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February 26, 2020

Atwater FFA Hosts Major Speaking Invitational

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Twenty novice and advanced FFA parliamentary procedure teams representing high schools throughout California gathered at Atwater High School this past weekend the annual Atwater FFA Parliamentary Procedure Invitational. The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team placed 2th overall with senior Emmanuel Mejia earning the “Advanced High Chair” award. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team also earned a 2nd place placing overall. “Today was a good start considering this was the first major contest for many competitors throughout the state,” said FFA advisor Shelby Fishman. “They put forth a tremendous effort and the experience provides us with a foundation to build upon.”

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

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

Students who competed on the team included (Advanced) Emmanuel Mejia (Outstanding Chair), Alyssa Carrillo, Simarjot Gandhoke, Michael Bray, Jennifer Velazquez, Daniel Lopez, Nandani Patel, Celeste Chargoy, Jose Vazquez, Kendall Borba, Allison Garner, Jatziry Castro Delgado, Mateo Duran, Joshaua Medeiros, Katrina Andujar, Teela Armenta, and Sydney Nickelson. The teams will be heading to the UC Davis Parliamentary Procedure Invitational on March 6th to compete again with sectional, regional, and state final competition coming up in the coming two months.

 


Atwater High School FFA's Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team comprised of (top row) Michael Bray, Daniel Lopez, Emmanuel Mijia, Nandani Patel, Jose Vazquez, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, Celeste Chargoy, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Alyssa Carrillo placed 2nd overall athe Atwater Parliamentary Procedure Invitational.


Atwater High School FFA's Novice Parliamentary Procedure team Jatziry Castro Delgado, Sidney Nickelson, Katrina Andujar, Allison Garner, Kendall Borba, Joshua Medeiros, and Mateo Duran placed 2nd overall athe Atwater Parliamentary Procedure Invitational.

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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February 25, 2020

FFA Students Attend State Leadership Academy

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Sixteen Atwater High School FFA students joined over three hundred and fifty students from central and northern California FFA regions for the Made for Excellence (MFE), and Advance Leadership Academy (ALA) conference on February 14th and 15th at the Double Tree by Hilton in Modesto, California. This two-day conference is designed primarily for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The MFE curriculum focuses on the personal growth of each individual. Students learned about using conflict resolution techniques appropriately, setting goals, and building self-esteem. Each student created a plan of action which outlined a game plan to accomplish their individual high school and career goals. The ALA course focuses on improving leadership skills, identifying important agriculture issues, and communicating these important aspects to the school and community.

The National and California FFA Organization offer FFA members a series of five leadership and personal growth conferences. Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, the Atwater FFA has sent students to various California locations to participate in the Greenhand Leadership, Made-for-Excellence Leadership and Advanced Leadership Academy, Sacramento Leadership, and Washington DC Leadership conferences.
“We are fortunate to have a strong support network with our school administration, district, and especially the Atwater community who have supported fundraisers that have raised $5,000 to help pay for student conference and transportation fees,” explains Kim Mesa, one of ten current serving Atwater High School FFA advisors. “Our number one priority is getting students involved and providing them opportunities for scholastic, personal, and career success, and without the support of parents, the Atwater High School administration, and members of the community, we would not be able to provide students the opportunity to participate in these special events.”


Sixteen Atwater High School agriculture students including (top row) Sabrina Lopez, Gabriela Moreno, Daniel Lopez, Ethan Slate, Julian Chargoy Velasco, (middle row) Daniel Narez, Gabriella Lucas, Simarjot Gandhoke, Tristan Cardey, Gurkirath Gandhok, (front row) Stefanie Sanchez, Adriana Lopez, America Lara, Perla Caballero, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, Celeste Chargoy Velasco participated in a state sponsored leadership conference in Modesto.

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

Atwater FFA members who attended the leadership conference were Perla Caballero, Tristan Cardey, Celeste Chargoy Velasco, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, Gurkirath Gandhok, Simarjot Gandhoke, America Lara, Adriana Lopez, Daniel Lopez, Sabrina Lopez, Gabriella Lucas, Gabriela Moreno, Daniel Narez, Julian Chargoy Velasco, Stefanie Sanchez, and Ethan Slate.

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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February 22 , 2020


COSTA UNVEILS LEGISLATION TO FUND COMPLETION OF CALIFORNIA'S HIGH-SPEED RAIL, OTHER NATIONAL RAIL PROJECTS

 

FRESNO, Calif.-- After leading the fight in Congress for investment in America’s national rail infrastructure, Congressman Jim Costa unveiled the High-Speed Rail Corridor Development Act, legislation that would provide $32 billion to fund projects in federally designated high-speed rail corridors.

“This legislation will provide the needed funding to finish California’s High-Speed Rail project. California is leading the nation in building modern, green train technology, which will get our cars off the road and improve our air quality”, said Costa. “We must invest in our future for our health and our economy. We already see the benefits, with new business investments in our communities and more high-paying jobs. The 119-miles of construction has already employed more than 3,000 workers and supported 500 small businesses. This is the time to bring our transportation infrastructure into the 21st century. We can, and we will, get this job done!”

"Building transformative infrastructure projects – like high-speed rail – requires leaders with vision and determination. Congressman Costa has always demonstrated he has both when it comes to building clean, fast high-speed rail. His bill represents the kind of partnership we need with the federal government to get this important work done." - Brian Kelly, CEO, California High-Speed Rail Authority.

"This administration remains committed to fulfilling the vision of the voters and completing the full Phase 1 high-speed rail system. Congressman Costa’s continued partnership to help us close the funding gaps to complete not only Valley to Valley but the entire project, puts us a step closer to that reality. Together, we look forward to bringing the tremendous economic, transportation and environmental benefits of truly high-speed rail to California." - Lenny Mendonca, Chairman, California High-Speed Rail Authority.

“Increasing mobility and building infrastructure are key tools of economic development, especially for the Central Valley. I am proud to join Rep. Costa on this bill to authorize key funding for projects in federally designated high-speed rail corridors. If America wants to continue its leadership of the world economy and counteract the effects of climate change, we must dream big and upgrade our infrastructure to ensure Californians can move efficiently and effectively as the Central Valley grows.” – Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21)

The High-Speed Rail Corridor Development Act is a reauthorization of the High-Speed Rail Corridor Development Program and builds upon the success of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 . It authorizes $32 billion dollars through 2024 for the High-Speed Rail Corridor Investment program and also authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to award grants for projects that are part of a state rail plan, encourage intermodal connectivity, and those with environmental benefits.

There are currently 30 active construction sites within the California High-Speed Rail system between Madera and Kern counties, with more than 500 certified small businesses working to build the Central Valley segment. To date, more than 3,000 construction workers have been dispatched to the project.

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February 22 , 2020

Gray Introduces Legislation to Strengthen California’s Firefighting Mutual Aid System

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) has introduced Assembly Bill 3198 to establish a grant program for local fire departments participating in California’s firefighting mutual aid system.

For nearly seven decades, fire departments have been part of a “neighbor helping neighbor” system of mutual aid. Under the California Fire Service and Rescue Emergency Mutual Aid System, local jurisdictions experiencing an emergency incident likely to exceed, or has exceeded, their ability to control it may request the outside assistance of other jurisdictions.

“Unprecedented wildfires have undoubtedly strained California’s firefighting mutual aid system and we are all too familiar with reports of mutual aid requests for fire suppression going unfilled due to lack of available resources,” said Assemblymember Gray. “It is time to ensure local fire departments have the mutual aid resources they need to quickly deploy at the onset of an emergency incident.”

“As Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, I listened to fire officials from across the state communicate their frustrations with mutual aid as we know it this past month,” said Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita). “Through their testimony, it was clear this system we’ve relied on for decades requires significant updates to accommodate resource shortfalls and more pernicious fires. I commend my colleague Assemblymember Adam Gray for recognizing the urgency in supporting our brave firefighters and first responders in their important, lifesaving work.”

 

 

“The Administration and the Legislature have been very proactive in addressing the challenges posed by these catastrophic wildfires,” continued Assemblymember Gray. “Working together, we have made significant progress in deploying technology to detect fires earlier, prioritizing mitigation work, prepositioning resources during extreme weather, and establishing a Wildfire Threat Center to improve forecasts and enhance alerts and warnings. This grant program will be an additional tool for our first responders to keep Californians safe during any type of disaster.”

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee, and Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, are coauthoring the bill.

“In the weeks ahead, I look forward to working with the fire service, local governments, the Administration and my colleagues in the Legislature to refine this proposal to craft a grant program that best meets the needs of the firefighting mutual aid system,” concluded Assemblymember Gray.

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February 21, 2020

OPENINGS ON MEASURE V CITIZENS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

Merced - The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is currently accepting applications for the following seats on the Measure V Citizens Oversight Committee:
• Agricultural industry representative
• Bike/pedestrian or transit advocacy group representative
• Building industry representative
• Ethnic community group representative
• Major private sector employer representative
The Citizens Oversight Committee (COC) was created as a result of the passage of Measure V in 2016. Its main function is to review the local, half-cent transportation tax expenditures to assure they conform to the Measure V Expenditure Plan approved by Merced County voters. Committee members are appointed by the MCAG Governing Board to serve two-year terms. Each COC member may serve up to eight years, if reappointed. The COC meets quarterly at the MCAG office in Merced; all meetings are open to the public and governed by the Brown Act. Committee members are volunteers and receive no compensation.
Additional information about the COC and the application packet are available on the Measure V website: www.mcagov.org/MeasureV or at the MCAG office on 369 W. 18th Street in Merced.

 

MCAG is the state-designated Local Transportation Authority for Merced County responsible for the implementation and administration of Measure V. To keep the community informed about the measure, MCAG features monthly updates in their newsletter on the MCAG website mcagov.org. Additional information about Measure V including financial statements and specific project information by jurisdiction can be found at www.mcagov.org/MeasureV.
The Merced County Association Governments (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.

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February 21, 2020

ENHANCED Altamont Corridor Express (ACE®)
Saturday Service Coming February 29, 2020

(STOCKTON, Calif.) – The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) is pleased to announce a revised and ENHANCED Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) Saturday Service schedule beginning February 29, 2020.

Utilizing feedback received from ACE passengers, ACE has committed to implementing an updated schedule to provide better travel options for riders.

The new schedule will provide an earlier departure at 6:05am from Stockton allowing commuters a full 8-hour workday. The second morning westbound train at 9:15am will be connected to a northbound Amtrak San Joaquins train to provide service to additional communities as a far south as Los Angeles. The evening adjustments have been made with commuters and leisure travelers in mind.

The Wheels bus service will continue to operate on Saturdays from the Pleasanton Station to connect passengers to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station. ACE passengers can utilize their tickets for free transfers to VTA services at Santa Clara and San Jose’s Diridon Station. ACE tickets are accepted on Amtrak San Joaquins busses to/from the Tri-Valley and South Bay region providing additional travel times. For schedule information, see https://amtraksanjoaquins.com/thruway-bus/route-6/

For the current ACE rider, Saturday Service offers commuters the flexibility to work on Saturday without the need to drive. For leisure travelers, the service provides a safe and scenic ride to their destination.

Tickets: Mobile tickets are available on the ACERAIL mTickets app and must be validated prior to boarding. Monthly pass holders can show their monthly pass to the onboard staff. Traditional paper tickets are available only at the Stockton ACE station on Saturdays.

ACE Saturday Service Schedule: https://acerail.com/schedules/


ACE Saturday Service is a one-year pilot program funded by SB1 through its State Rail Assistance Program (SRA). If ACE Saturday Service is proven successful, SJRRC will be pursuing additional funds to maintain the service.

About the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and ACE Train Service
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) owns and operates and is the policy-making body for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE®) service. SJRRC is governed by a Board of Directors which consists of six full-voting members from San Joaquin County and two special-voting members from Alameda County. Ex-officio members represent Caltrans District 10, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (SJRTD), SJCOG and StanCOG.

Started in 1998 and serving over 1.5 million riders annually, the ACE train runs four daily round-trips starting at the Cabral Station in Downtown Stockton with 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.

949 E. Channel St., Stockton, CA 95202 | www.acerail.com

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February 21, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
EXPECT 15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO SWEETWATER CREEK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Briceburg to Sweetwater Creek to remove trees and vegetation burned during the Briceburg fire.
Work is scheduled to begin Monday, February 24, 2020, through Friday, February 27, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.


 

 

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

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February 19, 2020

Interim Police Chief Tom Cavallero was sworn in

Interim Police Chief Tom Cavallero was sworn in today by Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. His wife, Wendy, pinned his badge on him. His extended family was there for the ceremony and photos afterwards.


Tom Cavallero

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February 14 , 2020

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

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a full off-ramp closure on northbound State Route 99 (SR-99) in Merced for utility work.
Work will occur as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from 16th Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Tuesday, February 18, 2020 to Thursday, February 20, 2020 from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.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.

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February 18 , 2020

Budget review, Bicycle Commission on Council agenda

A mid-year budget report and an expansion of the Bicycle Advisory Commission’s scope are on the City Council agenda for its Tuesday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• Staff will present the mid-year FY 2019-20 financial report to Council. As part of the review, staff will ask Council to appropriate $14,500 for a block party trailer and $200,000 for Workers Compensation.

• Council is asked to expand the scope of the Bicycle Advisory Commission to include pedestrian activities. The re-formed commission would add two ex-officio, non-voting members, to represent schools and people with disabilities on the board.

• Council has adopted a Legislative Platform that establishes what bills and positions it supports and opposes in Sacramento and Washington. The Council is being asked to update the Platform as part of an annual review of the document.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to confer with labor negotiators and for existing litigation.

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website 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, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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February 14 , 2020

Council wants to hear from public at annual Town Halls

Every year the City Council holds Town Hall meetings in Merced neighborhoods to gather input and comments about how the City is operating, improvements that can be made and programming ideas residents suggest.
The results of these meetings are used by the City Council to develop priorities that guide the development of the annual budget. Council traditionally holds meetings in South, Central and North Merced.
The sites this year are the Cruickshank Middle School Multi-Purpose Room, the Hoover Middle School Gym and the Golden Valley High School Theatre.
Town Hall Meetings will be televised online on Facebook Live at City of Merced and also on the City website, cityofmerced.org. Spanish and Hmong interpreters will be available at the Town Hall meetings.
Town Halls are from 6 to 8 p.m. Town Hall locations are:

Feb. 19 Hoover Middle School Gym, 800 E. 26th St.

