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March 22 , 2019

CTC Approves More Than $90 Million for SB 1 Projects to Improve the State Highways and Reduce Congestion

SACRAMENTO – Caltrans announced today the California Transportation Commission allocated $758.1 million for 91 State Highway Operation and Protection Program projects throughout California, including $90.4 million for 26 fix-it-first projects funded by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This funding allows crews to improve 21 bridges and more than 189 lane miles of pavement, upgrade 292 congestion reducing
devices, and repair or replace 81 culverts to prevent flooding on highways.
“While we are thankful for the rain, our crews worked around the clock this winter responding to the harsh weather conditions that took a toll on our roadways and culverts,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “The funds from SB 1 allow us now to proactively maintain our bridges, repair our roadways, and ensure our drainage systems can handle the winters ahead.”
Area state highway projects allocated SB 1 funds include:
• Transportation Management Systems Project in Merced, San Joaquin and
Stanislaus Counties: This estimated $11.6 million project will upgrade and replace traffic monitoring station elements in three counties: Interstate 5 (I-5), State Route 59 (SR-59), SR-99 and SR-152 in Merced County, and I-5 and SR-99 in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. These traffic monitoring elements can include traffic signals, ramp meters, changeable message signs, roadway weather information and vehicle detection that improve the safety and efficiency of the roadway for motorists. The project was allocated approximately $2.2 million.
• Bridge Replacement and Upgrade Project in Alpine County: This estimated $9.3 million project will replace and upgrade bridge rails at the Silver Creek Bridge on SR-4, the West Fork Carson River Bridge on SR-88 and the Markleeville Creek Bridge on SR- 89. The project was allocated approximately $1.9 million.
• Bridge Rehabilitation Project on State Route 99 in Stockton: This estimated $2.7 million project will rehabilitate and improve the structure and increase the vertical clearance of the bridge on the SR-99 overcrossing at Wilson Way in the City of Stockton in San Joaquin County. The project was allocated approximately $2.2 million.
• Drainage Project Along State Route 41 in Mariposa County: This estimated $4.3 million project will repair or replace culverts (underground drainage systems) in 19 locations on SR-41 from the town of Fish Camp to south of the Yosemite National Park boundary. The project was allocated approximately $3 million.
The CTC also approved more than $5.1 million of SB 1 funding for the Local Partnership Program (LPP) to help match investments that local communities have made in their region through voter-approved transportation tax measures. In addition, the CTC approved an allocation of more than $28.1 million for 20 locally administered Active Transportation Program projects, which range from improving sidewalks and bicycle lanes to creating safer routes to school for children who ride their bicycles or walk to school. Of those, seven projects are SB 1 funded for $14.8 million.
Since SB 1 was signed into law in April 2017, Caltrans has repaired or replaced 89 bridges and paved more than 1,300 lane miles of the state highway system.
For a complete list of the ATP, LPP, and State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects allocated funds, among other items from the March meeting visit:
http://catc.ca.gov/meetings/2019/2019-03/Yellows/Revised_Complete_Meeting_Book(1059).pdf
SHOPP is the state highway system’s "fix-it-first" program that funds safety improvements, emergency repairs, highway preservation and operational highway upgrades. A significant portion of the funding for this program comes from SB 1.
SB 1 invests approximately $5.4 billion per year to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California as well as strategically investing in transit. These funds are split equally between state and local projects and will allow Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts on the state highway system by 2027.
More information and updates on these and other projects can be found on Caltrans’ social media channels: http://www.dot.ca.gov/paffairs/social-media.html. Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM WAINWRIGHT ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY
TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY
MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Wainwright Road to Yosemite National Park for various road construction and maintenance activities.
Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on eastbound and westbound SR-140:
• Wainwright Road to Edminster Road on Monday, March 25, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.
• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, March 25, 2019, through Friday, March 29, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.
• Hayden Road to Cunningham Road east of Planada beginning Tuesday, March 26, 2019, through Wednesday, March 27, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.
• Old Highway Road to Mt. Bullion Cutoff Road west of Mariposa beginning Monday, March 25, 2019, through Wednesday, March 27, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.
• Feliciana Creek (approximately 15 miles west of the Yosemite entrance) to Yosemite National Park beginning Monday, March 25, 2019, through Friday, March 29, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.
Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Feliciana Creek to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations.
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 CONNECTOR RAMP CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY
MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform
connector ramp closures and bridge work on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) at State Route 140 (SR-140). Work will occur as follows:
• Full off-ramp closure from northbound I-5 to SR-140 beginning Monday, March 25, 2019, through Friday, March 29, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
• Full on-ramp closure from SR-140 to southbound I-5 beginning Monday, March 25, 2019, through Friday, March 29, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 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.

 


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

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March 21 , 2019

Hoover Students Recognized for Spreading Kindness

Student leaders from Hoover Middle School are being recognized as Hello Humankindness Student Ambassadors through a partnership with the Merced City School District and Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center.
They were nominated for spreading kindness in the community by visiting senior citizens at the Park Merced assisted living facility. The trips began as a way to spend time with a former staff member, Jim Eppler. Mr. Eppler has been a beloved member of the MCSD family for nearly 50 years. He served in many roles during that time, including teacher, coach, and administrator.
Hoover Principal Julie Rivard says, “He just always gives. He’s always been there. He gives of his time freely. It’s all about kids for him. He wants kids to succeed and to help people however he can.”
Even after he retired in 2003, Mr. Eppler soon returned to Hoover as a volunteer, and his friendly face was a fixture in the front office.
Eighth grader Cooper Hansen explains, “Mr. Eppler would always be there at his desk, smiling and welcoming people who came in.”
Mr. Eppler also took time to listen to students and help them through hard times, but last year health issues required him to step away from the campus. So this year, Hoover leadership students and those in the “Where Everybody Belongs” (WEB) program began volunteering to go with Principal Rivard and Learning Director Jennifer Ferreria to visit Mr. Eppler and his new friends at Park Merced every other Tuesday. The students play games and share stories with the residents.
Eighth grader Evan Stewart says, “When I see the reaction, it just fills me up with joy and makes me happy, and I just wish there was more of that in the world.”
It’s a heartwarming experience for everyone involved, including Mr. Eppler. He says, “I get really emotional. There’s lots of love both ways, both ways.”
The Hello Humankindness Student Ambassador program began in 2018 and recognizes one or more MCSD students each month for spreading kindness in their schools and community. It supports the district’s mission to ensure that students not only excel academically, but also build character and become productive members of our community. It also supports the Dignity Health belief that humankindness holds the power to heal.


Hoover Humankindness Students with Mr. Eppler




Hoover Humankindness Volunteers


Hoover Humankindess Student Playing Games with Resident


Hoover Humankindness Students with Mr. Eppler Candid

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March 20, 2019


MERCED BUS SERVICE CHANGES DUE TO CONSTRUCTION

MERCED– The Bus will implement service changes on a popular line in Merced next week. The M1 will alter its usual route between stop two at the EDD office and stop three on the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and North Highway 59 to avoid construction scheduled on the railroad tracks at Highway 59. Passengers who usually board The Bus on Highway 59 between West 16th Street and Olive Avenue will be able to access buses on R Street between 20th Street and Olive Avenue or on Olive Avenue between R Street and North Highway 59. This temporary detour will be in place from March 24th through March 29th.

All route changes can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com or by downloading ‘The Bus Live’ app on your smart phone for free. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible. Seniors, Veterans and ADA eligible passengers can ride all fixed route service for free with qualifying identification. Those wishing to see if they are eligible for the free fare should contact The Bus office to learn more.

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 20, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Earns Honors at Agriculture Skills Competition

Written by:Atwater FFA

Twenty-five Atwater High School FFA members joined over 1400 registered agriculture high school students throughout California at the annual Merced College FFA Field Day on March 16th. Atwater FFA’s Job Interview team lead the school with a 3rd place finish along with strong showings from the Land and Soil Evaluation, Agriculture Mechanics, Milk Quality and Dairy Foods, and Vegetable Crops teams.

“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.”

Atwater High School agriculture program senior Anessa Cardenas placed 3rd overall individually along with her teammates Emmanuel Mejia, Daniel Lopez, and Michael Bray to place 3rd overall as a team in the Job Interview contest which involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team placed 6th overall and was comprised of Anthony Hernandez, Faith Johnson, Logan Hazel, Valerie Carlos, Alyssa Carrillo, Jillian Stewart, and Nandani Patel. 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 FFA Land and Soil Evaluation team placed 7th overall with a team that included Estrella Venancio, Kelly Alcaraz, Sabrina Lopez, and Viviana Cebrero. 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 Ag Mechanics team of Daisy Flores-Mota, Everett Hill, Jose Ruiz, Junabel Perez, Marie Corado, and Thomas Gardner placed 12th 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.


Twenty-five Atwater High School agriculture students representing six FFA Career Development Event (CDE) events and industry-based skill competitions joined over 1300 other high school students at Merced College this past weekend.

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The Atwater FFA Small Engines team of Jonathan Velazquez, Jose Vazquez, and Eduardo Torres had a strong showing 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 Vegetable Crops team comprised of Supreet Gandhok and Eduardo Torres had a strong showing in a contest designated to create interest and promote understanding in the vegetable crop industry by providing opportunities for recognition through the demonstration of skills and proficiencies.

The next FFA Field Day competition is on Saturday, March 23rd 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 the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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March 20, 2019

Weaver Set to Begin Bid Process for Updates to Childs Avenue Campus

Within 30 days, Weaver Union School District trustees will go out to bid on a $14 million building project that will dramatically change the face of the Childs Avenue campus.
Weaver Superintendent John Curry said the project includes 12 new classrooms and a new main office, along with modernization of the multipurpose room-gymnasium.
One of the most exciting aspects, he added, is the construction of a new courtyard which will allow graduation ceremonies to be held on campus. Also coming is a new district office to replace the original 1949 structure which is being torn down.
By the end of March or early April bids will be solicited for the project.
“It just needs renovating,” Curry said. “Weaver Middle School is the flagship of the district; it's the last school students will attend in our district. We want them to have pride in their school and for it to be a positive experience.”
If the stars line up, Curry said, the new district office will be done this December and the other construction by July 2020.
“It will be very busy,” Curry chuckled.
Weaver Middle School houses 930 sixth through eighth-grade students. Parts of Weaver Middle School date back to 1949.
Passage of the Measure G general obligation bond by voters in 2012 provided $9 million for the construction and trustees have been setting aside General Fund dollars to make up the extra $5 million for five years.
New buildings facing Childs Avenue and Coffee Road will be known as the grand entrance and help the Weaver community identify where the front of the school is and will help with security on campus. The complex will be gated all the way around, according to Curry.


The good news is there won't be much interim housing of students while construction is underway. Portables will remain until construction is finished.
Initial thoughts were to construct a new district office at Farmdale School but architects' estimates showed this would cost an additional $3.5 million.Trustees ultimately purchased a medical office complex at 1240 D St., near East 13th Street. It will be 2.7 miles from the existing campus.
The 5,000-square-foot office was purchased for $575,000 and the building will house the 14 district staff members, including the superintendent, assistant superintendent, human resources and business personnel.
BCA Architects of San Jose prepared drawings for the new complexes, which were approved by the Department of State Architect in Sacramento.
Weaver Middle School graduations have been held at Farmdale Elementary School since it was built 19 years ago. The new courtyard will be very similar to one at Golden Valley High School down the road on Childs Avenue. It will be located behind the classrooms and the new front office, with seating for 1,500 people.
“It has got some good curb appeal,” Curry said.

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March 19, 2019

 

Billy Alcorn named Merced Fire Chief

Billy Alcorn started as a firefighter in the Merced Fire Department and rose through the ranks to become the department’s Fire Chief.
Alcorn was named chief by City Manager Steve Carrigan and assumes the position March 25. Alcorn had been serving as the Acting Fire Chief since November.
“Chief Alcorn is an exceptional candidate who is well-qualified,” said Carrigan. “He knows the needs of the City and the needs of the Department.”
“The Chief has a range of experience and education that makes him exceptionally suited for the job. The residents of Merced should feel safe and secure knowing that we have him leading the Department,” the City Manager said.
The City conducted a national search for the fire chief that produced candidates from across the country.
“It’s an honor to work in the Fire Department that serves the community where I was born and raised. Having the opportunity to serve as Fire Chief is a great privilege,” said Alcorn.
“This is a great department with a very strong organizational foundation. As a team, the City of Merced Fire Department will continue to create innovative and efficient ways to maintain and improve our ability to be a leader in the fire service,” Alcorn said.
Alcorn, 35, started at the City in 2004 as a firefighter, serving as a fire engineer, fire captain, and battalion chief, before becoming the Deputy Fire Chief in 2015. He has served in major fire incidents throughout the state – including the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa -- as strike team leader, division and group team leader and safety officer.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration, graduating magna cum laude from Cogswell Polytechnical College. Alcorn is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.
Alcorn became a Confined Space Awareness Instructor, brought the department’s Confined Space Program into full compliance and obtained 100 percent certification for all of the department.
He created a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) partnership that enabled emergency responders to have accurate details on the locations of all fire hydrants, essential to quickly extinguishing fires. He has served as the department’s Public Information Officer, improving communications with the community.
The department’s training program has been coordinated under Alcorn, who collaborated with Merced County and other agencies for technical rescue exercises and to bring in training classes to improve the staff’s capabilities.
Alcorn planned for the purchase of new fire engines and a ladder truck, the training for the ladder truck, which saw the entire department trained in how to operate it.


Fire Chief Billy Alcorn

Alcorn was named the Department’s Firefighter of the Year and the North Merced Rotary Club’s Firefighter of the Year in 2009.
Alcorn and his wife, Holly, have 3 children, ranging in age from grade school to high school.
In his spare time, he coaches youth sports, enjoys camping and the outdoors with his family and spending time at the gym.
The position pays $150,444.

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March 19 , 2019

 

Local FFA Speaking Students Qualify for State Championship

Written by:Atwater FFA


Three local agriculture students from Atwater High School qualified for the 2019 California State FFA Public Speaking Finals during the FFA Central Region Speaking Finals held at Modesto Junior College on February 15th. Various sectional FFA finalists representing 77 high schools between Sacramento and Merced competed with the top four in each speaking contest qualifying for the FFA state championship in Anaheim, California next month.

Atwater High School senior Anessa Cardenas placed 3rd overall in the in Job Interview contest. The Job Interview contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.

Atwater High School senior Alyssa Carrillo placed 3rd overall in the Prepared Speaking contest. Student speeches covered topics that included gene editing, farm security, and food security within the agriculture industry. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 minute speech on an agriculture related topic/issue, a written manuscript which is scored, and a question and answer period between the contestant and judges following the speech.

Atwater High School sophomore Emma Garcia placed 3rd overall in FFA Impromptu Speaking contest. The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion. Atwater High School student Daniel Lopez also competed as a sectional finalist.

Atwater High School freshman Tristan Cardey competed at the regional finals as a sectional finalist. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner. Members boost their self- confidence and earn recognition.

Over 23,000 agriculture students represent the FFA’s Central Region in California. “Some of the best high school speakers come from the central valley of California,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. “It’s one of the most competitive regions in the state and our community should take pride in the efforts of our students.”

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

Three local agriculture students from Atwater High School qualified for the 2019 California State FFA Public Speaking Finals during the FFA Central Region Speaking Finals held at Modesto Junior College on February 15th. Various sectional FFA finalists representing 77 high schools between Sacramento and Merced competed with the top four in each speaking


Atwater High School agriculture students Anessa Cardenas, Alyssa Carrillo, and Emma Garcia qualified for the FFA state speaking championships next month in Anaheim, California with their FFA Central Region speaking competition placings this past week.

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contest qualifying for the FFA state championship in Anaheim, California next month.

Atwater High School senior Anessa Cardenas placed 3rd overall in the in Job Interview contest. The Job Interview contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment.

Atwater High School senior Alyssa Carrillo placed 3rd overall in the Prepared Speaking contest. Student speeches covered topics that included gene editing, farm security, and food security within the agriculture industry. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 minute speech on an agriculture related topic/issue, a written manuscript which is scored, and a question and answer period between the contestant and judges following the speech.

Atwater High School sophomore Emma Garcia placed 3rd overall in FFA Impromptu Speaking contest. The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion. Atwater High School student Daniel Lopez also competed as a sectional finalist.

Atwater High School freshman Tristan Cardey competed at the regional finals as a sectional finalist. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner. Members boost their self- confidence and earn recognition.

Over 23,000 agriculture students represent the FFA’s Central Region in California. “Some of the best high school speakers come from the central valley of California,” said FFA advisor Kim Macintosh. “It’s one of the most competitive regions in the state and our community should take pride in the efforts of our students.”

