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April 26 , 2017

Legislation Restoring Fairness to California Water Management One Step Closer to Becoming Law

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 313, introduced by Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) to provide solutions for California’s broken water management structure, cleared an important hurdle Tuesday. AB 313 was approved by the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife at its regular hearing. Committee members voted 13-0 to send the bill onto the next step.

“It’s time to bring some fairness back to the equation for California’s water rights holders,” said Gray. “Time and again, we’ve seen state agencies act with unchecked power, with little accountability to the communities they’re supposed to serve. The current system isn’t just inadequate – it’s imbalanced. This bill begins a critically necessary reform of the state’s water management, removing inherent biases and conflicts of interest.”

AB 313 proposes to restructure water rights hearings, creating a new Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) exercises quasi-judicial authority to hold water rights hearings. The SWRCB writes regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and conducts hearings in which Board staff act as prosecutors and the SWRCB itself acts as the judge and jury.

“The end result of the current system is like the State Water Board asking the State Water Board if it agrees with itself,” Gray said.


“There’s a reason there are umpires in baseball: we need a neutral party to enforce water rights so everybody gets a fair shot.”
Under the legislation’s newly-created Water Rights Division, administrative law judges would preside over water rights matters. The new Division would conduct hearings and make a recommendation to the Executive Director of the SWRCB that the Executive Director can accept, reject or modify. The change ensures objectivity, while still allowing state water agency experts to give input.

At Tuesday’s Committee hearing, Assemblyman Gray was joined by Rick Gilmore, general manager of Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). BBID provided technical support in crafting AB 313, which was amended after its original introduction in February. After hearing testimony, the Committee voted in favor of sending the bill to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, which will consider the bill in the coming weeks.

“These changes won’t fix all that ails California water management, but we have to start somewhere – and the time is now,” Gray said.
More information is available at www.asmdc.org/gray.

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April 26 , 2017

Costa Urges Congress to Work Together to Avoid a Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in support of a Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill that does not include any ideological riders in order to avoid a government shutdown.

“Holding government spending hostage and threatening to shut down the government for political purposes is completely irresponsible,” said Rep. Costa. “Providing funding to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is a nonstarter for Democrats, including myself, and I am cautiously optimistic to hear from the Trump Administration that they are shifting their focus away from the wall and working to keep government funded.”

Costa continued saying, “Similar to communities throughout the nation, in the San Joaquin Valley, thousands of federal employees are at risk of going unpaid if the government shuts down, and that creates a ripple effect in our local, state, and national economies. Additionally, a government shutdown would suspend critical services that Americans rely on, like those provided by the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. I urge members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, to come together on a bipartisan basis to keep government funded and build consensus on a long-term budget.”
Costa is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1779, the No Budget, No Pay Act. This bipartisan legislation would hold Members of Congress more


Congressman Jim Costa

accountable for doing their job by withholding their paycheck if Congress does not pass a budget and shuts down the government.

Costa is co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition which is composed of 18 Democrats who strive to work across the aisle and find areas of compromise. Costa is also a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus which is composed of 40 Members of Congress, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, who are committed to working together on a bipartisan basis to get past the gridlock and get things done on the issues that matter to the American people.

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April 22 , 2017

 

Three new officers join Merced PD

Three new officers joined the ranks of the Merced Police Department Friday afternoon during swearing in ceremonies conducted by Chief Norman Andrade.

With the additional officers, the Department now has 91 sworn personnel. There remain three budgeted positions to be filled.

The new officers are:

Chase Wilson, 30, from Merced, Badge No. 255. He was a reserve officer in with the Merced Police Department while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he rose to the rank of sergeant. He has attended college and received PME (Professional Military Education). In his spare time he enjoys playing the guitar, music and weight training.

Levi Crain, 23, from Atwater/Merced, is Badge No. 256. He is a former Atwater PD officer who served on the SWAT Team. In 2015 he received the MADD Award and Crain has been honored for his work in recovering stolen vehicles. Crain holds an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice. In his spare time he enjoys the outdoors, hunting, and riding dirt and street bikes.

Israel Garcia, 32, Badge No. 257. Garcia is from Sanger and graduated from the Fresno Police Academy as a Merced Police Officer trainee. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and a Master of Science in Forensic Science. His hobbies include running, reading, and barbeques.

The new officers with enter several months of additional training with field training officers before going on patrol solo. Officers make $59,029.57 a year.


Officer Levi Crain gets his badge pinned on


Officer Israel Garcia gets a hug from his wife

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April 22 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURE
INTERSTATE 5 FROM THE MERCED/FRESNO COUNTY LINE
TO JOHN ERRECA REST AREA

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities, including ramp closures, on Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Merced/Fresno county line to the John Erreca Rest Area. No consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work will occur as follows:

• The northbound on-ramp from Nees Avenue to Interstate 5 (I-5) will close on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for paving operations.

• The #2 (right) lane and shoulder on northbound I-5 will be closed from the Merced/Fresno County line to the John Erreca Rest Area on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays and can travel on State Route 99 or other alternate routes.

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
INTERSTATE 5 FROM THE MERCED/MADERA COUNTY LINE
TO STATE ROUTE 152

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities, including ramp closures, on Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Madera/Merced county line to Allen Road. No consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work will occur as follows:

• The off and on-ramps from northbound Interstate 5 (I-5) to the John Erreca Rest Area will close on Monday, April 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for paving operations.

• The off-ramp from I-5 to westbound SR-152 will close on Friday, April 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.

• The #2 (right) lane and shoulder on northbound I-5 will be closed from the Merced/Madera County line to the John Erreca Rest Area on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound I-5 from Volta Road to Allen Road will intermittently close on Sunday, April 23, 2017, until Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for striping operations.

• The #2 (right lane) on northbound I-5 at Volta Road will intermittently close on Thursday, April 27, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays and can travel on State Route 99 or other alternate routes.

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 CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM BRADBURY ROAD
TO THE MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound on-ramp from Bradbury Road to State Route 99 for crack sealing operations.

The ramp closure will be in effect Tuesday, April 25, 2017 through Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Also, Caltrans will close the #3 (right) lane northbound from Golden State Boulevard to the Merced/Stanislaus county line Monday, April 24, 2017, through Friday, April 28, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for crack sealing operations.

Motorists should expect 5 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 CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 99 AND STATE ROUTE 140
IN THE CITY OF MERCED

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound off-ramp from State Route 99 (SR-99) to SR-140 for curb, gutter and sidewalk work.

The ramp closure will be in effect Thursday, April 27, 2017, through Friday, April 28, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

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

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

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

Work is expected to be completed December 2017. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move toward the city of Gustine as the project progresses.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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 CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 152 AT INTERSTATE 5
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the westbound on-ramp from State Route 152 (SR-152) to Interstate 5 for paving operations.

The ramp closure will be in effect Friday, April 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Additional highway construction will occur as follows:
• The #2 (right) lane on SR-152 at the California Aqueduct will be closed Friday, April 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.
• The eastbound and westbound #1, #2 lanes and shoulder from Badger Flat Road to Ortigalita Road will alternately close Monday, April 24, 2017, through Tuesday, April 25, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.
Motorists should expect 5 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SYDNEY LANE TO VIRGINIA STREET
IN THE CITY OF MERCED

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Sydney Lane to Virginia Street beginning Monday, April 24, 2017, through Friday, April 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. for curb, gutter and sidewalk work.

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

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

The work at this location is part of an improvement project on SR-140 that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

This 33 mile-long project will extend the service life of the existing pavement and improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move towards the city of Gustine as the project progresses. Work is expected to be completed December 2017.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 132 AT HORSESHOE BEND
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 132 at Horsehoe Bend for pavement work.

Crews will be working Thursday, April 27, 2017, through Friday, April 28, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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


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

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road, west of Yosemite National Park, for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, April 24, 2017, through Friday, April 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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

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


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

 

 

 

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April 21 , 2017

Castle Air Museum Super Saturday Car Show

Saturday, April 22 the Castle Air Museum at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater will be hosting its Fourth Annual Super Saturday Car Show.

This years event promises to attract 400 plus cars and trucks of all classes! Entries are coming from as far away as Tucson Arizona, Lake Tahoe, and Redding! Hundreds of Classic cars and Trucks among the 70 vintage military aircraft on the museum grounds promises to please all enthusiasts! There will be a food court, vendor booths selling car accessories, ladies jewelry, handbags and much more. There will also be Helicopter rides available as well!

Admission the entire day from 9 am to 4 pm will only be $5!! Come see what is becoming the premier car show of the West Coast, at the West Coast's premier aviation museum!

For more information, please contact the Castle Air Museum at (209) 723-2178, or visit the museum's website at:www.castleairmuseum.org

 

Click here to see Flyer

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April 21 , 2017

CALTRANS STATEWIDE LITTER PICKUP DAY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) held a statewide Litter Removal Day and Enforcement Day on Thursday, April 20, 2017, to pick up litter, trash and debris along the state highway system and to educate the public about this costly issue.
Caltrans District 10 employees picked up litter, trash and debris in its eight counties – Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.
361 bags of litter, trash and debris were picked up in Merced County at the following locations:
• SR-99 on and off-ramps from Childs Avenue to V Street in the city of Merced;
• Along SR-99 on the right shoulders between Atwater Boulevard to Westside Boulevard in the city of Atwater;
• State Route 152 (SR-152) from the San Benito/Merced county line to the San Luis Reservoir (near Dinosaur Point);
• SR-152 from Indiana Avenue to the SR-59 junction in Merced County.

The best anti-litter campaign is to ensure trash never makes it onto the highways in the first place. Caltrans encourages you to:
• Carry a litter bag in your automobile and always dispose of trash properly;
• Never discard cigarette or cigar refuse improperly;
• Always cover and properly secure loads of trucks and pick-ups.

With everyone doing their part we can keep California clean for today and the future.
Last year, Caltrans spent $67 million to remove 166,500 cubic yards of litter, trash and debris throughout the State Highway System, collecting enough litter to fill almost 9,000 garbage trucks. Parked end-to-end, those trucks would stretch more than 50 miles.
- More -

In addition to the economic costs, litter presents a wide range of serious threats to the ecosystem and human health: Wildlife suffers from plastics in the environment; roadside vegetation is damaged by large debris; fires are started from burning cigarettes and threaten human health; harmful chemicals and biohazards cause a serious threat to human health; litter clogs roadway drainage systems and can lead to wet-weather highway flooding, congestion, and accidents. Litter aids in the spread of disease.


CALTRANS STATEWIDE LITTER PICKUP DAY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) held a statewide Litter Removal Day and Enforcement Day on Thursday, April 20, 2017, to pick up litter, trash and debris along the state highway system and to educate the public about this costly issue.
Caltrans District 10 employees picked up litter, trash and debris in its eight counties – Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.
47 bags of litter, trash and debris were picked up on State Route 49 between the Mariposa County Fairgrounds and the town of Mariposa and along SR-132 near the town of Coulterville.
The best anti-litter campaign is to ensure trash never makes it onto the highways in the first place. Caltrans encourages you to:
• Carry a litter bag in your automobile and always dispose of trash properly;
• Never discard cigarette or cigar refuse improperly;
• Always cover and properly secure loads of trucks and pick-ups.

With everyone doing their part we can keep California clean for today and the future.
Last year, Caltrans spent $76 million to remove 153,000 cubic yards of litter, trash and debris throughout the State Highway System, collecting enough litter to fill almost 10,000 garbage trucks. Parked end-to-end, those trucks would stretch more than 51 miles.
In addition to the economic costs, litter presents a wide range of serious threats to the ecosystem and human health: Wildlife suffers from plastics in the environment; roadside vegetation is damaged by large debris; fires are started from burning cigarettes and threaten human health; harmful chemicals and biohazards cause a serious threat to human health; litter clogs roadway drainage systems and can lead to wet-weather highway flooding, congestion, and accidents. Litter aids in the spread of disease.


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

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will begin an improvement project on State Route 140 (SR-140) that will repave the existing roadway, shoulders and on and off-ramps, from SR-99 in the city of Merced to SR-33 in the city of Gustine.

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

Work is scheduled to begin April 24, 2017, and is expected to be completed December, 2017. Construction activities will start near the city of Merced and move towards the city of Gustine as the project progresses. Scheduled on and off-ramps, lane and shoulder closures will be used and drivers should expect 10 minute delays.

Work is scheduled to be done primarily during the daytime, Monday through Thursday, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and Fridays from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

This $12.3 million project has been awarded to Teichert Construction.

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.

 

 

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

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April 21 , 2017

Costa Recognizes the Lives of Fresno Shooting Victims

Fresno, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, released the following statement to recognize the lives of Fresno shooting victims, Carl Allen Williams III, Zachary David Randalls, Mark James Gassett, and David Martin Jackson, and to express support for their families.

“I join the community in honoring the lives of Carl Allen Williams III, Zachary David Randalls, Mark James Gassett, and David Martin Jackson. During this very sad time for our city, it’s important that we come together to support the victims’ families and one another. We must ensure that the surviving family members of the homicide victims are provided with the resources they need and deserve.

“My office is working with state and local agencies to provide immediate and ongoing support to the families of the victims and connecting them with the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB). Funding comes from fines paid by offenders convicted in state or federal court and can be used to help pay for funeral expenses, mental health treatment, and other costs related to this horrific crime, in the short- and long-term.

“I want to give a big thank you to the Fresno Police Department and first responders for working every single day to help keep our city safe and for their sensitivity to and support for all crime victims and survivors.”

In September 2016, the State of California received $10.3 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) federal grant funding which was deposited into the state restitution fund along with other monies. Since 1984, the Victims of Crime Act has provided federal grants to provide essential, often life-saving services for crime victims and survivors.
Similar to the state restitution fund, the VOCA Crime Victims Fund is not financed by taxpayer dollars but by fines, forfeitures, and other


Congressman Jim Costa

penalties paid by federal criminal offenders. By statute, the Fund is dedicated solely to supporting victim services and compensation. VOCA’s victim compensation assistance provides victims with financial assistance for medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, and funeral and burial costs.

Every year, Rep. Jim Costa leads the VOCA appropriations letter requesting that the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies support an increased cap on the money that comes out of the Crime Victims Fund.

CalVCB administers the state’s victim compensation program to local counties. In Fresno County, the Crime Victim Assistance Center provides direct assistance to eligible victims and their families to help ensure they are receiving the necessary compensation.

For more information about CalVCB, please visit www.victims.ca.gov.

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April 19 , 2017

Deadline Approaches for New Nursing Scholarships

Merced, CA - Golden Valley Health Centers will accept applications for their new nursing scholarship program until the end of the month. Named after one its founders, the Flora R. Martinez nursing scholarships in the amount of $5,000 each, will be awarded to three aspiring nurses starting this year.

Kirsten O’Brien, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Golden Valley’s center in West Modesto, believes that nursing is an essential component to all health care organizations but especially crucial to the delivery of care in Community Health Centers. Before coming to Golden Valley last year, she worked in the emergency room for seven years and saw people at their most vulnerable, which inspired her to apply to a local 13-month LVN program. When she graduated, she applied to Golden Valley because of its mission to help underserved patients in the community.

“Everyone has their own story, but ultimately we all want to be healthy and feel good. I can use my experience as a nurse to help people get to that place,” says O’Brien. “Community Health Centers are uniquely positioned to do that because of the comprehensive services we provide to all of our patients in a team environment.”

The Golden Valley Health Centers Foundation is collecting applications until the end of April from qualified individuals who are enrolled in Registered Nurse (RN), Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) programs. Applications will be judged by the non-profit’s volunteer board members and the awards will be announced in June. To be eligible, applicants must submit school transcripts that show they have maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average in the last six semesters of high school and/or college. The application also requires two letters of reference and a short statement detailing the student’s commitment to nursing and furthering the healthcare ideals espoused by Mrs. Martinez such as expanding access to healthcare in underserved populations and advocating for community health centers. Applications can be found online on the organization’s website at: https://www.gvhc.org/giving-opportunities/. Those needing more information about the nursing scholarship program can contact the Golden Valley Health Centers Foundation at: gvhcfoundation@gvhc.org or (209) 342-2424.

 

 

Nurses like O’Brien complete daily tasks that consists of supporting a team of medical providers in order to ensure patients receive proper follow-up treatment such as wound care, making sure patients are taking their medications appropriately, and finding them community resources or medical supplies they may need to have available at home.

O’Brien relishes her workload as she cheerfully moves from exam room to nursing station. “I feel extremely fortunate to be in a situation where I was able to go school and get this amazing job that fulfills my passion and be completely happy. I’m just lucky I guess.”


ABOUT GOLDEN VALLEY HEALTH CENTERS
Golden Valley Health Centers is a private, non-profit Federally Qualified health center system that has served California’s Central Valley for 45 years. Golden Valley is accredited by The Joint Commission and recognized as a Patient Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. GVHC provides comprehensive primary medical, dental and behavioral healthcare as well as health education and eligibility screening to an ethnically diverse population, including migrant farm workers, Southeast Asian refugees and the homeless population of Merced and Stanislaus Counties. Golden Valley has developed a system of 28 sites including two freestanding women’s health centers, five school-based centers, a homeless healthcare program and a Senior Health and Wellness Center.

All of Golden Valley’s revenue comes from patient dollars and charitable sources, as well as Federal and State grants. No patient is turned away because of their inability to pay.

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April 19 , 2017

CPUC TO HOLD MAY 11 VOTING MEETING IN MERCED

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17, 2017 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold its May 11, 2017, Voting Meeting in Merced. The agenda for the meeting includes items on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) rate case, and on the CPUC’s efforts to identify disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley and determine options to increase access to affordable energy in those communities.
WHEN: Thursday, May 11, 2017, 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Merced Civic Center, Council Chambers, 678 W. 18th St., Merced; also available via listen-only call-in number at 1-800-857-1917, passcode 92105
WHAT: The CPUC’s Commissioners will discuss and vote on proposed policies, including PG&E’s General Rate Case, which forms the basis of customer rates for 2017-2019; and options to increase access to affordable energy in San Joaquin Valley disadvantaged communities.
The Voting Meeting begins with public comment, and members of the public are encouraged to attend. Those intending to make public comment can sign-up to speak in person before the meeting starts, or can sign-up online in advance at https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/requesttocomment/.
The CPUC’s Rules for Public Comment, the Voting Meeting Agenda, a list of items that will be held over to a different meeting, presentations, remote access, and other information will be available on www.cpuc.ca.gov/Commission_Meeting.


The CPUC typically holds Voting Meetings twice a month at its headquarters in San Francisco, and also schedules Voting Meetings in other cities throughout the state. In addition, the CPUC holds many Public Participation Hearings and other events statewide in order to reach out to consumers.
If specialized accommodations are needed to attend, such as sign language interpreters, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov or toll free at 866-849-8390 at least three business days in advance.
To receive electronic updates on CPUC proceedings, sign-up for the CPUC’s free subscription service at http://subscribecpuc.cpuc.ca.gov.
The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.
For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

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April 19 , 2017

The Merced Police Department will be swearing in three new officers at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 21 in the Council Chambers, 678 W. 18th St, Merced. The new officers are: Officer Levi Crain, Officer Israel Garcia and Officer Chase Wilson.

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April 19, 2017

CHARGES FILED AGAINST MAN IN CONNECTION
WITH MERCED HOMICIDE

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges today against 50-year-old William Li of San Francisco, in connection with the murder of 30-year-old Lijun Wang, whose body was found in a dumpster in February, announced Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II.
Wang’s body was found on February 6 in a dumpster behind the Rite Aid on G Street in Merced.
According to investigators Wang came to the United States less than two years ago from China seeking a better life for herself, and instead got caught up in the human trafficking and indentured servitude trade.
“She was brutally murdered, wrapped in garbage bags and thrown in a dumpster like a piece of trash,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Rob Carroll.

Merced Police detectives linked the February murder to Li and arrested him on April 14 in San Mateo County. He was later transported to Merced and booked into Merced County Jail.
Li will be arraigned on Wednesday, April 19 at 3:00 p.m.
“The Merced Police Department, particularly Detective Jeff Horn, did an exceptional job of piecing together the evidence in this case. Det. Horn received some timely assistance from Dave Benoy, a criminal investigative analyst with our office, and that information helped lead Jeff and other detectives to the suspect in San Mateo County,” Morse said.

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April 18, 2017

 

FFA Burrito Bingo Meeting A Win for Students

Written by: Atwater FFA

Over 250 Atwater High School agriculture students attended the school year’s annual “Burrito Bingo” meeting on Tuesday, April 11th. The April “Burrito Bingo” meeting was held in the school cafeteria with the 2016-2017 FFA Chapter Officers performing the official FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Once the business portion of the meeting concluded, students participated in playing a few rounds of bingo and then were treated with burritos they pre-ordered.

The chapter meeting consisted of committee reports which included the chapter’s upcoming events such as State Conference which is taking place in two weeks in Fresno, Drive Through BBQ, and FFA State CDE Finals taking place next month. Other items discussed on the agenda included announcements pertaining to the annual FFA Plant Sale, the Chapter Awards Banquet, and Chapter Officer Applications.

“The meeting was lots of fun,” said freshman Melissa Macias. “I am very excited to be involved with the FFA.” The Atwater FFA conducts monthly meetings that are organized, prepared, and run by the FFA chapter officers and the high school’s Ag Leadership class. “It’s great to see students pull together and work as a team in putting together such an exciting event, “FFA is a positive organization to get involved with because it is lots of fun, it keeps you interested, and everybody is a family.” said FFA advisor Natalie Borba.

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


Atwater High School FFA members Melissa Martinez, Sayra Ramos, and Leivy Craig showcase their bingo cards during the annual FFA "Burrito Bingo" meeting held at the high school.


Atwater High School agriculture students Melissa Macias, Janet barron, Abby Ramirez, Jaelyn Vang, and Felipe Garcia gather together during the annual Atwater FFA "Burrito Bingo" meeting held at the high school.

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April 18, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING
WITH CSU FRESNO PRESIDENT JOSEPH CASTRO

Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli has announced that he will host CSU Fresno President Dr. Joseph I. Castro and senior members of his staff for a “community conversation” on Thursday, May 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Business Resource Center, 6320 W. 19th Street in downtown Merced.
“We invite our community to join us as we host Dr. Castro and his team, who will discuss the many opportunities at Fresno State and answer questions the public may have about their academic and athletic programs,” President Vitelli said.
The first 150 participants will have the occasion to taste many of the university’s award-wining wines and appetizers. CSU Fresno operates the first commercial winery on an American university campus.
“Our wines have won numerous national and international awards from the most prestigious organizations in the world,” Dr. Castro said. In addition, ice cream produced by the university’s dairy program will be featured.

“I want to hear from our friends in Merced,” Dr. Castro said. “This community conversation will help us discuss and answer questions people may have about Fresno State.”
Attendance is limited and reservations are requested by May 1 by going online to www.fresnostate.edu/presidentrsvp. Use the code word “Merced.”
Individuals who need special accommodations or who have questions about physical access may call 559.278.2324.

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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April 18 , 2017

Summer Playground Program sign-ups start

Make summer memorable for your youngster with the “Summer Playground Program at Rahilly Park.”

The eight-week program by the City of Merced’s Parks and Recreation Department offers a summer of fun for kids ages K-6th grade in a great outdoor setting. Activities include arts and crafts, science projects, themed days, special events, guest appearances, field trips, and other fun.

 

The camp runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 5 through July 28. The cost is $15 a week, and $10 for additional family members. The program will take place at the Rahilly Park Outdoor Shelter, 3400 N. Parsons Ave. For more information or to register call 385-6855.

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April 18 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 AT BLACK RASCAL CREEK IN THE CITY OF MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close State Route 59 (SR-59) at Black Rascal Creek for paving operations.
The highway will close beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, through Tuesday, April 18, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Motorist should expect 15 minute delays. Seek alternate route.
Also, Caltrans will also perform various road construction activities on SR-59. Work will occur as follows:
• One-way traffic control will be in effect from Bear Creek to Cooper Street on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for paving operations.

• One-way traffic control will be in effect at the South Ingalsbe Slough Bridge beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, through Friday, April 21, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO DELL STREET
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) to Dell Street in the city of Merced. Work will occur as follows:
• There will be a moving closure on eastbound and westbound SR-140 from I-5 to Applegate Road beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, until Tuesday, April 18, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for pavement marker replacement.

• One-way traffic control will be in effect beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, through Friday, April 21, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for landscaping.

Motorists should expect 5-15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 152 FROM MORAGA ROAD TO VOLTA ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (right) lane on westbound State Route 152 (SR-152) from Moraga Road to Volta Road for highway construction.

Crews will work beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, until Friday, April 21, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 5-10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 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 to SR-140 for highway construction.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, April 17, 2017, through Friday, April 21, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.
The construction is part of a project that will add centerline and edgeline rumble strips to approximately 10 miles of SR-33 in Merced County. The project is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips.These strips are ground into the pavement surface.

Also, one-way traffic control will be in effect on SR-33 from the California Aqueduct to the Delta-Mendota Canal beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, through Friday, April 21, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for highway construction.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND GOLDEN STATE BOULEVARD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound on-ramp from Golden State Boulevard to State Route 99 for crack sealing operations.

The ramp closure will be in effect on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Also, Caltrans will close the #3 (right) lane from Golden State Boulevard to the Merced/Stanislaus county line beginning Monday, April 17, 2017, through Friday, April 21, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. for crack sealing operations.

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

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

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

 

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April 14 , 2017

Merced PD lobby closed during Stephan Gray Memorial Service

The lobby of the Merced Police Department at 611 W. 22nd will be closed from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 14.

The Department will be holding its annual memorial service in front of the station rain or shine at 10 a.m. Friday for Officer Stephan Gray who was killed April 15, 2004.

 

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April 14 , 2017

Tenaya Middle School Hosts College & Career Night

Hundreds of students and their families had a chance to learn about several different careers, colleges, and universities across California during “College/Career Making it Happen Night” at Tenaya Middle School in Merced on Wednesday.

The parking lot was filled with firefighters, law enforcement officers, and paramedics who brought their emergency vehicles, robots, and other equipment to give students a glimpse of their careers. In the gym, several other professionals were on hand to share information and answer questions, including attorneys, teachers, nurses, dentists, counselors, chiropractors, and military service members. Tenaya Teacher Derek Peterson commented, “Our community’s support for this event was truly inspiring and allows for our students to envision their own unlimited possibilities.” The event also featured representatives from a number of colleges and universities, including Merced College, CSU Fresno, CSU Stanislaus, CSU Sacramento, CSU Chico, San Diego State University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Cal Poly.

The evening began with an inspiring keynote speech by El Capitan High School AVID teacher, Kim Conley. The event also included raffle prizes, and one lucky winner went home with the grand prize – a PlayStation 4. Meanwhile, members of the Associated Student Body sold refreshments to support future school events. When asked about the purpose behind planning this event, Tenaya Learning Director and AVID Coordinator Mystee Schindler stated, “It is never too early for students to start planning for their futures. Our AVID Site Team works hard to host this event every year because we want to encourage our students and their families to start making those plans now. We are thankful to the community members and college representatives who took part in making this event a huge success.”

“College/Career Making it Happen Night” was organized by members of Tenaya’s AVID program, which is a college readiness system that teaches students the skills and behaviors for academic success. The site team includes the following individuals: Anthony Arista- Principal, David Bastian - Site Team/Science , Claudia Becerra - Site Team/Special Day Class, Diana DeWall - Site Team/Art/Yearbook, Linda Oldham - Site Team/Science/Leadership, Derek Peterson - 8th Grade Elective/English language arts/Social Studies, Mystee Schindler - Learning Director/ AVID Coordinator, DeeDee West - Site Team/Resource Specialist Program/California Junior Scholarship Federation, Elizabeth Whitmyre - 7th Elective/Math, and Ginger Wren – Site Team/English language arts.

“College/Career Making It Happen Night is a great way for students and parents to get information on colleges and careers. Even though the students are in middle school, it gives them a chance to start thinking about where they would like to go to college or the type of career in which they might be interested,” according to Ginger Wren. When asked why students should participate in programs such as AVID, Dave Bastian said, “I have run into several former students who are now in college, and each of them proudly declared that they were AVID students.”

 


Students speak with Merced County Deputy District Attorney Ann Hanson during Tenaya’s College/Career Making it Happen Night

 

 



Students speak with Merced dentist Dr. Andrew Propes during Tenaya’s College/Career Making it Happen Night


Students speak with representatives from CSU Fresno during Tenaya’s College/Career Making it Happen Night


Tenaya Learning Director and AVID Coordinator Mystee Schindler speaks with a student during the school’s College/Career Making it Happen Night


Students get a look inside the Merced Police Bomb Squad vehicle during Tenaya’s College/Career Making it Happen Night


An excited student wins the raffle for a PlayStation 4 during Tenaya’s College/Career Making it Happen Night

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April 14, 2017

Student-Run Credit Union Branch in Le Grand Teaches Students Real-World Skills

Le Grand doesn’t have a bank or financial institution, meaning its residents must go to Merced for their banking needs.
But now they have the Bulldog Branch.
Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union has set up a student-run satellite branch at Le Grand High School. Students, staff members — and the community — can use MSEFCU services Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:30 with a third afternoon likely to be added. Summer operation also is planned.
Donna Alley, superintendent of the Le Grand Union High School District, said the branch opened March 21 in front of the school’s gym, in a space formerly used as storage for concession supplies. She says Le Grand students can open checking and savings accounts and the services are open to the community.
Alley said career-technical education programs are a high priority and the school is providing real work experiences for the students.
Principal Javier Martinez was using the credit union’s office in Merced last summer when he saw an advertisement for the Bear Branch at Merced High School. He thought that would be good for Le Grand High and set up a meeting with Nancy Deavours, the president and CEO of the credit union. The project began last October.
When he was a college student, Martinez was a bank teller for four years. Ten students are taking a two-semester finance class and four students attended teller training last summer.
Alley said we are seeing more students taking on adult responsibilities these days and the school is trying to prepare them as adults. The students are gaining marketable skills and on-the-job experience. They are also learning about finances, taking out loans and buying cars.
Deavours said the credit union is thrilled to be in the area and serving the community as well as students and staff members. She lauded the cooperation from Alley and Martinez in setting up the cooperative program.
“They are now applying what they are learning and that’s an experience of a lifetime. If we could only apply this to all kids it would be amazing,” Martinez said.
Stephanie Alvarez, 17, is a junior and one of the Bulldog Branch tellers. She said working in the branch is fun and her customers/members have been kind and understanding as she learns the ropes.
Adelina Skywalker, 17, also a Bulldog Branch teller, said she loves the experience. She hopes to go to UC Merced and become a child psychologist. She is thinking about taking marketing classes as well.
Skywalker said she loves working with people and said her customers/members have been very patient. She said being a teller has taught her a lot about money and has been a great experience. Both girls have savings accounts at the branch. Destiny Murillo and Jackie Mercado are also students/tellers.
Eleesia Zepeda is a teller at the MSEFCU branch and the supervisor at both Merced and Le Grand branches. Her daughter Faith uses the Merced Bear branch and has talked other students into joining.
“The kids are learning about bank accounts and how to manage their money and save,” Zepeda said. “I love it.”