Feb. 20 Golden Valley High Theatre, 2121 E Childs Ave.

Feb. 26 Cruickshank Multi-Purpose Room, 601 Mercy Ave.

 

 

City offices closed Monday

City offices are closed Mon., Feb. 17. for the Presidents Day holiday.
There will be no trash collection that day. All refuse collection will be delayed one day the rest of the week.
The Council meeting regularly scheduled for Monday night will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday 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.cityofmerce.org.

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February 14 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
EXPECT 15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO SWEETWATER CREEK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Briceburg to Sweetwater Creek to remove trees and vegetation burned during the Briceburg fire.
Work is scheduled to begin Tuesday, February 18, 2020, through Friday, February 21, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Due to the Presidents’ Holiday, no work is scheduled on Monday, February 17, 2020.)
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.


 

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

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February 13, 2020

MCOE, DA’s Office, Bar Association Team Up for Mock Trial

The Merced County Office of Education in partnership with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office and the Merced County Bar Association will host the Merced County Mock Trial for the fourth year this week. Students from Dos Palos High School, Pacheco High School in Los Banos and Gustine High School will participate in the trials in the Merced County Administration Building Board Chambers on Thursday, Feb. 13 with trials at 9:30 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
The event is open to the public.
The hypothetical case, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which runs the program statewide, is a murder trial and involves a pretrial issue regarding the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Students learn the gamut of roles and responsibilities in the courtroom and participate as the defense and the prosecution attorneys, witnesses, the court clerk and even the bailiff. Students may also serve as courtroom artists and journalists. Mock Trials are held in more than 30 other counties up and down the state.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office provided volunteers to participate as attorney coaches to prepare teams and assisted with recruiting the presiding judges. Local attorneys Anthony Colacito, Tom Pfeiff, Carlos Fuentes and Marvin Brown will serve as the presiding judges. The Merced County Bar Association assisted with recruiting scoring attorneys and additional presiding judges.
Students who participate in the Mock Trials will gain a better knowledge of the legal system and increase their analytical abilities, self-confidence and communication skills.
An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Merced County Office of Education Downtown Professional Development Center. Medals will be awarded to first, second and third place teams as well as the outstanding role award and a winner for courtroom journalist and artist. The first-place team will represent Merced County at the California Mock Trial State Finals in Los Angeles, March 20-22, 2020.

 

 

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

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February 11, 2020

Tom Cavallero named interim police chief

Tom Cavallero has been named the interim police chief for the City of Merced. The former Merced County sheriff will oversee the department until a new chief is selected to replace Chris Goodwin, who announced his retirement in December.
Cavallero served in the Sheriff’s Department for 35 years, rising from the ranks of deputy, becoming a sergeant, commander, undersheriff, until he became sheriff-coroner in 2013.
“I am honored to have been offered the position,” Cavallero said. “I’ve worked with this Department for many years and it has excellent men and women who are dedicated, professional and highly trained. I’m here to provide guidance, supervision and the impartial oversight that someone from outside the Department can give.”
“Tom is the right candidate to serve as a bridge while we search for a new police chief,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He has decades of law enforcement experience, he knows Merced, and he has the ability to connect with people.”
Capt. Matt Williams had been serving as the acting chief after Goodwin retired.
The City will hold a nationwide recruitment for the new police chief.


Tom Cavallero

 

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February 11, 2020

Atwater FFA Program and Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Eight Atwater FFA Students earned honors at the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition Banquet held at the Merced County Fairgrounds last week. Over eighty FFA students representing fourteen high schools throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties were recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. An 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 the development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

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

All eight of Atwater High School’s FFA participants earned “gold” awards. Student participants and their project areas included Simarjot Gandhoke (woodworking), Colby Flatt (welding and fabrication), Kendall Borba (Dairy Goat Placement), Perla Caballero (floral), Tristan Cardey (goats), Michael Bray (rabbits), Ethan Slate (Beef Cattle), and Kiah Betschart (horses). In addition to the results, Michael Bray, Kendall Borba, and Simarjot Gandhoke also were recognized with a merit award in recognition of their outstanding projects. Colby Flatt received a $750 Yosemite Farm Credit Scholarship.

The students plan to attend various trade schools, colleges and universities including Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Fresno State University, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, UC Davis, and Chico State University to pursue careers associated with their SAE’s.


Staff and students representing the Atwater High School agriculture program gather together following their sweep of "Gold" award winning and recognized agriculture projects through the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Sectional Project Competition awards held at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

Atwater High School agriculture students Colby Flatt, Michael Bray, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Ethan Slate gather together with their recognition awards following the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Sectional Project Competition awards held 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 .

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February 11, 2020

Special Education Teacher Grants Available; Deadline Feb. 18

Three grants are available from the state to Merced County special education teachers, but the deadline to apply is quickly approaching.
Stacy Shasky, coordinator of the teacher induction program at the Merced County Office of Education, called attention to the grants offered through the State Department of Education and its Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The PIP/STP Grant offers a $1,000 grant to any special education teacher working on a provisional internship permit or Short Term Staffing Permit credential. An Intern Grant offers $2,000 to any special education teacher working in the county on an intern credential.
And $5,000 is available in a Loan Forgiveness Grant to any special education teacher working on a clear credential.
The deadline to apply for these grants is Feb. 18.
Shasky said these grants are intended to keep people teaching in the special education field. They also can help teachers recoup college costs from pursuing their education.
Shasky said qualifying teachers must agree to stay with the school district where they are serving for another year.

 

 

Those interested in the grants may contact Gayle Catuiza at gcatuiza@mcoe.org.

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February 7, 2020

2nd Annual San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival

Livingston, CA, February 5, 2020 - The Carlos Vieira Foundation is proud to host the 2nd Annual San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival presented by PFSA, the Portuguese Fraternal Society of America. The celebration is open to ALL people to come discover the culture and heritage of the Portuguese people and honor their contributions to the San Joaquin Valley and the state of California. The Festival will be held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA on Saturday April 18, 2020 from 9:00 am to midnight. Come experience the Portuguese culture while supporting a great cause, Race for Autism.
This family-friendly event will showcase traditional Portuguese dancing, music, and cuisine. The festival will be kicked off by a Portuguese parade followed by plenty of activities including folklore performances, bloodless bullfight demonstrations, philharmonic performances, a wine and cheese tasting, a cultural exhibit, carnival rides, plenty of Portuguese food and craft vendors, and more. We will also have exciting performances on the 51FIFTY Stage throughout the day including Generations, Alcides Machado, Taylor Amarante, Chico Avila, The Portuguese Kids, and all the way from Portugal, Ana and Jose Malhoa!
Tickets are now on sale for the pre-sale price of $5. Tickets at the gate will be $10, and kids under 10 years old get free admission. All proceeds benefit children living with autism in central California. For more information, visit SJVportuguesefestival.com or call 209.394.1444.

See you there!

 

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February 7 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL RAMP CLOSURES
SOUTHBOUND STATE ROUTE 99 AT APPLEGATE ROAD IN ATWATER

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform full closures of the on and off-ramps on southbound State Route 99 at Applegate Road in Atwater for landscaping work.
Work will begin Monday, February 10, through Tuesday, February 11, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

 


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
EXPECT 15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO SWEETWATER CREEK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Briceburg to Sweetwater Creek to remove trees and vegetation burned during the Briceburg fire.
Work is scheduled to begin Monday, February 10, 2020, through Friday, February 14, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

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

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February 7, 2020

Merced County Head Start Expands to Full-Day Classes Across County

Not only are Merced County’s Head Start classes going from 3 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours a day, many of the instructional sites throughout the county are being remodeled and enhanced, with other upgrades during the current school year.
The Head Start system also is getting additions to its base funding level and raises for its employees.
Christie Hendricks, assistant superintendent of the Early Education Department of the Merced County Office of Education, said a brand-new center was recently opened near Campus Park Elementary School in Livingston. It serves 34 children who are 3 and 4 years of age in two classrooms.
An existing building was remodeled at Shattuck Park near El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi. This refurbished building serves 17 to 20 children.
Linda Kaercher, director of the Head Start Program which resides within MCOE Early Education Department, said the next phase of expansion to the 6 ½ hour model will see four new classrooms at the new Grasslands Elementary School campus in Los Banos. Grasslands Head Start is due to open next fall.
Hendricks said they are in the process of major remodeling of Head Start sites at Schelby School in Livingston and Tenaya Middle School in Merced. With new program improvement dollars, Head Start sites throughout the county have been upgraded with new flooring, lighting, fixtures, restroom upgrades, new countertops and painting.
Hendricks said data shows quality early education is important for children’s outcomes and the federal government has been supportive of Head Start programs of late.
“Our job is to get children ready to succeed in kindergarten. Head Start has 1,157 students from 0 to 5 years old and a site in nearly every community,” Hendricks said. There are 17 Head Start sites throughout Merced County.
“Available research shows the greater the number of hours children spend in quality programs the better their outcome,” Kaercher said.
Kaercher said the extended time for Head Start sessions means adults can have more positive interactions with students.
“The new hours gives a sufficient amount of time to have a good day with the children,” Kaercher said.
There also is an Early Head Start child care partnership program which serves 88 children from birth to age 5 across Merced County, and a program serving pregnant mothers.


An existing building was remodeled at Shattuck Park near El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi. This refurbished building serves 17 to 20 children.


: Merced County Head Start serves more than 1,100 of the county's youngest students.

Merced County Head Start operates 17 facilities across the county in addition to home-based services.


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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February 7, 2020

Adult ROP Course Focuses on Culinary Essentials, Certification

The Merced County Office of Education’s Career and Technical Education program added a new ROP culinary essentials class for adults with disabilities in January and openings remain in the program this month.
Mary Whited, coordinator of the Regional Occupational Program and career-technical educational services, said 13 adults started the new 18-week culinary essentials class and MCOE plans to do three sessions this year. New enrollees will be accepted and a Feb. 7 orientation is planned.
The culinary essential class provides students with hands-on experience, imparting fundamental skills and knowledge in food preparation, food and kitchen safety, sanitization, food costs, basic culinary terminology, proper use of kitchen tools and equipment and customer service.
Whited said the course is designed for adults with disabilities and offers students a chance to earn a Food Handlers card and ServSafe certification. The program includes completion of an employment portfolio and an internship with local businesses. This gives students entry-level skills and training necessary to secure employment in the food service industry.
Former restauranteur Tisha McParland is teaching the class, which meets Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the MCOE Yosemite Educational Center.
The Adult ROP program is also part of the Gateway Adult Education Network and a consortium of Chowchilla city and Merced and Mariposa county educators.
Whited said a previous short-term class piloted the culinary essentials program. Employability skills were stressed in the class, which is free.
A needs assessment conducted in November 2018 showed one of the weaknesses was a lack of training for adults with disabilities. Whited said the results came as no surprise since it has been known that services are needed for adults who transition out of MCOE or school district programs as adults.

 

“We want to make sure our students don’t fall through the cracks and make sure they transition to the work world,” Whited said.
Prerequisites for the adult ROP program include a high school diploma or equivalent or a certificate of completion or concurrent enrollment in a GED program. The accompanying internships run from two to six weeks at food service, hospitality or retail sales sites.
Technical positions available include food service manager, personal chef, sous chef, pastry chef, airline catering, head cook and caterer. Entry-level positions include fast food service, line cook, food preparation worker, dishwasher, cashier, host-hostess, server-busser and bakery chef.
Students need to have a desire to learn and work hard, commitment, excellent attendance and punctuality and basic keyboarding skills. They must be age 18 or higher.
Whited said ROP provides occupational training courses directly related to a student’s career interest area. The ROP program’s mission statement calls for development of relevant, high-quality career training to secure sustainable employment and advancement.
For more information, contact the ROP program at (209) 381-6684 or email drobles@mcoe.org

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February 7, 2020

Get It Together:
Organize Your Financial Records Free Seminar in Merced

VACAVILLE, CA? One of the best ways to mess up your personal finances is to let yourself get unorganized. Let’s face it; when life gets hectic, you might not stay on top of your bills, bank statements, receipts, or filing the way that you should. Your financial records can be the key to your peace of mind. Unfortunately for most people, those documents are a great source of anxiety and frustration. But that’s all about to end right now. You deserve to not worry about your finances. One important way to have peace of mind when it comes to money is to know where it all is.

Travis Credit Union invites community members to learn the basic fundamentals to help you achieve your financial goals.

The free community seminar will take place on Saturday, February 22 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Merced County Office of Education located at 632 West 13th Street, Newbold Room, Merced, CA where expert advice and resources will be made available to the public.

This seminar presents valuable tips about why some record-keeping systems fail, how to develop and efficient bill-paying system, what records to keep and for how long, how to take a home inventory, what to have handy in case of a natural disaster, and where to go for help.

 

Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit, cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma, Colusa, and Merced Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California, with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.3 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo, Napa, and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

For more information call Travis Credit Union 1-800-877-8328 or see our social media link:
Get It Together: Organize Your Financial Records
Free Seminar
Learn why some record-keeping systems fail, how to develop an efficient bill-paying system, what records to keep and for how long, how to take a home inventory, what to have handy in case of a natural disaster, and where to go for help.
https://bit.ly/3aSmfSa

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February 6, 2020

LANDFILLS NOW OPEN ALL DAY ON SATURDAYS

Merced – The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (Authority) has extended operating hours on Saturdays at the landfills in Merced and Los Banos. The change means that both sites are now open to the public six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 7:00am to 3:30pm.
“The Authority Governing Board expressed the importance of providing all-day access to the landfills on Saturdays to better meet the needs of all residents,” said Stacie Guzman, Executive Director of the Authority. “With this change, we hope to provide a more efficient and convenient experience to all who enter the Authority gates.”
“This is an important opportunity for us,” said Eric Zetz, Director of the Authority. “Interacting more often with members of the public means we are able to increase residents’ access to a variety of programs we offer at our landfills.”
Both landfill sites in Merced and Los Banos allow for disposal of a range of items at no cost and have recycling and diversion programs for things such as mattresses, carpet, e-waste, household hazardous waste and more. Disposal fees apply to most material brought to the landfill, but some recycling programs accept specific items for free or a reduced rate. For more information, visit www.mcrwma.org or the Regional Waste Authority page on Facebook.
Merced County Association of Governments is a joint powers authority responsible for administering the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. The Regional Waste Authority operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos.