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

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March 16, 2019

Apartment project, goals and priorities on agenda

The City Council will hold a public hearing on an apartment project and finish setting the Council’s goals and priorities at its Monday night meeting.

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

There will be a public hearing on an apartment project located on 10.73 acres of land at San Augustine Avenue at Pacific Drive. The project could result in a maximum of 176 apartments at the location. The property currently is zoned “mini storage’ and needs to be changed to “multi-family.”

The complex would include the two-story apartment buildings, a community building, swimming pool, children’s play area, dog park, fire access lane and 296 parking stalls.
At its last meeting Council reviewed prior goals and priorities and proposed additional ones. At this meeting Council will review the list and complete the goals and priorities for the upcoming year. It includes comments from Town Hall meetings and other public input. The list is used to set the budget for the year and to guide staff.

Also on the agenda is a request to reduce the cost of swim lessons from $35 per lesson to $10 for a two-week session. The Water Safety and Swimming Lessons will be offered from June 17 through Aug. 1.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session on litigation and anticipated litigation.

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

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

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March 16, 2019

MID approves water rate and full allocation for 2019 season

At its March 5, 2019 meeting, the Merced Irrigation District Board of Directors approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and set the water rate for in-District customers for the season.
“We’ve had a healthy winter this year in terms of snow and precipitation,” said MID General Manager John Sweigard. “Lake McClure is in good shape and we want to be as responsive as possible to our growers. It is critical that we use our surface water supply while we have it and preserve local groundwater for future use.”
There will be no restrictions on surface-water allocations this year, and water transfers to lands within MID’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) were approved. Those are lands just outside the District boundaries but still within the eastern Merced groundwater basin.
The in-District water rate for the coming season was set at $40 per acre foot for all MID growers. (Growers within MID’s SOI may execute water transfer agreements and receive MID surface water for $100 per acre foot.)
MID is currently accepting water orders and began charging the conveyance system around March 1. Water deliveries will begin soon and may vary depending on demand and location within the system.
Yesterday’s decisions were made after nearly two hours of open discussion between the MID Board of Directors, the MID Advisory Committee and other interested members of the public. This was the fourth public meeting regarding the District’s FY 2020 budget occurring over the past few months.
Options for ordering water include:
- Orders may be placed anytime online at www.mercedid.org.
- Orders may be placed anytime using MID’s automated water ordering system at (866) 825-2475.


- During weekday business hours, orders may be placed by calling MID Customer Service at (209) 722-2720 or toll-free at (800) 750-2720.
- Orders may be placed in person during weekday business hours at MID’s main office, located at 744 W. 20th Street in Merced.

GROUNDWATER BENEFITS
Delivering surface water from Lake McClure to area growers provides a crucial benefit to area groundwater. MID’s operations result each year in up to 140,000 acre feet of groundwater replenishment as water flows through unlined waterways, canals and MID-operated groundwater recharge basins. Conjunctive groundwater management has become a top priority in the region since the state approved the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. MID is one of multiple urban and rural partners working jointly to address groundwater challenges in eastern Merced County.
NEW BUDGET For the upcoming fiscal year, the MID Board of Directors has adopted a total consolidated budget of $112.8 million. This includes expected revenues of approximately $27 million from the Water Resources Department, $16.2 million from the Hydroelectric Department and approximately $66.5 million from the Energy Resources Department. MID will continue meeting all its bond covenant requirements and cash reserve guidelines for fiscal year 2020.

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March 15 , 2019

 

Atwater FFA Members Have A Ball During Recent Meeting!

Written by:Atwater FFA


Over 250 Atwater High School FFA members participated in the 17th annual FFA “Bowling Tournament” Meeting on March 12that Bellevue Bowl in Atwater. 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.”

Trophies were awarded to the top three teams. Gabby Luca, Olivia Stone, Hayley Vargas, Stephania Valdovinos, Daniel Lopez, and Galilea Avalos placed 1st overall as a team and earned the championship for the tournament. Everett Hill, Charles Aguilar, Jay Dugdale, Caleb Hand, and Vincent Gonzalez placed 2nd overall as a team. Simarjot Gandhoke, Ethan Slate, Garrett Creighton, Michael Bray, and Jarod Nickerson were recognized as 3rd place team finishers. Specialty awards were given to individuals during the tournament. The ¨Spare Me¨ award went to Oscar Perez, the ¨Ball Buster¨ award went to Frank Tejada, the ¨Gutter Ball¨ award went to Franklin Fuller, the ¨Male King Pin¨ award went to Jerrod Nickerson, and the ¨Female King Pin¨ award went to Alisa Hernandez.

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 17th 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 FFA advisor Shelby West. “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 the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .


Atwater High School agriculture students Julia Callhan, Klarithsa Cruz, and Liliana Boesch were some of the 250+ FFA members that attended the 17th annual Atwater "FFA Bowling" Metting held at Bellevue Bowl this past week.


Atwater FFA member Alisa Hernandez is presented the "Female King Pin" award by Atwater FFA chapter officer Elisabeth Garner during the annual Atwater FFA bowling tournament at Bellevue Bowl in Atwater.


Atwater High School FFA members Gabby Lucas, Olivia Stone, Hayley Vargas, Stephania Valdovinos, Daniel Lopez, and Galilea Avalos placed 1st overall at the 17th annual Atwater FFA bowling tournament held at Bellevue Bowl.

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March 15 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES STATE ROUTE 99 FROM STATE ROUTE 59 TO THE MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing various maintenance activities on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR99) from State Route 59 to the Merced/Stanislaus County Line. Work is scheduled as follows: • Full off-ramp closure from southbound I-5 to State Route 59/Martin Luther King Jr. Way for landscaping and irrigation work on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. • Full off-ramp closure from northbound I-5 to Applegate Boulevard for bridge work beginning Wednesday, March 20, 2019, to Thursday, March 21, 2019, from 10:00 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES AND BRIDGE WORK INTERSTATE 5 FROM QUINTO CREEK BRIDGE TO STATE ROUTE 140 MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various ramp closures and bridge work on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from Quinto Creek to State Route 140. Work will occur as follows; • The #1 of 2 lanes will close from Quinto Creek to Garzas Creek for bridge work beginning Monday, March 18, 2019, through Friday, March 22, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • Full off-ramp closures at State Route 140 from northbound and southbound I-5 will close for bridge work beginning Monday, March 18, 2019, through Friday, March 22, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 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 ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SLATE GULCH TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Slate Gulch near Midpines to Yosemite National Park for road slope repair and clearing. Work will occur as follows: • Work (one-way traffic control) will occur beginning Monday, March 18, 2019, Thursday, March 21, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. • Work (one-way traffic control) will occur on Friday, March 22, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 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.


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

 

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March 14 , 2019

Wahnetta Hall Trust applications due

Applications are now being accepted for the Wahnetta Hall Trust Fund. Established in 1995, the Trust provisions require the City of Merced use funds 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 $1,561 available. 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 is Tues., April 16. Non-profit organizations interested in applying for funding should mail their letters of request to Jennifer Arellano, Recreation Supervisor, Parks and Community Services Department, 678 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340. Please call 209-385-6854, or email arellanoj@cityofmerced,org for additional information on eligibility criteria and application requirements.

 


Mini Train in Kiddieland in Applegate Park

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March 14 , 2019

THE ACE TICKETING APP WILL BE AVAILABLE APRIL 1, 2019
Click to download from iTunes Store
Click to download from Google Play

Never wait in line for tickets! No more fumbling for cash when you can purchase a ticket in seconds without the need to use the validators! Buy your ticket anywhere, anytime and you'll never lose your ticket again! The full ACE app will be available for download for all ticket types on 4/1/19. Download from iTunes orGoogle Play, click the appropriate buttons to the left or search for "ACE Rail". It's as easy as 1-2-3! 1. Download the ACE app & Create a rider profile (name, email, and payment info) 2. Enter your origin and destination station then Activate your ticket before your ride 3. Show it to the PSA when asked! For mobile ticketing questions and answers as well at the terms and conditions, CLICK HERE and scroll down the page.

 

Stay Connected to the ACE Train Subscribe to receive text message alerts HERE or text the keyword 'ACE' to 74121. Text alerts include train status updates, service modifications, delays, and general announcements. Text Unsubscribe Reply 'STOP' to any of our alerts to unsubscribe. Policy The ACE train does not charge recipients to receive text messages. However, your carrier's message and data rates may apply.
Visit our website

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March 14 , 2019

CONSTRUCTION ADVISORY NEW PAVEMENT, IMPROVED SAFETY, UPGRADED DRAINAGE SYSTEMS COMING TO MERCED COUNTY SPRING AND SUMMER 2019 MERCED COUNTY

The 2019 construction season is here and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is ready to go. Caltrans is breaking ground on several projects this spring in Merced County that will provide new pavement, improve traffic safety, and upgrade drainage systems. The below five projects are scheduled to begin by June 2019. These are taking place on State Route 59 (SR59), SR-140 and SR-152, and Interstate 5 (I-5): I-5 Repaving – Fresno County Line to SR-152 This estimated $12.1 million project will repave 68 lane miles of I-5 – from the Fresno County line to SR-152 near Los Banos. I-5 in Merced County is a critical passageway for commercial traffic (including the county’s agricultural industry), commuters and local residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-April and end in early November. SR-59 and SR-140 Culvert and Drainage Repair This estimated $390,000 project will replace culverts (underground drainage systems) in four locations – near Sandy Mush Road and the Merced River bridge on SR-59 and near Los Banos Creek in Gustine and the Le Grand Canal on SR-140. Upgrading culverts keeps roadways clear and motorists safe by mitigating potential flooding events due to rainstorms. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-May and conclude in August. I-5 and SR-152 Bridges – Seismic Retrofitting This estimated $5.5 million project is part of Caltrans’ seismic retrofit program, which means the bridges (three bridges along the California Aqueduct in Merced and Stanislaus counties) will be brought up to current structural standards to prevent catastrophic damage during future earthquakes. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-May and conclude in spring 2020.



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

 

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March 13 , 2019

 

Engineering Grad Programs Ranked Among Best in the Nation

MERCED, Calif. — UC Merced’s graduate programs in engineering had a strong showing in U.S. News & World Report’s2020 edition of Best Graduate Schools, released today.
Overall, UC Merced’s School of Engineering is ranked No. 134 in the nation, after debuting at No. 140 in 2015.
“We are gratified by the growing national recognition for our engineering programs and the rapid progress we’ve made in our relatively brief campus history,” Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie S. Zatz said. “It’s exciting to see the growing strength of our interdisciplinary graduate education model, as witnessed by our rankings from national publications and organizations.
“The faculty of our three schools — Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts — work together to provide course offerings and research experiences that transcend disciplinary boundaries and attack important real-world problems, and that support our mission to ensure the excellence of graduate education.”
While the overall engineering graduate school ranking held steady from last year’s, some individual programs moved up or debuted this year.
UC Merced is No. 105 in U.S. News & World Report’s Computer Engineering rankings, its first time on the list, and rose to No. 121 in Mechanical Engineering.
“Our engineering programs’ steady appearance in U.S. News rankings continues to enhance UC Merced’s reputation across the nation and world,” School of Engineering Dean Mark Matsumoto said. “The fact that previously ranked programs maintained or moved up this year is a testament to the outstanding caliber of work of our faculty.”

Three engineering faculty members were recently honored with National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Professor Min Hwan Lee is the first for the mechanical engineering department to receive the award; Professor Anand Subramaniam is the first bioengineering faculty member to receive the award; and computer science and engineering Professor Sungjin Im joins previous NSF CAREER awardees in CSE professors Miguel Carreira-Perpinan, Alberto Cerpa, Dong Li, Shawn Newsam and Ming-Hsuan Yang.
The university also appeared in four other rankings — Bioengineering, Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering, Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering, and Materials Engineering.
The School of Engineering now offers five engineering graduate programs — Bioengineering; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Environmental Systems; Materials and Biomaterials Science and Engineering; and Mechanical Engineering — and two management programs: a Ph.D. program in Management of Complex Systems and the Master of Management in Innovation, Sustainability and Technology.
U.S. News ranks business, education, engineering, law, nursing and medicine graduate programs annually, while other disciplines and specialties in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and other areas are ranked periodically.
In last year’s graduate program rankings, UC Merced debuted in Chemistry (No. 122), Mathematics (No. 144), Physics (No. 146) and Biology (No. 175). Two years ago, the Psychology program ranked No. 90.
“With the exceptional growth that we are experiencing and the high quality of our students and faculty, I am confident that our graduate programs will continue to rise in rankings,” Zatz said.

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March12, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Earns Top Honors at Chico State Skills Competition

Written by:Atwater FFA


Eleven Atwater High School FFA judging teams composed of forty-three students traveled to the 2019 Chico State – Butte College FFA Field Day and Le Grand 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 Floriculture and marketing Plan teams led the pack with 3rdplace team finishes with the Atwater FFA Poutlry, Nursery and Landscape, Agronomy, Meats, Milk Quality and Dairy Foods, Vegetable Crops, Small Engines, Soil and Land Evaluation, and Ag Mechanics teams adding to the largest number of students from one school competing at the state university contest.

The Atwater FFA Floriculture team placed 3rd overall with a team comprised of Arely Venegas (2nd overall), Hayley Vargas (5th overall), Faith Ceja, and Marissa Nuno. The contest involves plant identification, application of “hands-on” floral arrangements, and industry related floral skills.

The Marketing Plan team placed 3rd overall with a team comprised of Kiah Briscoe, Anessa Cardenas, and Megan Escobar. The contest seeks to effectively prepare students for the opportunities and expectations of the agricultural business workplace. Students seeking careers in agriculture business must develop a high degree of knowledge and skill as well as the capacity to create and present a marketing plan.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team placed 4th overall with a team comprised of Stephania Valdovinos (2nd overall), Emmanuel Mejia, Daniel Lopez, and Alfredo Elizarraraz. The contest blends practical hands-on experiences with a basic knowledge of the poultry industry required for careers in the poultry field. Gabriella Lucas, Galilea Avalos, Mariah Castro, and Richard DelaRosa also competed as an alternates.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team of Cristal Venegas, Vanessa Varela, Daniel Narez, and Stefani Sanchez placed 4th 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 placed 5th overall with a team comprised of Elisabeth Garner, Felicity Garcia, Gurkirath Gandhok, and Luz Soto (5th overall individually). The 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 Meats judging team of Erika Silva, Iysis Yillafan, Jaimie Colores, and Daniel Junez placed 7th overall in a contest that 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. Adriana Lopez also competed as an alternate.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team of Anthony Hernandez, Logan Hazel, Natalie Frontella, and Valerie Carlos placed 8th 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. Alyssa Carrillo and Faith Johnson also competed as alternates.


Forty-three Atwater High School agriculture students joined over 2400 other high school agriculture students throughout the state of California and Oregon at the annual Chico State University, Butte College, and Le Grand FFA Field Day competitions where students demonstrated industry-based skills within career-based sectors.

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The Atwater FFA Vegetable Crops team comprised of Jose Montanez, Cheyenne Borba, Supreet Gandhok, and Vincent Gonzalez placed 11th overall in a contest designated to create interest and promote understanding in the vegetable crop industry by providing opportunities for recognition through the demonstration of skills and proficiencies.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team of Jonathan Velazquez and Jose Vazquez placed 14th overall in a 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 Soil and Land Evaluation team comprised of Sabrina Lopez, Estrella Venacio, and Kelly Alcarazin participated in a workshop that helped students gain skills and an understanding of the most basic need for all agricultural pursuits- healthy land on which to grow crops or raise livestock. Participants identified and evaluated 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.

While all of the above teams competed at Chico State University, the Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team Juanabel Perez, Moira Conway, Jose Ruiz, and Thomas Gardner placed 9th overall in Le Grand as a second state agriculture mechanics contest was created due to high demand and participation. The Ag Mechanics contest involves 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 Chico State – Butte College Field Day and the newly created Le Grand 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 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 the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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March 9, 2019

Lanes blocked due to well project

A monitoring well installation project will affect Merced motorists on W. 16th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way between March 11 and 22.
The map to the right shows details.

• Traveling east on W 16th St. the left turn lane onto northbound MLK JR Way will be closed.

• Traveling west on W 16th St. the far right lane (No. 2 lane) will be closed west of H St. to the intersection of W 16th and MLK JR Way.

• Traveling south on MLK JR Way, the left turn lane onto eastbound W. 16th St. will be closed.

