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COMMUNITY NEWS

August 14 , 2018

YARTS to offer reduced fare to Yosemite for Merced County Residents

MERCED – Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) announced this week that it will offer reduced round-trip fares to Yosemite National Park starting, August 15, 2018 for all Merced County residents. Passengers will be able to purchase their tickets at The Bus/YARTS Administration Office, 1810 K Street, Merced.
Reduced Fares
Adults: $5.00
Children 13-17: $2.50
Children 12 and under: Free

“We are excited to offer the reduced fare service to Merced County residents,” said Assistant Transit Manager, Cindy Kelly. “We hope to encourage people who’ve never ridden YARTS to give it a try, and experience our nation’s jewel without adding to the congestion problem.” This reduced fare program is made possible through the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP). LCTOP is provided to transit agencies to improve mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The grant will fund reduced fares through June 30, 2019.
YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite from Merced and Mariposa along Highway 140, and from Highways 120, 395 and 41 during summer months. YARTS schedules make connections with all intercity transportation providers in Merced: Amtrak, Greyhound and Boutique Air at the Merced Airport, and also connects to transit providers in Mono, Tuolumne and Fresno Counties during summer operations.


For more information about YARTS or the seasonal schedules, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877)989-2787.
YARTS is a California Joint Powers Authority comprised of Merced, Mariposa and Mono Counties in partnership with Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service and the United States Forest Service. MCAG provides staff services and operational support for YARTS.

 

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August 14 , 2018

 

Rep. Costa and Valley Agriculture Leaders Raise Concerns with Secretary Perdue

Fresno, CA – Today, Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) and United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hosted two events with local Valley producers to hear their concerns and explore ways to improve Valley agriculture.

Both events included tours of the farms and sessions designed for local producers to share their concerns and priorities with the officials. Many issues critical to San Joaquin Valley communities were brought to the attention of the Secretary, including the impacts of tariffs on Valley agriculture producers and the local economy, the need for an accessible agricultural labor force, the need to improve the reliability of Valley water supplies and the importance of immigration reform to Valley communities.

“I want to thank Secretary Perdue for coming to the Valley and hearing from our local farmers. As a third-generation family farmer, I know first-hand how vitally important trade, water and access to labor are to our Valley’s agricultural system,” said Congressman Costa. “Agriculture is different in every region of the country and it is important to understand these differences. California exports over 40 percent of its products and tariffs are already beginning to negatively affect access to foreign markets. No one wins a trade war and this one will hurt Valley communities and our families. I look forward to working with the Secretary to address these concerns.”


Congressman Jim Costa

Costa continued, “There is no issue more important to the future of the San Joaquin Valley than ensuring reliable water supplies. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Administration in a bipartisan way to bring more water to our Valley.”

Congressman Costa has worked on food policy for decades, both in the California state legislature and the U.S. Congress. As a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, Costa has been appointed to the Farm Bill Conference Committee. The Committee is made up of House members and Senators tasked with reconciling the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the Farm Bill in order to move the policy forward.

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August 14, 2018

Yosemite Valley to Reopen to Visitors on Tuesday, August 14th, at 9:00 a.m.
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to reopen on Monday, August 13th

Yosemite National Park is pleased to announce that Yosemite Valley will reopen to visitors on Tuesday, August 14th, at 9:00 a.m. Yosemite Valley has been closed to visitors since Wednesday, July 25th, due to impacts from the Ferguson Fire. Visitors can access Yosemite Valley from the El Portal Road (Highway 140), the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120), or the Tioga Road (Highway 120).

The Wawona Road (Highway 41) will remain closed from Wawona to Yosemite Valley for at least another week due to ongoing fire activity and firefighter operations. Park visitors should be aware that there is still active fire and smoke on the roads and people should drive with extreme caution. Delays on the roads are possible due to fire activity and ongoing firefighter operations. There will be limited hours and limited visitor services at park facilities as the park returns to normal operations.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will reopen to the public on Monday, August 13th, at 9:00 a.m. Visitors can access the Mariposa Grove via the South Entrance (Highway 41) and park in the newly constructed parking area. The free shuttle buses to the Mariposa Grove will begin at 9:00 am. and take visitors to the newly restored Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The Mariposa Grove reopened to visitors on June 14th, after a 3 year restoration project conducted in partnership with Yosemite Conservancy. Visitors will be able to travel to the Wawona area via the South Entrance (Highway 41). However, there is no access to Yosemite Valley via HIghway 41.

The Glacier Point Road remains closed and is expected to open when the Wawona Road (Highway 41) reopens. The Hetch Hetchy Area remains closed due to smoke impacts but is expected to reopen soon.

"We'd like to express our sincere gratitude to the firefighters and, Incident command teams for their great efforts in suppressing the Ferguson Fire. We'd also like to express our gratitude and thanks to our gateway communites who tirelessly helped visitors to the area while they were being impacted by the fire", stated Michael Reynolds, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. "This is truly a historic and unprecedented event in park history, and we are thrilled to welcome back visitors to Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove."

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again. Updated information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose and on the Yosemite National Park Facebook page.

For the latest information on the Ferguson Fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5927/.
For updated maps of the Ferguson Fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/maps/5927/.

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

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August 14, 2018

 

Four promoted, one sworn in at Merced PD

It was a busy day for the Merced Police Department Friday as four officers were promoted and one new officer joined the ranks.
Police Chief Christopher Goodwin presided over the ceremonies calling it a “great day” for the Department when it gets to promote so many within its ranks. One new captain, a lieutenant and two new sergeants were promoted.
Don King started working at the Merced Police Department in 1994 as a patrol officer. He has worked as a K-9 officer, in the Traffic Division and served as a Field Training Officer. He was assigned to the Investigations Division in 2001 and promoted to sergeant in 2007. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2016. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
He spent eight years as a SWAT operator and supervised the Crime Scene Response Team, Defensive Tactics Unit and the Disruptive Area Response Team (DART).
Joseph Weiss has been with the Depart for 20 year. Originally from Fresno, he came to Merced in 1996, He’s been a patrol officer, detective, and sergeant. He’s been on the SWAT team, Crime Scene Response Team, High Tech Crimes Unit, the Bomb Squad and the Terrorism Liaison Officer. He holds a degree in criminology and is currently in a master’s degree program. Weiss and his wife, Shauna, have a daughter, Sidney, 21, and a son, Jacob, 16.
Emily Foster is a Modesto native and has lived in Merced for the past 16 years. She started at the Department as a management analyst and was a reserve officer before becoming a police officer 11 years ago. She served as a School Resource Officer and a Field Training Officer and has been on the Crime Scene Response Team and the Hostage Negotiations Team. She holds bachelor’s degrees in organization communications and business administration and a master’s degree in business administration. In her free time she enjoys traveling, gardening, playing roller derby and spending time with her 10 nieces and nephews. She volunteers as the chair of the Junior Leadership Merced Committer through the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce.
Christopher Russell, a Merced native and Merced High graduate, was hired by the Merced Police Department in 1998 and was a Field Training Officer and served on the Street Crimes Unit. He’s been a major crimes investigator for the past 11 years. He has a bachelor’s degree.
Logan Cunning is from Fresno and will be sworn in as a police officer. He holds an Associate’s degree in criminology and a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Fresno State where he was on the President’s List with a 4.0 GPA. In his spare time he likes playing men’s league baseball, spending time with his girlfriend, Kersten McLain, and playing with his dog.
The Department has filled 90 of the 98 budgeted positions. Goodwin has made recruitment and retention a Department priority when he took over the Department as acting chief at the beginning of the year, and has continued that effort after becoming permanent Chief in June.
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.


Don King is sworn in as a captain by Police Chief Christopher Goodwin Friday.


New Merced Police Officer Logan Cunning gets his badge pinned on by family members.]


New Sgts. Emily Foster and Christopher Russell are sworn in by Police Chief Christopher Goodwin Friday.

After she pinned the badge on her son, Lt. Joseph Weiss, Susan Weiss cheered.

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August 14, 2018

Atwater FFA Officers Attend Leadership Retreat

Written by: Atwater FFA

 

“It Starts Now” was selected as the 2018-2019 Atwater FFA theme as advisors and chapter officers gathered at South Lake Tahoe, CA for their annual Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat. “This year’s theme correlates with numerous academic, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration opportunities students will have through their enrollment and involvement in FFA and agriculture education this upcoming school year,” said Atwater FFA President Emmanuel Mejia. The primary goals of the annual three day retreat was to plan the calendar, identify yearly objectives to help strengthen and continue the growth of its members and program, and strengthen team building skills.

“Our officer team starts the school year with focus, vision, and enthusiasm in leading their organization and our students,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. This year’s officer team hopes to inspire student leadership, expand personal success, increase participation from current members, and strengthen recruitment of new members.

Highlights from the leadership retreat included visiting the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park to participate in aerial trekking courses, such as zip lines and other treetop obstacles. This was the first time on a ropes course for all the students. “The experience made me face my fear of heights, overcome challenges, and gain self-confidence through the experience,” said FFA officer Luz Soto. “I experience was exhilarating!” Personality tests, team-building activities, and various recreational lake activities also took place among the students during the retreat.

The Atwater High School agriculture program has been recognized as one of the state’s most productive agriculture programs by the California Agricultural Teacher’s Association (CATA) and the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). “We have tremendous support from our school


The 2018-2019 Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Team's Emmanuel Mejia (President), Cristal Venegas (Vice President), Kaya Briscoe (Treasurer), Elisabeth Garner (Secretary), Luz Soto (Historian), Alyssa Carrillo (Reporter), and Alfredo Elirraraz (Sentinel) gathered at South lake Tahoe for the annual chapter leadership retreat.