 

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February 5, 2020

Atwater FFA Students Compete in State Skills Competitions

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Nearly sixty Atwater High School agriculture staff and students filled a charter bus and suburban and joined nearly 2000 high school students representing nearly 100 high schools throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day and the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational contest on February 1st. The FFA Field Day competitions mark the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various Career Development Event (CDE) agriculture-related skill contests.
The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team placed 2nd overall with the team comprised of Cristal Venegas (1st overall), Daniel Narez (4th overall), Vanessa Varela, and Stefanie Sanchez. The students demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.
The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 3rd overall with Elisabeth Garner (3rd overall), Gurkirath Gandhok (7th overall), and Felicity Garcia leading the team. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.
The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team placed 4th overall with a team composed of Xitlalic Alvarado-Vargas, Gabby Moreno, Hayley Vargas, Kathy Vargas, and Marissa Nuno. The students competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills.
The Atwater FFA Land and Soil judging team placed 4th as a team. The three members that competed were Sabrina Lopez, Kelly Alcaraz (7th overall), and Estrella Venancio. This contest requires students to be experts at determining soil texture and overall land use. The students on the team continue to develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation for soil and its importance to all life forms.
The Atwater FFA Small Engines team placed 6th overall. Eduardo Torres-Torres, Armando Villalobos, Mario Becerra, and Jose Vazquez-Alaniz participated in the contest that focuses on industry related skills associated with engine theory, problem solving, technical skills, identification and team troubleshooting.
The Vegetable Crops team placed 8th overall and consisted of Supreet Ganhoke, Zoe Machuca, and Klarithsa Cruz. The contest involves gaining knowledge and skills in the vegetable crop industry through the demonstration of skills and proficiencies associated with the vegetable crop industry.
The Atwater FFA Farm Power team competed and finished with a strong placing for their first contest. The contest is designed to test a student’s mechanical skills and abilities relating to power equipment used in agriculture, and shall serve as a training forum for students interested in pursuing a career as an equipment technician. This was the first time Atwater FFA has competed in this contest in over 20 years. Nathan Metz, Haley Hultgren and Julian Chargoy were the program's inaugural students who competed .
The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 13th place overall team finish as they demonstrated their plumbing, problem solving, electrical, Arc welding, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. “This contest is all about ‘hands-on’ application of skills,” said coach and FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “We look forward to the opportunity to continue developing our skills and competing against other highly skilled individuals and teams throughout the upcoming contests.” Members of the Ag Mechanics team Daisy Flores-Mota, Moira Conway, Everett Hill, Thomas Garner, and Vincent Gonzalez.
The Atwater High School FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team competed at the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team comprised of Allison Garner, Jatziry Cruz, Kendall Borba, Joshaua Medeiros, Teela Armenta, Mateo Duran, Katrina Andujar, and Sydney Nickelson. The purpose of this contest is to encourage students to learn to effectively participate in a business meeting and to assist in the development of their leadership skills.
For the first time, the Atwater High School FFA competed at the California State Finals Citrus Contest held at Fresno State University and placed 5th overall in the state. Students who participated and competed includedLuz Soto, Daniel Lopez, Simarjot Gandhoke, Emmanuel Mejia, Jacquelyn Chavez, Michael Bray, and Celeste Chargoy. The contest seeks to effectively prepare students for the expectations of the citrus industry. The contest allows students to explore a career in the citrus industry and promote a high degree of knowledge and skill in industry standards as well as critical thinking, oral communication, and plant biology. The knowledge gained from this contest can also be applied to general fruit production.
This was the first primary contest of the year for most of the FFA Career Development Events (CDE’s) throughout the state of California. The primary judging season begins March 2nd at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2020 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 4th. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry.

 

 

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


Some of the thirty participating Atwater High School FFA students showcase their ribbons and awards after demonstrating their knowledge and skills associated with various agriculture industries during the first major California Career Development Event contests held for state-wide agriculture students

Atwater High School agriculture students Julian Chargoy, Nathan Metz, Haley Hultgren competed in the California Department of Education sponsored FFA Farm Power contest where students demonstrate their knowledge and skills associated with farm equipment machinery.

"Atwater High School agriculture students Gaby Moreno, Marissa Nuno, Xitlalic Alvarado-Vargas, Kathy Vargas, and Hayley Vargas identify various plants and flowers during the Arbuckle FFA Field Day's Floral contest held this past weekend."

Atwater High School agriculture students Stefanie Sanchez and Vanessa Varela evaluate and judge a class of bedding plants associated with the Landscape and Nursery contest held at Pierce High School in Arbuckle, California


Atwater High School agriculture students Luz Soto, Emmanuel Mejia, and Michael Bray evaluate a class of lemon citrus fruit during the state championship FFA Citrus contest held at Fresno State University.

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February 5, 2020

Merced County Fair to Receive Nearly $800,000 for Facility Improvement Project
Merced County Fair Selected For Facility Improvement Project
State funds designated to improve California fairgrounds for overall operations and
use as emergency response sites

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, February 4, 2020 – The Merced County Fair is proud to announce it has been selected by the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) Fairs & Expositions Branch to receive funding from the State’s $3 million of general fund monies allocated through the Budget Act of 2018, Control Section 6.10. The Merced County Fair is set to receive $798,950 to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the fair’s Pavilion building.

“This truly is a game changer for our fairgrounds,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of the Merced County Fair. “Currently the Pavilion building only has evaporative cooling, which is inadequate during the hot summer months here in the Central Valley. Due to that, we’ve seen a decrease in rentals of this building during that time, which hurts us financially as year round rentals sustain operations outside our annual fair.”

The project selection comes after the fair submitted five projects for consideration as part of the Facility Condition Assessment of California fairgrounds. Out of 74 fairgrounds in California, there were 64 fairgrounds that submitted projects; only 12 projects were selected for the first round of funding. All projects will be overseen and managed by the California Construction Authority (CCA) or the Department of General Services (DGS) and must be completed by March 2022.

In 2017, Assemblyman Adam Gray authored Assembly Bill 1499, which enabled the creation of these funds through a percentage of the sales tax revenue generated on fair properties within the State. “We can’t express our gratitude enough for Assemblyman Gray’s championing of these funds that are critical to the longevity of fairgrounds that serve their communities in so many ways,” said Burrola.

Fairgrounds are not only home to their annual fairs and festivals, but they are critical resources during disaster emergency responses. This was the case in July 2017, when the Merced County Fairgrounds served as the Cal-Fire incident command post and base camp during Detwiler fire in Mariposa that consumed more than 2,500 acres. The Pavilion building was designated as the briefing center; however, given soaring temperatures during the peak of summer and no central air conditioning, these emergency responders were forced to rent portable air conditioning systems and pipe them into the Pavilion so they could conduct their briefings and continue to battle the fire.

 

 

Knowing the installation of a HVAC system in the Pavilion was a key capital improvement project that needed funding – whether through State grants or fundraising – in 2018, Burrola contracted Golden Valley Engineering & Surveying to prepare a cost estimate for the HVAC system with an electrical upgrade to the Pavilion. This proved to be a wise move as the fair was ready to submit its Facility Condition Assessment in early 2019 when the funding opportunity presented itself.

The purpose of the Facility Condition Assessment is to create a master list of priority construction projects for California fairgrounds. The CDFA and CCA will use this list for selection of projects to fund as various funding sources become available. The four other projects submitted by the Merced County Fair were: 1) roof replacement on Administration Office, 2) roof replacement on El Capitan Building, 3) roof and rain gutter replacement on Pavilion, and 4) replacement of heating/cooling units with new units on remaining buildings.

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association. The fair’s mission statement outlines that it “promises to meet the needs of our community by providing a fun, safe venue to celebrate our area’s agricultural heritage, discover new technology and be entertained.” This year marks the 129th year of operation for the Merced County Fair, which welcomes more than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond to attend the five-day fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President, Carol Sartoni-Silva; First Vice President, Lee Lor; Second Vice President, Kim Rogina; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lori Rossi Gallo; Emily Haden; Flip Hassett; and Luis Lara. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2020 Merced County Fair will run June 10 - 14. 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 Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

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February 4 , 2020

Merced High School Wins 12th Consecutive Academic Decathlon

Students from 10 Merced County high schools converged at UC Merced on Feb. 1 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon and for the 12th consecutive year, Merced High School took the top spot.
The 39th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science. This year’s theme was “In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness.”
High schools that participated this year: Merced High, Atwater High, Buhach Colony High, El Capitan High, Golden Valley High, Le Grand High, Delhi High, Livingston High, Los Banos High and Los Banos Valley Community School.
Each decathlon team has nine students. They include three students each from the Honors Division for students in the “A” GPA range, the Scholastic Division for students in the “B” GPA range and the Varsity Division for those with a “C”-level GPA and below.
Golden Valley was the highest scoring team for the Super Quiz and Merced High team member Laura Ness was the top-scoring student.
Merced High will go on to represent Merced County in March at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are Educational Employees Credit Union, Community Foundation of Merced County, UC Merced, Merced Vein and Vascular and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,000 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.
Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.


Click here to see the complete list awards.


For the 12th year in a row, Merced High School took the top spot at the annual Merced County Academic Decathlon.


Merced County Academic Decathlon participants who earned the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union's Robert Wayne Scholarship. The scholarship awards $500 to the highest scoring student on each team and $250 to two other top scoring students on each team.


PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 

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February 4 , 2020

Dos Palos ROP Class Wins HSBC Bank Grant for NYC Youth Business Summit

Jenny Hunger was surprised last Wednesday when her principal and two school board members made an unscheduled visit to her Virtual Enterprise class at Dos Palos High School.
She was even more surprised when the Western Regional Director for Virtual Enterprise International walked into her classroom at Dos Palos High School and announced that Hunger’s class was one of four selected in the nation for an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the Youth Business Summit in April hosted by Virtual Enterprise International thanks to the HSBC Bank Opportunity Fund Grant.
“We are completely shocked and honored to receive this award,” said the Dos Palos High School ROP business teacher. “When you know only four schools in the nation are selected, who would have guessed Dos Palos would be one! This opportunity will allow my students to experience the business world outside of the classroom and give them understanding of the various business practices from around the globe. We really can’t thank HSBC Bank enough for providing this opportunity to our students.”
Hunger teaches four Business & Finance CTE courses at Dos Palos High and has taught the Virtual Enterprise course for 10 years where students have operated virtual businesses, including iScream, Hydrus, Hoof Prints and Sweet Shack.
Her class created a video for the HSBC Bank Opportunity Grant Fund competition highlighting the small town of Dos Palos, how important agriculture is to the local economy and why the students created Sweet Shack, their virtual business. Student CEO Jennifer Aguilar’s voiceover during the video explains that the students are limited in how many competitions they can attend due to funding and how students learn public speaking skills and collaborate with industry partners who serve as mentors through the course.
“Students are engaged in hands-on learning by working in simulated real world jobs. Industry partners are encouraged to help ensure students are learning relevant workplace skills for today’s environment and The Morning Star Packing Company has been an exceptional industry partner,” Hunger said.
Hunger’s Virtual Enterprise class earned first place on the tradeshow booth, gold on the newsletter, silver on the branding and ninth place on the business plan at the California State Virtual Enterprise Conference in Bakersfield earlier In January. In past years, the course has earned a multitude of awards.
“We are proud of how our Dos Palos students worked hard to earn this recognition,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “Jenny Hunger’s Virtual Enterprise class is a great example of how educators are preparing students for the real-world of business and leadership.”
With an emphasis on college and career readiness, virtual enterprise is an in-school, live, global business simulation that offers students a competitive edge through project-based, collaborative learning and the development of 21st-century skills in entrepreneurship, global business, problem-solving, communication, personal finance and technology.


Jenny Hunger's Virtual Enterprise class at Dos Palos High School was one of four classes selected in the nation for the HSBC Bank Opportunity Fund Grant, which awards an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the Youth Business Summit in April hosted by Virtual Enterprise International.

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Delhi Unified Planning New CTE Building and School-Based Health Clinic

About two years from now, the Delhi Unified School District will have a new Career and Technical Education building expected to enhance students’ knowledge and bolster their chances of future success.
Adolfo Melara, Delhi schools superintendent, said the 22,000-square-foot CTE Complex will be on the Delhi High School campus. The district also is planning to add a school-based health clinic at the high school.
Back in November 2016, Delhi voters approved the $12 million Measure W bond.
A main focus of the new CTE complex is to improve agriculture learning pathways.
“The CTE building will be dedicated to agricultural mechanics and engineering. It will allow space for students to learn engineering, welding, and fabrication,” Melara said. The building will provide areas for welding stations and fabricating agricultural machinery.
Delhi students will be exposed to world-class academic offerings to make their present and future better. The new project enhances programs in medical pathways, agriculture, public service and business.
“We are extremely excited for students whose education will be expanded in a significant manner. I am very thankful to the community for supporting the bond,” Melara said.
With new course offerings in agriculture, additional teaching staff will need to be hired, he added.
Teter Architects in Fresno-Modesto is designing the new CTE complex, which will be intended primarily for ninth through 12th graders and could include some middle school students as well. There are 1,200 middle school and high school students in Delhi.
Melara said to support the project the district will apply for a grant from the state Department of Education for CTE programs.
“I believe this will enhance the education of our students in Delhi. Technical education is important in attaining good life skills,” Melara said.
The new health center building on campus will be around 3,000 square feet, serving primarily high school students. The health center will address students’ medical, dental and behavioral health needs, in partnership with the Castle Family Heath Centers.
The health center complex is about a year out from completion, Melara said.
“This is a great addition to services we will be offering students and their families in town. It will bring a comprehensive clinic to town,” Melara said.

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February 1 , 2020

Goals and priorities, Loughborough on Council agenda

An update on goals and priorities and the Loughborough Neighborhood Project are on the City Council agenda for its Monday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• Staff will give an update on the City Council’s goals and priorities for Fiscal Year 2019-20. Each year, as part of the budgeting process the Council sets goals and priorities to guide the allocation of the annual budget.

• Mayor Pro Tem Matt Serratto will provide a progress report on the Loughborough Neighborhood Project. Following meetings with residents and businesses, Serratto worked with staff to develop plans to get neighbors active in decision-making and to bring community events to the area.

