governor Brown¬¬¬ and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tooke to devote every available resource to stopping the spread of these fires, and why I hope to see these FEMA grants used as quickly as possible to suppress the fires and to assist in the recovery of our local communities.”


Congressman Jim Costa

Congressman Costa has supported legislation to help prevent and suppress wildfires, which are historically both common and highly destructive in California. This year, Rep. Costa cosponsored the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (H.R. 2862) as well as the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (H. R. 1873). The Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 300 to 118 on June 21, 2017.

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September 8, 2017

DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES CONVICTION
REVIEW UNIT

District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today that he has designated a Conviction Review Unit to review post-conviction claims of actual innocence and has formalized a process to review such claims.
The Unit will review primarily convictions involving violent felonies where new evidence of innocence has been discovered. The Unit will be comprised of one local defense attorney and two experienced trial prosecutors. The final decision on whether to exonerate a conviction will be made by the District Attorney.
“We are ever mindful of our duty as prosecutors to seek a true and just result in every case. This means ensuring that justice is done before, during and even after a criminal case is finished,” said Morse. “While we are confident in the convictions we attain, we are aware that advances in technology, such as DNA, have shown that innocent people can be convicted of crimes they did not commit. The Conviction Review Unit will be responsible for reviewing such claims of innocence.”

A conviction will be exonerated only if the District Attorney no longer remains confident in the integrity of the conviction, Morse noted.
A request to review a conviction may be submitted in writing to the District Attorney’s office. A form has been created and is available on the District Attorney’s website. The form may be submitted online or mailed to the District Attorney’s office.
Similar programs have been created in other prosecutors’ offices throughout the country, Morse noted. “This program will help further the goal of our office that justice be done in every case,” Morse said.

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September 6 , 2017

 

Hundreds Attend FFA Ice Cream Social

Written by: Grace Reyes - Atwater FFA

Over 400 Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members participated in the annual FFA Ice Cream Social FFA meeting last week. The purpose of this events was to promote the high school’s agriculture program and the numerous academic, personal growth, leadership, and social activities and events scheduled for the upcoming school year.

Later this month, Atwater High School will have over twenty active club and youth organizations on display with the annual high school Club Rush and Food Faire with students promoting various clubs and organizations that get kids involved outside the classroom. The event is organized by the Atwater High School Leadership class. Some of the highlighted clubs/organizations included Asian Youth Club, Art, Band, Chess Club, Choir, Drama, DECA/ROP, FCA, FFA, GSA, Hip Hop Academy, Interact, Images and Vision, Key Club, Leadership, Link Crew, Percussion.

“The Ice Cream Social was a tremendous turnout overall, with many students engaged and interested in FFA activities,” said Atwater High School FFA Advisor Natalie Borba. “We feel the event is especially valuable for the new 9th grade students as it helps them get connected with AHS and the agriculture program.”

 

 

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

 

 

Photo to Right:

Atwater High School agriculture students Victoria Lopez, Ana Lozano, Daisy Flores, and Grace Reyes enjoy the ice cream treats provided by Atwater FFA during the annual FFA "Ice Cream" Social event.


Atwater High School FFA chapter officers Grace Reyes, Anessa Cardenas, and Dillon Guillen share their smiles as they prepare to feed over 400 students with free ice cream during the FFA social.


Atwater High School FFA member Ambrose Soto enjoyed taking an afternoon break in the heat for some cool tasting ice cream during the FFA social event at the school.

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September 6 , 2017


TEN PARENTS ARRESTED FOR FAILING TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL

Ten parents were arrested last week and charged with failing to send their kids to school as part of a countywide truancy sweep coordinated by the Merced County District Attorney’s office and the Merced County Office of Education, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today.
The District Attorney’s office and the County Office of Education launched a new truancy prevention program in August in which a District Attorney Investigator has been assigned to work exclusively with Merced County School Districts to ensure that children are regularly attending school. The cost of the new program is being shared by the District Attorney’s office, the Merced County Office of Education, and the school districts, Morse said.
The sweep on August 30th was only the first, Morse said. “Countless studies have shown that students who are chronically absent from school fall behind their classmates and are at greater risk of dropping out of school. Similar studies show that high school dropouts are at least eight times more likely to be in jail or prison. They also earn less money, pay fewer taxes and are more likely to collect welfare. We fail our children, we fail public safety and we fail our communities if we do not do everything in our power to see that kids graduate from high school,” Morse said, adding that more sweeps would follow.
The 10 parents arrested last week were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. Nancy Benitez, 42, Ana Luzania, 34, Rosalind Hardin, 46, Jose Gonzales, 45, Ana Salas, 43, Bernadette Thomas, 45, Vanessa Montufar, 32, Fabiola Higareda, 44, and Jennifer Villa, all of Merced, were all taken directly to court by the arresting officer and arraigned before Merced County Superior Court Judge Mark Bacciarini. Kristen Jacobs, 35, was booked into Merced County jail and held overnight, according to investigators.

Steve Tietjen, Superintendent of the Merced County Office of Education, emphasized that the arrest warrants are sought “only after every other effort to get these kids to school has been exhausted.” Many school districts have School Attendance Review Boards (SARB), he noted, and parents who are not sending their kids to school go through a SARB process in which meetings are held with the parents and school officials to try to determine why a child is missing school. It is only after the parent has failed to comply with the terms of attendance set forth by the school district that the case is referred to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
“Obviously, the District Attorney and I take no pleasure in prosecuting parents for willful failure to send their kids to school. It is truly our last resort. But the stakes are simply too high for these kids and we owe them our best efforts to see that they receive the education they deserve,” Tietjen said. He noted that as part of the SARB process, school officials often identify other issues preventing kids from regular attendance and the Office of Education is working closely with other agencies such as Merced County Behavior Health Services, and Merced County Child Protective Services to eliminate any roadblocks to regular attendance.
Other agencies who participated in the sweep were the Merced Police Department’s school resource officers, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, the Merced County Probation Department and Merced County Human Services Agency’s Child Protective Services.

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September 6 , 2017

Statement From UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland on DACA

MERCED, Calif. — UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland has issued the following statement regarding today’s news about DACA:
“The decision to end DACA is a cruel bait-and-switch for the many young adults who are living, learning and working here under its protections. Congress must now step up and pass legislation that will allow Dreamers to remain in this country to pursue the opportunities they have earned.

“UC Merced is a leader in supporting and educating undocumented students, including the nearly 600 that currently call our campus home. These are hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying young people who enrich our campus and community. Now is the time for action to ensure that these students will continue to receive the transformational educational experiences that they so richly deserve.”

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September 6 , 2017

Costa Statement on the Termination of DACA

FRESNO, CA – Today Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

“By terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Administration has taken a significant step backwards by threatening to force nearly 800,000 young immigrants from the country they call home. These DREAMers were brought to the United States as young children, and for them, America is their home. They are our neighbors – many of them are students – and they are contributing to our country. In the San Joaquin Valley, we have roughly 1,000 DREAMers attending Fresno State and approximately 600 attending UC Merced. Congress must pass legislation that provides our DREAMers protections similar to those under DACA before these protections are eliminated. I call on the House and Senate leadership to join me and others in a bipartisan effort to pass the BRIDGE Act, which will protect our DREAMers for the next three years.

“Yet, the BRIDGE Act is only a temporary measure, and is not a long-term solution. So passing this important legislation will not be enough. Our immigrants should not live in fear of being ripped away from their families and the country they love. Our businesses should not be slow to invest and hire because they are uncertain of their employee pool, and our farmers should not be forced to grow less food because of unstable labor sources. Yet these all occur because Congress has failed in the past to enact comprehensive immigration reform. This has led various presidents – Democratic and Republican presidents alike – to govern our immigration policy through piecemeal measures that often contradict each other. This is not good governance; it is irresponsible and indefensible, and it must end.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

“As I have been saying for years, we must come together to fix our broken immigration system. This requires that we in Congress enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that provides America with commonsense, just, and stable immigration policy, and that the President use his office to work with Congress to support this effort. Speaker Ryan has expressed hope that Congress will pass immigration reform to provide permanent legislative solutions. I urge him and my fellow members of Congress – from both sides of the aisle – to come together to protect our DREAMers and to pass the comprehensive immigration reform America so badly needs.”