 

 

 

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March 8 , 2019

MCSD, OLM Take Top Honors at Third Annual Merced County STEM Fair

The Merced City School District and Our Lady of Mercy took the top spots at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced.
Hosted by the Merced County Office of Education and the UC Merced Office of Research and Development, the event showcased nearly 30 science projects from more than 110 students in grades 5 through 8. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The overall winning projects are:
Sixth grader Brady Hickman from Chenoweth Elementary in Merced with his product science project “What Brand is a Hit?”; seventh grader Essey Afewerki from Hoover Middle for his earth/atmospheric project “Effect of Climate Change on Soil”; and eighth graders Riley Delworth and Hanna Moradzadeh from Our Lady of Mercy in Merced with their microbiology project “Floor Food.”
Those three exhibits will compete in the California Science & Engineering Fair on April 29-30 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Ribbons for first through third place were also awarded by grade.
The exhibits were judged by local scientists or professors from UC Merced and Merced College, among others.
In addition to projects on display from those school districts, other exhibits included the Poster Showcase from UC Merced graduate and undergraduate students, a campus tour and various lab tours.
This event was made possible by sponsorship from the Merced County Education Foundation, Pacific Gas & Electric and was hosted as part of UC Merced Research Week.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Sixth grader Brady Hickman from Chenoweth Elementary School in Merced earned the top spot in his grade with his product science project “What Brand is a Hit?” at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced.


UC Merced Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Charles Nies enjoyed lunch with visiting students at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced.



Seventh grader Essey Afewerki from Hoover Middle School in Merced earned the top spot in his grade with his earth/atmospheric project “Effect of Climate Change on Soil” at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced.


Elementary and middle school students tour UC Merced at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at the college.


From left, eighth graders Riley Delworth and Hanna Moradzadeh from Our Lady of Mercy in Merced earned the top spot in their grade with their microbiology project “Floor Food” at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced.


A Merced County STEM Fair participant talks with a UC Merced student about their projects at the third annual Merced County STEM Fair on March 6 at UC Merced. The STEM Fair was held in conjunction with the UC Merced Poster Showcase, where graduate and undergraduate students display their work.

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March 8 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) re-opened State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The road was pre-emptively closed due to an incoming storm at approximately 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and remained closed for seven hours. This closure was due to an ongoing storm that impacted the roadway, and the closure was implemented for the sake of public safety. Caltrans crews hauled away more than 150 cubic yards of debris flow material and removed one oak tree from the roadway, but there were no major mudslides reported. This closure took place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris, such as rocks, onto highway lanes. For ongoing road information, please follow District 10 on Twitter (@CaltransDist10), download the Caltrans QuickMap app to your phone, call 1-800-427-ROAD (7623) and check http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 152 TO INTERSTATE 5 IN MERCED COUNTY MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the offramp from westbound State Route 152 to southbound Interstate 5 for the repair and clearing of roadside slopes. The closure is scheduled for Monday, March 11, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 5-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SANTA FE AVENUE IN MERCED TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Santa Fe Avenue in Merced County to Yosemite National Park for various road construction and maintenance activities. Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on eastbound and westbound SR-140: • Santa Fe Avenue to 3rd Street in Mariposa beginning Monday, March 11, 2019, through Friday, March 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping. • Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, March 11, 2019, through Friday, March 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for bridge work. • Feliciana Creek in Mariposa County to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, March 11, 2019, through Friday, March 15, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY LANE CLOSURES STATE ROUTE 99 FROM COLLIER ROAD IN DELHI TO THE CHRISTOFFERSEN REST AREA IN TURLOCK MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent closures of the #2 (right) lane on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Collier Road to the Christoffersen Rest Area in Stanislaus County for road maintenance. Closures of the #2 lane are scheduled as follows: • Northbound SR-99 from Collier Road to South Avenue in Delhi on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for survey work. • Northbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Northbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, March 10, 2019, through Friday, March 15, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for pavement work. • Southbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Southbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, March 10, 2019, through Friday, March 15, 2019, from 8:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for pavement work. 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 7 , 2019

 

Atwater FFA Earns Top Honors at UC Davis and El Capitan Competitions

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 El Capitan High School FFA Field Days. The March 2nd weekend jump started the 2019 FFA judging season where the Atwater FFA judging teams start anew with their sites toward the 2019 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 Taylor Helton.

The Atwater FFA Farm Business Management comprised of Zion Brigham (4th overall), Emily Junez, Liliana Vargas, and Simarjot Gandhoke placed 2nd overall. Michael Bray also competed as a team alternate. The Farm Business Management CDE helps students learn business skills and apply economic principles to agricultural businesses. Contest focus areas include business record keeping, depreciable property, and tax management.

The Atwater FFA Poultry team earned a 3rd place finish overall at UC Davis. The team was led by Stephanie Valdovinos, (5th overall), Alfredo Elizarraraz, Emmanuel Mejia, and Daniel Lopez. Other Atwater FFA members Olivia Cone, Katie Lopez, and Mariah Castro 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 Agronomy judging team earned an 5th place team finish overall with a team consisting of Luz Soto (5th overall) Elisabeth Garner, Jennifer Velasquez, and Gurkirath Gandhok. Felicity Garcia also competed as a team alternate. 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 Ag Mechanics team joined 12 other high schools at El Capitan High School in Merced who hosted a FFA field day with the weather canceling West Hill College’s contest. Atwater FFA placed 5th overall with a team comprised of Daisy Flores-Mota, Jose Ruiz, Juanabel Perez, Moira Conway, Everett Hill. . The Ag Mechanics contest involves 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 Nursery and Landscape team earned a 6th place finish at UC Davis with Cristal Venegas (3rd overall), Noemi Perez, Stafanie Sanchez, and Vanessa Varela 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. Daniel Narez also competed as an alternate.

The Atwater FFA Milks Quality and Dairy Foods team placed 8th overall with a team comprised of Natalie Frontella (4th overall), Alyssa Carrillo, Anthony Hernandez, and Valerie Carlos. Faith Johnson and Logan Hazel competed as alternates, The contest tests students in their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, dairy vs non-dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry.

The Atwater FFA Vegetable Crops team placed 10th overall with a team comprised of Chelsea Thompson, Cheyenne Borba, Jose Montanez, and Tyler Brawley. The Vegetable Crops contest is designed to create interest and promote understanding in the vegetable crop industry by providing opportunities for recognition through the demonstration of skills and proficiencies.

The Meats judging team earned a top end finish overall with a team composed of Daniel Junez, Erika Silva, Iysis Villafana, and Jaime Colores. Other Atwater FFA members Celeste Chargoy and Julien Chargoy competed as alternates. 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 Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team earned a top finish with nearly 50 individual teams throughout California competing at the contest. The team advanced team was comprised of Emily Junez, Anessa Cardenas, Micheal Bray, Natalie Frontella, Emmanuel Mejia, Cristal Venegas, Simarjot Gandhoke. The Atwater FFA novice team was comprised of Elizabeth Ayala Lopez, Klarithsa Crus Hernandez, Julia Callahan, Reagan Puthuff, Anthony Pitchford, Alyssa Wilson, and Dakarai Valdez


Atwater High School agriculture students and FFA members gather together following the state sponsored UC Davis FFA Career Development Event skills competition where student knowledge, skills, and application in various agriculture industry were implemented.


Atwater High School Agriculture Mechanics CTE pathway student Jose Ruiz completes an electrical wiring skill during the agriculture mechanics contest held at El Capitan High School this past weekend.

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. 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.

The Atwater FFA Floriculture team competed with a team comprised of Perla Caballero, Yusdivia Rojo, Hayley Vargas, and Marissa Nuno. This was the first major contest for a new team. The contest involves plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills.

Atwater High School agriculture freshman student Tristan Cardey competed in the FFA Creed contest as as an opportunity to prepare for the regional finals. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed.

“The 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 FFA advisor Dave 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 the Atwater High School Agriculture Department and Atwater FFA, please log on the website www.AtwaterFFA.org .

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March 7 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY
MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a
pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety.
The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance.
Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris, such as rocks, onto highway lanes.
Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening it to traffic.
To stay current on this closure, and other news regarding the impact this storm is having on transportation, please follow District 10 on Twitter (@CaltransDist10), download the Caltrans
QuickMap app to your phone, call 1-800-427-ROAD (7623) and check
http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi for highway conditions.
This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and other issues.


 

 

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

 

 

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March 7 , 2019

Governmental Organization Committees Convene Joint Hearing on Emerging Wildlife Monitoring Technology

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, held a joint hearing today with Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Chair of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, to highlight the existing infrastructure and emerging technological advancements in the state’s efforts to monitor, respond to, and combat the devastating wildfires which have engulfed much of Northern and Southern California in recent years.

“The magnitude of the destruction caused by these wildfires is simply unimaginable,” said Gray. “Unfortunately, we expect to see larger and more catastrophic wildfires in the future, so we must embrace emerging technologies to reduce catastrophic risks to property, and more importantly, to save lives.”

Speakers at the hearing included representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services who provided an

 

overview of existing wildlife monitoring technologies as well as scientists from UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and CSU San Jose who highlighted cutting edge and emerging technological advancements.

“Existing technologies have proven inadequate to meet the needs of our first responders,” continued Gray. “Governor Newsom has demonstrated a commitment to address this issue head-on, and it is important for us to fully utilize the new technologies at our disposal. Drones. satellites, fire modeling, weather stations, and real-time monitors all have a role to play to keep the public and our firefighters safe. Advancements in communication technology also play an important role in coordinating local, state, and federal assets to maximize an effective response.”

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March 6 , 2019

More than 500 Attend Sixth Annual Parent Institute Conference

Dreaming big, believing and achieving were the focal points of the sixth annual Parent Institute Conference on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.
Rosa Barragan, program coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education and one of the event planners, said more than 500 people attended the event, that focuses on parent empowerment and engagement.
MCOE, Merced County’s Human Services Agency and the Merced Union High School District co-sponsor the annual program.
Barragan said the conference is intended for anyone who is interested in ensuring all children have the opportunity to reach their goals and dreams.
The conference featured 21 workshops in English, Spanish and Hmong languages.
There were about 100 vendors representing area high schools, Merced College and UC Merced, banks and credit unions, financial aid offices, Livingston Community Health Services, the Salvation Army, and public health agencies, among others.
“Families know this as the Dream Big Conference,” Barragan said. “We want to inspire the community to dream big. This year’s special focus is the important role that dads play in their children’s lives.”
Barragan said this year’s program was fantastic because it focused on the importance of parent engagement.
“We need everyone in the community to understand the important role dads play in the lives of their children. We already know moms play a fundamental role in the healthy development of their children and we now need our dads to understand the positive impact they can make in the lives of their children, too. We need dads to be present, engaged and supportive of their children’s goals and dreams,” Barragan said.
Conference speakers included educator, author and motivational speaker Dr. Ken Magdaleno of Fresno who is the founder and chief executive officer of the Center for Leadership, Equity and Research.
Jaime Carias, educator, author and motivational speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area was also a keynote speaker, along with Andres Lara of Texas, an author and motivational speaker.


MCOE coordinator and event organizer Rosa Barragan speaks to the crowd at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.


Grupo de Danza folklorico Xi-ipal Muuk de Delhi perform at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.


Calpulli Itzpapalotl Danza Azteca performs at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

 


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen welcomes attendees author and motivational speaker Dr. Jaime Carias presents at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.


Educator, author and motivational speaker Dr. Ken Magdaleno presents at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.


Author and motivational speaker Andres "The Cuban Guy" Lara presents at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.


Educator, author and motivational speaker Dr. Jaime Carias presents at the annual Merced County Parent Institute on March 2 at Golden Valley High School in Merced.

 


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March 6 , 2019

MIREYA AGUILAR NAMED 21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D – Merced) has named Ms. Mireya Aguilar of Winton as the Woman of the Year from the 21st Assembly District. She was honored today during a ceremony at the State Capitol. Assemblymember Gray chose Aguilar for her exceptional track record of volunteerism and community service. In addition to her profession in migrant education with the Merced County Office of Education, Ms. Aguilar holds classes to assist applicants with the citizenship process and with English proficiency. She is also very involved in supporting cultural programs such as the Ballet Folklorico and this year serves as the president of the Nuevo Latino Rotary Club of Winton.

“Mireya’s community service through her regular employment is already noteworthy in and of itself,” said Gray. “Like a true leader, she has elected to go above and beyond in her volunteer efforts and commitment to service.”

Mireya Aguilar was born in 1966 in the city of Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico. She arrived in the United States in 1989 and married her spouse Adolfo Aguilar on 1990. She received a B.A in Agriculture Business in 1989, which was certified through CSU Fresno in 2005. Mireya lives in the

 

community of Winton with her two sons Abraham and Aaron, and daughter Ayerim. Assemblymember Gray also acknowledged Aguilar at 2019 Latina Women’s Luncheon hosted by the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last week.

“Mireya is an incredible role model for the aspiring young leaders in our community,” continued Gray. “I am proud to honor her as the Woman of the Year for my district.”

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Marchy 6, 2019

MCOE to Hold Teacher Recruitment Fair

A Teacher Recruitment Fair will be held March 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the gymnasium of the Merced County Office of Education's Atwater Court Valley Community School, 1800 Matthew St., Atwater.
Teachers of all subject areas with a valid teaching credential, including career-technical education and special education, with a child development permit or scheduled to obtain one of these certifications for the 2019-2020 school year, are welcome to attend.
There is no fee to attend. Participants are urged to bring five to 10 packets including resumes, transcripts, valid teaching credential, interim eligibility letters, exam score results and letters of recommendation.
On-site interviews may be conducted and appropriate attire is suggested.
For more information, call (209) 381-6622 or contact taquino@mcoe.org.

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Careers in Education Expo Slated for May 11 at Merced High School

The Merced County Office of Education will hold a Careers in Education Expo on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Merced High School gym, 205 W. Olive Ave., Merced.
The free expo is designed to inform participants on how they can obtain positions at local school districts. Central Valley colleges offering bachelor's degrees and credentialing programs will be in attendance.
Grant money is available for employees working in non-teaching positions to continue their education toward becoming a teacher.
The event is open to anyone interested in becoming an after-school assistant teacher, instructional aide, substitute teacher, secretary, bus driver, custodian, yard duty aide, crossing guard, Head Start or preschool teacher, volunteer, school counselor or psychologist, and teacher of either general or special education.
Participants are asked to bring resumes and dress appropriately. For more information, contact Stacy Shasky at (209) 381-6629 or sshasky@mcoe.org.

MCOE Earns Awards at State School PR Conference

The California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA), a statewide organization that promotes better public understanding, commitment and support of public education, announced that Merced County Office of Education received an Award of Excellence for its 2017 Annual Education Report and an Award of Merit for videos created for employee recruitment.
“Effective communication connects our communities to our classrooms and builds support for quality learning environments,” said MCOE Media and Communications Manager Nathan Quevedo, who is also CalSPRA President. “We are so honored that our annual report was recognized as one of the leading among COEs and school districts across the state.”
CalSPRA’s Excellence in Communication Awards program recognizes superior achievement in meeting strategic goals through high-quality communications and public relations programs. Each entry is evaluated by communication professionals on the overall excellence of the entry. Awards were presented at CalSPRA’s Annual Conference and Awards Banquet on February 25, 2019 in Santa Rosa.
CalSPRA is a nationally recognized leader in school communications with a membership of more than 330. Members represent school districts and county offices of all sizes, ranging from the largest urban districts to those located in remote areas serving one or two schools, as well as other professionals in the field of education.

Link to Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ75OBHLIBk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3SnQ9qQzA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFuS1QbxJog


Link to Annual Report
:

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March 5 , 2019

 

Horticulture Students Get Bare Rooted In Hands-On Learning

Written by:Atwater FFA


“Getting students involved” and “learn by doing” are primary philosophies of the Atwater High School Agriculture department, and for students in the Environmental Horticulture class, learning tends to be the “root” of education. With the continued support of Dave Wilson Nursery in Hickman, California, over 125 bare root trees were both purchased by Atwater FFA and also donated by the nursery for the Atwater High School horticulture program. With the arrival of the trees, students spent three days transplanting the trees into growing containers and setting them up in the school nursery where they will get the opportunity to get established with the goal of selling them to the community and public on May 10th and 11th during the annual Atwater FFA Spring Plant Sale. The money from the plant sale goes to support the students, program, and various supplies and equipment for the horticulture program and courses.

“The tremendous support we get from horticulture industry supporters such as Dave Wilson Nursery is awesome,” said agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “It provides our students with ‘hands on’ learning opportunities and the experiences involved in the multi-billion dollar nursery and landscape industry.”

The types and varieties of trees that will be available during the plant sale in may include cherry, 3n1 apple, 3n1 cherry, 3n1 pear, 3n1 peach/nectarine, flowering cherry, flowering pear, flowering plum, Raywood ash, Shamel ash, European birch, Chitalpa, locust, maple, and Eastern redbud trees.