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administration, school district, and our community in supporting FFA and agriculture education as a way to get students involved and provide individuals with purpose, direction and self-confidence in life,” said agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Shelby West.

The new officer team is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that the upcoming 2018-2019 school year holds for them. This year’s officer team includes Emmanuel Mejia, President; Cristal Venegas, Vice President; Elisabeth Garner, Secretary; Kaya Briscoe, Treasurer; Alyssa Carrillo, Reporter; Alfredo Elizarraraz, Sentinel; and Luz Soto, Historian. In addition to the Atwater FFA chapter officers, one other Atwater FFA member (Michael Bray) joined the leadership retreat as he will be serving as a sectional FFA officer within the Merced-Mariposa section.

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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August 10 , 2018

RED CROSS BRINGS COMFORT TO MARIPOSA IN WAKE OF FERGUSON FIRE

Mariposa, Calif., August 9, 2018 — In coordination with local government officials, the American Red Cross of the Central Valley has transitioned all shelter relief operations as mandatory evacuations were announced. Yesterday at 2pm, all residents returned home after days and weeks of being evacuated from the Ferguson Fire.

Since July 15, 2018, over 50 Red Cross workers have:
• Served 5,315 meals and snacks
• Distributed nearly 6,000 relief supplies including comfort kits with hygiene items and clean-up kits
• Provided 493 overnight stays in shelters over 24 days
• Made over 630 mental health or health-related contacts

Returning Home and Recovering After a Wildfire
The Red Cross offers the following safety tips for families as they begin to return home and recover from wildfires:
1. Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
2. Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
3. Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
4. Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
5. Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
6. Take precautions while cleaning your property. You may be exposed to potential health risks from hazardous materials.

Find these and other wildfire safety tips online at redcross.org or in the Red Cross Emergency App. Download the Red Cross Emergency App for preparedness information and shelter locations at your fingertips. Look for it in your app store, or text GETEMERGENCY to 90999.

HOW TO HELP

countless other crises, by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help

 

 

You can help people affected by disasters big and small, like wildfires and people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER
The Red Cross is accepting new volunteers who are interested in supporting wildfire relief efforts. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to begin an application. Once submitted, Red Cross representatives will contact the applicants regarding orientation and volunteer opportunities.

LEARN MORE
Follow the local Red Cross on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates. Visit our website at redcross.org/centralcalifornia.


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

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August 9 , 2018

Volunteers Complete Colorful Project at Peterson Elementary

Students at Peterson Elementary in Merced will return to a blacktop play area filled with colorful new artwork and activities when school resumes on August 15. Members of the Parent Teacher Club (PTC) volunteered their time to paint a large map of the United States and a map of the continents as well as 10 foursquare courts and three hopscotch courts.
PTC vice president Robin Kuhls says it’s a project she’s been dreaming of for the past two years. She’s the mother of a current Peterson fourth grader and two freshmen who also attended the school. She says when the district did a fresh slurry seal on the blacktop last year as part of a Measure M improvement project, she knew it was time to make the vision a reality.
The PTC held a fundraiser to purchase supplies and planned the design before Kuhls and 11 other volunteers went to work on July 30. They set up small tents to help shield them from the summer heat and finished the project on August 2. Kuhls says, “I’m ecstatic that we were able to do this for all of the children at Peterson. I can’t wait to see them out there enjoying it soon!” Kulhs adds that this is just phase one of the project, and they have more exciting ideas in mind for phase two.
Peterson Elementary principal Suzanne Fagundes says, “We are so grateful for the time and effort that our PTC board and members put into this project. It will not only give our students more fun activities to enjoy outdoors, but it will also help them with geography.”
Peterson Learning Director Josy Pulido adds, “It makes Peterson look vibrant and inviting! Our PTC is incredibly hard working and dedicated to our kids.”
The Merced City School District would also like to thank all of the volunteers who helped with this project: Robin Kuhls, Kelly McKain, Christa Bruner, Silvia Linan, Amy Jimenez, Zandra Villanueva, Allison Speidel, Rocio Salazar, David Sanchez, Michelle Taylor, Jeff Chiesa, and Felix Noriega.

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The first two photos were taken via a drone, and I would ask that you please courtesy Tany Laguna on those.


the volunteers who worked on the project, and their names are listed at the bottom of this press release.




 

 

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August 9 , 2018

Merced Police Department accepting applications for the Citizen’s Police Academy that starts September 5, 2018.

Deadline to register is Friday, August 24 @ 4 p.m. or when the class size reaches 28 participants.
Narrative:
The Citizen’s Police Academy is one of the programs that Police Chief Christopher Goodwin has in place to help residents gain understanding about the City of Merced Police Department and about the law enforcement profession. Each year the department takes 45-55 residents through the eleven week program.
Each week the participants meet with department experts to learn about the various procedures, programs and specialty units within the police department. By reaching out to the community through programs like the Citizen’s Academy, the police department strengthens the trust that the community has in the police department and the trust that the community has in the officers who are sworn to serve and protect the residents of Merced.

 

 

The next eleven week session begins on September 5, 2018. Citizen’s Academy meetings are held each Wednesday evening from 6 pm – 9 pm.
Anyone interested in applying for the Citizen’s Police Academy can pick up an application at the Police Department located at 611 W. 22nd Street.
Applications are also available online through the City of Merced website
(cityofmerced.org). Completed applications may be delivered to the department or faxed to (209) 388-8943.
For additional information contact Community Liaison Eugene Drummond at (209) 385-6297.

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August 9 , 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM THE BLACK RASCAL CANAL
TO OAKDALE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing grinding and paving work on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from the south fork of the Black Rascal Canal to Oakdale Road in Merced.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Black Rascal Canal to Oakdale Road beginning Sunday, August 5, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.

• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Belcher Avenue to Oakdale Road beginning Monday, August 6, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The purpose of this project is to restore the roadway, extend the service life of the pavement and to limit costly maintenance efforts for the future, both for motorists and taxpayers. An overlay of rubberized asphalt concrete will be used to enhance this section of SR-59/Snelling Highway – a pivotal roadway for local motorists and agricultural traffic.
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
STATE ROUTE 33/SANTA NELLA BOULEVARD
FROM STATE ROUTE 152 TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33)/Santa Nella Boulevard from SR-152 to Vera Cruz Drive and from McCabe Road in Santa Nella to SR-140 in Gustine for grinding and paving work.

Work is scheduled beginning Sunday, August 5, 2018, through Friday, August 10, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

This work is part of a project that will install a slurry seal (a mixture that rejuvenates pavement) and asphalt overlays for 13.3 miles from SR-152 to SR-140 in Merced County.

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

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE TO END
STATE ROUTE 49 RE-OPENING FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 132 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is scheduled to re-open northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) by the end of the day on Friday, August 3, 2018, after a long-term closure dating to the Moccasin Storm in March.

The closure is necessary for repair work due to the violent storm that included heavy rain fall in a short stretch of time, causing multiple road washouts in Mariposa County, on Thursday, March 22, 2018.
Caltrans crews and construction partners have rebuilt the slopes along the shoulders of the road; installed a new drainage system including 24-inch flumes (artificial channels for conducting water); put down fiber rolls and wattles (erosion control measures) and repaved the road. Restriping the road is scheduled in the morning on Friday, August 3.
Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

For videos on the storm repair work being done by Caltrans and our construction partners, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_XAGWcbbqoV2h6LOQR7WnQ.

 

 

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

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
LONG-TERM RAMP AND REST AREA CLOSURE
TURLOCK REST AREA OFF SOUTHBOUND STATE ROUTE 99

TURLOCK – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed the Turlock Rest Area off southbound State Route 99 (SR-99), and the on and off-ramps at this location, until October 2018 for highway construction.

The Turlock Rest Area off northbound SR-99 – also known as the Enoch Christoffersen Northbound Rest Area – will be open during this time.

This work is part of a project that is replacing the two outside lanes and shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Bradbury Road in Merced County to just north of the Merced/Stanislaus County line.
This is the second phase of the project, where the #2 (center) and #3 (right) lanes and outside shoulder are being restored with reinforced concrete pavement. The closure of the Turlock Rest Area – also known as the Enoch Christoffersen Southbound Rest Area – is scheduled to alleviate traffic congestion.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM THE MERCED/MADERA COUNTY LINE
TO HARVARD AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various full on and off-ramp closures and intermittent lane closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from the Madera/Merced county line to Harvard Avenue for highway construction.

No two consecutive ramps will be closed simultaneously.

Work is scheduled as follows:

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound SR-99 at the truck inspection station just north of the county line for striping beginning Sunday, August 5, 2018, through Friday, August 10, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at Sandy Mush Road and at Le Grand Road for striping beginning Sunday, August 5, 2018, through Friday, August 10, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The ramp closures are all part of a project that is re-striping 27 miles of northbound and southbound SR-99 in Merced County. The intermittent lane closures include the #1 (left), #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes of the road.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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


CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM ORTIGALITA CREEK BRIDGE
TO WEST BANK ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans will perform ramp closures and alternating lane and shoulder closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Ortigalita Creek Bridge to West Bank Road.

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.

There is a scheduled full closure of the connector ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound SR-152 for bridge work beginning Sunday, August 5, 2018, through Friday, August 10, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 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/.