Jackie Mercado, right, an 11th grader at Le Grand High School, works with Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union employee Eleesia Zepeda, center, to help a customer at Le Grand High School’s student-run satellite branch, also known as the Bulldog Branch. It is the only financial institution in Le Grand and open to the public.


Student tellers at Le Grand High School’s student-run satellite Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union branch help customers. Also known as the Bulldog Branch, it is the only financial institution in Le Grand and open to the public.

 

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April 14 , 2017

Chenoweth Students Involved in Act of Kindness

Chenoweth Elementary School is celebrating an act of kindness that has touched the hearts of students, staff members, and parents.

It all started last June when a fire badly damaged the Merced home of student Joe Tapetillo and his family. Burglars broke into the property days later and stole several items, including the guitar that Joe loved to play. It was a somber time for the sixth grader, but Joe’s father says his son kept a positive attitude as they dealt with finding a temporary home and living without all of the items they lost.

Joe recently wrote an essay about his hopes of becoming a professional musician, which mentioned his stolen guitar. He became emotional while reading the essay in front of his class, but he never expected what would happen next. One of his classmates, Julianna, was touched by the story and told her father, Alejandro Baez, what happened. Mr. Baez then decided to donate one of his guitars to Joe so he can continue to pursue his passion. He surprised Joe with the instrument last week. Sixth grade teacher Frank Delgado, says, “The look on Joe’s face spoke volumes when he was given the guitar, case and all. It was a priceless moment, and there is no doubt Joe will remember this act of kindness for the rest of his life.”

This thoughtful donation goes hand in hand with Chenoweth’s efforts to promote a “Community of Caring.” Principal Vance d’Escoto says all year long, students are encouraged to be “bucket fillers” and are acknowledged for random acts of kindness. The sixth graders have also adopted a motto from Tim McGraw’s song, “Humble and Kind.” He believes this situation is an inspiring example of what those words truly mean.


Joe Tapetillo III with his classmate Julianna, and her father Alejandro Baez, who donated the guitar to Joe after his was stolen



Chenoweth sixth grader Joe Tapetillo III playing the guitar he received from a classmate’s father after his was stolen


Chenoweth sixth grader Joe Tapetillo III with his father Joe Tapetillo Jr., Principal Vance d’Escoto, Joe’s classmate Julianna, and her father Alejandro Baez, who donated the guitar


Chenoweth sixth grader Joe Tapetillo III with his father Joe Tapetillo Jr., teacher Frank Delgado, Joe’s classmate Julianna, and her father Alejandro Baez, who donated the guitar

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April 14 , 2017

 

Atwater FFA Successful at Cosumnes River College Competition

Written by: Atwater FFA

Twenty-three Atwater High School FFA members representing six agriculture related Career Development Event (CDE) competitions joined various California high school agriculture students representing over 75 high schools throughout California at the Cosumnes River College and Reedley College FFA Field Days on April 11th. All of Atwater FFA’s competitive judging teams placed in the top three overall.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team of Kelsi Kamesch, Belinda Espinoza, Dillon Guillen, and Luz Soto placed 1st overall in a contest that involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Marketing Plan team composed of Julianna Dailey, Kaya Briscoe-Mattes, and Jessica Prado placed 2nd overall. Students in this contest develop and present a marketing plan for a current agricultural product, supply or service.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team of Sayra Ramos, Stephania Valdovinos, Briana Diaz, Alfredo Elizarraraz, and Emmanuel Mejia placed 2nd high team overall in a contest that blends practical hands-on experiences with a basic knowledge of the poultry industry required for careers in the poultry field.

The Atwater FFA Floriculture team placed 5th overall with a team composed of Liliana Reyes, Faith Ceja, and Jasmine Sandoval. The contest involves demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.


Members of the Atwater High School FFA Agronomy, Poultry, Marketing Plan, and Floriculture teams showcase their awards as they competed at the annual Cosumnes River College FFA Filed Day among hundreds of other high school agriculture students throughout the state of California.

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“Our students have made the commitment to get involved, improve their knowledge and skills, and make a statement with their competitive desire.” said FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport. “We are very proud of our students and their efforts.” The field day is composed of a variety of agriculture CDE’s where students demonstrate their intellectual and “hands-on” skills in agricultural related fields and occupations.

The final state contests of the year will be held at Fresno State University on April 22nd and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 6th. The state winning teams in each contest will earn the opportunity to represent California at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana in October.

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

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April 14 , 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BEGINS WORK ON STATE ROUTE 165 AT WESTSIDE BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has begun work on a project to realign a segment of State Route 165, south of the Merced River Bridge at Westside Boulevard, to improve safety and increase the efficiency of the intersection.

In addition to realigning the intersection, the shoulder will be widened with rumble strips ground into the pavement to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. The project will improve efficiency and safety for motorists traveling in Merced County.

One-way traffic control is expected to begin onMonday, April 17, 2017. Drivers should plan for 10-minute delays and seek alternative routes when possible. The project is scheduled to be completed in August 2017.

George Reed, Inc. of Modesto, is performing the work under a $1.22 million contract.
Construction is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.
#
For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow For the Cone Zone.



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

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April 14, 2017

LE GRAND HIGH SCHOOL RESTORATIVE DISCIPLINE GOOD FOR STUDENTS,
GOOD FOR PUBLIC SAFETY

By Javier Martinez and Larry D. Morse II

Studies show that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison than high school graduates. Dropouts also earn less pay, pay fewer taxes and are more likely to require public assistance. That’s bad for California’s future. Keeping students in school at least through high school graduation is good for public safety and good for our economy.
But what to do when high school students are disruptive or pose disciplinary challenges to teachers or school administrators? Depending on the severity of the misbehavior, the response is often suspensions and even expulsions. That was the path Le Grand Union High School District followed until five years ago when the district began a new approach.
The Le Grand Union High School District is comprised of just over 500 students. Dissatisfied with the impact such traditional, punitive discipline was having on the school climate, educators and administrators decided to try a different approach and began to implement a “restorative” model of discipline. Rather than banishing the offending student from school, “restorative” strategies aim to help identify personal or family issues a student may be having that often are the root cause of the disciplinary problems at school.
Restorative discipline is a research based technique for handling conflict, emphasizing accountability by addressing the harm caused by disruptive behavior and providing each party to a conflict the opportunity to listen and try to find collaborative solutions to prevent future disciplinary issues. By listening and learning more about what might be going on in a disruptive student’s home or personal life rather than simply responding in a punitive fashion, a student’s negative behavior can frequently be vastly improved.
In law enforcement such strategies are sometimes derisively dismissed as “hug a thug,” and, as District Attorney, I’ve occasionally had that bias. But results can and should be persuasive and the results at Le Grand Union High School District are nothing short of startling.
In the 2010-2011 school year, before a restorative discipline model was adopted, Le Grand High School suspended 80 students and expelled eight. That meant that over ten percent of the entire student body was being either suspended or expelled and too much teaching time was being diverted to dealing with disciplinary issues.

Five years later, in the 2014-15 school year, after restorative discipline was implemented, those numbers had plummeted to 12 suspensions and zero expulsions. Test scores have improved and more students are graduating. That represents success by any definition.
Besides improving the atmosphere on campus, restorative discipline programs pay many other dividends. Researchers at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara recently concluded that over 4,600 high school students statewide drop out from each graduating class because they were suspended. This costs California an estimated $2.7 billion in increased criminal justice costs and lost revenue over the course of these dropouts’ lives. In Merced County the study estimated that suspensions were to blame for 69 students dropping out of school which will ultimately cost the county and state $41 million in criminal justice services, reduced economic productivity and higher health care costs.
Make no mistake about it. Implementing a restorative discipline model at Le Grand was a challenge. Change never comes easy. Some educators and parents initially were suspicious and we had to move hearts and minds. But the results speak for themselves and most of our teachers have enthusiastically embraced the new model.
The most common grounds for suspension in California schools are “disruption” or “defiance,” and anyone who has worked in a classroom knows just how immobilizing just one student’s conduct can be to an entire classroom. We want to support our educators in their mission to teach.
At Le Grand High we have concluded that a restorative discipline model achieves the goals we all seek for our schools: reducing expulsions and suspensions; raising graduation rates and test scores; improving student and teacher morale.
Keeping our kids in school, off the streets and on a path towards high school graduation is simply good policy for Le Grand and all of Merced County. We believe restorative discipline has helped us achieve those goals.

Javier Martinez is principal of Le Grand High School
Larry D. Morse II is Merced County District Attorney

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April 14 , 2017

UC Merced Mainstay Chou Her Named Chief of Police
Her, who joined UC Merced when it opened in 2005 and has served twice as interim chief, brings more than 18 years of experience in law enforcement to his new role

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced, announced today (April 12) the appointment of Chou Her to chief of police, effective immediately.
Her, the first person of Hmong descent to lead a UC public safety agency, brings nearly two decades of law enforcement experience and years of demonstrated leadership. He has served the UC Merced community since the campus opened in 2005 and will continue to serve students and staff and faculty members as the campus’s third police chief.
“Chief Her has played a critical role in shaping the department as it and the campus have matured over the past 12 years,” Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Michael Reese said. “He has helped develop a policing philosophy that is appropriate for a public research university with UC Merced’s unique characteristics.”
Her has served as interim chief twice — after the departure of Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus and Public Safety and Chief of Police Albert Vasquez in September 2016. He also stepped in as

 


interim chief when founding Chief of Police Rita Spaur retired in 2015.
“It’s an honor to be selected to lead UC Merced’s police department,” Her said. “I look forward to continuing and growing our positive engagements with our campus community and the greater Merced community.”
Her has extensive police and emergency management certification and a demonstrated commitment to community involvement. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2011 and captain in 2015.
Her was born in Laos, and his family moved to the United States when he was 3. He has lived in Merced for most of his life and has built a strong connection with the campus and the local community.
Before joining UC Merced in 2005, Her was a deputy sheriff for the Merced County Sheriff’s Department for five years and a probation officer for Stanislaus County for nearly a year.
He earned received an associate’s degree in administration of justice from Merced College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in public administration from California State University, Stanislaus.

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April 14 , 2017

Costa Applauds CVP Water Allocations

FRESNO, CA – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the Central Valley Project 2017 Water Supply Allocations for south of Delta agricultural water districts including the member agencies of the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority, like San Luis Water District, Del Puerto Water District, Pacheco Water District, Panoche Water District and Westlands Water District. South of Delta agricultural water districts will receive a 100 percent allocation for the first time since 2006.

Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement:

“It’s been a decade since Valley farmers have received their full water allocation in the federal service area. Today’s announcement is long overdue, but it is very welcome news for farmers, farm workers, and communities in the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture is the backbone of our Valley’s economy, and this much needed water will allow farmers to plant the healthy and nutritious crops that feed our nation and world.

“While I applaud today’s announcement, there is no denying that California’s water system is broken, and further action must be taken to move California’s water system into the 21st century. Investments need to be made to build water storage and fix broken water infrastructure, so that more water can be captured during years with


Congressman Jim Costa

above average rain and snow fall. Additionally, the current policies that operate California’s water system are flawed and must be modified. Water that could be stored or used to recharge groundwater aquifers that have been depleted because of the drought is flowing out to the ocean. The status quo not only defies logic but is simply not sustainable.”

Last month, Costa condemned the Bureau’s delayed announced of the initial water allocation for the CVP, which was 65 percent.

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April 14 , 2017

UC Merced, National Park Service to Present Shakespeare in Yosemite
Inaugural event brings together nature and the arts to promote environmental stewardship

MERCED, Calif. — In partnership with the National Park Service and the University of Warwick (U.K.), the University of California, Merced, will produce “Shakespeare in Yosemite,” featuring local and student actors performing excerpts from classic works of William Shakespeare, as well as writings by naturalist John Muir, set against the dramatic backdrop of Yosemite National Park.
The free performances will take place April 22 and 23 in Yosemite’s Lower River and Half Dome Village amphitheaters in Yosemite Valley.
“Shakespeare in Yosemite” brings to life the imaginative worlds of two of the best nature writers in the English language, Shakespeare and Muir, using theatre and music to think about the natural world, and to convey the importance of art and storytelling in the battle to save the environment. The performances coincide with Earth Day on April 22 and Shakespeare’s Birthday on April 23. Admission to Yosemite National Park will be free on the weekend of the event, in honor of National Park Week.
The project is co-directed and produced by Shakespeare scholars Katherine Steele Brokaw of UC Merced and Paul Prescott of the University of Warwick (U.K.). The show features longtime John Muir portrayer and scholar Lee Stetson, National Park Service Ranger Shelton Johnson, and actors from UC Merced, Merced College, University of the Pacific, the University of Warwick, Merced Shakespearefest and other Central Valley theatre communities.
“‘Shakespeare in Yosemite’ reflects the ingenuity of UC Merced’s artistic community and the National Park Service,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Our partnership with Yosemite National Park is unparalleled — we conduct research dedicated to natural resource management and environmental education, we have an impressive student Yosemite Leadership Program, and now we are able to showcase the incomparable beauty of Yosemite National Park through our arts program.”
The program, which is appropriate for all ages, provides free public education about Shakespeare and Muir while highlighting themes of ecology and sustainability. Printed scripts will be available for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“Shakespeare himself never got to see Yosemite, but pairing his scenes and speeches about nature with the writing of John Muir has shown how well his words address the majesty of that place,” Brokaw said. “Bringing the great American tradition of Shakespeare in the Park to Yosemite is the perfect way to celebrate both the vitality of the arts and the beauty of our National Parks.”
Seán Hand, dean of the University of Warwick’s new graduate school in Roseville, added: “This is a fantastic initiative to make Shakespeare accessible to an international audience, and is a great



example of the rich and new partnership opportunities open to us in developing our presence in California.”
“Shakespeare in Yosemite” is supported by the National Parks Institute at UC Merced, the UC Merced Office of the Chancellor, the UC Merced Center for the Humanities, the University of Warwick, and Misfit Press.
The free, one-hour performances will take place at 2 and 5:30 p.m. on both April 22 and 23. For more information, please visit: ucmerced.edu/shakespeare.
The weekend of April 22-23 will be very busy in Yosemite National Park. Visitors are encouraged to plan trips in advance and arrive to the park before 9 a.m. Parking areas throughout the park are expected to fill early in the day. Visitor parking will be available at the Yosemite Falls Day Parking Area, located near Yosemite Lodge and Camp 4, and at Half Dome Village. Visitors are encouraged to park and utilize the free park shuttle to get to the Yosemite Valley Village and Visitor Center.
Public transportation is also available via YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) buses, which run multiple times daily and provide visitors with a safe and convenient way to visit the park. Updated travel information is available here.
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About UC Merced
UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.
About Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2015 and in 2016 celebrated its Centennial Anniversary with the National Park Service. The park welcomes over four million visitors from all over the world each year and serves as a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. Yosemite National Park generates $535 million in economic benefit to the local region and directly supports 6,261 jobs. The park is home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, iconic rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan, approximately 90 different mammal species, and over 1,500 plant species.

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April 14 , 2017

The Altamont Corridor Express To Receive $400 Million For Service Expansion to Stanislaus and Merced Counties

Stockton (CA) – Due to the hard work of California State Senator Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), California State Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), and California State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will be receiving $400 million for service expansion as a key component of the Transportation Funding Measure (SB 1) which was approved by the Legislature last night.

“The state has continuously underinvested in the San Joaquin Valley and in rural California. ACE service to Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, and Merced will bring great economic benefit to our region – providing a safe, reliable, affordable, and comfortable alternative to driving to the Bay Area. The I-580/I-680 Altamont Corridor is certainly one of the most congested corridors in the State” said Senator Cannella.

The funds are necessary to make improvements to expand ACE service, including new track, stations, and trains. ACE is expected to extend to Ceres by no later than 2023. The ACEforward


environmental process has cleared various near term projects and is in the process of clearing the remaining sections of the project expansion.
“We are excited to expand service into Stanislaus County and ease congestion on Highway 99,” said San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission Executive Director Stacey Mortensen.

ACE, started in 1998 and now runs four daily round trips starting at the Cabral Station in Downtown Stockton, through the Tri-Valley, and into Downtown San Jose. ACE currently carries over 1.3 million riders a year, and ridership has doubled since 2011. The Bay Area Council released the Northern California Megaregion report in 2016, highlighting that over 65,000 drivers cross the Altamont Pass on Interstate 580 every single day. The expanded ACE service will enable ridership to continue to grow to better serve the region.

For more information on ACE, please visit www.acerail.com.

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April 14 , 2017

Merced County Fair Teams Up With City of Merced For Free Electronic Recycling Events
Fair’s recycling events are part of the City’s Spring Clean-Up Effort

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, April 13, 2017…The Merced County Fair has teamed up with the City of Merced to hold free electronic recycling events as part of the City’s Spring Clean Up effort! The electronic recycling events will be held at the Merced County Fairgrounds on April 29-30 and May 6-7 in the parking lot located on the corner of 11th and G streets from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Electronic waste items include TVs, computers, laptops, printers, cell phones, stereo systems and more. Items containing Freon such as refrigerators will not be accepted. There is no limit to how much electronic waste people can bring and anyone can take advantage of the Merced County Fair’s electronic waste event. More details on the Merced County Fair’s recycling events can be found at www.mercedcountyfair.com/2017-e-waste-recycling.

“We are happy to be partnering with the City of Merced once again to provide this service to our community,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of the Merced County Fair. “I highly encourage people to take advance of both the electronic recycling and disposal of other household waste as it can be costly to dispose of it on your own and electronic waste is actually not accepted at the landfills.”

The City of Merced’s Spring Clean-Up Effort also includes the collection of other waste items such as tires, yard equipment, lumber, brush/shrubs and more. Disposal of these items are free; however, this service is only available to City of Merced residents who can show proof of residency. The four City of Merced Spring Clean-Up drop off locations are: Merced County Fairgrounds, Merced College, Merced High School and Golden Valley High School. For more details on the City’s broader Spring Clean-Up effort goto: www.cityofmerced.org/depts/pw/refuse_trash_services/spring_clean_up_program.asp


About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 126 years of operation this year. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President; Flip Hassett, First Vice President; Emily Haden, Second Vice President; Lori Gallo; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; Carol Sartori-Silva; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2017 Merced County Fair will runJune 7 - 11. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter (@Merced_CA_Fair) and now Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

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April 14, 2017

MAN ARRESTED ON $600,000 WARRANT ISSUED
BY MERCED COUNTY

Edward Mitchell Jr., 47, was arrested on Wednesday April 5, 2017 at his residence in Eureka, as a result of a $600,000 warrant issued out of Merced County for 14 felony counts of obtaining money, labor or property by false pretenses and 14 felony counts of diversion of construction funds, announced District Attorney Larry D. Morse II.

Mitchell is being held with a $250,000 bail amount.

Between July 2014 and October 2015, CSLB investigated complaints regarding Mitchell accepting well-drilling deposits from at least 14 victims and then never returning to complete the work, said Enforcement Supervisor Winton Horn. Horn was the lead investigator with CSLB when the accusations began.

Mitchell was chief executive officer of Mitchell Drilling Environmental Corporation and had a valid CSLB license until April 26, 2016, when it was revoked, said Horn.

Mitchell was arrested by Humboldt County’s District Attorney’s Office, Investigations Unit, with the assistance of the California Contractor’s State License Board after investigators with the Merced District Attorney’s Office learned he resided in Eureka. He was booked into the Humboldt County Jail, and has since been transported to Merced County Jail.

“It is good to see that he is going to have to explain to the homeowners where the money went,” Horn added.

According to investigators, some of his victims experienced additional hardships because their permits to drill their wells had expired and due to a change in county ordinances, their land no longer was eligible for a permit.

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April 14 , 2017

Costa Statement on U.S. Missile Attack Against the Government of Syrian President Assad

Fresno, CA – Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement regarding the United States launching a missile attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

“President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a limited missile strike in Syria was the correct action to take to send the message to President Bashar al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the United States. Assad’s horrific actions are not only attacks on his own people, but he is putting Western civilization and the entire world at risk.

“The Trump Administration needs to come up with a comprehensive strategy to combat the Assad regime, and if the Authorization for Use of Military Force is necessary, then Congress must act. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress and President on this issue.

“Chemical weapon attacks in 2013 took the lives of 1,400 Syrians and this week’s attack continues to darken the moral stain of Assad’s regime which is estimated to be responsible for the deaths of nearly 500,000 of its own people.


Congressman Jim Costa

“It’s important to highlight that Russia President Vladimir Putin supports Assad. Russia is our adversary, and the United States must remain vigilant in combatting all efforts that seek to undermine our nation’s Democracy and our democratic allies in Europe who share our freedoms and way of life.”

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April 14 , 2017

Assemblyman Gray: “Transportation Deal is a Game Changer for Merced and Stanislaus”

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement today after lending his support to a transportation plan to raise new revenues for road maintenance and transportation infrastructure while asking voters to constitutionally safeguard these funds:

“I have continuously highlighted the state’s underinvestment in rural California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Whether you are talking about infrastructure, doctors, jobs, poverty, or crime we have too much of the bad and not enough of the good. The state assistance and funding that flows so easily to the big cities and the coast dries to a trickle when it comes to helping the Valley.

The other parts of the state take for themselves, and leave us only what is left over the same way they drive through on Highway 99 leaving nothing but their exhaust behind. They forget about us when we fade from their rearview mirror. But when it came to mustering the votes needed to pass this transportation plan, they could not ignore us, as much as they may have wanted to.

Senator Cannella and I stood together and made it known we would not support a transportation plan that failed to invest in our underserved region. We would not support new taxes only to watch those dollars leave our community to build infrastructure somewhere else. We would not be forgotten again.

Today, I can confidently say that the rest of state remembered the Valley. This plan is truly a game changer for Merced and Stanislaus County. This comprehensive transportation plan doubles the road budget of every city in Merced and Stanislaus County. It invests $400 million to extend ACE rail to Ceres and Merced to finally make good on broken public transportation promises from the past. Finally, the plan appropriates $100 million to fully construct the Campus Parkway to connect the growing UC Merced campus to Highway 99.

Importantly, the plan includes constitutional protections so voters can ensure these funds will be dedicated solely to transportation. Too often, the state has raised taxes promising one thing, only to redirect those revenues for something else. This plan guarantees these funds will be used solely for transportation.

This will not solve all of our problems. We still need to reform the State Water Board, protect our local water supply from the Bay-Delta water grab, and lift the onerous regulations pushing agriculture out of the state. But what this has taught Sacramento is that we will not be relegated to second class. When we stand together they cannot ignore us.”

Local officials and community leaders hailed the transportation plan’s investments in local infrastructure and applauded Gray and Cannella’s leadership on the issue.

“Senator Cannella and Assemblyman Gray fought long and hard to ensure that this deal puts our region first,” said Merced County Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza. “The citizens of Merced County deserve to be a priority, and under this plan we are. I am grateful we have two state representatives who know how to stick together to get us our fair share.”

“Our roads in Stanislaus County are falling apart,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “The incredible investments guaranteed to our community under the plan negotiated by both Senator Cannella and Assemblyman Gray will create thousands of jobs, fix our roads, and construct a world class transit network.”

“Adam Gray and Anthony Cannella’s leadership in the State Legislature and their commitment to Merced have brought many benefits to our university,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “These projects will be an economic boon to our region, and we are grateful for their support as we continue the incredible growth of UC Merced and the rapidly accelerating development of the Merced community.”

“The City of Merced fully supports this long overdue revamping of state transportation funding,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “The investments in road maintenance and transit are critical improvements Merced needs to continue to grow and expand our economy going forward.”

“No one likes new taxes, including me,” said Merced Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Blake. “But crumbling roads are not just inconvenient, they are a public safety issue. I support the plan, because our tax dollars stay here in the Valley, including the buildout of Campus Parkway, a linchpin in regional goods movement and economic develop.”

“While the legislature has had success in recent years in balancing the state budget, we can no longer afford to ignore our most basic repair and maintenance needs if we wish to avoid systematic failure of the state’s entire transportation infrastructure,” said Patterson Mayor Deborah Novelli. “There may be no better way to put Californians back to work and stimulate our economy than making the roads we and our children rely on everyday safe again.”

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April 7, 2017

Costa Honors Danielle Quiroga with Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Award

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) presented Danielle Quiroga with the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award from the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus. Danielle is a survivor of a terrorism inspired incident that took place on November 4, 2015 on the University of California, Merced campus.

“It was an honor to present Danielle Quiroga with the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award from the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus,” said Congressman Jim Costa. “Even after experiencing a devastating trauma, Danielle has kept her spirits high. Danielle’s positive outlook on life has helped her, her family and witnesses of the horrific incident cope with the tragedy. Danielle is an inspiration to all of us, and it was truly an honor for her to be in Washington, D.C. to accept the award.”

"I am incredibly humbled and honored to have been awarded the Eva Murillo Unspoken Hero Award from the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus,” said Danielle Quiroga. “This award is such a honor for me and for my family. I was blessed to have such a supportive group of warriors behind me and I would love to share this award with them. Thank you so much to Congressman Costa for such an amazing opportunity to come out to Washington, D.C. We are looking forward to being involved in more victims’ advocacy events this week and continuing to tour our nation’s capital. The sights are breathtaking."

The Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus was founded in 2005 by the co-chairs, Representatives Jim Costa and Ted Poe. The mission of the Caucus is to elevate crime victim issues in Congress in a


Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) presented Danielle Quiroga with the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award

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bipartisan manner without infringing on the rights of the accused, and to represent and advocate before the Administration and within the Congress on behalf of crime victims.

Since 2006, the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus has honored outstanding individuals, agencies and collaborative initiatives whose efforts directly benefit victims and survivors of crime, and promote individual and public safety. The Caucus hosts an annual awards ceremony on Capitol Hill around the annual commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (which in 2017, is scheduled for the week of April 2-8).

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April 7 , 2017


Merced County DA Visits State Capitol to Seek Support for At-Risk Youth;
Early Childhood, After-School Programs Cited as Top Priorities

 

SACRAMENTO – Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II joined other members of Fight Crime/Invest in Kids, a national non-partisan anti-crime organization, at the state Capitol on Wednesday to urge legislators and administration officials to protect state-funded programs scientifically proven to steer children away from crime.

Morse, who serves on the state executive committee of Fight Crime/Invest in Kids, is one of the organization’s nearly 400 police chief, sheriff, district attorney and crime survivor members in California. Morse and other Fight Crime/Invest in Kids members met with Attorney General Xavier Becerra, members of Governor Jerry Brown’s legislative staff and state legislators to lobby for continued investment in early childhood education and after school programs designed to help kids succeed in school and become high school graduates.

“Kids who fail to graduate from high school are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison,” Morse said. “Increased access to quality pre-school and after school care has been proven time and again to dramatically improve high school graduation rates. California’s future is much brighter if we invest in these programs for children now instead of incarceration later,” he added.

Morse has made the annual lobbying trip to Sacramento for several years and has seen a significant change in the attitude of policy makers towards programs such as quality pre-school, after school care and suspension and expulsion policies.

“There is much greater bipartisan enthusiasm in Sacramento for investing in proven strategies that increase the chances for kids to graduate high school,” Morse said. “As District Attorney of Merced County, I can make the best contribution to our long term public safety by working with other law enforcement leaders, educators and legislators to graduate as many kids as possible from high school,” he added.

Research has shown a child's early years of learning create large gains in brain development and socialization skills; one study found that at-risk kids who did not participate in a high-quality preschool program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. Another study shows that preschool saves the public more than $16 in corrections and welfare costs for every $1 invested.

Increasing funding for the After School Education and Safety (ASES) will also go a long way towards keeping kids off the streets and away from crime. Research has consistently shown that young people are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol and associate with gang members when left unsupervised after school.

“Law enforcement leaders are well aware that the prime-time for juvenile crime is between the hours of 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. After-school programs keep kids engaged in constructive activities that keep them out of harm’s way in the short term, and can help them graduate in the future,” said Brian Lee, executive director of Fight Crime/Invest in Kids.

Established by Proposition 49 in 2002, ASES provides $550 million to support over 4,000 programs and 400,000 students each day. However, despite rising costs, demand and expectations for after
school programs, funding has remained flat since 2007. Programs are struggling to provide high-quality programming and many are at risk of closure.

“Closing these programs would be a huge and unfortunate step in the wrong direction and away from a safer, more prosperous California,” Morse said.

(To review Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California’s complete 2017 legislative agenda, or to arrange an interview with a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, please contact Meghan Moroney at mmoroney@calfightcrime.org).

