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COMMUNITY NEWS

November 20, 2018

City employee takes top driving honors

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

 

City offices closed for the Thanksgiving holidays

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


Eric Berlier

 

 

 

 

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November 20, 2018

Superintendent, Board of Trustees to Take Oath of Office

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

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

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November 20, 2018

MCAG seeking applications for committee appointments

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

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

 


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

MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and administers Measure V funds. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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November 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Motorists should take alternate routes and expect 10 minute delays.

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

Caltrans to Close Mountain Passes
in Advance of Inclement Weather

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAIN CONTROL REQUIREMENT LEVELS:

No Restrictions: Watch for snow on pavement.

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

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

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

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November 17, 2018

Arts appointments, quiet zones on City Council agenda

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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November 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 TO EASTBOUND STATE ROUTE 140

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 16, 2018

Le Grand HS FFA Graduate Wins National Award for Website

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


Jaryn Giampaoli

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November 16, 2018

 

FFA Students Earn Their FFA Degrees

Written by:: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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


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


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


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

 

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

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November 16, 2018

School Districts on Modified Schedules Due to Air Quality

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

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

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November 14, 2018

Merced City School District Earns Top Statewide Educational Honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

 

 

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November 14, 2018

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

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the Westley Rest Area off southbound and northbound Interstate 5 to perform work on the facility’s water system. The rest area is scheduled to close from Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. until Friday, November 16, at 12:00 p.m. This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

 

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

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November 13, 2018

 

Atwater High School Receives New Ag Ventilation Welding Tables

Written by: Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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


 

 

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


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


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

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November 9, 2018

City of Merced offices closed Monday

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

 

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

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November 9, 2018

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

 

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

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November 9, 2018

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

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

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES INTERSTATE 5 TO EASTBOUND STATE ROUTE 140

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

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

 

 

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

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park. (Due to Veteran’s Day, no work will be performed on Monday, November 12, 2018). Work will occur as follows: • One-way traffic control will be in effect from the Merced/Mariposa County Line to Yosemite National Park beginning Tuesday, November 13, 2018, through Friday, November 16, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for pavement striping. • One-way traffic control will be in effect from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Tuesday, November 13, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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November 8, 2018

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

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November 6, 2018


Atwater FFA Wins Cotton Judging State Championship

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

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

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

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November 3 , 2018

Bike path, grant funding on City Council agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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November 3 , 2018

One promotion, one returning officer at Merced PD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Jeffrey R. Horn


Dayton Snyder

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November 3 , 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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November 3 , 2018


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

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

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

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from the Merced/Mariposa County line to Yosemite National Park. Work will occur as follows: • One-way traffic control will be in effect from the Merced/Mariposa County Line to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 5, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for pavement striping. • One-way traffic control will be in effect from Slate Gulch to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, November 5, 2018, through Friday, November 9, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 15 minute delays at each location. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues


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

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November 3 , 2018

 

FFA Members Attend aMAZEing Meeting!

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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


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


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


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

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November 3 , 2018


FFA Members Earn Public Speaking Honors

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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November 1, 2018

Soccer Brings Elementary and University Students Together

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



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November 1 , 2018

Delhi Taking Steps to Improve Sound

Delhi High School’s gym is spacious, modern and equipped with a sound system that easily carries within its cavernous walls. But the words uttered during large community meetings are mostly unintelligible.
The problem is poor acoustics. Delhi Unified School District Superintendent Adolfo Melara is formulating a plan to make the sounds pleasant and understandable without major expense.
He is enlisting the help of two sound experts. John Hollingsworth is president of Fowler-based DataWorks Educational Research, and a rock musician and sound expert who used to be an audio engineer in Southern California. His associate, Clint Wensley, also is a sound and lighting engineer who in earlier years traveled all over the world with famed music groups Metallica and Pink Floyd.
With the expert knowledge of Hollingsworth and Wensley, a solution appears at hand. They have suggested buying a $200 equalizer and a $150 limiter to add refinements to the sound system and fabric curtains to flank the gym walls.
Melara explains most folks don’t realize the traditional poor acoustics of school gyms can be remedied by these additions. Sounds reverberate off the plain gym walls and decorative patch panels put up earlier to reduce noise that don’t do the job. But curtains soak up this unwelcome noise.
In the weeks ahead, Hollingsworth and Wensley will be working with Ismael Macias, the district’s director of maintenance, operations and transportation, to fix the poor acoustics in the Delhi gym and two other similar gyms, those at Delhi Middle School and Harmony Elementary School.
Melara remembers a late-September community meeting in the Delhi High gym. About a 1,000 people were attending the Local Control Accountability Plan community meeting and hosting 22 Chinese foreign exchange students.
“At that meeting you could not understand any of it,” Melara said. “It’s fairly common there is a lot of reverberation in ‘big box’ rooms with lots of hard surfaces.”
Melara said he wants to make sure the information they share with parents, the community and students is clear and they enjoy the experience.
“It was not the best experience. We want to make it (words) crisp, with just the right volume and tone. Most people think the noise is normal,” Melara said.
Wensley explained pleated fabric curtains absorb sounds so they don’t bounce off the walls so much. He and Hollingsworth have a studio at their DataWorks compound where they regularly collaborate on music videos sent all over the world.
Another tip the sound experts passed on to the Delhi leaders: The way speakers are positioned also has a big effect on how the sound comes out. Hollingsworth said schools put lots of money into public address systems but don’t work on the acoustical aspects.
With the expert knowledge of the two men, the cost may be minimal but the benefits great, Melara said.


 

 

Atwater Elementary Earns Prestigious Golden Bell Award

The Atwater Elementary School District earned the key Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.
This is a prestigious statewide award and a great honor for the district, Superintendent Sandra Schiber said.
The AESD program, Common Language for Effective Instruction, Student Engagement, Achieving Depth of Knowledge, Professional Development to Solidify Model Practices, is recognized under the “closing the opportunity gap” award category.
The district will be recognized at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference Nov. 29 in San Francisco.
Ana Boyenga, assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said the program was developed internally by the administrative team in the summer of 2015; one of its main assets is its features can be replicated by other school districts.
Boyenga said the goal of Atwater’s program is high quality education developed through common language and the establishment of three core instructional practices.
These include establishing learning objectives in English language arts and mathematics, student engagement and achieving a depth of knowledge, Boyenga said.
“We’re really excited for the recognition,” she said.
Retired superintendent Penny Weaver helped create the program. She said it was developed to meet the need of overcoming barriers to student proficiency, improving students’ achievement and mastery of standards.
“As an organization working to engage in continuous improvement, our focus on instructional improvement at the classroom level and our system-wide improvement strategies are having an impact,” Weaver said.

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November 1 , 2018

Congressman Costa Brings Leaders to the Valley to Further Strengthen Services for Violent Crimes Survivors

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted national, state, and Valley leaders, survivor service providers, law enforcement, and victim advocates at a forum today at Fresno State on serving victims and survivors of violent crime.

“Ensuring survivors of crime get the justice they deserve and the support they need in their recovery has been one of my priorities since I was first elected to Congress,” said Rep. Costa. “This requires that we collaborate and share our experiences and expertise. We learned a great deal today that strengthens our advocacy by listening to the voices of survivors. As a co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus over a decade ago, it is the stories of these crime victims and their families that motivate me every day. This forum provided all of us an opportunity to listen and learn. Everyone here today is dedicated to this task, and I look forward to continuing to work together to serve our crime victims, survivors, and their families.

Krista Niemczyk, Public Policy Manager for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, described the forum with: “This event was an important opportunity to end Domestic Violence Awareness Month by calling attention to the needs of survivors and their families, and the range of services available to support them towards healing. From reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to working directly with survivors in the community, we all have a role to play in ending domestic violence.”

National Victim Advocate Anne Seymour, who also spoke at this morning’s event, said, “Congressman Costa and the Caucus have amplified victims’ voices for 14 years. With the horrific hate crimes occurring in our nation last weekend over a 72-hour-period, this forum is timely and critical to the Caucus’ efforts to help survivors and communities traumatized by crime.”


Congressman Jim Costa

Survivors, advocates, and experts spoke about difficulties, advancements, and how to overcome challenges related to serving survivors and supporting service providers to roughly 85 local community member and leaders who attended. One common theme rose: We must listen to our survivors and hear their experience to better serve victims of violence.

“Bringing voice to the voiceless is not only the first step in combatting sexual assault and sexual violence, it is the foundation for successfully providing the critical care needed to restore shattered lives,” said Debra Rush, Co-founder and CEO of Breaking the Chains, a Valley organization that works to prevent, rescue, and serve survivors of human trafficking.

“As an ‘overcomer,’ I believe that the community needs to hear from the overcomers to understand what truly makes a difference,” shared Founder and CEO of Angels of Grace Lisa Casarez. “It only takes one person to change your life.”

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October 17, 2018

Merced City School District Students Return to Camp Green Meadows

Merced City School District sixth-graders have returned to Camp Green Meadows for the first time since the recession.

Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School is located in Fish Camp just two miles from the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The campus is at 5,000 feet elevation in the Sierra National Forest and provides unique opportunities for students.

Bob Bassett, principal of Camp Green Meadows, said nearly 1,000 students from MCSD attended Camp Green Meadows since the fall semester began in August. Students live and learn in the forest during their time at the outdoor school.

“Students do not just read about science here, they get to experience it by being out in the forest,” Bassett said. “The forest becomes the classroom. Student lessons are based on Next Generation Science Standards, and MCSD students have been learning about fire ecology and forest ecology. Students make observations, collect data and form conclusions based on that data.”

Bassett added, “The kids are eager and excited to be here, and the Merced City School District teachers have been phenomenal to work with.”

Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran, MCSD superintendent, said Camp Green Meadows has provided an excellent experience for the sixth-graders this year.

“They are enjoying all of the hands-on science lessons out in nature and are bonding even more as classmates. We’ve received positive feedback not only from our students but also parents and staff,” Duran said.

She said she’s thankful the district was able to work closely with the Merced County Office of Education to develop a curriculum that supports the great work going on in the district’s classrooms.

Educational excursions to Green Meadows are among the latest additions to MCSD’s award-winning program for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), Duran said.

“This partnership with Camp Green Meadows was a priority for our Board, our administrative team and our community, and it is exciting to see it come to fruition,” Duran said.

Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen said, “Camp Green Meadows has been providing outdoor education to the students and families of Merced County for more than 50 years, and MCOE is proud to support this long-standing tradition. It is great to have students from the largest district in our county taking part in this rite of passage.”

 


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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October 17, 2018

Valley Children’s moving forward with plans for new Merced medical facility

Valley Children’s Healthcare has entered into negotiations to purchase a 4.54-acre parcel in North Merced to create a specialty medical building. The Merced City Council unanimously approved the agreement at its Monday meeting. The proposed purchase price is $2.1 million. The property is the former police headquarters site on the northwest corner of Yosemite Avenue and Mansionette Drive.

“This is a great addition to the medical landscape,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jill McLeod, a nurse practitioner. “Valley Children’s is a name that parents and doctors have trusted for decades, with caring, knowledgeable staff and excellent service. We are very fortunate to have them expanding their operations in Merced.”

Each year, more than 14,000 children from Merced County are cared for by Valley Children’s team of pediatric specialists. Since 1989, Valley Children’s has provided outpatient support at Olivewood Specialty Care Center. Today, only 23% of outpatient visits are able to be made in Merced. A new pediatric primary and specialty care medical office in the city will expand that figure to 90%.

“As demands for pediatric services in Merced continue to grow, we are committed to keeping as many families as close to home as possible,” says Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak. “Our ultimate goal is to have every family throughout the Valley be within 30 minutes or 30 miles from a Valley Children's pediatric doctor, because that is what is best for kids and their families.”