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August 9 , 2018

Costa on Tariffs Hurting the San Joaquin Valley

Fresno, CA – Today, Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) issued the following statement in response to the retaliatory tariffs China implemented today, thus continuing the escalation of the trade war between China and the United States:

“We’re all concerned about addressing imbalanced and unfair trade practices, which has to be our end-game. But we are losing this end-game. These tariffs are hurting the San Joaquin Valley and people across the nation, and it is only getting worse. We must stop this trade war before it reaches a point where it will have long-term damaging effects. Ultimately, we must work together for a resolution between the United States, Canada, Mexico, and our European and Pacific Rim allies for how to most effectively deal with China and other countries to ensure fair and balanced trade.”

Congressman Costa has been a leading advocate for ensuring that California agriculture stays competitive in the midst of the Administration’s tariff-based approach to addressing trade imbalances. Rep. Costa immediately warned of the trade war and consequences that would likely result from the tariffs since the Administration signed its initial tariffs on steel and aluminum in March, noting that “California agriculture will likely feel the most intense and direct pain from these tariffs. California farmers and ranchers earned about $21 billion from trade in 2016, which was roughly 44 percent of their total revenue.”

Since then, Costa has pressed the Administration to take a more strategic and long-term approach to trade as well as urged his colleagues to come together and reassert Congress’s constitutional authority and responsibility in U.S. trade agreements. In May he led fellow California House members in a united bipartisan message calling on United States Trade Representative Robert


Congressman Jim Costa



Lighthizer to address unfair or unbalanced trade practices “through aligned efforts with our allies across the globe and abandon the current back and forth retaliation that will ultimately impact both rural and urban businesses in California and across the nation.”

Just last week, Rep. Costa again led a bipartisan coalition message to the Administration. The coalition – led by Costa and Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-10) – called on U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work with members of Congress and specialty crop producers to ensure the producers receive mitigation dollars equal to the damage the specialty crop industry is already feeling from the retaliatory tariffs.

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July 10 , 2018

The lobby of the Merced Civic Center was packed with family, friends, colleagues, and community leaders watching Chris Goodwin being sworn-in as Chief of Police by Mayor Mike Murphy. Chief Goodwin now serves as the leader of the City of Merced Police Department composed of 95 sworn officers and 33 non-sworn personnel.

“Serving the streets of Merced for over 22 years, Chief Goodwin brings his experience and education to the Merced Police Department,” says Mayor Mike Murphy. “He is also well anchored in the community, has an established network, and possesses institutional knowledge from the prior positions he held.”

Chief Goodwin has enthusiasm for recruiting well-qualified officers, setting a goal of integrating technology with community based policing and desire to push the department to evolve with law enforcement trends, truly sets him apart. According to City Manager Steve Carrigan, “Chief Chris Goodwin is passionate about his home and protecting those within his community.”

“I am honored to serve the City of Merced as its Police Chief. Our community expects a high Quality of Life. Council responds by assembling one of the finest Police Departments in the San Joaquin Valley,” says Chief Goodwin.

A Santa Clara native, Chief Goodwin came to the Merced Police department in 1996. He worked his way up through the ranks starting in patrol. He continued to serve as a detective and later a sergeant - both supervising patrol and the Gang Violence Suppression Unit. He was then promoted to Lieutenant and later Captain, specializing in SWAT, defense tactics and the department’s active shooter program for over 15 of his 22 years. This extensive experience coupled with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice have prepared him to take the next step in his career - as the Chief of the Merced Police Department.

Chief Chris Goodwin is married to Jackie Goodwin, and a father to his two sons – Joel and Jenson and his daughter Carolina. He enjoys working-out, is an avid duck hunter, and a college sports fan.


Chief Chris Goodwin

 

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July 10 , 2018

Students enjoy hands-on STEAM lessons at MCSD Summer Academy

More than a thousand students from throughout the Merced City School District are enjoying a variety of fun and interactive learning opportunities during Summer Academy.
They’re getting a chance to create their own math games, produce videos, make instruments, conduct science experiments, and much more! There are also special performances, assemblies, and educational excursions to places such as local zoos, museums, colleges, and universities. The content is further supported through literature, computer simulations, and art projects.
All of the activities and other classroom instruction are based around integrated STEAM learning – science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. This approach helps students develop 21st century skills including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
The session started June 18 and will continue through July 13. The classes are open to children who are going into kindergarten through 8th grade. They are being held at Sheehy Elementary, Givens Elementary, and the MCSD STEAM Center. At the end of the program, students will present their projects to their families and peers during a special showcase.
Summer Academy also offers online programs for foreign language and mathematics. Students enrolled in those courses can work from home at their own pace but also have the option of attending classes at the school sites for extra support and unique learning opportunities that incorporate art into both subjects. Those who meet certain math requirements this summer will be eligible for advanced math classes in the fall, setting them on an accelerated college/career path by completing high school requirements while still in middle school.
MCSD began offering Summer Academy in 2013 to give students more time to learn, and it has continued to evolve into an enriching experience that students, parents, and staff look forward to each year.
Please let me know if you have any questions.





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July 10, 2018

City of Merced False Alarm Reduction Program
City to go live on July 1, 2018

The City of Merced will go live with their new Alarm Reduction Program on July 1, 2018. In an effort to reduce false alarms within the City of Merced, the City has updated its alarm ordinance and collaborated with PM AM Corporation to implement and administer the False Alarm Reduction Program. The partnership will also provide educational training for our citizens. PM AM is a national company with expertise in this area and will be responsible for our alarm permit registrations, false alarm billings, and educational material. Per Chief Goodwin, PM AM has a record of providing excellent customer service. As of July 1, A False Alarm Management System (FAMS) website has been established to assist City of Merced customers atwww.FAMSpermit.com/Merced . Prior to July 1, please continue to contact the Merced Police Department at 209-388-7800 for questions or permit processing.

The goal of the ordinance and the city’s partnership with PM AM is to reduce the number of false alarm activations requiring a response by the Merced Police Department. Chief Goodwin states, “This will free up police resources and reduce the fines levied on alarm customers by having a company who can reach out to the citizens of our city who may have alarm malfunctions. With this type of partnership the alarm owner should be notified quickly of any false alarms so that they can correct the malfunction.” With fewer false alarm activations the officers will be available to respond to the more urgent calls.

For current alarm permit holders, there is nothing that will need to be done. All

 

account and transaction history will be uploaded to the new system. As of July 1, 2018, users will be able to visit the citizen web portal and they will be able to request a user name and password. Once the user validates their information, the system will email back their username and password. For those citizens who are unable to complete the new account setup, you may contact PM AM at 1-888-387-1959 and a customer service representative will be able to assist you.

Initial Alarm Registration: The City of Merced Alarm Ordinance requires all residents and businesses to apply for an alarm permit by completing an online application available atwww.FAMSpermit.com/Merced. Alternatively, citizens can also complete the application by hand and send it to:

City of Merced False Alarm Reduction Program
P.O. Box 141415
Irving, TX 75014

Failure to register your alarm will result in additional penalties or fines.

For any questions related to the City of Merced Alarm Reduction Program, please call PM AM at 1-888-387-1958 Monday through Friday 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM PST.

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July 10 , 2018

The Next Chapter of California’s Water Wars Has Begun


(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement condemning today’s announcement from the State Water Resources Control Board to ignore decade’s worth of science and public opinion by adopting radical new requirements to seize and waste critically needed San Joaquin Valley water supplies.

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars. The board has chosen to create, in their own words, ‘a permanent regulatory drought’ and shrugged off our concerns as ‘significant but unavoidable’.

This is what theft looks like. A small group of special interests have spent years plotting one of the largest water takes in our state’s history. They attempted and failed to change the law and win in court, so instead they have infiltrated government itself. They positioned their allies to influence the process from within and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up their house of cards. Despite entire agencies at their disposal and seemingly unlimited funds, no amount of trickery can obscure the truth – their fish first philosophy will decimate our region, poison our drinking water, and provide no environmental benefit what-so-ever.

These special interests are desperate to claim the moral high ground and demonize our entire region. They speak about the people of the San Joaquin Valley as if we are parasites on the land and demand we apologize for our very existence.

They do this because without the zealous drumbeat of environmentalism on


Assemblymember Adam C. Gray

their side, the truth would have an opportunity to surface. People would begin to question the wisdom of poisoning the drinking water of poor immigrant communities or the sense in decimating the farms that feed the nation and fields that make California’s farm-to-fork movement possible. People would question why the proponents of a plan designed to save fish cannot demonstrate any meaningful benefit to those very fish or why the questions and concerns of a million people do not deserve even a halfhearted response. People might even question whether it is really environmentally friendly to sacrifice the health of one environment for the health of another.

They have left us no alternative. We will continue to negotiate with the best interests of the Valley at heart, but, if the state continues to violate the principles of good faith, a decades worth of lawsuits are about to begin.

The final public comment period is now open until July 27th with final adoption scheduled for August 21st. Please submit your comments to tell the State Water Board exactly how their plan will impact your community. They have made the comment period short to try to keep us quiet. Let’s not let them.”

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July 10, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM THE TRUCK INSPECTION STATION
TO LE GRAND ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from the truck inspection station to Le Grand Road in Merced County for striping work.

Work is scheduled as follows:

• Full on-ramp closure from the truck inspection station to northbound SR-99 beginning Sunday, July 8, 2018, through Friday, July 13, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

• Full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at Sandy Mush Road and at Le Grand Road beginning Sunday, July 8, 2018, through Friday, July 13, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

This work is part of a project that is re-striping 27 miles total of SR-99 in Merced County.
The 6-inch stripes being installed improve the safety and mobility of the roadway by improving visibility and road comprehension for motorists. The reflective material used is also beneficial for emerging technology that allows autonomous vehicles to “see” the road clearly.
There will also be intermittent lane closures for 11 miles on southbound SR-99 from Harvard Avenue to the Merced/Madera County line at the same time as the ramp closures.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

 

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

 


CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM THE BLACK RASCAL CANAL
TO OAKDALE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing pavement work on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from the south fork of the Black Rascal Canal to Oakdale Road in Merced.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Black Rascal Canal to Belcher Avenue beginning Sunday, July 8, 2018, through Monday, July 9, 2018, from 9:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. for grinding and paving.

• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Belcher Avenue to Oakdale Road beginning Tuesday, July 10, 2018, through Friday, July 13, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for grinding and paving.

This work is part of a 6.8 mile pavement improvement project on SR-59.
The purpose of this project is to restore the roadway, extend the service life of the pavement and to limit costly maintenance efforts for the future, both for motorists and taxpayers. An overlay of rubberized asphalt concrete will be used to enhance this section of SR-59/Snelling Highway – a pivotal roadway for local motorists and agricultural traffic.
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.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 132 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) long term for approximately 15 miles from Bear Valley to the junction with SR-132. (Due to the Fourth of July holiday, there is no scheduled construction Wednesday, July 4, 2018, or Thursday, July 5, 2018.)

The closure is necessary for repair work due to the violent storm on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Caltrans crews and construction partners are working to re-open this section of SR-49 by Wednesday, August 1, 2018.
The roadway on this stretch of SR-49 was severely eroded due to the massive amount of water and must be given a new foundation and fully repaired before re-opening. This effort is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists.

The town of Coulterville is accessible via southbound SR-49 and via eastbound and westbound SR-132. SR-49 and SR-132 meet in Coulterville. Businesses are open in Coulterville.

Motorists can expect an additional hour of travel time due to the closure.

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 videos on the storm repair work being done by Caltrans and our construction partners, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_XAGWcbbqoV2h6LOQR7WnQ

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June 26, 2018

Turn in illegal fireworks, no questions asked

People possess illegal fireworks and want to get rid of them legally can dispose of them during the City’s Safe Surrender Day Sat., June 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’re not going to ask any questions. We don’t care how you got them, we just want them off the streets and out of people’s homes,” said Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson.
People can turn the fireworks in at Fire Station 51, the Fire Department’s headquarters, located at 99 E. 16th St. Fire personnel will be on hand to take them and put them in a safe container.
“This isn’t some sort of a sting operation,” Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin said. “This is a public safety campaign. Illegal fireworks are dangerous. They can cause fires, they can hurt people, they are a public nuisance. We just want people to know how they can safely get rid of illegal fireworks without setting them off.”
The City has cracked down on illegal fireworks and so far four people were arrested for the sale of illegal fireworks. The police and fire department have plans for holiday enforcement teams to patrol City streets during the Fourth of July holidays citing people for setting off illegal fireworks. Fines can range from $1,000 to $2,000 and there is the possibility of criminal prosecution.
Illegal fireworks are generally anything that explodes or leaves the ground, and doesn’t have the California Fire Marshal’s Seal of Approval. They would include firecrackers, barrel bombs, M-80s, skyrockets and mortars. They are commonly bought out-of-state and brought into California. It’s also illegal to modify the “safe and sane” fireworks that are sold in Merced.
People with questions about Safe Surrender Day can call 209-388-SAFE (388-7233).
Call 388-SAFE to report illegal fireworks
People are encouraged to report anyone they see or know who is buying, selling, distributing, possessing or setting off illegal fireworks by calling 209-388-SAFE (388-7233). Someone will answer the line as available, but all messages will be followed up on.
Please don’t call 911 except to report a fire or injury. Part of the problem with illegal fireworks is that authorities usually receive multiple calls for any one offender. One neighbor setting off numerous skyrockets can swamp the 911 dispatchers with many calls on the same incident. The 209-388-SAFE number relieves pressure on the emergency dispatchers but still allows the illegal fireworks to get reported and acted upon.

 

On July 3 and 4 there will be a call center opened from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and operators will be answering the phones and sending reports of illegal fireworks directly to dispatchers. The information will be forwarded to teams in the field.
In addition, people can report illegal fireworks by sending an email tocelebratesafe@cityofmerced.org. Those emails will also get forwarded to authorities.
A third option is to report illegal fireworks using the Merced Connect app. The Merced Connect app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play. In addition to allowing you to report illegal fireworks, residents can obtain other information about City government.

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June 22, 2018

A heat wave arrives, cooling zone opens over weekend

The City of Merced will open its cooling zone Saturday and Sunday as a heat wave arrives in the first days of summer. Temperatures are forecast to reach 105 degrees for Saturday and 102 Sunday before dropping to 98 degrees on Monday.

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

“This weather doesn’t look like it will last long, but it is opening the door for a hot summer time,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “The cooling zone will give residents a cool place to go to escape the summer heat.”

“As always, we are asking people to check in on your neighbors, watch out for our vulnerable populations,” Dietz said. “Try to stay cool, and don’t leave kids or pets in your vehicles.”

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

Information on other cooling zones in Merced County can be found atwww.co.merced.ca.us

Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.

Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness

 

 

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke—which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature—may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness

What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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June 22, 2018

Assemblymember Adam Gray Honors Veteran of the Year

Assemblymember Adam Gray honored Modesto American GI Forum Commander Steve Fimbrez as the Veteran of the Year for the 21st Assembly District. Commander Fimbrez was honored yesterday at a luncheon in Sacramento.

Steve joined the U.S. Air Force in July 1975, and he was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas for basic training. After completing basic training he was stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul Illinois where he trained to become a Fire
Protection Specialist. Later Steve received additional training at Chanute Air Force Base for Munitions and advanced Firefighter Rescue training. Steve was honorably discharged from the Air Force in July 1979.Upon returning to his home state of California, Steve continued his career as a Firefighter at the Defense Depot in Tracy, California. In January of 1982 he was hired by the Modesto Fire Department where he rose to the rank of Captain and retired after 33 years of service.

Steve is currently serving as the Commander for the American GI Forum PFC Oscar Sanchez Chapter of Modesto. He also serves as the Secretary for the State of California American GI Forum, and is the second Vice Commander for the newly formed American GI
Forum Riders, which is a veteran’s motorcycle and car club. Steve is currently serving as the veteran representative for the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging.

“Our community is fortunate to have such a dedicated individual such as Steve Fimbrez serving the needs of our veterans and their families,” said Assemblymember Gray. “Steve is a stellar example of how many in our armed forces continue their service for a lifetime.”


Modesto American GI Forum Commander Steve Fimbrez as the Veteran of the Year for the 21st Assembly District.

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June 22, 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM THE BLACK RASCAL CANAL
TO OAKDALE ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing pavement work on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) from the south fork of the Black Rascal Canal to Oakdale Road in Merced.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Black Rascal Canal to Belcher Avenue beginning Monday, June 25, 2018, through Friday, June 29, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. for grinding and paving.

• One-way traffic control on northbound and southbound SR-59 from Belcher Avenue to Oakdale Road beginning Monday, June 25, 2018, through Friday, June 29, 2018, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for grinding and paving.

This work is part of a 6.8 mile pavement improvement project on SR-59.
The purpose of this project is to restore the roadway, extend the service life of the pavement and to limit costly maintenance efforts for the future, both for motorists and taxpayers. An overlay of rubberized asphalt concrete will be used to enhance this section of SR-59/Snelling Highway – a pivotal roadway for local motorists and agricultural traffic.
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
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road in Santa Nella to SR-140 in Gustine for pavement work.

Work is scheduled beginning Sunday, June 24, 2018, through Friday, June 29, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

This work is part of a project that will install a slurry seal (a mixture that rejuvenates pavement) and asphalt overlays for 13.3 miles from SR-152 to SR-140 in Merced County.

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

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 AT GOLDEN STATE BOULEVARD IN TURLOCK

TURLOCK – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform shoulder work on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) at Golden State Boulevard in Merced County.

Full on and off-ramp closures are scheduled on northbound and southbound SR-99 at Golden State Boulevard beginning Sunday, June 24, 2018, through Tuesday, June 26, 2018, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

The closures for shoulder work at Golden State Boulevard are part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of Bradbury Road to just north of the county line.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 132 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) long term for approximately 15 miles from Bear Valley to the junction with SR-132.

The closure is necessary for repair work due to the violent storm on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Caltrans crews and construction partners are working to re-open this section of SR-49 by Wednesday, August 1, 2018.
The roadway on this stretch of SR-49 was severely eroded due to the massive amount of water and must be given a new foundation and fully repaired before re-opening. This effort is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists.

Northbound and southbound SR-49 from the Mariposa/Tuolumne County line to Moccasin/SR-120 was re-opened on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Eastbound and westbound SR-132 from Granite Springs Road to Piney Creek Road in Mariposa County was re-opened on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Motorists can expect an additional hour of travel time due to the closure.

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 videos on the storm repair work being done by Caltrans and our construction partners, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_XAGWcbbqoV2h6LOQR7WnQ.

 

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

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June 22, 2018

Costa Continues Advocating for Bipartisan Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the House of Representative passed H.R. 2, more commonly known as the Farm Bill, with a razor-thin margin vote of 213 to 211:

“The partisan Farm Bill the House passed today abandons some of the most vulnerable people in our Valley. At the same time, it fails to build on the farm policies in previous Farm Bills that have successfully supported California producers. As I said when I voted against this exact same bill last month, it simply fails our farmers and our families. Worst of all, while the House advanced a bad Farm Bill today, it has failed to address the two largest issues currently facing California agriculture: ensuring a stable agricultural workforce and dealing with the President’s unnecessary and harmful trade war.