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April 6, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE CHOOSES STEM STUDENT OF THE MONTH

Merced College’s STEM Student of the Month is a Golden Valley High School graduate with a career goal of attending medical school to become a pediatrician or general practitioner.
Mikayla Whitfield is the first student to be recognized for this award by the College’s Science, Math & Engineering faculty, according to instructional Dean Dr. Doug Kain.
“Mikayla is a great choice for our first STEM Student of the Month,” Dr. Kain said. “She maintains high grades in her classes, despite a hectic schedule and volunteer activities.”
Whitfield is in her final semester at Merced College with plans to transfer to CSU Stanislaus in the fall as a Biology major. Currently, she is the president of the Pre-Medical Club on campus.
In addition to her other community volunteer activities, she has been involved with Relay for Life and Loaves and Fishes, a program that feeds the homeless.

 

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Mikayla Whitfield

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April 6, 2017

SCHOLARSHIP-BASED YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM IN MERCED COUNTY NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR SUMMER 2017

April 2017—Merced, CA – High-school students from Merced County will spend multiple exciting and educational weeks in the Sierra Nevada mountains this summer thanks to a non-profit that empowers youth through an integrated literacy and wilderness experience. The Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) summer courses introduce students to majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada, while stretching their physical, academic and personal abilities.

ARC offers two summer opportunities for Merced County students: a 40-day course in Yosemite and a 24-day course in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. On these adventures, students will explore the the Parks’ waterfalls, rivers and stunning rock formations, while backpacking, rock climbing, rafting and more. Participants study language arts and environmental science, write poetry and essays and practice public speaking. They return home having learned about stewardship, conservation and the importance of doing their best, both individually and as a team.

“I climbed mountains and hiked for miles when I previously would not have been motivated to do so,” says Gerzayr Alapizco, a 2016 ARC graduate. “I overcame my self-doubt and found a way to believe that I can triumph over every challenge I face.” Adds Linda Yang, another 2016 summer graduate: “I learned that I am my own leader.” Through their ARC experience, teens like Gerzayr and Linda become more confident and better-equipped to achieve academic and personal goals. During the past decade, 82 percent of ARC participants have attended a two- or four-year college.

Will Fassett, ARC program director, says the summer course is designed to connect underserved youth to the outdoors. “ARC works with local high school students who wouldn’t otherwise have opportunities to go on summer adventures.”


Photo of 2016 ARC Summer Course participants in Yosemite

Says Drenese McCloud, a 2016 summer graduate from Los Banos High School: “Adventure Risk Challenge prepared me to be the adult I’ve dreamed of being.”

About Adventure Risk Challenge: ARC is a scholarship-based program, providing partial- to full financial support to all accepted high-school aged students. First-generation students, English-language learners, and all students who are motivated to experience a challenging outdoor and academic adventure are encouraged to apply. The summer 2017 program is accepting applications now untilApril 21. Visit www.adventureriskchallenge.org to learn more about the program and download applications for the 2017 Summer Courses.

CONTACT: Michael Dominquez, Central Valley Outreach Coordinator, Adventure Risk Challenge
(559) 760-5024 / michael@adventureriskchallenge.org

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April 6, 2017

Student Writing Celebrated During Annual Merced County Writing Festival

About 3,000 students from throughout Merced County have submitted entries for the Merced County Writing Festival and are testing their skills in poetry and prose.
Entries will be on display April 28 through May 7 at the Merced Mall, with awards ceremonies scheduled at 9 a.m. May 1-5 to recognize the winning entries.
The event, sponsored by the Merced County Office of Education, is in its 33rd year, according to Stacie Arancibia, MCOE events planner.
Students from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade can select from topics in 40 different categories in poetry and prose. They can be short stories, letters or poems.
Arancibia said it’s important that writing skills still be encouraged and creativity needs to be fostered. Entries are judged by teachers from

participating schools. Students receive ribbons for first, second and third place and the top two entries for each grade are awarded gold medals; one for poetry and one for prose.
For more information on the Writing Festival, contact Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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April 6, 2017

‘There’s a Martian in the Opera House’ Theme of Annual Children’s Opera

Many children have probably never been to an opera, but a local program at UC Merced in mid-May could change their perceptions of this musical art form.
The annual Children’s Opera will be performed May 15-19 at UC Merced’s Lakireddy Auditorium. About 3,700 Merced County students from 3 to 12 years of age will get to see the operatic performances.
The event is sponsored by Arts UC Merced, the Betty Scalice Foundation and the Merced County Education Foundation, with coordination by the Merced County Office of Education.
Students will be entertained by “There’s a Martian in the Opera House,” written by Nancy Steele Brokaw, the mother of a UC Merced professor. UC students, professors and community members will be performing the 45-minute productions. There is no charge for the participating schools.

 

Stacie Arancibia, events planner for the Merced County Office of Education, said opera is a style many children have not been exposed to and the upcoming performances give them a chance to see live theater.

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April 4 , 2017

 

Atwater FFA Successful at Reedley College and El Capitan FFA Competition

Written by: Atwater FFA


Fifteen Atwater High School FFA members representing four agriculture related Career Development Event (CDE) competitions joined various California high school agriculture students representing over 65 high schools throughout California at Reedley College FFA Field Day and El Capitan High School Small Engines contests on April 1st.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team of Eric Favela (3rd overall), Daniel mesa (4th overall), Joel Rojas, (5th overall), and Nathaniel Cavalero placed 1st overall in a contest involving hands on application skills in woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. The Atwater FFA Milks Quality and Dairy Foods team of Callie Norton (2nd overall), Natalie Frontella, Luke van warmerdam, and Joseph Hayword placed 5th overall in a contest where students demonstrate their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. The Atwater FFA Land Evaluation and Soils team placed 6th overall with a team composed of Michael Bray, Audrey Esau, Katelyn Baptista, and Jose Ruiz. The contest involves the evaluation and interpretation of soils and soil profiles. Students analyze various soil pits and determine soil texture, water holding capacity, and erosion characteristics while associated the data with agriculture applications.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team of Ricardo Ortega, Zion Brigham, Blake Brigham, and Madison Hall placed 3rd overall in a contest that challenges students with their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair. Thirteen high school agriculture programs throughout California attended the 1st annual FFA Small Engines contest hosted by El Capitan High School in Merced.

“Our students have made the commitment to get involved, improve their knowledge and skills, and make a statement with their competitive desire.” said FFA advisor Shelby West. “We are very proud of our students and their efforts.” The field day is composed of a variety of agriculture CDE’s where students demonstrate their intellectual and “hands-on” skills in agricultural related fields and occupations.


The Atwater High School Ag mechanics team of Daniel Mesa, Eric Favela, Nathaniel Cavallero, Joel Rojas, and (coach) Sam meredith placed 1st high team at the 50th annual Reedley College FFA Field Day contest.


The Atwater High School Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team of Luke van Warmerdam, Callie Norton, Joseph Hayward, and Natlaie Frontella placed 5th overall at the 50th annual Reedley College FFA Field Day contest.

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The final state contests of the year will be held at Fresno State University on April 22nd and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 6th. The state winning teams in each contest will earn the opportunity to represent California at the National FFA Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana in October.

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

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April 4, 2017

MERCED RIVER LITERARY REVIEW
SEEKS SUBMISSIONS

Editors of Merced College’s Merced River Literary Review are accepting submissions of poems, short stories, flash fiction, short plays, artwork, and creative non-fiction.
The deadline to submit original work for the fourth edition of the Review is Saturday, April 16 at noon. All submissions must be electronic and can be sent to editors@mccd.edu.

The following guidelines apply to submissions:
• Use Times New Roman, 12-point font only. Written work submitted must be in Microsoft Word, in .doc/.docx format.
• A maximum of four pages of creative work may be submitted.
• Each email must have the type of creative writing submitted in the subject line.
• By submitting to the editors at the MRLR the author gives sole one-time publication rights to the Merced River Literary Review. After publication, all rights revert to the author.
1. If the submission has ever been previously published, the author warrants that there is no legal copyright infringement with previous

 

publishers, and the author must provide the name of the
publication, the year of the publication, and publisher name.
• Submission of work in no way guarantees publication, as the journal has a limited amount of space to publish. The journal will do its best to publish as many authors as we have space for.

For more information, contact Meg Withers at 209.384.6151.


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April 1, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE WELCOMES
NEW POLICE OFFICER

Standing in front of his family, as well as members of the college and local community, Kenneth Braaksma was sworn in as Merced College’s newest police officer during the March 14 meeting of the Merced Community College Board of Trustees.
“We are very happy to welcome Officer Braaksma as a member of our law enforcement team,” said Merced College Police Department Chief Tom Trindad. “With his broad experience, he will be a valuable asset to our college.”
Officer Braaksma most recently served for 12 years with the Alameda Sheriff’s Department. He also was an active duty member of the U.S. Marine Corp, and had previously served in the U.S. Navy Reserves and the California National Guard.
“Merced College has provided me with a great opportunity to serve the local community,” Officer Braaksma said. “Aside from being a cop, I’m a husband to my wife, Erin, and father to our children Kaleigh and Kenna.”
The Merced College Police Department consists of Chief Trindad, a full-time administrative assistant, four full-time police officers, and 15 non-sworn citation officers, all serving the main campus in Merced and the College’s educational center in Los Banos.


Kenneth Braaksma



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April 1, 2017


Sewer master plan, police equipment on Council agenda

A study session on the sewer master plan and the purchase of new equipment for police patrol units are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 6 p.m. for the study session on the sewer master plan. The regular Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.

The sewer master plan is a document that studies how much sewage future development will produce in the City, how it will be transported to the wastewater treatment plant and how much it will cost. The City is in the process of developing the master plan to develop the answers.

Under state Prop. 218, each user of the City’s utilities -- such as the sewer system -- must pay for the services they use. New users to the system must pay their fair share for use of the system.

The Police Department is asking the Council to accept $75,000 in state


funding for the purchase of 13 in-car computer systems and nine modems for patrol vehicles. In addition, Council is being asked to approve the purchase of 13 laptop computer systems for $60,821 for use in vehicles.

The Council also will recognize the El Capitan High School Cheer Squad, who are the 2017 USA National Champions.

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

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

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March 31 , 2017

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENTS

Merced, Calif., – The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (Authority) is hosting two Household Hazardous Waste events in April. The first event will take place in conjunction with the City of Los Banos Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 8, from 7:00 am – 2:00 pm. The HHW facility will be located at 403 F Street, Los Banos. The second event will take place at the Highway 59 Landfill in Merced on Saturday, April 15, for residents and CESQG’s from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. The Highway 59 Landfill’s HHW Facility is located at 7040 North Highway 59, Merced 95348. Please note: The trash cleanup is for City of Los Banos residents only, but the Household Hazardous Waste event is open to all Merced County residents and Conditionally-Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG’s).
Household hazardous waste (HHW) is any leftover household product that contains ingredients that are “corrosive,” “reactive,” “ignitable/flammable,” and/or “toxic.” Examples of HHW include: Ammonia-based cleaners, non-empty aerosol cans, fluorescent tubes, automotive and household batteries, paint, pool chemicals, solvents, and used motor oil (in containers no larger than 5 gallons in size).
Before bringing items out to the facility, please call 916-296-7478 to identify the amount and type of HHW that will be dropped off at the facility. Please note that under State of California transportation regulations, there are quantity limitations on how much HHW can be transported. There is no cost for residents within Merced County, but


quantity limitations apply. Fees apply for CESQGs.
For more information, please visit www.mercedrecycles.com/hhw.html or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 24.
The Merced County Regional Waste Authority is comprised of city and county governments, with members who meet to discuss and solve regional issues concerning solid waste. Members include one elected representative from each of the six cities and one elected official from each of the county’s five districts. More information can be found at www.mcagov.org or by calling (209) 723-4481, ext. 5.

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March 31, 2017

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

Viking Construction Company, in partnership with the City of Merced, will be closing MStreet between Rambler Road and 27th Street from midnight to 5am on Thursday, April6th and again from midnight to 5am on Friday, April 7th to install traffic control devices for thebridge repair work over Bear Creek. M Street will reopen with one lane in each direction.North Bear Creek Drive will remain closed to through traffic crossing M Street.

Please follow the advance warning signs and detour arrows that will guide you around the jobsitevicinity.

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 ProjectManager or the City Engineer listed below:

Joel Svendsen, ProjectManager 209-385-6820
Theron Roschen, CityEngineer 209-385-6898

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

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

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March 31, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM BUHACH ROAD TO ATWATER BOULEVARD
IN ATWATER

Atwater — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Buhach Road to Atwater Boulevard. Work will occur as follows:
• The northbound off and on-ramps at Applegate Road will close beginning Monday, April 3, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

• The #2 (right) lane on northbound SR-99 from Buchach Road to Atwater Boulevard will close beginning Monday, April 3, 2017, through Friday, April 7, 2017 for crack sealing operations.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 AT SCRIPPS DRIVE IN LOS BANOS

Los Banos– The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various construction activities related to pedestrian improvements underway on State Route 165(SR-165)at Scripps Drive adjacent to the Mercey Springs Elementary School. Work will occur as follows:
• One-way traffic control will be in effect on northbound and southbound SR-165 at Scripps Drive from Monday, April 3, 2017, through Friday, April 7, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work.
• The right and left shoulders will be closed on northbound and southbound SR-165 at Scripps Drive from Monday, April 3, 2017, through Friday, April 7, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for traffic signal work.
This innovative project will improve safety and mobility for residents and businesses, and bolster California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP). Caltrans will install a High-intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) beacon system, which uses an overhead traffic light-style warning to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians. The yellow light flashes when triggered by a pedestrian, following by a solid yellow and then red light – requiring motorists to stop.
While slightly different in appearance, the beacon’s function is very similar to the traditional traffic light in that it stops traffic and allows pedestrians to cross safely. The beacon is inactive unless it is triggered by a pedestrian.

The ATP is designed to increase the number of walking and cycling trips, improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and non-motorized users, enhance public health and reduce greenhouse gases.
The $95,000 project has been awarded to Traffic Development Services of Moorpark, CA and is scheduled to be completed in late April 2017.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM TROWER ROAD TO FORESTA ROAD
IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on on eastbound and westbound State Route 140. Work will occur as follows:

• The #1 (left) lane on eastbound SR-140 from Trower Road to the Mount Boullion Cut-off will close on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m for guardrail repair;

• One-way traffic control will be in effect on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Briceburg to Slate Gulch beginning Monday, April 3, 2017 until Friday, April 7, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for highway maintenance;

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 CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
Due to weather related delays, the closure is now scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, April 7, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.

TRAFFIC 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 to State Route 140 for highway construction.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, April 3, 2017, through Friday, April 7, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 15 minute delays.
The construction is part of a project that will add centerline and edgeline rumble strips to approximately 10 miles of SR-33 in Merced County. The project is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips.These strips are ground into the pavement surface.

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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March 30, 2017

Living Wax Museum Returns to Charles Wright Elementary in Merced

After receiving rave reviews during its debut in 2016, the Charles Wright Elementary Wax Museum delighted visitors for a second straight year on Wednesday.

The project features dozens of sixth graders who each play the role of a significant figure from the past or present, including Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Queen Elizabeth, President Donald Trump, and Walt Disney.

To prepare for the their moment in the spotlight, the students conducted research, created props and backdrops, selected costumes, and memorized short speeches they wrote about the person they chose to portray. Other classes were invited to walk through the cafeteria and push a button on each display to hear those speeches so they could also learn about the famous individuals.

Teacher Kodi Matsuo organized the interactive project, which combines lessons in language arts and social studies plus public speaking. She says it’s a fun way to bring these well-known names to life for the students who play them, as well as those who visit the “museum.” She pointed out this year, one class had just learned about astronaut Neil Armstrong, so the students and their teacher were especially excited to hear his speech.

The Charles Wright Wax Museum is quickly becoming a tradition that students look forward to as they enter sixth grade.

Parents also had the opportunity to enjoy the students’ work during Open House, which will took place Wednesday night.

 




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March 30, 2017

MERCED COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE CELEBRATES VICTIMS’ RIGHTS WEEK - April 2 - 8, 2017

Marylene Riley, who lost both of her sons to violence in Merced County, will be the featured speaker at the Merced County District Attorney’s annual Victims’ Rights Week ceremony held at noon on Thursday, April 6, at the Courthouse Park.
According to District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, Riley’s sons, Michael and Marlis, were killed 11 months apart; Michael on October 7, 2008 and Marlis on September 12, 2009. Following the loss of her sons, she started a scholarship fund through Merced College in their honor and has organized the annual Riley Brothers’ Victims Remembrance walk for her sons and other families who have lost loved ones in the Loughborough area of Merced.
Victims’ Rights Week will be celebrated April 2-8. This year’s theme “Strength Resilience Justice,” emphasizes building the capacity of individuals, service providers, and communities to respond to crime and support the ongoing healing of victims and survivors, Morse said.
“This ceremony is an important way to bring the families of crime victims together with law enforcement, victims’ advocates and the community to let them know we share their losses,” said Lisa DeSantis, Victim Witness Coordinator for the District Attorney’s office. “We are always there for them.”
DeSantis encourages participants to bring a photo of their loved one so it can be displayed on easels set up for the event. There will also be a time for participants to write a special message to their loved ones and tie it to a tree that was planted in remembrance of victims.
“We do it for the families and our community,” said DeSantis “We want to make it a special and memorable week for them each year.”
For more information on the Victims’ Rights Week ceremony, please contact Lisa DeSantis at the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Program at (209) 385-7385.

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March 29, 2017

CASTLE AIR MUSEUM, LOCATED AT 5050 SANTA FE DRIVE IN ATWATR WILL BE HOSTING A LECTURE AND PRESENTAION ON HOW WEATHER AND NAVIGATION AFFECT AIRLINE TRAVEL PLUS FLYING CIA MISSIONS, SATURDAY APRIL 1 AT 10 AM IN THE MUSEUM’S BANQUET ROOM.
PRESENTED BY RETIRED AIRLINE PILOT JIM WOHLLEBER THIS PROMISES TO BE AN INFORMATIVE AND IN DEPTH LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES FACING THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY AND MR. WOHLLEBER’S EXPERIENCES FLYING AIRCRAFT IN AND OUT OF COMBAT ZONES FOR THE CIA!
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THIS EDUCATIONAL EVENT SPONSORED BY THE CASTLE AIR MUSEUM. THERE IS NO COST TO ATTEND THIS EVENT!
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE MUSEUM AT (209) 723-2178, OR VISIT THE WEBSITE AT: WWW.CASTLEAIRMUSEUM.ORG.


Click here to see flyer

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March 29, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Members Have A Ball!

Written by: Atwater FFA


Over 150 Atwater High School FFA members participated in the 15th annual FFA “Bowling Tournament” Meeting on March 21st. The purpose of the meeting was to create an opportunity for FFA members to participate in a recreational activity and develop one’s social and team building skills.

The Atwater FFA holds monthly meetings, scheduled at a regular time and guided by a sound agenda, that provide an efficient transaction of business, promote chapter unity and encourage better attendance. Chapter meetings are excellent learning and teaching tools. “The important thing to realize is that the chapter meetings are planned and run by the students,” says FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh, “Tonight’s meeting was an excellent way to bring everyone together as a chapter.”

FFA is a dynamic youth organization within agricultural education that changes lives and prepares students for premier leadership, personal growth and career success. FFA was created in 1928 as Future Farmers of America; the name was changed in 1988 to the National FFA Organization to represent the growing diversity of agriculture. Today, over half a million-student members are engaged in a wide range of agricultural education activities, leading to over 300 career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industry. Student success remains the primary mission of the FFA.

This was the 15th year in a row Bellevue Bowl has sponsored and supported this popular student event. “Bellevue Bowl is just one example of the continued support our AHS students and agriculture program receives from our community and local businesses,” said Atwater High School Associate Principal Robert Nunes, “Our goal is to make a positive difference in young people’s lives, and this event is an example of being able to get together and enjoy each other’s company.”

 

 

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


Atwater High School agriculture students Kara Isham, Kassia Beznoska, Jaelyn Vang, Jose Martinez, Breena Vang, Janet Barron, Colby Flatt, and Hope Rhoads "have a ball" participating in the annual FFA bowling tournament.


Atwater High School agriculture students Roman Reyna and Bailey Weimer earned individual bowling awards during the annual Atwater FFA Bowling Meeting held at Bellevue Bowl in Atwater.


Atwater High School FFA members Kassia Beznoska, Jelyn Vang, Kara Isham, Janet Barron, and Hope Rhoads showcase their team trophies which they earned during the annual Atwater FFA bowling tournament an Bellevue Bowl in Atwater.

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March 27, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps Modesto Junior College Field Day Competition

Written by: Atwater FFA

 

The Atwater High School FFA judging teams earned the Modesto Junior College FFA Field Day Sweepstakes Award with seven individual Career Development Event teams competing and the annual MJC FFA Field Day on March 25th. Over 2400 high school agriculture students representing over 100 high schools across the State of California participated in the 65th annual FFA Field Day in various agriculture skills and application contests. The Nursery & Landscape team led the pack with 1st place team finish with the Atwater FFA Agronomy (2rd overall), Ag Mechanics (2nd overall), Poultry (3rd overall), Milk Quality and Dairy Foods (6th overall), Small Engines (8th overall), and Floriculture teams adding to a productive and strong showing during the event.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team of Daryl Dorsey (1st high individual), Jeff Clark (2nd high individual), and Amajot Gandhoke placed 1st overall in a contest that involves demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team of Jasmine Flores (5th high individual), Belinda Espinoza, Dillon Guillen, and Kelsi Kamesch placed 2ndoverall in a contest that involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team of Nathaniel Cavallero (2nd high individual), Daniel Mesa, Eric Favela, and Justin Sarginson placed 2nd overall in a contest involving hands on application skills in woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team of Sayra Ramos (4th high individual), Ana Lozano, Briana Diaz, Alfredo Elizarrarraz, and Stefanie Anguiano placed 3rd high team overall in a contest that blends practical hands-on experiences with a basic knowledge of the poultry industry required for careers in the poultry field.


With over 2400 high school agriculture students throughout California competing, the Atwater FFA won the "Sweepstakes" award as the top high school competing in various agriculture skill-related competitions at the annual Modesto Junior College FFA Field Day.

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

The Atwater FFA Milks Quality and Dairy Foods team of Callie Norton, Luke van Warmerdam, Kendyll Cruz, Natalie Frontella, and Natalie Gutierrez placed 6th overall in a contest where students demonstrate their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team of Ricardo Ortega, Zion Brigham, Matthew Rogers, and Madison Hall placed 8th overall in a contest that challenges students with their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair.

The Atwater FFA Floriculture team of Samantha Theodozio, Ariana Freitas, Arely Venegas, Marissa Nuno completed a strong finish overall in a contest that involves plant identification, application of “hands-on” floral arrangements, and industry related floral skills.

The Modesto Junior College FFA Field Day is designed to showcase students’ “hands-on” and technical skills in various agriculture related fields. “Students apply their knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in real-life job skill environments,” said FFA advisor Sam Meredith. “We have a group of students that take tremendous pride towards their work ethic and skill development in a variety of agricultural related skills and occupations.” The FFA judging competitions continue with Reedley College, Cosumnes River College, Fresno State University, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo scheduled in the coming two months.

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

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March 27, 2017


Special Priority Session held Wednesday

The Merced City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, for a Special Priority Session. The priorities established will be incorporated into the City budget for the upcoming year.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak during the session.


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

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March 27, 2017

Bridges won’t close during rehab work

The M Street and G Street bridges won’t be closed while they are undergoing repairs during the next seven months. One lane will always be open in each direction for traffic and only one bridge will be worked on at a time.

“We wanted to make this as easy on people as we could, realizing that it was going to be inconvenient,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “However, it is essential that we repair these bridges because they have experienced a great deal of deterioration over the years. Both bridges are safe, they just need repairs now.”

All of the work is scheduled to be completed by October.

Road work ahead

Work on the M Street Bridge will begin on Monday, April 3 and continue for approximately four months. Build in 1973, the asphalt concrete overlay on the bridge is cracked, settled and uneven and needs to be completely removed. A polyester concrete overlay will replace it to protect the bridge.

The existing sidewalks and curbs are beyond repair and need complete replacement. The planters need to be removed and replaced with traffic-rated barriers. Beneath the bridge erosion control and other rehab measures will be undertaken to keep the bridge in place.

The G Street bridge work is scheduled to begin in August and will last approximately two months. Damage to this bridge is not as extensive as M Street. The bridge deck will get repaired, but the sidewalks and curbs don’t need replacing. It also doesn’t need the erosion control work.

Flags will line bridge

When M Street is completed 10 American flags will line the sides of the bridge in honor of the American veterans. In 2000 the City Council named the M Street Bridge “Merced Veterans Memorial Bridge” to

 

honor the city’s war veterans. Last year the Council added the name “Veterans Boulevard” to the entire length of M Street in honor of the City veterans.

The City received a $3.7 million state Bridge Preventive Maintenance Program grant for the repairs. The contract was awarded to Viking Construction of Rancho Cordova.
In stage 1 (April to early June), the north side of the N. Bear Creek at M Street will be closed.

In stage 2, (early June to mid-August), the south side of the N. Bear Creek at M Street will be closed. The contractor will work to minimize the closures on south side of the N. Bear Creek at M Street and allow right turns out from the Bear Creek Inn.

Traffic signals adjusted

Traffic signal timing along M and G streets will be adjusted to optimize traffic flow. Light boards and detour signs will be posted to keep drivers informed. Staff has reached out to neighbors and told them about the project.

The project will require a staging area for the contractor's material and equipment at a portion of the Applegate Park driveway at the entrance to M Street. In addition, the Michael Sullivan Bike Path at M and G Street will also require closure to bicyclists and pedestrians during construction for safety.

Staging for the G Street bridge work will be at the end of 27th Street and So. Creek Creek Drive and not affect the flow of traffic.

Updates on the bridge work will be available on the City’s website,www.CityofMerced.org, the City’s Facebook, The Streets of Merced, and on the City’s Twitter, Merced City Hall.

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March 27, 2017

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY
CALTRANS BRINGING INNOVATIVE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY SYSTEM TO STATE ROUTE 165 AND SCRIPPS DRIVE IN LOS BANOS

Los Banos – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is working on an innovative project that will upgrade the pedestrian crossings at State Route 165 (SR-165) and Sripps Drive. This intersection is heavily used by school children and residents, with two schools in close proximity.
Caltrans will install a High-intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) beacon system, which uses an overhead traffic light-style warning to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians. The yellow light flashes when triggered by a pedestrian, following by a solid yellow and then red light – requiring motorists to stop. The project will improve safety and mobility for residents and businesses, and bolster California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP).
While slightly different in appearance, the beacon’s function is very similar to the traditional traffic light in that it stops traffic and allows pedestrians to cross safely. The beacon is inactive unless it is triggered by a pedestrian.
The ATP is designed to increase the number of walking and cycling trips, improve safety and mobility for pedestrians and non-motorized users, enhance public health and reduce greenhouse gases.
The project is scheduled to be completed in late April 2017. Work will be done during the day with one-way traffic control, and drivers should plan for 10-minute delays and seek alternative routes.
The $95,000 project has been awarded toTraffic Development Services of Moorpark, CA.

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
STATE ROUTE 165 AT HENRY MILLER DRIVE IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County– The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 165 at Henry Miller Drive in Merced County for various construction activities.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, March 27, 2017, through Friday, March 31, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, March 27, 2017, through Friday, March 31, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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

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

 

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM BUCHANEN HOLLOW ROAD
TO THE MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from Buchanen Hollow Road to the Merced/Stanislaus County line. Work will occur as follows:
• The # 3 (right) lane on southbound SR-99 from Buchanen Hollow Road to Vassar Avenue will close beginning Tuesday, March 28, 2017, through Wednesday, March 29, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.;

• The #1 (left) and #2 (right) lanes on southbound SR-99 from Vassar Avenue to Oakdale Road will alternately close beginning Monday, March 27, 2017, through Tuesday, March 28, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.;

• The #1 (Left) and #2 (middle) lanes on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Mission Avenue to the Merced/Stanislaus County line will alternately close beginning Tuesday, March 28, 2017, through Thursday, March 30, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.;

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.

TRAFFIC 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 to SR-140 for highway construction.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, March 27, 2017, through Friday, March 31, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 10 minute delays.
The construction is part of a project that will add centerline and edgeline rumble strips to approximately 10 miles of SR-33 in Merced County. The project is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips.These strips are ground into the pavement surface.

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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March 27, 2017

Costa Statement on Vote to Repeal and Replace ACA

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the United States House of Representatives failed to vote on H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, after President Donald Trump requested Speaker Paul Ryan pull the bill from consideration. The American Health Care Act would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The American Health Care Act (AHCA) was flawed policy and if it had been enacted in its current form, the law would have negatively impacted hundreds of thousands of San Joaquin Valley residents. For these reasons, I would have voted to oppose this measure.

“Improvements need to be made to the Affordable Care Act but the AHCA was not the solution. The irresponsible cuts proposed by the AHCA would have caused hundreds of thousands of children, seniors, and women in the Valley to lose their health coverage. It is vital that we improve upon the gains we have made under the Affordable Care Act and make the necessary changes to improve coverage for all Americans.

“I say it time and again, and I’ll keep saying it: the Congress and President are not going to fix America’s health care system without working together on a bipartisan basis. Today’s defeat of the


Congressman Jim Costa

American Health Care Act is a necessary step toward making real improvements to our health care system. I know how difficult it can be to stand up to your own party’s leadership and I commend my Republican colleagues who did so today. Moving forward, I encourage congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats, including myself, who want to find real solutions to fixing provisions in the Affordable Care Act to improve health care outcomes for all Americans.

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March 24, 2017

Feed the Ducks

Bring your little ones to Applegate Zoo on Saturdays at 12 PM to feed the ducks! You will get to enter the exhibit with the ducks and get an up close experience while feeding them. Duck food is $1 per cup and is available until the ducks are full. Applegate Zoo is open 7 days per week, from 10AM – 5PM. For more information call 385-6840.