“This ties in well to our existing medical community,” said Economic Development Director Frank Quintero. “Mercy Medical Center is just blocks away, Golden Valley Health Center will be around the corner and we have other medical facilities nearby.”

 

Since 1989, Valley Children’s has operated a pediatric specialty care center in the City of Merced and since 1996, it has owned and operated a level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mercy Medical Center. Valley Children’s Healthcare is one of the biggest pediatric healthcare networks in the country, serving more than 1.3 million children in 12 counties throughout Central California and the Central Coast.

The new outpatient center in Merced will offer several pediatric specialties, including pediatric cardiology and pediatric neurology. The first phase of the building would be 15,000 to 20,000 square feet and could grow to 40,000 square feet as demand for pediatric services increases.

It's expected to have 50 to 60 full-time equivalent employees at build-out with salaries and benefits of $4 to $5 million.

Quintero said the purchase is just the first step in a long process before the medical center is constructed and opened. “We will help them move through the planning and permitting process as quickly as possible, but Valley Children’s has several other projects ahead of us, so it will take some time before they have this one shovel-ready.”

The City purchased the property in 2010 with the intention of building the new police headquarters on the site. Construction was put on hold during the Great Recession and subsequently the site was re-evaluated and it was determined that the location wasn’t the best for a police station. The City purchased the Merced Sun-Star property on G Street for the police headquarters and decided to surplus the Yosemite Avenue land.

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October 16 , 2018

Atwater High School FFA Cotton Judging Teams Earn Top Finish

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA Cotton judging team joined 200 students and eighteen high schools throughout the central valley at the annual Corcoran Cotton Judging Contest held at Corcoran High School on Saturday, October 13th. The Atwater FFA “A” team placed 1st overall in the advanced contest with Michael Bray and Emmanuel Mejia placing 1st and 2nd overall, while the Atwater FFA “B” team placed 2nd overall in the novice contest with Emma Garcia placing 1st and Kaya Briscoe placed 4th overall.

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

The next contest is this upcoming weekend at Modesto Junior College with the California State Cotton Judging Championship scheduled on November 3rd at Fresno State University. “I’m very proud of our students and their effort,” said FFA advisor and Cotton coach Natalie Borba. “Our goal is to continue to improve as there are some quality agriculture programs involved in the competition.”

 


Atwater High School FFA students Sabrina Lopez, Luz Soto, Emmanuel Mejia, Michael Bray, Simarjot Gandhoke, and Kaya Briscoe display their awards earned at the Corcoran FFA Cotton Judging Contest this past weekend.

 

 

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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Ocyober 12, 2018

City honoring Fallen Heroes on Veterans Boulevard

Memorial plaques are going up along Veterans Boulevard in Merced honoring the City’s fallen heroes.

The City Council approved the Veterans Memorial Signs on M Street to pay its respects to the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Council has previously acknowledged Merced’s close connection to its Veteran’s. The bridge spanning Bear Creek was renamed Veterans Memorial Bridge. When the bridge was renovated, flag poles were installed so that the flags of the five branches of the Armed Forces could be flown on the bridge to honor the community’s Veterans.

Currently, Public Works Department crews are posting name plaques the length of M Street, which the City Council gave the honorary name of Veterans Boulevard. By Veterans Day, Nov. 11, all of the memorial plaques will be installed with the names, rank, branch, the date of birth and the date the person died in service to their country.

So far, staff has the names of 80 military personnel from the City who have died while serving during combat. The further back staff goes, the more incomplete the list is, and staff has limited records on World War I Veterans.

“In talking with local veterans officials we anticipate that this list may not be complete,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “If your loved one was a City resident who died in battle and is not on this list, please let us know. We want to hear from you and include them on Veterans Boulevard.”

A list of the 80 City residents being memorialized is posted at www.cityofmerced.org/veterans.

If their loved one is a veteran who paid the ultimate price and is not on the list, people can call Dietz at 388-8670.

 

 

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Ocyober 12, 2018

Water rate hearing, corporation yard on Council agenda

A public hearing on water rates and an update on a satellite facility for the Public Works Department are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Monday.

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

Council will hold a public hearing to consider adjustments to the water rate charges for customers. Overall rates will increase 2 percent, however because of a shift in the rate structure, many residential customers will see their monthly water bills drop.

The Public Works Department is developing a Yosemite Avenue Corporation Yard Satellite facility at the corner of Highway 59. It will be used for leaf collection, vehicle maintenance and also for residents to drop off selected refuse items.

Also on the agenda is a 5 p.m. study session to discuss a Trust 115 for Pension. The Trust 115 is an IRS-approved way for the City to invest funds to better manage the cost of pension or retiree medical benefits.

 

The Council also will consider a second amendment to the City Manager’s employment agreement.

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

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

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Ocyober 12, 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM STATE ROUTE 152
AND AT GARZAS CREEK IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform ramp closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from State Route 152 (SR-152) to Garzas Creek in Merced County.

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

?Full closure of the connector ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-152 for bridge work beginning Sunday, October 14, 2018, through Friday, October 19, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

?Full off-ramp closure from southbound I-5 to Garzas Creek beginning Sunday, October 14, 2018, through Friday, October 19, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists can expect 15-minute delays, and alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work began the week of July 1, and crews will also work on SR-152 at the San Luis Dam Forebay and California Aqueduct bridges as part of this project.

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

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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO STATE ROUTE 152
AND FROM McCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) in Merced County for survey work. Work will occur as follows:

?One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from Interstate 5 (I-5) to SR-152 beginning Sunday, October 14, 2018, through Friday, October 19, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

?One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from McCabe Road to SR-140 beginning Sunday, October 14, 2018, through Friday, October 19, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.


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

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Ocyober 11 , 2018

City seeking arts and culture commissioners

The City of Merced is seeking applicants for the new Arts and Culture Advisory Commission. There are seven voting seats on the Commission, with six of them selected by Council District residency. The seventh member will be selected at-large. Members must be registered to vote in the City.

Among the duties of the Commission are making recommendations to the City Council on public art, art and cultural programs, acting as a resource, recommending funding options and coordinating with local arts and cultural groups.

Commission members are expected to have knowledge, expertise or experience in one or more of these areas: visual, performing, literary, music or other types of art; planning, historical, preservation, architectural background; economic development, business, marketing, public relations; or by being a member of an artistic, cultural, community organization or educational partner.

In addition, the Commission may have an additional four ex-officio, non-voting, members, appointed because of their special expertise or qualifications. One of the ex-officio members will be a member of the City Council. The others can be non-City residents but must resident within the City’s sphere of influence.

People interested in the joining the Commission can find an application online at the homepage at www.cityofmerced.org or by calling the City Clerk at 388-7122.

Click here to see flyer

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October 10, 2018

MCSD Students Create Cardboard Arcade

 

Students at Reyes Elementary in Merced showcased their creativity and engineering skills through a fun, hands-on assignment during the first week of October.

The children and their teachers took part in the school’s annual “cardboard challenge” by recycling boxes and other leftover items into unique projects. Many of the students constructed games, such as skee-ball, mini soccer, and bowling, which were then arranged as an arcade in the multipurpose room. Their classmates were invited to play the games and even win prizes.

Principal Aaron Alexander says, “It’s neat to see the creativity of our students and also how they work together as a team. For example, we have a group of sixth grade girls who built a bowling game. One is helping the children in the line, another is setting up the pins, and the other is giving out prizes, so they’re really developing collaboration skills as well.”

The cardboard challenge also inspired a variety of other projects. Several students built houses with a goal of making them earthquake resistant. They tested their designs by placing their structures on a table and shaking it to simulate seismic waves. Other creations included cardboard animals, robots, and puppets.

This assignment is one example of the Merced City School District’s commitment to STEAM learning, which integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math through engaging lessons in the classroom and beyond.



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October 10 , 2018

Atwater High School FFA Students Promote “Farm2U”

Written by: Atwater FFA

Members of the Atwater High School FFA joined nearly a 100 presenters and 2500 third grade students from local schools throughout Merced County and participated in the Merced County Farm Bureau’s 7th annual “Farm2U” event on October 4th at the Merced County Fairgrounds. The purpose of the event was to build a connection between people and the importance of agriculture. “There is a trend of misconceptions pertaining agriculture and the agriculture industry, and we wanted to showcase with the younger generation the positive aspects and importance of agriculture.” said Atwater FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh.

The 2500 third-grade children visited Merced County Fairgrounds received “hands-on” experience of various agriculture industry sectors. “It was amazing to see so many parts of the community come together to educate children” said Atwater High School grandparent of a 3rd grade attendee Chi Chi Wood. Various agriculture industry representatives from the county participated in the event. Local FFA students attended the event as presenters.

“Many kids never have the opportunity to see and be around farm animals and the goal is that this experience is a positive one and results in a greater appreciation of agriculture,” said Atwater FFA member Mikeal Duran. “Our high school is focusing on “community” and this event provided us high school students the opportunity to interact with a future generation of students regarding the value and importance of agriculture.”

The Atwater High School FFA continues to get members involved in making a positive difference within the community through opportunities like “Farm2U”.

 

For more information on Atwater FFA, you can log onto AtwaterFFA.org website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter.


Atwater High School agriculture students Wyatt Tucker and Colby Flatt show their enthusiasm with a cow model that was used to educate 3rd graders on the milking process.


Atwater High School agriculture senior Mikeal Duran shows a 3rd grade student the process of milking a goat during the annual Farm2U event held at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

 


Atwater High School agriculture student Liliana Vargas showcases an agriculture activity with 3rd graders during the annual Farm2U event held at the county fairgrounds.

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October 9 , 2018

FFA Students Prepare for Annual Fall Plant Sale

Written by: Atwater FFA

Over 5000 flowering annuals, perennials, ferns, fruit trees, and miscellaneous ag mechanics projects will be on sale Friday, October 12th (8am-4pm) and Saturday, October 13th (8am-4pm) at the Atwater High School Agriculture Department for the annual Atwater FFA Fall Plant Sale. All of the flowering plants, vegetable plants, shrubs, and trees were propagated and grown by Atwater High School agriculture and horticulture students.

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

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

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

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


Atwater High School agriculture student and current senior Megan Escobar waters the hundreds of pansies inside the school's greenhouse in preparation for the annual FFA plant sale later this week.


Atwater High School horticulture students Kailee Gumbs and Catarino Hernandez inspect the various annual, perennial, and vegetable plants that will be available to the public during October 12th/13th's FFA plant sale.

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

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October 9 , 2018

Student Training Day for the  Valley’s Future Entrepreneurs  

Virtual Enterprise has been a fundamental program in introducing the  business field to schools and students across the Central Valley.  
Students create their own virtual companies and spend their class time  managing money, introducing products, and constructing their business plan for  regional and state competitions. It has provided students with the opportunity to  learn more about chosen career fields in and outside their classrooms for  decades across the nation.  
On September 25, 2018, Central Valley Virtual Enterprise students from  across Quint Counties gathered for a Student Training Day held at Merced  College’s Business Center.  
The nine schools that attended included Golden West High School,  Lemoore High School, Le Grand High School, Delhi High School, Dos Palos High  School, Roosevelt High School, Pittman High School, Atwater High School and  McLane High School. Dos Palos High School teacher Jenny Hunger organized the  training day and mini-trade show.  


