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November 25 , 2020


Atwater FFA Students Earn Their FFA Degrees

Written by : Liliana Boesch, Atwater FFA


The Atwater FFA Chapter held its 42nd annual Greenhand - Chapter FFA Degree Ceremony this month at Atwater High School. The purpose of this annual event was to recognize 685 Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand and Chapter FFA degrees. As students advance in FFA and their agricultural education, they can earn a series of “degrees” that represent their accomplishments. Each FFA degree recognizes a student’s progress in leadership, agricultural education, and their supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program which represent(s) an ownership and/or work experience project(s) in agriculture.
Students attended the ceremony virtually online through their school Zoom accounts. Atwater FFA Chapter President, Gaby Moreno opened the meeting and welcomed students to the ceremony. In addition to the presentation of the FFA degrees, the 2010-2021 FFA Greenhand officer team was announced with President: Hannah Slate, Vice Presidents: Alejandra Espinoza-Mendez and Alden Hansard, Secretary: Alexa Bracamontes, Treasurer: Caden Hultgren, Reporter: Anna Brasil, Sentinel: Salvador Abeja, Historian: Ella Boyenga, and Parliamentarian: Katie Bizzack.
FFA Greenhand degrees are awarded with a bronze pin to first year agriculture students. Requirements of this degree include enrollment in an agriculture class, plans for an SAE program or project, and knowledge and understanding of the FFA organization. Three hundred ninety three FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were eligible to be awarded with a silver pin to second year agriculture students. Requirements for this degree include being an FFA member for at least one year, being active in a SAE program or project, involvement in group discussions and parliamentary law, progress toward individual achievement in the FFA awards program, and a satisfactory scholastic record.
The Atwater FFA advisors are committed to building a strong program that gets students involved and providing them with opportunities for scholastic achievement, personal growth, and career success. Although not every student is planning to pursue an education and career directly related to agriculture, the AHS Agriculture Program and FFA provides students the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience that will benefit ANY educational path and career.
“We provide our students with opportunities to grow and develop personally, academically, and professionally,” says FFA advisor Kim Mesa, “We challenge our students to take advantage of those opportunities and pursue their interests towards colleges, universities, and a successful career.”
Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Greenhand degrees were Salvador Abeja Ornelas , Christian Acosta, Estephanie Aguayo- Santos , Yoceline Aguila, Nathan Alarcon, Camilo Alejandre, Nayeli Alejandre, Jerry Alejo, Mohamed Ali, Brayden Alvarado, Karina Alvarado , Louis Alvarado, Maria Alvarado Sanchez , Aidan Alvarez, Roberto Alvarez, Juliana Alves, Lizet Amador, Jonathan Amaya, Gildardo Ambriz, Fernando Amezcua, Teodulo Aquino, Jayro Arellano, Renzo Arellano, Daniel Arevalo, Enrique Arias, Angel Arias Bernal, Adriana Arroyo-Lupian, Jhordy Asparren, Irony Avalos, Carlos Avila, Jesus Avila, Jesus Avila, Austin Balloue, Jesus Barajas, Calvin Barnes, Jose Alejandro Barreto, Gabriella Barriga, Ricky Barrios, Lyra Barton, Mia Bautista, Raymond Bautista, Alondra Benavidez, Hayvn Bender, Olivia Bergin , Katie Bizzack , Spencer Bodily, Kate Boesch, Madelyn Borba, Caleb Borba Pitchford, Ella Boyenga, Alexa Bracamontes, Anna Brasil, Uriel Bravo, Raymond Brown, Cloie Burkett, Dulce Campos - Rodriguez , Cesar Carillo, Ramiro Carlos, Zameer Carminer, Christian Carranza, Laysha Carreras-Mendoza, Natalie Carrillo, Yahaira Carrillo-Robles, Angel Castillo, Brandon Castillo, Bridget Castillo, Danyelle Castillo, Gabriella Castillo, Marleen Castillo, Miguel Castillo, Ahliya Castro, Diana Castro, Dulce Ceballos- Perez , Alexa Ceja, Alondra Ceja, Patrycia Cerqueda , Angel Cervantes, Leah Charriez, Arturo Chavez, Bryan Chavez, Ismael Chavez, Ramon Chavez, Jesus Chavira, Dakarai Coleman, Jocelyn Colmenares, Nathan Condon, Angel Contreras, Damien Contreras, Teaghan Conway, Juan Cornejo, Jairo Cortes, Isabella Cortez, Giovanni Cruz, Jessica Cruz, Clement Dalia, David Davis, Jose De-Leon, Destiny Deleon, Julian Delgadillo Virrey, Osmar Delgado, Audrey Dores, Miranda Dores, Adrian Duran, Uriel Duran, Xavier Duran, Jonathan Duran-Flores, Mackenzie Eagles, Arlyn Esau, Aiden Escamilla, Jacob Escarzega, Andres Espinosa - Vega , Alejandra Espinosa-Mendez , Jacob Espinoza, Tamazjah Ewing , Angel Farias, Ruben Farias-Figueroa, Adamariz Fernandez, Melissa Fernandez, Victor Fernandez, Rebecca Fisk , Guillermo Flores, Valeria Flores, Victoria Foster, Omar Franco-Hernandez, Andres Gallegos, Lexi Gallegos, Roman Galvan, Alexander Garcia, Alexia Garcia, Dayanara Garcia, Devan Garcia, Emanuel Garcia, Karina Garcia, Leonardo Garcia, Lizbeth Garcia, Marco Garcia, Nayelli Garcia, Noel Garcia, Daniel Garibay, Jesus Garibay, Maria Garibay, Melissa Garibay, Luis Garibay Arroyo , Kaylee Gonzales, Nicole Gonzales, Anthony Gonzalez , Isaiah Gonzalez, Jacqueline Gonzalez, Kevin Gonzalez, Martin Gonzalez, Yoan Gonzalez, Lopez Gonzalez, Nathanael Griggs, Grace Grissom, Jiovanni Gudino, Natalia Gutierrez, Alany Guzman, Trinity Guzman-Rodarte, David Hall, Nate Hall, Alden Hansard, Samantha Harcksen, Alexis Hernandez, Edgar Hernandez, Jorge Hernandez, Jorge Hernandez, Yukary Hernandez, Chloe Herrera, Devin Hopkins, Valeria Huerta, Caden Hultgren, Damian Hurtado, Kevin Hurtado, Carlos Inestroza, Ruben Jabalera, Dhenym Jackson, Keiunandra Jackson, Jesus Jacobo-Celis, Sarah Jenkins, Diego Jeronimo, Alexander Jimenez, Zoe Jolly, Kirandeep Kandola, Trevor Knapp, Victoria Lagunas, Makayla Laws , Thaisen Lawson, Kristmas Lee, Osvaldo Leon, Tristan Libecki, Kaitlyn Lopes, Alondra Lopez, Briana Lopez, Giovanni Lopez, Jeremy Lopez, Luis Lopez, Marlen Lopez, Nataly Lopez, Maricela Lopez-Santiago, Gerardo Lozano, Angelo Lua, Alexis Lupian-Villagomez, Jonathan Macias-Pulido, Lorenzo Madrid, Alejandro Madrigal, Antonio Madrigal, Jonathan Madrigal, Rosalio Madrigal, Destiny Madriz Santiago, Daniel Magana, Mateo Magana, Adrian Magdaleno, Cristal Maldonado, Marryah Maldonado, Vanessa Maldonado, Kevin Mancio, Angel Manuel, Nayeli Manzo, Jesus Marcial, Miguel Marron, Joseph Martens, Alejandro Martinez, Alfredo Martinez, Anthony Martinez , Daisy Martinez, Marissa Martinez , Ruben Martinez, Juan Martinez Hernandez, Marisol Martinez-Duran, Sydney Mason, Anaya Mathis, Michael McHenry, Carlos Medina, Alexa Melendez, Ariel Melendez , Dominic Melendez, Lesly Melgarejo, Brian Mendoza, Daniel Mendoza, Jose Mendoza, Robert Menezes, Dominque Meza, Esmeralda Meza, Jacqueline Meza, Leesly Molina , Jose Mondragon, Jasmine Monge , AB Montoya, Isabel Montoya , Jenna Mora, Alexander Morales, Roberto Morales, Abraham Moreno, Hugo Moreno, Ricardo Moreno, Yessica Muniz , Christian Munoz, Jamin Munoz, Brody Mussano, Alberto Nava, Adrian Navarro, Jonathan Navarro, Darrien NIeto, Gabrielle O'Reilly, Evelyn Ochoa, Camila Olivera, Angel Ordonez, Juan Orozco, Martin Ortega, Elijah Ortiz, Jorge Pacheco, Liandro Padilla, Marcos Padilla, Lizuli Pahua-Aguilera, Daniel Palomino, Carlos Paramo, Esmeralda Paramo, Travis Park, Riley Parr, Sylvester Perales Jr., Christian Perez, Jose Perez, Maricela Perez, Perla Perez, Ramon Perez, Jacquelin Perez - Sanchez , Faith Peters, Issaiah Pineda, Ryan Pittman, Emilio Placencia, Gabriel Ponce, Eric Prado, Kevin Pulido, Peyton Quinn, Romelia Quirarte, Zayden Ragsdale , Araceli Ramirez, Ariyana Ramirez , Brandon Ramirez, Christian
Ramirez, Gia Ramirez, Hector Ramirez, Manuel Ramirez , Evelyn Ramirez Juarez, Abdiel Ramirez-Ahumada, Julianna Ramos, Victor Razo, Victor Rea, Alondra Recio-Guereca, Natalia Reyes, Reyes-Campos, Crystal A Reyes-Chavez, Anastasia Reyna, Esmeralda Rios, Isaac Rios, Luis Rios Garcia, Viviana Roach, Anthony Rodriguez, Zuleyka Rodriguez, Cesar Rodriguez Calderon, Marissa Rojas, Brenda Romero, Javier Romero, Jeovanny Romero,

 


Atwater High School freshman Jacky Velazquez places her painted green hand on a poster board in between chapter officers Nandani Patel and Gabby Lucas in recognition of her 1st year as an agriculture student and FFA member.

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

Jordan Romero, Layla Romero, Yaredsi Romero, Jose Romo, Jose Ruelas, Oscar Ruvalcaba, Luis Salas, Ivan Salcedo, Isidro Salido, William Salmeron, Emmanuel Sanchez, Garrett Sanchez, Hannah Sanchez, Isaac Sanchez, Jose Luis Sanchez, Ruben Sanchez, Julissa Sanchez-Guzman, Jesus Sandoval, Brandon Santiago, Lisban Serrano, Adrian Silva, Noah Silva, Ayden Silveira, Orlando Silvestre , Hannah Slate, Brian Soto, Grayson Soto , Trace Stockam, Freddy Tafolla, Kaiden Tapley, James Thomas, Kasandra Tinoco, Luis Torres, Nicholas Trejo, Thanya Trujillo, Kimberly Valdovinos-Burgueno, Adrian Valencia, Gerardo Valencia, Uziel Valencia, Adrian Valentine, Nathan Valenzuela, Charlotte Valladao, Giselle Varela, Stephany Vargas, Fernando Vargas-Virgen, Marvin Vasquez, Joel Vasquez Jr, Diana Vazquez, Arianna Velazquez, Irvin Velazquez, Jacqueline Velazquez, Paulina Veloz , Jocelyn Vera, Ramon Vicente, Cynthia Villa, Christopher Villalobos, Rebekah Villalobos, Ramzey Villarreal, Angel Villegas, Nathaniel Vizcarra, Landon Wagner, Tristyn Ward, Henry Warden , Romie White, Jacob Yang , Esmeralda Ybarra, Karla Zapien, Brianna Zavala, Giulia Zen, Adrian Zendejas, Vidal Zepeda, Zitlaly Zepeda-Robles, and Marc Zuniga.
Atwater High School agriculture students who earned their FFA Chapter Farmer degrees were Nidia Aguilar, Everardo Aguirre Martinez , Stephanie Agundis, Autumn Akahori, Antonio Alcauter, David Alfaro, Angelo Alvarado, Brandon Alvarado, Jarel Alvarado, Natalie Alvarado - Vargas , Natasha Amezcua, Rosalie Anagnos, Katrina Andujar, Moncerrat Arellano, Teela Armenta, Emma Avalos, Guillermo Avila, Javier Avila, Lucas Avila, Santiago Avila, Narely Ayala, Jorge Barajas, Abraham Becerra, Rosalinda Becerra, Devin Belton, Paola Benitez, Ian Bennison, Serrina Bhogel, Hunter Birmingham, Litzy Bojorje, Lizette Bojorje, Kenneth Bolanos, Sean Bollinger, Kendall Borba, Julian Brown, Zoey Brown, Kadyn Buehner, Carlos Caballero, Jose Juan Campos, Brooklyn Canela, Xavier Cardenas, Leandra Cardenaz, Cassidy Carrillo, Dylan Matthew Castro, Giselle Castro, Jatziry Castro, Ariana Ceja, Rene Ceja-Chavez, Jonathan Celis, Adrian Cervantes, Kathya Chairez, Quandre Charles, Alicia Chavez, Josue Chavez, Nolan Chavez, Rosendo Chavez, Eli Chavez Robles, Mayrie Chua, Bryan Cisneros, Jair Cisneros, Jazmin Cisneros, Devin Clay, Elisabeth Conn, Steven Connell, Ivan Contreras , Ashly Corona, Caleb Correa , Lesly Cortes, Alexandrew Cortez, Jose Cortez, Alec Crigger, Fabian Davalos, Daniel Del Rio, Icessys Delacruz, Ricardo DeLaTorre, Pedro DeLeon, Angel Diaz, Kassandra Diaz, Patrick Diaz Sheehan, Colton Dukes, Emanuel Duran, Mateo Duran , Ulises Duran, Jonathan Duran-Lopez, Alejandro Duran-Marquez, Dominic Ekkelboom, Oswaldo Escobedo, Ashley Flores, Brian Galvan-Moreno, Jared Gamble, Alyssa Gamboa , Adrian Garcia, Alessandra Garcia, Alexis Garcia, Josue Garcia, Allison Garner, Ivan Gaytan, Diego George, Alfonso Gomez, Lydia Gonzales, Abigail Gonzalez, Oscar Gonzalez, Isaac Gonzalez Arce, Antonio Gonzalez Guzman, Jessica Govea, Eduardo Gudino, Tyce Gunnin, Mason Hall, Trenton Hall, Corey Hardin, Zachery Hardin, Nathan Harding, Nayeli Heredia, Ana Hernandez , Daniel Hernandez, Jeslie Hernandez, Omar Hernandez, Natalie Hernnandez, Tatiana Huerta, Rosalia Huitron, Javier Hurtado, Tyler Ivie, Adrian Jaime, octavio jimenez, Jocelyn Juarez, Mathew Kamykowski, Maximus LaJeunesse, Emilio Lara, Braden Lawrence, Fernando Ledezma, Jin Lee, Ashley Leon, Jamal Lewis, Aliene Lopez, Cecelia Lopez, Jennifer Lopez, Mary Jane Lopez, Salvador Lopez, Maria Lua, Princessa Luna, Emmanuel Macias, Matthew Macias, Jonathan Magallanes Leal , Rachel Magallon, Jasmine Magana, Maritza Magana, Melvin Mahaffey, Michael Maki, Lisa Maloney, Angel Marron, Alexis Martin, Saul Martinez, Guadalupe Martinez Lopez , Jesus Martinez Tinoco, Jacqueline Martinez- Avina , Juliana Martinez-Avina, Dylan Mason, Giselle Mauleon, Caden McDaniel, Joshaua Medeiros, Brayan Medina , Lucas Medina Lozano, Nayeli Medrano, Erik Melgoza, Jackeline Mendoza, Nicholas Mendoza, Rosendo Mendoza, Arianna Mestaz, Jasline Mestaz, Nate Metz, Erik Meza-Garcia , Jordon Miles, Guadalupe Millan, Shayleigh Miller, Luis Mojica, Fidel Molina, Christian Molina Castro , Jesus Mondragon, Kennedy Mooney, Reyna Morales, Casandra Moreno, Vidal Morquecho, Cody Moua, Jatzihri Munoz-Ramirez, Angel Naranjo, Johnathon Navarrete, Sydney Nickelson, Maria Nieto, Carlos Ochoa, Richard Ochoa-Rocha, Maria Olivera, Guadalupe Olmos, Angelina Ordaz, Francisco Orozco, Josue Orozco, Pedro Orozco, Ianna Ortega, Evelyn Padilla, Madison Palafox, Salvador Pantoja, Lacey Pedranti, Juan Pedrizco, Taylor Pelton, Fatima Peralta, Alexis Perez, Samuel Perez, Yairen Pineda, Gabriella Pisacco, Xxavier Ponce, Julia Portillo, Fernando Prado-Perez, Gianna Pursley, Jesus Quezada, Lovinger Quintero, Christopher Quirarte, Talya Quirarte, Adrian Ramirez, Christopher Ramirez, George Ramirez, Ishmael Ramirez, Omar Ramirez, Victor Ramirez, Anally Ramos, Tanna Reed, Emanuel Reyes, Marissa Reyes, Michael Reyes, Rafael Reyes-Arroyo, Angelina Rochin, Alvaro Rodriguez, Dalia Rodriguez, Kaleb Rogers, Christopher Rojas, Alondra Romo-Pimentel, Daniel Saavedra, Nathan Salas, Damian Salcedo, Jovanni Salcedo, Jesus Santana, Maria Serrano, Kyleigh Sheldahl, Caden Siegel, Luis Sillas Jiménez , LaShae Smith, Christopher Sotelo, Adrian Soto, Valerie Soto, Arianna Soto Valencia, Steven Stone, Alexis Stubbs, Xithlali Suarez Ceballos, Jordan Thomas, Courtney Thompson, Christopher Torres, Juan Torres, Samantha Trejo, Bryan Trillo, Emma Uribe, Faith Uwnawich-Harris , Sonia Valdez, Angel Valencia, Ernestina Valencia, Paris Valenzuela, Angel Valera, Donovan Valerio, Nachia Vang, Adam Vargas, Johnny Vargas, Ricardo Vargas, Juan Vazquez, Alex Vega, Jose Velasco, Natalie Veloz, Soleil Ventura, Julian Villa, Olga Villanueva, Jose Villegas, Matthew Villegas, Hannah (Alex) Wagner, Kaden Wagner, Kayce Weathers, Spencer Wilde, Mckenzie Williams, Race Woodruff, Esmeralda Zapien, Montserrat Zapien, and Marisol Zuniga.

 

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

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November 25 , 2020

The Big Fresno Fair Is Bringing A New Drive-Thru Holiday Fantasy of Lights Show
to Fresno Fairgrounds for Community to Enjoy
Will Feature Christmas Music, Food and a Winter Wonderland of 450 light displays

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, November 23, 2020…The Fresno Fairgrounds is transforming into a magical Winter Wonderland this holiday season for the first-ever Big Fresno Fair’s Holiday Fantasy of Lights Show! Attendees will drive through the Fairgrounds and enjoy more than 450 holiday lights displays as they listen to Christmas music, sip on hot cocoa and more. The Fair has partnered with Lightasmic, to bring this holiday light show to the Fresno Fairgrounds Thursday, December 3 through Sunday, January 3; closed Christmas Day. Daily hours are 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.; gates open at 4:00 p.m.
“We are extremely excited to bring this holiday event to the Fairgrounds for the community to enjoy,” said Lauri King, Deputy Manager II, The Big Fresno Fair. “With COVID-19 impacting this year’s Hmong New Year Celebration, we shifted to bring this holiday drive-thru to spread some much needed holiday cheer in the safest way possible. These light displays are incredible and will truly transport attendees to a magical winter wonderland. We hope our community is as excited as we are to come out and enjoy it!”
Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.FresnoFair.com/HolidayLights or at the Fair’s Box Office located at 1121 S. Chance Ave. Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $20 per vehicle Monday – Thursday and $25 Friday – Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, but the cost increases by $5 so be sure to get yours in advance.
There will be a special treat for attendees Friday – Sunday, as Santa will be out there waving to guests as they drive through. At the Holiday Fantasy of Lights Show, there will be an area to drive up and purchase tasty treats, hot cocoa and more before starting your drive-thru holiday adventure. For a complete list of treats, including menu pricing, go to www.FresnoFair.com/HolidayLights.
Want to save on tickets? Then head to any Central California Blood Center or mobile drive from November 30 through January 1, and you’ll get a $5 off voucher good for a Holiday Fantasy of Lights Show ticket for Monday - Thursday. Not only can you save money, but you can save up to three lives with your donation and the Central California Blood Center is in dire need of blood this holiday season! To find out where to donate, go to www.donateblood.org.


 

The Central California Blood Center provides blood and services to patients who receive care at 30 hospitals and their network of facilities in Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Kings and Mariposa Counties. 5,000 to 6,000 pints of blood must be collected per month to meet the needs of patients in our Central Valley community. Stay connected with the Central California Blood Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Donating blood is safe and essential. The Central California Blood Center is taking all the precautions required to guarantee the safety of blood donors and staff.
About The Big Fresno Fair:
The Big Fresno Fair, founded in 1884, is the fourth largest fair in the state of California and represents the 21st District Agricultural Association. More than 600,000 people from throughout the State visit The Big Fresno Fair each year making it the largest annual event in the Central Valley. Members of the Board of Directors include: Larry Serpa, President; Jerry Pacheco, Vice President; Charles Riojas, Secretary/Treasurer; Linda Mae Balakian Hunsucker; Gary Chahil; Frank Flores; Terry Gonsalves; Annalisa Perea and Lawrence Salinas. Deputy Managers, Stacy Rianda and Lauri King oversee the daily operations of the Fair. For more information about The Big Fresno Fair, please visit www.FresnoFair.com. Stay connect with The Big Fresno Fair on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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November 25 , 2020

City seeks applicants for Measure C Committee

The City of Merced is accepting applications for the Citizens’ Oversight Committee-Measure C. Applicants must be registered to vote in the City of Merced.

Vacancies are available in the South, Central and North Police District. A map is available at the City Clerk’s Office or at www.cityofmerced.org.

The purpose of this Committee is to review projected revenues created by the voter approved Measure C, a one-half cent sales tax. The Committee recommends proposed expenditures to City Council. The Committee consists of three voting members from each of the three existing Policing Districts of the City, for a total of nine voting members. There are also ex-officio members representing the various recognized municipal employee bargaining units.