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September 2, 2017

 

Entry signs, honorary district on Council agenda

An update on the Council’s Entry Sign Contest and creating an Honorary Historic District are on the Merced City Council agenda for Tuesday night.
Council meetings are regularly scheduled for the first and third Mondays of the month. However, due to the Labor Day holiday the meeting will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City Council established a contest for people to design signs and create slogans for the entryways to the City at Highways 99, 59 and 140. They can also design an entry feature for the Downtown to greet visitors.
Winners are eligible for $300 prizes and multiple winners are possible. Complete details of the contest are available at the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org. The deadline is Oct. 6. A Council subcommittee was created to oversee the contest and members will provide an update at the Tuesday meeting.
Neighbors in the Ragsdale neighborhood are asking the Council to create an Honorary Historic Neighborhood District for the area. The district would call attention to the history of the homes and the past and present homeowners.
The designation doesn’t require any zoning changes and the supporters of the plan say it would not place any land use restrictions on the property owners in the district. There would be no changes in the property taxes.
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.

 

Merced Firefighters join battle against breast cancer

It looks good and it’s for a good cause, so go for it and get the T-shirt.
The Merced City Firefighters Local 1479 has once again teamed up with the Dignity Health Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center to raise awareness and funds for the local center.
People who donate $20 to the fundraising effort will receive their choice of two T-shirt. All funds raised will stay locally and go to the Dignity Health UC Davis Cancer Center here in Merced. Last year almost $16,000 was raised and this year the goal is $20,000, said Morgan Madruga, a Fire Captain in the Merced Fire Department.
For more information on how to donate and get a T-shirt go to MercedFirefighters on Facebook or email Local1479@gmail.com.
During the month of October the Merced City Fire Department will be wearing pink shirts while on duty to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Few sights grab the public's eye like a firefighter dressed in bright pink. But all across the United States and Canada, firefighters are suiting up in pink to fight breast cancer—just one of the many ways firefighters show support for the fight against breast cancer. During the month of October on-duty firefighters will be trading blue shirts for pink to honor the true heroes -- people fighting cancer, survivors of cancer or those that have lost someone to cancer
There will be various events around the city to honor the true heroes that are fighting Breast Cancer.
The T-shirt is more than a piece of pink clothing -- it's a statement that you won't stand for the tragic toll breast cancer takes on lives.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 12 percent of women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. This year, around 39,620 women and 410 men are likely to die from breast cancer in the United States.
Breast cancer affects Millions yearly, while there is no cure yet there is hope. Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease, especially for people with the following are risk factors:
• Having a personal history of breast cancer,
• Getting older
• Having a family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer

The Merced City Firefighters Union shares these suggestions to stop the spread of this disease:
-Know your risk: Talk to your family about your past history and talk to your doctor about your risk.
-Get screened: Have a clinical breast exam every three years starting at the age of 20 and every year after the age of 40.
-Know what is normal for you: Monthly self-exams are the first step in early detection and treatment, share changes with your doctor.
-Make healthy lifestyle changes: Maintain a healthy weight, add exercise into your routine, consume more vegetables and limit alcohol intake.

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September 2, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AT SOUTH AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) at South Avenue for crack sealing. (Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.) Work will occur as follows:

• The southbound on-ramp from South Avenue to SR-99 will close on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to South Avenue will close on Thursday, September 7, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken where possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM VIRGINA AVENUE IN THE CITY OF MERCED
TO STATE ROUTE 33 IN THE CITY OF GUSTINE

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Virginia Avenue, in the city of Merced, to SR-33, in Gustine, for shoulder work. (Due to Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.)
Crews will be working Wednesday, September 6, 2017, through Friday, September 8, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 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.

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.

This project was awarded to Teichert Construction.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM UPPER COTTONWOOD ROAD
TO SAN LUIS DAM SERVICE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 152 from Upper Cottonwood Road to San Luis Dam Service Road near Dinosaur Point for median barrier work. (Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, there is no scheduled construction for Sunday, September 3, and Monday, September 4.)