“While I do not support the Farm Bill the House passed, I am hopeful that the action taken today will bring us one step closer to conferencing with the U.S. Senate. I look forward to getting back to work on a bipartisan Farm Bill that serves farmers, feeds Americans, and provides our nation with food security.”


Congressman Jim Costa


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June 21, 2018

Turn in illegal fireworks, no questions asked

People possess illegal fireworks and want to get rid of them legally can dispose of them during the City’s Safe Surrender Day Sat., June 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’re not going to ask any questions. We don’t care how you got them, we just want them off the streets and out of people’s homes,” said Merced Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson.
People can turn the fireworks in at Fire Station 51, the Fire Department’s headquarters, located at 99 E. 16th St. Fire personnel will be on hand to take them and put them in a safe container.
“This isn’t some sort of a sting operation,” Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin said. “This is a public safety campaign. Illegal fireworks are dangerous. They can cause fires, they can hurt people, they are a public nuisance. We just want people to know how they can safely get rid of illegal fireworks without setting them off.”
The City has cracked down on illegal fireworks and so far four people were arrested for the sale of illegal fireworks. The police and fire department have plans for holiday enforcement teams to patrol City streets during the Fourth of July holidays citing people for setting off illegal fireworks. Fines can range from $1,000 to $2,000 and there is the possibility of criminal prosecution.
Illegal fireworks are generally anything that explodes or leaves the ground, and doesn’t have the California Fire Marshal’s Seal of Approval. They would include firecrackers, barrel bombs, M-80s, skyrockets and mortars. They are commonly bought out-of-state and brought into California. It’s also illegal to modify the “safe and sane” fireworks that are sold in Merced.
People with questions about Safe Surrender Day can call 209-388-SAFE (388-7233).
Call 388-SAFE to report illegal fireworks
People are encouraged to report anyone they see or know who is buying, selling, distributing, possessing or setting off illegal fireworks by calling 209-388-SAFE (388-7233). Someone will answer the line as available, but all messages will be followed up on.
Please don’t call 911 except to report a fire or injury. Part of the problem with illegal fireworks is that authorities usually receive multiple calls for any one offender. One neighbor setting off numerous skyrockets can swamp the 911 dispatchers with many calls on the same incident. The 209-388-SAFE number relieves pressure on the emergency dispatchers but still allows the illegal fireworks to get reported and acted upon.

 

On July 3 and 4 there will be a call center opened from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and operators will be answering the phones and sending reports of illegal fireworks directly to dispatchers. The information will be forwarded to teams in the field.
In addition, people can report illegal fireworks by sending an email tocelebratesafe@cityofmerced.org. Those emails will also get forwarded to authorities.
A third option is to report illegal fireworks using the Merced Connect app. The Merced Connect app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play. In addition to allowing you to report illegal fireworks, residents can obtain other information about City government.

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June 20, 2018

Christopher Goodwin named Merced Police Chief

(A swearing in ceremony for Merced Police Chief Christopher Goodwin will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 6 in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St., Merced.)

From patrolling the streets of Merced, to managing drug informants, to supervising the SWAT team, Christopher Goodwin has pretty much done it all in the Merced Police Department.

On June 18, he will have achieved the top position in the Department as he becomes the police chief for the City of Merced.

Goodwin, a 21-year veteran of the Department, has been doing the job temporarily since the retirement of Chief Norman Andrade in December.

“Chris was the best person for the job,” City Manager Steve Carrigan said when he made the announcement Tuesday. “He knows the City, he knows the community, he knows the Department. He has everything I was looking for in a police chief.

“Chief Goodwin is the most qualified for the job. He’s been a beat cop, he’s commanded the patrol officers and command staff, he’s led SWAT and the training program,” Carrigan said. “And a big advantage he has is that Chris has been doing the chief’s job for the last seven months where he has been terrific, so it will be a seamless transition.”

“It’s a lot of work being chief, but I’m excited for this opportunity to work with the community and the City and the individuals in this Department,” Goodwin said. “I received a lot of support over the last several months from people asking me to take the job, so I feel good about that.”

“Law enforcement is a challenging profession right now,” he said. “To overcome that will take training within the Department, developing competent personnel, and listening to the community. We need to respond to their needs. The more we can get feedback and communicate with the community, the better off we will be.”

To address the challenges Goodwin is working on a body camera/video policy and increasing and enhancing the use of social media in the Department.

The chief plans to bring a policy to the City Council that would outline the release of video from officer worn body cameras and car cameras. “It comes back to being more transparent to the community, and also being able to tell our side of the story,” he said.

“That’s why I think we need to use social media more,” Goodwin said. The Department has a Facebook that is mostly used to post news releases. He plans to set up a Twitter account, and train staff to use the platforms to engage the community more.

While serving as interim chief, Goodwin took ownership of the position and focused on needs of the Department.

Recruiting and retention became one of his priorities, so Goodwin and top management went to police academies to conduct interviews with recruits who were reluctant to take a day off from classes and come to Merced to interview for a job.

“We are hiring for dispatchers and police officers” is something Goodwin seems to work into just about every conversation. The change and more aggressive recruiting resulted in numerous candidates applying for jobs in Merced, with three candidates in training and six waiting to start classes in July.

Other changes followed in the Department. A focus on promotions resulted in a new lieutenant and two new sergeants. The Department was reorganized creating better span and control, allowing for better accountability.

The City Council is in the process of evaluating the construction of a new police headquarters building, and Goodwin attended a conference in Dallas devoted to police station construction. He also is one of three top City officials reviewing stacks of cannabis dispensary applications and oversees the background checks on all cannabis business applications.


When Goodwin took over in January he also was plunged into leading the Department’s budget process for the upcoming year. Council indicated it will be adding two dispatchers and a new officer to the force, moving an officer off of Measure C funding and into the general fund and moving a police officer position up to a sergeant’s position as part of his span and control reorganization.


The City contracts with Merced College to run the campus police department. Goodwin sees that as a beneficial partnership in many ways.

“The criminal justice and reserve classes will help us with recruiting,” he said. “The arrangement let’s us know what’s going on out there because it’s almost a small city unto itself. Now we know and work with the campus officers in case we have to call on them for backup, and we’re working with the college administration on how the campus impacts the City.”

He also plans to reach out to other jurisdictions to begin working with them.

Goodwin worked his way up through the ranks of the Department starting as a patrol officer in 1996. He’s served as a field training officer, detective and sergeant on patrol and in the Gang Violence Suppression Unit. He served as a lieutenant and captain before his appointment to chief. He was in the Department’s SWAT unit and defense tactics instructor, supervisor, lieutenant and captain until he took the reins as chief. Goodwin has been involved with the Department’s active shooter program since 2000.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal science.

Born in Santa Clara and raised in Campbell, he came to Merced as a police officer in 1996. His wife, Jackie, is a local businesswoman. He has a daughter and two sons.

Goodwin is a “huge” college sports fan who became mildly obsessed with the North Carolina Tarheels basketball in the 80s and it has stuck. He also enjoys duck hunting when it is in season and working out with CrossFit.

Goodwin officially assumes the position June 18. The position of police chief pays up to $157,372 a year.

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June 20, 2018

Wolfsen’s Meat and Sausage Honored at the State Capitol as 2018 Small Business of the Year for AD 21

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) joined Vance, Donna, and Warren Wolfsen as they were honored as this year’s “Small Business of the Year” at a luncheon in Sacramento. The annual “Small Business Day” event and luncheon are organized in partnership with the California Small Business Association, and feature representatives from each of California’s 120 Legislative districts.
Wolfsen’s began as the “West Side Locker” in the 1940s offering custom butchering for wild game hunters. The current owners purchased the business in 1988 and eventually focused in on their mission of making and selling high quality meats and sausages. They are known for their “old-world style linguica,” enjoyed by many Merced County natives, and their store has attracted a regular following of customers from every corner of California. Assemblymember Gray and the Wolfsen family were surprised to encounter the honorees from the 13th Assembly District, Genova Bakery of Stockton, which provides Wolfsen’s with the artisan bread used in their deli.
“Today was a wonderful opportunity to recognize the contributions of California’s small businesses – they are the backbone of our economy,” said Gray.

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

 

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


Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) joined Vance, Donna, and Warren Wolfsen

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June 20, 2018

Merced receives grant for physical activity program

MERCED – The City of Merced Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with Dignity Health, will soon be offering adults with arthritis a new way to manage pain and stay fit. Thanks to an instructor training grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the City of Merced in collaboration with Dignity Health will offer the Walk With Ease (WWE) program to the Merced community. Merced City Parks and Recreation is one of 88 park and recreation agencies to receive the WWE instructor training grant.

The WWE program, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, is scientifically proven to help reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, but also offers benefits for people managing other chronic conditions. Studies by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina have shown that the WWE program contributes to reduced pain, increased balance and strength, increased levels of physical activity, and improved overall health.
Together, NRPA and the CDC aim to reach more people living with arthritis and other chronic conditions to improve their levels of physical activity and quality of life through this trusted and measurable program administered by local parks and recreation agencies across the country.
“Sixty percent of adults in the United States suffer from one or more chronic conditions,” said Joey Chavez, Interim Director of Parks and Recreation. “This grant from NRPA and the CDC allows us to help the

older adults in our community, and adds a new way Merced residents can work to achieve a healthy lifestyle. We are excited because this is a new type of program offering for our community, and we hope many people will take advantage of it.”