The Committee meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday in February, May, August and November.

Applications are available at the City Clerk’s Office, 678 W. 18th Street, Merced, or at www.cityofmerced.org. Call 388-8650 for more information.

 

 

City offices closed for Thanksgiving holiday

The City of Merced offices will be closed Thurs. and Fri., Nov. 26 and 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

There will be no trash collection Thursday. Collection will be delayed one day the rest of the week.

During the Thanksgiving holidays, people are encouraged to observe coronavirus safety protocols, including wearing a mask when in public and maintaining social distance.

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November 25 , 2020

 

MCOE Works to Help Keep Schools Running, Staff and Students Safe

The coronavirus pandemic that has thrust itself upon Merced County’s schools last spring is something Eva Chavez never expected and something she said has tested her mettle going forward.
But it’s truly something that has made school employees more resilient, she believes. Chavez is deputy superintendent of the Merced County Office of Education in charge of human relations functions. The county schools office has 1,300 employees, about 900 of them full-time.
The word of the year, Chavez said, is unprecedented. She contracted COVID-19 in July and recovered.
“I felt awful, but all is well now,” she said. “Our goal has been to get students back in school, but we have to do it safely and responsibly. It is truly something that has made us stronger.”
A lot of Merced County Office of Education business is being done remotely, through Zoom, telephone calls and virtual-digital means. Chavez said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen meets weekly with the 20 school superintendents throughout the county to determine future developments and responses to changing requirements.
Chavez stresses MCOE employees are observing public health guidelines, including regular hand washing and social-distancing practices.
MCOE provides additional sick leave when employees are diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s part of a federal law from this spring, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act.
Chavez said her office has been working with employee unions to work through concerns related to safety. Employees are being strongly encouraged to take part in surveillance testing offered at no cost to the employee by MCOE and the Merced County Department of
Public Health.


“At the beginning of the pandemic we allowed all employees to work from home. By June, many were back at the work site,” Chavez said. “Staff with children whose schools were closed have been allowed to work from home when possible. Through it all, we strive to be an empathetic employer,”
By and large, Chavez said, most employees have come back to the worksite, but MCOE continues to work with some home-bound employees at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to ensure their safe return.
“I believe we’re managing well but it’s an ever-changing landscape. Employees must complete a daily self-assessment form before coming to work. They are asked if they have typical COVID-19 symptoms or a fever. We work to stay on top of the latest local health department information and respond accordingly,” Chavez said
Her role has been to help employees safely do their job and make sure they are comfortable.
“It has changed the way we do business,” she said. “It’s exhausting to consistently make the right calls while showing people that they matter. What is the new normal? Daily we are faced with questions we must answer to manage this pandemic. Mainly, it’s about keeping the workplace safe so staff are able to do the work we were all hired to do. We genuinely care about employees and the public we were hired to serve,” Chavez said.
All staff members have done the heavy lifting to adapt to changing conditions since the start of the pandemic, she said.
“We were required to learn many things quickly and I’d say most throughout the organization have exceeded expectations when it comes to figuring out ways to get the work done,” Chavez said.

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November 19 , 2020

Merced City Council Appoints Stephanie Dietz as City Manager

The Merced City Council is pleased to announce the selection of Mrs. Stephanie Dietz as its next City Manager, and confirmed her appointment at the November 16, 2020 meeting. The City Council conducted an extensive search, resulting in nineteen applicants from across seven states.
As the City Manager, Dietz serves at the pleasure of the City Council. She is one of three Charter Officers, managing operational functions within the City, including Police, Fire, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Economic Development, Engineering, Development Services, Information Technology, Human Resources while also serving as the City Clerk.
“Merced wanted to hire a leader familiar with the unique inner workings of the City and community,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. We knew that we wanted someone with good judgment, someone in tune with our city. The Council unanimously agreed that her demonstration of critical decision-making and leadership made it apparent that she was the correct candidate.”
Dietz, 40, has spent the past four years as Merced’s Assistant City Manager, most recently serving as Interim City Manager. Dietz’s accomplishments include implementing the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission, developing a Legislative Program to advocate for grant funding and resources, and working with community leaders to complete beautification projects. As Assistant City Manager, Dietz spent much of her time shaping the work environment, enhancing department functions and service delivery, and leading labor negotiations.
“I am honored to be selected by the City Council as the City Manager of Merced,” Dietz said. “Merced is resilient, and has the strength to overcome any challenge by taking advantage of opportunities. Furthering the City Council’s goals and priorities and developing a strong culture of customer service will be my focus. Our leadership team and staff are eager to meet the needs of this great community”.
Prior to coming to the City, Dietz spent 10 years working for Merced County, interrupted by almost three years of work at UC Merced. Expanding partnerships was a primary focus for Dietz when first joining the City. Using her existing network, she built new relationships elevating the City’s presence at the state and regional levels.
Dietz has served as a co-chair of the Northern San Joaquin Valley Regions Rise program which is part of the State’s economic development initiative. Coordinating regional planning efforts, she was able to secure additional resources to address homelessness. Working closely with law enforcement officials, Dietz helped identify creative ways to support the Police department through the Merced Crisis Response Team. During the early COVID-19 pandemic crisis, she brought together non-profit and faith-based organizations to meet the needs of vulnerable populations.
“These are challenging times requiring us all to find innovative ways to sustain the local economy. Mrs. Dietz is a collaborator and will respond to the needs of the community by surrounding herself with the right people and resources,” Mayor Pro Tempore Matt Serratto said.
Dietz holds a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, a master’s from National University and is a graduate of the California State Association of Counties Senior Executive credential program. Well established and rooted in Merced, she and her husband Teddy Dietz have two children, Tyler and Madysen.
Dietz’s starting annual salary will be $214,966.13 and will officially begin her role as City Manager on November 17, 2020.

Stephanie Dietz


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November 19 , 2020


FFA Initiates Holiday Giving Through Operation Christmas Child

Written by : Atwater FFA


The holiday season is associated with “giving” and as a time to help others. A highlighted example of this spirit is Atwater High School’s FFA program that was originally inspired 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 and Chapter Secretary Celeste 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 boxes organized prior to the Christmas holiday. She communicated with the Atwater High School Leadership class and Atwater High School Agriculture Leadership class in organizing the event. When it was all completed, over one hundred boxes of various items will be 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 Alexa Melendez. “It’s about making a positive difference in the lives of people and the effort of implementing the holiday spirit of giving.” We partnered with the leadership class on campus in order to fill over 100 boxes, so this was truly a school wide effort.

 


Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members Jacky Velazquez, Gabby Lucas, Alexa Melendez, Perla Caballero, Nandani Patel, and Sarai Duran work together in collecting the Operation Christmas Child boxes submitted by Atwater High School students over the past couple weeks.

 

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

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November 19 , 2020

Section of R Street is getting a brand new roadway

R Street is undergoing a major reconstruction between Loughborough and Buena Vista Drive. The work will keep the road closed to vehicles and pedestrians until March 1.

“We are sorry that trips that used to be quick and easy will take a bit more time for a few months, but we believe the result will be worth it,” said Interim City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “R Street is a section in the City’s street network that has experienced the greatest degradation in recent years.”

During the reconstruction, the entire road surface is being removed, new roadbed is being installed and new asphalt poured. In addition, the Black Rascal Creek drainage system is being rebuilt because it was causing the roadway to sink in its current condition.

The project was designed after consulting with emergency responders to ensure they would be able to move through the construction zone safely and smoothly. The City Engineering staff also worked with school district officials to designate safe routes for students, teachers, staff and buses.

“The school district was very supportive of this project as the roadway and sidewalks in their current condition create hazards for students, teachers, staff, parents and buses,” Dietz said.

City Engineer Michael Beltran said his Department evaluated a construction schedule that allowed for quick construction and efficient use of resources. “Phasing the project may allow for limited access but it does have a negative impact on two areas,” Beltran said, “the time of construction and the overall cost of the project due to the need for additional hours in staff time.”

The March 1 date is the maximum closure date, Beltran said. “We are working to complete this project faster. We have worked with the contractor, and they have a record of excellent work and early completion of projects.”

 

Beltran said there are a number of other major projects affecting roads going on in the City. Some of these are City projects, others are Merced Irrigation District or Pacific Gas and Electric projects.

Information on all road closures and street work is available through Subscribe Merced. Notifications can be sent by text or email. Sign up for it at www.cityofmerced.org.

Roadwork scheduled for the upcoming months includes:

City of Merced:
R Street, Loughborough to Yosemite, now to March 2021, full closure
M Street, 8th to 13th, now to Jan. 2021, full closure
Alpine Dr., G to Wainwright, now to Feb. 2021, full closure
Gerard Ave., Kibby to Parsons, now to March 2021, full closure

Merced Irrigation District
G Street, Bear Creek to Farmland, now to Dec. 2021, signalized intersections at night

Pacific Gas & Electric
G Street & Cardella Rd. - M Street & Bellevue (high impact areas): Arrow Wood, Bancroft, Tolman, Mandeville, Barclay, now to Jan. 2021, full closure

BNSF Railroad
K Street, 23rd to 26th, now to May 2021, full closure

Private contractor
Main Street, M to N, Dec. 10 - 31 2020, full closure

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October 2 , 2020

Gift card notices are being mailed out

Merced households are receiving postcards in the mail announcing the kickoff of the City’s $25 gift card program. Residents will be able to spend their gift cards at a variety of businesses ranging from clothing shops to restaurants by redeeming them at www.MercedCares.com.
The $500,000 gift card program was approved by the City Council in June to benefit local businesses hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and City residents hurt by the economic fallout.
The gift card program was part of the City’s COVID-19 Recovery Program that also includes assistance to renters, small businesses, the Food Bank, hotel operators and a one-time utility bill rebate for all customers for a total of $2.37 million in aid.
“This gives a boost to local businesses that have been suffering during the pandemic,” said Mayor Mike Murphy, “At the same time, it will be of assistance to our residents who have been deeply affected during the last six months.”
The notice includes a code and instructions on how to redeem it at www.MercedCares.com. Residents are urged to redeem the code as soon as possible to allow the program to quickly help support local, small businesses.
Codes can be redeemed at any business registered on the www.MercedCares.com website.


There is a wide variety of businesses to select from. There are more than 20 different restaurants listed, along with coffee and dessert shops. Households can select from florists, tire shops, auto body shops, salons, fitness centers, clothing stores, even a photo studio and a newspaper.
“Both our residents and our businesses have been through difficult times due to the pandemic,” said Council Member Kevin Blake. “This program ultimately benefits the City, by strengthening our business community and assisting Merced households.”
The Central Valley Opportunity Fund provided $250,000 for the program, and the City matched it with another $250,000. There is a $37,000 cost to administer the program. Only households located in the Merced City limits will receive the gift cards.
To partner in the program, the City turned to Giftbar, LLC , which reduced its fees while working with the City.
Businesses that offer goods or services in the City of Merced, can still sign up to take advantage of this program. Merced merchants can sign up to join the program at www.MercedCares.com.

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October 2 , 2020

MUHSD Wins Teacher, School Employee; Dos Palos Earns Admin at
Excellence in Education Awards

The annual Merced County Excellence in Education winners were announced during a virtual event on Oct. 1 hosted by the Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union.
Samantha Johnston and Maricela Perez from the Merced Union High School District received the top awards for teacher and school employee categories, and Rhonda Sullivan from the Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District received the top school administrator award.
Due to restrictions on in-person gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19, this year’s event was held virtually with simultaneous broadcasts on Merced Educational Television (METV) and MCOE social media.
EECU has sponsored the Excellence in Education awards for the past 15 years in Merced County, and supports similar events in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare Counties.
“Educators and other school employees play such a vital role in the lives of our students, and it is important to recognize and celebrate their work,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “Thank you to EECU for sponsoring this event and congratulations to the winners, the honorees and all of our school employees across Merced County.”
Johnston is a resource teacher with MUHSD. She is considered a specialized academic instructor and works with ninth through 12th grade students at Independence High, which is part of the East Campus Educational Center in Merced.
Johnston said she never wanted to be a teacher but knew she wanted to help adolescents and make a difference in their lives. She focuses on building relationships with students, helping them toward their ultimate goal of walking across the stage with a diploma.
“I’m honored and grateful and overwhelmed as well – it was unexpected,” Johnston said. “In my work I take a student-centered approach. Last year I had 28 students and I currently have 15 from ninth through 12th grade but the number varies.”
Sullivan is the director of food services with the Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District. She has been with the district for 26 years and directs preparation of breakfasts and lunch for 2,400 students from preschool to high school. She supervises a staff of 18 employees who work in four cooking kitchens and a serving kitchen.
Sullivan said the schools’ cafeterias are still cooking from scratch and busy feeding students.
“I was shocked to get this award. There are so many good administrators throughout Merced County so I am very excited and honored,” Sullivan said. She started out in Dos Palos as a dishwasher and has been in her current position for six years.
Perez is a school-community resource liaison at Atwater High School. Perez said she wants to help students who are struggling and help students and parents cope with conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perez said being named the top classified employee was amazing and an incredible honor. She said she loves to help people, particularly those from migrant families. She said she absolutely loves what she does and her work in education is her life’s calling.
Perez said in this pandemic students are struggling every day and many students do not have Internet service. She is in her 30th year in education.
The virtual awards ceremony featured a spotlight on the 22 honorees, remarks from the three county winners, videos vignettes featuring interviews from them and their colleagues, along with remarks from EECU CEO Beth Dooley and Tietjen.
There were five honorees for administrator of the year, seven honorees for school employee of the year and 10 honorees for teacher of the year. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year are eligible to move on to apply at the state awards program.
For more information on the Excellence in Education program, call Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or email events@mcoe.org.


District nominees this year were:

TEACHERS:
Samantha Johnston Merced Union High School District - Winner
Thomas Westerdoll Atwater Elementary School District
Carie Haley Atwater Elementary School District – Preschool
Amy Valladao Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District
Jenny Hunger Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Ernestina “Ernie” Diaz El Nido Elementary School District
Melody Noceti Gustine Unified School District
Stefanie Wedde Livingston Union School District
Lucia Olguin Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services
Lisa Weber Weaver Union School District


SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Maricela Perez Merced Union High School District - Winner
Nelson Vieira-Dennys Atwater Elementary School District
Donna McDaniels Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Carolina “Karo” Ojeda El Nido Elementary School District
Andrea Verdin Gustine Unified School District
Lorena Burrola Merced County Office of Education – Early Education
Dorothy Calvino Weaver Union School District


ADMINISTRATORS:
Rhonda Sullivan Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District - Winner
Lyndsay Olds Atwater Elementary School District
Alma De Luna Livingston Union School District
Cindy Heaton Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Barbara Tanzillo Merced Union High School District


 




Maricela Perez



Rhonda Sullivan


Maricela Perez

 

 

 

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October 2 , 2020

YARTS BEGINS WINTER SERVICE THIS WEEK

MERCED – The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) will transition to a winter schedule on October 1, 2020 for the service running on the Highway 140 corridor from Merced and Mariposa to Yosemite National Park. The 140 line operates year-round but fluctuates the number of runs to and from the Park when the seasons change. Other YARTS routes into Yosemite are seasonal in nature and operate only in the summer months. This includes the service along Highway 120 from Sonora which will end on September 30, as well as the service along the Highway 395/120 corridor from Mammoth Lakes which will finish for the year on October 15. The summer service between Fresno and Yosemite on Highway 41 concluded early this year due to area wildfires in early September.
The YARTS 2020 summer service was abbreviated due to a late start caused by the COVID-19 shutdown which resulted in the temporary closure of Yosemite. YARTS’ summer service will resume from Sonora and Fresno in May 2021 and the route into Mammoth Lakes will resume in June 2021.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, YARTS has made several operational adjustments to increase the safety of passengers that continue to be in effect. In addition to increased sanitation measures, all passengers are required to wear face masks when riding YARTS. In order to promote social distancing, capacity on all buses is limited to a maximum of 30 passengers. With most of the 30 seats able to be reserved in advance, there is very limited space for walk-on passengers. Therefore, reservations are highly encouraged.
Reservations can be made for YARTS tickets on the YARTS website at: www.yarts.com. There are no additional charges to get into Yosemite beyond the YARTS fare, and passengers do not have to have a day-use permit issued by the National Park Service to ride. For more information about YARTS schedules, routes, COVID-19 safety measures, or to book tickets, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.

 

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

 

 

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October 2 , 2020

Merced landowner donates easement to mitigate for school building

(ELK GROVE, CA – September 22, 2020) - The California Farmland Trust (CFT) is pleased to share that another property in Merced County has been permanently protected. Simon and Christine Vander Woude, have donated a conservation easement on their property in Merced. The Vander Woude’s nearly 65-acre parcel of farmland is currently planted in field crops for their dairy operation and will forever remain in agriculture.

“I served on the building committee for the development of Stone Ridge Christian High School,” shared Simon Vander Woude. “The school is a project we were very passionate about. When it was determined that the school would need to mitigate for the land they were building on, I was pleased that we had a parcel that could be utilized for such purposes. Given our interest in the school, we were happy to donate the value of the easement and know that the land would forever be protected,” Vander Woude added.

The property, located on the westside of Merced, met the mitigation requirement as defined by Merced County, and that’s where CFT stepped in. As a land trust focused on farmland, CFT worked with the Vander Woude’s and the school, to ensure this property would be protected and monitored forever. The agricultural conservation easement (ACE) complimented the Vander Woude’s other sustainability efforts, which include a solar field, as well as other efficient and regenerative water and farm management practices.

“No two easement projects are the same, but this is unique because Simon and Christine felt so strongly about donating the value of the easement to help the school fulfill the mitigation requirement. Foregoing compensation for the development rights isn’t an easy choice, but we commend their decision,” said Charlotte Mitchell CFT Executive Director.



The Vander Woude property compliments the existing 34 easements and more than 11,000 acres, that CFT has worked with landowners to permanently protect in Merced County.

###
The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date, we have protected 16,708 acres of farmland on 77 family farms. To learn more visit us: www.cafarmtrust.org.
For more information or photos, please contact:
Aundriea Montzingo, amontzingo@cafarmtrust.org or (916) 687-3178
Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @cafarmtrust

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October 2 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE (SOUTHBOUND)
SOUTHBOUND STATE ROUTE 59 IN CITY OF MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close
southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between West Olive Avenue and Cooper Avenue in
the city of Merced for utility work.
Closures will continue Sunday, October 4, through Thursday, October 8, 2020, from 10:00
p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Motorists are advised to use R Street as a detour during these nightly closures.
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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September 22 , 2020

MCOE, EECU to Host Virtual 15th Annual Excellence in Education Awards

The Merced County Office of Education and Educational Employees Credit Union invite the community to celebrate the annual Excellence in Education awards ceremony with a televised event on Oct. 1. Due to restrictions on in-person gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19, this year’s event will be virtual with simultaneous broadcasts on Merced Educational Television (METV) and MCOE social media.
The statewide program has three categories that recognize teachers, school administrators and school employees.
The virtual awards ceremony will broadcast at 6 p.m. on Oct. 1 and feature remarks from the three county winners, videos vignettes featuring interviews from them and their colleagues, along with remarks from EECU CEO Beth Dooley and Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen.
METV broadcasts on Comcast channel 97, AT&T U-Verse channel 99 and the event will stream on MCOE’s Facebook and YouTube accounts as well as mcoe.org/metv.
There are five nominees for administrator of the year, seven nominees for school employee of the year and ten nominees for teacher of the year.
The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year are eligible to move on to apply at the state awards program.

 



District nominees this year are:

TEACHERS:
Thomas Westerdoll Atwater Elementary School District
Carie Haley Atwater Elementary School District – Preschool
Amy Valladao Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District
Jenny Hunger Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Ernestina “Ernie” Diaz El Nido Elementary School District
Melody Noceti Gustine Unified School District
Stefanie Wedde Livingston Union Elementary School District
Lucia Olguin Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services
Samantha Johnston Merced Union High School District
Lisa Weber Weaver Union School District


SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Nelson Vieira-Dennys Atwater Elementary School District
Donna McDaniels Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Carolina “Karo” Ojeda El Nido Elementary School District
Andrea Verdin Gustine Unified School District
Lorena Burrola Merced County Office of Education – Early Education
Maricela Perez Merced Union High School District
Dorothy Calvino Weaver Union School District

ADMINISTRATORS:
Lyndsay Olds Atwater Elementary School District
Rhonda Sullivan Dos Palos-Oro Loma Joint Unified School District
Alma De Luna Livingston Union Elementary School District
Cindy Heaton Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Barbara Tanzillo Merced Union High School District

For more information on the Excellence in Education program, call Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or email events@mcoe.org.

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September 22 , 2020

Travis Credit Union Foundation Opens Application for Fire Relief Funds

WHAT: The Travis Credit Union Foundation is now accepting applications from people residing in Solano, Yolo and Napa counties who lost their homes or experienced damage to their properties as a result of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. The application is available at https://tcufund.org/lnu-fire-relief.

WHERE: Completed applications can be emailed to Dimpel Sandhu, Fundraising and Development Director at dsandhu@tcufund.org
or mailed to:
Travis Credit Union Foundation
PO Box 1086
Vacaville, CA, 95687-9998

 

WHEN: Applications will be processed from October 1 through December 31, 2020. The Travis Credit Union Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that the funds are distributed through a transparent and equitable process. A volunteer committee with representatives from Yolo, Solano and Napa counties will use public records to verify and evaluate the applications.
To make a secure, tax-deductible donation online, please visit: https://tcufund.org/lnu-fire-relief. 100 percent of all donations go directly towards supporting recovery efforts in the local service area.