The horticulture program at Atwater High School earned the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC) the state’s first high school horticulture certification. Continued growth and development of the agriculture program’s facilities have included an expanded nursery and a long term growing area for trees and shrubs. “The class has been a lot of fun with the opportunity to learn both inside and outside of a classroom,” said AHS student Kaya Briscoe.


High School Horticulture class students Courtney Gregory-Espinoza, Michaela Alaniz, Kaya Briscoe, Lea Mena, and Gerardo Hernandez work together to assist with the transplanting of 125 bare root trees received from Dave Wilson Nursery.


Atwater High School Horticulture class students Abbi Vierra, Megan Escobar, and Oscar Perez prepare a variety of bare root trees in growing containers in preparation of Atwater FFA's spring plant sale in early May

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

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March 5 , 2019

CDE Identifies Weaver Middle School As ‘School to Watch’

Weaver Middle School in Merced has just received a key honor from the state, being named to the “Schools to Watch - Taking Center Stage” program.
Weaver Union School District Superintendent John Curry called the designation a high honor and part of its striving to be a high quality school.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that 16 high-performing California middle schools have been newly recognized in the 2018–19 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program. They join 33 previously chosen schools whose sustained progress will allow them to retain their “Schools to Watch” designation.
“These middle schools make a great impact on students, and I want to thank the staff, administrators, teachers, and parents at these schools for ensuring all students get the education they need to realize their potential,” Thurmond said. “These schools study and support students’ needs, which helps close achievement gaps and creates a better future for these young students.”
Curry said Weaver Middle School is the flagship school within the district. He said he is really proud of the staff and teachers there to have received recognition not only at the state but also the national level.
Weaver Middle School has 900 sixth through eighth grade students.
“One of the things that’s exciting is this honor is not just for academics but also for the school’s culture and environment,” Curry said.
These high-performing model schools demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents, Thurmond said.

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Buhach Colony to Host 1st Annual National History Day

Buhach Colony High School in the Merced Union High School District will host the first annual National History Day at the school today from 6 - 8 p.m.
Students will be on-hand to show and discuss their exhibit projects at the school, located at 1800 North Buhach Road in Atwater.
For more information, contact BCHS instructor and National History Day Coordinator John Bliss at jbliss@muhsd.org.

 

 

 

MCOE to Host Third Annual STEM Fair onWednesday

The Merced County Office of Education will partner with the UC Merced Office of Research and Economic Development to host the county’s STEM Fair on March 6 at the UC Merced Joseph E. Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center in conjunction with UC Merced Research Week and Poster Showcase.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The event will showcase 30 science projects from 118 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, Los Banos 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 3 p.m., with the awards presentation at 3 p.m.
Judges include local scientists or professors from UC Merced and Merced College, among others.
This event was made possible by sponsorship from the Merced County Education Foundation and PG&E.

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March 2 , 2019

Merced Mall project, goals and priorities on agenda

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the Merced Mall renovation project and set Council’s goals and priorities at its Monday night meeting.

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

The Merced Mall is preparing for a renovation projection to update its facilities and renovate its buildings and exteriors. The 50-year-old Merced retail landmark will expand the facility and add a new theater complex. The Council is being asked to approve the environmental review and site utilization plan for the project. The project is expected to be completed by 2021.

Every year the Council sets goals and priorities for the City. Staff will presents a mid-year review to keep the Council informed on accomplishments and project updates. Included will be a review of the Town Hall meetings and Council will set new priorities for the 2019-20 budget year.

Also on the agenda is a contract to study the feasibility of annexing land in North Merced. The $423,136 study would look at approximately 7,600 acres of land east of G Street and north of Yosemite Avenue. Several large property owners have expressed an interest in annexing into the City. The

 


study would look at the feasibility and costs associated with annexation. A number of public meetings for residents in the area would be held as part of the contract.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session on labor negotiations.

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

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

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March 2 , 2019

 

Parent Institute Empowers Parents; Special Focus on Fathers

Dreaming big, believing and achieving are the focal points of the sixth annual Parent Institute on Saturday at Golden Valley High School in Merced.
Rosa Barragan, program coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, is expecting at least 500 people to attend the conference at the school, located at 2121 E. Childs Ave., Merced.
MCOE, Merced County’s Human Services Agency and the Merced Union High School District are co-sponsoring the program which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Barragan said the conference underscores the importance of parent engagement. It’s intended for anyone who is interested in ensuring all children have the opportunity to reach their goals and dreams.
That’s why it’s subtitled the Dream Big Conference. Twenty-one workshops will be given in English, Spanish and Hmong languages. The conference is open to parents, guardians, child care providers, elected officials and the community.
Child care will be provided for the event, along with a continental breakfast, entertainment and 100 vendors representing all area high schools, Merced College and UC Merced, financial institutions, financial aid offices, Livingston Community Health Services, the Salvation Army, and public health agencies will be represented, among others.
The focus is on children of all ages, from newborns through high school and beyond. Separate sessions are planned for teen-agers, with about 50 youth expected to participate.

“Families know this as the Dream Big Conference,” Barragan said. “We want to inspire the community to dream big. This year’s special focus is the important role that dads play in their children’s lives.”
Barragan said organizers believe every child has potential and given the right tools and supports can and will succeed.
“We need everyone in the community to understand the important role dads play in the lives of their children. We already know moms play a fundamental role in the healthy development of their children and we now need our dads to understand the positive impact they can make in the lives of their children, too. We need dads to be present, engaged and supportive of their children’s goals and dreams,” Barragan said.
Conference speakers include educator, author and motivational speaker Dr. Ken Magdaleno of Fresno who is the founder and chief executive officer of the Center for Leadership, Equity and Research.
Also speaking will be Jaime Carias, educator, author and motivational speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area and Andres Lara of Texas, and author and motivational speaker.

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March 1 , 2019

Foundation Fundraiser Raises More Than $35k for Arts and Outdoor Education

Nearly 150 people enjoyed dinner theatre with student performances and a virtual tour of Camp Green Meadows, while supporting arts and outdoor education earlier this month at the Merced County Education Foundation’s annual fundraiser.
The event, held at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, featured a program with students from Ada Givens, Burbank and Fremont elementary schools as well as Merced and Golden Valley high schools. Students sang, acted and performed musical numbers.
The event also included a virtual tour of Camp Green Meadows where attendees could wear a headset that put them in the middle of the outdoor school near Yosemite National Park.
Attendees contributed to the arts and outdoor education programs that will support student scholarships to camp and improvements to the facilities including a new nurse’s station and renovated cabins. Funds will also support a variety of visual and performing arts opportunities in Merced County. Schools can apply to the MCEF for grant money to bring artists into the classroom, assist with art supplies, take a field trip, or expand their music program, among others. Foster Youth are also eligible for scholarships to attend visual and performing arts classes throughout the year.
“Providing opportunities to students outside of the regular classroom teaches them valuable lessons about critical thinking, problem solving and increases their personal growth. We are proud that we can reach a wide range of students from all parts of the county with these programs and the others we provide” said MCE Foundation Executive Director Stacie Arancibia.
Rob and Andrea Baptie, who have donated more than $25,000 to Camp Green Meadows, challenged the crowd of attendees to match $7,500. More than $11,000 was collectively raised and the Bapties doubled their contribution and donated $15,000. Money was also raised in a dessert auction and through the sale of student made valentines and centerpieces totaling more than $35,000.
For more information about the MCE Foundation and how you can support their programs, contact Arancibia at (209) 381-6602.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen addresses the crowd at the annual Merced County Education Foundation fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.



 

 


Longtime school administrator and supporter of the Merced County Education Foundation addresses the crowd at the annual Merced County Education Foundation fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Students from Fremont Elementary School in Merced performed at the annual Merced County Education Foundation fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Attendees mingle before the dinner show at the annual Merced County Education Foundation fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.


Retired Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lee Andersen enjoys a virtual tour of Camp Green Meadows at the annual Merced County Education Foundation fundraiser on Feb. 9 at the MercedMulticultural Arts Center.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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March 1 , 2019

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE STATE ROUTE 140 REHABILITATION WORK FROM BRICEBURG TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing work on an emergency project rehabilitating and repairing eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR140) from Briceburg to Yosemite National Park. The work is needed after the Ferguson Fire burned through the region in summer 2018. The project includes the replacement and repair of culverts (underground drainage systems), removal of potentially hazardous trees and branches, and implementing slope stabilization measures. The Ferguson Fire started July 13, 2018, in Mariposa County and burned more than 96,900 acres, causing power outages, road damage and road closures. Burnt vegetation and trees exposed slopes to erosion, mud flows and rock falls. As of Wednesday, February 27, 2019, crews had replaced or repaired approximately eight culverts, installed erosion control devices, and completed between five and six miles of tree work and slope scaling. Slope scaling refers to measures taken on roadslide slopes which help mitigate future mudslides and debris flow. To this point, this project has incurred a total construction cost of approximately $2.3 million.


Work began in November 2018 and usually occurs from the morning until early evening. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2019 – weather permitting. Oneway traffic control will be used, and motorists should expect up to 20-minute delays. Full closures may be needed for short durations to protect public and worker safety. Caltrans has closed SR-140 pre-emptively in the area of the Ferguson Fire scar four times since November 2018 to prevent motorists from being on the road when potential mudslides or debris movements were likely to occur. This work is is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/ or materials and construction related issues. Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process


TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP AND LANE CLOSURES INTERSTATE 5 FROM STATE ROUTE 152 TO THE CALIFORNIA AQUEDUCT BRIDGE IN MERCED COUNTY MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform ramp and lane closures on southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from the SR-152 junction to the California Aqueduct bridge due to a roadway washout. Work is scheduled for Monday, March 4, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The work includes a connector ramp closure from southbound I-5 to westbound SR-152 and closure of the #2 (right) lane from SR-152 to the California Aqueduct bridge. 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 ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 140 FROM SANTA FE AVENUE IN MERCED TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Santa Fe Avenue in Merced County to Yosemite National Park for various road construction and maintenance activities. Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140: • Santa Fe Avenue to 3rd Street in Mariposa beginning Monday, March 4, 2019, through Friday, March 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping. • Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, March 4, 2019, through Friday, March 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for bridge work. • Feliciana Creek in Mariposa County to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, March 4, 2019, through Friday, March 8, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations. 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 26 , 2019

 

Atwater High School FFA Student Elected to Regional Office

Written by:Atwater FFA

Atwater High School junior, agriculture student, and California FFA member Michael Bray was elected as FFA Central Region Treasurer during the spring regional meeting held at Cosumnes River College on February 23rd. Representing over 23,000 high school FFA agriculture students within the Delta Cal, Merced/Mariposa, Sacramento, Stanislaus/Tuolomne, and Yolo sections (counties), Michael Bray, along with his seven other officers will serve and represent the region during the 2019-2020 school year. Atwater High School junior, agriculture student, and California FFA member Emmanuel Mejia was also a slated candidate for Central Region FFA Reporter, but fell just short of being elected.

“The Central Region FFA is comprised of 77 high schools between Merced and Sacramento within the central valley, so to have two candidates from Atwater High School represented and in the running for regional office is quite an accomplishment and representative of the quality of students and productivity at Atwater High School agriculture program,” said Atwater High School FFA advisor Kim Macintosh.

California FFA is a high school youth leadership and career development organization that is a state association of the National FFA Organization, a federally charted corporation under Public Law 105-225. The California


Atwater High School agriculture and FFA student Michael Bray (4th right to left in front row) is gathered with current and newly elected FFA member officers as he was elected to serve over 23,000 California FFA students as regional treasurer.

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Association currently serves over 89,000 student members in over 320 high schools, from urban schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area to rural schools all across the state. The California FFA Association is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through Agricultural Education.

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

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February 23 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 59 FROM SANDY MUSH ROAD TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED MERCED COUNTY

Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) was closed from Sandy Mush Road to Mission Avenue in Merced on Saturday, February 16, 2019, due to flooding at the Mariposa Creek bridge. There is no estimated time of opening for SR-59 in this six-mile stretch. SR-59 was open for approximately two days after a 10-day-long closure that lasted from Monday, February 4, 2019, through Thursday, February 14, 2019 for the same flooding issue. More rain came into the area over the weekend and forced another closure. Crews are working to clear water and any other debris from the roadway. Caltrans strongly advises motorists to avoid this area and take alternate routes. Motorists can expect up to 20- minute delays. Remember, when you are driving and encounter flooding, don’t risk it: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Please follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist10 (http://twitter.com/CaltransDist10) for updates. Check our Quickmap website (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and free smartphone app, call 1 (800) 427-ROAD and go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES STATE ROUTE 99 FROM WESTSIDE BOULEVARD NEAR ATWATER TO SHANKS ROAD IN DELHI MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various on- and off-ramps on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Westside Boulevard to Shanks Road for pavement work. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work is scheduled as follows: • Off-ramp closure on northbound SR-99 at Shanks Road on Thursday, February 28, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • On-ramp closure on southbound SR-99 at Shanks Road on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • On-ramp closure from Westside Boulevard (north of Atwater) to southbound SR-99 on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, from 7:30 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.

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

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February 20 , 2019

 

FFA Students Attend State Leadership Academy

Written by:Atwater FFA

Sixteen Atwater High School FFA students joined over three hundred and fifty students from central and northern California FFA regions for the Made for Excellence (MFE), and Advance Leadership Academy (ALA) conference on February 8th and 9th at the Double Tree by Hilton in Modesto, California. This two-day conference is designed primarily for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The MFE curriculum focuses on the personal growth of each individual. Students learned about using conflict resolution techniques appropriately, setting goals, and building self-esteem. Each student created a plan of action which outlined a game plan to accomplish their individual high school and career goals. The ALA course focuses on improving leadership skills, identifying important agriculture issues, and communicating these important aspects to the school and community.

The National and California FFA Organization offer FFA members a series of five leadership and personal growth conferences. Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, the Atwater FFA has sent students to various California locations to participate in the Greenhand Leadership, Made-for-Excellence Leadership and Advanced Leadership Academy, Sacramento Leadership, and Washington DC Leadership conferences.

“We are fortunate to have a strong support network with our school administration, district, and especially the Atwater community who have supported fundraisers that have raised $5,000 to help pay for student conference and transportation fees,” explains Kim Macintoish, one of nine current serving Atwater High School FFA advisors. “Our number one priority is getting students involved and providing them opportunities for scholastic, personal, and career success, and without the support of parents, the Atwater High School administration, and members of the community, we would not be able to provide students the opportunity to participate in these special events.”


Atwater High School agriculture students (row 1) Supreet Gandhok, Emma Garcia, Jennifer Velazquez, Luz Soto, (row 2) Vanessa Varela, Marissa Nuno, Hayley Vargas, Chelsea Thompson, (row 3) Nandani Patel, Celeste Chargoy Velasco, Cristal Venegas, (row 4) Alfredo Elizarraz, Simarjot Gandhoke, Emmanuel Mejia, (top row) Michael Bray, and Daniel Lopez attended the recent state-sponsored FFA leadership conference in Modesto.

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Atwater FFA members who attended the leadership conference were Michael Bray, Celeste Chargoy Velasco, Alfredo Elizarraraz, Supreet Gandhok, Simarjot Gandhoke, Emma Garcia, Daniel Lopez, Victor Mejia, Marissa Nuno, Nandani Patel, Luz Soto, Chelsea Thompson, Hayley Vargas, Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, and Cristal Venegas.

 


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

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February 20 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 59 FROM SANDY MUSH ROAD TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED MERCED COUNTY

Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) was closed from Sandy Mush Road to Mission Avenue in Merced on Saturday, February 16, 2019, due to flooding at the Mariposa Creek bridge. There is no estimated time of opening for SR-59 in this six-mile stretch. SR-59 was open for approximately two days after a 10-day-long closure that lasted from Monday, February 4, 2019, through Thursday, February 14, 2019 for the same flooding issue. More rain came into the area over the weekend and forced another closure. Crews are working to clear water and any other debris from the roadway. Caltrans strongly advises motorists to avoid this area and take alternate routes. Motorists can expect up to 20- minute delays. Remember, when you are driving and encounter flooding, don’t risk it: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Please follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist10 (http://twitter.com/CaltransDist10) for updates. Check our Quickmap website (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and free smartphone app, call 1 (800) 427-ROAD and go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation.


 

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

 

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February 20 , 2019

Sen. Feinstein, Reps. Costa, Cox Send Letter Urging Additional Water for Valley Farmers Following High Snowfall

Washington, D.C. – Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa and TJ Cox sent a letter last week to the United States Bureau of Reclamation urging the Bureau to incorporate recent precipitation into the initial water allocations to Central Valley Project (CVP) water contractors given the high amount of rainfall and snow the region has experienced since the February 1st water forecast.