The programs provided by Parks and Recreation in collaboration with Dignity Health will be offered at the Mercy Outpatient Center located at 2740 M. Street on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 to 10 a.m. Classes run for six weeks and are taught by certified and trained instructors. The classes are ideally suited for anyone that is interested in a low-impact exercise program in their local community, especially those looking to manage their chronic condition. The first session is scheduled to begin June 25, with other sessions rolling out throughout the summer and fall. To register visit the Parks and Recreation office at 632 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340.
For more information, call 385-6235 or visithttps://www.cityofmerced.org/depts/parks_n_community_services/default.asp

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 60,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication,Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

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June 20, 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS TO BEGIN PAVEMENT IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
ON STATE ROUTE 33 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing to begin a 13.3 mile pavement improvement project on State Route 33 (SR-33) from SR-152 to SR-140.

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

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

This work is scheduled to be done at night, and motorists should expect 15 minute delays. There will be lane closures, shoulder closures, and temporary on and off-ramp closures.

This $3.8 million project has been awarded to Granite Construction Company. Construction is scheduled to begin on Sunday, June 24, 2018, and to be completed in October 2018.
While this project is not funded by SB 1, many “fix-it-first” projects like this one are beginning throughout the state to improve roadways. There will be $15 billion used for “fix-it-first” highway repairs across the next decade, including smoothing pavement and filling potholes.

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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June 8, 2018

Assemblymember Gray Honors CASA of Merced County
as the Nonprofit of the Year in Sacramento

Sacramento – Assemblymember Adam Gray was pleased to honor the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Merced County as the 2018 California Nonprofit of the Year from his Assembly District at California Nonprofits Day at the Capitol.

Cathie Lancaster, Executive Director, Nancy Young-Bergman, Founding President, and Bette Woolstenhulme, former Board President, traveled to Sacramento to join with one hundred other nonprofit leaders to be honored by their state Senators and Assemblymembers during a celebration luncheon as part of the 2018 California Nonprofits Day.

“CASA volunteers are often the key element in improving the lives and future of children in the Dependency Court System,” according to Assemblymember Gray. “What these generous and caring members of our community do for some of our most vulnerable children cannot be overstated.”

Founded in September 2010, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Merced County is dedicated to providing quality intervention and advocacy services for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. CASA is seen nationally as a positive solution to the high volume of dependency cases, and Merced County faces one of the highest caseloads per capita in the state. CASA provides important information to the Court in order to assist the judge in making the life-changing decisions that he must make.

“Children in Merced County need our protection,” said Cathie Lancaster. “Almost 5,600 reports of child abuse or neglect in Merced County are recorded annually. As of 2017, the number of children in foster care was over 500. Many of these children are no longer able to be returned to their parents in hopes of reunification and are waiting adoption or being placed in permanent foster homes.”


Cathie Lancaster, Executive Director, Nancy Young-Bergman, Founding President, and Bette Woolstenhulme, former Board President, and Adam Gray

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California Nonprofits Day, now in its third year, was formally recognized by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 191, authored by the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector, Assemblywoman Monique Limon (Santa Barbara), who spoke at the celebration luncheon. The day is organized by Assemblymember Limon and CalNonprofits.

According to “Causes Count,” a 2016 report commissioned by CalNonprofits, the nonprofit sector is the 4th largest industry in the state, employing nearly one million people. Each year, California nonprofits generate over $200 billion in revenue and bring in $40 billion in revenue from outside of California. The unpaid labor contributed by volunteers at nonprofits is equivalent to 450,000 full-time jobs every year.

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June 8, 2018

Make a splash this summer in a pool near you

This week recreational swim is coming to a pool near you, brought to you by the Merced Parks and Recreation Department.

Recreational swimming will begin the week of June 11 at McNamara Pool, from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. There also will be rec swimming at Golden Valley High School pool, 2121 E. Childs Ave., Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Cost of recreational swimming is $1 for swimmers under 18 and $2 for adults.

But it’s Free Swim Fridays at McNamara Pool for kids thanks to the generosity of the Merced Satellite Rotary Club, which is covering the cost of swimming for youths to swim every Friday afternoon. Sorry adults, you may feel like a kid, but if you’re over 18 it will still cost two bucks to swim.

All of the aquatics programs run through Aug. 12.

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June 8, 2018

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS TO BEGIN PAVEMENT REHABILITATION PROJECT
ON STATE ROUTE 59/SNELLING HIGHWAY IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is preparing a project to rehabilitate pavement on northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59)/Snelling Highway in and near Merced.
This project spans 6.8 miles, from the south fork of the Black Rascal Canal to just south of Oakdale Road.
The purpose of this project is to restore the roadway, extend the service life of the pavement and to limit costly maintenance efforts for the future, both for motorists and taxpayers. An overlay of rubberized asphalt concrete (RAC) will be used to enhance this section of SR-59/Snelling Highway – a pivotal roadway for local motorists and agricultural traffic.
This $2.2 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.
Work is scheduled to begin on Sunday, June 10, 2018, and to be completed in October 2018.

This work will be done using one-way traffic control and is scheduled during both the daytime and nighttime. Motorists should expect 20 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

While this project is not funded by SB 1, many pavement-based “fix-it-first” projects are and will continue to be across the next decade.

Due to SB 1, Caltrans will allocate $15 billion for “fix-it-first” repairs, similar to the smoothing of pavement on SR-59, throughout the next 10 years. Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED
TO THE MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE IN TURLOCK

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from SR-140 to the Merced/Stanislaus County line. Ramp closures are scheduled as follows:

• Various full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 from SR-140 to Golden State Boulevard in Turlock beginning Sunday, June 10, 2018, through Friday, June 15, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Various full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 from SR-140 to SR-140/SR-59 (V Street) in Merced beginning Tuesday, June 12, 2018, through Wednesday, June 13, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full off-ramp closure from northbound and southbound SR-99 to Golden State Boulevard beginning Sunday, June 10, 2018, through Friday, June 15, 2018, from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for shoulder work.

The full off-ramp closures at Golden State Boulevard are part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on both northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of Bradbury Road to just north of the county line.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 132 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) for approximately 15 miles from Bear Valley to the junction with SR-132.

The closure is long term and is necessary for repair work due to the violent storm on March 22, 2018. Caltrans crews and construction partners are working to re-open this section of SR-49 by August 1, 2018.
The roadway on this stretch of SR-49 was severely eroded due to the massive amount of water, and must be given a new foundation and fully repaired before re-opening. This effort is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists.

Northbound and southbound SR-49 from the Mariposa/Tuolumne County line to Moccasin/SR-120 was re-opened on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Eastbound and westbound SR-132 from Granite Springs Road to Piney Creek Road in Mariposa County was re-opened on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Motorists can expect an additional hour of travel time due to the closure.

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 videos on the storm repair work being done by Caltrans and our construction partners, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_XAGWcbbqoV2h6LOQR7WnQ.

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

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June 8, 2018

Costa Advances Legislation to Improve Water Reliability and Flood Protection

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a significant piece of water infrastructure legislation – H.R. 8, the Water Resources Development Act – by a vote of 408 to 2. Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) worked on a bipartisan basis to improve the legislation by including one provision that would increase water supply reliability in California’s San Joaquin Valley and another provision that could reduce permit compliance costs for utility ratepayers.

Rep. Costa’s first amendment incorporates into the Water Resources Development Act a bipartisan measure Costa has been leading in the House. The legislation would resolve a legal technicality that makes it more difficult to improve the structure and operations of water reservoirs than current law intends. This would have a real impact in the Valley, as it would allow Merced Irrigation District to move forward with a project to raise the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam. When completed, this project will increase water supplies for eastern Merced County by 57,000 acre-feet during some years.

The second amendment Congressman Costa helped lead would make permanent a budget-neutral solution that has been successfully helping the Army Corps of Engineers work through its backlog of project permitting. Currently, the Corps has the authority to allow utility companies to pay for additional staffing to help the Corps complete its review process on the utility’s project. The amendment, which Rep. Costa cosponsored with fellow
Valley Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10), eliminates the expiration date on


Congressman Jim Costa
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

the Corps’s authority to accept such staffing support when offered. Accordingly, the Corps can continue to choose this option as a way to complete project reviews more quickly without reducing the quality or thoroughness of the review.

Costa described both amendments as “straightforward, commonsense solutions that address our daily water realities and infrastructure needs in the Valley and across California.”

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June 7, 2018

Fireworks blamed for grass fire

On June 4, 2018 the Merced City Fire Department responded to a vegetation fire in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 19thstreet. Upon arrival at the fire, five separate spot fires were located. It was determined that the fires were started by fireworks.

The use of Fireworks is not permitted until June 28th, therefor the use of fireworks was Illegal as well as at least one of the fireworks was not Safe and Sane (was a mortar tube). Two Engine Companies responded and a Battalion Chief to the incident. An unreliable witness said that the fireworks were thrown from a vehicle.

The City of Merced has a Zero Tolerance for illegal fireworks. So far this year, four people have been arrested for the sales of illegal fireworks.

Call 388-SAFE to report illegal fireworks
People are encouraged to report anyone they see or know who is buying, selling, distributing, possessing or setting off illegal fireworks by calling 209-388-SAFE (388-7233). Someone will answer the line as available, but all messages will be followed up on.

Please don’t call 911 except to report a fire or injury. Part of the problem with illegal fireworks is that authorities usually receive multiple calls for any one offender. One neighbor setting off numerous skyrockets can swamp the 911 dispatchers with many calls on the same incident. The 209-388-SAFE number relieves pressure on the emergency dispatchers but still allows the illegal fireworks to get reported and acted upon.

On July 3 and 4 there will be a call center opened from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and operators will be answering the phones and sending reports of illegal fireworks directly to dispatchers. The information will be forwarded to teams in the field.