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Aug 26, 2020

MERCED LANDFILL OFFERS CARPET RECYCLING

Merced – Merced County residents and businesses are able to bring old carpet to the Highway 59 landfill in Merced for it to be recycled. The program is made possible by a grant from the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), which operates a carpet stewardship program in California designed to increase the amount of carpet kept out of landfills in the state. The grant from CARE allowed for the installation of a shelter, pad and equipment needed to be able to properly receive and store the carpet at the landfill. The Merced facility is among 75 carpet recycling drop-off locations in California currently participating in the program.
In order for carpet to be accepted for recycling, it must be dry, free from debris and cut into manageable sections that have been separated from the carpet pad and rolled. Carpet pads that are clean and rolled are also accepted. Customers should bring the carpet to the landfill located at 7040 N. Highway 59 in Merced and stop at the scale house for instructions on where to drop it off at the site.
The carpet recycling program started in Merced last fall. Since then, more than 27,000 pounds of carpet have been diverted from the local landfill and recycled for other purposes. Recycled carpet fiber is made into useful new products like insulation, construction materials, rubber mats, as well as new carpet and carpet padding. Disposal costs for carpet brought to the Merced landfill for recycling start at $19; this rate usually applies to the average load brought from a single-family residence. Larger loads, usually brought by businesses, are charged at a higher rate depending on the volume.
“Keeping carpet out of the landfill by participating in this recycling program provides a great benefit to the communities of Merced County,” said Eric Zetz, Director of the Regional Waste Management Authority. “By getting bulky items like carpet out of our landfill, the lifetime of the site is extended which saves rate payers a lot of money in the long run.”
About CARE
Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in charge of implementing the California Carpet Stewardship Program as required by California laws AB 2398 and AB 1158. The purpose of the laws is to increase the diversion and recycling of carpet in the state of California. The Program is funded by an assessment of 35 cents per square yard paid by everyone who purchases carpet in the state, as required by AB 2398. CARE works to advance market-based solutions that increase landfill diversion and recycling of post-consumer carpet and encourage design for recyclability. Visit the CARE website at www.carpetrecovery.org for more information.

 


About Merced Count Regional Waste Management Authority (RWA)
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 /MCRWMA Facebook page.
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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Aug 26, 2020

Travis Credit Union Foundation Launches
Local Wildfires Relief Effort
‘Funds will support local relief efforts now and through the remainder of the fire season’

VACAVILLE, CA – The Travis Credit Union Foundation is immediately accepting donations to address urgent local needs due to the LNU Complex Fire, the second largest in California history. With four more months of potential fire season to go, many of our community members have already been forced to evacuate or have lost their homes.
The donations will bring immediate financial assistance to the victims, firefighters and communities that have been affected by the wildfires. Travis Credit Union is covering all administrative costs, so that 100 percent of all donations will go directly towards supporting recovery efforts in the local service area.
“The wildfires are taking a massive toll on our communities and residents of Solano, Yolo and Napa counties,” said Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “The generosity of those who wish to give will help as we continue to support the needs of the most affected.”
Donations will provide funding for those in need of shelter, food, clothing and cash for necessities. The TCU Foundation will support both immediate disaster relief as well as recovery efforts for the remainder of the wildfire season.
“We are proud to be an organization that operates under the philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ and encourage all who are moved to contribute, to do so,” said Nelson. “Our hearts go out to all who have experienced such devastation. We know their needs are great, and will continue to grow.”

 

To make a secure, tax-deductible donation online, please visit: https://tcufund.org/lnu-fire-relief
Individuals may also send checks payable to the Travis Credit Union Foundation, noting that the donation is for the Wildfires Relief Fund. Checks should be mailed to:
Travis Credit Union Foundation
PO Box 1086
Vacaville, CA. 95687-9998

Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.9 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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Aug 25, 2020

CARES Act Gives Head Start Additional Funding

The Merced County Office of Education’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs have received approximately $1 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds will support Head Start services to low-income children under the age of 5 in the county.
Nationally, $750 million has been designated for Head Start programs to support preventative, preparedness, and response activities related to the coronavirus through the CARES Act.
“The CARES Act funding will provide critical support to offset additional expenses related to providing services in a county heavily impacted by COVID-19,” said Head Start Director Linda Kaercher.
Head Start provides education and family support services to children ages 0 to 5 years old. Services are also available for pregnant women. Head Start has center-based, home-based and family childcare options available throughout Merced County. In order to ensure uninterrupted educational services to children, all children will begin the year in a distance learning format. “Our teachers have quickly adapted to a distance learning format and are enjoying interacting with children and families in this new way as much as children and families are enjoying interacting with them,” said Head Start Education Manager Paula Smith.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the additional funding for Head Start will help ensure that children and families who rely on the program continue receiving services like meals, health screenings and Pre-K education. “As we move toward safely reopening, it only grows more important that we support vulnerable families and children whose lives have been disrupted by the virus and its economic effects,” he said.
MCOE Head Start will use the funds to purchase personal protective equipment needed to keep children and staff safe, technology needed to support distance learning, and learning materials to support individualization and safe physical distancing as children learn at home, and as they return to the classroom.
MCOE Head Start is currently recruiting children and families for fall enrollment. Contact Head Start at 209-381-5170 or go to www.mcoe.org and enter Head Start in the search box.
Find additional information about Head Start programming specific to this public health crisis on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/coronavirus



Merced County Head Start students interact with their teacher at the Shattuck Park Head Start in Delhi in 2019. Merced County Head Start and Early Head Start have received approximately $1 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

FILE PHOTO BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 

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Aug 25 , 2020

Though the Campus is Closed, Camp Green Meadows Continues With Virtual Lessons

The traditional week-long outdoor education program offered by Camp Green Meadows is another causality of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean students can’t learn about the outdoors in a virtual format.
Camp Green Meadows Principal Bob Bassett confirmed that the outdoor school program and other activities have been cancelled through the fall season. The Merced County Office of Education, which operates the school, will reassess later this year if the outdoor school will operate during the spring semester.
Bassett said, “If students are not able come to Camp Green Meadows we will bring Camp Green Meadows to the students. We are developing a rich, standards-based distance learning curriculum for our students.”
Camp Green Meadows is located in the Sierra National Forest outside the town of Fish Camp on Highway 41 just 2 miles from the southern entry to Yosemite National Park. The 5,000-foot elevation offers a very different environment than what Merced County students normally experience. The summers are warm and during the winters, the campus is covered in snow. Camp Green Meadows has been serving the students of Merced and surrounding counties for nearly 60 years.
According to Bassett, who is starting his 11th year as principal of the outdoor school, the last school program ended March 13. During the spring, Camp Green Meadows staff created outdoor videos to aid teachers delivering distance learning curriculum. That will differ from the lessons they are working on now.
The school staff if going to not only recreate the outdoor school program’s Next Generation Science Standard Based lessons in a distant learning format; they are also working to recreate some of the camp experiences through the use of technology. “We know it won’t be the same as being here but we hope that it will be rewarding, fun and students will learn about the outdoors,” Bassett said.
Camp Green Meadows had 37 weeks of outdoor school programs scheduled for the 20/21 school year with almost 5,000 6th grade students and 600 high school students set to attend during those weeks. Bassett followed up with, “If we are able to open in the spring, we will run shorter programs so that we can give as many kids as possible this learning experience and the Merced County tradition of Camp Green Meadows,” Basset said.
For more information on the outdoor school, visit campgreenmeadows.com.




Camp Green Meadows Intern Naturalist Katie “Teton” Curry is teaching about riparian habitat while Naturalist Chris “Creek” Moua records her for a virtual lesson.


Camp Green Meadows Naturalist Chris “Creek” Moua and Katie “Teton” Curry record a lesson on rainbow trout for use in an upcoming video on stream ecology.

PHOTOS COURTESY CAMP GREEN MEADOWS

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Aug 14 , 2020

Annexation study, apartment appeal on agenda

The City Council will hear an update on the North Merced Annexation Feasibility Study and an appeal on an apartment project at its virtual Monday night meeting.

The regular meeting will be held telephonically at 6 p.m. Monday pursuant to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20. There will be no in-person public access to the meeting location. All votes for this meeting will be taken via rollcall.

There will be no meeting held in the Merced Civic Center in order to protect the public, City staff and Council from the coronavirus. The meeting will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Monday on Facebook Live at City of Merced, on the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, and Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

For telephonic or virtual meetings, Spanish and Hmong interpreters can be arranged by calling the City Clerk's Office at (209) 388-8650 at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting.

Please submit public comments to the City Council electronically no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments received before the deadline will be read as part of the record. Material may be emailed to cityclerk@cityofmerced.org and should be limited to 300 words or less. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example, Closed Session, item # or Oral Communications. Comments will be presented to the City Council at the appropriate time. Any correspondence received after 1 p.m. will be distributed to the City Council and retained for the official record.

People may provide telephonic comments via voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 by no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting to be added to the public comment. Voicemails will be limited to a time limit of three (3) minutes. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example, Public Hearing item #, Consent item #, or Oral Communications. Comments will be played during the meeting to the City Council at the appropriate time.


On the agenda:

• Receive an update from staff on the North Merced Annexation Feasibility Study that has been performed since a joint meeting with the Planning Commission in January.

• Hold a public hearing regarding the appeal of a 218 apartment project at Yosemite Avenue and McKee Road.

• Consideration of a request by the United Way, NAACP, the Hispanic Chamber and WeCed to install a Black Lives Matter mural in the Downtown.

• Appoint three members to the Citizen’s Stipend Setting Commission that will recommend what monthly stipend Council should receive. There are still positions available in Districts 2, 3, 4.
The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. with real property negotiators and labor negotiators.

A link to the live meeting is 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.

To view video (if available) or listen to the City Council meeting live, go to the City’s website
www.cityofmerced.org, Facebook Live, or Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

Accommodation for individuals with disabilities may be arranged by contacting the City Clerk at (209) 388-8650.

At least 72 hours prior to each regular City Council meeting, a complete agenda packet is
available for review on the City’s website at www.cityofmerced.org or at the City Clerk’s Office,
678 W. 18th St. All public records relating to an open session item that are distributed to a majority of the Council will be available for public inspection at the City Clerk’s Office during regular business hours. Spanish and Hmong translation is available at every regular meeting.

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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Aug 14 , 2020

Caltrans Announces More Than $1.6 Billion for Transportation Projects

SACRAMENTO — The California Transportation Commission (CTC) today allocated more than $1.6 billion for transportation projects throughout the state, including about $1.3 billion for State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System.
“Our maintenance and construction crews remain hard at work improving California’s transportation infrastructure,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “The $1.6 billion allocated will allow the department to continue with critical repairs and upgrades to roads and highways, and will support thousands of jobs that are essential for our economy.”
These were among the local road projects in District 10 that were approved:
• The Fyffe Avenue Grade Separation project in Stockton received $8 million from the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program. The work will construct a grade-separated rail crossing, a four-lane overcrossing and realign McCoy Avenue.
• A project that will rehabilitate pavement on State Route 99 from Childs Avenue to Franklin Road in Merced received $61.3 million. Workers will replace the existing roadway, replace guardrail and upgrade drainage systems.
• A project that will rehabilitate pavement on Interstate 5 at various locations in Stockton received $36.7 million. By rebuilding the pavement, workers will extend the pavement’s service life and improve its ride quality.
• A project that will rehabilitate drainage systems, replace culverts, and create erosion protections in Alpine, Amador and Tuolumne counties received $5.3 million. A similar project in Alpine County received an additional $4.3 million.
The CTC also approved more than $118 million in funds for rail and mass transit projects, including freight, intercity rail and bus services. This allocation expands access to public transportation and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. This investment includes $77 million for the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, which is dedicated to projects that enhance the movement of goods along corridors with high freight volume by making improvements to state highways, local roads, freight rail systems, port facilities and truck corridors.



In addition, the CTC approved nearly $14 million for 17 projects that will improve bicycle and pedestrian overcrossings, repair sidewalks and bike lanes, and provide safer routes to school for children.
Project funding is derived from federal and state gas taxes, including $1.2 billion from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. The state’s portion of SB 1 funds are used for the ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation of the State Highway System. By 2027, these funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges, 55,000 culverts, and 7,700 traffic operating systems that help reduce highway congestion, such as ramp meters, traffic cameras and electric highway message signs.
For details on SB 1, visit Rebuilding California - Senate Bill 1.

 

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

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Aug 12 , 2020

Temporary schedule changes for The Bus start Monday

MERCED – Due to the impact of COVID-19, The Bus will move to a weekend schedule starting on Monday, August 17. The weekend service schedule will be operating daily and will apply to all of the fixed-routes throughout the County, except for the UC route which will not change. All fares to ride The Bus continue to be suspended and masks are required to be worn in order to ride.
Dial-a-Ride service will be provided to those who need it during the hours of 6:00-8:00 am and 6:00-8:00 pm Monday-Friday when the fixed-route service will not be operating. To receive assistance with trip planning, including making reservations for Dial-a-Ride, passengers may call customer service at 1-800-345-3111. Paratransit service will continue as normal.
“We are fortunate that we have been able to avoid changes to our service levels for the past five months for our passengers who depend on The Bus to access essential jobs and services,” said Christine Chavez, MCAG Transit Manager. “It has now reached a point where we are seeing significant impacts to The Bus’ operations, maintenance, and ridership levels and we have to respond accordingly.”
The temporary service reduction will be in place until further notice with operational capacity being re-assessed on a weekly basis. The Bus is experiencing a 45 percent decrease in ridership from this time last year.
All bus schedules and hours of operation can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com or by downloading ‘The Bus Live’ app on your smart phone for free. All fares are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 emergency. Passengers are asked to only use The Bus to provide or receive essential services and to wear a mask while on board as well as comply with social distancing requirements when possible. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.

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

 

 


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Aug 12 , 2020

Atwater Valley Community School Student Advocate Makes a Difference

Taylor Alandzes has a unique role at Valley Community School in Atwater, one that would be difficult or nearly impossible for most people to handle.
Alandzes is the Student Advocate at the Atwater campus, which has 120 students enrolled and another 100 in independent studies. Her role at the campus, which operated by the Merced County Office of Education, is through the local sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy organization Valley Crisis Center.
She sees her role as an advocate for students in a social and emotional capacity. Principal Crystal Sousa says her students have not had a lot of success in traditional school settings for various reasons. About 35 percent of them are on probation and some of them are entrenched in gang violence, while others deal with anxiety or just didn’t fit in to the traditional school environment.
“This is her first year with us,” Sousa says. “We are a ‘last chance’ school for students who get expelled from other campuses. Many have suffered trauma that they are trying to learn to deal with. She (Taylor) is very welcoming and doesn’t show any biases. Her job is to be there if the kids have a tough day and can’t handle their classes.”
Alandzes, 24, is a master’s degree student at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. She wants to become a mental health clinician, focusing on clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis on trauma. It will take her three years to finish the master’s program.
“Our kids’ haven’t always been afforded the opportunities that others have and face significant barriers to succeeding in a traditional academic environment. I feel they (students) are part of my extended family. These students have never been given the skills to express themselves and my job is to bridge that gap, help them through that process,” Alandzes says.
Alandzes says she just “hears them out” and the students traditionally are under-represented and frequently disregarded. When a student acts up, Alandzes will take a walk with them, going to a safe place, where they can take space to process the issues going on in their lives.
Often students are dealing with adversities like teen pregnancies, homelessness, poverty and may need resources like food or clothing. She has worked with a number of businesses and community agencies to provide for their needs. Alandzes praises Save Mart, Valley Crisis Center, Wal-Mart and Target in Atwater and Ross Dress for Less for helping meet these students’ needs. She says a lot of their success is due to the donations from community partners. In one instance, a student’s home burned to the ground and she was able to help raise funds to help that family.
Sousa said they call their students “at-promise” and not at-risk. She says Alandzes takes her role as an advocate very seriously. She encourages students not to make the wrong decisions, particularly avoiding fights with others. The students learn about restorative justice practices and how to deal with others.
As the students make progress in working with the advocate, they see significant results like conflict resolution with teachers and classmates without resorting to explosive behavior or violence.
“I like to think of myself as a source of unwavering support for our kids— The person who will always be there for them, there to guide them through their hardships and successes. I teach them how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way,” Alandzes says.
Alandzes notes part of her job is working with staff members and parents to give them the tools to work with the students. Every day is different and she never knows what to expect next but always welcomes the challenge.
With distance learning becoming the norm for the time being because of COVID-19, Alandzes says she misses meeting in-person with the students, but tries to check in with them regularly by telephone or computer video sessions.
Sousa says Alandzes has helped with the school’s clothes closet and has been instrumental in getting funding from community partners.
“This girl has gone above and beyond expectations to reach out to the community for donations. She figures out ways to help them. She’s just a gem,” Sousa says.
Valley Community School’s discipline rates have gone down 60 percent and Sousa credits Alandzes for part of that success. She says her student advocate calls the students on a daily basis.
“I feel like we’ve made a lot of strides with our students in developing a school culture and community in which they feel safe and respected.” Alandzes says. She ascribes their success not only to her work with the students and that of the staff but also highlights the efforts of the students themselves. “All of the work I do with our students is only half of the picture. The other half is what I get to see on a daily basis which is their motivation to change — to become the best version of themselves.”



Taylor Alandzes

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

Outreach is Crucial for Migrant Workers and Their Families

The Migrant Education Program, which serves Madera, Merced and Stanislaus counties, along with the Merced County Office of Education and other community partners, have coordinated outreach efforts to migrant Latino communities with information to assist them in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This outreach includes commercials and interviews from Spanish-speaking radio and television stations along with providing face masks at various locations. The Migrant Education Program also helps with food distributions, mental health workshops for parents, collaboration with local school districts in student enrollment and partnerships with the Merced County Family Services Division.
Salvador Vazquez, health services supervisor with the Migrant Education Region 3 Program, said the outreach targets the migrant Latino community and the farm workers harvesting the county's crops. He said these families comprise the group most impacted by COVID-19 issues due to a lack of necessary information, services and economic assistance.
Through a partnership with the Binational Health Week Committee, which Vazquez chairs, approximately 550 face masks were distributed at Merced, Atwater, Los Banos, Planada and the Merced migrant worker camps. An additional 450 masks were distributed directly by the Migrant Education Program at the Westley farm labor camp in Stanislaus County, La Vina Community in rural Madera County and the Cuadrilla de la Semana events, which are held in partnership with the Central Valley Opportunity Center and Radio Lobo. Approximately 200 masks were also distributed to families who receive tutoring services by the MEP staff throughout the 3 counties.
Through the Radio Lobo radio station, informational spots promoting the use of coronavirus prevention strategies were aired, along with radio interviews from local experts on topics such as COVID-19 infection and symptoms, prevention efforts from Department of Public Health and information on students returning to school. A UC Merced professor, the Merced County Health Officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval and the Le Grand High School principal were interviewed for the radio spots.
Vazquez stated that two live Facebook interviews regarding COVID-19 with nurses from the Livingston Community Health clinic, as well as a presentation by Dr. Sandoval also aired.
"The Migrant Education Program also directly reached out to our families to check in on them and see how they were doing and what their needs might be,” Vazquez said. “We were connecting families with different opportunities for resources including funds from private donors, the state, P-EBT and free food distributions. We had mental health workshops for parents, and assisted them with connecting new arrivals to the school districts in order to enroll their children for the fall and obtain technology for summer school programs.”
Vazquez said the coronavirus epidemic is a real predicament for farm workers who feel they must keep working to support their families.
The Migrant Education Program will continue its work and efforts to help the Central Valley migrant families to increase the reach and effectiveness of our services, Vazquez said.

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Aug 8 , 2020

California High-Speed Rail Authority Advances Environmental Work in Central Valley

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the approximately 50-mile project alignment section referred to as the “Central Valley Wye” part of the Merced to Fresno Section. The document will be presented to the Authority Board of Directors for adoption at the Sept. 10 board meeting, marking the second certification of an environmental document in less than a year. The action will provide for full environmental clearance for 171 miles of alignment between Merced and Bakersfield.

The Authority prepared and released the Draft Supplemental EIR/EIS as the lead agency for both the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the federal equivalent known as NEPA. Responses to public comments received during the CEQA and NEPA review periods are part of this Final Supplemental EIR/EIS.

This Final Supplemental EIR/EIS evaluates the No Project Alternative and four Central Valley Wye alternatives: the State Route (SR) 152 (North) to Road 11 Wye Alternative, SR 152 (North) to Road 13 Wye Alternative, SR 152 (North) to Road 19 Wye Alternative, and Avenue 21 to Road 13 Wye Alternative. The Authority’s “Preferred Alternative” in this Final Supplemental EIR/EIS is the SR 152 (North) to Road 11 Wye Alternative.


The Final Supplemental EIR/EIS has been posted to the Authority’s website and printed and/or made available electronically at the following locations (open days/hours may be reduced for compliance with coronavirus public health and safety directives):
• Chowchilla Branch Library (300 Kings Ave., Chowchilla)
• Madera County Library (121 N. G St., Madera)
• Merced County Library (2100 O St., Merced)
• Madera County Clerk (200 W. Fourth St., Madera)
• Merced County Clerk (2222 M St., Merced)
Printed and electronic copies of the Final Supplemental EIR/EIS, along with electronic copies of the associated technical reports, are available for review during business hours at the Authority’s Sacramento and Fresno offices:
• 770 L St., Suite 620 MS-1, Sacramento
• 1111 H St., Fresno
You may also request an electronic copy of the Final Supplemental EIR/EIS by calling (916) 324-1541.