Work will begin Wednesday, September 6, 2017, through Friday, September 8, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Additionally, the #2 (right) lanes and shoulder on eastbound and westbound SR-152 will be closed from the Merced/Santa Clara County Line to the San Luis Grade Crossing beginning on Wedensday, September 6, 2017 until Friday, September 8, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for litter removal.

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

The work at this location is part of a project that will install a median barrier on SR-152 and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. Dreambuilder Construction Corporation of Placentia, CA, is performing the work on this $4 million project.
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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September 2, 2017

“VALLEY VOICE” DELEGATION FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON D.C.

Elected officials from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties, including Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel and Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta, will be meeting with White House officials and key federal legislators during the annual “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C. on September 6 and 7, 2017. The delegation traveling to the nation’s capital is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Planning Agencies Policy Council, and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organization (MPO or COG), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The Regional Policy Council will advocate for major transportation initiatives for the San Joaquin Valley, including federal funding for major highway projects, changes to the federal Clean Air Act, legislative amendments to regional transportation plans and aviation fuel sales tax collection processes, and other advocacy positions. The attached document highlights the policy and legislative priorities for Valley Voice 2017.
Valley Voice 2017 will include meetings with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Senators Feinstein and Harris, House Majority Leader McCarthy, Congressmen Costa, Denham, McClintock, McNerney, Nunes, Valadao, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the US Department of Agriculture.

Valley Voice 2017 Delegation:
Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Supervisor
Amarpreet Dhaliwal, City of San Joaquin Mayor
Elbert Holman, Stockton Councilmember
Gary Yep, City of Kerman Mayor Pro Tem
Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor
David Ayers, City of Hanford Mayor
Gary Soiseth, City of Turlock Mayor
Rudy Mendoza, City of Woodlake Mayor
Daron McDaniel, Merced County Supervisor
Andrew Medellin, City of Madera Mayor
Mike Villalta, City of Los Banos Mayor
Cheryl Wegman, City of Wasco Mayor
Robert Poythress, Madera County Supervisor
Rueben Pascual, City of Delano Councilmember

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September 1, 2017

City opens Cooling Zones as temperatures climb

Temperatures in Merced are expected to reach at least 107 this weekend as the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for the area for Friday through Sunday.

City will open its Cooling Zone Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The Cooling Zone is open to anyone who needs to come in out of the heat. People can bring their pets as long as they are housebroken and get along with others in the Cooling Zone. Water and some snacks are available, along with entertainment.

“We want everyone to have fun over the holiday weekend, but be cautious because it’s going to be extremely hot,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “Stay hydrated and make sure your little ones stay cool, too.

“Hot weather is especially hard on our vulnerable populations, so be sure to check up on your neighbors and make sure they are OK,” Murphy said. “We need to pull together at times like this and show the true character of our community.”

“If you don’t have air conditioning, if you only have a swamp cooler, visit a friend with AC, or come to our Cooling Zone. Don’t sweat it out,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz.

“Don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Dietz said.

When you’re outside drink plenty of water and dress in light, comfortable clothes. Exercise in the mornings or after the sun goes down, she said.

“Remember over the Labor Day if your fun includes alcoholic beverages, use them in moderation because the heat can magnify the effects,” said Dietz. “Always have a designated driver. Never drink and drive or drink and boat.”

The Excessive Heat Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely.

Opening of the Cooling Zones is subject to changes in the temperatures.

 

 


Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness

• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke -- which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature -- may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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September 1, 2017

City offices close for Labor Day

The City of Merced offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 4, for the Labor Day holiday.

The City Council meeting normally held on the first Monday of the month will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. The agenda is available online at www.cityofmerced.org.

All refuse collection will be delayed one day next week because of the holiday.

 

 

East Coast Swing Dance Lessons

The Senior Social Dance Club will be offering East coast Swing Dance lessons held on Mondays starting September 11th to October 2nd. Dance lessons will be taking place at the Merced Senior Community Center 755 W. 15th St. 1:00 to 2:30pm. For additional information, please call (209)628-0683

 

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

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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