Photo credit goes to Quint Counties Virtual Enterprise students. (Quint Counties include Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, Tulare and Kings.)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`


Student CEOs and Vice Presidents participated in several educational  breakout sessions about Human Resources, Sales & Marketing, Digital Literacy,  and much more. Each virtual business sold their own virtual products to one  another and engaged in valuable transactions.  
Additionally, selected students participated in an Elevator Pitch  competition. Coming in first place was Christian Urbina from Golden West HS  with his pitch for? Ambrodisia
* , second place included Isabel Mejia - Sanchez from  Dos Palos HS for their company ?Sweet Abyss
* , and third place went to Brandon  Kaisier from Lemoore HS with ?Fresh Choice
* .  All in all, this training day provided a set of educational experiences for all  students attending.  
The proud sponsors of this special event were Morning Star Packing and  The Kitchen at the Mission, located in Santa Nella. To whom we offer many

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October 9 , 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
TREE WORK ON STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 49
TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control at two locations on eastbound and westbound State Route
140 (SR-140) from SR-49 to Yosemite National Park. Work will occur as follows:
• One-way traffic control will be in effect from SR-49 to Cobey Lane beginning Monday,
October 8, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for tree work.
• One-way traffic control will be in effect from Indian Flat Campground to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, October 8, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018,
from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for tree work.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays at each location. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM INTERSTATE 5
TO STATE ROUTE 152

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) in Merced County for survey work. Work will occur as follows:

?One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from Interstate 5 (I-5) to SR-152 beginning Sunday, October 7, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

?One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from McCabe Road to SR-140 beginning Sunday, October 7, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

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

 


CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM STATE ROUTE 152
AND AT GARZAS CREEK IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform ramp closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from State Route 152 (SR-152) to SR-140 in Merced County.

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

?Full closure of the connector ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-152 for bridge work beginning Sunday, October 7, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

?Full off-ramp closure from southbound I-5 to Garzas Creek beginning Sunday, October 7, 2018, through Friday, October 12, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists can expect 15-minute delays, and alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work began the week of July 1, and crews will also work on SR-152 at the San Luis Dam Forebay and California Aqueduct bridges as part of this project.

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

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

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

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October 4, 2018

Joey Chavez named to head Parks and Recreation

Interim Director Joey Chavez has been named Director of Parks and Recreation. The Merced native has been with the department since 2008.

Chavez, 48, has served as interim director since February, replacing Interim Director Mike Conway.

“This is a guy who is a real asset to the community,” said Merced City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He bleeds Merced. He is somebody who is dedicated to Merced, Merced residents, Merced youth.”

Carrigan said, “We are really excited to see him on the team.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have been given,” Chavez said. “I love what I do. I love my job.”

Chavez said he has big plans for the Department in his vision. “I’d like to see us get back to where we were when I started. I would like to bring back the Youth Division, our Special Events and bring back the partnerships we had back then.

“I’d like to get into afterschool programming, something we haven’t had for 8 years, and the development of a soccer complex,” he said.

Chavez said he has “an open door policy. People can talk about any concern, any idea they have. I’m a communicator. I’m here for the City.”

While serving as interim director Chavez helped develop partnerships with nonprofit organizations, school districts and UC Merced and youth groups.

When he was a recreation supervisor, he oversaw facility rentals, leisure classes, aquatics programs, youth and adult sports, Applegate Zoo and the front office staff.


Joey Chavez

Chavez started his career as a recreation coordinator in Patterson managing special events, senior programming and aquatics.

He is a certified Aquatics Facility Operator, holds a credential in Administrator Youth Sports from the National Alliance for Youth Sports and also CPR for Professional Rescue.

Chavez has a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from San Jose State and an Associates of Arts degree from Merced College. While in college Chavez played baseball, winning numerous awards including National Player of the Week and Outstanding Pitcher and was inducted into the San Jose State Baseball Hall of Fame.

Chavez and his wife of 26 years, Patricia, have three children: Joseph, 23, Emily, 20, Grace, 17.

“When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my family, camping, fishing and I like to barbecue,” he said. “I’m a big sports fan of the Giants, the 49ers and the Warriors.”

The position pays $129,208.

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October 4, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM BUG HOSTEL TO CEDAR LODGE
MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a
pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in to Yosemite National Park due to protect public safety
in the Ferguson Fire burn due to a storm event that that is likely to impact the roadway.
The National Weather Service is forecasting 1-3” of rain in a one hour period sometime between
1pm and 4pm today. The closure will be from Cedar Lodge to Bug Hostel/Bear Creek Bridge.
Another storm event is expected between 7pm and 9pm tonight that will involve 11/2”-3” of rain
in one hour and crews will again preemptively close the roadway.
After the storm events have passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road
before reopening to traffic. It is expected that these will be short duration closures depending on
the extent of any damage and repairs needed.

 

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

 

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October 4, 2018

Merced Business Owners Back Rob Poythress for State Senate
Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce
Announces Support For Rob Poythress

Today, Rob Poythress announced that he has been endorsed by the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce for State Senate District 12.

“Rob Poythress is the candidate who will best promote a strong local economy, including the strong ability to attract new business, grow and support existing business, and create a business-friendly environment within the greater Merced region.” Said the Greater Merced Chamber Board when announcing their support for Poythress.

"I am honored to have the support of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce, they have worked tirelessly to support our Merced community, promote local businesses, and advocate for policies that encourage entrepreneurship." said Poythress. "I am committed to working with the Merced Chamber to create a climate where local businesses can thrive and create new good paying jobs." concluded Poythress.

The Merced Chamber of Commerce joins the California Small Business Association, the National Federation of Independent Business and business owners from across Senate District 12 in supporting Rob Poythress State Senate.

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October 3, 2018

Council names Phaedra Norton City Attorney

The Merced City Council has voted unanimously Monday night to appoint Phaedra A. Norton as City Attorney. Norton has extensive municipal law experience in the San Joaquin Valley. She starts as City Attorney Oct. 16.

“I want to thank the City Council for the opportunity to serve as City Attorney. It is an honor,” said Norton. “I’m looking forward to becoming part of the Executive Management team and bringing my nearly two decades of municipal law experience to my new position.

“With the addition of UC Merced and the development that is occurring in the Downtown, Merced is a blossoming community and I am excited to become part of the legal team that has and will continue to provide legal guidance to the City Council, the Executive Management team and the organization,” she said.

Currently serving in the Stockton City Attorney’s Office as a Deputy City Attorney, Norton served as the City Attorney in the City of Turlock for nearly 10 years. She has also served in the City of Modesto, City Attorney’s Office for 9 ½ years.

“The City of Merced is very fortunate to have Phaedra join our team,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “She brings a wealth of legal experience to the position in the areas of commercial and industrial development, reducing homelessness, building and financing infrastructure projects, minimizing exposure to litigation, and other areas that will serve the City well.”

“Not only is she a smart legal mind, but she understands our region and its needs. I have really enjoyed getting to know Phaedra through the recruitment process and have every confidence in her in this new position,” Murphy said. “We are excited to have her as our City Attorney.

“I am thankful for the fine work that Jolie Houston and her colleagues at Berliner Cohen provided as our interim city attorney,” Murphy said.

Norton, 49, has extensive experience with issues that currently face the City. “I’ve spent the last 20 years practicing law in the Central Valley and understand the issues that Central Valley cities face,” she said.

Norton’s has handled land use and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) matters, public works projects, public contracts, municipal financing, police liability, labor and employment matters, economic development, redevelopment, Brown Act, Political Reform Act and Public Records Act matters.

Merced is facing concerns with water as the state imposes new regulations and supplies decline. Norton served as the general counsel on two water agencies in Stanislaus County while serving in Turlock.

“Water is the lifeblood of our community,” she said. “If we can’t provide a safe, reliable source of water to our industries, small businesses, and community members, it will dramatically impact our City, our quality of life, and our future.”

Norton also has past and current experience with Code Enforcement cases dealing with substandard and dangerous buildings. She has dealt with problem properties in Modesto, Turlock and now in Stockton.


Phaedra A. Norton

 

“There are public health issues, crime, economic decay and other problems that occur when substandard and dangerous buildings are left unaddressed,” she said. “The goal is always voluntary compliance, but when that doesn’t work, we have to take a different approach.”

Norton said the residents of one Modesto neighborhood threw a thank you barbeque after she and the team cleaned up one particularly bad property. “I kept the plaque they gave me as a reminder that we serve the citizens of the community,” she said.

“As the City and community members worked together we were able to secure a win for everybody, a win for the City, but more importantly, a win for the residents in that particular neighbourhood,” she said. “These partnerships create a strong, healthy community where people want to live and work.”

Norton sees herself as a communicator and a collaborator. “I think of myself as being innovative as far as finding solutions and bringing those solutions to the discussion. Working in Turlock, a community the same size as Merced, and working in two larger cities, Modesto and Stockton, gives Norton an extra advantage.

“That will be an asset when working for the City as it will enable me to bring those experiences to my new position,” she said.

Norton and her spouse of 15 years, Leslie Curtin, have a son who is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp.

Norton said she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and outdoor activities such as day hikes. “I love sports. I’m sorry (Quarterback) Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, so my 49ers aren’t looking so good.” Growing up in Oakland, she is also a fan of the Giants and Warriors.

Norton received her Juris Doctorate from Humphrey College School of Law. She also holds an Associate’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from San Francisco City College.

The City Attorney’s annual salary is $204,600.

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October 2 , 2018

Powerful Partnership Supports Science Education

Fourth graders at Ada Givens Elementary in Merced enjoyed hands-on science lessons with the support of students from Yosemite High School on Friday.

The teenage mentors helped the children build and test solar cars. They also conducted experiments using snow cones and an infrared camera. The activities were tied to lessons about the difference between renewable energy and non-renewable energy as well as the principles of heat transfer.

Ada Givens teacher Elisa Boykin says, “This was a great way for our students to enhance their understanding of how humans impact Earth, which is part of the Next Generation Science Standards.”

The class visit was also a great opportunity for the Yosemite High School students as part of their Career Technical Education program. The students are focusing on green technology and energy conservation, and those who meet all requirements have the opportunity to receive industry certifications that will help them enter the workforce.

Their teacher, Kahri Boykin, says mentoring younger students not only adds to the high schoolers’ resumes but also helps them build valuable skills. He adds, “They’re learning more about teamwork and leadership while incorporating environmental literacy into education.”


Yosemite High School teacher Kahri Boykin and one of his students help an Ada Givens Elementary fourth grader build a solar car.


A fourth grader at Ada Givens Elementary tests the solar car she built with support from Yosemite High School mentors.


An image from an infrared camera shows Ada Givens Elementary students testing how snow cones impact their body temperature during a lesson on heat transfer. (Courtesy: Kahri Boykin)


An image from an infrared camera shows Ada Givens Elementary students holding a cold water bottle to see how it will impact their body temperatures during a lesson on heat transfer. (Courtesy: Kahri Boykin)


An image from an infrared camera captures the change in temperature to the hands of Ada Givens Elementary students after they held a cold water bottle. (Courtesy: Kahri Boykin)

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October 2 , 2018

Costa on NAFTA Renegotiation Agreement

Fresno, CA – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement on the agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“We need to modernize NAFTA, and I am pleased to hear we’ve made progress. I will review the details of this agreement closely, paying attention to how it will impact agriculture and other San Joaquin Valley businesses. It is also very important that any final agreement protect and improve labor standards and opportunities for good paying jobs in our country.

“For many reasons, it is important that we maintain and improve our relationships with our neighbors. Canada and Mexico combined are the U.S.’s largest trading partners. The Valley economy depends on fair trade and open foreign markets, and I will continue to fight for our Valley as we move forward in finalizing a trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.”


Congressman Jim Costa

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September 29, 2018

Block grant awards, annexation on agenda

Block grant awards and a public hearing on an annexation application are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Monday.