To view the contents of the Final Supplemental EIR/EIS, please visit https://hsr.ca.gov/programs/environmental/eis_eir/draft_supplemental_merced_fresno.aspx

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Aug 8 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE & RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM PLAINSBURG ROAD TO SOUTH AVENUE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane and ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and
construction work. Closures are as follows:
• Closure of the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of northbound SR-99 from
Plainsburg Road to Buchanan Hollow Road for paving operations beginning
Wednesday, August 12, through Thursday, August 13, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. until
8:00 p.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from G Street to southbound SR-99 for paving operations on
Friday, August 14, 2020, from 6:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from Westside Boulevard/Central Avenue to southbound SR-
99 for pavement work on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, from 6:30 a.m. until 2:00
p.m.
• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound SR-99 at Arena Way for paving work
on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, from 6:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to South Avenue for landscape work
beginning Monday, August 10, through Tuesday, August 11, 2020, from 8:00 a.m.
until 2:30 p.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from South Avenue to northbound SR-99 for landscape work
beginning Tuesday, August 11, through Thursday, August 13, 2020, 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.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM PASSING LANE TO MERCED/SANTA CLARA COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane closures on State Route 152 (SR-152) from Interstate 5 (I-5) to the
Merced/Santa Clara County line for maintenance work. Work will occur as follows:
• Closure of the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of westbound SR-152 from the San
Luis Dam/Passing Lane to the Merced/Santa Clara County line for paving
operations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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
24-HOUR LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 NORTH OF PLAINSBURG ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a
24-hour lane closure of the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of northbound State Route
99, just north of Plainsburg Road, for pavement repairs. The #1 (left) lane will remain
open during this repair work. Work will occur as follows;
• Closure of the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of northbound SR-99, just north of
Plainsburg Road, beginning Wednesday, August 12, through Thursday, August 13,
2020, from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Overhead and roadside message signs will
be in place to alert motorists of the lane closures.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic
incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related
issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM STATE ROUTE 99 IN STANISLAUS COUNTY
TO RIVER ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY FOR PAVING PROJECT

STANISLAUS/MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 165
(SR-165) from SR-99 in Stanislaus County to River Road in Merced County for paving.
Work begins Sunday, August 9, 2020. Crews will work primarily Sunday through Thursday
nights, 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. The project is scheduled to finish in November 2020.
The off- and on-ramps connecting SR-165 to SR-99 will also be closed from Sunday,
August 9, 2020, through Thursday, August 13, 2020, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 20-minute delays and seek alternate routes during work hours.
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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Aug 4 , 2020

VIIRTUAL TOWN HALL
Please join us for a
on Small Business Resources during the COVID-19 pandemic
ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY

 

 

July31, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
CONNECTOR RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 140 NEAR THE CITIES OF GUSTINE, MERCED AND PLANDA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane and ramp closures on State Route 140 (SR-140) for construction and
maintenance work. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work
will occur as follows:
• Full connector ramp closure from eastbound SR-140 to northbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Monday, August 2, through Tuesday, August 3,
2020, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full connector ramp closure from westbound SR-140 to northbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Sunday, August 2, through Friday, August 7, 2020,
from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-33 to the Gustine Railroad Crossing beginning Sunday, August 2, through
Friday, August 7, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-99 to Kibby Road beginning Sunday, August 2, through Friday, August 7,
2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from Plainsburg/Planada Road to Watts Street beginning Monday, August 3,
through Friday, August 7, 2020, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 152 – FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO MERCED/SANTA CLARA COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane closures on State Route 152 (SR-152) from Interstate 5 (I-5) to the
Merced/Santa Clara County line for maintenance work. Work will occur as follows:
• Closure of the #2 (right) lane of eastbound SR-152 from the Merced/Santa Clara
County line to Upper Cotton Wood Road for paving operations beginning
Thursday, August 6, through Friday, August 7, 2020, from 6:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
• Closure of the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of westbound SR-152 from the San
Luis Dam Service Road to the Merced/Santa Clara County line for paving
operations beginning Wednesday, August 5, through Thursday, August 6, 2020,
from 6:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
• Closure of the #2 (right) lane of westbound SR-152 from I-5 to Hillsdale Avenue for
paving operations beginning Monday, August 3, through Wednesday, August 5,
2020, from 6:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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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July 29, 2020

Big Fresno Fair Reimagined as a Series of Drive-Thru & Virtual Fair Experiences
Fair continues to work with the Fresno County Department of Public Health on operational plans

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, July 28, 2020… The Big Fresno Fair reinvents itself, adapting the traditional Fair into a series of drive-thru and virtual experiences in light of the current state of COVID-19 in Fresno County.

During the course of the past few months, Fair Management and staff have been monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and working through a spectrum of operational plans to align with local, state and CDC guidelines and be able to provide the community some aspect of this longstanding tradition.

“Our goal has always been to bring an aspect of this beloved tradition to our community in a healthy and safe manner as guided by our health officials,” said Lauri King, Deputy Manager II, The Big Fresno Fair. “Now, as we are just two months away from October, we have centered on the decision to move forward with plans for a drive-thru and virtual Fair experience format as it’s the most prudent option to bring our community a bit of Fair fun, while doing our part to protect public health and safety.”

The Big Fresno Fair Management and staff continue to work with the Fresno County Department of Public Health on approval of operational plans.

The Big Fresno Fair is more than a community tradition; it is an economic engine in Fresno County that provides opportunity for all its vendors, many of which are small, local businesses to operate. This drive-thru and virtual hybrid format is already being utilized by other large fairs throughout California – like the San Diego Fair, OC Fair and California State Fair.
While plans continue to be developed, the drive-thru Fair will be an expansion of “Fair Food Feature” events held earlier in the year. It will include a more extensive line-up of Fair food favorites, along with entertainment and other elements to enjoy as vehicles will safely drive


through the Fairgrounds. There will also be virtual components like competitive exhibits, the Jr. Livestock Auction and more. As more details are finalized, the Fair will update its website here: www.fresnofair.com/reimaginedfair

“While this year’s Fair experience will be nothing like year’s past, it will still be a fun, worthwhile experience that we hope will bring smiles to the faces of our community – all while continuing to work together to keep everyone safe,” said King.

The Table Mountain Concert Series in the Paul Paul Theater was put on pause earlier this month due to COVID-19 health concerns and tickets have already been refunded. Admission, Season Passes and Brew Fest tickets purchased for 2020 will be honored for 2021, or purchasers may request a refund by emailing info@fresnofair.com.

About The Big Fresno Fair:
The Big Fresno Fair, founded in 1884, is the fourth largest fair in the state of California and represents the 21st District Agricultural Association. More than 600,000 people from throughout the State visit The Big Fresno Fair each year making it the largest event in the Central Valley. Members of the Board
of Directors include: Larry Serpa, President; Jerry Pacheco, Vice President; Charles Riojas, Secretary/Treasurer; Leta Ciavaglia; Gabriel Hernandez; Linda Mae Balakian Hunsucker; and Lawrence Salinas. John C. Alkire heads the daily operations in his role as CEO. For more information about The Big Fresno Fair, please visit www.FresnoFair.com.

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July 29, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
CONNECTOR RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 140 NEAR THE CITIES OF GUSTINE, MERCED AND PLANDA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane and ramp closures on State Route 140 (SR-140) for construction and
maintenance work. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work
will occur as follows:
• Full connector ramp closure from eastbound SR-140 to northbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Sunday, July 26, through Friday, July 31, 2020, from
7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full connector ramp closure from eastbound SR-140 to southbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Sunday, July 26, through Friday, July 31, 2020, from
8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-33 to the Gustine Railroad Crossing beginning Sunday, July 26, through
Friday, July 31, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-99 to Kibby Road beginning Sunday, July 26, through Friday, July 31,
2020, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from Plainsburg/Planada Road to Watts Street beginning Monday, July 27,
through Friday, July 31, 2020, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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



 

 

 

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

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July 22, 2020

Stephanie Dietz will serve as Merced’s Acting City Manager

MERCED, CA – Following a closed session discussion on Monday July 20, 2020, and pursuant to the Brown Act, Mayor Murphy reported that the City Council had terminated the employment of the City Manager by a 6-1 vote.
Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz will serve as Acting City Manager, until August 3, 2020 when the City Council will appoint her as Interim City Manager. Dietz started her career with the City of Merced on January 3, 2017. Prior to working for the City of Merced, Dietz spent ten-years with Merced County and close to three years with the University of California, Merced.
Mayor Mike Murphy shared, “The City Council and I have the utmost confidence in Ms. Dietz’s ability to serve in the position of Acting City Manager. She brings a lot of experience and a strong understanding of our community to this important position.”
Under Dietz’s leadership as Acting City Manager, department heads will remain in place and will focus on furthering the City Council’s goals and priorities, strengthening community relationships, and providing the high-level of quality services expected by the public.

 


As Assistant City Manager, Dietz has served as the City’s point person on issues such as groundwater recharging and legislative affairs. Raised in Winton and now residing in Merced with her family, Dietz noted about the appointment that she is, “Humbled by the City Council’s trust, and honored to serve the residents of this great and growing city.” Dietz holds a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree from National University.
The transition of Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz to Acting City Manager is effective immediately. It is anticipated that the search for a new City Manager will take place later this fall.

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July 22, 2020

MCOE, METV, Disney Partner for ‘The Lion King Experience: At Home’

The Merced County Office Education’s free educational access channel Merced Educational Television (METV) has a new arts education opportunity thanks to a collaboration with Disney Theatrical Production. “Disney’s The Lion King Experience: At Home,” will begin a 13-part set of virtual lessons on July 27 facilitated by arts education consultant Noelle D.W. Chandler — also known as Miss Noelle — and it will air on METV.
Disney Theatrical Productions has offered the free, virtually accessible version of “The Lion King Experience” since April as stay-at-home orders went into effect across the nation. The fully virtual curriculum is a unique holistic arts education program that provides students and educators an immersive introduction to theater-making through the lens of the Broadway production of “The Lion King.”
“Visual and performing arts are an important component for students to build creative thinking and teamwork skills,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “This partnership with Disney will give all students access to a fun and unique arts experience.”
The web-based, multimedia curriculum was originally designed for in-person classroom facilitation by an instructor as an enhancement for schools producing adaptations of “The Lion King,” but with new step-by-step instructions, students can explore the full experience at home.



“Equity and accessibility are key components of education opportunities through MCOE and will help ensure a wide-reaching experience for students of all abilities,” said Chandler. “We are so excited to share this learning experience with the community and thank Disney Theatrical Productions for this unique partnership.”
Episodes will air at 11 a.m. each day with an encore presentation at 3 p.m. Videos will be available at www.mcoe.org after they air on METV.
While touring Broadway performers walk students through learning opportunities, Miss Noelle will facilitate additional warm-ups and games, assignments, examples, craft projects and more. Any scripts, design inspirations or challenge sheets needed to complete assignments can be accessed by emailing NChandler@mcoe.org.
METV broadcasts on Comcast channel 97, AT&T U-Verse channel 99 and a livestream is available at mcoe.org/metv.

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July 21, 2020


Atwater FFA Member Earns National Scholarship

Written by : Atwater FFA


Colby Flatt, a recent graduate of Atwater High School, (Class of 2020), has recently been recognized as a scholarship recipient for the Mike Rowe’s WORKS Foundation scholarship. This scholarship is designed for students who are going to a vocational or trade school. This scholarship was established by Mike Rowe, in 2008. You may have heard of Mike Rowe, as he has traveled around the United States to find and experience the “dirtiest” jobs and even made a TV show about them, “Dirty Jobs.” In 2008, Mike Rowe launched this scholarship foundation as a platform to create more knowledge about skilled labor and jobs that are needed. “The Work Ethic Scholarship Program is about recognizing the people who understand the importance of personal responsibility, delayed gratification, a positive attitude, and, of course, work ethic. The hardworking men and women who keep the lights on, water running, and air flowing—the next generation of skilled workers who will work smart and hard.” - Mike Rowe. Colby has been involved with the Atwater FFA program since his freshman year, in a variety of ways. Colby has immersed himself in all that agriculture education has to offer, from a variety of classes, but he found his passion in the
welding and fabrication shop. Colby has been an instrumental part of the shop programs on campus, where he spent the majority of his time, even taking at least four shop classes his senior year. “ Each year I have 1 student that stands out above all the rest, for the past two years its been the same student, Colby. Of all my past 200 plus students, he is the top 1%, “ said Sam Meredith, Colby’s Welding and Fabrication instructor. Colby helps with all of the BBQ fundraisers, trains younger FFA members on how to use the BBQ, attends FFA meetings, and his senior year, he joined the Farm Power judging team, that was unfortunately cut short because of COVID-19; Colby would have been incredibly successful if the season had continued as planned. There is no job that Colby cannot do, and he was commonly referred to as the “11th Ag Teacher” by the department.
This year, over 1000 students applied for this scholarship, and Colby Flatt was one of the only 240 students selected. In order to earn this scholarship, Colby had to complete an application, answer short answer questions, and complete a video submission, high lighting his work ethic. “I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Colby over the past four years, specifically with FFA events and in the dairy barn. You will not find a harder worker than Colby. I know that I can always count on him to get the job done, and get it done right the first time,” Kim Mesa, FFA Advisor. Colby is planning on attending the Northwest Lineman College in Denton, Texas, and will start his education and training there this August. Colby’s ultimate career goal is to become a lineman - a lineworker is a tradesman who constructs and maintains electric power transmission, telecommunications lines and distribution lines. Colby has always wanted to go into a vocational field after high school, he says “This scholarship is not only the bread and butter of who I am, but it is a reflection that shows my hard work has paid off. I am honored to be receiving this scholarship and thankful for all of the people who have given me opportunities to learn all that I know, and for instilling hard work into who I am.”

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

 

Colby Flatt

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July 21, 2020

Travis Credit Union Launches Free
Financial Education Webinar Series

Vacaville, CA – Travis Credit Union has launched a new webinar series, focused on the financial wellness pillars of Plan, Save, Spend and Borrow. These free financial education presentations will address timely and relevant issues, including ‘Budgeting through Covid-19’ and ‘Rebuilding after a Financial Crisis.’ The webinars offered (also available in Spanish) are available for adults as well as youth.
The live webinars are free to attend and will feature informative and practical information through presentations, as well as opportunities to engage and interact through questions and polls. The sessions will be recorded and available ‘on-demand’ for those unable to attend the live event. The full list of upcoming scheduled webinars, including registration links, can be found at traviscu.org/webinars.
“We remain committed to the Awesome Cause of free financial education and making a difference in the lives of the people we serve,” said Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “We believe that in this era of ‘social distancing,’ our webinar series will continue to support our efforts to provide free, invaluable financial resources to our members and community.”

 

 

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

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July 21, 2020

We Must Work Together to Get Our Students Back in the Classroom

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

With the start of the school year less than one month away for most Merced County school districts, the announcement from Governor Newsom on Friday makes a physical reopening of school sites unlikely in that timeline.
While these new guidelines were disappointing, they were not a surprise given the increased rates of infection across the state. The Governor’s action took away the local control from elected school boards and superintendents across the county to give parents the option of sending their children to school or learning through an online platform. We recognize that not all parents agree on the best and safest option for in-person instruction at a school site and our goal is to give parents options. As in every situation, the health and well-being of our students, families and school communities is our top priority.
Since March, I have worked collaboratively with all 20 school district superintendents and the Merced County Department of Public Health to identify the safest ways for students and staff to return to school for in-person instruction. We developed hybrid models with A/B schedules and student cohorts that would reduce the number of people present on campus to allow for social distancing.
When we made the difficult decision to close school sites in March, schools were not as prepared as they are today for distance learning. The Merced County Office of Education has worked with school districts to ensure that students have a rigorous curriculum that includes daily live lessons, check-ins with teachers and access to rigorous coursework.
Now, more than ever, we must work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our county so that we can meet the guidelines to reopen our schools to in-person instruction. We must


 

wear face coverings, maintain social distance, wash our hands regularly and minimize mixing of people we do not live with. As a community, it is essential that we abide by this public health guidance for our positivity rate to decrease to the threshold where we can open school sites.
It is crucial that our school sites open to serve the students of highest need, including children of essential workers. For some families, especially those with young children and where remote work is not an option, attending school is essential.
As a longtime educator, parent with adult children that work in education and grandparent of children who attend public schools, I understand how difficult and complicated the past few months have been.
Know that school leaders are working hard to create safe environments for students and staff, but we need your help to slow the spread of COVID-19. Together, we can ensure our students have the tools to succeed.
It is up to all of us here in Merced County to slow the growth rates of infection. Wearing a mask is not just polite; it’s what we need to do to get our schools back open. Wear a mask every time you go out, wash your hands and keep your social distance.

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July 21, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
CONNECTOR RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 140 NEAR THE CITIES OF GUSTINE, MERCED AND PLANDA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane and ramp closures on State Route 140 (SR-140) for construction and
maintenance work. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work
will occur as follows:
• Full connector ramp closure from eastbound SR-140 to northbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24, 2020, from
7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full connector ramp closure from westbound SR-140 to southbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24, 2020, from
7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-33 to the Gustine Railroad Crossing beginning Tuesday, July 21, through
Friday, July 24, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-99 to Kibby Road beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24,
2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from Plainsburg/Planada Road to Watts Street beginning Tuesday, July 21,
through Friday, July 24, 2020, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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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July 18 , 2020

Governor, State Public Health Restrict In-Person Instruction in Merced County

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health for school reopening and set the metrics that all schools and county public health officials must use to determine whether to reopen schools to in-person instruction.
California Department of Public Health officials placed Merced County on the California County Monitoring List in early July in response to elevated COVID-19 transmission as indicated by Merced County exceeding state thresholds for positivity rates.
Because of this new guidance and Merced County’s status on the monitoring list, all Merced County schools must begin the 2020-2021 school year in distance learning.
“We recognize the significant impact school closures have on our school communities, students, families and staff,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “The health of our students and staff is our top priority and MCOE will continue to work with the county’s 20 school districts toward a safe reopening of schools to in-person instruction when health conditions allow. It is crucial that we all follow public health guidelines — like wearing face coverings, practicing good hygiene and social distancing — to reduce the spread of COVID-19 so our schools can resume in-person instruction.”
Merced County school districts have worked closely with the Merced County Department of Public Health to create reopening plans with safety precautions and a modified attendance schedule. School districts had planned to give families the option of in-person instruction or distance learning prior to the governor’s announcement.


 

For more information on your school’s start date and plans for Distance Learning, contact your local school. Information on Merced County’s 20 school districts is located here: https://www.mcoe.org/school/Pages/default.aspx
The guidance released today also addresses face coverings, social distancing, increased hygiene practices and cleaning. More information can be found here: https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-schools.pdf

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July 18 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
CONNECTOR RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 140 NEAR THE CITIES OF GUSTINE, MERCED AND PLANDA

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various lane and ramp closures on State Route 140 (SR-140) for construction and
maintenance work. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work
will occur as follows:
• Full connector ramp closure from eastbound SR-140 to northbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24, 2020, from
7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full connector ramp closure from westbound SR-140 to southbound SR-99 for
striping operations beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24, 2020, from
7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-33 to the Gustine Railroad Crossing beginning Tuesday, July 21, through
Friday, July 24, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from SR-99 to Kibby Road beginning Tuesday, July 21, through Friday, July 24,
2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• One-way traffic control for striping work on eastbound and westbound SR-140
from Plainsburg/Planada Road to Watts Street beginning Tuesday, July 21,
through Friday, July 24, 2020, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect up to 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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July 14, 2020

MERCED COUNTY, CITIES ENCOURAGE RESIDENTS TO “MASK UP”

MERCED—Due to a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, Merced County and its six cities are encouraging residents to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reopen the economy.

The campaign, known as “Mask-Up,” is intended to educate the public on the importance of face coverings and address “hotspots” throughout the County that are experiencing spikes of cases. The campaign will include public education efforts, materials promoting mask wearing, and mask distribution in various locations.

The use of face coverings is now mandated by the State and County. Wear a face covering whenever you’re out in public—it’s the safe thing to do, it’s the courteous thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do.

Face coverings are a proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and are required to be worn:
• Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
• When obtaining healthcare services;
• Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in any private or ride-sharing vehicle including operators of the transportation;
• When at the workplace or performing work off-site;
• While outdoors in public spaces when physical distancing is not feasible.

The more face coverings are used, the faster we can collectively stem the spread of COVID-19 and reopen parts of the economy. The alternative is the State imposing an extended shutdown on more sectors of our economy due to the rising infection rate. Please do your part so we can stop the spread and reopen.

 

Some masks, such as N95s, are more effective than others in terms of preventing illness. However, the main purpose of cloth face coverings or other types of masks is to prevent respiratory droplets from infecting others when you cough, sneeze or talk. It’s important to remember that some people infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, while the disease is deadly for others. Wearing a mask is a sign that you’re being considerate of those around you that may have compromised immune systems. Face coverings/masks are not recommended for children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is incapacitated.

Please encourage your family and friends to wear face coverings as well. You can do this by taking a photo of yourself wearing a face covering in public and posting it to social media using the #MaskMonday hashtag. And feel free to tag the Merced County Department of Public Health, Merced County, or your home city!

While face coverings are a critically important aspect of reducing the infection rate in Merced County, it should be combined with other protective measures such as:
• Social distancing of six feet or more;
• Avoiding large group gatherings;
• Washing your hands often with soap and water;
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
• Staying home if you’re sick;
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

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July 11 , 2020

Cooling zone open on Saturday and Sunday

The City of Merced will open its cooling zone Saturday and Sunday as the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the region.

The cooling zone for the City of Merced will be in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St. from 3 to 8 p.m. People can bring their pets to the cooling zone as long as they don’t disturb other people or pets.

Don’t leave your children or your pets in your cars, even for a few minutes, and be sure to look in on the people living around you. Be a good neighbor and check on the vulnerable populations living around you.

People are reminded to stay hydrated during the heat wave, wear loose clothes and light colored fabrics.

Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke—which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature—may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.

 

Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.
http://www.cityofmerced.org

 

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July 10 , 2020

BUSINESSES EXERCISE COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS WITH READY2OPEN CAMPAIGN

MERCED—In an effort to protect customers and employees amidst increasing COVID-19 infections, Merced County and its six cities are working with local businesses on a self-certification safety process.

Branded as “Ready2Open,” the process allows local businesses to complete an online checklist to verify that they’ve taken steps to ensure the safety of customers and employees. Steps include safety signage, employee training, employee health screening, physical distancing measures, and routine sanitation.



Once a business verifies its information through the www.reopenmercedcounty.com/ready2open site, they’ll receive an emblem to display near the entrance of their store attesting to their self-certification. The emblems will look like this:

 

Store participation in this program is optional. While businesses can begin self-certification immediately, the official launch of the Ready2Open campaign is Monday.

In addition to the online self-certification process, some jurisdictions, including the City of Merced, City of Dos Palos, City of Gustine, City of Livingston and Merced County, will also provide certified businesses with a courtesy walk-through of their facilities to further ensure that COVID-19 safety measures are met.

The Ready2Open campaign is in response to rapidly increasing disease transmission, increased hospitalizations, and a rise in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Merced County. The rapid increase in those categories resulted in the State once again shutting down indoor dining, bars, and various entertainment centers throughout Merced County.

If numbers continue to rise, the current shutdown could be extended by the State and additional business sectors could be closed. This can be prevented by basic safety measures including:
• Wearing face coverings in public;
• Social distancing of six feet or more;
• Avoiding large group gatherings;
• Washing your hands often with soap and water;
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
• Staying home if you’re sick;
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

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July 10 , 2020

MERCED COUNTY, CITIES ENCOURAGE RESIDENTS TO “MASK UP”

MERCED—Due to a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases, Merced County and its six cities are encouraging residents to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reopen the economy.