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March 23, 2017

MCSD Takes Top Honors at Merced County’s First STEM Fair at Fairgrounds

The Merced County Office of Education hosted the county’s first STEM Fair on March 22 at the Merced County Fairgrounds Pavilion Hall.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The event showcased 33 science projects from 66 students in grades 5 through 8.
Participating school districts include Atwater Elementary, Delhi Unified, Merced City and Our Lady of Mercy.
The exhibits were judged by local scientists or professors from UC Merced and Merced College, among others.
Tenaya Middle School 7th graders David Lee Hernandez and Eric Amezquita took third place for “The Domino Theory,” Jonathan Lopez-Hernandez, also a Tenaya 7th grader, took second place for “Magnets That Charge” and Hoover Middle School 8th grader Sadies Dinh took the top spot with “Can Dog Drool Kill Bacteria?”
Those exhibits took the overall top spots in the competition, in addition to each grade earning first, second and third place awards.
The top three exhibits — all from the Merced City School District — will compete in the California State Science Fair on April 24-25 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
In addition to projects on display from Merced County schools, other exhibits included Merced Educational Television (METV), the MCOE Fab Lab and MCOE Educational Technology Center.
This event was made possible by sponsorship from PG&E and MID.



Students from Our Lady of Mercy School in Merced have fun with METV's interactive green screen exhibit at the 2017 Merced County STEM Fair at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 22.

 

Photos by Nathan Quevedo Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

 


Students gather around Donovan Magana's exhibit "Art Bot" at the 2017 Merced County STEM Fair at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 22. Magana is a 6th grader at Peterson Elementary School in Merced.


Cooper Bernard, a 6th grader at Our Lady of Mercy School in Merced, talks with students and judges about his exhibit "Natural Filtration" at the 2017 Merced County STEM Fair at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 22.


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Mileena Roy, a 6th grader at Thomas Olaeta Elementary School in Atwater, works on a computer as Miranda Nuno, also a 6th grader at Thomas Olaeta, adjusts wires for their exhibit "What Item Makes the Best Conductor?" at the 2017 Merced County STEM Fair at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 22.


Students from Our Lady of Mercy School in Merced use 3Doodler Start Pens from the Merced County Office of Education's Educational Technology Center at the 2017 Merced County STEM Fair at the Merced County Fairgrounds on March 22.

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March 23, 2017

 

Costa Statement on CVP Initial Water Allocations

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial Central Valley Project 2017 Water Supply Allocations for south of Delta agricultural water districts including the member agencies of the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority, like San Luis Water District, Del Puerto Water District, Pacheco Water District, Panoche Water District and Westlands Water District. Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement:

“This year is tracking to be the wettest year on record in California, but as a result of policies that inhibit the movement and storage of water through California’s broken water system, south of Delta agriculture water districts are receiving a 65 percent initial water
allocation instead of their full contract amount. The delayed announcement, coupled with the partial water allocations in a year where California has been blessed with record rainfall is simply unacceptable. I sincerely hope it is not an indication of what is to be expected in future years with average or below average rainfall.

“Farmers are in the middle of planting season. They are assessing their resources, meeting with their bankers, and applying for business loans. This delayed water allocation announcement hinders farmers’ ability to plant crops and sign contracts, which affects their bottom line and ultimately impacts California’s agriculture industry and our nation’s food supply. Continuing to operate our federal water projects as we have in the past simply doesn’t work. During both wet and dry years, our farm communities are experiencing harmful impacts due to regulatory restrictions that do not reflect the best available science.

“Passing and signing the WIIN (Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation) Act last year was a good first step in fixing California’s broken water system, but further action must be taken to invest in our water infrastructure and modify flawed policies to move California’s water system into the 21st century.”


Congressman Jim Costa

Costa Says Dep. Of Labor Funding Will Assist With Recovery Efforts in Merced

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Labor’s announcement that up to $36 million will be made available to California to assist with recovery efforts as a result of the storms and flooding that took place in January.

“This grant funding is much needed and will provide resources for clean-up efforts in communities throughout Merced County, said Rep. Costa. “I will continue to monitor the situation as more federal resources become available to assist California with flood impacts, and I’m working to ensure that counties located within the San Joaquin Valley receive our fair share of funding assistance to repair damaged roads and infrastructure.”

Today, the California Employment Development Department received $12 million in funding. The grant funding is made available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

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March 22 , 2017

MCOE to Host Merced County’s First STEM Fair at Merced Fairgrounds

The Merced County Office of Education will host the county’s first STEM Fair on March 22 at the Merced County Fairgrounds Pavilion Hall.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The event will showcase 32 science projects from 63 students in grades 5 through 8, with the top three teams moving on to the state competition to represent Merced County.
Participating school districts include Atwater Elementary, Delhi Unified, Merced City and Our Lady of Mercy.
Judging begins at 9:30 a.m. and the event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., with the awards presentation at 6 p.m.
Judges include local scientists or professors from UC Merced and Merced College, among others.

In addition to projects on display from those school districts, other exhibits include Merced Educational Television (METV), the MCOE Fab Lab and MCOE Teacher’s Center.
This event was made possible by sponsorship from PG&E and MID.

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March 21, 2017

Mary Camper picked for Planning Commission

Mary Camper has been named to the Merced Planning Commission by the Merced City Council. She fills the seat vacated when Jill McLeod was elected to the City Council for District 3.

Camper, 49, is no stranger to City commissions having served on the Redevelopment Advisory Committee and Economic Development Committee.

“Mary will be a great addition to the Planning Commission with her experience, expertise and knowledge of the community,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “We had an excellent field of six candidates, but she stood out among them.”

"I'm honored to have been appointed to the planning commission,” Camper said. “I'm looking forward to working with our city leaders and staff to work on issues I think are important to the successful growth of our community such as housing, new industry that will create jobs as well as enhance the desirability of our city, preservation of our historic neighborhoods and buildings, and ensuring a healthy balance of development and ag land use as we grow to the north."
Camper is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Gonella Realty.

In the past she owned Whimsy, was the Director of Fund Development at Merced Medical Center, Director of Employee Development and Support for California Home Care & Hospice and a field representative for Congressman Gary A. Condit and been an adjunct instructor for Merced College.

She has been active in the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, the Monthly Dinner at the D Street Homeless Shelter and a committee member of the Merced Arts Council – Luau at the Lake.

Camper has a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree from Chapman University.

In her spare time she likes to perform community service work, read, participate in her movie group and cook.


Mary Camper was sworn into office Friday by Assistant City Clerk John Tresidder.

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She and her husband, Scott, has a son, Nicholas, and a daughter, Stefani Clare.

Camper was elected Tuesday to the position on a 5-1 vote with Council member Anthony Martinez voting no. Council member McLeod was absent. She was sworn into office Friday by Assistant City Clerk John Tresidder.

 

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March 21, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE CELEBRATES
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH POETRY READINGS

Gillian Wegner, former poet laureate of Modesto, and UC Merced Professor of English and author Yu-Han Chao, will read original work at Merced College in a reading titled “In Celebration of Women.”
The readings, which are free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, March 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Wendell Olson Forum on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resources Center on the Merced campus, 3600 M Street.
Also, in observance of National Poetry Month, Modesto poet Linda Scheller will read from her book “Fierce Light” on Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. in the Wendell Olson Forum.
For more information, contact the Merced College Learning Resources Center at 209.384.6080.


Click here to see flyer


Linda Scheller

Click here to see flyer



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March 21, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps Merced College FFA Field Day

Written by: Atwater FFA

Atwater FFA members joined over 1400 registered agriculture high school students throughout California at the Merced College Field Day on March 18th and earned the school “Sweepstakes” award for the top competing high school. Atwater FFA had a Nursery and Landscape, Land Evaluation, Milk Quality and Dairy Foods, Agriculture Mechanics, and Small Engines team compete against nearly one hundred other attending high schools.

“Our students continue to take advantage of opportunities to be successful personally, academically, and towards their future endeavors.” said Atwater FFA Advisor Sam Meredith, “The opportunity FFA and career development events that are organized by various colleges and universities such as Merced College, provide students a tremendous opportunity to grow and develop personally and academically.”

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team of Daryl Dorsey (1st overall), Dayana Argueta (2rd overall), Jeff Clark (3rd overall), and Amajot Gandhoke placed 1st overall in a contest that involves demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team of Nathaniel Cavallero (5th overall), Justin Sorginson, Joel Rojas, Eric Favela, and Daisy Flores-Mota placed 2nd overall in a contest involving hands on application skills in woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics.

The Atwater FFA 3rd place Land Evaluation and Soils team included Katelyn Baptista (1st overall), Jose Ruiz (5th overall), Audrey Esau, Michael Bray, Arturo Valdovinos, Jerrod Nickerson, and Ethan Garcia. The contest involves the evaluation and interpretation of soils and soil profiles. Students analyze various soil pits and determine soil texture, water holding capacity, and erosion characteristics while associated the data with agriculture applications.

The Atwater FFA 7th place Milk Quality and Dairy Foods was composed of Callie Norton, Luke van Warmerdam, Kendyll Cruz, and Natalie Frontella. Other participants included Anessa Cardenas, Joeseph Hayward, Melissa Carrillo, and Natalie Gutierrez. The contest involves milk quality evaluation, milk fat identification, cheese identification, “real vs imitation” dairy products, and a written exam pertaining to the dairy industry.


The Atwater High School FFA won the "Sweepstakes" award during the Merced College FFA Field Day where over 1400 California agriculture students competed in various agriculture and industry skill-related contests.


The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team's Dayana Argueta, JefF Clark, Amanjot Ganhoke, and Daryl Dorsey evaluate and judge a class of shrubs during the Merced College FFA Field Day.

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The Atwater FFA Small Engines team of Blake Brigham, Ricky Ortega, and Zion Brigham placed 7th overall in a contest that challenges students with their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair.

The next FFA Field Day competition is on Saturday, March 25th at Modesto Junior College with over 2000 high school agriculture students scheduled to compete from all over California in various hands-on application and critical thinking skills.

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

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March 10, 2017

DIGNITY HEALTH/MERCY MEDICAL CENTER
HONORED FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO MERCED COLLEGE

With a long history of generously supporting Merced College’s health care programs, Dignity Health/Mercy Medical Center will receive the President’s Medallion during the College’s 5th annual State of the College luncheon on Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the gymnasium.
The event, sponsored by the Merced College Foundation, will feature an address to the community from Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli.
“We are honored to recognize Mercy Medical Center for being an outstanding corporate partner, whose financial support has allowed Merced College to expand its nursing programs and provide scholarships to many students over many years,” President Vitelli said.
According to Robert McLaughlin, Dignity Health’s regional communications director, “Dignity Health began as a single hospital founded on the belief that all people deserve medical care, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or circumstances.”
Dignity Health traces its beginnings to the Sisters of Mercy, which was originally founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.
“The Sisters of Mercy vowed to serve people who suffered from poverty, sickness, and lack of education,” Mclaughlin said.
In 1854, eight Sisters of Mercy arrived in San Francisco and immediately began caring for residents of a city struck by cholera, typhoid, and influenza. They founded St. Mary's Hospital, now the oldest continuously operating hospital in the city.
Eventually, one facility became many, expanding to serve a rapidly growing population while strengthening its commitment to keeping the human person at the forefront of modern medicine. In 1986, two congregations of the Sisters of Mercy joined their 10 hospitals together, forming Catholic Healthcare West.
“In 2012, we changed our name to Dignity Health to better describe what we stand for,” McLaughin said. “Dignity is something everyone is born with. To us, ‘dignity’ means showing respect for all people by providing excellent care and helping them lead healthy, meaningful lives.”
Mercy Medical Center can also trace its history to the original Merced Community Medical Center, which first opened on East North Bear Creek in 1873 as a small, one-story wooden building. For the next 31 years, the hospital served the county’s sick and less fortunate.
In 1904, a new facility was built on 15th Street, with a new wing added for children and maternity cases in 1939. The hospital continued to grow with the construction of a $1.1 million facility in June 1950. Further additions included an $8.3 million tower in December 1979. In 1997, Merced County approved for Sutter Health to lease what was then called Sutter Merced Medical Center. The 174-bed acute care facility specialized in intensive care, emergency care, cardiac, obstetric, pediatrics, surgical, diagnostic, and rehabilitative services.

 

 

In addition, the local hospital has its roots in Mercy Hospital, which opened in September 1921 after a group of city leaders decided to construct a community hospital. A community board purchased property in February 1922 and opened a 20-bed facility in 1923.
By 1937, Mercy Hospital had doubled its size. Mercy later became incorporated on December 8, 1948, and a year later was purchased by the Dominican Sisters of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In May 1996, Mercy Hospital joined Catholic Healthcare West. Today, this campus is used as Mercy Outpatient Center with Rehabilitation Services, the hospital’s Foundation office, Health Education, Home Care office, and Medical Records.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health is one of the largest health system in the nation with 400 care sites across a 22-state network, including 39 hospitals – 24 of which are Catholic.
“The mission and values we were founded upon remain the same,” McLaughoin said. “Through teamwork and innovation, faith and compassion, advocacy and action, we endeavor every day to keep our patients happy, healthy, and whole.”
Individual tickets to the catered lunch are $50. Table sponsorships for eight guests are $500, and corporate sponsorships are $1,000 for a table of eight. Table sponsors receive recognition during the event and added benefits are provided to corporate sponsors
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or online the PayPal at www.mercedcollegefoundation.org.
For more information, or to reserve your table, contact the Merced College Foundation.

 

 

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March 20, 2017

Travis Credit Union Offers Free Teen Financial Boot Camp
Learn to Get the Stuff You Want

VACAVILLE, CA? You’ve just been transported into the future with your friends. Some of you have just graduated from college or technical school. You already have families of your own. You’ve just started your first full-time, professional job. You’re earning money and have bills to pay. Now you have to select housing, transportation, food, household necessities, clothing, day care, and other wants and needs. Lots of choices to make. Oh, and you need to build a budget based on your income and debt. Welcome to Mad City Money!
“If I buy an expensive car and house, I can’t afford clothes and food.”
That’s the lesson learned from one teenager who participated in Mad City Money, a simulation and financial boot camp for high school students that teaches basic money management in a safe, fun setting.
Face it-a presentation on budgeting likely will put teens to sleep. Yet the 3 1/2 hour hands-on simulation appeals to teens (14-19) and gives them a taste of the real world-complete with occupation, salary, spouse, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. Teens get an instant family and then move about the stations to purchase housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, day care and other needs.
What’s included in the simulation? A mall for “wants,” a pushy car salesperson, a commission-based realtor, and the Fickle Finger of Fate. You guessed it-life happens. And in addition to several other merchants, there’s a credit union for financial services.

Bottom line: Teens learn that erasers and calculators are important tools for creating a monthly budget. “It’s like a puzzle,” said one teen. “You have to use all the pieces and they all have to fit.”
The financial boot camp is Saturday, November 5 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Woodland Library, Leake Room, 250 First Street in Woodland. To sign up for the Mad City Money Teen Financial Boot Camp www.traviscu.org/calendar.
Refreshments, prizes and a drawing for an iPad Mini will be provided.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California with more than 180,000 members and more than $2.8 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

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March 20 , 2017

Ballico, Le Grand, Westside Win at Merced County Academic Pentathlon

More than 300, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from schools throughout Merced County demonstrated their academic knowledge and cooperative learning skills when they competed in the Academic Pentathlon on March 11 at UC Merced.
At an awards ceremony at Livingston High School on March 16, the top winners for the three grades were announced, with Westside Union Elementary School in Los Banos in first for 6th grade, Le Grand Elementary School took the top spot for 7th grade and Ballico Elementary School took first place in 8th grade.
The first place overall top scoring student for the Pentathlon was Katrina Chung, an 8th grader from Mitchell Senior Elementary School in Atwater.
The teams competed in five exciting tests to demonstrate their knowledge in literature and fine arts, math, science, social science and the Super Quiz.
The Super Quiz competition differs from that of the other written testing formats. The Super Quiz is the only part of the event that is open to the public, and it is one of the most memorable and exciting parts of the Academic Pentathlon competition. This year’s Super Quiz theme was World War II.
Teams were comprised of nine team members, three from each division of “A” Honor, “B” Scholastic and “C” Varsity students. This team composition gave students the opportunity to develop skills working with students of different ability levels, motivation and interests.
For more information about this event, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.


Westside Union Elementary School took first place for 6th grade at the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.


From left, Ballico-Cressey School District 7th graders Gianna Pursley, Kodi Nairn and Haley Pasley pose for a photo at the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M. Tietjen welcomes the crowd at the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.


Ballico Elementary School took first place for 8th grade at the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.


Le Grand Elementary School took first place for 7th grade at the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.


Family and friends gathered for the 2017 Merced County Academic Pentathlon Awards at Livingston High School on March 16.

 

Photos by Dylan McMullen Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

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March 20, 2017

Assemblyman Gray “Water Grab Will Create Valley of Despair”

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) submitted a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board today urging the Board to reject the proposed update to the Bay-Delta Plan and start the study process over again. Today is the last day for public comment on the proposal to take an additional 300,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers. Gray’s letter was accompanied by several letters from local government officials and over 1,000 additional petitions from local residents calling for a rejection of the proposal.

“The Water Board has put forth an incomplete and flawed proposal,” said Gray. “They provided almost no opportunity for local communities and experts to help draft an accurate or balanced plan. This water grab is so dangerous that it could turn the Central Valley into the

Valley of Despair, an area stripped of opportunity, hope, and resources.”

In his letter, Gray summarizes his concerns focusing on the plan’s lack of analysis of groundwater and drinking water impacts, its inconsistent and contradictory enumeration of fish benefits, and its woefully inadequate assessment of economic impacts. Gray’s complete letter can be found here.

“This plan is a failure,” said Gray. “It was written in a vacuum and can only undermine efforts to reach agreements between stakeholders.”

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March 20 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE 140 TO COLLIER ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps from State Route 99 (SR-99) for maintenance activities.

Closures will occur as follows:

• Various northbound and southbound off and on-ramps between SR-140 and Collier Road will close from Monday, March 20, 2017, to Friday March 24, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. will close for landscape and irrigation work.

• The northbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way will close on Friday, March 24, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. for crack sealing.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, March 20, 2017, through Friday, March 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 AT FOWLER AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County– The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 165 at Fowler Avenue in Merced County for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, March 20, 2017, through Friday, March 24, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).

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

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March 20 , 2017

MCAG seeking applicants for Measure V Citizens Oversight Committee

Merced – Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking applicants for the Measure V Citizens Oversight Committee. The application deadline is 5:00pm April 3, 2017.
Measure V is Merced County’s 30-year half-cent transportation sales tax that was approved by voters in November 2016. The purpose of the Committee is to assess the program’s consistency with the voter-approved Transportation Expenditure Plan by reviewing financial and performance audits, reports from member agencies, annual receipts and other documents as needed. Measure V is estimated to generate $15 million in new revenue annually for a total of $450 million through the life of the measure.
The Committee consists of 14 members – 7 to be nominated by local jurisdictions through separate processes, and 7 to be appointed directly by the MCAG Governing Board. At this time, MCAG is seeking eligible applicants for the following categories:
• Building industry representative
• Agriculture industry representative
• Representative from an ethnic community group
• Representative from a major private sector Merced County employer

• Representative from an advocacy group representing bicyclists and pedestrians, and/or transit
• A professional in the field of audit, finance and/or budgeting with a minimum of five years in a relevant and senior decision-making position in the public or private sector
• Environmental advocacy group representative
Applicants must be U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older who reside in Merced County and are not public employees at any state, county or local city agency, or an elected official at any level of government. Interested applicants can find the application packet and instructions on MCAG’s website at: www.mcagov.org/240/Measure-V---Transportation-Expenditure-P.
Merced County Association of Governments is the designated Local Transportation Authority (LTA) for Merced County. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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March 17 , 2017

Merced County Students Awarded for Biliteracy Proficiency

Students from throughout Merced County were honored at El Capitan High School on March 15 for completing the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency.
The accolade, which is listed on student transcripts, is awarded by the Merced County Office of Education in partnership with county school districts, in recognition of attained proficiency in English and at least one other world language by high school graduation.
Introduced in early 2011 by Assembly member Julia Brownley, Assembly Bill 815 is a verification of linguistic proficiency.
Five students read speeches in their target languages, including: Gema Caballero – Spanish, Paul A. Rocha – Portuguese, Mai Chong Thao – Hmong, Jaira Mary Joyce Mendoza – Tagalog, Ramandeep Authi – Punjabi.
MCOE received 831 applications for the program from 13 high schools throughout the county: Atwater, Buhach, Delhi, Dos Palos, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced and Pacheco High. From those, 384 “autobiographies” were submitted and 368 were scored as proficient.
309 students made it to the final step of the process, English and target language interviews, which were held in February. Of those, 287 earned the Seal of Biliteracy.


Golden Valley High School students pose for a photo at the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency at El Capitan High School on March 15.


Hilmar High School students pose for a photo at the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency at El Capitan High School on March 15.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M. Tietjen congratulates a student on achieving the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency.


El Captian High School students pose for a photo at the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency at El Capitan High School on March 15.


Parents, family and friends attended the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency at El Capitan High School on March 15.


Merced Union High School District Superintendent Alan Peterson speaks to the crowd about the importance of biliteracy.

Photos by Dylan McMullen Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

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March 17, 2017

Costa Urges the President to Work with Congress on Bipartisan and Comprehensive Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) spoke on the floor of the United States House of Representatives to urge President Donald Trump to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis and fix America’s broken immigration system.

“Once again, a federal court blocked President Trump’s executive order to ban travel to United States and found the executive order to be discriminatory and potentially unconstitutional. Today, I spoke on the floor of the United States House of Representatives to reiterate the need for President Trump to work with the Congress on a bipartisan basis to fix our country’s broken immigration system.”

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Costa Statement on President Trump’s FY2018 Budget Blueprint

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement on President Donald Trump’s FY2018 Budget Blueprint.

“For someone who was elected with strong support from rural America, the President’s budget blueprint shows very little consideration for the people who live in America’s farming communities. Federal grants, like the Community Development Block Grant and TIGER Grant, are critical funding streams for our San Joaquin Valley, and President Trump wants to completely eliminate them. Furthermore, the budget blueprint cuts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) budget by 21 percent. The USDA oversees an array of programs, from supporting Valley farmers, investing in rural development, increasing drought resilience to managing forest cleanup and wildfire prevention.

“By adding $54 billion in military spending and cutting core programs, like those that ensure safe drinking water, provide protection from floods, fund cancer research and invest in our children’s education, the budget blueprint shifts the fundamental way in which the federal government supports the American people. This proposal would prove to have negative consequences for the majority of Americans, and in failing to address the main drivers of the federal debt, it is not a serious outline to putting our country on a path forward for fiscal sustainability.”

Summary of cuts in Budget Blueprint:

Department of Agriculture
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $17.9 billion for USDA, a $4.7 billion or 21 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program: Provides funding for clean drinking water, sanitary sewage disposal and storm-water drainage programs in rural areas.
• Rural Business and Cooperative Service’s discretionary programs: Provides financial assistance for economic development programs in rural communities, including renewable energy and biofuel initiatives.
• McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program: Supports education, child development and food security initiatives in low-income, food-deficit countries around the world.

Department of Commerce
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $7.8 billion for the Department of Commerce, a $1.5 billion or 16 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Economic Development Administration: Provides grants and assistance to create new jobs, retain businesses and stimulate growth in economically distressed communities.
• Minority Business Development Agency: Promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses through advocacy, policy, research and access to capital and contracts.
• Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Regional centers that assist smaller, U.S. manufacturing companies with adopting new technologies.

Department of Education
The President’s 2018 Budget provides $59 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, a $9 billion or 13 percent reduction.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants: Provides grants to non-profit organizations that recruit and provide professional enhancement for teachers and principals.
• 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Supports community learning centers that provide before-and after-school programs for children, particularly those in high-poverty areas.
• Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Provides need-based grants of up to $4,000 to low-income undergraduates for postsecondary education.
• Striving Readers: Helps states fund literacy programs for children, birth through grade 12, including those with disabilities and limited English.
• Teacher Quality Partnership: Funds initiatives aimed at improving the quality of new teachers through better development and recruiting methods.
• Impact Aid Support Payments for Federal Property: Provides funding to school districts that have a diminished tax base due to federal property ownership in the district.

Department of Energy
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $28.0 billion for DOE, a $1.7 billion or 5.6 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy: Provides funding and support to short-term energy research projects aimed at improving the U.S. economy, environment and national security.
• Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program: Provides loans to support the use of new energy technology.
• Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program: Provides loans to automotive and component manufacturers for facilities and engineering that support advanced technology vehicles.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

• Weatherization Assistance Program: Provides grants to local governments to improve weatherization and energy efficiency of homes of low-income residents.
• State Energy Program: Supports local State Energy Offices in advancing energy efficiency and infrastructure.

Department of Health and Human Services
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $69.0 billion for HHS, a $15.1 billion or 17.9 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: Provides assistance to low income families to help pay for their home’s energy bills and some energy-related maintenance.
• Community Services Block Grant: Funds projects aimed at reducing poverty in communities, including projects focused on education, nutrition, employment and housing.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for HUD, a $6.2 billion or 13.2 percent decrease.
Eliminates funding for the following programs:
• Community Development Block Grant Program: Funds programs that assist low-income people with housing issues, including the elimination of urban blight and other community programs.
• HOME Investment Partnerships Program: Provides block grants to state and local governments to create affordable housing solutions for low-income households.
• Choice Neighborhoods: Funds programs to replace distressed public housing and promotes investment for neighborhood improvement.
• Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program: Funds nonprofit organizations that build new housing for low-income families through sweat equity and volunteer labor, like Habitat for Humanity.
• Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing: Works with nonprofit groups to fund community development and affordable housing initiatives aimed at low-income families.

Department of Labor
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion or 21 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Senior Community Service Employment Program: A community service and work-based job training program for older Americans, including training for low-income, unemployed seniors.
• Bureau of International Labor Affairs grant program: Provides funding for research initiatives and projects in over 94 countries to combat child labor and forced labor.
• Occupational Safety and Health Administration training grants: Provides grants for training and education programs for employers and workers on the prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace.


Department of Transportation
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $16.2 billion for DOT’s discretionary budget, a $2.4 billion or 13 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Federal support for Amtrak’s long distance train services: Subsidizes the cost of traveling on Amtrak’s long-distance routes.
• Essential Air Service: Subsidizes airlines for regular flights to and from small and midsize regional airports like those in the San Joaquin Valley.
• TIGER discretionary grant program: Provides transportation infrastructure grants to state, local and tribal governments.

Environmental Protection Agency
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $5.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a savings of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• Clean Power Plan: Creates national standards for carbon pollution from power plants and helps states develop and deploy clean energy alternatives.
• International climate change programs: Promotes clean and efficient energy technologies and the sharing of scientific climate research through multilateral initiatives and treaties.
• Climate change research and partnership programs: Research and report on climate change’s impact on the U.S.
• Energy Star: Certifies and recognizes buildings and consumer products that meet specific energy-efficiency criteria.
• Targeted Air Shed grants: Assists local and state air pollution control agencies in developing plans and implementing projects to reduce air pollution in highly polluted areas, like the San Joaquin Valley.

Small Business Administration
The President’s 2018 Budget requests $826.5 million for SBA, a $43.2 million or 5.0 percent decrease.
Eliminates the following programs:
• PRIME technical assistance grants: Provides training and technical assistance to organizations that help disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
• Regional Innovation Clusters: Supports public-private partnerships concentrated in regional groups to strengthen small businesses.
• Growth Accelerators: Funds startups that support underserved communities and areas with less access to venture capital.

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March 16, 2017

Walmart ends plans for Merced distribution center

Walmart has announced a change in its business plans and will not be building a warehouse and distribution center in Merced, company officials told the City.

The news comes almost exactly four years after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company in a lawsuit alleging that the project did not have a valid environmental impact report.

The company said the nature of retail has changed since Walmart announced the project 12 years ago.

“We are extremely disappointed by the news,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “This project could have been a big economic shot-in-the-arm for our residents. Certainly, the Great Recession and the drawn-out lawsuit didn’t help the project.

“Now the City has to move forward. We have other big projects in the works. UC Merced’s 2020 Project is a $1.3 billion investment in the community, with hundreds of jobs. We have major Downtown projects going on. We have housing developments popping up in our City like daffodils. We really would have liked the Walmart project, we are going to move on and look for other opportunities.”

When it made its announcement in late 2005 Walmart proposed building a 1.2 million square-foot regional distribution center on Childs Avenue in the University Industrial Park. The project – initially valued at $66 million – would have started with 600 employees, rising to 1,200 workers in the state-of-the-art facility.

The City Council approved the project in 2009, but it was immediately tied up in the courts for four years until the state Supreme Court ruled all the environmental documents were correct. Three Merced residents and the Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth filed the environmental challenge Oct. 28, 2009. The challenge was overruled in Superior Court and the Fifth District Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court ruled in Walmart’s favor March 13, 2013.

The site sat idle until this February when the company began drilling test bores on the land. In March company officials said their plans had changed.

“More and more retailers are moving towards e-commerce and online fulfillment centers,” said Economic Development Director Frank Quintero. “Look at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s’ web sales and even Target is following the online model. Walmart has a huge online presence that changes the need and nature of their warehousing operations.”

 

In the meantime, Quintero said there are other parts of Merced’s economy that have continued to grow. He said just last year Merced welcomed Dickie’s BBQ, Les Schwab Tire, Five Guys Burgers, Pizza Factory, Cozy Fox and Quickly. In 2017 Bob Cat Diner and Thai Cuisine II expanded and in the works are Marriott Town Place Suites, Merced Gateway Retail Center, Rockin’ Jump, Steak ‘n’ Shake, KFC, Arco and the Merced Mall expansion.

Since Walmart originally announced plans to open the warehouse/distribution center, the industrial and retail sectors in Merced have been busy. Quintero said some of the highlights include the expansion of Scholle and Label Tech, and the addition of White Oak Frozen Foods, Rotoplas, California Fiber Drum, Olam, Kohls, Sephora, Merced Venture Lab and Harbor Freight.