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

The Council will be asked to allocate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Program funds (HOME). The federal funding comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Among the grants to be awarded are: $60,000 to Restore Merced for a neighborhood clean-up program, $465,000 for Sierra Saving Grace homeless project and $250,000 for the Merced Rescue Mission Hope for the Families Project.

Louann Bianchi and Quad LLC have asked to annex 8.83 acres of land at Highway 59 and Santa Fe Drive. There were issues with traffic flow that came up at the Sept. 17 meeting, so the public hearing was continued while staff worked on potential solutions that will be presented Monday. The site would be developed into two phases with phase one including a fast food restaurant, convenience market, drive-thru coffee shop and a gas station.


Also on the agenda is a report on the results of the Pavement Management System survey. The survey to assess the condition of City streets was conducted by the Merced County Association of Governments. The results will be used to direct future funding towards street repairs.

The Council also will be receiving the quarterly update on its goals and priorities at the meeting.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:30 p.m. to discuss public employment of a city attorney.
City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.

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

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September 28 , 2018

San Joaquin Valley Medical School Fund Becomes Law

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded Governor Brown today for signing legislation into law establishing the San Joaquin Valley Regional Medical Education Endowment Fund. The establishment of the fund provides a dedicated opportunity for the collection of public and private donations to support the construction and operation of a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The promise of a medical school in the Valley has been just talk and no action for too long,” said Gray. “I am committed to seeing this project through to the end. We need students from here and trained here so they will choose to practice medicine here.”

Despite expressing concerns with an earlier version of Gray’s bill, the University of California actively supported the final version and urged the Governor’s signature.

“Everyone is rowing in the same direction,” continued Gray. “With the support of UC President Napolitano and Valley leaders from north to south, we have made significant progress this year. Now with a fund in place, it is time to put our money where our mouth is.”

The new law comes just months after Gray and community leaders held a medical education summit at UC Merced to highlight the severe doctor shortage and access to care issues that exist in the Valley. A UC report completed this year and presented at the summit identified the construction of a medical school branch campus in the Valley as a key solution to the problem which has persisted for decades. The UC announced in July that the PRIME medical education program for Valley residents would switch hosts from UC Davis to the UCSF School of Medicine in preparation for the establishment of the branch campus.


Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed another one of Gray’s bills (AB 2204) to increase the limit on operating hours for certain health clinics in rural areas to 40 hours per week. In 2015, Gray carried similar legislation to increase operating hours to 30 hours per week. Prior to Gray’s efforts, clinic operating hours had been capped at 20 hours per week for more than four decades.

“As medical insurance coverage has expanded, access to care has not always followed suit,” said Gray. “We have doubled the operating hours of these clinics so that they can be open longer and during times that make sense for working families.”

“Taken together, these wins illustrate that we need both short and long-term solutions to improve medical care in the Valley,” finished Gray.

 

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

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

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September 28 , 2018

The Troubling Truth About SB 100

You may recall my recent floor speech against Senate Bill 100, the $100+ Billion proposal for 100% renewal energy in California, which excludes sustainable hydropower sources in our region – you can view my comments here. Now, others also recognize the severe consequences of this misguided legislation. Please take a look at the article below and share your thoughts with me.
-Adam Gray

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/the-high-cost-of-a-zero-emission-california/

The high cost of a zero-emission California
By Dan Walters | Sept. 24, 2018 | COMMENTARY, DAN WALTERS

It’s time again, boys and girls, for more fun with numbers – this edition being about electrical power generation and consumption in California.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use round numbers reflecting official state and federal data.
Electrical power is measured and priced to consumers by the kilowatt-hour, which is 1,000 watts of energy, about what a coffee maker uses, flowing for one hour. But in larger scale, officials use terawatts, each a billion kilowatts.
Californians burn 300 terawatt-hours of juice each year, 70 percent of which is generated in-state and more than 40 percent of which comes from natural gas- or nuclear-powered plants here or elsewhere.
Gov. Jerry Brown this month signed legislation aimed at making 100 percent of California’s electrical supply, both in-state and imported, free of carbon emissions by 2045.
California has just one nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, remaining, and it’s ticketed for phaseout, so reaching the 2045 goal would require replacing nuclear’s 27 terawatt-hours of power and 100 terawatt-hours generated from natural gas with juice from windmills, solar panels, geothermal plants, biomass or hydroelectric dams.
However, there are no large hydropower projects in the works, so the 127 terawatt-hours of new generation would have to come from wind, solar and/or geothermal – essentially tripling their current output.
It’s theoretically possible to build enough solar and windmill farms to do so, albeit at immense cost, but there’s a corollary problem. They mostly generate during daylight hours, so having their power available 24 hours a day would require huge amounts of storage, presumably in massive battery banks.
Battery technology hasn’t advanced to that stage yet, at least at a viable cost. After Brown signed the 2045 legislation, Moody’s, the big credit rating organization, called it a “credit negative” for the state’s electrical utilities, citing battery storage capacity.


Assemblymember Adam C. Gray

 

Moody’s said, “the capital cost of having enough battery power to reach the 100 percent target will exceed $100 billion, assuming installed costs decline to $100 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity from its current cost of $400 per kilowatt-hour.”
Under even optimum circumstances, therefore, converting the electrical grid by 2045 would cost California’s residential and commercial ratepayers hundreds of billions of dollars in capital investment.
But wait, there’s even more.
Brown also signed an executive order aimed at making California “carbon-neutral” by 2045. While converting the power grid would be uber-expensive, it pales next to eliminating the state’s largest source of carbon emissions, its more than 30 million gasoline-powered cars traveling 330 billion miles each year.
Fulfilling Brown’s order would require replacing all, or almost all, of those cars with “zero-emission vehicles” or ZEVs, virtually all of them electric.
There are only about 200,000 ZEVs on the road now, so replacing all gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars at $30,000 each by 2045 would cost California motorists (and/or taxpayers) about a trillion dollars, or an average of $37 billion a year.
But even that is not the end of it.
Driving 100 miles in a ZEV consumes 30 kilowatt-hours of electric power, according to the federal government. Therefore, assuming they were still traveling 330 billion miles each year, recharging 30 million ZEVs would expand annual electric power consumption from 300 terawatt-hours to at least 400, and that extra juice also would have to come from solar, wind and other renewable resources.
Moreover, since the ZEVs would be mostly recharged at night, the carbon-free electrical grid would need even more battery storage to keep them running.
Fun numbers, indeed.

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September 27 , 2018

MCOE, EECU Announce Winners of Annual Excellence in Education Awards

 

A teacher, teacher-librarian and early education program manager have received the top three awards in the annual Excellence in Education program presented by the Merced County Office of Education and the Educational Employees Credit Union.
Top teacher is Janis Edwards, teacher-librarian at Livingston High School. Jennifer Rivera, a teacher at Atwater’s Elmer Wood Elementary School, has been named the top school employee and Rosa Barragan, program manager for the MCOE Early Education Department, received the top administrative award.
Rivera is in her first year of teaching third graders at Elmer Wood School and was nominated for school employee of the year when she was a community outreach coordinator.
Parents, students, educators and the community celebrated at the 13th annual Excellence in Education awards ceremony on Sept. 26 at the Merced Theatre.
Edwards, the Livingston teacher-librarian, has been in education for 20 years and six years in her current role. She said she lives for teaching students new things and making a connection with her students.
“I love what I do for the kids and the fact I can make an impact with them. I help with anything and everything that students and teachers need in the way of literacy,” Edwards said. She also helps with teacher training and professional development.
Rivera said since she was a little girl she has wanted to teach. She has worked at the Atwater school for five years, previously serving as the community outreach coordinator, which qualified her in the school employee category.
“Kids are always the reason I’m here,” Rivera said.
Barragan has worked 13 years at the Merced County Office of Education. She oversees the child care subsidy program and the IMPACT program, which helps child care providers improve the quality of education. She also oversees the Parent Leadership Training Institute.
“The need we have in Merced County to ensure all students and their families have the opportunity to be successful drives me,” Barragan said.
At the Sept. 26 ceremony, honorees and their guests enjoyed videos produced by Merced Educational Television (METV) in the historic theater along with the announcement of winners in all three categories. The winner of the Merced County Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year will move on to apply at the state awards program.


District honorees:

TEACHERS:
Heather Arnold Atwater Elementary School District
Rochelle Cotta Gustine Unified School District
Sonia Falaschi Los Banos Unified School District
Carolyn Rodriguez Merced County Office of Education – Educational Services
Leticia Villa Weaver Union School District

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES:
Suzanne Greenwood Delhi Unified School District
Lisa Chavez Miske Gustine Unified School District
Tina Marie Sanchez Los Banos Unified School District
Maribell Perez-Aguilar Merced County Office of Education – Special Education
Daron Gregston Merced Union High School District

ADMINISTRATORS:
Jennifer L. Euker Merced Union High School District

 

 

PHOTOS BY ROGER WYAN

 



Rosa Barragan, program manager for the MCOE Early Education Department,


Janis Edwards, teacher-librarian at Livingston High School.


Jennifer Rivera, a teacher at Atwater’s Elmer Wood Elementary School,

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September 26, 2018

Community Members Invited to Collaborative Meeting Hosted by MCSD and City of Merced

The public is invited to participate in a meeting focusing on issues impacting both the Merced City School District and City of Merced. It will be held Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr., Merced.

The meeting will bring leaders from both agencies together with stakeholders to discuss a variety of topics, including:

• School safety
• Pedestrians and vehicle traffic surrounding schools
• Current and proposed housing projects
• Development projects surrounding school sites
• Current and proposed joint and mutual use of facilities
• Future staff meetings to address interagency issues

The goal of this forum is to continue improving communication and strengthening relationships to benefit families in the Merced City School District and the
entire Merced community.
If you have any questions, please contact: Sara Sandrik
Merced City School District Public Information Officer 209-385-6767
SSandrikGoins@mcsd.k12.ca.us

Or

Mike Conway City of Merced
Assistant to the City Manager/PIO 209-385-6232
conwaym@cityofmerced.org

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September 25, 2018

MCAG Announces New Executive Director

MERCED – The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board announced the appointment of Ms. Stacie Dabbs as the agency’s new Executive Director. In this position, Ms. Dabbs also serves as the Executive Director for the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System.
“The MCAG Governing Board unanimously selected Stacie to be the next MCAG Executive Director,” said Chair of the MCAG Governing Board, Alex McCabe. “Stacie’s proven leadership and strong management skills make her well suited for this role.”
Ms. Dabbs joined MCAG in 2014 as the agency’s Public Information Officer, a title she held until accepting the position of Deputy Executive Director in 2016. She also spent 6 months as Interim Executive Director in 2017. Prior to joining the team at MCAG, Ms. Dabbs served as the Associate Director at the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State where she managed several valley wide initiatives such as the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, Smart Valley Places and the San Joaquin Valley Housing Collaborative. Ms. Dabbs first came to Merced in 2004 to serve as Policy Advisor to former Congressman Dennis Cardoza.
Ms. Dabbs earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Fresno State and a Masters in Public Administration from CSU Stanislaus. She is from the small farming community of Firebaugh with family roots in Dos Palos and Mendota. Ms. Dabbs resides in Merced with her fiancée Danny, and their two young children Hazel and Crosby.
MCAG is the local transportation authority for Merced County, as well as, the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages Measure V, The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority.