The campaign, known as “Mask-Up,” is intended to educate the public on the importance of face coverings and address “hotspots” throughout the County that are experiencing spikes of cases. The campaign will include public education efforts, materials promoting mask wearing, and mask distribution in various locations.

The use of face coverings is now mandated by the State and County. Wear a face covering whenever you’re out in public—it’s the safe thing to do, it’s the courteous thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do.

Face coverings are a proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and are required to be worn:
• Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
• When obtaining healthcare services;
• Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in any private or ride-sharing vehicle including operators of the transportation;
• When at the workplace or performing work off-site;
• While outdoors in public spaces when physical distancing is not feasible.

The more face coverings are used, the faster we can collectively stem the spread of COVID-19 and reopen parts of the economy. The alternative is the State imposing an extended shutdown on more sectors of our economy due to the rising infection rate. Please do your part so we can stop the spread and reopen.

 

Some masks, such as N95s, are more effective than others in terms of preventing illness. However, the main purpose of cloth face coverings or other types of masks is to prevent respiratory droplets from infecting others when you cough, sneeze or talk. It’s important to remember that some people infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, while the disease is deadly for others. Wearing a mask is a sign that you’re being considerate of those around you that may have compromised immune systems. Face coverings/masks are not recommended for children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is incapacitated.

Please encourage your family and friends to wear face coverings as well. You can do this by taking a photo of yourself wearing a face covering in public and posting it to social media using the #MaskMonday hashtag. And feel free to tag the Merced County Department of Public Health, Merced County, or your home city!

While face coverings are a critically important aspect of reducing the infection rate in Merced County, it should be combined with other protective measures such as:
• Social distancing of six feet or more;
• Avoiding large group gatherings;
• Washing your hands often with soap and water;
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
• Staying home if you’re sick;
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

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July 9 , 2020

Regional Wildfire Safety WebinarYou’re invited to learn more about our
Community Wildfire Safety Program (CWSP)July 22 | 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Merced, San Joaquin & Stanislaus Counties

As we all work to fight coronavirus (COVID-19), we also know wildfire season is around the corner. PG&E is working to prevent wildfires and reduce the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. Our essential work for the safety of customers and communities will continue as long as we can perform it safely for both employees and customers. The focus of these efforts, and the sole purpose of a PSPS event, is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires during severe fire-risk weather.
We invite you to join us for an interactive webinar with details about our plans for this year. You will hear about work in your community, have the opportunity to ask questions of PG&E subject matter experts and share your feedback.

Topics include:
Making PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in duration and smarter for customers
PG&E’s wildfire prevention plans
Progress on key safety initiatives in your community
Resources to prepare for wildfire season


For a list of all the webinars that we have planned, visit pge.com/firesafetywebinars »

To learn more about our wildfire safety efforts and how you can prepare, visit pge.com/wildfiresafety »

Event notes
• While this event will focus on regional work in the identified counties, any PG&E customers are welcome to join.
• Closed captioning will be available in English, Spanish and Chinese; related information in these and other languages is available on PG&E’s website at www.pge.com/wildfiresafety »• The Webinar is being streamed. It is recommended that you listen via your computer speakers

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July 9, 2020

Travis Credit Union Launches Free
Financial Education Webinar Series

Vacaville, CA – Travis Credit Union has launched a new webinar series, focused on the financial wellness pillars of Plan, Save, Spend and Borrow. These free financial education presentations will address timely and relevant issues, including ‘Budgeting through Covid-19’ and ‘Rebuilding after a Financial Crisis.’ The webinars offered (also available in Spanish) are available for adults as well as youth.
The live webinars are free to attend and will feature informative and practical information through presentations, as well as opportunities to engage and interact through questions and polls. The sessions will be recorded and available ‘on-demand’ for those unable to attend the live event. The full list of upcoming scheduled webinars, including registration links, can be found at traviscu.org/webinars.
“We remain committed to the Awesome Cause of free financial education and making a difference in the lives of the people we serve,” said Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “We believe that in this era of ‘social distancing,’ our webinar series will continue to support our efforts to provide free, invaluable financial resources to our members and community.”

 

 

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

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July 8 , 2020

Family Resource Center Utilizes State Grant Money to Help Merced County Families

Families and individuals served by the Merced County Family Resource Center have had a tough time making ends meet and coping with the challenging conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is a bright spot on the horizon.
Dennis Haines, family social services supervisor with the Family Resource Center, said the center has been able to help 127 individuals with a $11,828 grant from the state. Through the center’s efforts, families have been provided with a sense of safety and comfort and have received items that will make their lives easier and brighter. Some of these people were hard-hit by job losses and caring for their children while schools were closed.
The Family Resource Center works through the Merced County Office of Education.
Haines explained the center was able to place a bulk order through Wal-Mart to purchase a wide variety of items. These include food items such as canned tomato sauce, disinfectant wipes, diapers, bottled water, cleaning supplies, bicycle parts and bicycles, camp stoves for the homeless, battery-operated fans, air pumps for basketballs and footballs, portable basketball hoops and courts, board games, outdoor recreational games, volleyballs and badminton supplies.
Haines is overwhelmed by the good that has come through this state grant, provided by the state’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention.
In April, Haines received word through a webinar program put on by a consortium that $3 million in funds would be available statewide. He found out in mid-May that the local group’s request for funding was approved.
“Knowing that some of the items requested can potentially save someone’s life, like the window air conditioner for a lady who has had a stroke, it is a little overwhelming. It is a lot of work and at the same time rewarding that we are providing something good for families and children,” Haines said.
Haines said his office was closed during the last two weeks of March in the initial phase of the state stay-at-home order and panic ensued as clients worried how some of their needs would be met. In April, Haines and two family resource specialists, Shavon Roach and Carrie Schaller, back to work and re-established connections with their clients.
The center was established to strengthen children and families, and reconnect them to local support systems. This is especially important at present to reduce the trauma and stress levels coming from coronavirus restrictions and suspended programs.
“Most of the families were asking for outdoor activities like bikes, badminton, basketball items or family board games instead of electronic devices,” Haines said. “Families wanted to be families again and do things together. We were hearing parents say that they are living in crowded environments and limited access to the outside world and these items provided an outlet to lower their stress levels and become somewhat normal again and have fun.”


Through online virtual platforms, the resource center has been able to maintain parenting classes. Haines said the center contacted more than 100 families, providing them with services they wouldn’t have received otherwise. The local center is affiliated with the California Family Resource Association.
“We connect families and partners in a safe environment,” Haines said. The center serves at-risk families, children at-risk and the homeless.

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

Phoenix Project Continues to Serve Participants During Pandemic

The Phoenix Project, which helps individuals get a fresh start following earlier setbacks in life, continues to be active during social isolation and quarantine mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A collaborative project between the Merced County Office of Education and the Merced County Office of Probation, the Phoenix Project gives adults who were incarcerated skills and training in various career pathways.
Toula Moua-Eccles, career educator through the Merced County Office of Education’s Educational Services department, said the Phoenix Project has held monthly orientations in May and June and will continue these sessions in July, for new referrals from the county probation department.
Orientations and workshops are all done through online Webex video conferencing meetings. In the meantime, participants who are attending training are still receiving assistance with gas stipends and mentoring. Participants who are working on their GED certificates are provided with GED practice tests and GED prep booklets.
Moua-Eccles said currently she has 39 participants in the program. So far in the 2019-2020 fiscal year the program has 20 career-technical education (CTE) graduates, three high school/GED graduates and 14 are employed. These graduates have completed one to five months of career-technical education training.
For more information, visit https://www.mcoe.org/deptprog/edservices/CandC/phoenix/Pages/phoenix.aspx.

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July 3 , 2020

Residents Urged to Exercise COVID-19 Precautions Over Holiday Weekend

MERCED COUNTY, CA—With data from prior holiday weekends showing spikes of COVID-19 cases, residents are strongly advised to avoid mass gatherings, wear masks, and exercise good hand hygiene over the Fourth of July weekend.
This holiday weekend comes at a critical juncture for Merced County. Rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19 coupled with increased hospitalizations and a greater percentage of people testing positive for the disease has resulted in Merced County being placed on a State monitoring list and the closure of bars, indoor dining and other entertainment venues for an expected minimum of three weeks. If numbers continue to rise, that closure timeframe could be extended by the State and additional business sectors could be closed. If numbers trend downward in the coming days, the three-week closure could potentially be reduced.

This extended shutdown can be prevented by avoiding crowds or large family gatherings, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands often with soap and water, staying home if you’re sick, and wearing face coverings when:
* Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
* Obtaining healthcare services;


* Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in any private or ride-sharing vehicle including operators of the transportation;
* At the workplace or performing work off-site;
* Outdoors in public spaces where physical distancing is not possible.
Face coverings are a proven way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer.
“Face coverings protect those around you from respiratory droplets when you cough, sneeze or talk,” Dr. Sandoval said. “This is a deadly disease that spreads rapidly. Also, it affects people differently—you could be positive for COVID-19, but not have any symptoms. That’s why it’s essential for everyone to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in public.”
For more information on COVID-19, please visit Merced County Department of Public Health’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.

As evidenced by the table below, holiday weekends have significantly contributed to the rise in cases due to large family gatherings,
a lack of physical distancing, and an absence of masks or face coverings:

If the upcoming holiday weekend results in another rise in cases,
Merced County will be at severe risk for an extended shutdown of various parts of the economy.

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July 3 , 2020

Tree plan, annual plan on Council agenda

The City Council will hear a report on its urban forestry plan and hold a public hearing on the HUD Annual Action Plan at its Monday night meeting.

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

The City received a $470,000 grant to create an urban forestry plan for the City-owned trees. The plan includes an inventory of all the trees, plus a management plan for the next 8 years.

Also on the agenda:

• A public hearing on the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department Annual Action Plan, a document that outlines how the City will spend federal funds over the next year. The Council also will be asked to approve the Consolidated Action Plan, which looks at a 5-year timeline. There is approximately $2 million of HUD funding available.

• Consider a cooperative agreement with Caltrans for Phase 1 of the Highway 59 widening project and the Rascal Creek bridge project.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. regarding labor negotiations, real property negotiations and existing litigation.

The meeting will be broadcast on Facebook Live at City of Merced, on the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, and Comcast Public Access Channel 96. A link to the live meeting is 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.

In-person Council Meetings have strict social distancing practices in place and the use of
face coverings is encouraged. Seating in the Council Chamber will be limited and an overflow
room will be available in the Sam Pipes Room with the same social distancing practices in place.

• Members of the audience who wish to address the City Council are requested to complete a speaker card available at the podium on the right-hand side of the Council Chamber. Please submit the completed card to the City Clerk before the item is called, preferably before the meeting begins.

• For at-risk individuals or those not wanting to attend an in-person meeting during the current COVID-19 pandemic, please submit your public comment to the City Council electronically no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments received before the deadline will be provided to the City Council prior to the meeting and will be part of the record. Material may be emailed to cityclerk@cityofmerced.org and should be limited to 300 words or less. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example: Closed Session, Item Number or Oral Communications. Your comments will be provided to the City Council prior to the meeting and will be part of the record. Any correspondence received after 1 p.m. will be distributed to the City Council and retained for the official record.

• You may provide telephonic comments via voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 by no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting to be added to the public comment. Voicemails will be limited to a time limit of three (3) minutes. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example: Public Hearing item number, Consent item number, or Oral Communications. Your comments will be played during the meeting to the City Council at the appropriate time.

 

To view video (if available) or listen to the City Council meeting live, go to the City’s website
www.cityofmerced.org, Facebook Live, or Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

Accommodation for individuals with disabilities may be arranged by contacting the City Clerk at
(209) 388-8650. Assisted hearing devices are available for meetings held in the Council
Chamber.

At least 72 hours prior to each regular City Council meeting, a complete agenda packet is
available for review on the City’s website at www.cityofmerced.org or at the City Clerk’s Office,
678 W. 18th St. All public records relating to an open session item that are distributed to a majority of the Council will be available for public inspection at the City Clerk’s Office during regular business hours. Spanish and Hmong translation is available at every regular meeting.

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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Revised Summer Program stresses healthy practices

The City of Merced Parks and Recreation Department is now open to take Summer Playground Program registration from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch).

The Summer Playground Program begins Monday, July 6, and will run until July 31from 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday for youngsters in grades K-6. Weekly activities will include: crafts, hiking, outdoor activities and a family color run. Cost is $25 a week, and all activities will be modified to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and support social distancing.

Following federal, state, Merced County Public Health, and new industry standards, the Parks and Recreation Department has outlined new operating procedures for the Summer Playground Program to ensure the safety of our youth.

Activities will be modified to accommodate social distancing, as well as additional preventative steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus such as: regular disinfecting, mask wearing, social distancing, skill building activities rather than team building, small cohorts of no more than 10 youths each, contactless pick up and drop off for parents, health screenings, no shared snacks, toys or equipment, and keeping family groups together. There is a maximum of 25 campers. Registration packets are available online at: https://www.cityofmerced.org/departments/parks-community-services

The Zoo, rental facilities, Senior Center, playgrounds, pools, splash pads and sports fields all remain closed due to the coronavirus.

For information: Michelle Reid, Recreation Supervisor 385-6895.

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July 3 , 2020

Travis Credit Union Awarded as One of Forbes’
Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions 2020


Vacaville, CA – Travis Credit Union has been recognized as part of Forbes’ annual list of America’s Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions 2020. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on June 23 and can currently be viewed on the Forbes website, Forbes.com.

Forbes Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions 2020 is comprised of the top banks and credit unions based on the results of independent surveys involving approximately 25,000 U.S. consumers who were asked to rate the financial institutions at which they have or have had checking accounts.

Participants made recommendations regarding overall satisfaction; they also assessed banks and credit unions in the following areas: ‘Trust,’ ‘Terms & Conditions,’ ‘Branch Services,’ ‘Digital Services,’ and ‘Financial Advice.’ Based on the results of the study, Travis Credit Union is honored to be recognized as one of Forbes’ 2020 list of America’s Best-In-State Banks and Credit Unions.

“Travis Credit Union continues to transform banking for our members, creating more opportunities for them to bank anywhere, anytime, and ensuring that our products and advice help members make real financial progress,” said Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Being a responsible community partner and a true advocate for our members’ financial wellbeing reflect some of the core values we live by as an organization. This achievement is a reflection of our members’ loyalty and commitment to excellent service by our team.”

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

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July 3 , 2020

Local, State Agencies Provide Supplies to Child Care Facilities

More than 200 child care providers in Merced County remain open during the COVID-19 Pandemic and continue to serve children of essential workers. Many child care providers have been forced to serve less children in order to remain in compliance with state guidance on serving smaller groups of children, making it difficult for them to remain in business. Child care providers (licensed child care home providers, licensed-exempt and private centers) are getting badly needed help providing for youngsters through collaborative state and local programs.
Rosa Barragan, director of Early Education Support Services for the Merced County Office of Education, said child care providers are getting some much-needed supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. These supplies include hand sanitizer, thermometers, diapers, disinfectant wipes, soap and masks. Child care providers who remained open are also being provided with a monetary stipend to purchase supplies.
“Child care is essential for working parents and our communities,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “MCOE’s Early Education Department is committed to ensuring child care providers have the tools to create the safest environment for our youngest students.”
Funding to supply these materials and stipends is coming from different funding sources, Barragan said, including First 5 of California, the local First 5 of Merced County, the California Department of Education and the State Department of Social Services.



Some of the supplies were dispersed in the first round and more will be given out in the next few weeks during the second round of deliveries. More supplies are expected by the end of July.
Barragan stressed more licensed child care providers are needed in the county. Before the recession of 2008-2013 there were 406 licensed home child care providers in the county.
Now there are 206 licensed home child care providers, this is not enough to meet the needs of working families.
“We have grants to help with the licensing process and our staff are ready to provide technical assistance for anyone interested in opening a child care business. Child care providers are an essential part of our infrastructure and are greatly needed as we reopen, so families can go back to work and so parents can have options,” Barragan said.
The Early Education Department also offers professional development classes for licensed family child care providers, private centers and families. For information call (209) 381-4585.

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July 3 , 2020

ACE trains will not operate on Friday, 7/3/20,
due to the Independence Day holiday. Service will resume on Monday, 7/6/20.


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July 3 , 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT STATE ROUTE 59/MARTIN LUTHER KING JR WAY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and construction work.
Closures are as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way
for landscape work on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way to southbound SR-99
for landscape work on Thursday, July 9, 2020, from 7:00 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.



CALTRANS TO BEGIN STRIPING PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

STOCKTON – Caltrans is beginning a pavement delineation project that will install new
six-inch wide lane striping and other marker improvements on State Route 140 (SR-140)
at various locations throughout Merced County.
New striping improvements will be made on SR-140 at the following locations;
• From SR-33/Sullivan Road to 2nd Street in the City of Gustine
• From SR-99 to Kibby Road just east of the City of Merced
• From Plainsburg Road to Watt Street in the City of Planada
Work is scheduled to occur during both day and night-time hours and will include oneway
traffic control lane closures. Flaggers will assist motorists during lane closures and
Caltrans also will have changeable message signs in this region advertising the project
and alerting motorists of the potential delays.
Motorists can expect 15-minute delays and are encouraged to seek alternate routes.
This $611,000 project has been awarded to Pave-Tech Inc., of Vista, CA. Work is
scheduled to begin the week of July 13-17, 2020, with completion expected in
September 2020.
Schedules are subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of
equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

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July 2 , 2020

Merced County on Monitoring List with State-Mandated Closures for Businesses

MERCED COUNTY, CA – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has flagged 19 counties, including Merced County (County) based on increased transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). As of July 1, the County is now on the third day of not having met state requirements listed in the attestation criteria allowing the County to progress from Stage 2 to 2B. The table below includes the metrics the state has identified as not having been met.
“The State has made it very clear that should the cases continue to increase without change over the next 21-day period, they may have to intervene or require that the County return to sheltering in place. We have worked so hard for the past several months in keeping numbers low. This is clearly not the case and while the Department does its part, it will be depending on residents in the community to do theirs,” said Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, Merced County’s Public Health Director.
Due to the increased levels of transmission and hospitalizations, local health officials are working closely with CDPH and State officials to establish and implement steps to mitigate spread. At the direction of the Governor, Merced County Health Officials are mandating the closure of higher risk
business sectors by Friday, July 3, 2020. All bars, brew pubs and breweries must cease operations (indoor and outdoor). In addition, the following business sectors must close all indoor operations:
• Restaurants (socially-distanced outdoor dining still permissible)
• Wineries and Tasting Rooms
• Family Entertainment Centers (e.g., bowling, movie theaters, etc.)
• Zoos and Museums
• Cardrooms
The above sectors will remain impacted for a minimum of 21 days, or until the County data monitored by CDPH improves. The ability of Merced County to reopen these sectors and prevent closure of other sectors is dependent on collective community action to reduce spread.


Further, to prevent further holiday-related spikes in COVID-19 cases, Merced County’s regional parks will be closed to the public over the Fourth of July holiday weekend (Friday-Sunday). This includes Lake Yosemite, Hagaman Park, and Henderson Park. These parks will reopen Monday, but physical distancing must be adhered to and group gatherings of greater than 10 people will continue to be prohibited.
We cannot emphasize enough that if the community fails to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, the State will not allow these sectors to reopen, and may close additional sectors. As a reminder, it is a statewide mandate to wear a cloth face covering inside of, or in line to enter any indoor public space, or when unable to maintain six feet of social distance outside. Merced County Health Officials strongly recommends all residents (including business sectors) to practice the following safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
* Wear a cloth face covering or face shield;
* Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons;
* Practice social distancing;
* Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds;
* When handwashing is not possible, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol base; and
* If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms (available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html) stay home and self-monitor.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.


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July 1 , 2020

County Health Officials Confirms Two COVID-19 Outbreaks

MERCED COUNTY, CA – The Merced County Department of Public Health (Department) has confirmed two outbreaks of COVID-19 in Merced County. The first outbreak is reported at New Bethany Residential Care located in Los Banos, CA, with one resident and two employees testing positive for the virus. State health officials define a workplace outbreak as three or more laboratory confirmed cases, or one positive case in a resident living within a skilled nursing facility setting. As these facilities operate 24 hours and are unable to close, safety measures have been implemented to prevent further transmission. The second outbreak is reported at Dutch Bros Coffee located in Merced, CA, with four employees testing positive for the virus.
“Due to the higher risk of severe illness among the vulnerable populations that our skilled nursing facilities serve, it is important that we continue to reduce the risk of exposure to both health care staff and the residents of our local nursing facilities. As a reminder, we should all continue to practice the safety measures that have been identified as effective actions against the spread of COVID-19 to prevent outbreaks in the community,” stated the Department’s Health Officer, Dr. Salvador Sandoval.
As the County reopens, outbreaks in facilities such as skilled nursing facilities and the service industry will be more common. The Department will no longer send out a press release for every outbreak, but will post affected facilities on the Departments’s coronavirus website.

 

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, everyone should continue to:
* Wear a cloth face covering when in public
* Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
* Practice social distancing
* Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
* When handwashing is not possible, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol base
For information pertaining to COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.


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June 25 , 2020

YARTS SUMMER SERVICE STARTS MONDAY

MERCED – The summer schedule for YARTS service to Yosemite National Park begins on Monday, June 22, 2020. This includes the routes from Fresno on Highway 41, from Sonora on Highway 120, and from Mammoth Lakes on Highways 395/120 in addition to the Highway 140 route from Merced. Although the Highway 140 service is year-round, service had temporarily terminated in El Portal during the closure of Yosemite due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reservations can be made for YARTS tickets on all four routes and can be booked on the YARTS website at: www.yarts.com starting on Monday. There are no additional charges to get into Yosemite beyond the YARTS fare and passengers do not have to have a day-use permit issued by the National Park Service to ride.
There are some notable changes to the service this year that have been made in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition to increased sanitation measures, all passengers will be required to wear face masks when riding YARTS and offered access to hand sanitizer while on board. In order to promote social distancing, capacity on all buses will be reduced to a maximum of 30 passengers. With most of the 30 seats available to those with reservations, there will be very limited space to accommodate walk-on passengers. Therefore, reservations are highly encouraged.
“We are excited to be offering service into Yosemite once again,” said Transit Manager Christine Chavez. “Although things will be a little different on YARTS this year, the great rates and quality experience have not changed.”
For more information about YARTS schedules, routes, COVID-19 safety measures, or to reserve tickets, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.