Farmers and ranchers use these allocations to efficiently plan their operations. The need for allocations that reflect real-time water supply realities was one driving factor in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act provisions which direct the Secretary of the Interior to operate the CVP so it provides contractors with the “maximum quantity of water supplies practicable… as quickly as possible, based on available information.”

Sen. Feinstein and Reps. Costa and Cox state in their message that “storage in all CVP reservoirs was near or more than 100% the long-term average” before calling on the Bureau to “incorporate the benefits of recent snowfall and precipitation into its analysis to determine initial allocations to its contractors, instead of relying exclusively on the February 1 projections, which is no longer a realistic picture of available water supply.”

“Water is the lifeblood of our Valley. Farmers need early and accurate allocations in order to plan their operations,” said Rep. Costa (CA-16). “The recent rain and snow should be incorporated into the initial water allocations so our farmers, ranchers, and farm communities can continue to use water wisely and maximize the benefits. I am hopeful that the Bureau will listen to our message and allocate water to Central Valley Project water contractors based on the amount of water in California now, rather than on how much was available on February 1st.”


Congressman Jim Costa

“Our district is one of the most agriculturally productive in the country – and our farmers and ranchers need certainty of water allocations,” said Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21). “I am hopeful that the Bureau of Reclamation takes the current conditions and higher rates of snowfall into account so that our communities can adequately plan for the year ahead.”

The officials close their message by urging the Bureau to also continue revising allocations through the remainder of the winter and spring as conditions change.

You can read the full letter sent to the United States Bureau of Reclamation online here.

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February 16 , 2019

Costco Employees Help Stowell Students Improve Reading Skills

Several second graders at Don Stowell Elementary in Merced are getting extra help with their reading skills from a group of Costco employees. The volunteers visit the school library every Tuesday afternoon to guide the children through a variety of literacy activities.
Stowell Learning Director Richard Alvarado explains, “They were trained here at Stowell by a leader from Costco headquarters who taught them a reading mastery program so they’re very well-versed in how to teach reading to students, and everyone seems very happy to be here.”
Each of the 15 students works one-on-one with their own “reading buddy,” which allows them to build relationships throughout the program. The children took a pre-test during the first visit in January and will take a post-test at the end of the school year to help assess their progress.
Costco Warehouse Manager Wil Ramos says, “It’s an incredible opportunity for us to give back to the community, most importantly to help impact the reading abilities of the future leaders of Merced.”
Ramos says the Costco reading program began in 1998 and now includes thousands of volunteers across the United States, Canada, and Australia, but this is the first partnership in Merced. Stowell administrators are thankful for the extra support and the chance for children to interact with positive role models from the community.
At the end of the program, the students will take a field trip to Costco for a behind-the-scenes look at what their reading buddies do when they’re at work. Alvarado says, “The kids are so excited about being VIP’s!”




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February 16 , 2019

New police officer sworn in Friday

Brandon Vazquez was sworn into the Merced Police Department during a Friday afternoon ceremony by Police Chief Christopher Goodwin.
Vazquez, 26, had spent three years in the Army National Guard.

The Fresno native and Roosevelt High School graduate holds an associates’ degree. He and his wife, Jeanette, have two daughters.

When not working he enjoys spending time with his family and taking road trips.

The Department has filled 93 of the 98 sworn positions in the budget. Six of the filled positions are the classification of Police Officer Trainee. There are five vacant Police Officer positions.
Goodwin has made recruitment and retention a priority since taking over the Department. The City is currently recruiting for both police officers and police officer trainees. The position of police officer pays $62,169.36 to $75,566.88 a year. Trainees can earn from $40,264.08 to $48,941.04. More information on the jobs can be found at the City’s website, www.cityofmerced.org.


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Mid-year budget review, police report on agenda

 

The City Council will receive a mid-year budget review and the annual Police Department report at its Tuesday night meeting.

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

The Council receives a mid-year budget review to get an update on the City’s finances. The review lets Council know how budget revenues are progressing compared to the forecasts. The review also lets Council make adjustments to the budgets as the year progresses.

The mid-year budget review is part of the Council’s on-going plan to develop a transparent budgeting process.

Police Chief Chris Goodwin will give his annual report, which will include crime statistics for the City, along with his goals and long range plans for the Department.

The Council will be asked to provide direction to staff for the Section 115 Post Employment Benefit Trust Fund. The fund will allow the City to take a proactive approach in managing its CalPERs liabilities. CalPERS is the retirement system for City employees.

Costs for CalPERS are expected to rise in the coming years, and the Trust 115 would allow the City to have more local control over contributions and how to fund them.


Brandon Vasquez has his badge pinned on him by his wife, Jeanette.

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Also on the agenda is a public hearing updating the City’s commercial cannabis ordinance. The ordinance has been in effect a year, and the language will add one more retail dispensary, and clean up other portions of the ordinance.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session regarding employee performance evaluations.

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

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

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February 16 , 2019


Knights of Columbus 8th Annual “Time to Fly” Kite Festival will fly into Livingston for the 8th Year in a row!

 

Livingston, CA – February 15, 2019 – The Knights of Columbus is proud to host the 8th Annual “Time to Fly” Kite Festival Sunday April 7, 2019. The Merced County Sheriff’s Huey Helicopter will land to kick of the event and the First 500 Kids get a free Kite so get there early. The Kite Festival is presented by First Five Merced County, Hot 104.7 and Radio Lobo. 98.7 Admission to the kite festival is FREE.
Kids ages 0 – 99 will enjoy a visual feast and variety of activities that include GIANT Kite Flying Demonstrations, Kite Building Workshops, Kite Building Contest, the “Jim Strealy” Memorial Sugar-Free Kite Candy Drop, a Rubik’s Cube solving contest, the Rotary Club of Livingston Pie Eating Contest, various cultural performances, Face Painting, Bounce Houses, Crafts, Kite, and informational Vendor booths. The Livingston Police, Livingston Volunteer Fire, Merced CHP, Merced County Sheriff and PG&E will provide safety demonstrations and tips. Livingston Community Health will provide a free preventative screenings and resources for the community so come get your FREE blood glucose and blood pressure checks. When the weather is ideal, crowds can exceed up to 4,000 people.

Everyone is invited to take part in Kite Building Contest. To enter the contest, participants can enter a kite that they made at home or at festival Kite Building Workshops (no kite kits). The contest consists of two parts: the actual kite itself (how it looks and how well it is made), and the participant’s ability to fly the kite. Participants must be able to fly their kites consecutively in the air for 3 minutes at a height of 100 feet. Kites will be judged on Flight (ability to fly for 3 minutes), Structural Design, Craftsmanship, and Visual Appeal. There will be three competitive age groups 7-14, 15-17, and 18+. Trophies will be awarded for each age groups. The Kite Building Contest is free to enter and takes place from 1:30-3:00pm. All Kites must be registered by 12pm to be entered in contest.
For more information, pictures of past years event, vendor application, and Contest rules and entry forms visit our website www.livingstonkitefestival.com or call (209) 277-1402. https://www.facebook.com/LivingstonKiteFestival. Proceeds benefit local youth activities.

Knights of Columbus Contact: Alex French 209.628.8743
Email: livingstonkitefestival@gmail.com

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February 16 , 2019

Gray Proposes Package of Water Reform Legislation

(Sacramento) – Just days after Governor Newsom appointed a new Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board and as the Governor visits the Central Valley to sign emergency drinking water and wildfire legislation, Assemblymember Gray introduced a package of water reform bills designed to rein in unaccountable bureaucracy, increase legislative oversight, and prepare California for the impacts of climate change on water infrastructure.

“Governor Newsom is reconstructing relationships between the state and water users which fell apart under the prior administration,” said Gray. “We need to reform the system that let us get so far off track. For the last decade, the state has been allowed to ignore the priorities of farmers, disadvantaged communities, and rural parts of California. There has been a disconnect between the needs of the people and the actions of the state which came about because bureaucrats were not held accountable. This package of reforms brings the public back into the decision-making process by imposing accountability, prioritizing the needs of the state’s most vulnerable populations, and requiring California to make real improvements to our aging water infrastructure.”

AB 636 requires the Legislature to hold a hearing to review proposals of the State Water Board which result in significant environmental harm before those proposals can go into effect. The update to the Bay-Delta Plan will decimate multiple groundwater basins, fallow thousands of acres of productive farmland, and jeopardize the drinking water supplies of over a million people. Under current law, the State Legislature has no formal role in approving or denying this devastating proposal.

AB 637 prohibits the State Water Board from approving the sacrifice of drinking water supplies in disadvantaged communities. Under the Bay-Delta Plan, the State Water Board currently balances the adverse impacts their plan will have on the quality of drinking water in communities like Dos Palos, Planada, and Santa Nella against the benefits of increased flow in the Delta. Such a scheme would be prohibited under this bill.


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

 

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AB 638 requires the state to take into account the impacts climate change will have on water reliability, including accounting for the projected shrinkage of the Sierra Nevada snowpack which acts as California’s largest natural reservoir. The state would be required to identify projects and strategies to mitigate adverse impacts losses and incorporate those strategies into planning efforts going forward.

“We have a new Governor who is demonstrating a commitment to move the water wars forward in a productive way,” continued Gray. “This package of reforms will serve as a powerful backstop. The state has been all too ready to make sacrifices in rural California for the benefit of the coast. This puts us back on level footing and gives everyone a seat at the table.”

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February 15, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) re-opened State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 14, 2019. The road was pre-emptively closed due to an incoming storm at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, and remained closed for approximately 19 hours. This closure was due to an ongoing storm that impacted the roadway, and the closure was implemented for the sake of public safety. Caltrans crews hauled away roughly 300 cubic yards of debris flow material from SR-140, but there were no major mudslides reported. This closure took place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris, such as rocks, onto highway lanes. For ongoing road information, please follow District 10 on Twitter (@CaltransDist10), download the Caltrans QuickMap app to your phone, call 1-800-427-ROAD (7623) and check http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING STATE ROUTE 59 FROM SANDY MUSH ROAD TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED MERCED COUNTY

Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) has re-opened from Sandy Mush Road to Mission Avenue in Merced after a 10-day-long full closure due to flooding at the Mariposa Creek bridge. The closure began between at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Monday, February 4, 2019, and the roadway re-opened at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Crews worked tirelessly to clear water and any other debris from the roadway, but inclement weather compounded the flooding issue and delayed the opening time. Please follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist10 (http://twitter.com/CaltransDist10) for updates. Check our Quickmap website (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and free smartphone app, call 1 (800) 427-ROAD and go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

 

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

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY RAMP CLOSURES STATE ROUTE 99 FROM 16TH STREET IN MERCED TO SHANKS ROAD IN DELHI MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various on- and off-ramps on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from 16th Street to Shanks Road for pavement work. Due to the Presidents Day Holiday, no work is scheduled on Monday, February 18, 2019. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work is scheduled as follows: • On- and off-ramp closures on northbound SR-99 at Shanks Road on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • On- and off-ramp closures on southbound SR-99 at Shanks Road on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • On-ramp closure from Westside Boulevard (north of Atwater) to southbound SR-99 on Thursday, February 21, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. • On- and off-ramp closures on southbound SR-99 at 16th Street on Friday, February 22, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible. This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues. #

TRAFFIC ADVISORY ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 140 FROM WASHINGTON BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities. Due to the Presidents Day Holiday, no work is scheduled on Monday, February 18, 2019. Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140: • Washington Boulevard to Sweetwater Creek in Mariposa County beginning Wednesday, February 20, 2019, through Friday, February 22, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping. • Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Wednesday, February 20, 2019, through Friday, February 22, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction. • Bert Crane Road west of Merced on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work. • Feliciana Creek in Mariposa County to the Yosemite entrance beginning Tuesday, February 19, 2019, through Friday, February 22, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations. 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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February 14, 2019

The Merced Police Department invites you to attend the swearing in ceremony for our newest Police Officer. The swear in will take place at the Merced Civic Center Council Chambers located at 678 W. 18th Street on Friday, February 15, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. We hope you will join us in congratulations and support. Thank you.

 

City offices closed Monday, Feb. 18

City of Merced offices will be closed Monday, Feb. 18, for the President’s Day holiday.
There will be no trash collection on the Monday holiday, and all garbage pickup will be delayed one day the rest of the week.
The City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.


Officer Brandon Vazquez #276

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February 14, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety. The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris, such as rocks, onto highway lanes. Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening it to traffic. To stay current on this closure, and other news regarding the impact this storm is having on transportation, please follow District 10 on Twitter (@CaltransDist10), download the Caltrans QuickMap app to your phone, call 1-800-427-ROAD (7623) and check http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi for highway conditions. This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and other issues.

 

 

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

 

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February 14, 2019

Winton Middle School Shows Students Job, College Opportunities at Career Week

It's not a bad idea for students, even as young as middle school, to begin thinking about future careers and what it will take during the next few years to make it happen.
That's a guiding premise behind the Career Week program planned March 11-15 at Winton Middle School. Carmen Ildefonzo, school counselor at Winton Middle School, has been spearheading the program for three years and has a week's work of activities on tap this year. Each day will have a different focus.
"I want kids to see what's out there," Ildefonzo said. "People don't realize there's a lot more to choosing a career. There's so much out there."
Activities on Monday, March 11 include a whole-school assembly to kick off the week. A motivational speaker will point out the benefits of researching career options at an early age and how to go about accomplishing these long-range goals.
On Tuesday, March 12 a Career Day is scheduled. A dozen career fields, including a chef, information technology specialist, building contractor, government representative, agricultural expert, emergency medical technician, nurse, junior college counselor, public affairs officer, business owner, social worker and a disc jockey will be represented.
For Wednesday, March 13 a College Day is planned during physical education class periods. Representatives from area colleges will give information about different college pathways and financial aids that are available.

Ildefonzo said Thursday March 14 is Interview Day, with many of the school's 200-plus eighth-graders taking part in mock interviews. Students will be responsible for listing the career pathways they would like to pursue while in high school.
On Friday March 15, a minimum day will be held with a College and Career Fair scheduled for students. Ildefonzo said this will be a hands-on event where students are introduced to different college options and career fields.
Merced College, UC Merced, California State University, Stanislaus and Fresno Pacific University representatives will attend this event. Participating students can earn credits for the modified dress program at the school.
Ildefonzo said when students take part in an interactive career exploration program it's more memorable for them than a one-day event.
"It's a chance to explore," she said.
The school at 6300 Cypress Ave. has about 675 students.

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February 13, 2019

Newsom Continues Building Trust by Making Valley Priorities His Own

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded Governor Newsom’s first State of the State address today as the Governor detailed plans to boost the economy and quality of life in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The Valley has a justified history of distrust towards the state’s priorities,” said Gray. “As the former mayor of San Francisco, it is easy to pigeonhole the new Governor as another big city politician out of touch with the unique issues of rural and inland California. After today I think a lot of folks are rethinking their skepticism. We don’t need to agree on the solution to every problem, but it is refreshing that Governor Newsom’s vision for the state actually includes the San Joaquin Valley.”

In his first address to a Joint Convention of the California State Legislature, Governor Newsom detailed his plans to create a more affordable housing market, improve the health and welfare of underserved communities, and make significant investments in the most impoverished areas of the state. The Governor also highlighted numerous ongoing fights over water and announced he would not reappoint Felicia Marcus to the State Water Resources Control Board.

“If there was one message Governor Newsom heard loud and clear during his frequent visits to the San Joaquin Valley it was that Felicia Marcus had to go,” continued Gray. “As a former NRDC employee, there are many who believe she never stopped working for the interest group. Her reputation and inability to build trust were the most significant barriers to making progress on voluntary Bay-Delta Plan settlements, the Delta tunnels, and addressing the critical issue of providing clean, safe, and affordable drinking water in every community in California. I sincerely thank Governor Newsom for his bold leadership on water, and I look forward to the start of fresh conversations with the new chair of the State Water Board.”

Governor Newsom gave detail on his plans to fix the numerous construction delays which have plagued High-Speed Rail by creating more financial transparency, appointing a new Chair of the High-Speed Rail Commission, and getting a Merced to Bakersfield line up and running.

“Sacramento has failed to recognize the contributions of the San Joaquin Valley for years,” said Gray. “It was not that long ago that the former leader of the State Senate questioned the value of investing billions of dollars out in the ‘tumbleweeds’. Governor Newsom clearly sees how vital an opportunity High-Speed Rail is for the Valley and has recommitted that the Merced rail line will be included up front and not pushed off to later phases.”


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

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The Governor spoke extensively about the need to address homelessness and affordable housing issues including reforming CEQA.