 

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MCAG GOVERNING BOARD ADOPTS MEASURE V 2018 IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

MERCED- The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) Governing Board adopted the Measure V 2018 Implementation Plan. Measure V, Merced County’s 30-year ½ cent transportation sales tax, was passed by Merced County voters on November 8, 2016 and went into effect April 1, 2017. The Measure V Expenditure Plan, as passed by voters, specifies how the $15 million in projected revenue must be spent across four funding categories: Local Projects, Regional Projects, Transit and Administration. The Expenditure Plan did not specify projects or specific expenditures within any of the funding categories, but instead identifies general eligible uses and the decision-making authorities and processes for project selection. The decision of the Governing Board was to develop a two-year Implementation Plan for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Measure V is estimated to generate $15 million annually with 44% allocated to Regional Projects. 27% of the annual total is directed to regional projects located to the east of the San Joaquin River, and 17% of the annual total is directed to regional projects located to the west of the San Joaquin River. Therefore, the East Side Regional Projects account should generate $4.05 million annually, while the West Side Regional Projects account should generate $2.55 million annually. With these estimates, the East and West Side Regional Projects Committees recommended a set of regional project expenditures and a 20% set aside for future leveraging opportunities based on a pay-as-you-go strategy for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Listed below are the Regional Projects that received funding allocations in the


Stacie Dabbs


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

2018 Implementation Plan.
East Side Projects
West Side Projects
Winton Way Reconstruction Project Phase 1 - Atwater
Center Avenue North Project - Dos Palos
Highway 99 Winton Parkway on-ramp Widening Project - Livingston
Blossom Street East Project - Dos Palos
Highway 59 Black Rascal Bridge Project – Merced
Highway 33/Highway 140 Roundabout Project - Gustine
Highway 59 Phase 1 – Merced
East Storm Drainage Project – Gustine
Bradbury Road Project - Highway 165 to Highway 99
Airport Security Project – Gustine
Sandy Mush Road Phase 1 - Highway 59 to Nickle Road
Pacheco Boulevard (SR 152) Regional Path – Los Banos
Henry Miller Avenue Project - Highway 165 to Turner Island Road
In the role of program administrator, MCAG is required to develop this bi-annual Measure V Implementation Plan. The primary purpose of this Implementation Plan is to program Measure V funding to regional projects in Merced County. It is the primary financial document that provides an analysis of Measure revenue and programs project expenditures over a specific period of time as authorized by the MCAG Governing Board.
It is the intention of MCAG and the Governing Board to adopt a longer-term Implementation Plan by June 2019 which will align the Implementation Plan schedule with next the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) cycle.
For a list of projects expenditures please visit the Measure V website at www.measurev-mcag.com or the Merced County Association of Governments website at www.mcagov.org


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September 25, 2018

FFA Meeting Takes Flight at Castle Air Museum

Written by: Atwater FFA

Nearly 300 Atwater High School agriculture students attended the school year’s first official FFA chapter meeting held at Castle Air Museum on September 18th. “We wanted to hold our first meeting at a location that had a significant historical value to our community and where we have found not all of our students have visited before,” said Atwater High School FFA advisor Sam Meredith. The Atwater FFA “Castle Air Museum” meeting was made possible with the support and assistance of the Castle Air Museum staff who have supported the Atwater FFA program and the efforts of the agriculture mechanics (shop) students with various aircraft stairway projects built by students over the past few years.

The FFA meeting was organized and implemented with the 2018-2019 FFA chapter officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Once the business portion of the meeting concluded, students were treated with a complimentary BBQ and access and tours with the Castle Air Museum staff. The chapter meeting consisted of committee reports which included the chapter’s Placement Ad fundraiser with Sabrina Lopez informing the students that over $6000 has been raised thus far. “This fundraiser is always very successful due to the tremendous support of the community,” said Atwater FFA Chapter Sentinel Alfredo Elizarraraz. “We are very privileged to have the support of the people in our local community.” Other items discussed on the agenda included announcements pertaining to the annual Take-Out BBQ, the FFA Fall Plant Sale, the FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference, upcoming football game BBQ crews, FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies contest, and the annual FFA Corn Maze meeting.

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

“The meeting was a lot of fun,” said junior Litzy Suastigui. “I am very excited to be involved with the FFA.” The Atwater FFA conducts monthly meetings that are organized, prepared, and run by the FFA chapter officers and the high school’s Ag Leadership class. “It’s great to see students pull together and work as a team in putting together such an exciting event,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. Atwater FFA Chapter Treasurer, Kaya Briscoe summarized the atmosphere best when she shared, “FFA is a positive organization to get involved with because it is lots of fun, it keeps you interested, and everybody is a family.”

 

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


Nearly 300 Atwater High School agriculture and FFA students gathered at Castle Air Museum for the school year's first official FFA meeting where FFA business meeting agenda, BBQ hot dogs, and tours of the planes all took place.


Atwater High School FFA students Isaac Arzola, Eduardo Avelar, Damian Gomez, Anthony Torres, and Joel Baldovinas enjoy the opportunity to tour Castle Air Museum and see up close the variety of planes exhibited.


Atwater High School agriculture students Samuel Sanchotena, Colby Flatt, Wyatt Tucker, Jayden Genel, Michael Bray, Hunter Roblesm, and Kristina Gaut take pride in being on the BBQ crew as they prepare meals for nearly 300 FFA students who attended the FFA meeting at Castle Air Museum.


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September 25, 2018

Livingston Schools Enter Next Phase of Major Modernization

Things may look a little different the next time you visit a school in the Livingston Union School District.
The latest phase of the district’s major modernization project has just wound up and 24 new classrooms have been pressed into service at Selma Herndon, Campus Park and Yamato Colony schools, the result of successful passage of Measure E bonds 13 years ago.
Andres Zamora, Livingston superintendent, said 10 new classrooms were built at Campus Park School while six new classrooms grace Selma Herndon School and a six-classroom kindergarten suite is in place at Yamato Colony School.
Nick Jones, the district’s director of maintenance, operations and transportation, said the modernization projects have been in process since January. He’s also pleased about 90 percent of the portable classrooms, which were 20 to 25 years old, have been removed and scrapped.
Zamora said construction of the modular classrooms cost $11 million, of which $7.5 million came from the Measure E bond.
“Our goal was to improve the teaching and learning environment, providing better space for teachers and students. The portables were supposed to be temporary. It’s where we wanted to invest our dollars for our kids,” Zamora said.
The new classrooms measure 30 by 32 feet. The new layouts give more flexibility to configure classroom features. They are placed on a slab foundation and feature wood and stucco designs.
Jones said the new classrooms feature high-efficiency programmable heating and cooling units. White boards and tack boards can accommodate classroom materials.
Zamora said the next project seen as a need is a multipurpose room at Campus Park Elementary School. That campus has a smaller facility built in 1962; they are also looking at improving the school’s playground equipment.
JTS Modular in Bakersfield was the contractor and Marko Construction in Fresno did the site work, such as electrical, plumbing and concrete.
“Teachers and parents are excited. It will transform the appearance of our campus. This was part of a 10-year facilities master plan adopted in November, 2017,” Zamora said.
Jones said the new classrooms will be here for the next 40 years; they have a good, strong backbone for technology. The district also added 125 more security cameras at district sites and the classrooms are closed-in with new wrought iron fencing. All the classroom locks have been changed.
Zamora is pleased with the modernized appearance the new buildings exhibit. He said the district also repainted the exterior of Livingston Middle School, which is 17 years old.
Bond refinancing saved taxpayers $550,000 with the maturity date set for August, 2030. Establishing the maturity date as 19 years compared to 29 years before will save taxpayers $1.5 million, Zamora said.


 

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


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September 25, 2018


US Trade Mitigation Package Direct Payments for Almonds

 

Modesto, CA – The Almond Alliance of California appreciates the efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish the procedures required to provide direct payments to almond growers to help offset some of the damage being incurred due to the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and Turkey. As announced today by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, growers of California almonds are now eligible to apply for direct payments of $.03 per pound as part of the $12 billion mitigation package announced earlier this month. The damage assessment figure assigned to almonds is $63.3 million.

The announcement is a result of the industry coming together and advocating through the Almond Alliance of California (AAC). Elaine Trevino, President/CEO of AAC said “Industry members should be proud that through a unified effort they were able to have their voices heard and be acknowledged for their contribution to the national economy, along with the significant role they play in the international market place.”

The almond industry has been significantly impacted by retaliatory tariffs and the inclusion of the commodity in the USDA trade mitigation package is a result of a vocal industry and the support and hard work of California’s congressional delegation. Trevino noted, “The direct payment program reflects the hard work of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Chairman Jeff Denham who led the congressional effort including Congressmen Costa, Valadao, Nunes, LaMalfa, Pannetta and Senators Harris and Feinstein. Their combined efforts and leadership helped ensure that the California almond industry received direct payments within the specific program guidelines. We are thankful that our congressional delegation worked hard for our industry and acknowledged the importance of almonds to the California and U.S. economy.”

Producers of almonds can sign up for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which is a direct payment program for eligible almond growers who have been directly impacted by retaliatory tariffs, resulting in significant export losses. The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and is under the administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met by an applicant and the maximum payment per applicant is $125,000. Eligible almond growers may apply for MFP September 24, 2018 through January 15, 2019.

Almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agricultural export. The California almond industry exports 67% of what it produces. With exports of nearly $4.5 billion in 2017, the California almond industry contributes significantly to the longstanding trade surplus generated by American agriculture. While the mitigation initiatives are helpful, they will not begin to approach the anticipated economic losses and long-term impact these retaliatory tariffs will have on the industry’s trade relationships and the considerable investments made over the years to create market demand in China and Turkey. Trevino pointed out, “We remain hopeful for a quick resolution to the broader trade disputes with these trading partners to ensure open and fair trade so consumers around the globe can continue to enjoy California almonds.”

For more Information:
For more information about the MFP program, visit www.farmers.gov/MFP or contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visitwww.farmers.gov.

About the Almond Alliance of California
The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization with a mission of advocating on behalf of the Almond industry in California. AAC actively advocates for the positions of almond growers, hullers, shellers, handers and processors, while educating the industry about upcoming and existing regulatory changes. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences and meetings, AAC serves as a clearing house of information that informs the almond industry and continues to position the industry as an agricultural leader in the state.


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September 25, 2018

Rep. Costa Brings Biden Cancer Summit to Valley Cancer Fighting Community

Fresno, CA – Today Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) held a cancer summit at the Clovis Community Medical Center as part of a nationwide collaboration with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s cancer fighting movement.

Researching, treating, and finding a cure for cancer have been key priorities for the Valley’s medical community. Community Medical Centers recently opened its Community Cancer Institute where medical professionals have the latest technology for cancer research, cancer treatment, and patient care that strives to keep families close to home during treatment.

Valley Children’s Hospital and the Health Sciences Research Institute at UC Merced are also leaders in cancer research and treatment, including helping patients achieve long-term remission.

“Cancer touches the lives of almost all of us, and it is imperative that we continue our strong efforts to prevent, fight, and eventually cure cancer once and for all,” said Rep. Costa. “We held this cancer summit today to bring together researchers, medical care providers, and key community leaders. We must launch a coordinated community effort to further energize and transform the fight against cancer in the Valley.”

The meeting included an overview of what cancer looks like in the Valley as well as open discussion sessions during which attendees collaborated on ways to improve access to medical care, secure resources for cancer research and improved treatment, and innovate in the collective fight against cancer.


One idea that came out of the discussion sessions was to have care providers coordinate care so appointments can be in a single location and all on one day. Jennifer Giese with the American Cancer Society shared, “The absolute largest need and barrier to care that we are seeing is transportation. The second is lodging.” Hopefully these challenges can be alleviated by medical care providers working for such coordination.

The meeting attendees also discussed ways to create a system for care providers to share their experiences and best practices for serving patients and their families.