“The City Economic Development team continues to reach out to developers and site selectors to find new projects for Merced,” said City Manager Carrigan. “Look at the building going on and you can see we haven’t stood around waiting for Walmart.”
A timeline of the Walmart project
• Summer 2002 – Walmart representatives approach City officials about sites for potential large facility in Merced.
• August 19, 2005 – Walmart announces plans to build a regional distribution center in Merced.
• Jan. 30, 2006 – Walmart submits the project application.
• Feb. 25, 2009 – City releases draft EIR on Walmart project for public comment.
• July 30, 2009 – City releases final EIR on Walmart project with more than 300 written comments.
• Aug. 19 and 24, 2009 – Planning Commission public hearings. Commission votes 7-0 recommending Council certify EIR and approve project.
• Sept. 21, 23, 26, 28, 2009 – City Council holds public hearings on project. At the final hearing Council approved the project.
• Oct. 9, 2009 -- Three Merced residents and the Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth filed an environmental challenge.
• March 14, 2011 -- The Merced County Superior Court ruled in favor of Walmart.
• Nov. 12, 2012 – The State Appellate Court rules in favor of Walmart.
• March 13, 2013 – The State Supreme Court rules in favor of Walmart.
• March 15, 2017 – Walmart announces that it no longer plans to build a distribution center in Merced.

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March 16, 2017

LODI WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL – APRIL 1

A virtual collection of delicious wine and food for all to enjoy
LODI, CA – The 2nd annual Lodi Wine and Food Festival will be held Saturday April 1 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. with an abundance of wine and food! Participating restaurants and caterers include:
Guantonio’s Pizza, Edible Arrangements with fresh fruit, Bueno Italiano with Italian food, Cheese Central with a variety of cheeses, F & M Bank serving bbq’d Lakewood Meats sausage, Teppenyaki to Go with Japanese food, Habanero Hots with Mexican food, Bordeaux Inn with popcorn, BAM Treats serving toffee, TownHouse at Wine and Roses, Rosewood, Salisbury’s serving tri tip, Bella Vino serving desserts, House of Coffee’s serving coffee, Raley’s with a variety of cheese, crackers, fruit and desserts, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Fab Delights with dessert items, Double Dip Gallery serving Gunther’s Ice Cream, Lodi Crepes and chocolatepairing.com with treats that pair well with wine.
Tickets for VIP admission, which includes entry at 2:00, wine tasting, food, a VIP lanyard, a wine tray and souvenir wine glass, are $65 and are only available in advance. A limited number of VIP tickets will be

 

 

sold. Grand tasting tickets which includes entry at 3:00, a souvenir wine glass, wine tasting and food are $50 in advance or $55 at the door.
Tickets are on sale at Raley’s in Lodi and Morada, Lodi Avenue Liquors, Double Dip Gallery, the Lodi Grape Festival office and online at www.grapefestival.com. For more information please visit www.grapefestival.com or call (209) 369-2771.

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March 16 , 2017

MCOE, MCSD Win Excellence in Communication Awards From CalSPRA

Two Merced County school districts recently won awards from the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) for educational videos created in 2016.
The awards were from CalSPRA’s 2016 Excellence in Communications Awards Contest open to all K-12 schools and educational agencies in California. The program recognizes the successful efforts of education agencies and communication professionals in producing materials and services that meet the information needs of communities throughout the state.
MCOE Media and Communications Manager Nathan Quevedo, who is also Secretary for the CalSPRA Executive Board, presented MCSD Public Information Officer Sara Sandrik with the award at the MCSD Board meeting on March 14.
The Merced City School District won an Award of Excellence in the Multimedia/Visual Communication category for the MCSD STEAM Program video.
The video, which Sandrik created on an iPhone, highlights the Merced City School District’s STEAM Program and was used to support the district’s application for a California School Boards Association Golden Bell Award. The district received that award and has continued to use the video as a community outreach tool to highlight its STEAM program through the district website, social media and presentations to a number of local organizations.

The video is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7hbDze6hy0PRjlKYWNkRnpKbms/view
The Merced County Office of Education earned an Award of Merit in the Multimedia/Visual Communication category for the 2016 Merced County Children’s Concert Video.
The annual Children’s Concert gives more than 3,000 third- through fifth-grade Merced County students the opportunity to enjoy an educational performance by the Merced Symphony Orchestra at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre in Merced and at Pacheco High School in Los Banos. The video airs regularly on METV and has aired on ValleyPBS. The video is available here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHvzwyWab6c
MCOE and MCSD were both recognized for their awards at a banquet in Sacramento for the CalSPRA Excellence in Communication Awards in early March.

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March 14, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps CSU Chico and Butte College Field Day

Written by: Atwater FFA

Eight Atwater High School FFA judging teams composed of forty-two students traveled to the 2017 Chico State – Butte College FFA Field Day to join 2400+ other high school agriculture students from all over California, Oregon, and Washington competing in various agriculture skills and industry-related career development event contests. The Agronomy and Nursery & Landscape teams led the pack with 1st place team finishes with the Atwater FFA Soil and Land Evaluation (2nd overall), Ag Mechanics (3rd overall), Poultry (3rd overall), Milk Quality and Dairy Foods (9th overall), Floriculture (13th overall), and Meats teams adding to the largest number of students from one school competing at the state university contest.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team of Jasmine Flores (1st overall), Belinda Espinoza (2nd overall), Dillon Guillen, and Kelsi Kamesch placed 1st overall in a contest that involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations. Atwater FFA entered a “B” team that placed 6th overall and was comprised of Felicity Garcia, Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, and Luz Soto.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team of Dayana Argueta (1st overall), Daryl Dorsey (2nd overall), Jeff Clark (3rd overall), and Amajot Gandhoke placed 1st overall in a contest that involves demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

The Atwater FFA Soil and Land Evaluation “B” team out competed the Atwater FFA “A” team with a 2nd place finish overall. The team was comprised of Michael Bray (3rd overall), Ethan Garcia, and Jerod Nickerson. The “A” team finished 5th overall and was comprised of Arturo Valdovinos (2nd overall) Audrey Esau, Jose Ruiz, and Katelyn Baptista. The contest helps students gain an understanding of the most basic need for all agricultural pursuits- healthy land on which to grow crops or raise livestock. Participants identify and evaluate soil samples for various indicators, grade plots of land for slope and drainage, and work to determine what type of activity the land would be best suited for.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team of Nathaniel Cavallero (2nd overall), Justin Sorginson, Joel Rojas, and Daisy Flores-Mota placed 3rd overall in a contest involving hands on application skills in woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team of Ana Lozano (5th overall) Alfredo Elizarraraz, Brianna Diaz, and Stephania Valdovino placed 3rd overall in a contest that blends practical hands-on experiences with a basic knowledge of the poultry industry required for careers in the poultry field. Stefanie Anguino and Emmanuel Mejia also competed as an alternates.

The Atwater FFA Milks Quality and Dairy Foods team of Callie Norton, Joseph Hayward, Natalie Frontella, and Odalys De La Torre placed 9th overall in a contest where students demonstrate their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. Anessa Cardenas and Jose Montanez also competed as alternates.


The Atwater FFA Soil and land Evaluation team of (back row) Jose Ruiz, Audrey Esau, (coach) Sam Meredith, Katelyn Baptista, Arturo Valdovinos, (front row) Michael Bray, Ethan Garcia, and Jarod Nickerson placed 2nd and 5th overall during the Chico State University FFA Field Day.


Forty-one Atwater High School agriculture students successfully competed among 2400+ other high school students at the annual Chico State University FFA Field Day where students competed in career and industry related skill-based contests.

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The Atwater FFA Floriculture team of Samantha Theodozio, Jasmine Sandoval, Liliana Vargas, and Aracele Mauleon placed 13th overall in a contest that involves plant identification, application of “hands-on” floral arrangements, and industry related floral skills.

The Meats judging team of Mariah Castro and Courtney Creighton competed in the contest involving the evaluation of pork, beef, and lamb carcasses and retail cuts of meat commonly found in supermarkets, quality and yield grading, oral presentations on the meat/carcass evaluations, and a written exam pertaining to the meat industry.

The Chico State – Butte College Field Day is designed to showcase students’ “hands-on” and technical skills in various agriculture related fields. “Students apply their knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in real-life job skill environments,” said FFA advisor Sam Meredith. “We have a group of students that take tremendous pride towards their work ethic and skill development in a variety of agricultural related skills and occupations.” The FFA judging competitions continue with Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Reedley College, Cosumnes River College, Fresno State University, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo scheduled in the coming two months.

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

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March 14, 2017

 

LODI WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL IS APRIL 1

LODI, CA – The 2nd annual Lodi Wine and Food Festival will be held Saturday April 1 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m and will feature the following wineries:
Abundance Vineyards, Barsetti Vineyards, Bokisch Vineyards, Borra Vineyards, Calturas Winery, Carvalho Family Winery, d’Art Wines, Dancing Coyote Wines, Drava Wines, Durst Winery Estate, E & J Gallo, E2 Family Winery, Fasi Estate Winery, Fenestra Winery, Fields Family Wines, Gnarley Head, GoodMills Family Winery, Grady Family Vineyards, Heritage Oak Winery, Ironstone Vineyards, Jeremy Wine Co., Jessie’s Grove Winery, Klinker Brick Winery, LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards, Lodi Amateur Vintners Association, McConnell Estates Winery, McCay Cellars, McKenzie Vineyards & Winery, Mettler Family Vineyards, Michael David Winery, Oak Farm Vineyards, Oak Ridge Winery, Omega Cellars, One Way Winery, Peltier Winery, The Dancing Fox Winery, The Lucas Winery, Toasted Toad Cellars, Van Ruiten Family Winery, Viaggio Estate and Winery, Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery and Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.

 

Tickets for VIP admission which includes entry at 2:00, wine tasting, food, a VIP lanyard, a wine tray and souvenir wine glass, are $65 and are only available in advance. A limited number of VIP tickets will be sold. Grand tasting tickets which includes entry at 3:00, a souvenir wine glass, wine tasting and food are $50 in advance or $55 at the door.w
Tickets are on sale at Raley’s in Lodi and Morada, Lodi Avenue Liquors, Double Dip Gallery, the Lodi Grape Festival office and online at www.grapefestival.com. For more information please visit www.grapefestival.com or call (209) 369-2771.

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March 14 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Tuesday, March 14, 2017, through Friday, March 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 132 FROM JONES ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 49

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 132 (SR-132) from Jones Road to SR-49 for drainage work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, March 13, 2017, through Friday, March 17, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

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


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

 

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
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This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 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 to State Route 140 for highway construction.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, March 13, 2017, through Friday, March 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 15 minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE 140 TO COLLIER ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 99 (SR-99) from SR-140 to Collier Road in Merced County. Work will occur as follows:
• The #1 (left) lane on southbound SR-99 from Buhach Road to Applegate Road will close on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. for guardrail repair;

• Various off and on-ramps on northbound and southbound SR-99 from State Route 140 to Collier Road will close for crack seal operations, landscaping and irrigation work. Crews will begin work Monday, March 13, 2017, through Thursday, March 16, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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

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


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March 14 , 2017

UC Merced Grad Programs on the Rise, U.S. News Rankings Show
School of Engineering makes its second appearance in the rankings, while the campus debuts at
No. 70 in Environmental Engineering and rises to No. 90 in Psychology

MERCED, Calif. — At just 12 years old, the graduate programs at the University of California, Merced, are already among the best in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings.
UC Merced’s School of Engineering made its second appearance in the graduate school rankings, released today (March 14), rising to No. 127 in the nation after debuting at No. 140 in 2015.
The school made an impressive debut in the environmental engineering rankings, placing No. 70 in the nation in that discipline. UC Merced also made a major jump in the psychology rankings, appearing at No. 90 in the nation after debuting at No. 158 in 2015.
In addition to the environmental engineering ranking, the campus was also ranked No. 135 in electrical engineering and was recognized for bioengineering and mechanical engineering. Only the top 75 in bioengineering and top 115 in mechanical engineering received numerical rankings.
Dean Mark Matsumoto said the School of Engineering’s ranking reflects the perception of a university that is quickly coming into its own.
“This ranking is an indication of a maturing School of Engineering with an improving reputation,” Matsumoto said. “This milestone is due to the quality of the faculty and students we are recruiting. I am proud of the achievements of our school.”
U.S. News surveyed graduate programs at more than 200 schools that grant doctoral degrees, and the rankings are based on a variety of criteria. For the engineering designation, the criteria included mean GRE quantitative scores, acceptance rate, student-to-faculty ratio and research activity.
Matsumoto said the engineering rankings, particularly environmental engineering, were bolstered by a number of important research initiatives being led or supported by UC Merced, including the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, UC Water, UC Solar and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).
The U.S. News rankings in Psychology, as with all doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities, are based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to academics in each discipline. UC Merced has developed particular strengths in areas such as developmental psychology, health psychology and quantitative psychology.


Rankings Indicate Growing Reputation
UC Merced’s inclusion in prominent national rankings adds to a growing reputation and global profile for the newest UC campus. Since opening in 2005 as the first research university built in the 21st century, UC Merced has grown from 875 students to more than 7,000, with plans to enroll up to 10,000 students upon completion of the Merced 2020 Project.
UC Merced made its debut on the U.S. News overall Best Colleges list last year, ranking No. 78 among public universitiesand No. 152 overall. Also last year, UC Merced made its first appearance on the industry-leading Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, earning designation as a “doctoral-granting university with higher research activity” — or R2, the second-highest classification for American research universities. It is the youngest campus on that list, as well.
The campus also ranked No. 8 in Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck: Western Colleges” list and No. 41 in the magazine’s national rankings, with the fifth-best mark among all schools in the area of social mobility. It also placed in the top 100 for the fourth time in five years on the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list, which honors the nation’s most environmentally sustainable colleges and universities.
“I am very pleased that our graduate programs continue to rise in the rankings of national organizations such as U.S. News & World Report, especially because we are still such a young institution,” Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Marjorie Zatz said. “This is due in large part to the dedication of our excellent faculty and the shared values of diversity, interdisciplinarity and research excellence that support and inform our graduate training programs. It is an exciting time to be a part of UC Merced.”


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

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March 14, 2017


Apply now for Measure V Oversight Committee

Applications to be the City of Merced representative on the Measure V Citizens Oversight Committee are online now.
Measure V is the half cent transportation sales tax approved by 71 percent of Merced County’s voters in November. It is expected to generate more than $450 million over the next 30 years and the funds must be used on local and regional road and transit projects.
The Citizens Oversight Committee will make sure the money generated is spend as promised and provide advice on how it should be spend.

In addition to representatives from each city and the county, the 14-

member group will be from the building and ag industry, a major employer, and other specific groups.
No one who holds elected office or is employed by any government agency can be on the committee.
Deadline to apply for the City position is April 11. The City Council will select its representative at the April 17 meeting. To obtain the application go to the City website,www.cityofmerced.org, or call the City Clerk’s Office at 385-7100.

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March 14 , 2017

Costa and Valley Health Care Providers Speak About Federal Health Care Legislation

Madera, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) and Valley health care providers held a media availability to speak about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the recently introduced American Health Care Act (AHCA).

“Today I will be hearing from San Joaquin Valley health care providers about what they think works in the Affordable Care Act and what in the law could be fixed. We will also be discussing the provisions in the recently introduced American Health Care Act,” said Rep. Costa. “The fact is that since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate among residents living in California’s 16th Congressional district has been cut in half from 22.5% to 11.1%. I understand the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Trump Administration must come together to fix the Affordable Care Act and implement health care policies that make sense for all Americans.”

“It’s good to see that the American Health Care Act proposal recognizes the critical role that federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) play in our healthcare environment, as illustrated in the additional $422 million in funding,” said Paulo Soares, Chief Executive Officer of Camarena Health. “However, we certainly don’t want to lose sight of the gains and achievements we have made in regards to increasing access to quality care through the expansion of Medicaid. Loss of the Medicaid expansion would prevent millions of Californians from continuing to access affordable primary care services.”

The Affordable Care Act established mental health care as an essential health care service, said Dennis Koch, Director of Madera County Behavioral Health Services. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act without an immediate, suitable, and comprehensive replacement will do irreparable damage to our publically funded mental health and substance use disorder systems.”

“Based on the current proposal, the California Medical Association is concerned that the American Health Care Act doesn't go far enough to improve access to physicians through payment rate increases or network adequacy requirements,” said Dr. Ranjit Singh Rajpal, Board Member of the California Medical Association. “We're also concerned that the federal Medicaid funding will be reduced, shifting the burden to the states and ultimately to physicians who are on the front lines caring for these patients. What's more, too many Californians could lose coverage because the aged-based tax credits aren't adequate to help low-to moderate-income families afford insurance.”


Congressman Jim Costa

 

 

Advocates for the health and well-being of Central California residents should oppose the current efforts to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, said Dr. John Capitman, Executive Director of Central Valley Health Policy Institute. “As many as 88% of California's 16th district residents are served through MediCal (Medicaid) and California's insurance marketplace. Approximately 420,000 people or 58% of the District's population enrolled in Medicaid (MediCal) are at risk of losing benefits because of the proposed financing changes. Around 217, 000 residents of the district have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) market place. The ACA is already making demonstrable improvements in access to preventive care and reduced avoidable hospitalizations: the proposed replacement will stop this progress and exacerbate our region's challenges.”

“Together, we have been able to enroll more than 15,000 individuals in Medi-Cal or health insurance through Covered California,” said Socorro Santillan, Executive Director of Fresno Barrios Unidos. “We’ve also helped transition more than 2,600 undocumented children to receive Medi-Cal thanks to the “Health for All Kids” Bill. But now, it seems like all our work will be undone with the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Now more than ever do we need a health care safety net. According to Health Access California, more than 120,000 individuals would be negatively impacted by the Affordable Care Act repeal in this congressional district alone.”

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March 14 , 2017

California Department of Education Releases New Accountability System


The California Department of Education unveiled its new accountability and improvement system this week. The new system will provide information to help parents, educators and the public evaluate schools and districts, identify strengths and weaknesses and provide targeted assistance to schools. The California School Dashboard Report will be available March 15 at 10:30 a.m. at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/cm/index.asp.
Instead of relying only on test scores like the old accountability system did, this new system gives easy-to-understand information, including high school graduation rates, career and college readiness, English learner progress and suspension rates, while still looking at test scores.
Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M. Tietjen said, “California’s future success depends on preparing every student at every school to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The additional information in the California School Dashboard can help improve equity among student groups.
“Most Merced County High Schools continue to surpass the state average for graduation rates, which is encouraging, though more work needs to be done to close the achievement gap. The Merced County Office of Education will continue to work with school districts to ensure all students have the tools to succeed.”
Having access to relevant information helps schools and districts understand where students are struggling and ensures staff can respond with resources. The new system provides student group information on a variety of helpful indicators and puts it in one location.

What’s different?
In the past, accountability systems for districts and schools relied solely on test scores. But one test taken on one particular day doesn’t provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed.
The Dashboard provides information on different aspects of student performance, which will give a more complete picture of a school’s progress. The Dashboard also reports on growth to show a school’s trajectory over time.

What’s next?
The Dashboard is deliberately designed to be a work in progress: Metrics and reports will be added over time. During the field testing phase, the state will be gathering feedback to make additional modifications.


Statements from Merced County School District Superintendents

“We are optimistic that the new Dashboard includes a holistic school profile of improvement and progress over time based on multiple indicators not solely a single standardized test. Additionally, it allows districts to use local measures that account for the unique district needs, services and progress being made at the local level.”
Andrés Zamora, Livingston Union School District

“We are very proud of our continued commitment to quality instruction and student support. Our Dashboard is a positive visual to share with our parents, staff and community how well our students and staff are

 

performing. We are fully committed to increasing our achievement levels as we continue to address our LCAP goals to serve all students.”
Helio Brasil, McSwain Union School District

“The new accountability system is positive for Local Education Agencies because the system looks at multiple measures of school success instead of one single test. The goal of a Local Education Agency is continuous improvement, which aligns to the new accountability system. It is my hope student achievement growth remains the focus of our new accountability system.”
Sandra Schiber, Atwater Elementary School District

“The dashboard provides our stakeholders a visual of the multiple measures the state now uses to evaluate the effectiveness of our schools. It will enhance our ability to adjust our Local Control Accountability Plan to target areas that need improvement.”
Alan Peterson, Merced Union High School District

“I want to commend the State Board of Education for this new accountability tool. It rewards schools and districts for making improvements over time. Schools with low achievement scores will now have hope. All California schools can now compete with each other regardless of their student demographics and economic status. I also applaud the ease in which you can interpret the Dashboard. It will certainly be more parent-friendly than what we have had before.”
John Curry, Weaver Union School District

“The Merced City School District is making great strides in many areas of student achievement, and the Dashboard allows our community to see those improvements, along with several other measures of school success. It will serve as a valuable tool as we continue to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure that our Local Control Accountability Plan effectively supports our district’s mission to ensure that every student excels academically, builds character and is a productive member of our community.”
RoseMary Parga-Duran, Merced City School District

“The Planada Elementary School District is passionate about providing the best education possible for students; one that shapes them into creative thinkers, collaborative problem solvers and responsible citizens. The new five-by-five colored dashboard provides our stakeholders a visual of our district’s continuous improvement as we focus on developing the whole child and also enables educators to make immediate changes to their practice based on a clearer picture of student and system needs.”
José L González, Planada Union School District

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March 10, 2017

Schools Offer Free Tdap Vaccinations

The Merced City School District has embarked upon a special pilot project to support student health and provide a convenient option for parents. The district is partnering with the Merced County Department of Public Health to bring Tdap (pertussis) vaccination clinics to all 13 elementary school sites that have 6th graders enrolled. These clinics are being held on various days during the month of March.
Students who are entering 7th grade during the 2017-2018 school year must show proof of having received one dose of pertussis containing vaccine (given in the form of Tdap, which is tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) after the age of seven. Many students in this age group have not yet received this vaccine.
The district provides outreach to parents with information about the need for this vaccination starting in December, but in years past there was often a “mad dash” in the two weeks before the new school year, as parents tried to schedule appointments for their children. Due to limitations in the ability of primary care providers to get students in on short notice, the Health Department often faced an overload of families during that time.
The district hopes the clinics this month will help to reduce the burden on families, school sites, and the Health Department. The vaccinations are being provided free of charge to students. Parents/guardians are only required to complete and return a consent form. Students will be seen at school, monitored for any vaccine reactions, and returned to class, with little time missed.
Consent forms have already been sent home to all families in the district with students currently in 6th grade. Anyone with questions about this program can contact their child’s school site.


Merced County Supervising Public Health Nurse Prashanta Janz-Navarro speaks to a student during the Tdap vaccination clinic at Stowell Elementary



(from left to right): Prashanta Janz-Navarro, Supervising Public Health Nurse…Dana Brantley, Immunization Clinic Nurse…Leslie Schleth, Merced City School District Nurse


Merced County Department of Public Health Immunization Clinic Nurse Dana Brantley prepares to administer the Tdap vaccination to a student at Stowell Elementary

 

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March 10, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE ART PROFESSOR
EXHIBITS WORK IN AREA GALLERY

Louisa Benhissen, a professor of Art at Merced College, is exhibiting her paintings through April 1 at the Art Space on Main gallery in Turlock.
The exhibition, titled “Social Landscapes in California and Other Works,” is free and open to the public. The gallery, which is associated with the CSU Stanislaus School of the Arts, is located at 135 W. Main Street, and is open Sunday through Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.
A reception for the artist is being held tonight at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, call 209.664.9865

 

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March 10, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Proposes Rule Change to Protect Free Speech on Assembly Floor

SACRAMENTO – In response to the recent use of institutional rules to silence U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in Washington D.C. and eject State Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) from the Senate Chamber in Sacramento, Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today proposed a rules change, House Resolution 27, to prohibit the removal of any member from the Assembly Chamber without a two-thirds vote.

“Freedom of speech is not a partisan issue,” said Gray. “Republicans are silencing Democrats in our nation’s capital and Democrats are silencing Republicans at the California State Capitol. The leaders of these institutions should be embarrassed. Their actions are counter to the very purpose of our democracy to elect representatives who debate, discuss, and vote on the issues and policies of the day. To silence any of our elected officials is to silence everyone they represent.”

Last month, Senate Republicans in Washington DC invoked Rule 19 to silence Senator Warren’s reading of a 1986 letter written by Coretta Scott King about now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Later in the month, California State Senate leaders claimed a violation of the rules justified physically removing State Senator Janet Nguyen for challenging the late Tom Hayden’s opposition to the Vietnam War. Nguyen was a child when she was brought to the US as a Vietnamese refugee.

“Freedom of speech is a founding principle of American Democracy,” continued Gray. “The voices of our elected officials are the voices of the American people, and this new rule protects those voices. The Senate should follow in our footprints.”

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March 8, 2017

Students Bond with Puppies
After Donating to Animal Rescue Group

Students at Franklin Elementary School made some new four-legged friends this week. New Beginnings for Merced County Animals brought three tiny puppies and one sweet dog to meet the students as a way to say thank you for their fundraising efforts.
The children in Mrs. Silva's transitional kindergarten class and Mrs. Christiansen's kindergarten class spent months selling small school supply items during recess to help support the non-profit animal rescue group. On Monday, they presented a check for $1300 to the volunteers who rely on donations to facilitate foster care for abandoned animals and provide transportation to help find them homes. Then the students spent some time petting the cute canines, which were all rescued. It was a chance for the children to see the true impact of all their hard work.
New Beginnings Founder Sharon Lohman said, “What an amazing group of children. They were great and so enthusiastic. We appreciate all of their hard work, and their donation will help many animals find homes.”
To prepare for the check presentation ceremony, the students practiced writing, reading, and public speaking. They also learned how to properly care for animals and treat them with kindness. Those lessons support the district’s mission to ensure that every student excels academically, builds character, and is a productive member of our community.

 




Students form Franklin Elementary had a chance to meet three puppies and a dog so they could see how their fundraising efforts for a local animal rescue group will truly make an impact.



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March 8 , 2017

Pulitzer Prize Winner, HP Executive to Speak at Commencement
More than 1,000 students are expected to participate
in UC Merced’s commencement
ceremonies in May, increasing the campus’s total number of alumni to more than 7,000

MERCED, Calif. — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Héctor Tobar and HP Inc. Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown are the keynote speakers for the University of California, Merced’s 12th commencement exercises, May 13 and 14.
The campus expects more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students to participate, bringing the number of UC Merced alumni to more than 7,000.
“We’re delighted to have two exceptional and successful individuals — Mr. Tobar and Ms. Slaton Brown — address our graduates this year,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Both have made their marks in their respective fields and will impart their experiences and words of wisdom to our graduating class of 2017.”
Slaton Brown will address candidates from the schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences and their families at 9 a.m. May 13.
Slaton Brown has more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, building and driving business strategies and outcomes for corporations, startups and nonprofits. Her passion for entrepreneurial and leadership development coupled with her global marketing, branding, communications, and diversity and inclusion experience has helped her lead efforts to address the digital divide by building sustainable enterprise solutions in Senegal, West Africa.
She was named the 2016 Woman of the Year in Technology by Silicon Valley’s Chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. and the 2016 Multicultural Leadership Award by the National Diversity Council. She was recognized by Savoy Magazine as a Top Influential Woman in Corporate America, Diversity Journal’s Leaders publication, and Black Enterprise’s Top Executive in Marketing and Advertising.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boise State University.
Tobar will address candidates from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at 9 a.m. May 14.
Tobar is the author of four books, including the novels “The Barbarian Nurseries,” which was a New York Times Notable Book and won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction, and “The Tattooed Soldier.”
His nonfiction book “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of Thirty-Three Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the


Quick Facts • UC Merced will host its 12th commencement exercises May 13 and 14.
• Novelist and journalist Héctor Tobar and HP Inc. Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown will address the Class of 2017.
• The ceremonies will take place in the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad at the heart of campus.

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

Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into the movie “The 33.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught writing and journalism at Pomona College and the University of Oregon.
Tobar was a foreign correspondent with the Los Angeles Times in Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and a part of the reporting team that earned a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He has also been an op-ed writer for the New York Times and a contributor to the New Yorker.
Due to the campus’s expansion under the Merced 2020 Project, this year’s commencement ceremonies are returning to the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad, where they were held in 2007 and 2008. Commencement is a ticketed event for invited guests. Media wishing to attend should contact Brenda Ortiz at bortiz@ucmerced.edu.
For information on commencement, visit commencement.ucmerced.edu.

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

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

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March 8, 2017

City Finance Office Brad Grant resigns

Finance Officer Bradley R. “Brad” Grant handed in his resignation to the City Council Monday. The Council unanimously accepted his resignation during a Special Meeting Tuesday night effective March 12.

As a Charter officer of the City, Grant is hired by the City Council. The Council appointed Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz to serve as Interim Finance Director during the meeting effective March 13.

A 32-year employee of the City, Grant was hired as the Deputy Finance Officer Nov. 4, 1985 and went on to serve as the Finance Office for 30 years. Prior to coming to the City, he worked as the Deputy Treasurer for the American Samoa government.

“Brad has given three decades of his life to the City of Merced and we appreciate all his time and hard work,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “We wish him and Kelly well in their future.”

Grant, 66, is a California licensed Certified Public Accountant and a member and former president of the 1,500 member California Society of Municipal Finance Officers. He also is a Certified Public Finance Officer through the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

He and his wife Kelly have three adult children. His hobbies include snow skiing, wakeboarding and golf.

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March 7, 2017

LESLIE ABASTA McGOWAN NAMED 21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’

SACRAMENTO –On Monday, March 6th, Ms. Leslie Abasta McGowan of Merced was honored as the Woman of the Year from the 21stAssembly District by the California State Assembly during a ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Assemblymember Adam Gray nominated Abasta McGowan, who has worked with Livingston Community Health for close to a decade and has served as its Chief Executive Officer since 2012.