“California is an incredibly expensive state for construction, and the jungle of red tape known as CEQA is our primary cost driver,” said Gray. “I am encouraged by the Governor’s desire to finally cut through the bureaucracy and litigation that stops the construction of housing projects, homeless shelters, and other critically needed housing infrastructure.”

The Governor also identified his budget goal to boost reimbursement rates for patients who receive health insurance through Medi-Cal.

“Medi-Cal is no longer just a safety net program,” said Gray. “It is the primary form of health insurance for a third of our state’s population and approximately 50% of people in Merced and Stanislaus counties. Higher Medi-Cal rates have been a longstanding priority of mine, and I applaud the Governor for confronting this issue head-on.”

The Governor finished his address by highlighting the need to find the right balance of pursuing California’s ambitious climate change goals without the costs falling disproportionately on the poor.

“Clean air, clean water, and climate change are critical issues to California’s future,” said Gray. “But to this point, our policies have ignored the impact on blue-collar communities which are the first to lose jobs and the last to receive the benefits. If we cannot get this right, no one else will follow California’s example. Finding the right balance for those least able to afford the costs of climate change should have been our first priority a long time ago.”

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February 13, 2019

Costa Statement on Gov. Newsom’s State of the State Address

Fresno, CA – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement regarding California Governor Gavin Newsom’s February 12th State of the State address:

“The Governor today, in his State of the State address, outlined a new direction for California. His priorities for water and transportation will provide a fresh look, and I hope new opportunities.

“Attempting to purse a more centrist approach to creating water sustainability in California is the key.

“On high-speed rail, his proposal to change the plan, though more modest, will still benefit the Valley. I do not believe these changes foreclose a future HSR system for California.

“I want to work with him on both of these important projects as well as other issues that are important to the Valley, such as clean drinking water and healthcare.”


Congressman Jim Costa

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February 12, 2019

California Almond Industry Receives Over $6 million in Trade Promotion Funding Allocations

Feb. 4, 2019 - - The California almond industry will receive more than $6 million to help identify and access new export markets. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA has awarded the Almond Board of California $3,185,690 while Blue Diamond will receive $3,715,000 through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP).

The ATP is one of three USDA programs created to mitigate the effects of unjustified trade retaliation against U.S. farmers and exporters. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) accepted ATP applications between September 4 and November 2 – totaling nearly $600 million – from U.S. trade associations, cooperatives, and other industry-affiliated organizations.

“The California almond industry appreciates the funding which will enable the industry to continue its ongoing extensive efforts to identify and access new export markets,” said Alliance President Elaine Trevino. “The ongoing tariff situation is a very challenging environment for California almond growers.”

Almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agricultural export. The California almond industry exports 67% of what it produces, making it a valuable commodity that addresses the federal trade deficit. The California almond industry generates about 104,000 jobs in California, with over 97,000 in the Central Valley, especially in areas that suffer from chronic unemployment. The industry also generates more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly adds more than $11 billion to the size of the state’s total economy.

President Donald J. Trump authorized up to $12 billion in programs to provide assistance to U.S. agriculture through a trade mitigation package announced by Secretary Perdue on September 4, 2018. In addition to the $200 million allocated to the ATP, the package also included the Market Facilitation Program to provide payments to farmers harmed by retaliatory tariffs, and a food purchase and distribution program to assist producers of targeted commodities.

 

The Almond Alliance plans to continue to advocate for $63.3 million in retaliatory trade damages assigned to the almond industry by USDA under the MFP program, pointed out Trevino.

All sectors of U.S. agriculture, including fish and forest product producers, were eligible to apply for cost-share assistance under the ATP. FAS evaluated applications according to criteria that included the potential for export growth in the target market, direct injury from the imposed retaliatory tariffs, and the likelihood that the proposed project or activity will have a near-term impact on agricultural exports

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About the Almond Alliance of California

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

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February 12, 2019

Public encouraged to attend Town Halls

Every year the Merced City Council holds Town Hall meetings in neighborhoods to gather input and comments.
Residents are asked about how the City is operating, improvements that can be made and programming ideas people suggest.
The results of these meetings are used by the staff and City Council to develop priorities that guide the development of the annual budget.
Council traditionally holds meetings in South, Central and North Merced. The sites this year are the Tenaya
Middle School Multi-Purpose Room, the Merced Multi-Cultural Arts Center and the Rivera Middle School Gym.
Town Hall Meetings will be televised online via Facebook Live through the City’s Facebook, The Streets of Merced.
Spanish and Hmong interpreters will be available at the meetings. The public is encouraged to attend.

2019 Town Halls

Tuesday, Feb. 26 6-8 p.m.
Merced Multi-Cultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.

Wednesday, Feb. 27 6-8 p.m.
Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr.

Thursday, Feb. 28 6-8 p.m.
Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. 8th St.

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February 12, 2019

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY PORTUGUESE FESTIVAL 2019

The Carlos Vieira Foundation is proud to host the San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival presented by PFSA, the “Portuguese Fraternal Society of America.” The celebration is open to ALL people to come discover the culture and heritage of the Portuguese people and honor their contributions to the San Joaquin Valley and the state of California. The Festival will be held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, CA on Saturday April 13, 2019 from 9:00 am to midnight.
This family-friendly event will showcase traditional Portuguese dancing, music, and cuisine. The Festival will be kicked off by a traditional Portuguese Parade followed by plenty of activities including folklore performances, bloodless bullfight demonstrations, philharmonic performances, Chamarita (Portuguese traditional dance) lessons, a Portuguese bazaar, traditional Portuguese games, a cultural exhibit, carnival rides, and plenty of Portuguese food and craft vendors. Other activities will include a wine and cheese tasting area and a Portuguese Beans cooking contest! The festival will also include performances by the Portuguese Kids Comedy Show and Eratoxica (Portuguese rock band). The highlight of the festival will be the live performance of Portugal’s very own, Roberto Leal! We hope to see you there!
We are currently looking for parade entries, philharmonic bands, folklore groups, Portuguese food and craft vendors, cultural exhibit items, and contestants for the Portuguese Beans cooking contest. VENDOR OPPORTUNITIES STILL AVAILABLE!! If you, or anyone you know, are interested in participating in this festival, please contact us as soon as possible to secure your spot! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit SJVportuguesefestival.com. For questions, contact us at (209) 394-1444 or info@carlosvieirafoundation.org. Like and follow us on Instagram (@carlosvieirafoundation) and Facebook (@CVFoundation) for updates. Visit our website at www.carlosvieirafoundation.org to learn more about the Carlos Vieira Foundation. Proceeds benefit the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign.


Click here for full sixe flyer

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February 9 , 2019

 

Atwater FFA Program and Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by:Atwater FFA

Eight Atwater FFA Students earned honors and the Atwater FFA was recognized as the “Outstanding Chapter” at the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition Banquet held at the Merced County Fairgrounds last week. 84 FFA students representing thirteen high schools throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties were recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. An SAE program is the actual, hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural classroom. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers, and other adults who assist them in the development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

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

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All eight of Atwater High School’s FFA participants earned “gold” awards. Student participants and their project areas included Zion Brigham (sheep), Colby Flatt (poultry), Kaya Briscoe-Mattis (rabbits), Nicholas Giesbrecht (wood working), Liliana Vargas (floral), Tristan Cardey (goats), Michael Bray


Project Competition Banquet - Atwater High School agriculture students Michael Bray, Liliana Vargas, Tristan Cardey, KIah Betschart, Colby Flatt, Kaya mattis, Zion Brigham, and (not pictured) Nicholas Giesbrecht earned "gold" awards and were recognized as the "Outstanding Chapter" for their agriculture-based projects during the Merced-Mariposa FFA Project Competition event.

 

(rabbits), and Kiah Betschart (horses). In addition to the results, Kaya Briscoe-Mattis, Colby Flatt and Zion Brigham also were recognized with a merit award in recognition of their outstanding projects. Two Atwater FFA seniors also received scholarships at the banquet. Kaya Briscoe-Mattis received a $750 Yosemite Farm Credit Scholarship and Zion Brigham was awarded $750 Judges’ Selection Scholarship.

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

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

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February 8 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 59 FROM SANDY MUSH ROAD TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED MERCED COUNTY

Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) remains closed for more than six miles, from Sandy Mush Road to Mission Avenue, for flooding at the Mariposa Creek bridge. The closure began between at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Monday, February 4, 2019, and the roadway does not have an estimated time of opening. Crews worked throughout the week to clear water and any other debris from the roadway, but due to potential inclement weather compounding the flooding, there is not a scheduled opening time. Please follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist10 (http://twitter.com/CaltransDist10) for updates. Check our Quickmap website (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and free smartphone app, call 1 (800) 427-ROAD and go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi . Motorists should use alternate routes and expect 30-minute delays. Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process. # For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Be Work Zone

TRAFFIC ADVISORY ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 49 FROM MADERA/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE TO PRINCETON WAY IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from the Madera County line to Princeton Way in the community of Mt. Bullion for striping. Work (one-way traffic control) is scheduled as follows on SR-49: • Madera County line to SR-140 in the town of Mariposa beginning Monday, February 11, 2019, through Friday, February 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. • Whitlock Road in Mariposa to Princeton Way beginning Monday, February 11, 2019, through Friday, February 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each location. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL STATE ROUTE 140 FROM WASHINGTON BOULEVARD IN MERCED COUNTY TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities. Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140: • Washington Boulevard to Sweetwater Creek in Mariposa County beginning Monday, February 11, 2019, through Friday, February 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping. • Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Thursday, February 14, 2019, through Friday, February 15, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction. • Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, February 11, 2019, through Friday, February 15, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing. Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations. Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

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

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February 7 , 2019

$54.8 Million in Transportation Improvements Make for a Safer, Smoother Commute SB 1 funding will repair or replace highways, bridges and drainage systems statewide

SACRAMENTO – Caltrans announced today the California Transportation Commission allocated $54.8 million for 46 projects throughout California including $31.1 million for fix-it-first projects funded by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This funding will allow Caltrans to repair or replace 16 bridges, 168 lane miles and 150 drainage systems statewide. In addition, 248 congestion reducing elements will be installed, including highway message signs, cameras and loop detectors to improve traffic flow. “As a new year begins, we continue our commitment to improve California’s highways, providing drivers with a smoother ride,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “SB 1 is not only allowing us to fix our highways and local roads, but it is also reducing congestion, which allows residents and visitors to get where they need to go more safely and reliably.” Area projects allocated SB 1 funds include: • Pavement Preservation Project on State Route 49 (SR-49) in Mariposa County: This estimated $19.8 million project will improve approximately 35 lane miles of SR-49 from the Mariposa/Madera County line to the SR-140 junction near Mariposa. SR-49, also known as the Golden Chain Highway, is a vital Sierra Nevada connector that passes through 11 counties – including four (Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Amador) within Caltrans District 10. The project was allocated $1.1 million. • Drainage System Project on State Route 88 in San Joaquin and Alpine Counties: This estimated $6.4 million project will replace 30 culverts in two stretches of SR-88 – from East Jack Tone Road to North Tully Road in Lockeford in San Joaquin County, and from the Caples Lake Spillway Bridge in Markleeville to Schneider Cow Camp Road near South Lake Tahoe in Alpine County. This project was allocated $1.2 million. The Commission also allocated more than $13.7 million for 21 Active Transportation projects. Of these,13 received approximately $6.7 million in SB 1 funding to improve sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and provide safer routes to school for children who ride their bicycles or walk to school.

 

Since SB 1 was signed into law in April 2017, Caltrans has repaired or replaced 71 bridges, paved more than 1,300 lane miles, and increased visibility for drivers by adding highly reflective six-inch striping to more than 7,000 lane miles throughout California. To date, Caltrans has completed 90 fix-it-first projects and begun work on nearly 400 additional projects. You can find the complete list of State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects that were allocated funds at the January meeting at http://catc.ca.gov/meetings/2019/2019-01/Yellows/Revised_Complete_Book(697).pdf. SHOPP is the state highway system’s "fix-it-first" program that funds safety improvements, emergency repairs, highway preservation and operational highway improvements. A significant portion of the funding for this program comes from SB 1. SB 1, the landmark transportation infrastructure bill invests $5.4 billion per year to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and puts more dollars toward transit. These funds are split equally between state and local investments and will allow Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027. More information and updates on projects can be found on Caltrans’ social media http://www.dot.ca.gov/paffairs/social-media.html. Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

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

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February 6, 2019

Early Recognition and CPR by Family Saves a Man’s Life

“I just did what I had been trained to do,” states Kenneth Forgery an everyday hero who helped save a family member’s life.

On October 21st of 2018, Kenneth had just finished having a nice meal with his family when all of the sudden his father in law grabbed his own face and started gasping for air. Humberto Turcios, had collapsed! He quit breathing and all of the sudden he had no pulse.

At that point, Kenneth’s daughter had become the first link in the Chain of Survival for out-of- hospital cardiac arrest victims; she called 911 and activated the emergency response system.
Kenneth became the second link by realizing the severity of the situation and administering CPR.


“I’m certified in CPR and First Aid,” states Kenneth. “I followed the 911 dispatch instructions and continued for approximately five minutes doing chest compressions until EMTs arrived, set up their equipment, and took over the process.”

“Statistically speaking, 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the home. This means that bystander intervention –hands only CPR – is absolutely one of the most important aspects affecting patient survivability,” said Firefighter Mickey Brunelli of the Merced Fire Department.

According to Russel Banks, Paramedic with Riggs Ambulance Service, what really saved Humberto’s life is the early recognition and CPR done by his family. As the third link in the Chain of Survival, Russell along with the Merced City Firefighters arrived on scene and they
immediately were able to defibrillate Humberto: he was shocked three times before the emergency crews were able to get his pulses back.

Finally, the final link in the Chain of Survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

 

victims is the Advanced Life Support and post-cardiac arrest care provided by the staff at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, CA.

“Our experienced staff at Emanuel Medical Center is dedicated to providing patients with comprehensive care close to home and to hear Humberto’s story is amazing,” said Lani Dickenson, CEO of Emanuel Medical Center. She also said, “Seeing our patients healthy and happy after being discharged is such a joy. That’s what we’re here for.”

The family of Humberto felt like everyone did a great job taking care of their loved one. They were with Humberto as he recovered at Emanuel Medical Center and watched him get up and move around only days after his life was saved.

“I felt blessed to be able to help him. I’m glad to have had the skills taught by CPR so that he could live to still be with us,” states Kenneth. He also believes that every household should have someone that is trained in such a lifesaving procedure such as CPR.

Humberto and his family will be reunited with the emergency services crews, fire crews, and hospital staff that helped save his life on February 5th at 10:00 am at the Riggs Ambulance Service Training and Education Center (1743 Ashby Road in Merced). This is a wonderful opportunity to also celebrate the fact that every part of the Chain of Survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims worked like it should!

“Every morning I thank the Heavenly Father, grateful for my family and all those who worked on me to give me a second chance at this life on Earth,” explains Humberto about his experience.

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February 5 , 2019

Merced High Wins 11th Consecutive Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 10 Merced County high schools converged at UC Merced on Feb. 2 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon and for the 11th consecutive year, Merced High School took the top spot.
The 38th 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 The 1960s: A Transformational Decade.
High schools participating this year were: Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced, Valley Community School, Atwater and Valley Community School, Los Banos.
Merced High was the highest scoring team for the Super Quiz and team member Laura Ness was the top-scoring student.
Merced High will go on to represent Merced County in March, 2019, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are Educational Employees Credit Union, Community Foundation of Merced County, UC Merced Office of Admissions and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,000 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.
Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.


Attached is the complete list awards.



 


For the 11th year in a row, Merced High School took the top spot at the 38th annual Merced County Academic Decathlon.


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

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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February 5 , 2019

Atwater FFA Students Compete in State Skills Competitions

Written by:Atwater FFA

Forty-five Atwater High School agriculture staff and students filled a charter bus and suburban and joined nearly 2000 high school students representing nearly 100 high schools throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day and the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational contest on February 2nd. The FFA Field Day competitions mark the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various Career Development Event (CDE) agriculture-related skill contests.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 2nd overall with Luz Soto (1st overall), Elisabeth garner (2nd overall), Gurkirath Gandhok, and Jennifer Velazquez leading the team. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team placed 4th overall with the team comprised of Noemi Perez, Cristal Vanessa Varela, and Stefanie Sanchez. The students demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team placed 5th overall with a team composed of Arely Venega, Hayley Vargas, Kathy Vargas, and Marissa Nuno. The students competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills. Other students who competed included Gabriela Moreno, Perla Caballero, Xitlalic Alvarado, and Yusdivia Rojo.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 6th finish 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 Daisy Flores-Mota, Marie Corado. Juanabel Perez, Moira Conway, Jose Ruiz, Teresa Cavallero, Everett Hill, and Thomas Garner.