Similar community meetings were held across the U.S. today, with the coordinated effort sparked by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s call to redouble efforts to be “the country that cures cancer once and for all.”[i] Today’s cancer summit in Clovis culminated in a live-streamed address by Vice President Biden from Washington, D.C.

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September 25, 2018


WHO: Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

WHAT: You’ve Cat to Be Kitten Me Adoption Special

WHEN: Saturday, September 22 through Sunday, September 30, 2018

WHERE: CCSPCA Adoption Center, 103 S. Hughes, Fresno, CA 93705


WHY: We’ve got an abundance of cats and kittens in our Adoption Center awaiting their purr-fect forever homes! Fur the last days of September, we are slashing our fee for all cats and kittens adopted at our Adoption Center. Kittens are $40 each, or 2 for $60, and cats over two years are $30 each, or 2 for $50!

 

 

Each adoption includes a spay or neuter, FVRCP vaccination, single dose of de-wormer for roundworms, single topical dose of flea/tick preventative, free vet exam from our participating veterinary clinics, and microchip (free registration with email address).
This adoption promotion is made possible by the support of the CCSPCA Board of Directors and the generosity of our supporters, and is applicable at our Adoption Center ONLY. Adoption Center hours are 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily, and until 6 P.M. on Wednesdays.
You can view all of our adoptable animals online at ccspca.com, on Facebook or Instagram, or in-person at our Adoption Center, located at 103 S. Hughes, Fresno, CA 93706. For more information about the adoptable animals in our care, please email adoptions@ccspca.com.


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September 25, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM APPLEGATE ROAD TO
SHANKS ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 from Applegate Road to Shanks Road in Merced for striping operations.
Work is scheduled to begin Monday, September 24, 2018, through Friday, September 28, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.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
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM INTERSTATE 5
TO STATE ROUTE 152

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) in Merced County for survey work. Work will occur as follows:

• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from Interstate 5 (I-5) to SR-152 beginning Sunday, September 23, 2018, through Friday, September 28, 2018, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-33 from McCabe Road to SR-140 beginning Sunday, September 23, 2018, through Friday, September 28, 2018, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

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

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM STATE ROUTE 152
TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform ramp closures on northbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from State Route 152 (SR-152) to SR-140 in Merced County.

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

• Full closure of the connector ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-152 for bridge work beginning Sunday, September 23, 2018, through Saturday, September 29, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-140 beginning Sunday, September 23, 2018, through Friday, September 28, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists can expect 10-minute delays, and alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work began the week of July 1, and crews will also work on SR-152 at the San Luis Dam Forebay and California Aqueduct bridges as part of this project.

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

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

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


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September 21 2018

Travis Credit Union Offers 9th Annual Free Young Adult Financial Boot Camp
Updated Live Budgeting Simulation

 

VACAVILLE, CA- “A lack of basic financial knowledge contributes to the uphill battle many youth face when entering adulthood,” says Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Through our ‘Awesome Cause’ of financial education, financial literacy, and financial advocacy, we strive to be a part of the solution for our members and the communities we serve.”
Travis Credit Union aims to reach 1,000 young adults this year through financial education efforts. That is why it invested in revamping its Mad City Money Young Adult Financial Boot Camp for 2018! Here are some updates:
* Interactive, app-based learning
* 50 Amazon Kindle Fires for any attendee to use
* Hosted Wi-Fi
* A fresh look and logo
These eco-friendly and tech-focused improvements are the perfect compliments to today’s generation and its love of mobile banking.
At Mad City Money, participants leap forward into the shoes of adulthood, experiencing today’s fast paced society with all the obligations that will come their way! From a pushy car salesperson, to a commission-based realtor, to a credit union for financial services, attendees must decipher between their wants and needs, all while attempting to stay on an assigned budget. And if this were not enough, the fickle Finger of Fate is always on the lookout, ready to remind attendees how life can happen at the most inconvenient times.

Thanks to this whirlwind of reality, overspending is a common theme, as


highlighted by the reflections of one young adult: “If I choose to purchase an expensive car and a house, I end up struggling to provide for basic needs like food and clothing.” Our goal for the program is for attendees to make financial mistakes with us, before they make them in the real world.
By learning about budgeting, savings, debt, and the importance of credit worthiness, young adults are able to achieve long-term financial health. Through an informal study, Travis Credit Union discovered every $1 invested in Mad City Money creates $52 of value in the communities it serves. This is due to the central realization attendees leave with: “One way or another, my choices with money will impact my life.”
Mad City Money is scheduled for Saturday, October 6th from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at UC Merced, 5200 Lake Road, Merced, CA 95340. If you wish to register an attendee, or are interested in volunteering as a sales merchant, please visit www.traviscu.org/mcm.
Refreshments, prizes and a drawing for an Apple Watch will be provided at all Mad City Moneys open to the community.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, it is the 14th largest credit union in California with more than 203,000 members and more than $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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September 18 , 2018

Atwater High School Students Get Connected with Club Rush

Written by: Atwater FFA


The 2018-2019 school year is off to a great start at Atwater High School with over 1900 students participating in the
Annual Atwater High School Club Rush last week. The purpose of this event was to promote and recruit programs, events, and students to the numerous activities and opportunities available at Atwater High School.

“Club Rush was an amazing event,” says Chapter President Emmanuel Mejia, “We were able to join other organizations and clubs on campus and expose the various opportunities available to all students.” With over thirty-six active clubs and youth organizations at the high school, students created various promotional activities in the quad during lunch. This event was organized by the Atwater High School Leadership class. Some of the highlighted clubs/organizations included AVID, Ballet Folklórico, Book Club, CSF, Debate Club, DECA, FCA, Hip Hop Academy, HYLA, Key Club, Trap Shooting and the FFA organization.

“It was a great turnout overall, with a lot of kids having fun with genuine school spirit,” said Atwater High School Director of Activities Nathan Braga. “We feel it is especially valuable for the new 9th grade students as it helps them get connected with Atwater High School.”


Atwater High School freshman students Reagan Puthuff and Alyssa Wilson meet with Atwater FFA chapter officers Luz Soto and Emmanuel Mejia during the annual Club Rush event held at the high school.

 

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

 

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

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September 18 , 2018

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Atwater FFA


The 2018-2019 Atwater FFA chapter officer team joined thirteen other FFA chapters from the Merced-Mariposa section
at the annual FFA Sectional Officer Leadership Conference (SOLC) held at Merced College September 11th.

The annual leadership conference is held each year to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and the responsibilities within their offices. The 2018-2019 Atwater FFA officer team is composed of Emmanuel Mejia, President; Cristal Venegas, Vice President; Elisabeth Garner, Secretary; Kaya Briscoe, Treasurer; Alyssa Carrillo, Reporter; Alfredo Elizarraraz, Sentinel; and Luz Soto, Historian.

This year the theme for the Merced Mariposa Sectional FFA is “Connect the Moments”. Various activities were held at the conference which included understanding body language, proper etiquette, chapter fundraising, public speaking, facilitating a meeting, analytical skills, and finding team strengths. “I learned how to communicate with my team and to not be afraid to speak up,” said Elisabeth Garner. This conference was the first of two leadership conferences the officer team will be attending this year. Later in the month, the officers will be attending a regional FFA leadership conference in Modesto. Nearly 200 chapter officers from the Central Region and the 2018-2019 California FFA Association State
Officer Team will be attending the leadership conference. The skills that the students learn will be taken back to the high school and shared throughout the 2018-2019 school year.



Members of the Atwater High School Chapter Officer team comprised of Emmanuel Mejia, Cristal Venegas, Kaya Briscoe, Elisabeth Garner, Luz Soto, Alyssa Carrillo, and Alfredo Elizarraraz joined other county agriculture program FFA officers at Merced College for an annual leadership conference.

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

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

 

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

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September 15 , 2018

Head Start, Merced County Library Partner to Boost Literacy

A collaborative effort is under way between the Merced County Library and the Merced County Office of Education’s Head Start and early education programs to increase library patronage and boost literacy as well.
Christie Hendricks, assistant superintendent of MCOE’s Early Education Department, said there are 1,200 Head Start and Early Head Start children at 16 sites across Merced County, covering children from birth to five years of age. The library has branches in Atwater, Delhi, Dos Palos, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Santa Nella, Snelling and Merced.
Hendricks said she has fond memories of the library when she was a child. She recently met with Sara Brown, deputy county librarian, to determine how Head Start families could get connected to the library system.
Hendricks said they spoke about their common goal of early literacy and boosting lagging patronage at the libraries. She said families don’t have to drive to Merced; often services are available in their own community.
This push includes giving families library card applications which can be filled out and returned to the Head Start centers. This has set in motion opportunities where librarians have read to children in their Head Start classes.
“We’re forming that partnership between the local library and the Head Start center,” Hendricks said. “These are all great opportunities. We have a chance to provide families with very positive connections to all programs and services the library offers. If we don’t get families connected to the library, they will be a thing of the past.”
Most importantly, Hendricks said they are trying to dispel the myth that libraries are places where you can’t have fun. It’s not just about books on the shelves. There are other services being offered.
Brown said a library card is the smartest card in your wallet. It gives access to online resources, consumer health information and the start of lifelong learning.


“This is a natural partnership with MCOE. We are striving to do the same thing. By the end of September, Head Start parents will have their very own library card and that’s very exciting,” Brown said.
She hopes the library-MCOE partnership extends beyond its September rollout to a year-long thing.
During National Library Card Sign Up Month in September, open houses have been planned Sept. 15 in Delhi, Hilmar and Livingston and Sept. 22 at Dos Palos, Gustine, Los Banos and Santa Nella. Sessions were held earlier this month in Atwater, Le Grand, Merced, Snelling and Winton.
Ongoing story times are planned at sites in Atwater, Delhi, Dos Palos, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced and Snelling.
Hendricks pointed out children’s early literacy computers in libraries have curriculum-based programs. Libraries have computers for use. There are toddler, preschool and bilingual Spanish storytimes, along with crafts, Lego Time, reading to dogs, performers and reading programs and Book to Movie clubs.
“We know young children with competent skills in literacy do better in school. We have never done a partnership with the library in this manner. Literacy is always a focus of all early learners including Head Start,” Hendricks said.

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September14, 2018

 

Valley Wins Big in House Water Resources Measure

Washington, D.C. – The San Joaquin Valley could see significant increases in water storage capacity due to water resources legislation that passed today in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan and bicameral support.

Thanks to the leadership of Valley Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16) and Jeff Denham (CA-10), America’s Water Infrastructure Act(AWIA) includes provisions that will support local irrigation districts and water agencies in their efforts to raise spillway gates, build new water storage facilities, and repair and expand dams, reservoirs, and other water projects.

Specifically, AWIA includes legislation introduced by Rep. Costa and co-led by Denham that will enable Merced Irrigation District to take the first steps forward with a project to raise the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam. This would enlarge the storage capacity of Lake McClure, increasing water supplies for eastern Merced County up to 57,000 acre-feet.

The bill also extends funding for a program that is being used to restore the seismic stability and eventual expansion of the San Luis Reservoir, and it creates a pilot program in the Russian River Basin to develop a system for incorporating weather forecast into reservoir operations.


Congressman Jim Costa

“This legislation creates a pathway for the first new surface water storage in the Valley in decades,” Costa said. “This is a victory for Merced County and the people of the Valley.”

Additionally, AWIA includes another provision led by Congressmen Denham and Costa that expands financing options for water storage projects and incentivizes investment in new water storage.

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September14, 2018

Merced Youth Council Park Cleanup

Merced Youth Council will be hosting another year full of cleanups and park renovations. This includes picking up debris around the park, minor landscaping, and painting. Supporting our neighborhood parks will leave an everlasting impact in our community and will have a great effect on the youth who lives amongst these areas.