“Leslie’s leadership and commitment to providing individuals with affordable, quality health care is commendable,” said Gray. “She continues to make her mark in the community with her advocacy and dedication. Leslie is a strong advocate for increasing access to primary care in the Valley and meeting unmet health care needs in Merced and Stanislaus counties.”

During her time as CEO, Livingston Community Health has opened four additional sites with their fifth to open in early April 2017. She manages a staff of over 175.

“Leslie sets an incredible example for the young women in our region,” continues Gray. “Her energy and accomplishments are impressive.”

Ms. Abasta McGowan has spent most of her life living in Merced County where she has chosen to stay to raise her two young children. She obtained her undergraduate degree from CSU Stanislaus and a Master of Public Health degree from CSU Fresno. Leslie was


Leslie Abasta McGowan of Merced

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

recently recognized by Congressman Jim Costa as the Heroine of the Month for her continued efforts to ensure that all individuals have access to quality and affordable health services.

 

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March 7 , 2017

Atwater FFA Earns Top Honors at UC Davis and West Hills College Field Days

Written by: Atwater FFA

Over 3300+ California high school agriculture students representing nearly 200 high schools throughout the state of California competed at the UC Davis and West Hills College FFA Field Days. The March 4th weekend jump started the 2017 FFA judging season where the Atwater FFA judging teams start anew with their sites toward the 2017 state championships in late April and early May. “We have an expanded number of skill-based Career Development Event (CDE) teams and a record number of students participating,” said Atwater FFA advisor and coach Dave Gossman.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team earned a 1st place finish at UC Davis with Daryl Dorsey (1st overall), Jeff Clark (2nd overall), Dayana Argueta (3rd overall), and Amanjot Gandhoke leading the team as they demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team earned an 1st place team finish overall with a team consisting of Jasmine Flores (1st overall), Belinda Espinoza (2nd overall), Kelsi Kamesch, and Dillon Guillen. Other Atwater FFA members Luz Soto, Felicity Garcia, Jennifer Velazquez, and Vanessa Varela competed as a “B” Team. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team earned a 2nd place finish overall at UC Davis. The team was led by Stephania Valdovinos (5th Overall), Briana Diaz, Sayra Ramos, and Ana Lozano. Other Atwater FFA members Alfredo Elizarrarraz and Emmanuel Mejia competed as alternates. The contest blends practical hands-on experiences with a basic knowledge of the poultry industry required for careers in the poultry field.

The Atwater FFA Floriculture team earned a 2nd place team finish overall with Mai Yang Vang (3rd overall), Jasmine Sandoval, Liliana Varga, and Samantha Theodozio leading the team. The contest involves plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills.

The Atwater FFA Land judging team earned a 2nd place team finish overall at West Hills College and was led by Katelyn Baptista (1st Overall), Audrey Esau, Jose Ruiz, and Ethan Garcia. Michael Bray, Arturo Valdovinos and Jared Nickerson also competed on the “B” Team. The contest involves the evaluation and interpretation of soils

 


and soil profiles. Students analyze various soil pits and determine soil texture, water holding capacity, and erosion characteristics while associated the data with agriculture applications.

The Meats judging team earned a 3rd place finish overall with a team composed of Courtney Creighton, Emily Junez, Paige Brigham and Daisy Flores. Other Atwater FFA members Mikeal Duran, Mariah Castro Delgado, and Adaleena Oyervides competed as a “B” team. The Meats contest involves the evaluation of pork, beef, and lamb carcasses and retail cuts of meat commonly found in supermarkets, quality and yield grading, oral presentations on the meat/carcass evaluations, and a written exam pertaining to the meat industry.

The Atwater FFA Milks Quality and Dairy Foods team earned a 7th place team finish at UC Davis with Luke van Warmerdam, Kendyll Cruz, Odalys De la Torre, and Callie Norton leading the team as they demonstrated their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. Natalie Frontella and Natalie Guierrez also competed as alternates and finished in the top one third of the pack.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team earned top finish at UC Davis with Blake Brigham (7th overall), Josue Agundis, and Ricky Ortega leading the team. The contest challenges students with their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair.

Atwater FFA’s Novice Parliamentary Procedure team consisting of Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Michael Bray, Mariah Castro, Itzel Chavez, Vanessa Varela, and Emmanuel Mejia and the Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team consisting of Daryl Dorsey, Dayana Argueta, Paige Brigham, Amajot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, Callie Norton, and Courtney Creighton competed against a full field and earned a 7th overall finish as both teams continue to grow and develop their skills.

“The FFA judging season is an opportunity for students to showcase their life, industry, critical thinking, and communication skills through hands-on, skill-based applications among their peers from all over California at major colleges and state universities,” said Gossman. “Atwater High School continues to be a top contender and recognized throughout the state as a major player at the year’s competitions.” The competitions continue with Chico State University, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Cosumnes River College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo scheduled in the coming two months.

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

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March 7, 2017

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe officials confirmed that R Street and Glen Avenue railroad crossings are open.

The Tower Road crossing will be closed for approximately two more weeks due to unforeseen problems they are having at that location. Defects at the site are requiring a complete rehab of the crossing.

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March 7 , 2017

 

Students to Compete at Academic Pentathlon on Saturday at UC Merced

More than 300, 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from schools throughout Merced County will demonstrate their academic knowledge and cooperative learning skills when they compete in the Academic Pentathlon on Saturday, March 11 at UC Merced.
After weeks of intense study and practice, junior high teams will compete in five exciting tests to demonstrate their knowledge in literature and fine arts, math, science, social science and the Super Quiz.
The Super Quiz competition differs from that of the other written testing formats. A relay-type competition will take place among all of the teams by grade level. The Super Quiz is the only part of the event that is open to the public, and it is one of the most memorable and exciting parts of the Academic Pentathlon competition. Before a crowd of cheering parents, students and supporters, team members will engage in a battle of wits against other participating teams.
This year’s Super Quiz theme is World War II. The Super Quiz kicks off at 1 p.m. in the Joseph E. Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center Gymnasium.
Each team is comprised of nine team members, three from each division of “A” Honor, “B” Scholastic and “C” Varsity students. This team composition gives students the opportunity to develop skills working with students of different ability levels, motivation and interests.
The Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the Livingston High School gym.
For more information about this event, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

Merced County Students to be Awarded for Biliteracy Proficiency

Students from throughout Merced County will be honored at El Capitan High School on March 15 for completing the Seal of Biliteracy Proficiency.
The accolade, which is listed on student transcripts, is awarded by the Merced County Office of Education in partnership with county school districts, in recognition of attained proficiency in English and at least one other world language by high school graduation.
Introduced in early 2011 by Assembly member Julia Brownley, Assembly Bill 815 is a verification of linguistic proficiency.
MCOE received 831 applications for the program from 13 high schools throughout the county: Atwater, Buhach, Delhi, Dos Palos, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Gustine, Hilmar, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced and Pacheco High. From those, 384 autobiographies were submitted and 368 were scored as proficient.
Of those 368, 309 students made it to the final step of the process, the English and target language interviews, which were held in February. In total, 286 students earned the Seal of Biliteracy.
The awards reception begins at 6 p.m. at the El Capitan Theater.

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March 4, 2017

Water meter update, seal use on Council agenda

An update on City water meters and restrictions on the use of the City seal are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.

A water meter installation program begun in May 2015 was completed last year with 10,800 homes getting a meter. The other half of City residents already had water meters, along with all commercial water users. The City also installed cellular transponders so meters could be read without having a truck drive through neighborhoods.

As of April the former flat rate customers will start getting billed on a metered rate. Their initial water bills will be prorated so the bills will be smaller than for a full month of service. There had been more than 20 different rates for flat rate customers depending on lot size and how big the water line they have servicing their home.

Also on the agenda is a proposed ordinance prohibiting anyone from using the seal of the City of Merced or any imitation of it. It was

recently discovered that a private party may have been using the City
seal for non-City business.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:30 p.m. to discuss performance evaluations of the city manager, meet with property negotiators regarding the police headquarter properties and potential litigation.

City Council meetings are streamed live on the Internet. A link to the live meeting is on the City’s web site at https://cityofmerced.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. Videos of previous meetings can be found at that link, and are tied to each agenda item. Those services are in addition to the live broadcast of the regular meeting on Comcast’s Government Channel 96.
The Council agenda is posted online at www.cityofmerced.org and is available outside the chambers prior to the meeting. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council.

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March 4, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE CELEBRATES
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH READING AND BOOK SIGNING

Merced College and the Friends of the Library are celebrating National Poetry Month with a special reading and book signing by Modesto poet Linda Scheller on Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m.
The reading, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Wendell Olson Forum on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resources Center on the Merced campus.
Scheller, who is a writer, teacher, actor, and founding board member of the Modesto Stanislaus Poetry Center, has published her first full-length collection of poems titled Fierce Light, published by FutureCycle Press.
Fierce Light consists of persona poems in various forms – lyric, sonnet, prose poem, rhyme, free verse – eliciting the lives and accomplishments of 36 women from world history and culture.
“I spent much time researching women I admire, among them Maria Sibylla Merian, Alice Paul, Wangari Maathai, Frida Kahlo, Ida B. Wells, Jane Addams, and Murasaki Shikibu,” Scheller said. “In large part, the book is an effort to illuminate women overlooked and under-appreciated in the chronicles of human achievement.”
Scheller’s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies including Notre Dame Review, Slipstream, Poetry East, Plays, and More Than Soil, More Than Sky. Learn more at lindascheller.com.
National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.¬


Linda Scheller

Click here to see flyer


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March 4 , 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE
59/MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY
TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED

Merced — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps from State Route 99 (SR-99) for landscape work.

Closures will occur as follows:

• The southbound off-ramp from SR-99 to SR-59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way will close on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

• The northbound on-ramp from Mission Avenue to SR-99 will close on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, March 6, 2017, through Friday, March 10, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 165 AT FOWLER AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 165 (SR-165) at Fowler Avenue south of the town of Hilmar. Work will occur as follows:
• Full highway closure of SR-165 at Fowler Avenue on Sunday, March 5, 2017, from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.;

• The northbound and southbound lanes on SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will alternately close with one-way traffic control beginning Monday, March 6, 2017 through Friday, March 10, 2017, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;

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

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
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
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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March 4 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE TO HOST PLANT SALE

The Merced College Agriculture Department’s staff and students are once again hosting its annual spring plant sale on Saturday, April 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, which brings out more than 1,500 plant lovers from Sacramento to Fresno, is held in the Plant Science Nursery on Aggie Lane. Signs will lead guests to parking near the nursery.
According to Landscape Horticulture and Plant Science professor Bryan Tassey, “The plant sale is a showcase of what hands-on student learning is all about. The beauty of it all is the community also benefits. Our prices are below retail and above wholesale.”
The plant sale has been an on-going project for more than 20 years. All proceeds go to support the horticulture and plant science programs. With drought tolerant and native California plants, succulents, vegetables, shade and fruit trees, there will be something for everyone. In addition, staff and students will host free educational seminars throughout the day.

“It takes a full year to prepare our plants that are 90 percent propagated in house,” Tassey said. “Students get to see full circle what the theory, production, marketing, and sales of ornamental crops is all about.”
For more information, call the Merced College Agriculture Department at 209.384.6250.

Click here to see flyer


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March 4 ,2017

Central California Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Mobile Adoption Unit at
Fresno Home and Garden Show
Friday, March 3, 2017, through Sunday, March 5, 2017
Fresno Fairgrounds

The CCSPCA mobile adoption unit will be at the Fresno Home and Garden Show at the Fresno Fair Grounds from Friday, March 3, 2017 to Sunday, March 5, 2017. Come join us to find your new best four-legged friend and take advantage of our special offer with Milne Photography.
The CCSPCA and Milne Photography have teamed up to provide adopters and donors with a special promotion in the month of March. Every adopter or donor (that makes a financial gift of $99 or more), will receive a $300 certificate from Milne Photography. This service includes a complimentary family, senior, or children’s portrait seating (a $100 value) and $200.00 towards any portrait order provided by Milne Photography. Take advantage of getting a professional picture taken with your newly adopted family member!



Adoptions include spay/neuter, vaccines, de-worming, microchip, Fresno City dog license (if applicable), flea/tick treatment, complimentary exam at the CCSPCA Small Animal Hospital, or by one of our participating veterinarians, and FREE gift of up to $750 in pet insurance.
This promotion is made possible by the support of the CCSPCA Board of Directors and the generosity of our donors and supporters.
You can view our adoptable dogs and cats online at www.ccspca.com or at our Adoption Center located at 103 S. Hughes Ave, Fresno CA 93706. We are open 7days/week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays).

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March 4, 2017

BLUE DEVIL ATHLETICS AND SUPPORTERS
BEGIN THEIR ‘BLITZ’ FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

The 2nd annual Blue Devil Blitz fundraising campaign is now is full swing with football players and campaign supporters placing blue and gold tridents, on the front lawns of local residents and businesses with the announcement, “You’ve Been Blitzed!”
The campaign encourages community members to donate to the football program and to “blitz” others whom they think will support the program with their donations.
“The support from the community last year was unprecedented during my time at Merced College,” said head football coach Bob Casey. “The generous donations from our supporters created many more opportunities our student-athletes."
Last year, the campaign raised more than $10,000 during its one-month campaign.

“This funding helps us purchase things that we have struggled with providing in recent years, such as replacing older equipment,” Casey said. “It will also help with costs associated with transportation.”
For more information about Blue Devil football and Merced College athletics, visit http://www.mccd.edu/athletics.

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March 3 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES
AVAILABILITY OF SCHOLARSHIPS

Merced College students are encouraged to apply for scholarships through the Merced College Foundation. Both continuing and transferring students are eligible to apply. In addition, some scholarships available to incoming freshman.
The Foundation will provide about $190,000 in scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Applicants are encouraged to go online to review the scholarship booklet and to download the application by visiting www.mccd.edu/rd/scholarships.
Applications must be submitted to the Scholarship Office, located in the Lesher Student Services Center, by March 31 at 4 p.m.
For more information, contact the Scholarship Office at 209.384.6220.

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

Merced College does not discriminate, and prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin, sex, age, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

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March 3 , 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Appointments to Select Committee on Homelessness and Select Committee on Rail

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) announced that he has been appointed as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Homelessness and reappointed as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Rail.

“As Chair of the new Select Committee on Homelessness, I look forward to working to highlight the unique housing challenges faced by rural Californians and identifying community focused solutions to address and prevent homelessness in this region,” said Gray. “In my position as Chair of the Select Committee on Rail, I intend to focus the committee’s attention on rail funding and growth. It is time California


start building infrastructure again to put people in high unemployment areas like the Valley back to work. With expansions proposed for ACE rail, Amtrak, and High-Speed Rail, there is a real opportunity to create a world class network of rail lines here to move people and goods throughout the state affordably and efficiently.”

Gray said he is planning to host summits on rail and homelessness issues later this year.

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March 3 , 2017

Costa Statement on Attorney General Sessions’ Communications with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to reports that then-Senator Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States last year and failed to provide the information while he was under oath during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Russia’s interference in our nation’s democratic process is very alarming, and I support all efforts to investigate exactly what happened,” said Rep. Costa. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose his interactions with the Russian Ambassador to the United States during his confirmation process, and he should recuse himself from the investigations into Russia’s interference in our election. The federal government must do everything it can to uncover the facts of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and prevent future attempts of foreign actors to undermine our democracy. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the actions of Attorney General Sessions I do not believe he can be viewed as objective in the Department of Justice’s investigation, and he should recuse himself immediately.”


Congressman Jim Costa

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March 2 , 2017

Elementary Schools Need Your Votes for $20,000 in Grants

Ada Givens Elementary and Franklin Elementary are asking for the community’s help to receive a total of $20,000 in grants from ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan. This new grant program, called “Scholar Dollars” is designed to help support extracurricular and enrichment programs.

All K-8 public and charter schools in California were eligible to apply for the Scholar Dollars grant last month. There are five categories based on school size, which range from extra small to extra large. Each category will have four winners, and the prizes range from $5,000 to $25,000 for a total of $300,000.

Givens and Franklin are each eligible for $10,000 based on their 2015-2016 enrollment numbers.

Givens would like to use the money to increase library offerings, to support a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) maker space, to offer career-oriented excursions, and to provide tutoring opportunities for both parents and students. Franklin would like to use the money to create a computer lab to support its STEAM program and 21st century learning.

You can vote for Givens and Franklin every day through March 24 at www.myscholardollars.com. Just click the “vote now” button and search for “Merced” to find both schools.


Ada Givens students participating in their school science fair.



Ada Givens students participating in their school science fair.



Franklin Elementary Principal Cesar Hernandez hands out
certificates to students


Students at Franklin Elementary School

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March 2 , 2017

The Bus to hold public hearings

Merced – The Merced County Association of Governments’ Social Services Transportation Advisory Council and the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County are holding public forums to seek input from residents and discuss the future of transit service in the region.
Six public hearings are scheduled throughout the region to receive testimony from community residents on unmet transit needs that may exist in Merced County. These hearings are part of the ongoing commitment to improve the overall transit system and provide efficient service to the greatest number of people in Merced County. The public hearings are scheduled as follows:
City of Atwater
April 4, 2017
3:00pm AND 6:00pm
Atwater Council Chambers
750 Bellevue Road, Atwater

City of Merced
April 6, 2017
3:00pm AND 6:00pm
Merced Council Chambers
678 W 18th Street, Merced

City of Los Banos
April 10, 2017
3:00pm AND 6:00pm
Los Banos Community Center
645 7th Street, Los Banos

Residents who are unable to attend a hearing, but would like to provide comments, may contact: Natalia Austin at 209.723.3153 ext. 319 or email natalia.austin@mcagov.org by April 10th.
The Bus will provide free fixed route transit service to members of the community who are interested in attending a public hearing. For members of the community who are ADA eligible, transportation can be arranged by reservation by calling (209) 384-3111. Spanish translation services will be available at each hearing. For additional language accommodations, contact TJPA staff at (209) 723-3100.
The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County and is administered by the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County and managed by the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG). For more information, please visit www.mercedthebus.com and www.mcagov.org.

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March 1 , 2017

R Street crossing set to open late Wednesday

The R Street crossing of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad is scheduled to be open for traffic late Wednesday, officials said. Repair work had been delayed by the rainstorms that recently pummeled the state.

The railroad crossings at Glen Avenue and Tower Road are scheduled to be reopened by the end of the day March 2.

The railroad cleaned the tracks, installed new ballast rock and then stabilized the track to prevent any alignment or surface deviations. The work will allow the trains to travel safely at maximum speeds through town.

Bike Park Community Design Meeting

The City of Merced is interested in adding a unique bike park in Fahren’s Park that will appeal to people of all ages and abilities from Merced and regionally. A community design meeting will be held on Thursday, March 2, from 6-8PM at the Civic Center, 678 W. 18th Street to gather input from the community on the design. Bike riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to attend. For more information call Parks and Recreation at 385-6235.

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March 1 , 2017

Costa Announces Passport Services for Merced County Residents

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement to announce that the Merced County Registrar of Voters’ Office is designated as an official passport acceptance facility and will accept passport applications on behalf of the United States Department of State. Rep. Costa was instrumental in coordinating with the State Department’s U.S. Passports and International Travel San Francisco Passport Agency to ensure that residents in Merced have access to passport services.

“Passport services should be accessible to all Americans, and that’s why my staff and I worked hard to ensure that Merced County residents have a local passport office,” said Rep. Costa. “Re-establishing passport services in Merced required collaboration among all levels government, and I applaud the County of Merced for its efforts during this process.”

Upon reading a letter to the editor that was in the Merced Sun-Star on April 24, 2016, Rep. Costa set out to meet with the San Francisco Passport Agency Director to bring a passport office back to Merced. He facilitated meetings to find an appropriate location, and the Merced County Registrar of Voters’ Office was finalized as the location in October 2016.

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

Costa Statement on Initial CVP Water Allocations

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial Central Valley Project 2017 Water Supply Allocation for Friant, Eastside and American River division contractors. Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement:
“California’s Central Valley is on track to have its wettest water year on record, and obviously an initial 100 percent water allocation from the Central Valley Project for Friant, Eastside, and American River contractors is good news. However, with the announcement of today’s water allocations, I share in both the relief and the frustration of many farmers and Central Valley residents.

“Had water infrastructure projects, like Temperance Flat Dam and Sites Reservoir, been built prior to this record rainfall, then more water would be stored for years with less precipitation and snowfall, to be made available to respond to future human and ecosystem needs. Congress and the Administration must work together on a bipartisan basis to make desperately needed investments in California’s water infrastructure, so that years from now, God willing, when there is another record breaking wet year, there will be the storage capacity to capture water from the rain and snow.

“Furthermore, the fact that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has not announced a water allocation for the Westside, which includes the San Luis Unit, and isn't expected to do so until late March, despite abundant rainfall and snow in the mountains, is another clear indication that California’s water system is broken. After five years of record breaking drought, California finally has water, but yet again farmers on the Westside do not know what their water allocation will be, threatening their ability to plant annual crops. As we enter the month of March, farmers are meeting with their bankers to obtain loans and determining how much of their diverse and nutritious crops will be planted based upon this year’s water allocation. Decisions have to be made; now is the planting season.”


Congressman Jim Costa

 

Costa Statement on President Trump’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Costa released the following statement after President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress.
“Tonight’s address to a joint session of Congress gave the President a new opportunity to work on a bipartisan basis with Congress. It is my hope that President Trump was sincere in saying that he wants to find common ground and work together on behalf of all Americans. I want the President to succeed because his success is crucial for America’s continued growth and progress.

“While I think it’s important that the President and Congress move forward and work together on a bipartisan basis, we cannot ignore or deny that President Trump implemented policies that do not uphold American values. For example, issuing executive orders to ban travel to the United States and build a wall on the U.S. – Mexico border are not real solutions to fixing our broken immigration system and do little, if anything, to improve our national security. Additionally, a U.S. – Mexico border wall could hurt our trade relationship with Mexico. These actions illustrate that President Trump lacks diplomatic experience and does not understand the harmful human and economic impacts, which have been felt by the people of the Valley.

“Ensuring the safety of American citizens always has been and will continue be the number one priority of the President and Congress. The United States has the strongest military in the world and our military strength gives us the opportunity to spread Western values, freedom, and justice throughout the world, and that includes fighting terrorist organizations, like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. It is absolutely vital that we take care of the brave service members and veterans who sacrifice everything to protect Americans’ way of life.

“Working together on bipartisan basis, President Trump and Congress can make long-term investments in our nation’s crumbling transportation and water infrastructure, reform our tax and immigration systems, ensure quality health care for everyone, and enact policies, like those in the Farm Bill, that are good for all Americans. I stand ready to work with the President on a bipartisan basis on these issues.”

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February 28, 2017

Atwater FFA Parli Pro Team Excelling Towards Section Finals

Written by: Atwater FFA

Nearly thirty novice and advanced parliamentary procedure teams representing high schools throughout California have gathered at Chico State University and Atwater High School the past few weeks to compete at state FFA parliamentary procedure contests. The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team made it to the Finals at Chico State and placed 3rd at the Atwater High School Invitational with senior Daryl Dorsey earning the Advanced Chairman award. Atwater High School’s Amanjot Gandhoke and Callie Norton were also recognized as “High Chairs”. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed 4th overall at Chico State University and 3rd overall at the Atwater High School Invitational. “The students continue to develop and strengthen their skills through their hard work, effort, and participation at state contests,” said FFA advisor Shelby West. “They are forcused on the upcoming sectional and regional finals with a goal of qualifying for the state finals in April.”

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

Atwater High School’s student involvement within the expanded agriculture program continues to grow. “Our goal is to continue to encourage students to explore, participate, and be engaged in opportunities that focus on college and career related skills”, said West. “It’s all about providing opportunities for students to enhance their personal growth, academic success, and career development.”


Atwater High School FFA's Novice and Advanced Parliamentary Procedure teams comprised of Emmanuel Mejia, Alyssa Carrillo, Dayana Argueta, Michael Bray, Courtney Creighton, Amanjot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, Itzel Chavez, Paige Brigham, Mariah Castro, Daryl Dorsey, and Cristal Venegas seen together at the recent Chico State University competition.

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

Students who competed on the team included (Advanced) Daryl Dorsey, Dayana Argueta, Amanjot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, Courtney Creighton, Callie Norton, Paige Brigham, Natalie Frontella, Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Micheal Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, Stephanie Aguanui, and Vanessa Varela. The team will be heading to the UC Davis Parliamentary Procedure Invitational on March 3rd to compete as a final preparation towards the sectional, regional, and state final competition beginning next week.

 

 

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

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February 28, 2017

REPEAT SCAMMER GETS SENTENCED
TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON

The Honorable Jeanne Schechter, Commissioner of the Merced Superior Court sentenced Jesse Munoz of Merced to 11 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Friday, after he plead no contest to five counts of diversion of construction funds and five counts of grand theft of personal property with a white collar criminal enhancement due to the amounts reaching over $100,000, said Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall.

From May 2012 to December 2013 Munoz posed as a contractor, took deposits for his work, and would either start the job then disappear, or just not show up at all, said Wall. Munoz cheated over twenty people out of their money and caused financial hardships for many of his victims, Wall added.

 



“I trusted Munoz and I gave him the money,” said Jesus Rojas, a victim of Munoz. “I am a hardworking man and earned my money by working hard. Munoz lied to me, betrayed my trust and stole from me.”

This is the second time that Munoz has been convicted for scamming people out of money. In 2009 Munoz was sentenced to five years in state prison for 15 counts of theft by false pretense.

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February 25, 2017

 

Costa Joins Sheriff Warnke on Helicopter Tour to See Flood Conditions and Impacts

MERCED, CA — Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) joined Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke on a helicopter tour to see the current flood conditions and impacts in Merced County.

“The rain is letting up but efforts to address current flood conditions in Merced County are still in full force,”said Rep. Costa. “I commend Sheriff Warnke and the county Office of Emergency Services for their due diligence in bringing together all levels of government to address the flood impacts throughout the County. It is imperative that long-term investments are made in California’s water infrastructure, so that dangerous flooding can be avoided and rain can be captured and stored during future wet years. I am continuing to work with my colleagues in Washington and Sacramento to find ways to repair outdated water infrastructure and build new water infrastructure projects, like Temperance Flat Dam, raising the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam, which will provide more storage capacity, and possibly raising San Luis Reservoir Dam.”

“We are continuing to monitor all weather impacts and planning accordingly,” said Sheriff Warnke. “Our pledge is to keep the “people” up to date with the latest information and any plans of action that may pertain to them, should a problem erect. Everything is currently going well, and no one should worry.”


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February 25, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY DUE TO FLOODING

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between Sandy Mush Road and West Dickenson Ferry Road due to flooding in the area. The closure is a long-term, full highway closure with no estimated time of opening.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays to detour the area. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

DETOUR:

Southbound SR-59
• Take West Dickenson Ferry Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn left and take Gurr Road south to West Sandy Mush Road;
• Turn left and take West Sandy Mush Road east towards SR-59.

Northbound SR-59
• Take West Sandy Mush Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn right and take Gurr Road north to West Dickenson Ferry Road;
• Turn right and take West Dickenson Ferry Road east towards SR-59.


This work is ongoing and is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND 16TH STREET IN MERCED

Merced — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound off-ramp from State Route 99 at 16th Street in the city of Merced for construction activities.

The ramp closure will be in effect on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

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

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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 27, 2017, through Friday, March 3, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM JOHNSON AVENUE TO BRADBURY ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 165 (SR-165) from Johnson Avenue to Bradbury Road (north of Hilmar). Work will occur as follows:
• Eastbound and westbound Fowler Avenue will be closed at SR-165 for construction activities beginning Monday, February 27, 2017, at 6:00 a.m. and continuing until Friday, March 3, 2017.

• The northbound and southbound lanes on SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will alternately close with one-way traffic control beginning Monday, February 27, 2017, through Friday, March 3, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.;

• The right shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-165 between Johnson Avenue and Bradbury Road will close beginning Monday, February 27, 2017, through Friday, March 3, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

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

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
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 to SR-140 to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 27, 2017, through Friday, March 3, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
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 CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


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

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February 25, 2017

Design meeting Thursday for bike park

The community design meeting for the bike park proposed for Fahrens Park will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
Hilride Progression Development Group, the consultants hired to do the bike park feasibility study, will be conducting the meeting. The public is encouraged to attend.

The City is proposing a bike park in Farhens Park along Buena Vista Drive. The site has up to 8 acres, plus a drainage basin, that can be used for the bike park, along with a eucalyptus grove.
There is $30,000 set aside for the design and to begin construction of the park.

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February 23 , 2017

MCOE Unveils 6th Annual Education Report With Focus on Special Education

The Merced County Office of Education unveiled the 2016 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at an event in Merced today.
The report, sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union, details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Special Education in Merced County and how MCOE works with school districts and several other organizations throughout the county to serve this student population.
The report also highlights the work of school districts throughout Merced County.
Several videos shown at the event showcased the history of special education in Merced County, programs and services available to students with special needs in Merced County and community organizations that work with this student population to enrich their lives.

 

The report can be viewed here: https://issuu.com/mercedcountyofficeofeducation/docs/annualreport16_spreads
Videos from the event can be viewed here:
History: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jv5I3KZb6g
Programs and Services: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Azfg7cXyM
Community Partnerships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb32dNKMxZ0

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February 22, 2017

ACE To Resume Full Service February 22nd

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will resume full service of four daily round trips between Stockton and San Jose starting Wednesday, February 22nd. Earlier weather related outages caused service interruptions throughout Northern California, impacting ACE service.
To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com.


Riders are encouraged to stay up to date with any service outages or changes by signing up for our alerts, or following us on Twitterand Facebook.

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February 22, 2017

Thursday Town Hall meeting at Tenaya Middle School

The last Town Hall meeting will be held in South Merced at Tenaya Middle School, 760 8th St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 23.
People in the South Merced neighborhood are encouraged to attend to discuss City issues. Comments will be used in preparation of the budget.
As at prior Town Hall meetings, there will be Spanish and Hmong translators available.