The Vegetable Crops team placed 8th overall and consisted of Supreet Ganhok, Cheyenne Borba, Jose Montanez, and Vincent Gonzales. The purpose of the contest is is to create interest and promote understanding in the vegetable crop industry by providing opportunities for recognition through the demonstration of skills and proficiencies. It is the intention of the contest to provide a venue for students to explore career opportunities, skills and proficiencies in the vegetable crop industry.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team has three competitors (Valerie Carlos, Jillian Stewart, and Faith Johnson) who 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. Atwater High School agriculture students Daniel Lopez and Emma Garcia also attended the trip and assisted with the contest.

The Atwater High School FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team made it to the finals and placed 6th overall at the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team comprised of Elizabeth Ayala, Dakarai Valdez, Anthony Pitchford, Reagan Puthuff, Klaithsa Cruz Hernandez, and Alyssa Wilson.


Thirty-two Atwater High School agriculture students joined 1500+ other California agriculture students throughout the state at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day where students competed in various agriculture-related and industry skill-based contests.


The Atwater High School FFA Floral team comprised of Xitlalic Alvarado-Vargas, Kathy Vargas, Yusdivia Rojo, Gaby Moreno, Marissa Nuno, Hayley Vargas, Perla Caballero, and Arely Venegas placed 5th overall in the Floral contest.


The Atwater High School FFA Agronomy team placed 2nd overall and comprised of Gurkirath Gandhok, Luz Soto (1st High Individual), Jennifer Velazquez, and Elisabeth Garner (2nd High Individual).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 2nd at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2019 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 4th. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry

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

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February 5 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 FROM SANDY MUSH ROAD TO MISSION AVENUE IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59) for more than six miles, from Sandy Mush Road to Mission Avenue, for flooding.

The closure began between at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Monday, February 4, 2019, and the roadway does not have an estimated time of opening.

Please follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist10 (http://twitter.com/CaltransDist10) for updates. Check our Quickmap website (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov) and free smartphone app, call 1 (800) 427-ROAD and go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi .

Motorists should use alternate routes and expect 20-minute delays.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.

 

 

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


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February 2 , 2019

Housing project, bike path on Council agenda

The City Council will consider an affordable housing project and a contract for a bike path at its Monday night meeting.

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

The City is applying for a grant to construct 119 units of affordable housing at Childs Avenue and B Street under a loan and grant program. The units would provide housing for low income families, homeless and veterans. The project would be a permanent supportive housing project, which means that it would provide the necessary services, ranging from mental health to financial counseling, to help residents become successful community members.

The project includes offices for the case managers, a multi-purpose room, a regional storm water basin, a bus shelter and other amenities. The City is working with Merced County on the project.

The City is considering a contract with Rolfe Construction Company for construction of a Rivera Bike Path and G Street ADA Ramps. The $351,922 contract would connect the bike path along the edge of Rivera Middle/Elementary School to the Rascal Bike Path. It also would include sidewalk modifications and other improvements along Buena Vista Drive.

 

The project would also include ADA curb ramps along G Street at the intersections of 9th, 11th, 12th and 13th streets. The entire project is being funded from Community Development Block Grant funds.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session regarding an employee performance evaluation and anticipated litigation.

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

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

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February 2 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2 STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2019. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety. The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris, such as rocks, onto highway lanes. Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening it to traffic. To stay current on this closure, and other news regarding the impact the storm is having on transportation, please follow District 10 Twitter (@CaltransDist10) and download the Caltrans QuickMap app to your phone. You may also call 1-800-427-7623 for highway conditions. This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and other issues.

 

 

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


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February 1 , 2019

Merced County Fair Board Officers Selected for 2019
Lori Gallo takes on role as the new President of the Fair Board

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, January 31, 2019 – The Merced County Fair proudly announces the 2019 officer positions for the 35th District Agricultural Association Board of Directors, which was made official on December 12 after a Board vote at its monthly meeting. Those positions are: Lori Gallo, President; Carol Sartori-Silva, First Vice President; and Lee Lor, Second Vice President. The fair’s CEO, Teresa Burrola said “she is very excited to work closely with Lori as the Board President because of the positive energy she brings. Her enthusiasm is similar to the magical lights of a carnival”.
The focus of the Board’s new President Lori Gallo is to expand the highly popular STREAM exhibit added in 2018 – designed for children and families promoting science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math – drawing in added involvement from UC Merced, Merced Junior College and other regional educational institutions. In her new role, Lori Gallo also wants to help drive new involvement in the fair’s nonprofit foundation, the Friends of the Merced County Fair to ultimately support the improvement of Merced County Fairgrounds’ buildings and overall grounds for future generations.
“As a child, I grew up loving the fair, food, rides and animals, exhibits, including the hardworking livestock exhibitors during the various sales,” said Lori. “And the incredible thing about the Merced County Fair is that it has all those traditional fair elements I loved as a little girl, but new elements like the STEAM exhibit that draws in a whole new generation of Fairgoers who want to see the latest in science and technology.”
Lori Gallo’s involvement in the fair extends much further than her service on the Board since 2013. She grew up at the Merced County Fair where her mother used to plan and organize the “Mercy Gulch Days” that was held in downtown Merced prior to opening day each year and her father used to be the announcer for the auto races. Lori grew up spending every day at the fair.
“The fair means something different for everyone but one thing is the same – it’s something that our community looks forward to each year. Whether you look forward to the five days where you can get the most amazing food – think corn dogs, tacos, burgers and incredible BBQ from local vendors, local wines and more – or the exhibits that showcase the talents and ‘bounty of the county’ in the various exhibit buildings or the live entertainment from music to tractor pulls and more, we can all agree there is something magical about the Fair. I’m thrilled to continue my involvement in such a beloved tradition, helping to further develop and improve the Fairgrounds for future generations,” added Lori.
Lori Gallo was appointed to the Merced County Fair Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. In addition to her involvement in the Merced County Fair, she helps with the family business, Joseph Gallo Farms, maker of Joseph Farms Cheese, is a UC Merced Diplomat and serves on their Early Childhood Education Advisory Council. Lori is involved in many other various civic and charitable activities such as volunteering at Our Lady of Mercy School. Lori resides in Merced with her husband Mike and their son Marco. She is joined by a dynamic team of leaders on the Merced County Fair Board who occupy the two other officer positions for 2019.
First is Carol Sartori-Silva, of Atwater who also has a longstanding relationship with the fair, having served on the Merced County Fair Board since 1998. Carol has served as a fiscal supervisor for the Merced County Welfare to Work Department, as well as a civil assistant in the Merced County Marshal’s Office. She has previously served as a member of the California Women in Agriculture, Merced County Historical Society and the Western Fairs Association. Carol was also a charter member of the Friends of the Merced County Fair, which was created to support the fair through fundraising efforts year round.
Second is Lee Lor of Merced who was first appointed to the Merced County Fair Board in 2013. She held multiple positions at the Merced County Office of Education including Executive Director of the Merced County Education Foundation. Lee is a former board member of the Merced Lao Family Community and Mercy Medical Center Merced. She is a member of the American Leadership Forum – Great Valley Chapter and Chair of the First 5 Merced County. In 2016, she was elected to the Merced County Board of Supervisors representing District 2, a position she proudly holds. Lee looks forward to growing the Fair and supporting President Lori Gallo.

Highlights:
• Get Involved | Celebrate the official kick-off of the 2019 fair season and support the fundraising efforts of the Friends of the Merced County Fair at the February 21 Merced County Fair pre-party. Tickets are $40 for this event that features a live and silent auction, dinner and hosted drinks, plus plenty of entertainment. For more details go to: www.mercedcountyfair.com/merced-fair-preparty

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



About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating 128 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, Lori Gallo; First Vice President, Carol Sartori-Silva; Second Vice President, Lee Lor; Vicky Banaga; Mark Erreca; Emily Haden and Kim Rogina. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2019 Merced County Fair will run June 5 - 9. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visitwww.MercedCountyFair.com. Connect with the Fair on Facebook (@mercedfair), Twitter (@Merced_CA_Fair) and Instagram (@mercedcountyfair).

 


 


Lori Gallo


Lee Lor


Carol Sartori-Silva

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February 1 , 2019

Early Recognition and CPR by Family Saves a Man’s Life

“I just did what I had been trained to do,” states Kenneth Forgery an everyday hero who helped save a family member’s life.

On October 21st of 2018, Kenneth had just finished having a nice meal with his family when all of the sudden his father in law grabbed his own face and started gasping for air. Humberto Turcios, had collapsed! He quit breathing and all of the sudden he had no pulse.

At that point, Kenneth’s daughter had become the first link in the Chain of Survival for out-of- hospital cardiac arrest victims; she called 911 and activated the emergency response system.
Kenneth became the second link by realizing the severity of the situation and administering CPR.


“I’m certified in CPR and First Aid,” states Kenneth. “I followed the 911 dispatch instructions and continued for approximately five minutes doing chest compressions until EMTs arrived, set up their equipment, and took over the process.”

“Statistically speaking, 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the home. This means that bystander intervention –hands only CPR – is absolutely one of the most important aspects affecting patient survivability,” said Firefighter Mickey Brunelli of the Merced Fire Department.

According to Russel Banks, Paramedic with Riggs Ambulance Service, what really saved Humberto’s life is the early recognition and CPR done by his family. As the third link in the Chain of Survival, Russell along with the Merced City Firefighters arrived on scene and they
immediately were able to defibrillate Humberto: he was shocked three times before the emergency crews were able to get his pulses back.

Finally, the final link in the Chain of Survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims is the Advanced Life Support and post-cardiac arrest care provided by the staff at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, CA.

 

 




“Our experienced staff at Emanuel Medical Center is dedicated to providing patients with comprehensive care close to home and to hear Humberto’s story is amazing,” said Lani Dickenson, CEO of Emanuel Medical Center. She also said, “Seeing our patients healthy and happy after being discharged is such a joy. That’s what we’re here for.”

The family of Humberto felt like everyone did a great job taking care of their loved one. They were with Humberto as he recovered at Emanuel Medical Center and watched him get up and move around only days after his life was saved.

“I felt blessed to be able to help him. I’m glad to have had the skills taught by CPR so that he could live to still be with us,” states Kenneth. He also believes that every household should have someone that is trained in such a lifesaving procedure such as CPR.

Humberto and his family will be reunited with the emergency services crews, fire crews, and hospital staff that helped save his life on February 5th at 10:00 am at the Riggs Ambulance Service Training and Education Center (1743 Ashby Road in Merced). This is a wonderful opportunity to also celebrate the fact that every part of the Chain of Survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims worked like it should!

“Every morning I thank the Heavenly Father, grateful for my family and all those who worked on me to give me a second chance at this life on Earth,” explains Humberto about his experience.

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February 1 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to SR-33 in Gustine beginning Thursday, February 7, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Santa Fe Avenue in Merced to 3rd Street in Mariposa beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Hayden Road to Cunningham Road east of Planada beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 7:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 20-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM MADERA/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE
TO PRINCETON WAY IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from the Madera County line to Princeton Way in the community of Mt. Bullion for striping.

Work (one-way traffic control) is scheduled as follows on SR-49:

• Madera County line to SR-140 in the town of Mariposa beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

• Whitlock Road in Mariposa to Princeton Way beginning Monday, February 4, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each location.
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
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM GRIFFITH ROAD TO CHRISTOFFERSEN REST AREA

TURLOCK – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform lane closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Griffith Road to the Christoffersen Rest Area in Turlock for striping and pavement work.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• #1 (left) lane closure on northbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Northbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, February 3, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving.

• #2 (right) lane closure on southbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Southbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, February 3, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 8:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving.

• #1 (left) lane closure on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Northbound and Southbound Christoffersen Rest Areas beginning Sunday, February 3, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

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

This work is part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on both northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of the Bradbury Road overcrossing to just north of the county line. The striping is being performed during the daytime because overnight temperatures in the winter do not allow for the striping material to set properly on the roadway.
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
RAMP AND LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM BUTTS ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY
TO FINK ROAD IN STANISLAUS COUNTY

MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTIES – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various on and off-ramp closures and lane closures on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 (I-5) from Butts Road to Fink Road in Crows Landing for pavement work.
Work is scheduled as beginning Monday, February 3, 2019, through Friday, February 8, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is part of a project that is rehabilitating bridges on I-5 in Merced and Stanislaus counties, and construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of February 2019.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.


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January 31, 2019

Costa to Represent a “Valley Trifecta” on House Committees

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was named to the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources yesterday. Rep. Costa is a senior member of the Natural Resources Committee, and this position rounds out Costa’s committee seats for the 116th Congress.

“With my seniority on Natural Resources, leadership of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs Committee position, I will represent a Valley trifecta of interests and needs: water, trade, and agriculture and nutrition,” said Costa. “For nearly forty years, I have been working for long-term, bipartisan solutions to tackle the challenges we face in the Valley, and I am better positioned than ever to lead responsible and effective legislation that improves the lives of the people of the Valley and all Americans.”

Last week, Congressman Costa was elected Chairperson of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, which oversees agriculture trade promotion, dairy, livestock, poultry, and foreign agriculture assistance. Additionally, Costa will return to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this congress and also serve as Chair of the U.S. Delegation to the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue.

 


Congressman Jim Costa

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January 29, 2019

Atwater FFA Students Qualify for Regional Speaking Finals

Written by:Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA joined over 160 FFA speaking contestants, representing fifteen high school agriculture programs throughout Merced and Mariposa counties at the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Public Speaking Sectional Finals at Merced College January 26th. The top four individual finalists in each speaking contest advance to the regional prelims in February. Atwater FFA had five of the twenty sectional finalists advancing to the regional prelims next month.

Atwater High School agriculture program students Emma Garcia (1st overall) and Daniel Lopez (4th overall) will be moving onto the regional finals in the Impromptu Speaking contest. The impromptu speech is given without any preparation, any notes or other additional materials; it is a spontaneous reaction to an agriculture-related topic at hand which may introduce an interesting turn to the discussion. Adriana Lopez and Jaimie Colores also competed in the sectional finals.

Atwater High School agriculture freshman student Tristan Cardey (1st overall) qualified for the regional finals in the Creed contest. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the FFA Creed from memory and answer questions on the meaning and purpose of the FFA Creed. The event is just one way FFA members can develop their ability to communicate in a powerful, organized and professional manner. Members boost their self- confidence and earn recognition. 9th grade agriculture students Ned Prothro, Liliana Boesch, and Kate Brigham also competed in the section finals.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Alyssa Carrillo placed 3rd overall in Prepared Public Speaking, qualifying her for the regional prelims. Student speeches covered topics that included gene editing, farm security, and food security within the agriculture industry. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 minute speech on an agriculture related topic/issue, a written manuscript which is scored, and a question and answer period between the contestant and judges following the speech. Kaya Briscoe (5th overall), Haley Vargas, Cristal Venegas, and Michael Bray also competed in the sectional finals.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Anessa Cardenas placed 4th overall in the Job Interview contest which qualified her for the regional finals. The Job Interview contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment. Other Atwater FFA members that competed in the Job Interview contest included Marissa Nuño and Jose Montanez.

Atwater High School agriculture students Stephania Valdovinos (5th overall), Jennifer Velazquez (6th overall), Emmanuel Mejia (7th overall) place in the Extemporaneous Speaking contest. Contestants are presented with a choice of three questions related to agricultural current events and, in 30 minutes, prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. Topics range from local-specific issues to national-world concerns relating to agriculture. Atwater High School agriculture student Elisabeth Garner also competed in the section finals.


Atwater High School agriculture students Tristan Cardey (1st overall), Lilian Boesch, Kate Brigham, and Ned Prothro competed at the Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Creed Speaking contest with Tristan
Cardey advancing to the regional prelims next month.


Atwater High School agriculture students Jaimie Colores, Daniel Lopez (4th overall), Emma Garcia (1st overall), and Adriana competed at the Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Impromptu Speaking contest with the top two students advancing to the regional prelims next month.

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


Atwater High School FFA also had agriculture students Celeste Chargoy, Tyler Brawley, Chelsea Thompson, Nandani Patel, Litzy Suastigui, Flor Agundis, Liliana Vargas, Ethan Slate, and Felicity Garcia help assist with the organization and facilitation of the various speaking contests.

“Being a good communicator is one of the foundations off success towards personal and career development,” says Atwater FFA Advisor Kim Macintosh. “Our agriculture program is very proud of our students’ efforts, participation, courage, and enthusiasm in this event!”