• Council will consider approving a request to close Downtown streets for the Original Merced Criterium Bicycle Race Feb. 23.

The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in closed session to confer with labor negotiators, to discuss employee performance and for existing litigation.

 

 

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website 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, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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February 1 , 2020

MCOE to Host Annual Education Report on Feb. 26 in Merced, Feb. 28 in Los Banos

The Merced County Office of Education will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Feb. 26 in Merced and Feb. 28 in Los Banos. This is the ninth time this comprehensive report on local education has been shared with the public.
Two sessions are scheduled on Feb. 26 at the Merced County Office of Education Downtown Professional Development Center, also known as the Mondo Building, at 501 W. Main St. in Merced. The first session is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second session is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. On Feb. 28, another session is scheduled at the Ted Falasco Arts Center, 1105 5th St. in Los Banos from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Food will be provided at all sessions.
This year’s presentation will focus on the professional development MCOE provides to school districts across Merced County and the Migrant Education program MCOE operates in Merced, Stanislaus and Madera counties. Information and data on student achievement, partnerships and collaborations will be shared. A student performance from the Ballico-Cressey Taiko Drum Club will open up the events followed by presentations from Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, MCOE Math Coordinator Duane Habecker and 2019 Merced County Teacher of the Year Rosbelina Ward. The program will feature videos highlighting educators prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and filmed in classrooms in several school districts across the county.

 

 

An RSVP is required for the event by calling (209) 381-6601 or emailing rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

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January 29, 2020

Academic Decathlon Slated for Saturday at UC Merced

It’s called the Super Bowl of academics.
That’s how Stacie Arancibia, events and community engagement specialist and decathlon competition manager, describes the Merced County Academic Decathlon which will be held Feb. 1 at UC Merced.
This is the 39th year that the event conducted by the Merced County Office of Education has been held. About 120 high school students from 10 campuses in the county will participate. Thirty students act as alternates for the competition.
Ten teams of nine students and alternates will spend the day at UC Merced, participating in decathlon and Super Quiz events. This year’s theme is “In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness,” focusing on medical diseases, their prevention and treatment. The concluding awards program will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 in the Lakireddy Auditorium at the university.
Students from Merced High, Atwater High, Buhach Colony High, El Capitan High, Golden Valley High, Le Grand High, Delhi High, Livingston High, Los Banos High and Los Banos Valley Community School are competing.
Arancibia explained that each decathlon team has nine students. They include three students each from the Honors Division for students in the “A” GPA range, the Scholastic Division for students in the “B” GPA range and the Varsity Division for those with a “C”-level GPA and below.
“With three students from each section on a team, it creates a balance of GPA levels. It’s beneficial to the Varsity students because they can learn study skills from the Honors students and all of the students learn about teamwork,” Arancibia said.
Competing students have seven multiple-choice tests and must give a prepared speech of 3 1/2 to 4 minutes length, along with an impromptu speech of 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Students participate in an interview and completed an online essay in December. In the Super Quiz beginning at 3 p.m., students field questions from all subjects in the Arts and Computational Science Building at UC Merced. This event is open to the public. Testing begins at 8 a.m. and concludes about 3 p.m.
The winning team moves on to the state championship in March in Sacramento featuring more than 60 winning teams from throughout California and including a few international teams. Merced High School students have won 11 competitions in a row.
The competition and scholarships are financed by the Merced County Academic Decathlon Association, a local non-profit, thanks to the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union, other local businesses and individual donors. Donations to the non-profit organization help pay for facilities, awards, student and volunteer lunches, scholarships and all expenses for the winning team to attend the state championships.
The highest-scoring student from each team receives a $500 scholarship and the next two students from other divisions receive $250 scholarships. The scholarships are named after the late Robert Wayne, founder of the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union who was a longtime supporter and board member of the Merced County Academic Decathlon.


PHOTO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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About 80 volunteers help run the event, drawn from college students, local residents and school staff and board members. Volunteers and some MCOE and MSEFCU staff help with registration and setup, scoring rooms, lunch, proctoring the tests and Super Quiz and judging essays, speeches and interviews.
Students prepare for the decathlon from August through January. While some of the high schools are able to offer a class to assist their students, many must meet after school to study.
The vision of the sponsoring United States Academic Decathlon is to provide students the opportunity to excel academically through team competition. The group’s mission is to promote learning and academic excellence among students of varying achievement levels. Teamwork is seen as a means of achieving self-knowledge and life-skills development.

 

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January 28, 2020

Atwater FFA Students Qualify for Regional Speaking Finals

Written by:: Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA joined over 180 FFA speaking contestants, representing fifteen high school agriculture programs throughout Merced and Mariposa counties at the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Public Speaking Sectional Finals at Merced College January 25th. The top four individual finalists in each speaking contest advance to the regional prelims in February. Atwater FFA had three of the twenty sectional finalists advancing to the regional prelims next month.
Atwater High School agriculture program junior Alyssa Carrillo placed 1st overall in Prepared Public Speaking, qualifying her for the regional prelims. Student speeches covered topics that included gene editing, Colony Collapse Disorder, and food security within the agriculture industry. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 minute speech on an agriculture related topic/issue, a written manuscript which is scored, and a question and answer period between the contestant and judges following the speech. Hayley Vargas (5th overall), Celeste Chargoy, and Nandani Patel also competed in the sectional finals.
Atwater High School agriculture students Emmanuel Mejia placed 1st overall, Jennifer Velazquez placed 4th overall, Daniel Lopez 5th placed overall place in the Extemporaneous Speaking contest. Emmanuel Mejia and Jennifer Velazquez will move onto the regional finals. Contestants are presented with a choice of three questions related to agricultural current events and, in 30 minutes, prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. Topics range from local-specific issues to national-world concerns relating to agriculture.
Atwater High School agriculture program students Gurkirath Gandhok, Julia Callahan, and Elisabeth Conn competed in the Impromptu speaking contest. The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion.

Atwater High School agriculture freshman students Nathan Harding, Cassidy Carrillo, and Shayleigh Miller participated in the FFA Creed. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner. Members boost their self- confidence and earn recognition.
Atwater High School agriculture students Luz Soto (8th overall), Perla Caballero, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Gabriel Moreno competed in the Job Interview contest. The Job Interview contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.
The “Super Saturday” event held each year at Merced College is also geared towards scoring students in the Merced and Mariposa counties on various FFA State Degree applications and FFA Proficiency Awards. Atwater FFA had twenty students approved for their state degrees and had three students selected as sectional winners who will move onto the regional selection process. Thoise students included Colby Flatt (Poultry Production Entrepreneurship), Michael Bray (Goat Production Placemat and Small Animal Production), and Kiah Betschart (Equine Entrepreneurship).


Atwater High School agriculture students Daniel Lopez (5th overall), Jennifer Velazquez (4th overall), and Emmanuel Mejia (1st overall) were the top individuals in the Merced/Mariposa Sectional FFA Extemporaneous Speaking contest held this past weekend at Merced College.

Atwater High School agriculture students (Alyssa Carrillo (1st overall) and Hayley Vargas (5th overall) were the top individuals in the Merced/Mariposa Sectional FFA Prepared Public Speaking contest held this past weekend at Merced College.

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Atwater High School FFA also had agriculture students Litzy Suastigui, Flor Agundis, Jerrod Nickerson, Michael Bray, America Lara, Noelia Barrios, Marissa Nuno, Gabriella Lucas, Vanessa Varela, Elisabeth Garner, Ethan Slate, and Colby Flatt help assist with the organization and facilitation of the various speaking contests.
“Being a good communicator is one of the foundations of success towards personal and career development,” says Atwater FFA Advisor Kim Mesa. “Our agriculture program is very proud of our students’ efforts, participation, courage, and enthusiasm in this event!”

 


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 28, 2020

PUBLIC NOTICE
EL PORTAL OPEN HOUSE
CALTRANS PROJECTS UPDATE

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Rosemarie Smallcombe, District I Supervisor, invites you to meet on
January 28th with Caltrans District 10 Director, Dan McElhinney,
and his team to hear about the Ferguson Project restart as well as
updates on other Caltrans projects in our area. For your
convenience, the format is an open house starting at 5:00 PM and
ending at 7:00 rather than a formal presentation.
I’ll be available to answer questions on other matters.
Refreshments will be served.
Please contact Supervisor Smallcombe at:
rsmallcombe@mariposacounty.org or (209) 742-1242 if you have
questions prior to the meeting or if you’re unable to attend but
have questions you’d like addressed.
DATE: January 28, 2020
TIME: 5:00 to 7:00 PM
PLACE: El Portal Community Hall


 

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

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January 25, 2020


WEAVER PERFORMING ARTS PRESENTS
Disney Frozen Jr.

School Shows: February 25 – February 28, 2020
Public Shows: February 28 - 29, 2020

MERCED, CA – Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven are making their way to the Merced Theatre Feb. 28 and 29, where Weaver Performing Arts will perform the musical version of the original movie, "Frozen," including popular songs, such as “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let It Go."

Join us as Anna, Elsa, and the magic of Arendelle come to life onstage. Their story is one of true love and acceptance between sisters. It begins with Elsa’s coronation celebration but when Anna asks for Elsa’s blessing over her marriage to a prince she just met, things take a drastic and chilling turn. Elsa flees Arendelle in an attempt to come to grips with her powers away from the public eye. Anna teams up with Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf to bring Elsa back and release their kingdom from the eternal winter that Elsa accidentally started. Throughout the danger these two sisters face during their epic adventures they both discover their hidden potential and, more importantly, just how powerful the bond of sisterhood can be.

Weaver Performing Arts has been performing musicals with 4th through 8th grade students since 2003. Last year Weaver Performing Arts production of "Disney’s Mary Poppins Jr." was performed before more than 5,000 audience members. "Frozen" features a cast and crew of more than 60 students from all three schools in the Weaver Union School District.

FACTS
WHAT: Disney Frozen Jr.
WHO: Weaver Performing Arts
WHEN:
School Shows – February 25 – February 28, 2020 (morning start times)
Public Shows – February 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.
February 29, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Merced Theatre 301 W. Main Street, Merced, CA 95340

TICKETS:
School Shows - SOLD OUT
Public Shows - $10.00. Tickets sold at the Merced Theatre Box Office and online at
www.mercedtheatre.org. $3.00/ticket added for online purchase.
Box office is open Tuesday through Friday, 1:00 to 5:00.

CONTACT:
Merced Theatre Box Office
301 West Main Street
Merced, CA 95340

Phone: 381-0500
Website: www.mercedtheatre.org

 

 

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January 25, 2020

Gray Introduces Legislation to Repeal the Ticket Tax

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement upon introducing Assembly Bill 1980 to repeal the automatic 20% tax on traffic tickets imposed by the state:

“During a time of fiscal uncertainty nearly two decades ago, the state imposed a 20% tax on traffic tickets and devoted the funding to prop up the General Fund. At the time, the state promised this was a temporary measure, but to the surprise of no one eventually made the tax permanent just a few years later.

“The State Auditor has repeatedly recommended this tax be eliminated. The revenue does not support law enforcement or any specific public safety program. Instead, the funds are up for grabs every year to spend with no accountability to the public. This tax amounts to nearly $40 million per year stolen from taxpayers without explanation.

“I introduced a similar bill last year in partnership with Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse who knows this tax has nothing to do with improving safety on our roads. We received the support of law enforcement groups like the Peace Officers’ Research Association and criminal justice groups like Restore Justice and the ACLU.

“All sides agree this tax is unjust, indefensible, and long overdue for repeal.

“This year we will redouble our efforts, and with Governor Newsom indicating his support for reforms like this in the budget, I am confident we will succeed.”

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January 24, 2020

Annexation topic of joint study session Monday

The North Merced Annexation Feasibility Study is the topic of a joint study session with the Merced City Council and the Planning Commission, Mon., Jan. 27.

The joint meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The purpose of the Feasibility Study is to provide recommendations to the City regarding possible future annexation (incorporation) of all or portions of an area north of the City. The 7,670-acre North Merced Annexation Feasibility Study area is generally near UC Merced and is located in the Merced County. The Study area is already identified in the City of Merced General Plan as a direction for future urban growth.

A presentation on the study will be given and the public will have a chance to comment. Council members and commissioners will discuss the plan.

The meeting will be streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item.

The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council regularly meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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January 24, 2020

Travis Credit Union Hosts Financial Forum Promoting Postsecondary Education for At-risk Youth

VACAVILLE, CA? On January 17, 2020, Travis Credit Union (TCU) held the 14th annual Financial Education Forum at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California. The forum provided youth who have experienced financial barriers to postsecondary education with information on financial aid. TCU hosted the event in partnership with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, California Student Aid Commission, and Diablo Valley College. This year, nearly 250 foster and homeless students from 9 local high schools in Contra Costa County attended.

During the forum, students learned of financial aid opportunities from financial leaders and college financing experts. Seniors also completed a Cash for College workshop as part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Foster Youth Challenge. Last year, the California Student Aid Commission reported that only 53 percent of California’s public high school seniors completed a FAFSA or Dream Act application. TCU has hosted the Financial Education Forum annually since 2006 to increase student awareness of available state and federal aid. The event exemplifies TCU’s commitment to making authentic community impact and reflects the credit union’s motivational “Awesome Cause” of providing financial education, financial literacy and financial advocacy to all those it serves.

“Our Awesome Cause is at the heart of the credit union’s business model,” said Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Postsecondary education and programs along with financial capability is an effective way to help youth, no matter their circumstances, avoid common financial vulnerabilities and build economic stability not only for these young people but for the communities they reside.”

This year’s event featured a motivational keynote speaker, Daniel Mora. Mora, who grew up in the Bay Area, joined a gang and eventually landed in a juvenile detention facility before turning his life around. Mora graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 and now devotes his time to working with at-risk youth.

Other speakers included Contra Costa Superintendent Lynn Mackey; Bryan Sapp of the California Student Aid Commission; Susan Lamb, President, Diablo Valley College; and Nicholas Diaz-Galarza of the Diablo Valley College Financial Aid Office. The forum closed with workshops and tours of Diablo Valley College and a raffle for two Chromebooks to youth in attendance.

“Our agency is proud to co-host this worthwhile event,” said Lynn Mackey, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “The Forum will provide vulnerable students in our county with some very valuable financial information and tips as they look toward higher education opportunities and begin planning for their future.”