The wrong date for the Tenaya Town Hall meeting was listed in the City newsletter.

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February 18, 2017

Special district results, cannabis consultant
on agenda

Results of the special district elections and hiring a consultant for medical marijuana regulations are on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Meetings are usually held on Monday night, but due to the Presidents Day holiday, the meeting is being held on Tuesday.

Property owners voted on fee increases in three maintenance districts: Oakmont No. 3, Campus North, and Mansionette. Only the Oakmont increase passed with 65.8 percent of the voters approving. The Oakmont assessment will be $89.75 a year, with an annual budget of $27,554.

Because of the failed election the Campus North assessment will remain at $31.30 a year and the annual budget will be $11,000. The Mansionette assessment will stay at $1.14 a year and the budget will be $1,446.

The Council is being asked to hire SCI Consulting Group to prepare regulations and the selection process for the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries. The $108,290 contract will be compatible with Proposition 64, the voter initiative that legalized recreational marijuana.



SCI has experience working with San Luis Obispo County and the cities of Avalon, Coalinga, La Mesa and Vallejo.

Also on the agenda is a presentation from Finance Officer Brad Grant on the CalPers discount rate change and how it will affect the City’s budgeting process.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss performance evaluations of the finance officer and the city manager and meet with property negotiators regarding the price of the Merced Sun-Star building.

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

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

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February 18, 2017

Students Celebrate Perfect Attendance

Students at Franklin Elementary School enjoyed the star treatment on Friday. Those who had perfect attendance throughout the entire second quarter had a chance to walk the red carpet – or dance down it – while their classmates and family members cheered for them. They received certificates of achievement and special water bottles featuring their school colors. The Parent Teacher Club also provided juice and snacks during the assemblies, which took place throughout the day for each grade level.

This celebration is one of many ways schools throughout the Merced City School District provide incentives and recognition for outstanding attendance. Those efforts support the district’s goal to maintain an average daily attendance of 97 percent. Research shows good attendance is a critical component of student success.

Franklin Elementary serves students in transitional kindergarten through third grade. More than 100 of those students were recognized for having perfect attending during Friday’s assemblies.



 



Students at Franklin Elementary School



Franklin Elementary Principal Cesar Hernandez hands out
certificates to students


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February 18, 2017

Homeless Count shows number of homeless down

 

By the numbers:
Total homeless in Merced County: 454 (down 12.5% from 2016)*
• Homeless in City of Merced 177 (down 18.8% from 2016)
• Homeless in Los Banos 78 (up 25.8% from 2016)
• Homeless in Atwater/Winton 26 (down 7.1%)
• Homeless veterans 17 (down 32% from 2016)
*156 people live in homeless shelters or housing, 34.4% of the homeless population

12.5% drop in County, 18.8% drop in City of Merced from 2016

The number of homeless people in Merced and Merced County is down, according to the January Homeless Count.

The number of homeless people in the City is down 18.8 percent from last year, with 177 people counted living on the streets of Merced compared to 218 last year.

The total number of homeless people in Merced County living in shelters and on the streets was 454, down 12.5 percent. More than a third, 156 people, were living in shelters or transitional housing programs in the County.

“These are solid, reliable numbers,” said Steve Carrigan, the chair of the Merced County Continuum of Care, the group that organizes the annual count.

Carrigan said there were 166 people conducting face-to-face interviews with people during the count. The previous method was to survey the landscape and make estimates based on what was seen. Previous counts also had far fewer participants. In 2015 there were only 30 people counting in the entire County.

The homeless count numbers were released Friday during the Homeless Summit 2017, sponsored by the Continuum to highlight the programs addressing the needs of the homeless.

There were 17 homeless veterans counted this year, compared to 25 reported in 2016. There was a 81 percent decline in homeless veterans from the 88 reported in the 2015 count.


 

The majority of the homeless on the streets -- 94.3 percent -- were located in the three cities of Merced, Los Banos and Atwater/Winton. There were 78 homeless people counted in Los Banos, up 16 or 25.8 percent from 2016. In Atwater/Winton there were 26 homeless people counted, a decline of two people, or a 7.1 percent.

Carrigan, who also is Merced’s City Manager, said some people don’t believe there is a decline in the number of homeless people in the City because they still see them on street corners, Downtown or in parks.

“The homeless are on the move. We want them to get help. We want them to use the shelters,” he said. “We don’t want people sleeping on the streets, in the bushes or the parks. It’s not humane, it’s not civilized. It’s not anything that we should want for our brothers or sisters, son or daughters.”

“But they have to be trying to get the help we have available, or they need to move on somewhere else,” he said.

More help is on the way. A group of outreach workers will be hitting the streets shortly assessing homeless people and directing them to housing and other help.

“Our new Homeless to Housing Team (H2H) is going to focus on people who have been languishing on the streets,” said Carol Bowman of the United Way. “We will be getting them into permanent housing using the best practices that have been proven to work.”

There will soon be additional housing for the homeless, too. There are seven projects underway in Merced that will provide the homeless with more than 130 beds.

Carrigan said the progress made by the Continuum of Care has helped position the City to receive more than $2 million in state funding.

“The Continuum is effective,” said Joe Colletti,of Urban Initiatives, a consultant for the group. “”This year’s homeless count shows that what the Continuum is doing is working and that next year it will be able to do even more to help end homelessness in Merced County.”

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February 18, 2017

Costa Calls Attention to Dangerous
Flooding in Merced

MERCED, CA – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown regarding the dangerous flood conditions in Merced County. Late on Thursday night, a levee along the Merced River failed because of the high volume of water releases from Lake McClure.

“First let me thank you for including Merced County in your initial request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for January 3rd-12th. However, Merced County’s citizens need your help again,” wrote Rep. Costa. “I want to call your attention to the current flood conditions in Merced County. As storms continue to hit the California Central Valley, state and county emergency officials are working hard to handle the amount of water flowing along the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers. We need you to request additional federal assistance to help deal with flooding as a result of rising water levels.”

Full text of the letter follows:

February 17, 2017

The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

First let me thank you for including Merced County in your initial request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for January 3rd-12th. However, Merced County’s citizens need your help again. I want to call your attention to the current flood conditions in Merced County. As storms continue to hit the California Central Valley, state and county emergency officials are working hard to handle the amount of water flowing along the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers. We need you to request additional federal assistance to help deal with flooding as a result of rising water levels.


Congressman Jim Costa

 

Just last week, I joined officials in Merced County, for a helicopter tour of the flooding and saw first-hand just how severe the flooding is, and anticipate because of the coming storms, for things to get much worse. I can attest to the substantial and widespread nature of the devastation caused by the storms that you indicated to President Trump in your letter of request for a disaster declaration. Causing further and serious issues, just recently the Merced River crested a private ditch gate near Snelling, CA flooding Merced River Road because of the high volume of water releases from Lake McClure.

My staff has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and we have been told you have the flexibility to add more locations and time periods to the Presidential disaster declaration request. Therefore, I am respectfully asking that the recent flood events in Merced County be included in your request for a Presidential disaster declaration.

Thank you for your attention to this severe situation affecting the residents of Merced County.

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February 18, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY DUE TO FLOODING

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between Sandy Mush Road and West Dickenson Ferry Road due to flooding in the area. The closure is a long-term, full highway closure with no estimated time of opening.

Motorists should expect 10 minute delays to detour the area. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

DETOUR:

Southbound SR-59
• Take West Dickenson Ferry Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn left and take Gurr Road south to West Sandy Mush Road;
• Turn left and take West Sandy Mush Road east towards SR-59.

Northbound SR-59
• Take West Sandy Mush Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn right and take Gurr Road north to West Dickenson Ferry Road;
• Turn right and take West Dickenson Ferry Road east towards SR-59.


This work is ongoing and is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 165 BETWEEN AUGUST AVENUE
AND BRADBURY ROAD
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close northbound and southbound State Route 165 (SR-165) between August Avenue and Bradbury Road near Hilmar, CA, beginning Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Thursday, February 23, 2017, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for highway construction.

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

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

TRAFFIC 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 to SR-140 to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
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 CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect from Tuesday, January 31 through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO
DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM JENSEN ROAD
TO THE STANISLAUS/ SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY LINE

Stanislaus County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from Jensen Road in Newman to the Stanislaus/San Joaquin county line to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Wednesday, February 22, 2017, through Friday, February 24, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

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

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February 18, 2017

MCAG recruiting Executive Director

Merced – Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking an enthusiastic, experienced professional to serve as its new Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and resourceful leader to help shape the future of the agency.
The ideal candidate is an energetic, results-oriented, visionary leader with excellent communication skills and the proven abilities to facilitate change, develop and strengthen relationships, and build consensus with MCAG’s many regional partners. Strong candidates will have a track record of developing effective relationships with a diverse governing body and the leadership and people skills to unite divergent viewpoints into a common goal. The ideal candidate will possess a strong understanding of transportation funding and project delivery; be familiar with regional transportation and land use planning principles associated with demographics, air quality and natural resource protection; and have experience/knowledge of the diverse issues facing suburban and rural areas.

 

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.
MCAG is working with CPS HR Consulting to lead this recruitment effort. Please visit http://www.cpshr.us/recruitment_current.html for a full brochure of position details and requirements. The final filing date is Friday, March 17, 2017. For further details or information, please contact Stuart Satow at (916) 471-3134 or ssatow@cpshr.us.

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February 18, 2017

Assemblyman Gray’s New Law Erases
$59 Million in Workers’ Compensation Fraud

 

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced that his Assembly Bill 1244, which was signed into law last year, has prevented more than $59 million in fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claims.

“This is an example of a common sense policy actually working to make doing business in California cheaper and easier,” said Gray. “Since becoming law, we have seen a reduction of more than $1 million of fraud per day.”

The new law requires the state to suspend any medical provider convicted of fraud from participating in the workers’ compensation system. The Division of Workers’ Compensation recently announced it


used the provisions of Gray’s bill to suspend seven fraudulent medical providers who had filed more than 8,500 claims totaling at least $59 million.

“Workers Compensation fraud is out of control, and the problem is growing,” said Gray. “Last year we made significant strides to put crooked doctors and lawyers on notice, and we are starting to see the fruits of that labor. But the fraud is not gone and the fight is not over. I have introduced legislation this year to further protect employers and employees from becoming victims of these con artists.”

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February 17, 2017

 

Costa Statement on Major Disaster Declaration and Upcoming Storms

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement as more storms begin to hit California’s San Joaquin Valley.

“Since January, there have been mandatory evacuations up and down the state of California. In Merced County, families have been forced to leave their homes, and the county estimates that there is $3-3.5 million in damage due to the storms during the beginning of January,” said Rep. Costa. “As a result of the storms events in the past of four weeks, the cost of damages is only continuing to rise, so while I welcome the major disaster declaration issued by Governor Brown and President Trump, it’s simply not enough. The current declaration only enables public entities in Merced, not individuals, to recoup costs from flood damages that took place at the first of the year.”

Rep. Costa continued saying, “As Californians gear up for another storm system today and into the weekend, I will be monitoring flood damages and impacts closely. If the time comes, I will be sending letters and picking up the phone to call Governor Brown and the White House to ensure that residents in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties receive the resources they need to address any catastrophic damages.”


Congressman Jim Costa

On February 14, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the State of California. The major disaster declaration activates support and resources from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to counties in California that have affected by storm events that took place January 3 through January 12. Merced County is one of 34 counties that are eligible to apply for public assistance grants. For-profit entities and individuals are not eligible to apply for public assistance grants.

Separately, on February 14, President Trump issued an emergency declaration for Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties for storms events that began on February 7 and is continuous.

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February 17, 2017


ACE To Run One Train Friday, February 17th

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run one train on Friday, February 17th. ACE is negotiating with Union Pacific to run two trains on Monday, February 20th for the President’s Day holiday. Weather related delays in repairs to Union Pacific tracks are still a factor.
The planned ACE schedule through Monday is below.
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
For riders still impacted by the service changes, there are some other local alternatives to explore.

Local Car Pools: My Commute Connection
Bus: RTD Route 150 (bus from Stockton and south San Joaquin County to BART)
Capitol Corridor will honor validated ACE tickets between Fremont and San Jose during the duration of the outage

To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 16, 2017

Get ready for more stormy weather

A new series of winter storms are expected to hit Merced bringing several inches of rain to the already soaked City. Emergency officials caution people to be prepared for potential flooding.

“City crews are checking the City’s storm drains and gutters for debris that could lead to street flooding and looking for other weather hazards,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “Creeks running through the City will be monitored once the storm event begins to watch for potential flooding.”

Residents should be prepared in case of a potential power outages, and the possibility of high, fast rising water that could cause localized flooding. Drivers are cautioned to slow down in the rain and on wet streets.

Sandbags are available at Fire Station 51, located at 99 E. 16th St. Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City and people need to bring a shovel.

The City has stored sand in 10 locations throughout the City and sandbags are available at Fire Station 51 during regular business hours. Sandbags also can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. A map showing the sand locations is available at the City website, www.cityofmerced.org.

The City website also has links to the National Weather Service website that contains detailed information on the storm, including forecast information, radar maps, and any warnings that have been issued. The City website also contains links to information regarding water levels on Bear Creek and other local streams.



Sand distribution points are:
• Buena Vista and Sarasota
• Parsons Av. and Brookdale Dr.
• Parsons Av. And Oregon Dr.
• Childs Ave. and G St.
• 1200 block of W. 9th St.
• W.N. Bear Creek and Shadow Brook Dr.
• Cheney Dr. and Buckner Rd.
• East Side of Mansionette between Kingfisher & Mercy Ave.
• Campus Dr. and Line Dr.
• W. 24th and K St.

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

City offices closed Monday for the holiday

City of Merced offices are closed Monday, Feb. 20, to celebrate the Presidents Day holiday.
The City Council meeting regularly scheduled for Monday will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
There will be no refuse collection on Monday. Trash pickup will be delayed by one day for the entire week.

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February 16, 2017

CALTRANS INSTALLING SAFETY FEATURES ON 32 MILES OF
STATE ROUTE 33 IN STANISLAUS AND MERCED COUNTIES

Stanislaus/Merced County – Caltrans is preparing for a project that will add centerline, edgeline and shoulder rumble strips to 32 miles of State Route 33 (SR-33).

The project is scheduled to begin the week of February 20, and be completed June 2017. No work is scheduled for Memorial Day (May 29).

Crews are scheduled to work Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. One way-traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15 minute delays.

Work will be performed at the following locations:

• In Merced County, from McCabe Road to SR-140, a total of 9 miles;

• In Stanislaus County, rumble strips will be added from Jensen Road to Poppy Avenue, and from Walnut Avenue to the San Joaquin County line, or 23 miles.

This $516,000 project has been awarded to Linear Options of Durham.

Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave the traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.

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


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

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February 16, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Legislation to Strengthen Child Marijuana Protections

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 729, to combat the purchase and consumption of marijuana by children and people under the age of 21.

“With the legalization of recreational use marijuana under Proposition 64, it is more important than ever that safeguards are put in place to ensure marijuana stays out of the hands of children,” said Gray. “Anyone that has read the proposition can see the chapter titled ‘Protecting Minors’ is sparse on details to actually accomplish that goal.”

AB 729 will fill in the gaps in Proposition 64 to prevent the purchase and consumption of marijuana by people under the age of 21 by applying similar laws on the books for alcohol and tobacco to marijuana. Specifically, the bill:
• Requires mandatory license suspension or revocation for repeat offenders who sell marijuana to a person under 21.
• Allows law enforcement to enter and conduct inspections of licensed locations.
• Adds implementation language for law enforcement to conduct underage sting operations.

 


• Requires licensed retailers to maintain an unobstructed view for law enforcement into their establishment.
• Allows retailers to seize false identification.
• Requires cultivators and retailers to post a “No Person Under 21 Allowed” sign outside and inside their business.
• Adds playground, hospital, and church to the list of locations from which a licensee may not be located within 600 feet.

“The California Legislature, and specifically the Governmental Organization Committee which I chair, has a long history of regulating age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco,” said Gray. “We have passed a number of laws to successfully reduce the use of these products by children. It is incumbent on the Legislature now to ensure the same child protections are enacted into law for California’s newest age-restricted product – marijuana.”

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February 16, 2017

 

ACE To Run Modified Service 2/16, 2/17 and 2/20

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run modified service on Thursday, February 16th, Friday, February 17th, and Monday, February 20th. The trains that will be in operation are:
Thursday, February 16th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06

Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 15, 2017

Costa Nominates El Capitan High School Student to the U.S. Air Force Academy

MERCED, CA — On Friday, February 10th, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) visited El Capitan High School to meet with Ethan Torres. Ethan is a senior and the first student at El Capitan High School to ever receive a congressional nomination to a military academy. Ethan was nominated to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The young men and women who receive a congressional nomination to attend our nation’s military academies are well-rounded, bright, and committed, and Ethan is no exception,” said Rep. Costa. “I’m confident that Ethan has a great future ahead of him. I commend Principal Shaw and his faculty and staff for always striving to ensure that their students are well-educated and prepared for the future.”

“It’s an honor to be nominated to the Air Force Academy,” said Ethan Torres, student at El Capitan High School and nominee for the U.S. Air Force Academy. “I would like to thank Congressman Costa and my family, friends, teachers, and school for all of the support.”

"We are extremely proud of Ethan for being the first El Capitan student to receive this recognition, said Principal Shaw, El Capitan High School. “Ethan is a positive influence on campus and is leaving his legacy by receiving this nomination. He has set an example for future students as to what is possible for their lives."

Congressman Costa joined Ethan Torres, his parents, Principal Shaw, and teachers for lunch to celebrate Ethan’s nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

 


Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, Principal Shaw, and Torres Family

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

 


Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, El Capitan Faculty and Staff

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

picture to left

Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, and Arturo Fuentes (Senior Counselor, El Capitan High School)

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February 15 , 2017

 

ANNUAL DANCE KALEIDOSCOPE COMES TO MERCED COLLEGE STAGE

The best young talent from area dance studios will perform when Dance Kaleidoscope returns to the Merced College Theater on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Presented by the Merced Dance Teachers Cooperative and Merced College Community Services, Dance Kaleidoscope is the collaborative effort of local dance studios. The event showcases many of the young talent being trained in the area’s premier dance studios. Dance Kaleidoscope performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Dance Kaleidoscope features dancers from Denisa’s School of Dance, Mariposa Academy of Performing Arts, Merced Academy of Dance, STEPS Dance Studio, The Dancers’ Studio, and The South Pacific Dance Company.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for Merced College student body card holders, children under 12, military, and seniors.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Merced College Business Resource Center located at 630 W. 19th Street, online at mccd.tix.com, or at the Merced College Theater Box Office one hour before the show.
For more information, call 209.384.6224.
Dance February 2016

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

Merced College does not discriminate, and prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin, sex, age, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

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February 15 , 2017

 

Merced County Fair Announces
2017 Entertainment Line-Up
Great Musical Entertainment and Action-Packed Grandstand Shows Are a Winning Combination
for the Fair

 

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, February 13, 2017…The Merced County Fair is excited to announce its full entertainment line-up for the 2017 Table Mountain FREE Concert Series presented by Coors Light, which is held on the Outdoor Theatre Stage, as well as its Grandstand Entertainment presented by Table Mountain Casino, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Coors Light and Rancho San Miguel Markets.
“We switched a couple things up with entertainment and I’m really excited to see how the community responds to it,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of The Merced County Fair. “This year we are bringing in a Michael Jackson tribute show on opening night to kick of the Fair. Then we will also have a Bull Competition in the Grandstand where you can see young bucking bulls graded before they enter into the rodeo circuit. It’s unlike anything we have had before and has really gained in popularity.”
DATE -- TIME -- SHOW -- ARTIST WEBSITE:
June 7-- 8:30 p.m. -- I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience
http://iamkingtheshow.com/
June 8 -- 8:30 p.m. -- John Michael Montgomery
http://www.johnmichael.com/
June 9 -- 8:30 p.m. -- WAR
http://www.war.com/
June 10 -- 8:30 p.m. -- Moonshine Bandits
http://moonshinebandits.com/
June 11 -- 7:30 p.m. -- Noel Torres (Show starts at 7:30 p.m.)
https://www.facebook.com/NoelTorresMusica


Admission to these concerts is free with your paid Fair admission, which is $8 for Adults and $4 for kids 12 and under (remember, kids 5 and under are always free) at the gate entrance. Save big on your Fair admission and carnival rides now with a special, online only pre-sale starting Wednesday, March 15 at 10 a.m. Pre-sale Admission tickets will be just $6 for Adults; Season Passes are only $25 and you can visit the Fair every day if you want; and Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristbands are just $25 and are good for any one day of the Fair! Pre-sale tickets can be purchased www.MercedCountyFair.com.
Last year the Grandstand shows boosted the biggest crowds in years and part of that can be attributed to the new mix of shows such as the return of monster trucks. Merced County Fair Management expects big crowds again with this year’s great line-up. All shows begin at 7 p.m. and are $5. Children 5 years and under are free. DATE -- SHOW -- EVENT -- WEBSITE:
Wednesday, June 7 -- Auto Racing
http://www.racemerced.com
Thursday, June 8 -- WGAS Motorsports’ Monster Trucks,
Free Style Moto X & Tuff Truck Racing
https://www.wgasmotorsports.com
Friday, June 9 -- Bull Competition
http://www.goldcoastbuckingbulls.com
Saturday, June 10 -- Valley Tractor Pullers’ Tractor Pull
http://www.vtpapullers.org



MORE INFROMATION ON OUTDOOR THEATRE ARTISTS:

I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience takes the audience on a musical and visual journey into the world of the “King of Pop” featuring an incredible cast of talented musicians and Broadway and Las Vegas dancers to bring Jackson to life! These talented tribute artists sing live while mastering the intense dancing that Jackson was so famous for. It’s a show you don’t want to miss featuring hits like “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Man in the Mirror” and many more!

John Michael Montgomery’s career has spanned more than two decades, featured more than 30 top Billboard country chart singles, include seven that reached #1: "I Love the Way You Love Me," "I Swear,” "Be My Baby Tonight," "If You've Got Love," "I Can Love You Like That," "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," and "The Little Girl." Many have described his ability to connect to the audience and relate to fans as one of the many reasons he has had such a long, successful career.

Formed in 1969, WAR was one of the most popular funk groups of the '70s and also one of the most eclectic, freely melding soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae and rock influences into an effortlessly funky whole. WAR’s career spans more than four decades and hits have included: "Spill the Wine," "The World Is a Ghetto," "The Cisco Kid," "Why Can't We Be Friends?," "Low Rider," and "Summer." Over time, members of WAR have changed but the unique musical style is unwavering, consistently led by founding member Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan.

High School friends from Los Banos, Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren and Brett “Bird” Brooks first formed their country-rap group Moonshine Bandits in 1999 and later released their first album Soggy Crackerz in 2003. Formed at a time when only Bubba Sparxxx, Haystak and a few other artists were mixing country, rap, and rock – the Moonshine Bandits stood out with their unique sound, energetic show and outlaw music anthems. Their music has included collaborations across musical genres; Bubba Sparxxx on their 2006 Prohibition album, as did Danny Boone from the group Rehab. Bay area rapper, E-40, lent his skills to 2009's Divebars and Truckstops album. In 2011, Moonshine Bandits released Whiskey and Women, then in 2014, Calicountry was released and reached #22 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and then Blacked Out (2015) topped out at #13.

Regional Mexican singer and songwriter Noel Torres from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, grew up around music with his father singing at family gatherings and parties. Influenced by the music of Los Tucanes de Tijuana and Ramon Ayala, Noel Torres loved to sing romantic ballads and corridos. Torres released his first album, Al Frente y de Frente in 2011, with its single, "El Tiempo Contigo" landing on the charts. He followed quickly with a second album that year entitled Llegamos, Estamos y Seguimos. The first single, "La Guanábana," spent 20 weeks on the airplay charts and was nominated for Corrido of the Year at the 2012 Premios de la Radio awards. A second single, "Sigo Sencillo," spent almost six months on the chart. He released his third album La Estructura in 2013 and then his fourth album La Balanza in 2014, off which he earned five top singles including "Me Interestas" and "Para Que Tantos Besos.” Recent singles include "No Andan Canado Venados" and "Pensarte."

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 126 years of operation this year. More than 70,000 people from throughout Merced County and beyond attend the five-day Merced County Fair each June. Members of the Board of Directors include: President; Flip Hassett, First Vice President; Emily Haden, Second Vice President; Lori Gallo; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; Carol Sartori-Silva; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2017 Merced County Fair will run June 7 - 11. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter (@Merced_CA_Fair) and now Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

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February 15 , 2017

Annual Parent Institute Conference Aims to Empower, Educate Parents

About 600 people are expected to take part in the Parent Institute Dream Big Conference Feb. 25 at Merced’s Golden Valley High School. The fourth-annual event staged by the Merced County Office of Education and several other agencies stresses the role parents have in raising their children.
Christie Hendricks, MCOE assistant superintendent in charge of the Early Education department, said students from birth to college age are targeted at the conference.
“There’s something for everyone regardless of the age of the children,” Hendricks said. “This is an opportunity for parents to come together and learn about programs and organizations throughout the county.”
Participants from Merced, Madera, Stanislaus, Tulare and Fresno counties are expected for the event that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school, 2121 E. Childs Ave.
Rosa Barragan, MCOE program manager for resource, referral and alternative payment, said the goal is to have more than 100 exhibitors, including the Livingston Medical Group, all area high schools, UC Merced, Merced College, the county’s Human Services Agency, parenting initiatives, mental health, credit unions, law enforcement, special education and migrant education programs.
Barragan said about 25 workshops will be conducted in English, Spanish and Hmong languages. Barragan and Sol Rivas, a former Head Start assistant director and educational consultant, are co-chairmen of the event, which started out four years ago with about 400 parents participating.
All of the exhibits, events and presentations are tied to supporting families in some way, Hendricks said.
Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch of Texas, a veteran, author and motivational speaker, and university professor Dr. Francisco Reveles of Yuba City are keynote speakers for the conference.
Barragan said one of the biggest takeaways from the conference is for parents to learn about what’s available in the community and how to connect with these organizations.
“We don’t have all the answers. It’s such a great satisfaction when parents come up to you to thank you. It’s a great feeling,” Barragan said.
Hendricks said conference preparation is a yearlong planning process. She said the conference is an uplifting experience and a day where parents are empowered to get and stay engaged with their children throughout their educational careers.
She stressed how much children look up to their parents and what role models they are in their eyes. The keynote speakers will focus on adults who made a difference in their lives, she added.
Barragan said part of the conference is a strand for 13 to 17 year olds. About 40 teens are expected to participate in concurrent goal-setting activities.
Hendricks said the “dream big” theme came to pass since every parent has big dreams for their children. The conference is a reminder that no dream is too big for their children and parents should encourage their children to reach for higher aspirations.
“No one has done anything of this scale. There’s nothing else like this,” Hendricks said.
For more information about registering for the conference, call (209) 381-6793.

Merced County ROP Students Participate in Several California Competitions

Students from two Merced County high schools brought home key awards from a recent Bakersfield conference focusing on marketing and virtual enterprise business programs.
Dos Palos High School students of business teacher Jenny Hunger and Atwater High School students in Elaine Post’s Regional Occupational Program marketing class excelled at the California State Virtual Enterprise Trade Show Jan. 18-19 at the Rabobank Convention Center in downtown Bakersfield.
Nineteen of the 21 Dos Palos juniors and seniors took part in the two-day event. They placed first overall for their booth, second place for business card, sixth place for their website and eighth place for their catalog, along with honorable mentions for their marketing and sales presentations.
Fourteen sophomores through seniors from Atwater took a first place award for their prowess in a hypothetical job interview for a bank and for a payroll supervisor position.
They also received honorable mentions for a commercial for their virtual enterprise firm Green-E Apparel and for a human relations manual.
Hunger said 150 schools with 1,500 students from throughout California participated in the annual show. She said each year her students get a little better with their products and presentations. Through their “Hydrus” company, the students developed a “shower bomb” product containing corn starch, baking soda and essential oils which is activated in a shower. The students have been selling their product as a fund-raising effort.
Post said students can take her ROP marketing class each year and 10 of her students will return next year. Her students have been marketing polo shirts, T-shirts and hoodies made from recycled water bottles originally developed by a South Carolina firm.
In another competition in the Bay Area in January, two of Lisa Benson’s students in her marketing foundations community class at Merced High School qualified as overall finalists at the recent DECA Northern California District Career Development Conference in San Ramon.
Joshua Rashe was named a finalist in the principles of marketing competition and Alex Gonzales earned similar honors in the principles of business management category. About 800 Northern California high school students competed in the Jan. 13-15 competition.
Benson said DECA programs prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management areas. Eight MHS sophomores through seniors accompanied Benson to the conference. Students took part in exams and role-playing competition during the event.
Seven former DECA students accompanied students as alumni mentors. She said her students enjoyed networking with other students during the conference and speaking competitions serve to raise the students’ confidence.

 

Le Grand Restorative Justice Helps to Resolve Conflict, Create Positive Culture

Six years ago the Le Grand Union High School District started a program that has had a profound effect on the way students interact with each other and their teachers. It’s called restorative justice and other school systems want to know how it works.
Superintendent Donna Alley said before restorative justice was launched, students did not have the tools to resolve conflicts.
“The culture here is more peaceful. I would say it didn’t happen overnight,” Alley said. “This is about relationships. There are no programs that change children, but relationships do. Students thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level.”
When an incident occurs in a classroom, instead of sending the offending student to the office, he or she is sent to the “thinkery” or a place where they can reflect on what they did wrong. A meeting is set up between the student and the teacher and provides opportunities for the student to be heard by the teacher and vice-versa, Principal Javier Martinez explained.
An eight-student panel called the Restorative Justice League listens to the issues that come up and helps decide how to solve the problem, Alley said. She is encouraged by statistics recorded before and after the program was instituted in 2011.
In the 2010-2011 school year, 80 students were suspended. In the 2015-2016 school year, only two suspensions were recorded. In 2010-2011, there were eight student expulsions; five years later, there are none.
Alley said restorative justice is keeping students in school and engaged in education.
The respect between students and staff also has grown dramatically.
Educators from Utah, Arizona, Fresno, as well as Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II and representatives of the governor’s office have visited Le Grand to learn about the program. The district has 504 students from ninth through 12th grades.
Conflict resolution leader Fernando Maciel facilitates mediations between students and teachers. Martinez said what they find many times is the circumstances that prompted the classroom issue emanated from outside the school setting.
“A lot of times in school you want instant resolution,” Alley said. “That can’t happen instantly; you have to be patient. We try to resolve the issue within a 24-hour period. With student-to-student issues, we try to remediate them right away. Before restorative justice, the problem would have festered before they forgot what was going on.”
Often students say they overreacted to a situation and apologize. The students shake on it and move forward.
“We see this as a process that helps students succeed, not just in school but in life. We started a mentoring program with seniors and incoming freshmen. They meet for academic support, advice and to address social concerns,” Alley said.
Martinez puts it another way.