Additional Information:
Just a reminder, please wear any old clothing that you don't mind getting paint on. The majority of the work will be painting so please plan to wear old sneakers, and long sleeves if needed. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Event Meeting Location:
Gilbert Macias Park (Registration table will be near the playground)
G St & Childs Ave Merced, Ca 95340

Please follow these instructions to register online for this event:
1. Visit the City of Merced event registration page: http://cerv.is/m?0188g5fvksA
2. Click on the "Register" button at the bottom of the page.
3. Follow the on screen instructions to access the CERVIS registration system. If this is your first time using the CERVIS online registration system, you will be prompted to create a Volunteer Profile.
4. Once you have successfully signed into the system (or created a profile, if needed) you will automatically be registered for this event and receive a confirmation E-mail.

 

5. If you would like to register additional individuals for this event, please select their name from the list and enter the code below into the "Event Registration Code" field. Next, click the "Register for selected event" button to complete the additional registration.

 

Event Registration Code: 5fvksA

http://www.cityofmerced.org -#

 

Youth Council Park Cleanup
Sat, Sep 22, 2018 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM

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September14, 2018

Walk With Ease
(A City of Merced & Dignity Health Partnership)

The City of Merced with Dignity Heath is offering Walk With Ease, a program for managing arthritis or other chronic pain. The free program also increases balance, strength, walking pace, builds confidence and improves overall health. The 6 week long, 1 hour program is offered 3 times a week beginning Monday, September 24th at the Merced Senior Center, 755 W. 15th Street, Merced, CA 95340. Classes are every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 10-11am. Register at City of Merced Parks and Recreation, 632 W. 18th Street. Call 209-385-6235 for more information.

 

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September13, 2018

Valley Congressmen Costa, Denham, and McClintock Continue Fighting the Water Grab

Fresno, CA – Valley Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), and Tom McClintock (R-CA-4) continue their fight to protect San Joaquin Valley water from the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) “Water Grab.”

“I will use every option I have to fight the Water Grab,” Costa said. “This is about fighting bad science used to justify taking water from one region of California. This is about the future of the Valley and protecting our way of life.”

“Sacramento’s water grab is in violation of federal law,” Denham said. “We will not allow them to take our water; the future of the Valley depends on it.”

“The proposal to regularly drain our reservoirs for the sole purpose of dumping water into the ocean is lunacy,” McClintock said. “Common sense will prevail.”

This week, the Congressmen sent a joint message to the Acting Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging him to enforce the requirement in the Clean Water Act that water quality criteria be supported by “rigorous, sound science.” The EPA has notified the Board that the science supporting Phase I of the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay-Delta (WQCP) is deficient.

This is just the latest action by the Valley Congressmen, who have been working in a bipartisan fashion to help protect Valley water.


Congressman Jim Costa

Last month, the members sent a strong message to the Chair of California’s State Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus, stating they would intervene if the Board took action that interfered with water projects or processes managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including the Central Valley Project, the New Melones Dam, and the water rights permits for the State Water Project.

Last week, the members called on U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to prioritize a provision in this year’s Department of Interior appropriations bill that will prevent federal dollars from being used to implement the WQCP. Congressmen Denham and Costa spearheaded the provision in the House’s version of the spending bill, which passed the House on July 18th.

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September 12, 2018

“VALLEY VOICE” DELEGATION FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY TRAVELLING TO WASHINGTON D.C.

Elected officials from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties will be meeting with the White House administration, and federal legislators, during the annual “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C. on September 12 and 13, 2018. The delegation traveling to the nation’s capital is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Planning Agencies Policy Council (Policy Council), and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organization (MPO or COG), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The Policy Council is advocating for major federal investments to our highway system, increased funding for air quality initiatives, passenger rail improvements, and additional policy requests. The attached document highlights the funding, policy and legislative requests for Valley Voice 2018.
Valley Voice 2018 will include meetings with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Senators Feinstein and Harris, House Majority Leader McCarthy, Congressmen Costa, Denham, McNerney, Nunes, Valadao, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the US Department of Agriculture.


Valley Voice 2018 Delegation:
Daron McDaniel, Merced County Supervisor
Waseem Ahmed, City of Chowchilla Councilmember
Mike Villalta, City of Los Banos Mayor
Amarpreet Dhaliwal, City of San Joaquin Mayor
Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County Supervisor
Gary Yep, City of Kerman Mayor Pro Tem
Elbert Holman, City of Stockton Vice Mayor
David Ayers, City of Hanford Mayor
Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County Supervisor
Rudy Mendoza, City of Woodlake Mayor
Bill Zoslocki, City of Modesto Councilmember
Kuyler Crocker, Tulare County Supervisor
Andrew Medellin, City of Madera Mayor

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September 12, 2018

2018 Bloodless Bullfight Fundraiser for Autism and Cancer was a Success

\Livingston, CA. August 30, 2018
On August 4, 2018, the Carlos Vieira Foundation and the California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization hosted their 7th Annual Bloodless Bullfight fundraiser for autism and cancer in Stevinson, California. The event raised a total of $31,102.54 to help families in need. Both organizations are proud to donate $15,551.27 to Valley Children’s Hospital to help children with cancer and $15,551.27 to the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign.
We would like to thank everyone who put in time, money, or work to make this fundraiser a success: volunteers, sponsors, horsemen, suicide squads, bullfighters, bull owners, bullfight support crew, Merced County Sheriff Explorers, Stevinson Pentecost Association, Filarmónica Lira Açoriana De


Livingston, and all other community members and businesses who contributed. We would also like to thank the public for coming out to support both causes. This support allows Valley Children’s Hospital to continue helping children living with cancer and the Race for Autism campaign to continue helping and providing grants to families living with autism within 21 counties of central California.
We look forward to continuing this annual fundraiser in August of 2019. If you would like more information about the Carlos Vieira Foundation or would like to make a charitable donation, please visit www.carlosvieirafoundation.org.

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September 12, 2018

California Small Business Owners Back Rob Poythress for Senate
California Small Business Association and National Federation of Independent Business Announce Support For Rob Poythress

Today, Rob Poythress announced that he has been endorsed by both the National Federation of Independent Business and the California Small Business Association.

"Rob is a farmer, business owner, and County Supervisor who cut red tape to bring more high paying jobs to the Valley" said CSBA President Betty Jo Tocolli.

NFIB CA PAC Chiar Sunder Ramani stated "[Rob Poythress] reflects the clearest choice for small business...on the November general ballot. We have full confidence that [Rob] will bring a unique and powerful voice for small business under the Capitol dome in Sacramento."

Poythress, who owns an Ag hardware store and family farm, said he was thrilled that NFIB, CSBA and small business owners are uniting behind him.

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September 11 , 2018

MCSD Students Can Now “Spice Up” Their Meals

Students in the Merced City School District are enjoying a new addition to their cafeterias. All four middle schools (Cruickshank, Hoover, Rivera, and Tenaya) have added “flavor stations” where students can shake a variety of spices onto their food. All of the district’s 14 elementary schools will also have their own flavor stations by the end of September.

The current options are: cinnamon sugar, low-sodium Tajin, salt-free lemon pepper, and garlic jalapeno. MCSD will introduce different flavors throughout the year to expand the selections and provide ethnically diverse choices. Students will have a chance to vote on their favorites.

These stations are a way to add more flavor to school meals while still meeting strict nutrition guidelines. In 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act was signed into law. In 2012, as required by this legislation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule to overhaul the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and promote the health of America’s schoolchildren. It increased the availability of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy while also requiring less sugar, no trans fats, and grade-specific limits on calories and sodium. While these changes were made to support good nutrition, they have made it more challenging for districts to provide meals that are appealing to children. That’s why MCSD is getting creative.

MCSD Nutrition Services Supervisor Mary Williams says, “Our flavor stations are an area where students can self-select low-to-no sodium spices and sauces to add pizzazz to their food. Students love having the ability to personalize their meals, and the stations also actively encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables.”

The Merced City School District serves an average of 8,000 lunches, 4,600 breakfasts, and 1,100 after school “Super Snacks” each day. Breakfast is free for all children and always includes fresh fruit. Lunch options always include fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, and the company that provides all of the district’s produce uses dozens of Central Valley farms.





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September 11 , 2018

Atwater Ag Program Welcomes a New Ag Teacher

Written by: Atwater FFA


The Atwater High School Agriculture Department has welcomed its ninth agriculture teacher to its agriculture and FFA program. Madera native Taylor Helton joined the agriculture team after graduating from Fresno State University and earning her teaching credential.

“I am excited about being given the opportunity to teach and work with students at Atwater High School,” said newly added agriculture instructor Taylor Helton, “This small community provides the students with a family-like atmosphere that I admire and hope to become a part of.”

Ms. Helton will be teaching Ag Soil & Chemistry, Ag Biology, Vet Science, and Animal Anatomy & Physiology during the 2018-2019 school year. “I not only want to expand my students’ knowledge and skills in agriculture, but also learn and take lessons from my students as well.” says Helton.

Atwater High School has over 1100 individual agriculture students which makes it the largest single high school agriculture program in the nation. “The challenge agriculture education faces is the stereotype that agriculture education is for agriculture students only,” says Atwater High School agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “The reality is that agriculture education and the FFA has value for all students in terms of academics, personal growth, leadership, skills, experiences, and career exploration that benefits all students regardless of their academic and career interests.”

The Atwater High School agriculture education program and FFA focuses on academic success, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration for students. The Atwater and California FFA is a high school youth leadership and career development organization that is a state association of the National FFA Organization, a federally charted corporation under Public Law 105-225. The California Association currently serves over 89,000 student members in over 330 high schools, from urban schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area to rural schools all across the state.

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


Atwater High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Taylor Helton engages with Atwater High School sophomores Evelyn Sanabria and Jessica Garcia during their Google Classroom assignment in their Ag Soil and Chemistry class.


New Atwater High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Taylor Helton works with Atwater High School junior Melissa Mendoza as she showcases her "egg drop" laboratory project that focuses on engineering and the scientific method.

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September 11 , 2018


Comic Con Returns to Merced for Its Third Year

September 10th, 2018, MERCED, CALIF., - California Republic Comic Con, Merced's own comic convention, returns to the Merced County Fairgrounds for its third year on September 15th, 2018. This year the biggest pop culture event in Merced COunty bring fans a unique opportunity to meet one of the Hollywood's most prolific actors and a living movie legend, Eric Roberts.


Eric Roberts has over 500 film credits, an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Runaway Train", and three Golden Globe nods including his 1978 big screen debut role in "King of the Gypsies". He is widely known to pop culture fans for his roles as the Master in "Doctor Who" TV movie (1996), the gangster Maroni in "The Dark Knight" (2008). With hundreds of roles, and over fifteen acting awards, Eric Roberts is a Hollywood legend, and a very sought-after actor who rarely makes convention appearances.


At California Republic Comic Con Eric Roberts will be joined by his wife, actress and casting director Eliza Roberts, best-known for her role in the 70's classic "Animal House". Also appearing at the Merced show are Carlena Britch ("X-Files", "Supernatural"), France Nuyen ("Star Trek", "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", "South Pacific", "Diamond Head"), Brennan Mejia (Red Ranger in "Power Rangers Dino Charge"), and Richard Oldfield, known for his infamous line 'Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?' in "Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back", who travels all the way from the UK to meet his American fans.

Anime and video games fans will get a chance to meet Chris Niosi who is known for playing the role of Haruo in the animated Godzilla film "Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters" (2017), and Kira Buckland, who gave her voice to 2B in the hit video game "NieR: Automata", as well as many anime including "Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans" and "Pokemon Generations".