“It’s so important that this event is targeting a population that is often overlooked,” said Ramona MacIntyre, president and CEO of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, “This forum is all about empowering and guiding under-served youth to pursue higher education and eventually, financial independence. The program today is providing valuable resources and tours, and my hope is that these students leave with more hope and aspirations for the future.”

Since its inception, the Financial Education Forum has provided TCU and local high schools a community partnership opportunity to increase student awareness of financial aid options for secondary education. The forum is provided at no cost to participating schools, including bus transportation and lunches for attendees. By demystifying the financial aid process, the event seeks to encourage students who typically may not attend a higher education institution or program because of financial constraints to do so.

Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit, cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma, Colusa, and Merced Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California, with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.3 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo, Napa, and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

 


L-R Motivational Keynote speaker, Danial Mora and Barry Nelson, president/CEO Travis Credit Union


Campus Tour at Diablo Valley College

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For more information, call Travis Credit Union 1-800-877-8328 or contact one of the following:

Superintendent Lynn Mackey, Contra Costa County Office of Education (contact: Terry Koehne, Chief Community Officer; tkoehne@cccoe.k12.ca.us, 925- 942-3420) or visit:
https://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/superintendent/county_superintendent_of_schools

Bryan Sapp, California Student Aid Commission: https://www.csac.ca.gov/

Susan Lamb, President, Diablo Valley College: norante@dvc.edu, 925-969-2005 ; https://www.dvc.edu/about/administration/administrators.html

Nicholas Diaz-Golarza, Diablo Valley College Financial Aid Office: https://www.dvc.edu/student-services/financial-aid/

Daniel Mora, Motivational Speaker: http://danielmora.net/wp/bio/ or see videos at: http://danielmora.net/wp/category/videos/

 


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January 23, 2020

Merced County Fair Board Officers Selected for 2020
Carol Sartori-Silva will succeed Lori Gallo as the new President of the Fair Board

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, January 22, 2020 – The Merced County Fair is proud to announce the 2020 officer position for the 35th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors, which was made official on January 13 after a Board vote during its monthly meeting. Those positions are: Carol Sartori-Silva, President; Lee Lor, First Vice President; and Kim Rogina, Second Vice President.
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to work with Carol in a new capacity as our Board President, who has been involved in the fair her whole life. Her connections with our fair, our community and our agriculture community run deep,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of the Merced County Fair. “I look forward to the year ahead as she further helps us continue to serve our community and grow the Fair.”
Carol Sartori-Silva has a longstanding relationship with the Fair, having served on the Merced County Fair Board for more than 20 years. Carol has served as a Fiscal Supervisor for the Merced County Welfare to Work Department, as well as a Civil Assistant in the Merced County Marshal’s Office. She has previously served as a member of the California Women in Agriculture, Merced County Historical Society and the Western Fairs Association. Carol was also a charter member of the Friends of the Merced County Fair, which is the Fair’s non-profit foundation.
“I’m honored and excited to serve as the fair’s Board President of the Merced County Fair, which has been part of my life since the age of three and is a tradition for my family and generations of families in our area,” said Sartori-Silva. “I am so proud of what the fair provides our community – a family-friendly, safe place to gather and connect – while promoting educational advancement and agriculture, all while having fun! I look forward to future improvements to the grounds, which is made possible by Friends of the Merced County Fair and the generous support from our community, and a wonderful 2020 fair!”
First Vice President, Lee Lor of Merced was first appointed to the Merced County Fair Board in 2013. She held multiple positions at the Merced County Office of Education including Executive Director of the Merced County Education Foundation. Lee is a former board member of the Merced Lao Family Community and Mercy Medical Center Merced. She is a member of the American Leadership Forum – Great Valley Chapter and Chair of the First 5 Merced County. In 2016, she was elected to the Merced County Board of Supervisors representing District 2, a position she proudly holds.
Second Vice President, Kim Rogina of Merced was first appointed to the Merced County Fair board in 2015. Kim is co-owner of her family farming business Rogina Inc. established in 1985. She is also a real estate agent with Next Door Real Estate Professionals (formerly Century 21 Salvadori Realty). Kim served as president and on the Board of Directors for the Merced County Association of Realtors. She is a member of California Women for Agriculture,
the Merced County Farm Bureau, and a California Agricultural Leadership Program alumnus.
Highlights:
? Get Involved | Celebrate the official kick-off of the 2020 fair season and support the fundraising efforts of the Friends of the Merced County Fair at Merced County Fair Pre-Party & Dinner on February 28. Tickets are $40 for this event that features a live and silent auction, dinner and hosted drinks, plus plenty of entertainment and more! Attendees must be 21 years or older. For more details go to: www.mercedcountyfair.com/merced-fair-preparty

Stay In The Know | Want to be the first to know about concerts, food vendors and new featured food items, admission discounts and more? Then sign up for our email newsletter at (www.mercedcountyfair.com/contact-us) or connect with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mercedfair), Twitter (twitter.com/Merced_CA_Fair) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mercedcountyfair).

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association. The fair’s mission statement outlines that it “promises to meet the needs of our community by providing a fun, safe venue to celebrate our area’s agricultural heritage, discover new technology and be entertained.” This year marks the 129th year of operation for the Merced County Fair, which welcomes more than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond to attend the five-day fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President, Carol Sartoni-Silva; First Vice President, Lee Lor; Second Vice President, Kim Rogina; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lori Gallo; Emily Haden; Flip Hassett; and Luis Lara. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2020 Merced County Fair will run June 10 - 14. 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 Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

 


Carol Sartori-Silva, President


Lee Lor, First Vice President


Kim Rogina, Second Vice President.

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January 22, 2020

MCOE to Host Annual Education Report on Feb. 26 in Merced, Feb. 28 in Los Banos

The Merced County Office of Education will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Feb. 26 in Merced and Feb. 28 in Los Banos. This is the ninth time this comprehensive report on local education has been shared with the public.
Two sessions are scheduled on Feb. 26 at the Merced County Office of Education Downtown Professional Development Center, also known as the Mondo Building, at 501 W. Main St. in Merced. The first session is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second session is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. On Feb. 28, another session is scheduled at the Ted Falasco Arts Center, 1105 5th St. in Los Banos from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Food will be provided at all sessions.
This year’s presentation will focus on the professional development MCOE provides to school districts across Merced County and the Migrant Education program MCOE operates in Merced, Stanislaus and Madera counties. Information and data on student achievement, partnerships and collaborations will be shared. A student performance from the Ballico-Cressey Taiko Drum Club will open up the events followed by presentations from Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, MCOE Math Coordinator Duane Habecker and 2019 Merced County Teacher of the Year Rosbelina Ward. The program will feature videos highlighting educators prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and filmed in classrooms in several school districts across the county.

 

 

An RSVP is required for the event by calling (209) 381-6601 or emailing rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

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January 22, 2020


Travis Credit Union Names Nathan Cox Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer

VACAVILLE, CA ?Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union, announced the appointment of Nathan Cox as the new SVP/Chief Lending Officer .

Nathan joins Travis Credit Union from U.S. Bank, where he was Senior Vice President and Market Manager for the Sacramento Valley Region. In addition to his primary role as Market Manager for Commercial Banking, he was also involved with the U.S. Bank Foundation, which provided more than $1 million dollars in charitable donations in the Greater Sacramento Area. This is just one example of his keen interest in serving his community.

Nathan will be responsible for the strategic direction of Consumer & Real Estate Lending and Commercial Lending to include Card Services and Collections. Additionally, he will create, communicate, execute and sustain lending projects and strategic initiatives within the credit union that ensure “best practices” to accomplish the mission and strategic plan while meeting the financial needs of our members.

“Nathan’ s significant experience and collaborative leadership skills will play a key role in expanding Travis Credit Union’s commercial and consumer lending initiatives to offer even greater value and convenience to our members moving forward,” stated Nelson.

As a former Lecturer at the Graduate and Undergraduate level, lecturing on finance, investments, management, and marketing, he is a powerful ally in Travis’ Awesome Cause to promote financial literacy. He is currently Board Chair, Goodwill Industries of Sacramento and Northern Nevada. and is looking forward to deepening his community involvement in the footprint of Travis Credit Union as well.


Nathan Cox, Senior Vice President/Chief Lending Officer

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Nathan earned his B.A. in Business Administration (emphasis in marketing) from Loyola Marymount University, and earned his M.B.A. in Corporate Finance from Golden Gate University.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma, Colusa and Merced Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the eleventh largest credit union in California with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.3 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members, its solid, secure history, and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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January 22, 2020

Assemblymember Gray Seeks Audit of State Regulator’s Failure to Prevent Utility Wildfires

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) has submitted a request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee seeking a state audit of the California Public Utilities Commission. As the state’s primary entity tasked with the regulation of public utilities, Gray’s audit letter seeks information about the commission’s role in PG&E’s inadequate and dangerous management of its power lines which sparked some of the most destructive wildfires in California history.

“A lot of the conversation around utilities and wildfires has focused on shareholders and executives at PG&E placing their own profits over the public’s safety,” said Gray. “That criticism is well deserved. Shareholders are just now realizing it would have cost a lot less to make responsible safety improvements over time rather than go through bankruptcy with multi-billion dollar settlements.

“However, government incompetence is also part of the story. The CPUC regulates public utilities and knew about the decaying and outdated condition of PG&E’s infrastructure, yet they failed to act. Instead, the commission often denied what little safety improvements were proposed by the utility.

“Many have pointed to climate change to explain the dangerous conditions which allowed recent wildfires to grow so quickly and burn so intensely. Ironically, the CPUC has been at the center of the state’s fight against climate change since the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Instead of raising the alarm that climate change will make dangerous wildfire conditions more common, the commission has pushed its Safety and Enforcement Division to the bottom of the priority list.

“I am asking the State Auditor to provide an independent and nonpartisan analysis of what went wrong at the CPUC. Why was public safety not a priority for the commission, and why were grid improvements like burying power lines in fire prone areas not approved? Despite playing a central role in helping California adapt to climate change in other areas, why was the CPUC asleep at the wheel on the risk of utility caused wildfires?

"The state has promised not to allow these tragedies to happen again. In order to fulfill that promise, we need answers to these questions. If the CPUC is not capable of ensuring the public's safety, then it is time we figure out a new way to regulate public utilities so that homes, businesses, and families come first."

Gray’s audit request will be voted on by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee at a hearing scheduled for February 19th.

Gray applauds $15 million for Valley medical education in Governor’s proposed budget

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s inclusion of UC Merced and UCSF Fresno Branch Campus in his 2020-21 proposed budget:

“The Central Valley continues to have some of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita in the state, and the need will only increase as existing physicians retire,” said Gray. “Governor Newsom’s proposed budget allocates $15 million per year in ongoing funding to UC Merced and UCSF-Fresno to expand medical education in the Valley. This investment will allow more students to train to become doctors right here in the Valley, and it will directly increase access to care in our community – one of my top priorities during my time in the legislature. I am encouraged by Governor Newsom’s ongoing commitment to the Central Valley and with his investments in education and health care.”

More information on the Governor’s proposed budget can be found here.

 


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January 22, 2020

Strong Winter Storm Means Wet and Snowy Driving Conditions for MotoristsStaffed Chain Controls On Sierra Routes

Stockton — Caltrans reminds the traveling public to practice caution and be prepared for winter weather driving conditions in the central Sierra Nevada. With a major winter storm expected to hit the region, motorists need to be ready for whatever conditions the weather may bring.
When visiting higher elevations, drivers must carry a set of snow chains in their vehicle. Even vehicles equipped with snow tires need to keep these on hand as certain chain requirement levels will necessitate their use. There are three levels of chain requirements drivers need to be aware of:
•Requirement 1 (R-1): Chains are required on all vehicles except passengervehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight andequipped with snow tires on at least two drive wheels. All vehicles towingtrailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must havechains on at least one axle.
•Requirement 2 (R-2): Chains or traction devices are required on allvehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tireson all four wheels.NOTE: Four-wheel/all-wheel-drive vehicles must carry traction devices inchain control areas.
•Requirement 3 (R-3): Chains or traction devices are required on allvehicles, no exceptions.
Before heading out onto the road, drivers should check to see what type of tires are on their vehicle. Depending on the tire, they may not be required to install snow chains in lower chain requirement areas. Snow-tread tires are marked with a symbol of a mountain snowflake while mud & snow tires, which are also accepted, are marked with the letters “M” and “S.” However, motorists will be required to apply chains to these types of tires if there is not enough tread.
Drivers should refrain from relying on driver-assist technology when traveling in snowy and icy conditions. Many of these features use cameras to operate, and the build-up of snow, ice, and salt from the roadways can impact their function.
Cruise control use should be avoided as it is deactivated by pressing the brakes and doing so on an icy road may cause your vehicle to slide.
A snow duster/windshield scraper should be kept readily available and used to remove any snow that may have accumulated on a vehicle since it was last driven. Snow and ice dropping from the tops of cars, trucks, and SUVs can create hazardous conditions for other vehicles on the road. Snow not removed from the top of a vehicle is considered an unsecured cargo load and can result in a traffic fine.


In the event of an extended delay, it’s suggested drivers keep the following
supplies on hand:
• Snacks & Water
• Flashlight
• Batteries
• Jumper Cables
• Kitty Litter or Sand (for tire traction when stuck)
• Snow Duster/Windshield Scraper
• First-Aid Kit
• A Small Shovel
• An Extra Set of Warm Clothes/Blankets
• Full Tank of Gas
During snowy weather, there are a few tips drivers need to remember to stay safe on the roads. When driving in areas with chain control restrictions, the speed limit is reduced from the posted speed limit down to 25-35 miles per hour for all vehicles. Even if chains are not required, drivers should travel at a safe speed when roads are wet, icy, or covered in snow. Caltrans would also like to remind everyone to give snowplows enough room to work. Stay at least four car lengths back from a snowplow and refrain from passing them.
Information on road closures, chain control requirements, and potential high
wind advisories can be found on the Caltrans QuickMap app and website, or by calling the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623)

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

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January 9, 2020

Auditions for State of the City singer

The annual State of the City brings the community together to hear what has happened in Merced over the past year, and what the future holds. This year’s event, will have that, and more.
The State of the City is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7 in the Merced Theatre. The event is free.
Every year community members participate in the State of the City with music or dance numbers. This year will be a bit different because the role for the singer of the national anthem is being opened up to the public through a contest.
“We wanted to get residents involved with the State of the City, and give them a chance to directly participate in the event,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “ ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ will let someone, or a group, showcase their talents for all of Merced.”
Individuals, or groups, must audition for the anthem via recording. The winner, or winners, will be selected by the Mayor. Anyone can audition.
“I’m excited because I know Merced has such a depth of talent to draw from, and I’m looking forward to listening to the auditions,” Murphy said.
“The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ starts off many events in our country, and the State of the City is no different,” Murphy said. “We want to start off the State of the City this year showcasing the gifts and talents that have been given to our great City.”