 

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

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June 25 , 2020

Travis Credit Union Names Dena Rothmann Senior Vice President, Member Experience Chief Retail Officer

VACAVILLE, CA - Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union, announced the appointment of Dena Rothmann as the new SVP/Member Experience Chief Retail Officer. Dena joined Travis Credit Union in 2019 as the vice president of sales and service and was promoted to senior vice president, member experience and chief retail officer in May 2020.

Dena will be responsible for defining the strategic priorities and division initiatives to implement innovative retail technology and member experience improvements that align with Travis Credit Union’s mission, vision and strategic initiatives. Additionally, she will create, communicate, execute and sustain high performing teams within the credit union retail branch network to ensure “best practices” to accomplish the mission and strategic plan while meeting the financial needs of our members.

“This realignment of responsibilities will add more depth to the organization,” stated Nelson. “Dena’s significant experience and collaborative leadership skills will play a key role in expanding Travis Credit Union’s member support and retail initiatives to offer even greater value and convenience to our members moving forward.”

As a former banker with more than 32 years of experience in financial services Dena is focused on achieving organization goals by influencing and developing an effective and disciplined retail leadership team while monitoring competitive environment activities.
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¾Travis Credit Union Names Dena Rothmann Senior Vice President/Continued¾

She is a powerful ally in Travis’ Awesome Cause to promote financial education, financial literacy and financial advocacy and looks forward to deepening her community involvement in the footprint of Travis Credit Union as well.

Dena is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School Executive Management Program.

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.


Dena Rothmann

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Travis Credit Union Awards 20 Scholarships
to College-Bound Seniors

VACAVILLE, CA (June 22 , 2020) — Travis Credit Union recently awarded 20 local high school students the Mary Keith Duff Memorial Scholarship. TCU offers the annual scholarships to assist its young members with the increasing cost of higher education and to reinforce its commitment to the financial success of our country’s future leaders.
All of the winning students received a ‘Gala in a Box,’ which included the scholarship award announcement of $2,000 to help with college expenses, as well as a $200 gift card that could be used towards a family dinner celebration. TCU board members as well as executive leadership members coordinated live Zoom calls with the families to join with them virtually in opening the ‘special delivery’ box and celebrating their achievement.
“We’re so appreciative of the recognition of all the hard work these kids put in,” says Rikki Rivera, mother of scholarship winner, Kennedy Rivera. “My husband and I were both recently furloughed due to the pandemic – so financially this scholarship has helped us out more than we anticipated when she first applied. This is very helpful to our family.”
The TCU Board of Directors established the scholarship program in 2004 and named it the Mary Keith Duff Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of a long-time board member. To date, TCU has contributed $437,000 to the program and will continue to award $40,000 annually.
“As a credit union, we are founded on the philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ and we stand behind the principles that promote human development and social responsibility,” says Patricia Moreno, chairman of the board for TCU. “Offering these scholarships is just one way we are assisting young members.”
To apply for the scholarship, college-bound high school seniors, who are TCU members in good standing, needed a GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as well as a 500 word personal statement essay, expressing their plans for the future.
“These student’s achievements in school and community signify that they have the dreams and determination to make a difference in the lives of others,” added Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “We are proud to honor them and be part of their plans for the future.”
A video featuring the honored students can be found here.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live, work, worship, or attend school in in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California with more than 214,000 members and more than $3.3 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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June 25 , 2020

Testing Location Opens in Los Banos

MERCED COUNTY, CA – the Merced County Department of Public Health and Golden Valley Health Centers (GVHC) are partnering to set up a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test site in Los Banos. The additional site will be offered on the westside of the County to ensure testing is available to all county residents.
Testing will be available by appointment starting on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, with hours of operations between 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. The new testing site is located at the Community Center, 645 7th Street, Los Banos. To schedule an appointment, please call 1-866-682-4842. For more information, please visit GVHC’s website at www.gvhc.org.
“We believe that everyone deserves quality health care, regardless of where you live, how much you earn, and whether you have medical coverage. By making COVID-19 testing more widely available, we can quickly address any positive cases and slow down the spread everywhere, especially in our higher-risk groups. This is a situation where we feel we could help make a difference for our communities,” said Tony Weber, President and CEO of Golden Valley Health Centers. “More testing means more people can get the care they need if any of those tests come back positive.”
If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19 or suspect you’ve been exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, please get tested. Test sites are available to Merced County residents at most medical provider locations, as well as the following sites:

 

Testing Site
Location

Registration Golden Valley Health Centers 645 7th St, Los Banos 1-866-682-4842 www.gvhc.org
Golden Valley Health Centers
857 W. Childs Ave., Merced
1-866-682-4842
www.gvhc.org State Site 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr, Merced 1-888-634-1123 or online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.

CVS – Merced
1970 Yosemite Pkwy, Merced
https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing?WT.ac=cvs-storelocator-searchpilot-header-covid-7206

CVS – Atwater 1651 Bellevue Rd, Atwater https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing?WT.ac=cvs-storelocator-searchpilot-header-covid-7206

“Our Department wants to ensure all Merced County residents have access to testing within the County. Testing for those individuals with symptoms, which are often mild, is extremely important to prevent the further transmission in our community. Even those individuals without symptoms should be tested, if a potential exposure has occurred. We must all continue to follow the recommend safety measures to work towards a healthier tomorrow,” says Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Public Health Officer.
As a general reminder, EVERYONE SHOULD:
*Wear a cloth face covering while out in public
* Social distance, making sure to maintain at least 6 feet between you and others
* Frequently wash your hands with soap and water
For information on COVID-19, visit the Department’s website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.


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June 25 , 2020

MCOE Releases Guidelines for Opening Schools in the 2020-21 School Year

The Merced County Office of Education, in collaboration with the 20 local school districts and the Merced County Department of Public Health, is releasing a document of guiding principles and planning considerations schools and districts should consider when making plans for opening the 2020-2021 school year.
The document – “Academic Planning Guide: A framework to address the challenges of COVID-19” – has information on what families can expect when schools reopen, athletic guidelines, a distance learning framework, information on quarantine and contact tracing, along with information for parents about social emotional wellness and mental health. The document can be viewed at mcoe.org/schoolguidance.
This document is based on recommended health and safety guidance from Merced County Department of Public Health.
“We have worked closely with school district superintendents and the Merced County Department of Public Health to create this guidance document,” said Dr. Steve Tietjen, Merced County Superintendent of Schools. “Making sure our students and staff are safe is our top priority and these guidelines lay out parameters where schools can operate in safe ways and our students can learn.”
Schools will have hand washing and sanitizing stations in classrooms and across campuses, and time will be scheduled regularly for hand washing. Parents are urged to keep students home who have flu-like symptoms.


 

“It’s important that health and safety protocols are followed to keep students, families and school staff safe and healthy,” said Merced County Health Officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval. “The Merced County Department of Public Health will work closely with schools to monitor students or staff who may have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.”
To provide for social distancing, activities that require students to congregate will not be permitted or will need to be greatly limited.
“It is important to note that each school community is unique and has its own needs, so by providing guidance documents, schools can come up with plans that best fit those needs,” Tietjen said. Each school district is responsible for creating its own reopening plan.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, and as additional guidance from the State and Merced County Department Public Health is issued during the summer, this guidance document and school districts will adjust as needed.
The document also includes guidance for special education, preschool and after school programs.

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June 19, 2020

California Mandates Use of Face Coverings in Public

MERCED COUNTY, CA – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rapidly increase throughout the state, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide mandate for face coverings for all individuals while in public. The mandate has been issued to limit the spread in COVID-19 associated the increasing number of residents leaving their homes for work and other needs while out in the community. Several public health officials have been met with significant opposition in implementing face covering mandates locally. Adoption of a statewide requirement is a significant step in helping control the spread of COVID-19.
Per the state requirement, face coverings will now be required to be worn for the following:
• Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
• When obtaining healthcare services
• Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in any private or ride-sharing vehicle including operators of the transportation
• When at the workplace or performing work off-site
• While outdoors in public spaces when physical distancing is not feasible
“The Public Health Department fully supports and encourages all of our residents to follow the State’s new guidance mandating face coverings to be worn while out in public. This

past week has produced record case counts for several days on end. Community spread by those who are asymptomatic will continue to rise, if we do not do our part. I’ll continue to say that you should protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your neighbors by wearing a cloth face covering,” says Dr. Sandoval, Public Health Officer. The full statewide requirement can be found attached at the end of this article.
In alignment with the #StaySafeStayOpen campaign, EVERYONE SHOULD:
* Wear a cloth face covering while out in public
* Practice social distancing, making sure to maintain at least 6 feet between you and others
* Frequently wash your hands with soap and water
Merced County residents, who would like to be tested for COVID-19, may register for an appointment by calling 1-888-634-1123 or online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the Department’s website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.


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June 19, 2020

City creates ‘gift card’ program for residents, merchants

Merced households will soon be receiving a letter with a code that can be redeemed for $25 worth of merchandise at participating local businesses after the City Council approved the program Monday night.
The $500,000 gift card program will benefit both the local businesses that have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and City residents who have been hurt by the economic fallout.
“These are tough times for our residents and our business community,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “Anything that we can do to help them out is going to benefit the City in the long-term. This is part of a package of financial assistance that the City put together to help people out during this crisis.”
The City’s COVID-19 Recovery Program also includes assistance to renters, small businesses, the Food Bank, the Hotel Motel Association and a one-time utility bill rebate for all customers for a total of $2.37 million in aid.
The Central Valley Opportunity Fund provided $250,000 for the program, and the City matched it with another $250,000. There is a $37,000 cost to administer the program.
Sam Geil of the Central Valley Opportunity Fund said, “We like that this is a program assisting the people of Merced who have been hurt economically during the pandemic, but this also provides an economic boost to the local businesses that are the bedrock of the local economy.”
The City turned to Giftbar, LLC , as a partner in the gift card program. Giftbar, which reduced its fees while working with the City, operates a similar gift card program with the City of Clovis.


Alex Minicucci, CEO of Giftbar said, “We are thrilled to work with the City of Merced and bring this innovative new local economic stimulus program to its residents and businesses. We have a passion for supporting small business owners, and this is a great way to ensure local dollars get spent at local merchants.”
The new program will be promoted heavily by the city, including a letter sent to each household in Merced describing how to receive their complimentary gift card. They will go online to a unique website created by Giftbar, find the local merchant offering the product or service they want, register for their promotional gift card, and instantly receive a text with $25 voucher they can take to the merchant.

 

 


Giftbar says that its goal is to have the funds returned to merchants within 48 hours after redemption, about the same time as a credit card pays them. Local small businesses will choose to opt-in and will be featured on a unique website that will stay active for at least 2 years.
Residents should be receiving information about the program within the next 90 days.
Giftbar.com, owned and managed by RELENTLESS Management Group out of San Luis Obispo, Ca., is the country’s largest online marketplace for small business gift cards. With almost 15,000 salons, spas and boutique retail locations, consumers can find and send a personalized gift card in minutes, ensuring a memorable experience for everyone.

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June 19, 2020

State Budget Makes the Valley’s Dream of a UC Medical School a Reality

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement in response to the passage of the 2020 State Budget:

“Earlier this year, I said that a UC medical school in the Valley should be the legacy of this pandemic, not one of its victims. Today, that legacy became a reality. The 2020 State Budget provides $15 million per year every year to support a medical school at UCSF-Fresno and UC Merced. This represents the culmination of decades of tireless work and advocacy that will radically change the health care landscape in the San Joaquin Valley.

“Just as UC Merced has redefined who can go to college by enrolling more first-generation college students than any other campus in the UC system, this medical school will redefine who can be a doctor. It makes medical school a more realistic option for the thousands of Valley students who are qualified to become doctors but who cannot afford to move to places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Orange County.

“We know the best way to address the Valley’s shortage of medical providers is to recruit local students, train them close to home, and match them with local residencies. If we check


all three of those boxes, they are nearly guaranteed to stay and practice medicine in the Valley. That dream scenario is no longer just a good idea. It is now something that will actually happen.

“When I requested that $1 million be included in the 2015 State Budget to study how to establish a UC medical school in the Valley, I could not have predicted we would be as far along as we are today. By leveraging the incredible resources already available at UCSF-Fresno and UC Merced, we found a path to a medical school in years instead of decades and for millions instead of billions.

“The incredibly talented faculty working at UCSF-Fresno are already graduating hundreds of medical residents every year. Very soon, they and their UC Merced counterparts will begin training our first wave of medical students who will make the promise of health care for all a reality.”

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June 19, 2020

Livingston, CA. June 15, 2020 - Our community and the world have been confronted with an unprecedented virus that has caused fear, doubt, concerns and apprehensions. As a committee, we struggled with the decision to even pursue a celebration for this year with the uncertainty this pandemic has brought. Initially back in February we were still planning on holding the normal yearly “Fair Type Festival” with a giant carnival, food/merchandise vendors, and concerts. With the introduction of COVID-19 in March, we scaled back the celebration to eventually just include a shortened firework show with one of the below options. We felt that the community would need a sense of normality in extremely abnormal times and we could offer that in a fireworks show that not only celebrated our country, but held the tradition this community has come to know and love over the years. We had consulted with the Livingston City Manager’s office and Livingston PD as to what they thought of our two options. City officials were ok with either option. Unfortunately, due to a major sponsor pulling out and the extremely short amount of time left to raise funds, it is with extremely heavy hearts that we say that we must cancel this year’s Livingston 4th of July Fireworks Show.
There may still be a small possibility of doing one of the options below but about $15K would need to be raised by the end of this week via sponsors and donations to cover the show, security and police. If enough is not raised, the money will be put towards next year’s show.
Below is survey that was placed on social:
“Hello Livingston and surrounding communities, we are debating on having a Fireworks Show this year, of course we would need to RAISE Enough Money to pay for the show (at least $15k). There would be no Festival, just a smaller Fireworks Show. This would be dependent on approval from the City of Livingston and Merced County Health Department.
Option 1: Drive-in Style Show
You would be able to drive in to venue and watch fireworks show from inside your car or back of your pick-up truck.

Option 2: Ariel Fireworks Show
Fireworks would be shot up higher than normal from an undisclosed location so that most people can enjoy from their own homes with their families.
Option 3: No Show!
Please give us your feedback and would you be willing to donate for the show!”
The Livingston 4th of July Committee is and always has been made up individuals dedicated to serving this community. To our donors, sponsors and citizens of this community, we will be back in 2021! From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support
Donations can be made via the GoFundMe link https://www.gofundme.com/f/livingston-4th-of-july-fireworks-show, or mailed or dropped off at Livingston City Hall 1416 C Street Livingston, CA 95334. Make checks payable to Livingston 4th of July Committee.
Julio Valadez, Chairman Livingston 4th of July Committee Contact: 209-277-1402, livingston4thofjulyca@gmail.com

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June 13, 2020

Budget, gift cards on Council agenda

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the 2020-21 budget, and hear a report on the City gift card program at its Monday night meeting.

The proposed $265.3 million budget is an increase of $10.8 million from last year to reflect the expansion of housing developments and the need to renovate and expand water and sewer services. The general fund budget is $43.9 million, a slight increase related to the $2 million Redevelopment Agency settlement payment that is the second of five payments that changes annually. The budget does include additional funding for the City Summer Playground Program and the Boys and Girls Club Summer Program.

The budget does not include any layoffs, but will delete one position and keep five other positions vacant. In addition, Department expenses were held to last year’s levels, and $1.1 million in one-time revenues were used to balance the general fund budget.

Also on the agenda are items that would:

• Approve spending $537,000 to establish a gift card program that would benefit local businesses and residents. The program would give a household a $25 card to spend at a Merced business, with $250,000 coming from the Central Valley Opportunity Fund.

• Present a report to Council on the City’s efforts to combat illegal fireworks during the upcoming celebration.


The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. regarding labor negotiations and anticipated litigation.

The regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, June 15, in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

It will be broadcast on Facebook Live at City of Merced, on the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, and Comcast Public Access Channel 96. A link to the live meeting is 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.

In-person Council Meetings have strict social distancing practices in place and the use of
face coverings is encouraged. Seating in the Council Chamber will be limited and an overflow
room will be available in the Sam Pipes Room with the same social distancing practices in place.


• Members of the audience who wish to address the City Council are requested to complete a speaker card available at the podium on the right-hand side of the Council Chamber. Please submit the completed card to the City Clerk before the item is called, preferably before the meeting begins.
• For at-risk individuals or those not wanting to attend an in-person meeting during the current COVID-19 pandemic, please submit your public comment to the City Council electronically no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments received before the deadline will be provided to the City Council prior to the meeting and will be part of the record.. Material may be emailed to cityclerk@cityofmerced.org and should be limited to 300 words or less. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example: Closed Session, Item Number or Oral Communications. Your comments will be provided to the City Council prior to the meeting and will be part of the record. Any correspondence received after 1 p.m. will be distributed to the City Council and retained for the official record.

• You may provide telephonic comments via voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 by no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting to be added to the public comment. Voicemails will be limited to a time limit of three (3) minutes. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example:, Public Hearing item number, Consent item number, or Oral Communications. Your comments will be played during the meeting to the City Council at the appropriate time.

To view video (if available) or listen to the City Council meeting live, go to the City’s website
www.cityofmerced.org, Facebook Live, or Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

Accommodation for individuals with disabilities may be arranged by contacting the City Clerk at
(209) 388-8650. Assisted hearing devices are available for meetings held in the Council
Chamber.

At least 72 hours prior to each regular City Council meeting, a complete agenda packet is
available for review on the City’s website at www.cityofmerced.org or at the City Clerk’s Office,
678 W. 18th St. All public records relating to an open session item that are distributed to a majority of the Council will be available for public inspection at the City Clerk’s Office during regular business hours. Spanish and Hmong translation is available at every regular meeting.

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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June 13, 2020

Merced County Revises Stay-at-Home Order into the Stay Safe Order

MERCED COUNTY, CA – Merced County Health Officials have issued a revised Health Officer Order which is effective immediately. This order is based on state guidance for further reopening of business sectors and will allow additional activities to reopen in Merced County following industry-specific guidelines released under the Statewide Resilience Roadmap to reopen. Further information on specific guidance can be found at: www.reopenmercedcounty.com/guidelines/
The revised order does the following:
? Recommends all members of the public wear face coverings where social distancing is difficult (i.e., during worship, while conducting business, when surrounded by groups of people, etc.) as recommended by the CDC.
* Allows for the reopening of the following sectors, with appropriate safety modifications:
* Day camps and youth activities
* Campgrounds, RV parks, and outdoor recreation (including public pools)
* Hotels for tourism (including public pools)
* Casinos, cardrooms, and racetracks (without spectators)
* Film, TV, and music production
* Professional sports without spectators
* Gyms and fitness centers (including public pools)
* Family entertainment centers including bowling, mini-golf, batting cages, and movie theaters
* Bars and wineries
* Zoos and museums

On 6/19/2020, the reopening of the following additional sectors will be permitted guidance issued from the state: aestheticians, skin care, and cosmetology services; electrology, waxing, and threading; nail salons; tattoo parlors and piercing shops; and massage therapy.
Private gatherings of over 10 people and mass gatherings remain prohibited. “The Department is committed to the community’s well-being in all aspects of health, including economically. Everyone plays a role in this recovery process and we can do our part by adhering to the preventative safety measures. Our collective action will help keep one another safe and keep Merced County open,” says Dr. Sandoval, County Health Officer.
As a general reminder, EVERYONE SHOULD:
* Wear a cloth face covering while out and about in the community;
* Practice social distancing, making sure to maintain at least 6 feet between you and others;
* Limit your social gatherings. The fewer the people, the lower the likelihood of spread and last, but certainly not least;
* Wash your hands with soap and water often.

If you are a Merced County resident who would like to be tested for COVID-19, please register for an appointment by calling 1-888-634-1123 or online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.
For more information on COVID-19 and the Stay Safe Order, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus or call the Department’s information line at (209) 381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).


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June 13, 2020

Assemblyman Adam Gray schedules blood drive

MERCED – With the need for blood urgent in communities across America, Assemblyman Adam C. Gray, D-Merced, will host a Merced Community Blood Drive on June 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Italo-American Lodge at 1351 West 18th Street in Merced.

It is the second blood drive this year that the Assemblymember has hosted.

Blood donations will be taken by appointment only and all social-distancing rules will be followed. Every staff member and potential donor will be screened for temperature and general health before entering the donation area. All donation stations are thoroughly sanitized between donations, according to Red Cross officials.

At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, blood donations fell precipitously because the locations where many drives were conducted – schools, churches, public libraries, etc. -- were closed. Officials with the American Red Cross reported at the time that they had 86,000 fewer units than normal.

Because so many Americans – like those in Merced -- responded, a crisis was averted. But now the blood supply has once again dwindled just as summer – which often sees a surge in demand – is beginning.

 


While treatment of COVID-19 seldom requires blood transfusions, many routine hospital procedures do. “The need for blood is constant,” said Dr. Pampee Young, the chief medical officer of the American Red Cross. This ongoing demand has prompted Assemblyman Gray to act once again.

To make an appointment, call 800 733-2767 or visit www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and fill out an easy form. If you already have an account, you can visit www.redcrossblood.org/account-login.html to make arrangements. You can get help at customercare@redcross.org or by calling 866 236-3276.

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June 13, 2020

Join Travis Credit Union Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Initiative!

Vacaville, CA, June 4, 2020 – The Travis Credit Union Foundation is giving non-profit organizations in our communities an opportunity to raise funds for their COVID-19 response!

Non-profit organizations will be listed on the Travis Credit Union Foundation’s Community Funding page until September 30, 2020. Each organization will have an opportunity to raise up to $20,000 through the COVID-19 Relief Initiative and receive matching funds of an equal amount from Travis Credit Union.

Travis Credit Union is making $700,000 available in matching funds for each of its core counties: Contra Costa, Merced, Napa, Solano and Yolo. The remaining matching funds will be made available to healthcare organizations in the communities.

The Travis Credit Union Foundation is dedicated to lifting communities through financial wellness. Financial wellness looks different today than it did earlier this year. While business shutdowns, self-quarantines and “shelter in home” orders have kept people safe from the virus, they have also limited the capacity of families to access income, food and much needed resources. Community organizations are continuing to provide more services with less resources. To meet this demand for support in our communities, the Travis Credit Union Foundation is raising funds for local charities.