 


California Republic Comic Con brings pop culture fun to fans of all ages. The program features an international independent film festival hosted by Violette Films, a local film production company, a concert on the green, video games, cosplay contest, and activities for kids and adults alike.


The event is open 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, September 15th, 2018, at the Merced County Fairgrounds in Merced, CA. Tickets are $10 online, $15 at the door. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.


For more on California Republic Comic Con, visit www.californiarepubliccomiccon.com

 

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About California Republic Comic Con:
California Republic Comic Con (CRCC) is Merced's official comic con, the biggest annual pop culture event in Merced County. Produced by the fan-run Colossus Girl Entertainment LLC, it caters to the fans who want to enjoy the comforts of fandom without the corporate hustle and bustle, high prices and the need to travel far for a good show, and also without sacrificing quality. Each CRCC show is filled with film and TV stars, artists, comic books, toys, games, everything science fiction, fantasy, and anime, as well as video games, music, live entertainment, food, and much much more. A family friendly environment, and the perfect place to enjoy everything from cosplay to game tournaments.

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September 11 , 2018

Town Hall cancelled so public can go to cannabis hearings

In order to give the public an opportunity to participate in the cannabis discussions taking place the same night, a Neighborhood/Town Hall meeting scheduled for Sept. 19 at Chenoweth School has been cancelled.
The top four dispensary applications are scheduled for public hearings before the Planning Commission at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 and Wednesday, Sept. 19 in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
The City received 22 complete applications for retail cannabis dispensaries and only four can be approved under the City’s ordinance. The applications undergo a thorough examination and all proposed business owners are subject to a detailed police background check.
The dispensary applications are Blue Fire, 1975 W. Olive Ave., Green Door, 811 W. Main St., Manzanita, 1594 W. 18th St., and Harvest of Merced, 863 W. 15thSt.
The Planning Commission has already approved 10 cannabis business permits for manufacturing, cultivation and distribution operations.
The Neighborhood/Town Hall meeting will be rescheduled, and other town halls are being scheduled throughout the City. Staff will give presentations on a variety of issues including housing, economic development, the Downtown, roads and public works updates. The public will be asked to provide input on future projects in Merced, including those with Measure V transportation funding.

 

Neighborhood meeting at Chenoweth School

A Neighborhood Town Hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Weds., Sept. 19 at Chenoweth School by Merced Mayor Mike Murphy and District 4 Council Member Kevin Blake.
The meeting is intended to let people in the area share their thoughts and concerns about what is going on in their District and City. The meeting will include staff presentations on a variety of neighborhood issues including housing, economic development, the Downtown and public works updates.
District 4 includes an area with the eastern edge of the City limit, along Yosemite Avenue to Parsons Avenue, south to Black Rascal Creek, west to G Street and south to Bear Creek until it connects to the BNSF railroad tracks.
Chenoweth School is located at 3200 Parsons Ave., Merced. For more information on the meeting call, 388-8668.

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September 11 , 2018

 

TWO MEN CONVICTED OF 2015 DOUBLE HOMICIDE

On Wednesday, September 5, a Merced County jury found Norteno criminal street gang members Jose Hernandez and David Zamora, both 23, guilty of two counts of murder for the April 2015 shooting that killed 36-year-old Salvador Medina and 18-year-old Jose Zamora, announced the Merced County District Attorney’s office.
Evidence against both defendants was obtained from a 2015 wiretap operation entitled, "Operation Red Right Hand," which targeted violent Norteno criminal street gang members. The operation was conducted jointly by the Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies.
On April 6, 2015 the defendants drove to Winton, a known rival criminal street gang territory, intending to kill a rival gang member. Defendant David Zamora was the driver, Defendant Jose Hernandez was the front seat passenger, and in the backseat were Mr. Zamora’s 18-year-old brother, Jose Zamora, and Mr. Hernandez’s 13-year-old brother. The two younger brothers were both armed with loaded guns.

After arriving in Winton, the two armed younger brothers exited the backseat of the car, and confronted Salvador Medina, as both defendants waited down the street as lookouts and a getaway driver. After the confrontation, Mr. Medina produced a handgun and a shootout ensued, killing both Mr. Medina and Jose Zamora. The defendants fled the scene with their younger brothers.
Defendant David Zamora was captured heavily on the wiretap as he made numerous phone calls following the murder attempting to destroy evidence with the assistance of fellow gang members.
Mr. Medina did not have any known ties to criminal street gangs.
The defendants will be sentenced October 24 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 6. Both men face life without the possibility of parole.

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September 5 , 2018


Rep. Costa Ensures Valley Representation in Farm Bill Conference Committee

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) brought San Joaquin Valley concerns front and center during the Farm Bill Conference Committee’s first meeting, focusing on trade, specialty crops, farming sustainability, dairy, and nutrition programs.

Trade is a critical issue for agriculture producers, with California producers earning $21 billion from trade in 2016 alone. “It’s imperative that we expand foreign markets for U.S. products. Forty-four percent of California’s agriculture production is dependent on foreign trade,” noted Costa during today’s meeting. Farm Bill support for producers’ ability to sell their food in foreign markets is especially crucial now, given the negative impacts and longer term uncertainty producers are facing due to the Administration’s escalating trade war. “That is why the language in the Senate bill for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program, I think, is so important,” said Rep. Costa.

With regards to specialty crops, California farmers grown over one-third of America’s vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts produced in the U.S. “California is the nation’s leading producer of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are staples of nutrient-dense and healthy meals. The equitable treatment of specialty crops in the Farm Bill is very important to our nation,” Rep. Costa told the Committee. “I support fully funding the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and to provide separate funding to combat citrus greening.” Costa then noted the importance of funding for organic research and organic certification cost-sharing.

Congressman Costa also called on the Committee to make conservation programs which are vital for helping Valley farmers“sustainably farm their land and confront the ever-increasing water demands they face” a priority, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

In addition, Rep. Costa stated strong support for the provisions in the Senate Farm Bill which increase risk management levels for dairy producers for when markets crash or they are struck by other catastrophes. “We know our dairy industry has suffered across the country. I hope we can retain this provision – and even enhance it – in our final report.”

The final issue Costa raised was the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an anti-hunger program included in the Farm Bill. “Hunger is


Congressman Jim Costa

a real crisis in the San Joaquin Valley,” he told the Committee. “Removing people from SNAP to pay for an unproven workforce training program – as is in the House bill – is the wrong thing to do.” Instead, Costa advocated for continued support for the SNAP education and training pilot programs currently operating in ten states. “They will help us find solutions and pathways to work, as shown in California’s pilot project at the Fresno Bridge Academy.”

Rep. Costa has been working for commonsense farm and food policy that addresses the needs of Valley farmers and families for decades, frequently stressing that “America’s ability to grow our own food is a national security issue.” During this Congress, Costa has led legislation in the U.S. House to strengthen the RCPP, support education and work training programs for SNAP recipients, and protect livestock producers from unintended and unnecessary regulatory burden. Significant portions of his RCPP improvement bill have been incorporated into the Senate version of the Farm Bill, and his measure protecting livestock producers became law as a provision in the 2018 omnibus spending bill. Since March, Costa has been leading bipartisan coalitions in their efforts to ensure California agriculture stays competitive as the country navigates through the Administration’s tariff-based approach to addressing trade imbalances.

Congressman Costa and his fellow appointees to the Farm Bill Conference Committee must reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill in order to move the legislation forward. The 2014 Farm Bill, which is currently in effect, is due to expire on September 30th.

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September 5, 2018

Hundreds Attend FFA Ice Cream Social

Written by: Atwater FFA

Over 500 Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members participated in the annual FFA Ice Cream Social FFA meeting last week. The purpose of this events was to promote the high school’s agriculture program and the numerous academic, personal growth, leadership, and social activities and events scheduled for the upcoming school year.

Later this month, Atwater High School will have over twenty active club and youth organizations on display with the annual high school Club Rush with students promoting various clubs and organizations that get kids involved outside the classroom. The event is organized by the Atwater High School Leadership class. Some of the highlighted clubs/organizations included Asian Youth Club, Art, Band, Chess Club, Choir, Drama, DECA/ROP, FCA, FFA, GSA, Hip Hop Academy, Interact, Images and Vision, Key Club, Leadership, Link Crew, Percussion.

“The Ice Cream Social was a tremendous turnout overall, with many students engaged and interested in FFA activities,” said Atwater High School FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh. “We feel the event is especially valuable for the new 9th grade students as it helps them get connected with AHS and the agriculture program.”

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

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Atwater High School agriculture students Daniel Valencia and Adrian Valencia get served ice cream by Viviana Cebrero and Celeste Chargoy-Velasco during the recent Atwater FFA "Ice Cream" Social event.


Atwater High School agriculture students Arly Gonzalez-Castro, Vanessa Martinez, Janell Gonzalez-Castro, Lizette Vargas, Erika Gonzalez, and Monserrat Juarez gather with enthusiasm during the annual Atwater FFA "Ice Cream" social event.

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picture to left

2018-2019 Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Luz Soto, Emmanuel Mejia, Elisabeth Garner, Alyssa Carrillo, Alfredo Elizarraraz, Kaya Brisco, and Cristal Venegas organized and prepared this year's FFA social event held after school at the high school.

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September 5, 2018

BIKE VALET AT THE LODI GRAPE FESTIVAL

LODI, CA – The Lodi Grape Festival is excited to offer a new bike valet area at the Festival this year. The all new safe and secure bike parking area will be hosted and managed by Take Back Lodi volunteers and is located in Chardonnay Hall, just west of the main gate. There is no charge to check your bike, but donations for Take Back Lodi will be accepted.
The Bike Valet will be open 30 minutes before the Festival opens and will 30 minutes before the Festival closes.
The Lodi Grape Festival is September 13-16, 2018. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.grapefestival.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @lodigrapefestival.

 

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September 5, 2018


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
SPECIAL EVENT – FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM STATE ROUTE 33
TO 4TH STREET IN GUSTINE

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from SR-33 to 4th Street in Gustine for a special event/parade.
The closure is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, 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 1, 2018

Annexation update, Corporation Yard Satellite on agenda

 

An overview of the annexation process and a review of the bid process on the Yosemite Avenue Corporation Yard Satellite are on the agenda for the Merced City Council Tuesday.

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

Staff will be giving Council a look at the annexation process, since there hasn’t been an annexation in the City since 2009. Currently there are two active annexation applications in the process and a number of inquiries about annexation.

Staff is looking at an area of approximately 7,000 acres generally east of G Street and north of Yosemite Avenue as a study area. A Request for Proposals has been sent out seeking a consultant that would conduct a series of meetings, poll landowners, conduct community workshops and information meetings to determine support for annexation before reporting back to Council. It’s expected the work would take four to six months.
The Public Works Department plans to establish a Corporation Yard Satellite facility on property it owns at Yosemite Avenue and Highway 59. The site would be used for fleet maintenance, leaf collection and as a disposal transfer site. Two bids received for the project were above what was budgeted for the work, so Council is being asked to reject the bids while staff evaluates how to reduce the scope of work at the site.

Also on the agenda is a public hearing reintroducing an ordinance that would revise some speed limits in the City following a speed zone study. The study measured the speed of drivers on the roads and followed state regulations in modifying the speed limits. Changes were made to the ordinance after it was first introduced requiring to be re-introduced.

There will be a special presentation on a needle exchange program being conducted to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases and the improper disposal of syringes.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss public employment of a city attorney, confer with labor negotiators and discuss anticipated litigation and potential litigation.

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

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

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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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