 

There are two ways to audition for the State of the City, by email or via a flash drive. The individual or group must record a 30 second audio clip singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and email it to: events@cityofmerced.org or drop off the flash drive at the City Clerk’s Office, 1st Floor, Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St., between 8 a.m. and noon or 1 to 5 p.m.
This is the fourth year for the State of the City. The annual event fills the Merced Theatre with a mix of residents and government students eager to learn about civics first-hand. This year the event will include Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Vice President Annissa Fragosa as a speaker.
Doors open for State of the City at 10:30 a.m. and the program begins at 11. It is scheduled to end at noon. The public is encouraged to attend the event. The Merced Theatre is located at 301 W. Main St.

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January 9, 2020

North Valley Labor Federation Endorses Josh Pedrozo for Merced County Supervisor

Merced- Josh Pedrozo today announced that the North Valley Labor Federation has endorsed his campaign for Merced County Supervisor in District 2.

“Josh Pedrozo has the proven leadership and direct results we need on the Merced County Board of Supervisors” said Tim Robertson, Executive Director of the North Valley Labor Federation. “His leadership on transportation and downtown projects has led to good paying jobs for our working families. We whole heartedly Endorse Josh Pedrozo for County Supervisor in the upcoming March 3rd Primary Election.”

The North Valley Labor Federation serves as the local council for the AFL-CIO and is one of the largest labor unions in the Central Valley, counting amongst its members working men and women across a wide range of jobs and industries. It joins a long list of endorsements for the Pedrozo Campaign including the Merced Hotel-Motel Association, Former Merced Councilmembers Tony Dossetti and Michelle Gabriault-Acosta, and former Mayor Bill Springs.

 

 

Josh is married to his wife Heidi and together they have two children. Josh is proud to call Merced, the town he grew up in, went to school in, and represented on the City Council for two terms, home.

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January 8, 2020

Delhi Unified Focuses on Ensuring Students Read at Grade Level

The Delhi Unified School District is making a full-force push to ensure students are reading at grade level. The district’s goal is to have 90 to 100 percent of its students reading at grade level by the time they reach third grade.
Adolfo Melara, district superintendent, said the last time a reading assessment was done two years ago, more than 50 percent of the students were reading at least one year or more below their grade level.
“This is not unique to Delhi but in Delhi we’ve decided to put an end to this,” Melara said. “That’s a big challenge. We are concentrating on kindergarten and first graders this year, to make sure we provide students with explicit, multi-sensory instruction to teach them.”
In education up to third grade students are learning how to read. After third grade students need to read to learn, Melara explained. Consultants from Pennsylvania-based Step by Step Learning have been training Delhi administrators, principals, as well as teachers in the science of teaching reading, in classroom settings. This training even includes the superintendent, he pointed out.
“It’s concerning that the greatest country the world has known has come to accept a large percentage of students not reading as an accepted reality. I’m very proud of our teachers’ dedication to the project and their resilience to learn new skills,” Melara said.
In most school districts reading levels in the early grades are 20 to 40 percent below expectations.

 

 

He said the district plans to bring these stepped-up instructional resources next year to the second and third grade levels.
“There’s nothing more important than teaching children how to read. A child that can read has access to the whole world. With adequate, appropriate teaching and support every child can learn how to read,” Melara said.
During the LCAP process where parents and community members interact with school officials about what they would like to see in the local educational system, improving reading skills has been identified as a need for a number of years.

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December 21 , 2019

Capt. Matt Williams is acting police chief

Capt. Matt Williams, a 30-year veteran of the Merced Police Department, has been named the acting police chief. He fills the vacancy left by the retirement of Chris Goodwin.

Williams, 55, will take over day-to-day operations of the Department Friday. For the last three years he has been on assignment as the Director of Law Enforcement at Merced College.

“Matt has been a tremendous asset in the Department,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He knows the Department thoroughly, he understands police work and he identifies with the community. He will be key during this transition.”

Williams started his police career as a reservist in Atwater and in January, 1989, joined the Merced Police Department. Except for a three month break when briefly worked for a department in Montana, he was been in Merced. He worked up through the ranks, as an officer, sergeant, lieutenant and making captain in 2016.

Although he has served in SWAT, overseen special units and served in a number of other details, Williams said, “My heart is in training new officers.” He enjoyed his time as a field training officer and overseeing the training unit.

In 2016 the City contracted to oversee the Merced College Police Department, and Williams was put in charge. “I’ve been able to give the officers a lot more training and a lot more community activities – Shop With a Cop, National Night Out – so they can connect with the rest of the community.”

While he has been there the college has expanded the cameras on campus, installed new parking meters, started using a safety app and instituted active shooter training for everyone on campus. “It’s sad to say in the world we live in today that you have to have everyone from little kids in our preschool to staff members know how to react to an active shooter,” Williams said.

The 15-member college department also works and trains closely with the Merced Police Department, so the two agencies can operate together during a crisis. “They use our dispatch center, our evidence management system, report writing system, they wear body camera like our officers do,” Williams said.

 

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City offices close for holidays

City offices are closed Weds., Dec. 25 for Christmas, and Weds. Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.

There will be no trash collection on either holiday. All refuse collection will be delayed one day the rest of the week following the holiday. The Bulky Item Drop Off Site will be closed on the holidays.

City offices will begin opening at 8 a.m. starting Jan. 2, except the Finance Department, which will open at 9 a.m.

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Merced City Hall to open at 8 a.m. starting Jan. 2

City Hall hours will change starting Thurs., Jan. 2, with most offices in the Merced Civic Center open at 8 a.m.

“People expect us to be open during regular business hours, and we are glad to be able to do that,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan.

Except for the Finance Department, all offices at City Hall will be open for business from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p. m.

The Finance Department is still undergoing some adjustments, so it will have counter hours from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Finance Department will not close for lunch.


“A lot of people want to come and pay their utility bills during lunch, so it made sense for the Finance Department to be open then,” Carrigan said. “It’s all about customer service.”

City Hall counter hours were cut in 2011 following a round of employee layoffs during the Recession that saw staff reductions of nearly one-third. Since that time the number of employees has slowly increased, Carrigan said, making it possible to expand counter service.

 

 


Capt. Matt Williams

Raised outside of Atwater, Williams worked in the family construction business as a child and before joining the Army. He served four years in the 75th Rangers Regiment, what he called a “foundational” experience.

Williams has been married since 1985 to Jeri, and has three adult sons and three grandchildren, with one on the way.

His years in the construction industry gave him the training to build his home from the ground up, with the help of his wife and some friends.

In his spare time he enjoys mountaineering, climbing and cross-country skiing. He’s a graduate of the Union Institute & University.

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Concert Series Slated for Merced in 2020

 

By Elizabeth Arakelian

UC Merced

A collaboration among the City of Merced, community members and the University of California Merced is bringing a little night music back to the Merced Open Air Theater.

Friday evening concerts will begin at the outdoor half-shell, in Applegate Park, starting in summer 2020.

Seeking a way to amplify the cultural scene in Merced, Kim Garner, UC Merced’s new executive director of the arts, wrote a grant proposal for the Levitt Amp Concert Series, and then rallied university and community members to vote online to move the proposal into consideration. On Dec. 20, the Levitt Amp Concert Series Foundation announced Merced as one of the newest locations of its free concerts.

“We’re always looking for ways to bring the campus community and city of Merced together, and there really is no better way to do that than through the arts,” Garner said. “Winning the Levitt Amp Concert Series is the perfect first step toward broadening our arts reach, and I know our community will benefit greatly from this new initiative.”

Levitt Amp is a matching grant program made possible through the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to reinvigorating public spaces through the performing arts. Levitt Amp allows cities to compete for $25,000 in funding for outdoor concerts. Last year’s winners included Berea, Kan., Carson City, Nev. and Ocala, Fla., among others.

Merced Mayor Mike Murphy is enthusiastic. “This concert series is exactly the type of thing we are looking to bring to Merced,” he said. “The Merced Open Air Theater was once a vibrant space that doesn’t have the kind of attention and audiences it once did. This concert series is a great way to bring the community out together for something we can all enjoy.”

The theater opened in 1989. Once it is reinvigorated with live music, the hope is that the concert series will give residents a reason to come together, ultimately strengthening the fabric of the community through common interests.

An online survey and in-person questionnaire over the coming weeks will determine the kind of music the community would like to hear.

“We’re so excited to get the community’s feedback and start making these concerts a reality,” Garner said. “Summer 2020 will be a fantastic time in Merced.”

 

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December 21,2019

Le Grand Union High School District Placed on the College Board’s 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll

Le Grand — Le Grand Union High School District is one of 250 school districts in the U.S. and Canada honored by the College Board with placement on the 10th Annual Advanced Placement District Honor Roll. To be included on the 10th Annual Honor Roll, Le Grand Union High School District had to, since 2017, increase the number of students participating in AP while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Reaching these goals shows that this district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for AP. Le Grand Union High School District has also been the recipient of Best High School Award by the US News and World Report; ranking amongst the best high schools in the state and the nation.

“This is a great recognition of the many programs we have in the district including our Advanced Placement, Medical and Agriculture Academies,” said District Superintendent Donna Alley. “This recognition also validates our continued efforts to break down barriers that hold students back from taking AP courses. It is our desire to continue building bridges that allow more students to push their boundaries and take advantage of the many opportunities offered at Le Grand Union High School District”

National data from 2019 show that among American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half are participating. The first step to getting more of these students to participate is to give them access. Courses must be made available, gatekeeping must stop, and doors must be opened equitably. Le Grand Union High School District is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

“With more students participating and succeeding in AP in this district, more students are getting a head start on college by earning college credit during high school,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and Instruction at the College Board. “We are pleased to honor the teachers and administrators who have worked to clear a path for more students of all backgrounds to advance through AP.”

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with initiatives and strategies to see how they can expand access and improve student performance at the same time.

In 2019, more than 4,000 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, or both, and/or consideration in the admissions process. Inclusion in the 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on a review of three years of AP data, from 2017 to 2019, looking across 38 AP Exams, including world language and culture.

For inclusion on the 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll, districts must meet the following criteria:

· Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4% in large districts, at least 6% in medium districts, and at least 11% in small districts;

 

 

· Increase or maintain the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students taking exams and increase or maintain the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students scoring 3+ on at least one AP Exam; and

· Improve or maintain performance levels when comparing the 2019 percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher to the 2017 percentage, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70% of its AP students earn a 3 or higher.

When these outcomes have been achieved among an AP student population in which 30% or more are underrepresented minority students (American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander) and/or 30% or more are low-income students (students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch), a symbol has been affixed to the district name to highlight this work.

The complete 10th Annual AP District Honor Roll and US News and World Report can be found here: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/awards/district-honor-roll

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/districts/le-grand-union-high/le-grand-high-2444

Le Grand Union High School District serves students from the Tri-City Area (Le Grand, Planada and Plainsburg) in Merced County. Le Grand High School District has a long tradition of serving the educational needs of our young men and women. As we understand it, the demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare students for college, career, and citizenship. This is why we place special attention on teaching the whole child. Research, practice, and common sense confirm that a whole child approach to education will develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students' comprehensive needs through the shared responsibility of students, families, schools, and communities.

For questions, please contact Dr. Javier Martinez, Principal or Superintendent Donna Alley. Both of us can be reached by calling (209) 389-9400.

Jmartinez@lghs.k12.ca.us

Dalley@lghs.k12.ca.us

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December 20 , 2019

Atwater FFA “Waves” in the Holiday Season

Written by:: Atwater FFA

During the last week of the 1st semester, just before the Christmas break, over 250 Atwater FFA students braved the cold weather and gathered at the Ag Department for the annual “Morning Wave” at 6:30 am. The idea was created by FFA advisor Dave Gossman who, while residing in Bermuda in the late 1990’s, was inspired by the country’s famous Johnny Barnes who stands at the road leading into the city of Hamilton every weekday morning (rain or shine) to wave and greet everyone driving into work.

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

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

 

 

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


Over 250 Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members gathered on the corner of Winton Way and Fruitland Ave near the high school to wave in the holiday cheer and spirit to morning commuters.


Atwater High School agriculture students Xitlalic Alvarado-Vargas, Hannahmea Reyes, Kathy Vargas, Adrianna Espinoza, Lizbeth Rojas-Perez, Perla Caballero, and Grecia Sanchez Aviles joined 250 other students in the annual Atwater FFA "Morning Wave".

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December 20 , 2019

New captain, officers sworn inThursday

Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin swore in a captain and five new officers during ceremonies Thursday.

Lt. Jay Struble was sworn in as captain. He replaces Capt. Bimley West who retired from the Department Dec. 13.

Sworn in as officers were Sarah Abanathie, Steven Floratos, Brian Laguna, Juan Navas and John Sauceda.

Struble, 49, joined the Merced force in February 1994 and worked his way up the ranks from officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served on the SWAT Team from 1998 and currently serves as the Tactical Commander. He has been assigned to patrol, the gang violence suppression unit, investigations, traffic, administration and the mounted patrol unit.

Struble has a bachelor’s degree from Union University. He is certified in arson/explosive investigation, homicide investigation, and testified in court as a gang and narcotics expert.
Struble was raised in the Sacramento area. He and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Police work seems to come naturally for Abanathie. The 33-year-old’s father, Bruce, is a retired police officer.

Originally from Turlock, she holds an associates degree and worked at Mercy Hospital in Merced as a respiratory therapist. She also was a Level 2 CrossFit Trainer in Merced and taught basic life support/CPR.

In her free time, Abanathie enjoys CrossFit, and spending time with her three dogs, two cats and fiancé, Aaron Rosenberg.