“We appreciate Travis Credit Union’s generous commitment to matching $4 million in donations for local COVID-19 relief efforts,” said Damian Alarcon, president, Travis Credit Union Foundation. “Our COVID-19 Relief Initiative through community funding is a wonderful opportunity for Travis Credit Union to double the impact of individual donors. This initiative helps us to accomplish even more together.”

Individuals and charities are welcome to learn more about joining our COVID-19 Relief Initiative by visiting TCUfund.org.


About the Travis Credit Union Foundation
The Travis Credit Union Foundation supports financial education, literacy and wellness initiatives and is the philanthropic arm of the Travis Credit Union. The Foundation’s mission is to build financially empowered communities and its vision is to create philanthropic solutions for building sustainable financial wellness in communities for generations to come. 100 percent of funds raised go back to the community.

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June 13, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 - FROM CHILDS AVENUE TO
STATE ROUTE 59/MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
various ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and construction work.
Closures are as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue for landscape work
on Monday, June 15, 2020, from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way
for landscape work beginning Tuesday, June 16, through Thursday, June 18, 2020,
from 7:30 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.



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59/V STREET BETWEEN 15TH AND 16TH STREET IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a
full closure of State Route 59/V Street between 15th Street and 16th Street in Merced as
Union Pacific Railroad makes repairs and improvements to the railroad crossing.
Closure details are as follows:
• Full closure of SR-59/V Street between 15th Street and 16th Street beginning
Thursday, June 18 at 7:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 2020.
DETOUR INFORMATION:
• Motorists are advised to exit State Route 99 at R Street and use R Street as the
detour route
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.

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May 23, 2020

City offices closed for Memorial Day holiday

Offices for the City of Merced will be closed Monday, May 25, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
There will be no trash collection on Monday. All refuse collection will be delayed one day during the week.
During the coronavirus pandemic, people are reminded they should still observe social distancing guidelines, even on holiday weekends.
City parks are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., but users are cautioned against holding large gatherings. Park restrooms are closed, as are other park facilities including playgrounds and picnic shelters, per the State and County orders.

 

 

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May 23, 2020

California High-Speed Rail Extends Public Review Period and Changes Public Hearing Format for the San Jose to Merced Project Section

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Today the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) announced the public review period for the San Jose to Merced Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) has been extended. The public review period previously scheduled to end on June 8, 2020 has been extended by 15 days to Tuesday, June 23, 2020. The Authority also announced that it will transition from an in-person public hearing on May 27, 2020 to a “virtual” public hearing format.

In response to agency and stakeholder requests in consideration of limitations caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, the Authority has elected to extend the public review period for the Draft EIR/EIS to provide additional time for review and comments.

The public hearing for the San Jose to Merced Project Section Draft EIR/EIS will be held via teleconference and online video conference, rather than in-person meeting. The virtual public hearing will include a webcast and moderated call-in number for the public to submit oral comments. The date and time of the public hearing remain the same. Interpretation will be available in Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. This is the only opportunity to provide oral comment on the Draft EIR/EIS.

San Jose to Merced Draft EIR/EIS Virtual Public Hearing
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

To view a live stream of the public hearing, please visit http://videossc.com/HSR/

The public can provide comments by joining the webinar at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82252284338?pwd=TWZHSnBhMlRWdGhXYnVwV05ReUgwUT09 or by phone by dialing (669) 900-9128 and entering the webinar ID: 822 5228 4338.


The public can continue to submit comments on the San Jose to Merced Draft EIR/EIS the following ways:
• Via web comment form on the Authority’s website: www.hsr.ca.gov/programs/environmental/eis_eir/draft_san_jose_merced_comment.aspx
• Via email to San.Jose_Merced@hsr.ca.gov with the subject line “Draft EIR/EIS Comment”
• Via conventional mail at the address below:
Attn: San Jose to Merced: Draft EIR/EIS
California High-Speed Rail Authority
100 Paseo de San Antonio, Suite 300
San Jose, CA 95113

After the comment period closes on June 23, 2020 and the comments received have been evaluated, staff will prepare and issue the Final EIR/EIS document and present it to the Board to consider certification and project approval under the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable Federal environmental laws for this project are being or have been carried out by the State of California pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated July 23, 2019, and executed by the Federal Railroad Administration and the State of California.

To view the contents of the Draft EIR/EIS, please visit: www.hsr.ca.gov/programs/environmental/eis_eir/draft_san_jose_merced.aspx

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May 22, 2020

Only a Few Weekends Left to Get Your Fair Food Fix at the Merced County Fair’s “Fair Food Fridays!”
Get Your Fair Food Fix and Support Valley Food Vendors in May and June

MERCED, CALIFORNIA – May 21, 2020: The Merced County Fair and Valley fair food vendors have gained much success with the new “Fair Food Fridays” event at the Merced County Fairgrounds! The event series launched on Friday, May 1, drawing lines of cars all waiting to get their fair food favorites like corn dogs, kettle corn, Icees and cotton candy at special pandemic pricing. Although this event draws a long line of cars, last week’s event got people through in less than 30 minutes!

Here’s a list what’s on the menu:

$5 Corn Dogs
$5 ICEE in souvenir cup with straw - 32 oz.
$3 Cotton Candy
$6 Small Kettle Corn
$10 Large Kettle Corn
$7 Caramel Kettle Corn
$5 French Bread Pepperoni Pizza
$8 Funnel cake w/powdered sugar
$9 Funnel Cake w/ fruit and whip cream
$10 Funnel Cake w/the chocolate, fruit, whip cream
$25 (6) Pack Frozen or Hot Cinnamon Roll with frosting on the side

Despite the recent cancellation of the 2020 Merced County Fair, CEO Teresa Burrola wanted to bring the taste of the fair for the community to still enjoy, while supporting the fair’s Valley food vendors and their families who have been hit hard by COVID-19 and widespread cancellation of fairs and events throughout the state.


 

“We wanted to bring something positive to the fairgrounds and give the community something fun to do while still aligning with the pandemic guidelines,” said Burrola. “So we came up with the idea to have a drive-thru food event! It has definitely put a smile on people’s faces and our food vendors could not be more thankful for the support. We look forward to continuing our ‘Fair Food Fridays’ throughout the month and into June.”

The Merced County Fair’s “Fair Food Fridays” is a drive-thru, to-go only food event with special pandemic pricing. This event is cash only, with the exception of Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls who will accept card. For more details, call (209) 722-1506 or visit www.mercedcountyfair.com/fair-food-fridays.


WHEN: 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
May 22 and 29; June 5, 11-13.


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May 22, 2020

Gray’s Veteran Employment Bill Advances with Unanimous Bipartisan Support

(Sacramento) – A bill to increase job opportunities for veterans and military spouses has cleared its first committee hearing with unanimous bipartisan support.

Assembly Bill 3045, authored by Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), requires the California Department of Consumer Affairs to grant professional licenses to veterans and military spouses who hold an equivalent license in another state. The bill would streamline the licensing process for hundreds of state-regulated professions from appliance and automotive repair to construction and security officers.

“California is home to more veterans than any other state in America, yet we routinely lag behind in our treatment and accommodation of veterans and their families,” said Assemblymember Gray.

After introducing a similar measure, Assemblymembers Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) agreed to unite with Assemblymember Gray and consolidate their efforts behind AB 3045.

“Supporting our veterans is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s an American issue. Working across party lines only increases our odds of success,” said Assemblymember Gray, whose district includes the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater.

Gray’s legislation is strongly supported by numerous veterans organizations including the US Department of Defense, the American Legion, AMVETS, the California State Commanders Veterans Council, and the Military Officers Association of America.

 


“The patchwork of licensing requirements and regulations that exist in all 50 states harms the veterans and military families who want to work in California,” said Assemblymember Gray. “Other states have agreements in place to allow license portability when veterans and their spouses move between states, but California has not made similar accommodations. That’s ridiculous. We need laws that help bring veterans move into our state instead of keeping them out.

“Especially as we enter what is likely to be a period of economic hardship, we must do all we can to support employment opportunities for veterans and their spouses. Frankly, it’s the least we can do to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.”

AB 3045 now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration at a hearing to be scheduled later this month.

# # #

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray represents the 21st Assembly District which includes all of Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.

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May 22, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 - FROM ATWATER BOULEVARD TO
MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and construction work.
(No work will occur on Monday, May 25, 2020 due to the Memorial Day Weekend.)
Closures are as follows:
• Full on and off-ramp closures at Atwater Boulevard on southbound SR-99
beginning Thursday, May 28, through Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to East Atwater Overhead beginning Wednesday, May 28, through Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at
Applegate Road beginning Thursday, May 28, through Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from West Atwater Overhead to northbound SR-99
beginning Wednesday, May 28, through Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Alternating closures of the #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes of northbound SR-99 from Hammatt Avenue to the Merced/Stanislaus County line for grinding operations beginning Tuesday, May 26, through Friday, May 29, 2020, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.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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May 21, 2020


Merced County Department of Public Health Attestation Approved to Move into Stage 2.5


MERCED COUNTY, CA – The Department of Public Health (Department) is pleased to announce that Merced County is now approved to move more quickly through Stage 2 of California’s Roadmap for reopening. The approval is posted on the California Department of Public Health website and is available for public review at: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/County_Variance_Attestation_Form.aspx

“We are pleased that several businesses will return to a new sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer. “As we prepare to move forward and start to slowly re-open, it is imperative that we all follow the safety measures in place. This is a new normal and the County cannot afford to let its guard down. The Department is committed to the health and safety of each individual in our County. This disease remains prevalent in our community.”


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May 21, 2020

Education Leaders Work to Ensure Schools Are Safe for Students, Staff

These are extraordinary times. I never thought as County Superintendent I would work with our school district superintendents on plans to close schools and create distance learning plans across the county. I want to thank the families, students and staff for their cooperative spirit and flexibility to overcome this pandemic and continue education for our students. As in every situation, the health and well-being of our students, families and school communities is our top priority.
This entire experience is painful and isolating and we know that some of our students are experiencing both physical and emotional challenges. While all school districts in Merced County have continued the school breakfast and lunch program, for some families, the food costs are mounting up.
In other homes, the isolation is beginning to create anxiety and even depression. We know that schools provide much more than access to knowledge and we ache as educators to reopen our schools.
As you have likely heard, Merced County has been approved to move into Stage 2.5, which allows for offices, malls, dine-in restaurants, child care facilities and schools to reopen. While this is good news for our community and local economy, we are cautiously optimistic and spending countless hours planning for next school year and some of the challenges we face.
Merced County’s Variance Attestation Form, which was approved by the state of California late Tuesday, is a 19-page document that outlines the readiness to open businesses and includes safety plans, timelines and much more.
Though schools are part of Stage 2.5, in the Variance Attestation Form it states that schools will remain closed for the remainder of this school year and that a reopening task force is working to identify new procedures and protocols under which schools will operate to keep our students and staff safe.


The reality is schools will look different this fall.
To maintain social distance in our schools, we will have to be flexible in our thinking and offer options to parents and students. Some students will attend school, some will continue with distance learning and some might work in a blended model of attending on specific days.
Some children need the support of a daily school experience. Some children can thrive at home while they learn at their own rate, but need content direction from education professionals. We are working to identify ways all students can succeed while keeping everyone on our campuses safe.
There have been questions about graduations in June and schools are identifying unique ways to honor graduating classes without the traditional commencement.
We have worked closely with our partners at the Merced County Department of Public Health to review different graduation scenarios and we know that the gathering of large crowds still endangers our children.
Simply put: In the current situation we cannot hold mass gatherings.
There will be time again in the future to celebrate the accomplishments of our children without putting them and their families at risk of infection and causing a spike in the virus that would cause us to delay the reopening of our public schools.
As an educator of nearly 40 years, I understand how difficult this is for our students and families and we hope that we can celebrate our graduates in a more traditional way.

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

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May 19, 2020

Bulky Item Drop-Off Site re-opening

The Bulky Item Drop-Off Site on the corner of Hwy. 59 and Yosemite Ave. will be open Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m.

The Bulky Item Drop-Off is for City Of Merced residential refuse service customers only. No commercial sources, such as apartment complexes or businesses are allowed. Verification of service, such as a utility bill, will need to be provided with matching ID at check-in.

This is for bulky items such as furniture and mattresses. No general household waste, green waste or hazardous waste will be accepted. For more information, call 209-385-6800.

 

 

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May 16, 2020


Budget on agenda for in-person Council meeting

The City Council will hold its first public in-person meeting Monday since March to discuss the 2020-21 budget.

City Manager Steve Carrigan is proposing a $265.3 million budget, an increase of $10.8 million from last year to reflect the expansion of housing developments and the need to renovate and expand water and sewer services. The general fund budget is $43.9 million, a slight increase related to the $2 million Redevelopment Agency settlement payment that is the second of five payments.

The budget does not include any layoffs, but will delete one position and keep five other positions vacant. In addition, Department expenses were held to last year’s levels, and $1.1 million in one-time revenues were used to balance the general fund budget.

The meeting will be held Monday, May 18, in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

It will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Monday on Facebook Live at City of Merced, on the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, and Comcast Public Access Channel 96. A link to the live meeting is 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.

In-person Council Meetings will have strict social distancing practices in place and the use of
face coverings is encouraged. Seating in the Council Chamber will be limited and an overflow
room will be available in the Sam Pipes Room with the same social distancing practices in place.

• Members of the audience who wish to address the City Council are requested to complete a speaker card available at the podium on the right-hand side of the Council Chamber. Please submit the completed card to the City Clerk before the item is called, preferably before the meeting begins.

• For at-risk individuals or those not wanting to attend an in-person meeting during the current COVID-19 pandemic, please submit your public comment to the City Council electronically no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments received before the deadline will be read as part of the record. Material may be emailed to cityclerk@cityofmerced.org and should be limited

 

• You may provide telephonic comments via voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 by no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the meeting to be added to the public comment. Voicemails will be limited to a time limit of three (3) minutes. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, for example:, Public Hearing item number, Consent item number, or Oral Communications. Your comments will be played during the meeting to the City Council at the appropriate time.

To view video (if available) or listen to the City Council meeting live, go to the City’s website
www.cityofmerced.org, Facebook Live, or Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

Accommodation for individuals with disabilities may be arranged by contacting the City Clerk at
(209) 388-8650. Assisted hearing devices are available for meetings held in the Council
Chamber.

At least 72 hours prior to each regular City Council meeting, a complete agenda packet is
available for review on the City’s website at www.cityofmerced.org or at the City Clerk’s Office,
678 W. 18th St. All public records relating to an open session item that are distributed to a majority of the Council will be available for public inspection at the City Clerk’s Office during regular business hours. Spanish and Hmong translation is available at every regular meeting.

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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May 16, 2020

County Partners Provide Homeless Support Amidst the Pandemic

MERCED COUNTY, CA –In an effort to protect vulnerable homeless individuals from COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus in our communities, 98 homeless individuals have been sheltered in hotel rooms in Merced County. This statewide initiative is known as “Project Room Key.”
Merced County allocated $3.5 million in funding to address housing, health care, toiletries and food needs for unsheltered individuals who test positive for COVID-19. In addition, services are available to those who have symptoms and require isolation based on medical advice, and those that are medically vulnerable and highly susceptible to the virus. The funding, originally allocated to address homelessness, was made available through a partnership between the Merced County Continuum of Care, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Human Services Agency and funds provided by state and federal COVID-19 response allocations. No General Fund dollars are included in this effort.
In addition to the nearly 100 individuals housed, staff with the Mass Care and Shelter Branch and community organizations have contacted more than 300 homeless individuals to provide immediate services, including food and other essential items and services.
Housing and health care services are provided on a priority basis, but food and toiletries are available to all.
The program was coordinated locally by the Merced County Human Services Agency, the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Department, Merced County Department of Public Health, and community partners comprised of faith-based and non-profit organizations.


“We are taking a multi-agency approach to engaging with unsheltered homeless individuals and identifying those who need services and medical follow-ups due to COVID-19,” said Yvonnia Brown, Director of the Merced County Human Services Agency. “These efforts will not only provide much needed assistance to those individuals, it will also help contain the spread of COVID-19 within the community at large.”
“We are excited about being a part of a program that is providing basic needs for individuals with some of the greatest need,” said Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, Director of the Merced County Department of Public Health. “We care about the health and safety of all residents, including the most vulnerable in our community. This project highlights how Merced County is advocating for the well-being of homeless individuals by providing some of the most basic vital needs. It is our hope that this project will be successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
Please check the Department’s webpage at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus for the most-up-to date information about the current cases in Merced County.
For general information pertaining to COVID-19, please contact the Merced County Public Health Department information line at 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).


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May 16, 2020

SEASONAL ROUTES ON STATE HIGHWAYS IN THE CENTRAL SIERRA OPEN FOR SUMMER SEASON

Stay-At-Home Order Remains In Effect Alpine, Tuolumne, Mono and Inyo Counties – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced today it has opened seasonal highways in the Sierra after completing necessary road repairs and removing winter snow and debris in preparation for the summer season.
The opening of the Sierra routes comes at a time when California’s “stay-at- home” order remains in effect until further notice. All Californians are reminded that it is critical to stay home during this time in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, social distancing behaviors and other preventive measures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health help protect the health and well-being of everyone. #StayHomeSaveLives
A comprehensive update on the status of the seasonal passes is listed below:
• State Route 4 (Ebbetts Pass) Open for the summer season
• State Route 89 (Monitor Pass) Open for the summer season
• State Route 108 (Sonora Pass) Open for the summer season
• State Route 120 (Tuolumne County) Open for the summer season. Yosemite National Park remains closed at this time. National Park Service officials manage Tioga Road inside Yosemite National Park. Please call the Park Service for updates at: (209) 372-0200
• State Route 120 (Mono County) Open for the summer season. Yosemite National Park remains closed at this time. National Park Service officials manage Tioga Road inside Yosemite National Park. Please call the Park Service for updates at: (209) 372-0200
• State Route 158 Open for the summer season
• State Route 168 West (Bishop Creek) Open for the summer season

For the latest road condition information, call the Caltrans Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623). Real time conditions are also available online and for mobile phones at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov. Changeable Message Signs with flashing beacons will have information regarding the pass closures visible along the highways.
Early season conditions exist and road conditions can change rapidly. All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires should, additionally, carry chains when traveling during the spring season. There are minimal services available and limited mobile phone service along the high elevations of these Sierra routes. Visitors are advised to have a full tank of gas and to carry extra food, water and clothing to be prepared for emergencies.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP & LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 - FROM ATWATER BOULEVARD TO
MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and construction work.
Closures are as follows:
• Full on and off-ramp closures at Atwater Boulevard on southbound SR-99
beginning Sunday, May 17, through Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to East Atwater Overhead beginning Sunday, May 17, through Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at
Applegate Road beginning Sunday, May 17, through Saturday, May 23, 2020,
from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from West Atwater Overhead to northbound SR-99
beginning Sunday, May 17, through Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until southbound SR-99 for landscape work beginning Tuesday, May 19, through Thursday, May 21, 2020, from 7:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
• Alternating closures of the #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes of northbound SR-99 from Hammatt Avenue to the Merced/Stanislaus County line for grinding operations beginning Sunday, May 17, through Friday, May 22, 2020, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

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

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May 14, 2020

Infant Tests Positive for COVID-19

MERCED COUNTY, CA – Merced County health officials confirmed its first infant-related COVID-19 exposure case in Merced County.
Health officials confirmed that a five-month-old infant recently tested positive for the virus. The infant is doing well and recovering at home. Due to protected health information requirements and to maintain the patient’s confidentiality, Public Health is not able to disclose further information about this case.
County Public Health officials have noticed an increase in children’s cases over the past two weeks. There have been nine confirmed cases of children under 18 years of age, making it 12 confirmed cases to date (a four-fold increase in two weeks). Pediatric cases have increased from 3% of the caseload to 7% of the caseload. As of May 13, 2020, there are 180 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 67 of which are active cases, 109 recovered and four deaths. This is an increase of 49 cases within a two-week span for the County.
“This case highlights the importance of following local health orders and practicing safety measures in our daily routines,” said Merced County Public Health Officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval. “It is crucial that we protect the vulnerable populations in our community, which includes young children. Now is not the time to become complacent. Transmission levels will continue to rise and will affect our loved ones unless we make a difference by doing our part.”

 

.As the spread of COVID-19 continues to increase locally, Merced County health officials strongly urge the community to continue following health orders and exercising the following measures to help slow the spread of the virus:
EVERYONE SHOULD:
* Stay home, especially if you’re sick
* Limit your time and trips out of your home
* Wear a cloth face covering when you leave home; particularly when social distancing is not possible, as in enclosed places.
* Practice social distancing, which means keeping at least 6 feet between you and any person when outside of your home
* Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible
* Not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
* Call your health care provider first if you think you have COVID-19
All Merced County residents interested in being tested for COVID-19, can register for an appointment online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.
For additional information pertaining to COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus or call the Department information line at 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).
To schedule a phone interview, please contact the Public Health Communication Office from Monday—Friday, 8 a.m.—5 p.m. at 209-381-1187
.


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May 13, 2020

Health Officials Confirm Fourth Death Related to COVID-19 in Merced County

MERCED COUNTY, CA – Today, the Merced County Department of Public Health (Department) confirmed the fourth death related to COVID-19, otherwise known as novel coronavirus. The Merced County resident was a male over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions.
“We are saddened by the confirmation of another death in our community due to COVID-19, and the Department sends its deepest condolences to the family,” said Merced County Public Health Officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval. “We want to remind the residents of Merced County that we must remain united in preventing the spread of this disease. Please do your part to halt the spread.”
Merced County health officials strongly urge everyone to continue following local health orders and practicing safety measures in daily routines.

 

It is crucial that residents do not become complacent, or transmission levels could increase. Please exercise the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
EVERYONE SHOULD:
* Stay home, especially if you’re sick
* Limit your time and trips out of your home
* Wear a cloth face covering when you leave home; particularly when social distancing is not possible, as in enclosed places.
* Practice social distancing, which means keeping at least 6 feet between you and any person when outside of your home
* Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible
* Not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
* Call your health care provider first if you think you have COVID-19
All Merced County residents interested in being tested for COVID-19 can register for an appointment online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting.
For additional information pertaining to COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus or call the Department information line at 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).
To schedule a phone interview, please contact the Public Health Communication Office from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.—5 p.m. at 209-381-1187
.