In addition, people can report illegal fireworks by sending an email tocelebratesafe@cityofmerced.org. Those emails will also get forwarded to authorities.

 


A third option is to report illegal fireworks using the Merced Connect app. The Merced Connect app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play. In addition to allowing you to report illegal fireworks, residents can obtain other information about City government.

Turn in illegal fireworks, no questions asked
The City also will hold a fireworks Safe Surrender Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 at Station 51, 99 E. 16th St. where people can turn in illegal fireworks with no questions asked.

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June 6, 2018

 

The Bus kicks off Free Fare Summer program on
National “Dump the Pump” Day

MERCED - The Bus invites members of the community to try the bus on us this summer! Starting on National Dump the Pump Day, June 21 and continuing through August 31, 2018, The Bus will offer FREE service on all fixed routes countywide. By riding public transit, residents can help reduce congestion, minimize their carbon footprint, and save money.
"We are excited to offer free fixed route service throughout summer to encourage people who've never ridden the bus to give it a try,” said Artis Smith, Transit Director. This free service program is made possible through the State of California’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) which is provided to transit agencies to improve mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bus schedules and hours of operation can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209)723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.
The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County. It is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG).

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June 6, 2018

Merced has Zero Tolerance for illegal fireworks

Three men arrested for the sale of illegal fireworks in the City
(EDITORS: For more information on the undercover operation, contact Lt. Alan Ward at 209-388-8840.)
Use a skyrocket or a barrel bomb and it could cost you up to $2,000. Keep using illegal fireworks or sell them and it could land you in court, as three men learned Friday.
Three men were arrested for sale of illegal fireworks Friday as part of the City of Merced’s Zero Tolerance campaign on illegal fireworks.
Officers from the DART team arrested two Livingston men and a Winton man on charges of selling illegal fireworks, advertisement of illegal fireworks and conspiracy to sell illegal fireworks.
Officers seized a large amount of fireworks and $666 in cash in an undercover operation. The three men were booked in the Merced County Jail.
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY
This year the City of Merced has Zero Tolerance for illegal fireworks in an effort to cut down on fires, injuries, noise, lost pets and neighborhood disruptions.
The Zero Tolerance Policy is in effect for any fireworks not labelled “safe and sane” by the California State Fire Marshall. Basically, if it explodes or leaves the ground, it’s not safe and sane.
Extra officers will be on patrol over the Fourth of July holidays to enforce fireworks violations. There also is a special phone number and email for people to report illegal fireworks.
“The last few years Merced has looked like a battle zone with the sky lit up with skyrockets and the air filled with explosions. It’s time for that to end,” said Council Member Kevin Blake, who asked for the increased enforcement of the City ordinance’s against illegal fireworks.
“I received a number of calls from constituents who had to medicate their pets because they were traumatized due to the loud noises over the holidays,” he said.
“We want people to have a fun Fourth of July, but not a dangerous one, a Fourth that is enjoyable for everyone, including your neighbors,” Blake said.
“We want people to be good neighbors and stick with the ‘safe and sane’ fireworks,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “Have respect for people. Some of these illegal fireworks explode and leave buildings shaking. They scare little kids, senior citizens, and our veterans and pets who may be sensitive to loud explosions. We need to show consideration for everyone.
“This is the first year of a multi-year campaign. We are expecting to build on it each year,” Murphy said. “Once word gets out that we are serious, that we will cite you, that we will take away your illegal fireworks, people will be less likely to buy them and use them.”
The City shows a definite uptick in fires around the Fourth of July season when fireworks gain in popularity. While not all fires can be attributed to illegal fireworks, last year there July 4th saw 75 percent more calls than the average day, according to Fire Department records.
FIREWORKS RULES
• “Safe and sane” fireworks with the State Fire Marshal seal of approval can only be used from noon June 28 through noon July 6.
• The non-safe and sane fireworks are illegal year-round, 24-7.
• If fireworks can leave the ground or go up in the air they are illegal. Illegal fireworks include cherry bombs, bottle rockets, mortars, aerial shells, M-80s and firecrackers.
• Illegal fireworks the lack of the seal of approval by the California State Fire Marshal.

During the Fourth of July holiday period special teams of police officers and firefighters will be patrolling the City streets tracking down fireworks violators. Once found, the fireworks will be confiscated and the owners will be cited. Repeat offenders could end up in court.
Anyone caught possessing, using or selling dangerous or illegal fireworks is subject to fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 as well as criminal prosecution.

 


HOW TO REPORT ILLEGAL FIREWORKS
The number 209-388-SAFE became active June 1, and people are encouraged to report anyone they see or know who is buying, selling or distributing illegal fireworks. Someone will answer the line as available, but all messages will be followed up on.
Residents can report illegal fireworks displays before the holidays by calling 911.
During July 3 and 4 people are being asked to call 209-388-SAFE (7233) to report illegal fireworks displays, not 911 in order to keep the emergency dispatchers free for urgent calls.
On July 3 and 4 there will be a call center opened from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and operators will be answering the phones and sending reports of illegal fireworks directly to dispatchers. The information will be forwarded to teams in the field.
Part of the problem with illegal fireworks is that authorities usually receive multiple calls for any one offender. One neighbor setting off numerous skyrockets can swamp the 911 dispatchers with many calls on the same incident. The 209-388-SAFE number relieves pressure on the emergency dispatchers but still allows the illegal fireworks to get reported and acted upon.
In addition, people can report illegal fireworks by sending an email to celebratesafe@cityofmerced.org. Those emails will also get forwarded to authorities.
A third option is to report illegal fireworks using the Merced Connect app. The Merced Connect app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play. In addition to allowing you to report illegal fireworks, residents can obtain other information about City government.
The City also will hold a fireworks Safe Surrender Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 at Station 51, 99 E. 16th St. where people can turn in illegal fireworks with no questions asked.

 

 

 

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June 6, 2018

Hotel Tioga changes hands, getting improvements

The Hotel Tioga has changed hands and will soon be offering fully renovated and updated market rate apartments in Downtown Merced. The historic building, which opened in 1928, will have commercial spaces on the first floor.

PCG Commercial of Roseville had been marketing the building in early 2017. The property was purchased in April by Hotel Tioga Investors, LLC and will be redeveloped by the same firm. The fully renovated Hotel Tioga will bring additional multimillion dollar investments to downtown and will add to the major economic impacts of the El Capitan Hotel and Mainzer Theater projects that are currently underway.

“The Hotel Tioga was a huge boost for the town 90 years ago, and the sale and work that will be done shortly will once again be transformative,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “This is another big step forward for Merced and the Downtown.”

“The Hotel Tioga project fits right in with our Downtown Strategy,” Murphy said. “This will promote nightlife, and a diversified center that will include retail and hospitality.”

“This is an exciting time for Merced,” said District 3 Council member Jill McLeod, who represents Downtown area. “The sale of the Hotel Tioga, along with the renovation of the El Capitan and the Mainzer will bring so much new life and energy to the Downtown.”

A DOWNTOWN ICON
The historic building, opened in 1928, has been an icon of Downtown Merced and a social and business hub. Adding the additional market-rate housing to the Downtown housing scene adds a new dimension to the work/life potential in the City’s core. Economic Development Director Frank Quintero said a key element of the Downtown Strategy is having a strong residential base.

Hotel Tioga is strategically located close to the Merced Transportation Center and UC Merced’s Downtown Administration Building on N Street between Main and 16 streets.
“Bringing this much housing to the Downtown will help attract the restaurants and other kinds of businesses that people keep saying they want,” Quintero said. “This can be the foundation for the revitalization of the Downtown that everyone is looking for.”

“This will create the opportunity for something similar to a live-work space, ‘Quintero said. “The live-work unit is actually an idea that has been modernized to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, small businesses and professionals.

“Once revamped, the Hotel Tioga will provide another option for living in Downtown Merced,” Quintero said. “Currently, the vacancy rate in Merced is under 1 percent, so the Hotel Tioga will create new opportunities.”

 

RENOVATION PLANS
When renovated the apartment units will feature new kitchens, countertops, light fixtures, and flooring. The 73,670-square-foot building will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units.

The architect for the project is Page & Turnbull, a full-service architecture, design, planning, and preservation firm that transforms the built environment.

Founded in 1973, the firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. It brings together architects, planners, architectural historians, and conservators to take existing structures and adapt them to meet contemporary needs.

Nine decades ago when the Hotel Tioga was built it was aimed at the Yosemite tourists. Visitors could drive up the “all-weather” Highway 140 or take the Yosemite Valley Railroad train to enjoy the natural wonder.

HISTORIC BUILDING
The building, which cost $250,000 to build, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In its prime it had a ballroom, handcrafted tile floors, art deco ceilings and the City’s first neon sign on the roof that could be seen for miles. Also on the roof were two penthouses with legendary views of the Sierras and the Central Valley.

 

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June 6, 2018

CONSTRUCTION/TRAFFIC ADVISORY
G STREET AND YOSEMITE
INTERSECTION CLOSURE

Snelson Companies, Inc., in partnership with PG&E, will be constructing a new gas main to meet future demand for the UC Merced. For this reason, Snelson Companies, Inc. will be closing westbound Yosemite Avenue at the intersection of G Street and Yosemite Avenue. The work will commence on June 4 until June 11 starting at 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Please follow the advance warning signs and detour arrows that will guide you around the jobsite.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, construction related issues, and traffic incidents.


Should you have specific concerns or questions about the project, please contact the PG&E superintendent listed below:
Jack Symonds 209-639-2994

For the safety of the workers and other motorists, please slow down for the construction zone.
Snelson Companies Inc. and PG&E would like to thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation during this project.