Floratos, 27, is from Fresno. He attended college before spending five years in the Army. He and his wife, Sandra, have a daughter, Reagan.

In his spare, time he enjoys softball and spending time with his family.

Laguna, 26, is from Merced. He served in the Air Force for five years, earning the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. He attended Merced College and Fresno Community College and earned his EMT certification. He worked for Riggs Ambulance before attending the police academy.

He enjoys swimming, working out, traveling, fishing, camping and watching sports, especially the Cowboys. He has one son, Wesson.

Navas, 24, is from Turlock, and served as a military policeman in the Army Reserves. He worked in the family taxidermy business before working in loss prevention for Kohls.

In his spare, time he enjoys fishing, shooting, paintballing, watching movies and vacationing with his family.

Sauceda, 38, is from Tulare. He attended College of the Sequoias and Western Governors College where he majored in social sciences. He worked in customer service, sales and education before entering the police academy. He coached high school baseball in Tulare.

His outside activities include coaching girls softball, running and muay thai. He and his wife, Paula, have two daughters.

The Department has now filled 93 of the 98 positions in its budget for police officers.

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December 20 , 2019

Atwater High School agriculture students Gabriela Moreno, Sabrina Lopez, Jaquelyn Chavez, and Gabriella Lucas helped load and deliver nearly 3000 canned foods to the local Rotary Club for distribution over the holiday.

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Just prior to the Christmas holiday, the entire 1200+ Atwater High School agriculture student body participated in a month long canned food drive where nearly 3000 canned food items were collected by students just prior to the semester/winter break. The cans were donated to the Rotary Club and distributed to families throughout the local Atwater Community. In addition to the canned food, students harvested organs from local community growers who donated them to the cause. “I think the experience of delivering the food to families in need throughout the community was a powerful impact with our students as they understood firsthand how fortunate they are in comparison to the challenges many in our community face,” said FFA advisor Kim Mesa. “The enthusiasm and efforts of our students towards the gift of “giving” is really what the holiday season is all about.”


Atwater High School agriculture students Gabriela Moreno, Sabrina Lopez, Jaquelyn Chavez, and Gabriella Lucas helped load and deliver nearly 3000 canned foods to the local Rotary Club for distribution over the holiday.

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 20 , 2019

Two Atwater Schools, One Winton School Recognized as 2020 Distinguished Schools

Three Merced County schools are being honored as 2020 California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education. The program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for closing the achievement gap and for achieving exceptional student performance.

The schools recognized for this accolade are from neighboring Atwater Elementary and Winton school districts. In Atwater Elementary, both Elmer Wood Elementary and Peggy Heller were recognized as 2020 California Distinguished Schools, as well as Frank Sparkes Elementary in Winton.

Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years. Elmer Wood earned this award in 2018 as well, meaning the school has earned the California Distinguished School distinction back-to-back during consecutive eligible years.

“We are proud to have so many Merced County schools recognized with this honor,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “This recognition shows the commitment teachers and school staff have made to creating an environment where students can succeed.”

 

A total of 323 schools received the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award across the state.

“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools — teachers, administrators, classified employees — and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”

A component of the California School Recognition Program, the Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate.

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December 19 , 2019

Le Grand Union Elementary School District Receives Golden Bell Award for Language-Focused Math Instruction

The Le Grand Union Elementary School District was selected as one of 57 recipients of California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell Award. The Golden Bell Awards, celebrating their 40th year, are presented by the California School Boards Association to promote excellence in public education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices. The awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs.

Le Grand Union Elementary School District received its award at a well-attended reception and ceremony on Dec. 5 at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The awards ceremony was part of CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show held from Dec. 5-7 in San Diego. The conference is the premier continuing education event for California school boards and the largest education leadership conference in the state.

Le Grand was recognized for the innovative way they are meeting the academic language needs of their English language learners through math instruction. The district has been partnering with Duane Habecker from the Merced County Office of Education in the implementation of two processes called “Number Talks” and “3-Read Protocol.” Both processes are designed to increase math achievement, but Le Grand noticed right away the impact these strategies had on the academic language development of their English language learners which makes up about 45 percent of their total enrollment.

“I could not be more proud of my staff for their commitment to this process. Language rich math instruction has become a part of the culture out here and our scholars are definitely benefitting from these approaches. I can walk into any classroom on any day and see either a Number Talk or 3-Read taking place, and I can’t get tired of hearing my English learners as young as kindergarten use vocabulary like ‘quadrant’ and ‘implicit/explicit quantity’. We are definitely seeing increased achievement in our math benchmarks and in speaking and listening assessments as a result,” said Le Grand Superintendent/Principal Scott Borba. “It is such an honor to be recognized by CSBA and have our team’s hard-work and dedication validated by receiving this award. Big things are happening in our little school, it’s pretty exciting!”

 

“I am so happy to hear about Le Grand Elementary winning a Golden Bell award for the work using mathematics to build English fluency,” said MCOE Math Coordinator Duane Habecker. “Techniques like Number Talks and the Three Read Protocol are mathematical language routines designed to support language-focused skill growth as well as develop understanding of relevant and meaningful mathematics content, and the team at Le Grand is using those routines to create great outcomes for their students.”

A judging panel composed of experts from school districts and county offices of education across the state reviewed written entries and made initial recommendations. On-site validators then reviewed the recommendations and assessed the programs in action. This year’s Golden Bell winners demonstrated that they are addressing student needs through areas such as equity and access, school climate and safety, technology and wellness.

“Now more than ever is a time to acknowledge and celebrate innovative and impactful programs that make a difference in the lives of our young people,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “This year’s Golden Bell winners truly serve as beacons of success as we work to more fully and equitably serve all of California’s public school students.”

To learn more about the Golden Bell awards and all the winners, visit the program’s website at https://gb.csba.org/.


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December 19 , 2019

DRILL – VIOLENT INCIDENT

MERCED, C.A. — The Merced County Office of Emergency Services will hold a violent incident training exercise on Thursday, December 19, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Cruickshank Middle School. These activities are taking place during Winter break. No Cruickshank Middle School students will be involved in the drill.

The exercise will focus on emergency response to a violent incident on campus and is being staged by Merced County Office of Emergency Services, in collaboration with local and emergency responders. It will involve a simulation of the Merced Operational Area Violent Incident Response Plan and will help assure a coordinated, timely and effective response and recovery in the event of a major incident within Merced County.

There will be significant law enforcement, fire and emergency service present during the exercise. In order to avoid any confusion, the public is being notified ahead of time. The exercise is closed to the campus community and the general public.

During the exercise, access to the parking lots on the Campus, as well as the grassed fields within the fenced perimeter, will be temporarily unavailable. Access through the area on Mercy Ave. and Mansionette Dr. will be open to the public.


Local agencies participating in the exercise include Merced Fire Department; Merced Police Department; UC Merced Police Department; Merced County Office of Emergency Services; Merced County Public Health; Merced County Emergency Medical Services; Merced Sheriff’s Department; CAL FIRE Law Enforcement; Los Banos Police Department; Livingston Police Department; Atwater Police Department; Merced County Probation; Merced County District Attorney; California Highway Patrol; Los Banos Fire Department; Merced County Fire Department; Atwater Fire Department; Riggs / SEMSA Ambulance; Westside Ambulance.

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December 18 , 2019

A new police captain and five officers will be sworn in at 1:45 p.m. Thursday in the Merced Council Chambers, 678 W. 18th St. by Police Chief Chris Goodwin.

Lt. Jay Struble will be sworn in as captain during the ceremonies. Also being sworn in as officers are Brian Laguna, Sarah Abanathie, Juan Navas, John Sauceda and Steven Floratos.

 

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December 18 , 2019

Ag Students Take on Heat During FFA Event

Written by:: Atwater FFA

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

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

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!


Atwater High School agriculture students, staff, and community members enjoy a night of hockey with a trip to the Stockton Heat hockey game where many students enjoyed their first hockey game and an opportunity to experience the company of family and friends.

 

 

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 , 2019

Special Ed Students Enjoy Winter Dance at Merced High School

For some Merced High School students, the old gym on campus was a winter wonderland earlier this month

A large number of special education students taking classes there through the Merced County Office of Education got a chance to attend a formal dance in their honor and enjoy all the activity that swirls around such an occasion.

Candy Mucci, who has been teaching the special education students at Merced High for about seven years, said the sixth-annual Winter Wonderland formal dance gives severely disabled students a chance to experience a formal dance with their friends.

“It’s wonderful. They have a great time. The kids are just here to have fun,” Mucci said.

With a DJ playing music, students were able to dance, take a group picture and enjoy 23 pizzas, four cakes and hundreds of cookies purchased through the fundraising activities of the P.A.C.I.F.I.C. Club. Students and P.A.C.I.F.I.C. Club members nominated and voted for a Winter Wonderland King and Queen and they were announced at the dance. Leslie Villa was voted Queen, Jordan Viss was voted King.

Christina Maglachlan, 14, said she enjoyed the music the most, along with the food and the special dresses.

Charlie Rodriguez, 17, loved the cake, the dances and the costumes, as well as the strobe lights on the stage.

Special education students were accompanied by a group of Peer Assisted Learners, Merced High students who bond with them daily in their classes, helping them with reading, mathematics and other academic skills.

Christina Piazza, 18, is a senior at Merced High and loves spending time with the special education students, bonding with them. She ultimately wants to become a special education teacher.

Tyler Bain, 17, who also helps in the PAL program, said everyone attending the dance was positive and overall it was a good place where everyone could express themselves.

Mucci said many of the PAL students like the experience so much they come back to work for MCOE or return to help at the dances after they have graduated.

“They’re just nice kids wanting to help out. They get to know the students as people and like the same stuff that all teens like. The idea here is just to have fun, as much of a regular experience as other students,” Mucci said.

Jesse Flores, also an MCOE special education teacher at Merced High, has taught at MHS for five years. He said the dance is a really good atmosphere for students.

Dianna Fierros was a PAL student at MHS in 2014-2015 who then attended Chico State University, graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She intends to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and now works as a substitute teacher. She said it’s nice the special education students do not feel excluded.

“It’s awesome; all the kids look like they are having fun. I think it’s important to give kids opportunities they wouldn’t normally get. They’re just regular people like you and I. It’s also good that regular kids can be more accepting,” Fierros said.

About 30 leadership students at Merced High decorated the gym and served food to the participating students. Mucci said, “Without the enthusiasm and help of MHS Leadership students, none of this would be possible.”

Along with MHS Leadership and the P.A.C.I.F.I.C. Club, the Key Club also had volunteers assist with the dance.

Besides the Winter Wonderland, a prom also is held during the spring.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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December 17 , 2019

Chief Goodwin announces retirement

After 23 years with the Merced Police Department, on Monday Merced Police Chief Christopher Goodwin announced his retirement.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now,” Goodwin said. “I want to spend more time with my family and enjoy the next phase of my life.”

Goodwin, 50, will swear in five new officers and a captain Thursday as his last official act as chief. His last day with the City will be Feb. 7.

An interim replacement has not been named.

“Chris was the right person at the right time for the Department,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He helped transition it to a new generation of policing. I am grateful for what he has done for the City.”

Goodwin was appointed acting police chief two years ago, and became the City’s top law enforcement officer 18 months ago. Since then, Goodwin has had a busy agenda.

One of Goodwin’s priorities focused on the Department’s recruitment and retention efforts, sending officers to Valley police academies in order to meet prospective employees.

Goodwin also revamped the Department’s body camera/video policy, expanded community outreach via social media and brought back more specialized units such as the Traffic Division.

Goodwin worked his way up through the ranks of the Merced Police Department, starting as a police officer. He has been a beat cop, ran SWAT, worked detectives, and led command staff.

“I want to thank all of the men and women in the Department who make the police force such a great place to work,” Goodwin said. “You can’t do this job alone, and I always had plenty of support in the Department and in the community.”


Chief Christopher Goodwin

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

 

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December 17 , 2019

Atwater FFA Students Embark on Public Speaking Opportunities

Written by:: Atwater FFA

Eleven Atwater High School agriculture students participated and competed in the annual Mariposa FFA Public Speaking contest held at Mariposa High School on December 7th. 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 of success towards personal and career development,” says Atwater FFA advisor Kim Mesa. “I’m very proud of our students’ efforts, participation, courage, and enthusiasm in this event!”
Gurkirath Gandhok, Reagan Puthuff, Alyssa Wilson, Elisabeth Conn, Iysis Villafan, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, Julia Callahan, and Angel Moreno competed in the Impromptu Public Speaking Contest.    The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion. 
Atwater High School Agriculture program junior Perla Caballero placed 3rd overall in the Job Interview contest which involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.  Simarjot Gandhoke and Jaimie Colores also competed in the contest.

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

 

 

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


Atwater High School FFA members Elisabeth Conn, Reagan Puthuff, Iysis Villafan, Simarjot Gandhoke, Jaimie Colores, Perla Caballero, Alyssa Wilson, Julia Callahan, Angel Moreno, Klarithsa Cruz Hernandez, and Gurkirath Gandhok participated in Impromptu and Job Interview speaking contests held recently in Mariposa.


Atwater High School agriculture student Perla Caballero placed 3rd overall in Mariposa FFA's Job Interview contest held earlier this month for local merced and Mariposa county FFA and agriculture students.

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December 17 , 2019

MCOE Offers Youngest Learners, Parents Play Groups Across County

Young children can learn important skills while playing. That’s the focus of an inclusive social skills play groups offered throughout the county by the Merced County Office of Education.

Under the Caring Kids banner, these play group sessions are offered Tuesdays at the Community Center Building at Stephen Leonard Park in Merced, Thursdays at the Family Resource Center next to the Planada School District office on Haskell Avenue and Fridays at the Los Banos Community Center.

Monica Adrian, a behavior support specialist with the Merced County Office of Education, said the play groups are year-round, open to anyone and involve parents, grandparents and caregivers. Typically, children from birth through age 5 are involved.

Play groups are open to children of all abilities, including those with special needs.

“In Merced County there are very few resources for young children and their families,” Adrian said. “This is a safe and welcoming place where kids can learn not only school readiness but also social skills.”Adrian quips “a tantrum doesn’t scare us.” She said staff members are caring and non-judgmental. Caring Kids was instituted in 2003 and the play groups were added four years ago.