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May12, 2020

California Employers Association - FREE! The Three R's to Getting Back to Work During COVID-19

Worknet Merced County has partnered with the California Employers Association (CEA) to provide Merced County businesses with ongoing training opportunities. Let the CEA help you prepare to get employees back to work when operations can resume during the COVID-19 pandemic. CEA will cover the 3 R's of how to plan and successfully bring your employees back to work – Reconstruct, Reinstate, and Reconnect.

Learning Objectives:
• Reconstruct — Determine what your workplace will look like under this "new normal." Learn how to bring people back and what to do if some of the workforce cannot be reinstated.
• Reinstate — Evaluate the effectiveness of remote work for your team and if it can or should continue. Be prepared for a variety of federal, state, and local requirements regarding testing employees, PPE, physical distancing and more.
• Reconnect — How to welcome employees back and ensure a safe working environment.


The webinar will take place Wednesday, May 13th, from 12:00pm-1:00pm.

Registration Link: https://www.employers.org/events/webinars/the-three-r-s-to-getting-back-to-work-during-covid-19/05/13/2020/

Mario Pena
Worknet Merced County
Merced County Dept. of Workforce Investment
1205 West 18th Street | Merced, CA 95340
P: 209.724.2046 |C: 209.291.8969 | F: 209.725.3592
Visit our website at https://worknetmerced.com

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May 9, 2020

Merced City offices begin to reopen

Employees who have been working remotely will be returning to their offices Monday, May 11, as the City of Merced prepares to resume operations with the public.

The goal is to open up City Hall -- the Merced Civic Center at 678 W. 18th St. -- to the public on Monday, May 18. Other City facilities, including the Police Department and Public Works, will also open to the public on that date. The Parks and Recreation Office will open at a later date.

“With the governor reopening many businesses in the state, it is time to begin moving the City in the same direction,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “We are opening City offices with the health and safety of everyone -- City employees and the public -- as the top priority.”

“This is a limited opening, because employee wellness is really important to me,” Carrigan said.

It won’t be business as usual, as a variety of social distancing measures are being put in place at City facilities.

Initially, only counter service on the first and second floors will be available at City Hall. Other City business will be conducted by telephone, email or video conference.

City facilities were shut down to the public and employees began working remotely March 20 to comply with the governor’s stay-at-home order. Normal operations of police, fire, refuse, sewer or water were not affected, and most City functions continued.

The move follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s modification of the stay-at-home order of Thursday, May 7. That moved the state to Stage 2, allowing the reopening of some non-essential businesses with modifications.

 


City Council meetings, along with board and commission meetings, will continue to meet virtually and telephonically.

Parks are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to encourage people to get exercise and fresh air, but users are cautioned to maintain social distance. Park restrooms are closed, as are other park facilities including playgrounds and picnic shelters, per the state and county orders.

The air carrier for the Merced Regional Airport, Boutique Airlines, has been operating and the airport is open to general aviation users.

Even though the building is open next week, City customers won’t have to come to City Hall to make payments. Customers can make payments:
• By using the automated phone system at 209-388-7289
• Paying online at www.cityofmerced.org
• Using the drop box outside City Hall (check, cashier’s check or money order, no cash, please)
• Mailing payments (check, cashier’s check or money order, no cash, please)

Questions about utility bills can be emailed to utilitybillinquiry@cityofmerced.org or people can phone 209-385-6841.

The City will not be charging people late fees and no new water services will be shut off if people cannot make their payments while the state of emergency is declared. However, they still will be ultimately responsible for the payment of all bills once the emergency order is lifted.

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May 9, 2020

Revised Health Order Allows for More Businesses to Reopen

MERCED COUNTY, CA – After careful consideration, Merced County health officials revised the local Health Order (Order) issued on April 24, 2020. The revised Order allows eligible businesses to resume modified operations as long as they follow specific safety measures.
“After careful consideration and thorough discussions with subject matter experts and Merced County health officials, the Public Health Department is starting to implement steps to reopen the County,” said Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, Director of the Merced County Public Health Department. “The reopening plan will promote public health and safety while allowing for our community to take the necessary steps to start the recovery process. The Department is committed to the well-being of all individuals and want the overall health and economy to thrive while keeping protective measures in place.”
Businesses meeting criteria may resume modified operations. Currently, in accordance with the State, curbside retail and manufacturing of goods are able to open. In addition, cemeteries, preventative medical appointments (inclusive of dentistry), and baptisms are all allowed to reopen or resume, with modifications. All businesses in operation will be required to follow the Order, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, and the guidelines outlined in the Order. Merced County also developed reopening guidelines in partnership with business sectors. The Order also allows additional businesses to open locally, with modified operations, as the State allows.

The revised Order:
* Directs all businesses open to operate to designate a Safety Officer
* Prohibits all non-essential gatherings (as detailed in the Order)
* Limits activities in public areas
* Encourages outdoor activity with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible
Merced County health officials strongly urge everyone to continue following local health orders and practice safety measures in our daily routines. It is crucial that we do not become complacent, because transmission levels will continue to rise.
If you are a Merced County resident who would like to be tested for COVID-19, you will need to register for an appointment either online at www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by phone 1-888-634-1123.
For additional information pertaining to COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus or call the Department information line at 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).

Click here to see Revised Order


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May 8, 2020

Work Continues on 2020 Merced County Fair Virtual Livestock Sale
Community support already pouring in; Friends of the Merced County Fair to underwrite all sale commissions and the first $10,000 add-on donation received

 

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, May 7, 2020 – Plans continue to move forward on the 2020 Merced County Fair Virtual Livestock Sale, supported by Merced Irrigation District (MID), to support the more than 500 Merced County Fair 4-H and FFA exhibitors through the utilization of the StockShowAuctions.com (SSA) online sales platform. The virtual sale will take place starting Thursday, June 11 at 8 a.m. and go until Saturday, June 13 at 8 p.m. Buyers, both past and new, will need to register as a buyer on www.stockshowauction.com/register either in advance of the sale or during, then they can login during the sale and place bids, add-ons and receive notifications if they get outbid. Merced County Fair livestock staff will be available to answer questions at livestock@countyofmerced.com or (209) 722-1421. Additionally, step-by-step instructions have been posted on the fair’s website (www.mercedcountyfair.com/livestock-exhibits).
“Agriculture has long been the backbone of the Merced County Fair and while today's world with COVID-19 is prohibiting us from having our annual fair, it won’t stop us from holding a sale for our hard-working 4-H and FFA exhibitors. I look forward to their innovative outreach in securing buyers for our new virtual livestock sale,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of the Merced County Fair.
There is already one local business stepping up to support the exhibitors in the Merced County Fair Virtual Livestock Sale. Dr. J.L. Byerly D.V.M. owner of Sierra Gateway Veterinary Clinic has donated $10,000 towards add-ons to support those exhibitors who do not receive adequate bids on their projects.
Dr. Byerly said he “is hopeful that our community will help to support our 4-H and FFA exhibitors in buying their animal projects or placing add-on bids. It is a real call to action for our agricultural community to step up for our youth in Merced County.”
Additionally, the fair’s non-profit foundation, Friends of the Merced County Fair has committed to covering the costs of the online sale platform, as well as all sale commissions – so every dollar spent by buyers will go directly to the students.
“We are so grateful for Friends of the Merced County Fair who have always greatly supported our annual auctions and through this latest act of generosity – it will put every dollar bid during the virtual sale into the pockets of these kids to use to recoup their animal project expenses and invest in their next project or save for school,” said Burrola.

Merced County Fair 4-H and FFA exhibitors who submitted animal projects will be contacted by the Livestock Department regarding the virtual sale with more details and resources. Exhibitors will need to continue feeding and caring for their animals and marketing to secure buyers, just like they would if their animals were going to the traditional auction. The Merced County Fair has put together exhibitor information sheets by species and an extensive Q&A so they can better understand the new sale process. These resources are available at www.mercedcountyfair.com/livestock-exhibits. More information such as step-by-step instructions on how to upload their project for the online sale will be posted in the coming weeks. These details are also available on the SSA website at www.stockshowauction.com/auctions. Additionally, the Livestock Department will be available to assist with online registration and address questions at livestock@countyofmerced.com or (209) 722-1421.
Each year, the livestock competition at the Fair helps to create the next generation of men and women in agriculture and by participating, 4-H, FFA and Independent students not only have the opportunity to showcase and sell their animal projects, they also learn responsibility and gain agribusiness experience. While this year looks different, the life and business skills gained through these experiences – and even more so with the adaptation to an online sale – will continue to serve these youth.
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.” Each June, the Merced County Fair welcomes more than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond to attend the five-day event. Members of the Board of Directors include: President, Carol Sartori-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 2021 Merced County Fair will run June 9 - 13. 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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May 8, 2020

Essential Workers May Be Eligible For Help Paying For Child Care

Families who are considered part of the essential workforce and are currently working during the stay-at-home order may be eligible to get help paying for child care. This includes essential service workers who work in the health care sector, such as public health and emergency services, service workers in food and agriculture sectors, teachers and educational staff, producers of early learning and care services, including kitchen and other support staff, state and local government workers, information technology, energy production, transportation and logistics, chemical production and hazardous materials, along with financial services.
Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen said child care keeps our families working and helps our economy. “It is crucial that we provide child care and other services for the essential workers who are on the front lines every day,” he said. “MCOE continues to work with child care providers to help provide safe child care environments and is able to help offset costs for more essential workers.”
Christie Hendricks, assistant superintendent of the Early Education Department at the Merced County Office of Education, says her agency specializes in helping families pay for child care and providing child care referrals to families for their specific child care needs.
“We have been very busy in the last month, setting up the staff to work remotely and enrolling essential workers on this child care program. It has been a little crazy and we very happy to be able to help essential workers," she said. "There are 300 child care slots or openings for families of essential workers; they have already had 150 applications from families seeking the service."



Rosa Barragan, program manager with the MCOE Early Education Department, said these are additional child care slots due to the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages families to apply. Her office is working to get the word out to businesses and the 20 local school districts serving Merced County.
“These are new funds, for families meeting the eligibility criteria, to help pay for child care. MCOE Child Care Resource and Referral is updating child care supply at least twice a week. We also provide child care referrals to licensed child care providers; we are calling it an enhanced referral,” Hendricks said.
Barragan said there are 169 family child care providers and 11 centers open, ready to serve the children of essential workers. MCOE works with the California Department of Social Services, which handles community care licensing, and are all working closely with child care providers to ensure they are following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and best practices put in place by CDSS to ensure the child care environments are safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
For more information, call MCOE at (209) 381-4585 or email childcare@mcoe.org

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May 8, 2020

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 - FROM CHILDS AVENUE TO ATWATER BOULEVARD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various ramp closures on State Route (SR-99) for maintenance and construction work.
Closures are as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from southbound SR-99 to Childs Avenue beginning
Monday, May 11, through Tuesday, May 12, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to SR-140 beginning Thursday, May 14, through Friday, May 15, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from 16th Street to southbound SR-99 beginning Monday, May 11, through Tuesday, May 12, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
• Full on and off-ramp closures at Atwater Boulevard on northbound and
southbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, May 10, through Saturday, May 16, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound SR-99 to East Atwater Overhead beginning Sunday, May 10, through Saturday, May 16, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at
Applegate Road beginning Sunday, May 10, through Saturday, May 16, 2020,
from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from West Atwater Overhead to northbound SR-99
beginning Sunday, May 10, through Saturday, May 16, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.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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May 7 , 2020

Castle Air Museum Reopening to the Public

Friday, May 8, the Castle Air Museum, 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater will be one of the first air museum's in California to reopen it's gates to public admission for the first time in nearly two months due to the COVID 19 Pandemic. We are elated to be able to welcome back all of our visitors from our communities, region, state, nation, and world to once again walk through our doors, roam our expansive outdoor exhits area and witness where History Has Landed! Since the Museum is an outdoor venue our destination is well suited for social distancing, all the while being in awe at the size and scope of the largest military aviation museum on the West Coast!! Welcome back!! And Come be Amazed!!!

We feel that May 8th is a very fitting date to reopen, as this date also commemorates VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day 75 years ago, marking the end of World War II on the European Continent.

 

 

For more information please contact me at the information below. Thank you for your support!

Joe Pruzzo
Executive Director
Castle Air Museum
209.723.2178 Main Ext. 304
209.723.0323 Fax
www.castleairmuseum.org

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May 7 , 2020


MERCED COUNTY, CITIES PREPARE FOR REOPENING OF
ECONOMY

MERCED— Merced County and its six Cities are committed to reopening our local economy in the safest way possible and as quickly as possible.

That’s why today, we launched www.reopenmercedcounty.com—a new website dedicated to assisting businesses and preparing them for when the State decides to open additional factions of the economy.

The site includes resources, guidelines, event information, and a survey local businesses can take that will allow the County and Cities to gather details that will help us apply for grants and identify needs in the business community.

“The idea of this site is to get our business owners better prepared to reopen when that time comes,” said Chairman Rodrigo Espinoza of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “When the Governor pulls the trigger to reopen another group of businesses, we don’t want them all at the starting line, we want them as close to the finish line as possible.”

This website will be continuously updated moving forward as the State releases additional information and as more resources become available through local, State and Federal programming.

 

It was earlier this week that Governor Newsom announced that the State can begin moving into “Stage 2” of modifying the “Stay at Home” Executive Order beginning this Friday if certain conditions are met. This move, which is based on improving COVID-19 numbers and health indicators, will allow some retailers to reopen with modifications, such as curbside pickup. This includes bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods stores, and others. More specifics as well as guidelines will be released by the Governor’s Office later this week.

It’s important to note that local entities (such as Merced County and its Cities) must operate within the confines of the Governor’s Executive Order and cannot supersede its directives. Any business operating within a City that has taken stricter measures than the County or State directives must adhere to the stricter measures. As the Governor opens various parts of the economy, Merced County Public Health will continue to issue guidance documents to ensure our business community can reopen in a timely manner.

For additional information about COVID-19 in Merced County, please visit www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.

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May 6, 2020

Merced County Fair Launches ‘Fair Food Fridays’ Drive-Thru Fair Food Event Series
Get Your Fair Food Fix and Support Valley Food Vendors in May and June

MERCED, CALIFORNIA – May 5, 2020: The Merced County Fair has teamed up with Valley fair food vendors to bring the new drive-thru “Fair Food Fridays” event to the Merced County Fairgrounds! The event series launched on Friday, May 1, drawing lines of cars all waiting to get their fair food favorites like corn dogs, kettle corn, Icees and cotton candy at special pandemic pricing.
Despite the recent cancellation of the 2020 Merced County Fair, CEO Teresa Burrola wanted to bring the taste of the fair for the community to still enjoy, while supporting the fair’s Valley food vendors and their families who have been hit hard by COVID-19 and widespread cancellation of fairs and events throughout the state.
“We wanted to bring something positive to the fairgrounds and give the community something fun to do while still aligning with the pandemic guidelines,” said Burrola. “So we came up with the idea to have a drive-thru food event! It has definitely put a smile on people’s faces and our food vendors could not be more thankful for the support. We look forward to continuing our ‘Fair Food Fridays’ throughout the month and into June.”
The Merced County Fair’s “Fair Food Fridays” is a drive-thru, to-go only food event with special pandemic pricing. This event is cash only to keep the lines moving as quickly as possible.


The line-up has now been expanded to include cinnamon rolls, funnel cake and pizza, along with the corn dogs, kettle corn, Icees and cotton candy. For more details, call (209) 722-1506 or visit www.mercedcountyfair.com/fair-food-fridays.


WHEN: 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. May 8, 15, 22 and 29; June 5, 11-13.
WHERE: Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced, California 95341
Enter the fairgrounds from 11th Street and exit on Childs Avenue


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May 5 , 2020

COVID-19 Testing Available to All Merced County Residents

MERCED COUNTY, CA—On Monday, an additional COVID-19 testing site will open to all Merced County residents who would like to be tested. PLEASE NOTE: Due to expected high demand, testing availability was changed to by appointment only in order to prevent unnecessarily-long wait times for clients. Walk-ins will not be accepted at this time.
* Registration is available online or by phone:
* www.lhi.care/covidtesting
* 1-888-634-1123
This new test site, which was made possible thanks to a partnership with the State of California and OptumServe (a private health services company contracted by the State), will be one of 80 locations across the State and will allow for more than 100 additional tests a day for the community. The site does not include antibody testing at this time.
Appointments at the testing site will be scheduled Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Merced County Fairgrounds located at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced.


 

A soft opening of the site was held Thursday and Friday and provided testing for first responders, health care personnel, and a limited number of individuals from the public.
For additional information pertaining to COVID-19, please visit the Department’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus or call the Merced County Public Health Department Information Line at 209-381-1180 (English, Spanish, Hmong).
For additional information, read Governor Newsom’s announcement about the efforts to expand community testing in underserved areas.


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May 5 , 2020

The Bus welcomes First Transit as new operator for
countywide transit services

MERCED – On May 1, 2020, First Transit, Inc. (First Transit) became the new operations and maintenance provider for The Bus as part of a 5-year, $51 million contract with the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County (TJPA). Through this contract, First Transit will maintain TJPA’s fleet of 76 vehicles and will employ the drivers and staff necessary to provide paratransit, demand response, and fixed route transit services for The Bus.
Fares, routes, and the buses themselves will not change, although passengers may notice bus drivers wearing new uniforms as well as new ‘First Transit’ stickers affixed to buses. Passengers will still be able to utilize the same phone numbers, website, and social media sites for information regarding bus service and how to purchase passes. “This change should not be felt by passengers in any immediate way, but we look forward to systemwide improvements that will come with the high quality customer service and employee training that First Transit is bringing to the Merced County region,” said Christine Chavez, Transit Manager for the Merced County Association of Governments, the agency responsible for the administration of TJPA.
“We are excited about this new partnership with First Transit,” said Stacie Guzman, Executive Director of Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) and TJPA. “We are an agency that places passenger safety and service reliability at a premium and First Transit is a company that has demonstrated the ability to deliver both.”
First Transit provides nearly six decades of experience and professional skills to put to work for transit operations and maintenance. They have operated fixed route systems in cities across North America and around the world. Their goal is to provide the safest, most efficient passenger transportation service possible, so bus patrons enjoy a safe, comfortable ride with an operator who is courteous and understanding of their needs.
TJPA’s contract with First Transit represents 100 jobs in Merced County and provides the opportunity to work with a proven industry leader in the electrification of bus fleets in the industry just as The Bus embarks on the process of shifting its own fleet to zero-emission vehicles.



All bus schedules and hours of operation can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com or by downloading ‘The Bus Live’ app on your smart phone for free. All fares are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 emergency. Passengers are asked to only use The Bus to provide or receive essential services and to wear a mask while on board as well as comply with social distancing requirements. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.
The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG). For more information, please visit www.mercedthebus.com and www.mcagov.org.

 

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May 5 , 2020

Caring Kids Play Group Moves to Digital Platform

While school sites are temporarily closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Merced County Office of Education is continuing its Caring Kids program through online sessions, enabling children’s play groups to continue.
Monica Adrian, a behavior support specialist with MCOE, said these play group sessions started about a month ago and will continue during California’s stay-at-home order.
Adrian said they average eight to 10 families a day taking advantage of the online play group sessions Monday through Friday from noon until about 1 p.m.
“We still need social connections even more and to have some sense of normalcy,” Adrian said. “We reduce stress levels. They sing songs and have stories read.”
Play groups are open to children of all abilities, including those with special needs.
If play group sessions are full, Adrian said they can create new times and sessions.
“It’s for anybody who wants to come. It’s filling a big gap. They’re fun. The goal is to keep stress levels low. It’s intended for children typically age 6 or 7 and under,” Adrian said.
There also are opportunities for the youngsters’ parents to have a daily break, talk with each other, seek additional resources and make important connections.
Young children can learn important skills while playing. That’s the focus of the inclusive social skills play groups MCOE offers. The play groups were offered year-round, open to anyone and involving parents, grandparents and caregivers.
Adrian said there are few resources in Merced County for young children and their families. The play groups offer a safe and welcoming opportunity where children learn not only about school readiness but also gain key social skills.


Caring Kids was instituted in 2003 and the play groups were added four years ago.
Christie Hendricks, assistant superintendent of the Early Education Department of the Merced County Office of Education, said the play groups give children a chance to learn age-appropriate skills. The Caring Kids program is funded through a Proposition 63 grant through the Merced County Mental Health Services behavioral health program.
Adrian said through the play groups young participants can transition seamlessly into preschool or kindergarten from these experiences.
For those interested in joining the program, contact Adrian at (209) 261-4194.

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May 1 , 2020

Council to consider COVID19 Recovery Program

The City Council will consider a COVID19 Recovery Program during its Monday meeting.

Council will hear a report from its subcommittee on potential measures to assist local businesses and residents due to the COVID19 pandemic. The City has received other requests, including one from the Merced Hotel Motel Association asking to delay payment of transient occupancy taxes until after July 1.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, and “stay home” orders, the Merced City Council will hold its meeting telephonically. The meeting format is allowed under Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20.

There will be no meeting held in the Civic Center in order to protect the public, City staff and Council from the coronavirus. The meeting will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Monday on Facebook Live at City of Merced, on the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org, and Comcast Public Access Channel 96.

People may submit public comments to the City Council electronically no later than 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments received before the deadline will be read as part of the record. Material may be emailed to cityclerk@cityofmerced.org and should be limited to 500 words or less. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on, i.e. item number or Oral Communications. Comments will be read to the City Council at the appropriate time. Any correspondence received during or after the meeting will be distributed to the City Council and retained for the official record.

People may provide telephonic comments via voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 by no later than 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting in order to be added to the public comment. Voicemails will be limited to three minutes. Please specify which portion of the agenda you are commenting on. Your comments will be read to the City Council at the appropriate time.

 

For public hearing items, if people want to speak live during the meeting they need to leave callback information in advance. They will be contacted with further details.

On the agenda:

• Report to Council on possible measures to assist local businesses and residents through a proposed COVID19 Recovery Program and provide direction to staff.

• A Public Hearing on an appeal of a conditional use permit for a mixed use development including 218 apartments and 14,000 square-feet of retail at Yosemite Avenue and McKee Road.

• Consider a request from Mayor Pro Tem Serratto to discuss eviction concerns.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. with real property negotiators and labor negotiators.

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.

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

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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