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June 6, 2018

First Year of Measure V Exceeds Expectations

Merced- In November 2016, Merced County voters passed Measure V – a countywide ½ cent sales tax for transportation- with an overwhelming approval of 71.3%. The sales tax, which went into effect April 1, 2017, was projected to generate an estimated $15 million annually. However, with the first twelve months of revenue collected, Measure V has exceeded projections by nearly $1.8 million - totaling $16.8 million in new revenue. Per the voter-approved Measure V Expenditure Plan, 50% of the new revenue has been allocated directly to the local jurisdictions within Merced County, 44% has been allocated to regional projects on the east and west sides of the county, and 5% to transit uses. MCAG receives 1% of the revenue for administration and implementation activities.
“This is an exciting time for our region” said Patrick Pittenger, Executive Director of MCAG. “Measure V is providing local jurisdictions with the resources to address long-standing street and road maintenance issues, and as a region we are able to plan for and implement much needed improvements to our regional transportation system.”
$8.4 million has been distributed to the six cities and the County of Merced to address local transportation needs such as repairing potholes and bridges, repaving streets, replacing traffic signals and improving sidewalks and bicycle facilities. More than $7 million has been collected for regional projects with 27% dedicated to projects on the east side of the county and 17% to west side. Projects eligible for this funding have been identified by the Measure V East Side and West Side Regional Projects Committees and will go to the MCAG Governing Board for approval later this month.



Since July 2017, The Bus has utilized the Measure V program to provide free fixed route service countywide to seniors, Veterans, and ADA eligible individuals. To date, Measure V has funded over 138,700 free rides to seniors, veterans and ADA eligible individuals with disabilities in Merced County.
MCAG, is the state-designated Local Transportation Authority for Merced County responsible for the implementation and administration of overseeing Measure V. In an effort to keep the community informed about this transformative measure, MCAG features monthly updates in their electronic newsletter which can be found on the MCAG website mcagov.org. Additional information about Measure V including specific project information by jurisdiction can be found at MeasureV-mcag.com.
Merced County Association Governments (MCAG) is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority.

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June 6, 2018

 

Costa Hosts Housing Roundtable to Increase Affordable Homeownership in Merced County

Merced, CA – In his continued efforts to increase access to affordable, safe, and secure housing in the San Joaquin Valley, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted a housing roundtable today to bring together key leaders to collaborate on making homeownership an affordable option in Merced County. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator Jimmy Stracner, additional regional HUD officials, and nearly 20 housing leaders and local officials participated in the roundtable, which also marked this year’s launch of National Homeownership Month.

Merced County’s homeownership statistics fall well below the national average. According to 2016 Census data, the homeownership rate in Merced County is 52.2%, compared to 63.5% nationally.

“Homeownership is the foundation for a strong middle class in America,” said Rep. Jim Costa, who has long worked to make homeownership affordable in the Valley. “The single largest investment that the average American family makes in a lifetime is the purchase of a home. The values of pride of property, understanding the complexity of financing a home, and living in a house where families can flourish are all made possible by homeownership. The purpose of today’s roundtable was to have local and federal leaders sit down together and consider ways to provide more opportunities for homeownership in Merced County.”

During the roundtable, HUD officials discussed the federal agencies and programs specifically aimed at helping Americans buy and maintain safe and secure housing. These include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and a nationwide network of nearly 2,100 housing counseling agencies certified by the Office of Housing Counseling (OHC). More than 1.2 million people turned to the FHA for home financing last year alone, while the education and support provided by housing counselors reduce the likelihood homeowners at risk of default end up facing foreclosure by 30%.

“We at HUD are determined to sustain a housing market that is honest and fair for every hard working American,” said HUD Regional Administrator Jimmy Stracner. “Today, we renew our commitment to all responsible future homeowners that seek their share of the American dream.”

“Homeownership is such an integral part of the American dream and experience. We need to explore and take all creative steps necessary to best position our Valley’s residents so that everyone within our region has the opportunity to sustainably own a home,” stated Mark Hendrickson, Director of Community & Economic Development for Merced County.


Congressman Jim Costa
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Kim Rogina, President of the Merced County Association of Realtors, was one of the local housing leaders who attended today’s roundtable. She shared, “The Merced County Association of Realtors supports and encourages the American dream of homeownership. We are a hardworking community that strives for an affordable and abundant supply of homes for our citizens. Our Association’s Charitable Foundation just received a grant of $25,000 from the California Association of Realtors to aid first time home buyer’s with down payment assistance. We are in the process of fundraising to match that amount. The quality of our community depends on the opportunities afforded individuals and families.

Congressman Costa hopes today is just the beginning of this collaborative effort. He reflected on today’s roundtable with, “We have had bipartisan policies for almost 100 years to encourage and make affordable homeownership. I strongly believe this is how we create healthy communities and a lasting middle class.”

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June 6, 2018

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD
TO STATE ROUTE 132 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) for approximately 15 miles from Bear Valley to the junction with SR-132.

The closure is long term and is necessary for repair work due to the violent storm on March 22, 2018. Caltrans crews and construction partners are working to re-open this section of SR-49 by August 1, 2018.
The roadway on this stretch of SR-49 was severely eroded due to the massive amount of water, and must be given a new foundation and fully repaired before re-opening. This effort is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists.

Northbound and southbound SR-49 from the Mariposa/Tuolumne County line to Moccasin/SR-120 was re-opened on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Eastbound and westbound SR-132 from Granite Springs Road to Piney Creek Road in Mariposa County was re-opened on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Motorists can expect an additional hour of travel time due to the closure.

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 videos on the storm repair work being done by Caltrans and our construction partners, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_XAGWcbbqoV2h6LOQR7WnQ.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE 140 TO
SOUTH TURLOCK/GOLDEN STATE BOULEVARD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction and maintenance activities on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from SR-140 to South Turlock/Golden State Boulevard. Ramp closures are scheduled as follows:

• Various full on and off-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 from SR-140 to South Turlock/Golden State Boulevard beginning Sunday, June 3, 2018, through Friday, June 8, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for bridge work.

• Full on-ramp closure on southbound SR-99 at South Turlock/Golden State Boulevard beginning Sunday, June 3, 2018, through Friday, June 8, 2018, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for drainage work.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. No consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time.

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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June 6, 2018

 

SB 1 Funding Approved for Highway 99 Widening Project in Merced County

MERCED- The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced last week that $2.7 billion in competitive grants funded through the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1) was awarded by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to 64 projects throughout the State of California to tackle congestion, support valuable trade corridors and bolster local agency efforts to invest in transportation.
Among the projects approved was the Northbound State Route 99 (SR-99) Livingston Median Widening Project in Merced County. This $37 million project will widen northbound SR-99 to three lanes (from the two existing) through Livingston and Delhi, including widening of the bridge over the Merced River. The widening project will reduce congestion, improve goods movement, and remove a bottleneck condition where SR-99 is already three lanes to the north and south of the project. This project is a result of a partnership between the State of California and Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG), which is contributing $5.5 million of regional transportation funding. The State funding is provided by the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) which was approved by the CTC. Construction for the Livingston Median Widening Project is scheduled to break ground in the spring of 2019. The complementary Southbound State Route 99 Livingston Median Widening Project is programmed on a later construction schedule through a different funding source.


The Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, created by Senate Bill 1, will provide approximately $300 million annually throughout the state for infrastructure improvements on federally designated Trade Corridors of National and Regional Significance, on the Primary Freight Network, and along other corridors that have a high volume of freight movement. Currently, California serves as the nation’s largest gateway for international trade and domestic commerce, and freight movement which generates about a third of California’s $2.2 trillion economy. The CTC approved three years’ worth of funding (fiscal years 2017-20) totaling approximately $1.4 billion be awarded to 28 projects, valued at more than $4 billion.
Additional approved Trade Corridor Enhancement Program projects can be found at: http://catc.ca.gov/programs/sb1/tcep/docs/2018_Adopted_TCEP.pdf .
The Road Repair and Accountability Act (SB 1), the landmark transportation infrastructure bill signed by Governor Brown in April 2017, invests $54 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and puts more dollars toward transit and safety. These funds will be split equally between state and local investments. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

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June 6, 2018

2018 BUCKS FOR BOOKS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS CHOSEN

LODI, CA – The Lodi Grape Festival would like to congratulate the recipients of the 2018 Bucks for Books scholarship. The students receiving the award are: Gabriella Borra, Lodi High School; Benjamin Colorado, Lodi High School; Tyler Davis, Lodi High School; Sofia Demski, Lodi High School; Meagan Gonzalez, Seton Hall University (Lodi High School); Grace Hayes, St. Mary’s High School; Hayden Lewis, Lodi High School; Charlotte Magapio Suiza, Lodi High School; and Christein Wiegum, Lodi High School.
Since 2004 the Lodi Grape Festival Bucks for Books scholarship program has awarded $101,000 in scholarships to students graduating or that have graduated within the Lodi Unified School District or living in the district boundaries to be used towards the purchase of books for college classes. The money for the fund is generated solely from fundraising efforts by the Lodi Grape Festival Board of Directors through donations, the Ultimate Wine Collection raffle at the Lodi Wine and Food Festival and the annual Bucks for Books concert at Heritage Oak Winery.
Scholarship applications are available in January and are due by March 1. For more information or to receive an application please e-mail info@grapefestival.com or call (209) 369-2771 or visit www.grapefestival.com.

The Lodi Grape Festival is September 13-16, 2018. For more information visit www.grapefestival.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter at @lodigrapefest and Instagram at @lodigrapefestival.

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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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