Participating children learn to share and take turns while playing with each other. Play sessions typically last an hour to 90 minutes. Morning and afternoon sessions are offered at the Merced and Los Banos sites, with a morning session at the Planada site.

Adrian said her goal is to have these play groups in every town in Merced County. The program has staff members who are multilingual in Hmong and Spanish.Christie Hendricks, Merced County Office of Education assistant superintendent in charge of the Early Education Department, calls the play groups a game-changer for families. The program is funded through a Proposition 63 grant through the Merced County Mental Health Services behavioral health program.

“It’s a place where children learn age-appropriate skills. Parents feel welcome. No one else is doing this. The Early Education Department is the only entity to provide services totally open for all children. Parents are learning right along with their children,” Hendricks said.

Upwards of 29 children have been accommodated in play skills sessions buttypically groups might have 20 families, Adrian said. Parent-child interaction skills also are imparted during the sessions.

“While it’s a play group, it’s so much more. We are building protective factors for the family and families establish social connections. Kids with social and emotional competence fare better and parental resilience — being able to cope with the stresses of parenting — is built up. We’re taking education outside the classroom walls,” Adrian said.

Participating children can use a variety of toys and get to play independently. There are small groups and students sing songs, get involved in art projects and learn colors and shapes.

“We are not pushing academics but children learn through play and so we are playing to learn,” Hendricks said.

Adrian said some of the play group participants can transition seamlessly into preschool or kindergarten from these experiences.

 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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December 17 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140 & AT 16TH STREET IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various full off-ramp closures on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) in Merced for landscape and irrigation work. Work will occur as follows; • Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 East on Monday, December 16, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

• Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 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.


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

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December 15 , 2019

Town Halls, affordable housing on Council agenda

Selecting Town Hall meeting dates, and purchasing the site of an affordable housing project are on the City Council agenda for its Monday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• Asking the Council to select dates for Town Hall meetings in South, Central and North Merced. The meetings are held annually to ask the public to provide comments on how the City is doing, what programs they are interested in the City providing and where they would like them provided.

• The Council is being asked to purchase from the County of Merced the 5 acres of property at Childs and B for a transit-oriented affordable housing project. The project would include 30 units of permanent supportive housing that is geared to help people experiencing homelessness.

• Also on the agenda, the Council will consider awarding a $359,311 contract using SB 1 funds for nine sidewalk projects around town to Witbro, Inc. The projects would replace damaged sidewalks, primarily in the South Merced area.


The Council will meet at 5 p.m. in closed session to confer with labor negotiators and for existing litigation.

The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also on the City’s website 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, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and at the City Clerk’s Office 72 hours before the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be submitted to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, then it meets the following day.

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December 15, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 140 & AT 16TH STREET IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various full off-ramp closures on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) in Merced for landscape and irrigation work. Work will occur as follows;
• Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 East on Monday, December 16, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
• Full closure of the off-ramp from northbound SR-99 to 16th Street on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 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.


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

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December 12 , 2019

 

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE 6TH ANNUAL “VALLEY MADE” MANUFACTURING SUMMIT APRIL 21, 2020 FEATURING KEYNOTE SPEAKER JOHN SHEGERIAN

 

The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance Launches Summit with Expanded Opportunities to Connect Businesses to Resources, Jobs and Career Tech Training
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA...December 11, 2019… The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA) and the Fresno Business Council (FBC) are proud to announce the 6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit featuring keynote speaker Fresno-based John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI. More than 1,000 manufacturing industry attendees are expected to participate in the event to be held on Tuesday, April 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Registration is open by visiting www.sjvma.org. Also sponsorships and exhibit space are available by contacting Genelle Taylor Kumpe via email (genelle@sjvma.org) or calling 559.214.0140.
The 6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit is designed as a workshop and resource expo that celebrates the Valley’s history of innovation in manufacturing while providing resources and networking opportunities that continue to build a well-trained, outstanding workforce. At its core, the Summit promotes cross-sector collaboration aimed at creating a globally-competitive environment for the Valley’s manufacturing industry. After five years, the Summit has maintained continual growth yet the focus remains the same – building a future where Valley manufacturing thrives through innovative collaboration, engagement, and creating a culture that cultivates workers that are higher skilled and better educated.
“The goal of the SJVMA is to provide manufacturers with the needed resources and workforce connections to upscale and train existing employees for today’s automated technologies, and to attract the next generation workforce to grow the industry and region for a brighter future,” said Troy Brandt, Chairman of the Board for the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and General Manager at Hydratech. “We are proud to announce our keynote speaker, John Shegerian, whose address will complement the Summit’s goals by providing attendees invaluable takeaways on how to attract and retain effective employees and clients through good times and bad.”
John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, and the 2020 “Valley Made” Summit keynote speaker is a well-known entrepreneur in the manufacturing industry. He is a highly popular speaker both nationally and internationally, providing his expertise in the field to various media outlets, including TIME, The Wall Street Journal and many others. As an entrepreneur, Shegerian co-founded several organizations built on his philosophies of making the world a better place one business at a time, and of providing a second chance to those who are most in need. His philosophies have led him to run the largest electronic recycling company in the U.S. and one of the most successful student loan companies, among other ventures.
-more-
The 6th Annual Valley Made Manufacturing Summit - Page 2
Shegerian’s keynote address titled “C.A.R.E.: Culture Affects Retention & Earnings,” along with his expertise and infinite knowledge of topics including electronic recycling and cybersecurity will pave the way for the rest of the Summit’s breakout sessions that will be announced in 2020.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have been invited to address the attendees of the forthcoming ‘Valley Made’ Manufacturing Summit,” said Shegerian. “The Convention Center will be filled with the leading lights of the Central Valley’s manufacturing industry and many of my fellow local business leaders, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to share useful takeaways regarding positive culture team building and how to balance best employee retention practices and effective operations with growing a profitable enterprise.”
The SJVMA’s membership is made up of nearly 1,000 business leaders, partner groups and manufacturers from all sectors throughout the Valley. The San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly $15 billion of the Valley’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 105,000 people. Nationally, the manufacturing industry is responsible for $2.38 trillion in GDP. It is estimated that over the next decade, almost 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will need to be filled due to baby-boomer retirements.
The Fresno Business Council and San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance
The Fresno Business Council (FBC) aims to create social and economic change which leaves a lasting impact on Fresno’s community, combining its collective passion and intellectual capital to form strategic solutions for local issues. The FBC’s CEO and Board take a leadership role in executing their strategies and have been the force behind major local initiatives involving education, land use, workforce development, and more. Among the many projects incubated and launched by the FBC is the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA), which provides support for local manufacturers through elevating the workforce pipeline, educating the public on the industry, building constructive relationships and hosting the “Valley Made” Summit; an annual conference for the San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry that is focused on creating a globally-competitive industry while celebrating its thriving business community.
6th Annual “Valley Made” Manufacturing Summit
The 6th Annual “Valley Made” Summit will be held on April 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall exclusively for the San Joaquin Valley’s manufacturing industry. More than 1,000 attendees are expected at this signature annual event. Supported by the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, the “Valley Made” Summit consists of luncheon keynote by John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI, multiple break-out sessions and exhibits from an array of businesses. Attendees from across the Valley come to the Summit to get to know regional companies, learn from major industry innovators, and make valuable and lasting connections. To learn more about this year’s event, visit sjvma.org





John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI,


Keynote Speaker Fresno-based John Shegerian, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of ERI

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December 11 , 2019

FFA Initiates Holiday Giving Through Operation Christmas Child

Written by:: Eryka Lepper, 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 few 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 Chargoy Velasco. “Knowing you can touch someone else’s life and make a difference is truly the best feeling one can have.
Celeste’s goal was to get over 100 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. When it was all completed, over one 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.
“This was a school-wide and community effort,” said Atwater High School agriculture student Paola Rivera. “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 .


Atwater High School agriculture and FFA students Iysis Villafan, Gaby Moreno, Gabby Lucas, Noelia Barrios, Reagan Puthuff, and Paola Rivera organize holiday gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child where over 100 boxes were vested and organized by FFA students.


Atwater High School agriculture and FFA students Adam Freitas and Simarjot Gandhoke prepare Operation Christmas Child boxes for shipping as they will travel overseas and to countries to bring holiday joy to those less fortunate.

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December 11 , 2019

Council works to keep water flowing to residents

Every year the City of Merced uses 8 billion gallons of water to quench residents’ thirst, wash their clothes and water their plants. From hundreds of feet below the ground, the water is drawn up and fed into a 500 mile network of pipes going into homes, businesses and industries.
There are 20 wells moving water from the Merced Groundwater Subbasin to supply the 87,000 residents and other customers in the City. The wells are like giant drinking straws in a huge bowl of water, but the challenge is that the water level is dropping.
“We are having to drill deeper to get drinking water for our City customers,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin, who oversees the City’s Water Division.
Even during wet, rainy years, only so much water seeps back into the ground, percolating into the layers of soil called aquifers that hold the groundwater. More water is taken out of the aquifer than is replaced, leading to a condition called overdrafting.
The Merced Groundwater Subbasin is one of 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins in the state of California. Nearly all of the San Joaquin Valley has been declared a critically overdrafted basin. The Merced subbasin covers the area from the northern and southern county lines to the Merced River on the west to the foothills on the east.
“There are a lot of people in the subbasin, people living in cities, on farms and ranches, business owners and industries,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “They all have a common interest, a steady, sustainable supply of water.”
When the groundwater drops it can lead to problems including water shortages and a need for deeper wells. In some places it has led to land subsidence, where the ground actually sinks because the space that was once taken up by groundwater collapses.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was passed in 2014 to try and bring some balance to water usage and groundwater levels. The long-term goal is to have pumping balanced by recharging the groundwater basin. The Act required that local and regional authorities develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for their underlying groundwater basins.
“Many different agencies and users came together to work on the plan, and after many long hours, they developed a plan that worked for everyone,” Dietz said.
Monday night the Merced City Council unanimously adopted the Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the local subbasin.
Elwin said the plan looks at the extent of overdraft in the subbasin, potential impacts, information needs, groundwater allocation and projects to improve conditions.


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

The plan showed an annual average overdraft of 192,000 acre-feet per year between 2006 and 2015. An acre-foot of water is enough water to cover one acre of land with one foot of water. The average Californian uses 85 gallons of water a day, so an acre-foot of water would provide for about 10 people for around a year.
Based on the historical use of groundwater, the plan determined the “sustainable yield” of the groundwater basin, or, how much water that can be taken out every year and still have it replaced.
There are approximately 440,000 acre feet a year available for use, and under the plan an “allocation framework” will be developed in the future to figure out how to share the water between cities, agricultural users and small well owners using 2 acre feet or less.
“Cities use 7 to 8 percent of the groundwater,” Elwin noted.
Another part of the plan is to develop projects that will provide additional water. Those projects would include groundwater recharge projects, which would increase the amount of groundwater that is put back into the subbasin. Surface water projects are another option to increase the availability of water available to users. Yet another option are projects that would decrease demands, boosting the water conservation efforts to reduce the need for water and improve the efficiency of water use.
Currently, 50 plus wells are used for monitoring groundwater levels, the plan would be to add more monitoring wells in the future which combined, will be used to monitor the progress of the plan.
“With the plan in place, now the agencies need to begin the process of deciding the allocation framework and also projects to provide additional water,” Elwin said.
More information on the plan and the process is available at www.mercedsgma.org.

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December 6 , 2019

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

The Los Banos Unified School District took first and second in the Elementary Spelling Bee and the Merced City School District took first and second in the Junior High Spelling Bee at the Merced County Spelling Bees this week.
In the elementary competition, Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, took first place; Arvin Judge, a 6th grader at R.M. Miano Elementary School in Los Banos, earned second place; and Steven Wade, a 4th grader at Bellevue Elementary School in Atwater, took third place. Hypocrisy was the winning word and Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the elementary competition.
In the junior high competition, Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place; Kaitlyn Rockholt, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took second place; and Mariah Dhillon, a 7th grader at Winton Middle School, took third place. Pharaoh was the winning word and Stacy Shasky, Coordinator of the Teacher Induction Programs at MCOE, was the wordmaster for the junior high competition.
First and second place winners from both competitions represent Merced County at the state championships.
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.

 


Stacy Shasky, Coordinator of the Teacher Induction Programs at the Merced County Office of Education, was the wordmaster for the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee, poses with the top three winners, from left: third place winner Mariah Dhillon, a 7th grader at Winton Middle School; second place winner Kaitlyn Rockholt, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced; and first place winner Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School

 

PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services at the Merced County Office of Education, the wordmaster for the Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee, poses with the top three winners, from left: first place winner Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos; third place winner Steven Wade, a 4th grader at Bellevue Elementary School in Atwater; and second place winner Arvin Judge, a 6th grader at R.M. Miano Elementary School in Los Banos.


Harneet Sandhu, a 5th grader at Westside Elementary School in Los Banos, took first place at the Merced County Elementary Spelling Bee.


Nicole Nguyen, an 8th grader at Cruickshank Middle School in Merced, took first place at the Merced County Junior High Spelling Bee.

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December 6 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT CHILDS AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform full on and off-ramp closures on southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at Childs Avenue in Merced for landscape and irrigation work.
• Full closure of the off-ramp from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning Monday, December 9, through Tuesday, December 10, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
• Full closure of the on-ramp from Childs Avenue to southbound SR-99 beginning Wednesday, December 11, through Thursday, December 12, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

#

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
EXPECT 15-MINUTE DELAYS
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BRICEBURG TO SWEETWATER CREEK

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will
conduct one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140
from Briceburg to Sweetwater Creek for tree work to remove trees and
vegetation burned during the Briceburg fire.
Work is scheduled beginning Monday, December 9, 2019, until Friday,
December 13, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic
incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction
related issues.

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December 3 , 2019

MCOE to Host 2019-20 Merced County Elementary and Junior High Spelling Bees

The Merced County Office of Education will host two Merced County Spelling Bees this week in Atwater and Merced.
The 2019-20 Merced County Spelling Bees will be held Dec. 4 at Atwater Valley Community School and Dec. 5 at MCOE.
Grades 4, 5 and 6 will compete beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4 at the Atwater Valley Community School; and on Dec. 7 at 9 a.m., students in grades 7 and 8 will compete at MCOE’s Clark/Newbold conference rooms.
Michelle Symes, Director of District Support Services 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.
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.

 

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

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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