McSwain to Celebrate Reading is Fun Week

McSwain School students will celebrate the wonder of books Feb. 21-24 during Reading is Fun Week.
Librarian Ronda Douglas said a number of events are planned in the 17th annual observance to accentuate the importance of reading.
“Books matter; they are valuable. We’re just celebrating reading,” Douglas said. “We have seen a decline in reading. We want our students to have a balanced educational experience and reading always has first place.”
Reading is Fun Week will include community members and area educators reading to students along with the appearance of Los Angeles actor Tom Katsis, who is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. As guest presenter, Katsis will speak at three assemblies and meet with third grade students who have been reading biographies of famous people, including President Lincoln. He is expected to share his experiences researching the life of Lincoln with the students, Douglas said.
Thursday night will be Camp Read-A-Lot. The family literacy night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will include parents meeting with students and then enjoying a campfire-like experience in the West Campus Cafeteria, with storytelling and singing led by Douglas and the library staff, along with district Superintendent Helio Brasil.
Douglas said today’s students are mightily distracted with many things competing for their attention and more work is needed to get children to want to read. She said parents are encouraged to read with their children at home and the importance of reading is becoming a culture at school.
Friday’s all-school readathon is being conducted in conjunction with the McSwain Foundation. Students have garnered pledges for the number of books they have read during the day. In years past, McSwain students have raised between $10,000 and $15,000 for the foundation through their reading.
The library also is hosting a book drive. Donations of like-new or gently used picture books or early readers are being encouraged from fourth through eighth grade students who have outgrown them.

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February 14, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Earn High Honors at State Competitions

Written by: Atwater FFA

Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students filled a charter bus and joined (a record) 1300+ high school students representing nearly 100 high schools throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day on February 4th. The FFA Field Day marks the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various agriculture skill contests. In Modesto, six Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure students completed along with 30 other high school teams from as far south as San Luis Obispo to as far north as Orland at the annual Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 2nd overall with Dillon Guillen (1st overall), Kelso Kamesch (2nd overall), Jennifer Valazquez, and Luz Soto leading the team. Other contestants included Felicity Garcia, Lj Sanchez, and Vanessa Verela. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. “We have a young, enthusiastic, and dedicated team that is developing their skills for future success,” said coach and FFA advisor Dave Gossman. Kendyll Cruz (4th overall), Odalys De La Torre (8th overall), Callie Norton, Leivy Craig, Luke van Warmerdam, Jose Montanez, Joseph Hayward, and Natalie Frontella competed in the contest.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. “This contest is all about ‘hands-on’ application of skills,” said coach and FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “We look forward to the opportunity to continue developing our skills and competing against other highly skilled individuals and teams throughout the upcoming contests.” Members of the Ag Mechanics team included Daniel Mesa (2nd overall), Nathaniel Cavallero (6th overall), Joel Rojas, and Daisy Flores-Mota. Other students who competed included Justin Sorginson.


The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team placed 2nd overall with a team composed of Arely Venegas (3rd overall), Samantha Theodozio (9th overall), Ariana Freitas, and Liliana Vargas. The students competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills. Other students who competed included Jessica Prado and Marissa Nuno.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team placed 6tht overall as they demonstrated their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair. The team was composed of Zion Brigham, Ricardo Ortega, Madison Hall, and Mathew Rogers. “The opportunity for our students to be exposed to hundreds of other high school students engaged in skill application competition generated tremendous enthusiasm from the students,” said coach and FFA advisor Shelby West.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team had a partial team complete with Daryl Dorsey placing 1st high individual and Jeff Clark placing 2nd high individual overall with their teammates competing at another contest. Both students demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

Job Interview contest was led by a 9th place individual finish by Daisy Flores. The contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment. Kayla Briscoe placed 6th overall in the FFA Creed contest. Other participants included Emily Junez, Kaya Briscoe-Mattis, Ana Lozano.


Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students competed in various agriculture industry related skill-based contests among 1300+ other state-wide high school agriculture students at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day.


The Atwater High School FFA Agriculture Mechanics team comprised of (left to right) Justin Sarginson, Daniel Mesa, Daisy Flores-Mota, Joel Rojas, and Nathaniel Cavallero placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.


The Atwater High School FFA Agronomy team comprised of (left to right) Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, LJ Sanchez, Felicity Garcia, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Luz Soto placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.

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

The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed 4th in their group at the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational with a team composed of Alyssa Carrillo, Mariah Castro, Michael Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, and Mayra Edith Alvarez.

This was the first contest of the year for the FFA Career Development Events (CDE’s) throughout the state of California. The primary judging season begins March 5th at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2017 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry sectors.

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

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February 14, 2017


ACE Service Canceled Through Wednesday, February 15th

Due to persistent and developing weather factors, as well as additional unforeseen service disruptions since yesterday, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger service will be canceled through Wednesday, February 15, 2017. We will continue to provide service-related updates as information becomes available.


We are rerouting trains and diligently working to restore service to normal operations. We sincerely apologize for the disruptions and impact to our customers, commuter partners and the communities we serve.

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February 1 , 2017

MCOE, Preschool Network Host Workshop to Focus on Brain Development in Young Children

Transitional kindergarten and pre-kindergarten staff members can take part in a daylong workshop on March 25 in Madera to explore toxic stress, brain development and the importance of developing close relationships with young children.
The California Preschool Instructional Network’s social-emotional development arm from Region 7, which includes Merced County, will hear Dr. Ross A. Thompson speak at a session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Madera County Office of Education, 1105 S. Madera Ave., Madera.
The event is sponsored by the Merced County Office of Education’s Early Education office.
Dr. Thompson’s expertise focuses on early socio-emotional development in building close relationships.
His research explores the influence of relational processes on emotional growth, conscience development, emotion regulation, and self-understanding in young children. He has worked on early childhood mental health, school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention and research ethics.

 

Second, he has worked on the applications of developmental relational science to public policy problems concerning children and families, such as early childhood mental health, the constituents of school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention, and research ethics.
For more information about registration, contact Kathleen Nevatt at the Merced County Office of Education at (209) 381-6785.

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February 14, 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The latest numbers from the Homeless Count will be presented during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.

People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 14, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Introduces Service to Civilian Act

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of the Service to Civilian Act to assist retiring military servicemembers as they transition into civilian life.

“Despite having the nation’s largest veteran population, California’s policies are increasingly driving veterans out of the state,” said Gray. “Our policies are especially burdensome for newly retired, post-9/11 veterans just transitioning to civilian life.”

Unlike most other states, California provides no form of tax exemption for military retirement pay. Gray previously introduced legislation to fully exempt military retirement pay from the state income tax, but that measure stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to cost concerns.

“I continue to believe California should not balance its checkbook on the backs of veterans,” said Gray. “Military retirement pay should be fully tax exempt as it is in 20 other states. As we continue to make that case in Sacramento, the Service to Civilian Act is an important first step.”

 

The Service to Civilian Act would provide a depreciating tax exemption over the course of the first five years after a veteran retires from military service. The bill calls for 100 percent of military retirement pay to be exempt from state income tax in the first year of retirement, 80 percent the second year, 60 percent the third year, 40 percent the fourth year, and 20 percent the fifth year.

“Retiring from the service creates an incredible amount of uncertainty for military families,” continued Gray. “Newly retired veterans are less likely to have civilian employment or a place to live, and are more likely to struggle with post-traumatic stress and the lack of military structure. The Service to Civilian Act will give our veterans a running start at a time they and their families need it most.”

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February 14, 2017

Costa Statement on USDA Recommendation to Establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommendation to establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO).

“For years I have advocated and worked hard to give California dairy producers the opportunity to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order,” said Rep. Costa. “Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture released a proposal that would allow California's dairy producers to make their own determination of what is best for California’s dairy industry. Dairy producers have the opportunity to evaluate what joining the Federal Milk Marketing Order system will mean for their bottom line. I will continue working with California’s dairymen and cooperatives as they assess the USDA proposal and decide on the merits of remaining independent or joining the 10 other Federal Milk Marketing Orders around the country.”

In 2013, Rep. Costa joined in introducing the California Federal Milk


Congressman Jim Costa

Marketing Act to allow California dairy producers to decide if they want to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order. Rep. Costa advocated for the provisions in the legislation during Farm Bill negotiations, and the legislation was included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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February 11, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) between Sandy Mush Road and West Dickenson Ferry Road for road repairs due to flooding in the area. The closure is a long-term, full highway closure with no estimated time of opening.

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

DETOUR:

Southbound SR-59
• Take West Dickenson Ferry Road west to Gurr Road;
• Turn left and take Gurr Road south to West Sandy Mush Road;
• Turn left take West Sandy Mush Road east towards SR-59.
Westbound SR-59
• Take West Sandy Mush Road west towards Gurr Road;
• Turn right and take Gurr Road north towards West Dickenson Ferry Road;
• Turn right and take West Dickenson Ferry Road to SR-59.

This work is ongoing and is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

Work will be ongoing in this area through the end of March (weather permitting).

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM CAMPBELL STREET TO FOWLER AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 165 (SR-165) from Campbell Street (south of Hilmar) to Fowler Avenue. Work will occur as follows:
• The right shoulder on northbound SR-165 at Campbell Street will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.;

• The northbound and southbound lanes on SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will alternately close with one-way traffic control on Monday, February 13, 2017, from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m.;

• The right shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD TO
STATE ROUTE 120 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from Bear Valley Road to SR-120 for drainage work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT EL PORTAL ROAD NEAR YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 at El Portal Road near Yosemite National Park for utility work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree workCrews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


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

 

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February 11, 2017

Merced County Office of Education Announces Speech Festival Winners

The Merced County Office of Education announced the winners of the Merced County Speech Festival at an awards ceremony Feb. 8.
The competition was held in late January for fourth- through eighth-grade students and 23 schools from 11 school districts in Merced County participated in the event with 175 students competing.
Awards for the top three students in each grade and honorable mentions were presented at the Clark and Newbold Rooms at MCOE.
This year, speeches for the festival were an open platform. Students gave speeches about any subject using selected categories from the Writing Festival. The speech selections were: Persuasive, Tall Tale, Legend, Fable or a Report of Information.
Students stood in front of the audience and a panel of three judges — some memorized their speeches, some used props and others had vivid gesturing and staging.
First place winners were invited to give their award winning speeches at the awards reception.

Click here to see:

2017 Merced County Speech Festival Winners

 


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION



Winners from the 2017 Merced County Speech Festival pose for a photo with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson and MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia.


Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District winners pose with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson.


McSwain 6th grader Leah Chapman won first place for her speech about Chinese New Year.

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February 11, 2017

WAHNETTA HALL TRUST FUND APPLICATIONS DUE

The Wahnetta Hall Trust Fund was established in 1995. The Trust provisions require that the City of Merced use a specific portion of the trust for an endowment fund with income being used to establish and maintain a mini-train system and/or a band concert program in Applegate Park.
The Merced City Council annually disburses these funds to organizations that meet eligibility criteria and can perform the services as described in the Trust. This year there is $1,200 available for distribution. Past recipients have included the Kiwanis Club of Greater Merced for the mini-train operation, as well as the Merced County


Regional Arts Council, Merced Symphony Association, and Merced Community Band for band concerts at the Merced Open Air Theater in Applegate Park.
The application deadline for 2017 funding is March 17, 2017. Non-profit organizations interested in applying for funding should submit their letters of request to Mike Conway, Director, Office of Recreation, 678 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340. Please call 385-6298 for additional information on eligibility criteria and application requirements.

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February 11, 2017

COURT ISSUES FINAL JUDGEMENT AND INJUNCTION
IN SIESTA MOTAL PROSTITUTION ABATEMENT CASE

Merced County Superior Court Judge Brian McCabe issued a Permanent Injunction this week against the Siesta Motel, its owners and operators and ordered that they abate any illegal activities occurring on the premises, including any and all prostitution related activity.

The Motel has been on police radar over the last few years for being a place where prostitution, assaults, robberies, and drug-related activities take place, resulting in the Merced Police Department completing over 100 police reports from crimes that occurred on the Property from 2011-2014, said Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall.

“Crimes like prostitution, and drug dealing are quality of life offenses that can destroy neighborhoods and make it more difficult for neighboring businesses to succeed, said District Attorney Larry Morse II. We appreciate the focus Chief Andrade and his officers have brought to these urban flight offenses and we will continue to work with the City of Merced and the Merced Police Department to prosecute those who profit from prostitution and drug dealing, Morse added.”

The injunction will require numerous improvements to the property to address public safety and security, and to prevent prostitution and sex trafficking at this location Wall said. The motel owners will be

 

required to maintain a high resolution camera security system with remote access by the Merced Police Department and allow them unrestricted access to the property for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this injunction he added.

According to Wall, the injunction requires the Defendants to maintain an on-site manager at all times, to allow no loitering, for each resident guest to be identified upon entry onto the property, for towing of all unauthorized vehicles, for arrests of trespassers, record retention and access, no rentals for periods of less than 12 hours, termination of unit rentals for illegal activity, an agreed “do not rent” list, ample and abundant high intensity lighting, and costs to the City Police of $5,345 for investigation and remediation of the nuisance conditions on the property.

The judgements this week confirm several years of legal efforts in this case, and since the filing, the incidents of prostitution and related crimes have greatly diminished at the Motel, said Wall.

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February 10, 2017

Date Set for Bike Park Community Design Meeting

The City of Merced is interested in adding a unique bike park in Fahren’s Park that will appeal to people of all ages and abilities from Merced and regionally. A community design meeting will be held on Thursday, March 2, from 6-8PM at the Civic Center, 678 W. 18th Street to gather input from the community on the design. Bike riders of all ages and abilities are encouraged to attend.


For more information call
Parks and Recreation at 385-6235.

Click here to see flyer

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February 9, 2017


A CREDIT SCAM HAS MADE ITS WAY
TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY

Following the recent arrest of two women who tried to use bogus paystubs to gain “pre-approval” for financing at a car dealership, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office is advising local businesses to be extra vigilant in processing credit applications.

The first woman to try using the fraudulent paystubs was successful in gaining “pre-approval” for a car and was able drive it off of the lot, said Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby. The financing company did decline the application due to the documents being fraudulent, but only after she made off with the car. The second woman was denied credit by the finance manager after he recognized the paystub and knew it was also fraudulent.

The paystubs were created on a website called calistubs.com and will often bear a watermark with the web address, as pictured below. The website allows users to create a paystub in a matter of seconds that may look genuine and print out the same, said Colby. Verifying employment information on a paystub prior to releasing vehicles or merchandise on a credit approval is one way to help protect yourself against fraud, he added.

If you have been a victim of this scam you can contact Anna Hazel, an investigator from Merced District Attorney’s Office at (209) 385-7381 ext. 4256.


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February 9, 2017

Costa Continues to Serve on House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) announced that in the 115th Congress, he will continue to serve on the U.S. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees.

Rep. Costa will maintain his position as the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. The subcommittee oversees livestock, dairy, and poultry issues along with foreign agriculture assistance and trade promotion programs. Costa will also serve on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, Research that oversees specialty crops, plant pests and diseases, research, and education.

Costa will continue to serve on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans and Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Water, Power, and Oceans is responsible for the nation’s water resources, interstate water, and ocean issues. The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee oversees energy production and mining on federal lands, both on and off-shore.

“In order to maintain and grow our San Joaquin Valley economy, we must have a secure water supply and a thriving agriculture industry,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “As a member of both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, I have the distinct opportunity to advocate for many policies that impact our Valley, like working to ensure a reliable water supply and supporting the San Joaquin Valley


Congressman Jim Costa

farmers who produce the highest quality food and fiber for the world. Additionally, I will be a leader in negotiating the 2018 Farm Bill, which will not only have a direct effect on farming, ranching, and dairy operations, but also on funding for nutrition assistance, conservation, and rural development programs.”

Rep. Costa has served on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees since he took office in 2005. As a third-generation farmer who was raised on a dairy farm in the San Joaquin Valley, Costa advocates for policies in both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees that ensure the future economic viability of the Valley.

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February 8, 2017

Costa Says Attacks against High-Speed Rail are Political and False

Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to a letter sent to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao from the California Republican delegation regarding high-speed rail.

“California is leading our nation in investments to improve our transportation infrastructure with the construction of high-speed rail. In 2015, the high-speed rail groundbreaking took place in my district, and two years later, over 119 miles are now under construction. As a direct result, the San Joaquin Valley’s economy has experienced increased job creation and business growth.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues in California are continuing their political attacks on the High Speed Rail Authority in a public letter to Secretary Chao, and the notion that funding for High Speed Rail is a waste of federal tax payer dollars is simply false. The dollar expenditures that are used to back their claims are simply inaccurate.

“The positive impacts of High Speed Rail construction can be seen in the Central Valley and throughout California. We can and we must


Congressman Jim Costa


·improve our state’s transportation systems and high-speed rail will provide easy connectivity through California, providing a state-of-the-art transit system across the state, from Los Angeles to San Diego and further north to San Francisco and Sacramento.”

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February 7, 2017

DANGEROUS COCKROACH POWDER SOLD AT
LOS BANOS FLEA MARKET

An illegal cockroach powder that has been sold recently at the Merced Spring Flea Market is not safe for humans or animals and should not be used in the home, District Attorney Larry Morse II announced today. The Merced District Attorney’s Office became aware of this potential health hazard after a woman came forward and said that she had purchased the powder at the Flea Market.

The powder was advertised on Face book, in a Spanish magazine, as well as on business cards that were left on doorsteps, with the names “El Mejor Remedio” or “El Mejor Polvo.” The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office has arrested Julio Pino Reyes for making, advertising and selling the powder.

If you did purchase and use this product keep it in a dry location and away from other materials Morse advised. Sean Runyon from the Merced County Department of Agriculture recommends that if you have already applied the powder inside of your home, to contact your local fire department and they can then evaluate the safety of the home. Seek medical attention if you are suffering any pesticide related symptoms, and do not throw this product away in your trashcan or put it down the sink.

You can bring it to either of these locations at no charge: Highway 59 Landfill at 7040 N. State Highway 59, Merced, CA 95348 Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or to the Los Banos Spring Cleanup/Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday April 8th only, from 7:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. at the Los Banos Spring Fair Parking Lot. If you have any additional questions, you may contact Jennifer Halpin with the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 24.

 

 

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February 7, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by: Atwater FFA

Ten Atwater FFA Students earned honors at the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition Banquet held at the Merced County Fairgrounds last week. 93 FFA students throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties were recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. A SAE program is the actual, hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural classroom. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers, and other adults who assist them in development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

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

The participants and results of Atwater FFA students were as follows: Audrey Esau (Silver), Austin Burris (Gold), Callie Norton (Gold), Colby Flatt (Gold), Courtney Creighton (Gold), Daniel Mesa (Gold and Merit Award), Katelyn Baptista (Gold), Kaya Briscoe-Mattis (Gold), Stephania Valdovinos (Gold), Zion Brigham (Gold). In addition of the results, $750 scholarships where were given out to the most deserving seniors who had competed for three or more years. Austin Burris receive a “Judges Selection” scholarship for his rabbit project, and Courtney Creighton received the Migliazzo & Sons Dairy scholarship for her poultry SAE.

The students plan to attend Merced College, Modesto Junior College, Fresno State University, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, UC Davis, and Chico State University to pursue careers associated with their SAE.


 

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


Ten Atwater High School agriculture students along with the Atwater High School agriculture staff joined twelve other county high schools and students for the annual FFA Project Competition Banquet where students were recognized for their agriculture related projects.


Atwater High School agriculture student Zion Brigham receives recognition for his FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) sheep project from Merced County representative and community member Jim Cunningham.


Atwater High School agriculture student Daniel Mesa receives recognition for his FFA FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) ag mechanics project from Merced County representative and community member Jerry O'Banion.

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February 7 , 2017

Merced High Wins 9th Consecutive Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 11 Merced County high schools converged at Merced College on Feb. 4 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon, and for the ninth consecutive year, Merced High School took top honors.
The 36th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science. This year’s theme was World War II.
High schools that participated this year are: Atwater, Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Los Banos, Merced, Merced Scholars Charter, Valley Community School – Atwater and Valley Community School – Los Banos.
Merced High was the highest scoring team for the Super Quiz and team member Steven Yeung was the top-scoring student at the event.
Merced High will go on to represent Merced County in March, 2017, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are the Community Foundation of Merced County, Merced College, Educational Employees Credit Union, Mani Nallasivan, M.D. – Merced Vein & Vascular Center and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,500 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.
Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.
Attached is the complete list of awards for all categories.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.

 



Merced High School earned the top spot for the ninth year in a row at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.


Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union scholarship awardees pose with representatives from the credit union after the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M Tietjen hosts the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced High student John Richey takes the music test at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.

 

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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February 7 , 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Overhaul of State Water Management

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 313, to overhaul California’s water management structure.

“Water management at the state level is broken,” said Gray. “Anyone who has tried to work with the state on water knows that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, conflicts of interest are the norm, and state agencies act as their own prosecution, judge, and jury. The net effect is an ineffective bureaucratic maze which leaves us unable to capitalize on vital opportunities and prioritizes special interests working behind the scenes over good public policy.”

AB 313 proposes to restructure the administration and enforcement of water rights and the State Water Project. Authority and enforcement over water rights would be moved from the State Water Resources Control Board and housed under the Department of Water Resources (DWR) with enforcement proceedings conducted separately by the Office of Administrative Hearings. DWR’s current authority and water rights underlying the State Water Project would be transferred to a new State Water Project Authority to eliminate the conflict of DWR both administering and enforcing water rights while simultaneously possessing water rights of its own.

“The way the state enforces water rights is like letting a pitcher call his own strikes and balls,” continued Gray. “The State Water Board writes the regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and put folks on trial in a court they run themselves. Where is the umpire? Where are the checks and balances?”
California’s water management structure has gone largely unchanged since the current model was adopted in 1969. Emphasizing the need to tackle the issue now, Gray cited a 2010 report from the Little Hoover Commission, titled Managing for Change: Modernizing California’s Water Governance, which urged the Governor and the Legislature to modernize and restructure this antiquated system to improve transparency, oversight, and accountability.

“These changes have been a long time coming,” said Gray. “California has failed to manage and plan for the future, because responsibilities are dispersed throughout different departments of government and no one talks to each other. To meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and an ever expanding economy, we need to integrate water governance in a way that allows progress instead of gridlock.”

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February 7 , 2017

Three railroad crossings closing for repairs in the City

Three crossings of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad will close so that the company can repair the tracks. The BNSF line is the northern train line through town closest to Bear Creek.

The railroad will be cleaning the tracks, installing new ballast rock and then stabilizing the track to prevent any alignment or surface deviations. The work will allow the trains to travel safely at maximum speeds through town.

The R Street crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 10 through 2 p.m. Feb. 17.


The Glen Avenue crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 13 through 2 p.m. Feb. 20.
The Tower Road crossing, near Highway 140, will close starting at noon Feb. 15 through noon Feb. 22.

Detour signs will be posts at the crossings to guide drivers. Please drive carefully, especially around Glen Avenue because of the schools impacted by the RR crossing closure.

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February 4 , 2017

Special district elections, bridge contract on
Council agenda

A public hearing on proposed maintenance district increases and the awarding of a contract for bridge repairs are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St.

Property owners are voting on fee increases in three maintenance districts: Oakmont No. 3, Campus North, and Mansionette. During the public hearing Monday night, people can comment on the proposed increases.

The increases are to cover the increased costs of providing services for the three districts. The ballots are due by Feb. 6 and the results of the election will be announced at the Feb. 21 Council meeting.

Council is being asked to award a contract to Viking Construction Company of Rancho Cordova for $2,716,573 for the repair of the G and M Street bridges. The other bidder on the project was Myers & Sons Construction of Sacramento.The work to be done will include rehabilitation of the M and G Street bridge structures, creek channel, and roadways to fix deteriorated


conditions and add upgrades to comply with new standards. There will be some traffic disruptions during the construction work.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss anticipated litigation and the performance evaluations of the city manager and the finance director.

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

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

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February 4, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND MISSION AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound onramp to State Route 99 at Mission Avenue for landscape work.

Crews will work on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MOOMJEAN AVENUE TO DELL STREET IN MERCED

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 6, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MARTIN ROAD TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work.

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 6, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LONG-TERM CLOSURE OF ETCHEVERRY ROAD UNDERCROSSING
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will have a long-term closure of the Etcheverry Road Undercrossing at Interstate 5 (I-5), three miles north of Canyon Road, for bridge maintenance.
The closure is scheduled to remain in effect from Tuesday, January 31 through Friday, March 31, 2017.
Motorists that require access across I-5 are advised that the Billy Wright Road Undercrossing to the north and Volta Road Undercrossing to the south, will not be impacted by the operation.
#
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 AT STATE ROUTE 152 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps at the State Route 152/State Route 33 interchange for shoulder work. Closures will occur as follows:

• The southbound on-ramp from State Route 33 (SR-33) to SR-152 will be closed on Monday, February 6, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for shoulder work;

• The westbound off and on-ramps from State Route 152 (SR-152) to SR-33 will be closed from Tuesday, February 7, 2017, through Wednesday, February 8, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. or shoulder work.

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

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

 

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

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February 4 , 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The results of the January Homeless Count will be released during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.
People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 3 , 2017

Elementary Students Participate in Signing Day

High school athletes aren’t the only ones making commitments as part of National Signing Day 2017. Hundreds of elementary students in the Merced City School District signed their names on posters and banners this week as a symbol of their commitment to education.

At Gracey Elementary, staff members called out the name of each student who signed on Wednesday, and their classmates clapped and cheered for them. UC Merced students were also on hand to offer materials about the university and a little extra inspiration. They asked the children what they want to be when they grow up and spoke about how education can help unlock those opportunities. The Signing Day event was an extension of an assembly Gracey held on Monday, which focused on higher education.

At Reyes Elementary, students enjoyed a similar event on Thursday. They were invited to sign their names on large banners featuring motivational phrases, which were displayed in the multi-purpose room. The students and staff members were also encouraged to wear clothes representing their favorite college or university, and they took part in a door decorating contest to show their spirit as well. Staff members also made special announcements throughout the week and showed video clips highlighting college and career readiness.

Administrators say it’s important to get children thinking about their futures at an early age so they will embrace the idea of continuing their education in order to achieve their goals and dreams.


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary

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February 3 , 2017

 

Three Town Hall meetings set

The Merced City Council invites residents to attend their neighborhood Town Hall meeting this month. Three meetings have been set up so that the public can let the Council know what issues they are facing.
Comments and ideas help the City Council and staff prepare the annual budget and address issues in their neighborhoods.
The meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m. The meetings are:


North Merced — Feb. 8, Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr.
Central Merced — Feb. 16, Merced MultiCultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.
South Merced — Feb. 23, Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. 8th St.

The wrong date for the Tenaya Town Hall meeting was listed in the City newsletter.

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February 3 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE FOUNDATION TO HOST
2017 STATE OF THE COLLEGE LUNCHEON

The 5th annual State of the College Address and Presentation of the President’s Medallion, sponsored by the Merced College Foundation, is scheduled for Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held at the College’s gynasium.
This year, Merced College will honor Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center in recognition of its support of the College’s nursing and scholarship programs.
Individual tickets to the catered lunch are $50. Table sponsorships for eight guests are $500, and corporate sponsorships are $1,000 for a table of eight. Table sponsors receive recognition during the event and added benefits are provided to corporate sponsors
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or online the PayPal at www.mercedcollegefoundation.org.
For more information, or to reserve your table, contact the Merced College Foundation.

 

 

 

FOLLOW MERCED COLLEGE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. AND NOW, YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR PODCASTS AT www.mcpod.podbean.com.

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February 1 , 2017

Students Learn about Mosquitoes and Safety Measures

Students at Peterson Elementary School in Merced enjoyed a special science lesson Tuesday morning. Representatives from the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District visited three classrooms to teach third graders all about mosquitoes. They spoke about the diseases the insects can spread, their life cycle, and how our immune systems respond to being bitten.

Students had a chance to see one of the pests under a microscope and to examine samples of their egg rafts, larvae, and pupae. The presentation also included an animated movie with facts about mosquitoes in the Central Valley, along with a booklet full of puzzles and other games related to the lesson.

One of the goals of this ongoing educational program is to spread awareness about the importance of removing standing water around homes to keep insects from laying eggs in those areas. Biologist Jason Bakken is one of the presenters who travels to schools across the county. He says, “Backyards are the most difficult areas for us to reach. We hope by educating the students, they will share that message with their families to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

The Merced County Mosquito Abatement District has been collaborating with school districts throughout this area since 1992. Staff members expect to reach their 100,000th student later this year.


The view from a camera looking through a microscope lens at a mosquito slide


Merced County Mosquito Abatement District biologist Jason Bakken speaking to third grade students at Peterson Elementary


Peterson Elementary third graders looking at samples of mosquito egg rafts, larvae, and pupae


A Peterson Elementary third grader looking through a microscope at a mosquito slide

 

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

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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