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

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January 29, 2019


‘The 1960s: A Transformational Decade’ is theme of 38th Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 10 Merced County high schools will converge at UC Merced on Feb. 2 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon. This year’s theme is The 1960s: A Transformational Decade.
The 38th 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.
High schools participating this year are: Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Merced, Valley Community School, Atwater and Valley Community School, Los Banos.
There are also communications tests, which include essay writing, the delivery of a prepared and impromptu speech and an oral interview.
Teams compete for awards, scholarships and a chance to represent Merced County in March at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are Educational Employees Credit Union, Community Foundation of Merced County, UC Merced Office of Admissions and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,000 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.

Participating schools each pay a participation fee, which is matched from the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program, and scholarships of $1,000 are designated 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. Whether they are donating money, serving on the board, or volunteering on competition day, Wayne and the MSEFCU have been one of MCAD’s key contributors.
The public is invited to attend the Super Quiz portion of the Decathlon at 3:15 p.m. at the UC Merced Gym, 5200 Lake Road, and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. in the UC Merced Lakireddy Auditorium. Free parking is available in the Le Grand Lot.

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January 29, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY REST AREA CLOSURE ENOCH CHRISTOFFERSEN REST AREA ON NORTHBOUND STATE ROUTE 99 IN STANISLAUS COUNTY CLOSED DAILY THROUGH WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30 STANISLAUS COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a full closure of the Enoch Christoffersen Rest Area on northbound State Route 99, just south of the city of Turlock, for highway construction. The closure is scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2019, through Wednesday, January 30, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. each day. The southbound Enoch Christoffersen Rest Area is scheduled to be open throughout the day. 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 RAMP CLOSURES SOUTHBOUND INTERSTATE 5 TO STATE ROUTE 152 IN MERCED COUNTY MERCED COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the ramps connecting southbound Interstate 5 and State Route 152 for slope repair and cleaning. The ramps will be closed on Thursday, January 31, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Motorists should expect delays of 10 minutes. Please select alternate routes if possible. This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

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January 26, 2019

Science Curriculum Fair for Educators in Merced

Between 80 and 100 school administrators and teachers will have a chance to preview instructional materials Tuesday at a K-12 Science Curriculum Fair 2019 and Publisher Showcase in Merced.
The Merced County Office of Education-sponsored event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at Gateway Gardens at M and West 18th Streets, Merced.
Educators will have a chance to meet with publisher's representatives to preview textbooks, online course material and other science curriculum aligning with the state's Next Generation Science Standards.
The session costs $35 per person and information about registration can be obtained by calling Ruth Sanchez at MCOE, (209) 381-4570.



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January 25, 2019

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
STATE ROUTE 140 REHABILITATION WORK FROM BRICEBURG
TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing work on an emergency project that is rehabilitating and repairing eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Briceburg to Yosemite National Park.

The work is needed after the Ferguson Fire burned through the region in summer 2018. The project includes the replacement and repair of culverts (underground drainage systems), removal of potentially hazardous trees and branches, and implementing slope stabilization measures.

The Ferguson Fire started July 13, 2018, in Mariposa County and burned more than 96,900 acres, causing power outages, road damage and road closures. Burnt vegetation and trees exposed slopes to potential erosion, mud flows and rock falls.

As of Thursday, January 24, 2019, crews had replaced at least four culverts, installed erosion control devices, and completed three miles of tree work and slope scaling. Slope scaling refers to measures taken on roadslide slopes which help mitigate future mudslides and debris flow.

To this point, this project has incurred a total estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Work began in November 2018 and will occur during day and night hours into April 2019. One-way traffic control will be used, and motorists should expect 10- to 20-minute delays. Full closures may be needed for short-durations to protect public and worker safety.

Caltrans closed SR-140 pre-emptively in the area of the Ferguson Fire scar in November 2018 and again in January 2019 to prevent motorists from being on the road when potential mudslides or debris movements were likely to occur.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM MADERA/MARIPOSA COUNTY LINE
TO PRINCETON WAY IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from the Madera County line to Princeton Way in the community of Mt. Bullion for striping.

Work (one-way traffic control) is scheduled as follows on SR-49:

• Madera County line to SR-140 in the town of Mariposa beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

• Whitlock Road in Mariposa to Princeton Way beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each location.
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
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to Meredith Avenue in Gustine beginning Wednesday, January 30, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Santa Fe Avenue in Merced to 3rd Street in Mariposa beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Hayden Road to Cunningham Road east of Planada beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 15-minute delays from Slate Gulch to Yosemite and 10-minute delays at the other work locations.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials, and construction related issues.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM GRIFFITH ROAD TO CHRISTOFFERSEN REST AREA

TURLOCK – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform lane closures on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from Griffith Road to the Christoffersen Rest Area in Turlock for striping and pavement work.
Work is scheduled as follows:
• #1 (left) lane closure on northbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Northbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, January 27, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for paving.

• #2 (right) lane closure on southbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Southbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Sunday, January 27, 2019, through Friday, February 1, 2019, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving.

• #1 (left) lane closure on northbound and southbound SR-99 from Griffith Road to the Southbound Christoffersen Rest Area beginning Monday, January 28, 2019, through Wednesday, January 30, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

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

This work is part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on both northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of the Bradbury Road overcrossing to just north of the county line. The striping is being performed during the daytime because overnight temperatures in the winter do not allow for the striping material to set properly on the roadway.
This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

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January 25, 2019

Costa Elected Chair of Livestock and Trade Agriculture Subcommittee

Washington, D.C. – Today, Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was elected Chairperson of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. As Chair, Rep. Costa will lead the subcommittee that oversees agriculture trade promotion, dairy, livestock, poultry, and foreign agriculture assistance.

“This leadership position provides me a powerful tool to fight for our Valley farmers, families, and local economy,” said Costa. “As leader of the Subcommittee, I will continue my strong advocacy for our Valley’s dairy and poultry industries and work to promote market access and improve trade programs for California and American agriculture. I am excited to get to work, leading the Subcommittee to create effective bipartisan solutions to tackle the challenges our agriculture producers are facing in California and across the United States.”

In addition to chairing the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, Congressman Costa will also serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and return to his senior position on the House Natural Resources Committee.


Congressman Jim Costa

Valley Congressmen TJ Cox (CA-21) and Josh Harder (CA-10) were also named to the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, with 1/3rd of the Subcommittee seats now filled by Central Valley representatives.


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January 24, 2019

MCOE Unveils 2018 Education Report

On Wednesday, Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen unveiled the 2018 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report during a luncheon event at Yosemite Church.
“All 20 school districts along with the Merced County Office of Education know each year is precious for our children as they grow,” Tietjen said. “As they grow we strive to provide the kind of education that will prepare students for the world that awaits them when they graduate.”
Tietjen said new programs and improvements are possible because of the collaborative spirit that exists in Merced County and the leadership of superintendents at the 20 school districts in the county.
The event featured a performance from the Delhi High School Mariachi Gavilan and videos produced by Merced Educational Television (METV), a program operated by MCOE. Another luncheon event is scheduled tomorrow in Los Banos.
One video highlighted bilingual education, including dual-language immersion and students who have earned the Seal of Biliteracy. The other video focused on innovative teaching in Merced, Los Banos and McSwain, with a component of how MCOE helps foster improved pedagogy.
In his remarks, Tietjen announced the former St. Luke’s Church and School on Yosemite Avenue in Merced has been acquired by MCOE to open a branch of the Come Back Charter, which targets out-of-school adults and provides an independent study format for them as they complete their high school diploma. This new county program now based in Atwater hopes to have sites open throughout the county in the next two years.
The former church will also serve as a performing art space for students.
Efforts to bring attention to improving literacy are beginning to pay off locally, he said, and the public school system in Merced County is helping to make this county a great place to raise a family, Tietjen said.
The annual Report on Schools highlights the fact that county schools are exceeding the state’s high school graduation rates by nearly a percentage point. About 4,000 students graduated from the county’s high schools last year.
The report also underscores heightened efforts to strengthen bilingual education and cut chronic truancy rates through a collaboration between MCOE and the county’s probation officers.
The program already is seeing a substantial decrease in truancy and improved school funding, which is based on student attendance.
MCOE also partnered with county school districts through a school safety summit with a focus on safety planning, behavioral health in schools and promoting a culture of safety on local campuses.
The annual Report on Schools also showcased the Phoenix Project, a collaboration between MCOE and the county's probation department. Those adults on probation have been able to learn skills which could lead to new careers. Eighty-eight percent of those participating in Phoenix programs completed their commitment.
For copies of the annual report or to learn more about education in Merced County, call Nathan Quevedo at (209) 381-6658.


VIDEOS COURTESTY METV

Innovative Teaching: https://youtu.be/3ozmZf6pqgo

Multilingual Education: https://youtu.be/5VR1B9hdR6Q

Link to Annual Report: https://www.mcoe.org/deptprog/super/Documents/2018-Annual%20Education-Report.pdf

 

 

 

 


 


More than 250 people attended the 2018 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at Yosemite Church on Jan. 23


Delhi High School Mariachi Gavilan perform at the 2018 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at Yosemite Church on Jan. 23


2018 Merced County Teacher of the Year Janis Edwards addresses the audience at the 2018 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at Yosemite Church on Jan. 23.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen addresses the audience at the 2018 Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at Yosemite Church on Jan. 23.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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January 24, 2019

Free Dog & Cat Food for Federal Furloughed Employees
At the CCSPCA Gift Store; 103 S. Hughes Ave., Fresno, CA 93706

In light of the ongoing federal government shutdown, the Central California SPCA is offering free dog and cat food to federal employees who have been impacted. Food distribution will take place at the CCSPCA Gift Store on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 AM to 1 PM, while supplies last. The CCSPCA Gift Store is located adjacent to our Adoption Center. Recipients must provide a valid government issued ID.
If you’d like to help fill the mouths of local animals in need and provide pet food for furloughed families, we encourage members of the public to bring pet food donations to our Adoption Center. Donations of any variety are always accepted, though cans of wet dog and cat food are especially needed at this time.

 


This offer is made possible by the support of the CCSPCA Board of Directors and the generosity of our donors and supporters. For more information about this limited-time offer, please call (559) 417-0344.

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January 23, 2019

MCSD Debuts New “Family Help Station”

The Merced City School District now has a new way for families to access helpful resources.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Tuesday afternoon for a new “Family Help Station” at Hoover Middle School. The station is located in the front office and includes a touchscreen device that parents or guardians can use to check their children’s attendance, grades, and other important information. The device can also be used for registration, parent surveys, and to access items such as free/reduced price lunch applications, transportation schedules, and athletics information. The station is stocked with brochures from local community organizations that provide services for students and their families as well.
The Family Help Station is the result of a collaborative effort led by Director of Curriculum and Categorical Compliance, Elena Castro and Title 1 Coordinator for Student and Family Engagement, Kate McClatchy with support from the district’s Community Outreach Specialists as well as Information Technology and Hoover Middle School staff members. The device and signage feature information in English, Spanish, and Hmong.
Ms. Castro says, “We know how important it is for parents to be involved in their children’s education and to feel welcome as soon as they walk onto our campuses. This is one more way we’re working to help families stay connected to our schools and provide access to both online and printed resources in a convenient way.”
The Family Help Station is a pilot program at Hoover Middle School. The district plans to expand it to all other campuses in phases over the next two years.



MCSD Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran and parent representative Carmen Flores cutting the ribbon with support from other MCSD staff members and an ambassador from the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce.

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January 23, 2019

All-New California Food Expo Presents Exclusive Opportunity to Connect
With Golden State’s Innovative Food and Beverage Companies

Fresno, California – January 22, 2019…The all-new California Food Expo is proud to announce buyer and exhibitor registration is now open. The Expo will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center on September 9 -10, 2019, a shift from the Expo’s traditional summer dates. Special exhibitor pricing is available now.
The all-new California Food Expo offers grocery retail and foodservice buyers from across the globe an exclusive opportunity to connect with California food companies in a convenient and approachable setting. To ensure the Expo’s platform is satisfying the growing demand for diverse and innovative California brands, insight and guidance from the newly-formed
Retail Advisory Council will help put the Expo at the forefront of industry trends and sustain its long-term viability.
“There are so many producers I’ve never heard of or seen before at the Expo.” said Randy Ducummon, Vice President for Whole Foods Market, Northern California & Reno, and a member of the Expo’s Retail Advisory Council, “It makes the Expo experience a great way to find new and emerging items that are on trend.”
With twice as many food and beverage manufacturing facilities than any other state, nearly 400 different crops grown annually and a commodity value that is double that of any other state, Expo organizers are committed to telling the story and celebrating California’s $72.27 billion food industry.
“California is home to world-renowned food producers, growers and innovators,” said Amy Fuentes, Manager of the California Food Expo. “We’re excited that our new Expo date will showcase an expanded variety of products from over 15 different categories crafted by large-scale manufacturers, boutique brands and budding food entrepreneurs. It will be a true reflection of California’s dominating food industry.”

The Expo’s expanded two-day agenda will include: New Product Awards, educational sessions, keynote speakers, networking opportunities and a diverse show floor featuring hundreds of food and beverage products: fresh produce, meat, dairy, deli, bakery, grocery, frozen, beverages, wine and craft brews— all exclusively from California food companies.
Directors are encouraged to send buyers for every category. With qualifying business credentials, retail and foodservice buyers can register to attend free of charge
California food and beverage companies can take advantage of special exhibitor pricing by registering to exhibit before April 1st.
For additional information, event updates and to register for the California Food Expo, please visit www.CaliforniaFoodExpo.com or contact Amy Fuentes, Manager, California Food Expo, at
(559) 227-9999 or mobile at: (559) 790-3204.

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About The California Food Expo
The California Food Expo was created in 2018 by the organizers responsible for the production of the annual Fresno Food Expo from 2011-2017. The California Food Expo empowers California food and beverage brands by facilitating business relationships, connecting industry peers and elevating the California food brand around the world. The Expo is a 501c-6 that is
governed by a 13-member Board of Directors comprised of Presidents and CEOs from leading California food industry companies. Additionally, a Retail Advisory Council of appointed retailers whose priority is to sell and promote local California products works in partnership with the Expo’s Board for insight and guidance.

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January 19, 2019

Parking issues, police HQ on Council agenda

The City Council will hear a presentation on parking requirements for accessory dwelling units and consider a professional services agreement regarding the future police headquarters at its Tuesday night meeting.

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

Accessory dwelling units are small housing units on properties that were recently permitted under state law. Council is being asked to provide policy direction on parking requirements and owner occupancy requirements for the accessory dwelling units. Staff will incorporate the direction into a zoning ordinance.
Council is being asked to consider a $165,850 contract with LPA, Inc. to conduct a needs assessment for the future police headquarters. The current building was constructed in the 1950s and remodeled in the Seventies. It is too small for the existing Department, and staff is looking for a new facility for future growth.

Also on the agenda is a contract for $331,434.65 to FBD Vanguard Construction to install sidewalks at John Muir Elementary School on 25th Street from I to K streets.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session to confer with labor negotiators and property negotiators and counsel regarding anticipated litigation.

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

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

The City Council will hear a presentation on parking requirements for accessory dwelling units and consider a professional services agreement

 

regarding the future police headquarters at its Tuesday night meeting.

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

Accessory dwelling units are small housing units on properties that were recently permitted under state law. Council is being asked to provide policy direction on parking requirements and owner occupancy requirements for the accessory dwelling units. Staff will incorporate the direction into a zoning ordinance.
Council is being asked to consider a $165,850 contract with LPA, Inc. to conduct a needs assessment for the future police headquarters. The current building was constructed in the 1950s and remodeled in the Seventies. It is too small for the existing Department, and staff is looking for a new facility for future growth.

Also on the agenda is a contract for $331,434.65 to FBD Vanguard Construction to install sidewalks at John Muir Elementary School on 25th Street from I to K streets.

The Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a closed session to confer with labor negotiators and property negotiators and counsel regarding anticipated litigation.

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

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

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January 18, 2019


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY RE-OPENING
STATE ROUTE 140 IN FERGUSON FIRE BURN SCAR OF MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol re-opened State Route 140 (SR-140) in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar just after 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

SR-140, which was shut down just after 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, was closed for more than 11 hours. This was due to an ongoing storm that impacted the roadway.

The closure was implemented for the sake of public safety.

The closure took place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance.

Crews hauled away approximately 50 yards of rock and other debris from the roadway and are working on clearing a plugged culvert (underground drainage structure). There was also debris flow across the road at or near the Yosemite National Park entrance.

Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process. Please remember to read up on Caltrans’ Winter Driving Tips before you hit the road: http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html .

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY AND RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 59/DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAY IN MERCED

MERCED COUNTY – Northbound and southbound State Route 59 (SR-59)/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way will close from Childs Avenue to the junction with SR-99 for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration.

The closure is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Monday, January 21, 2019.

There are also scheduled various full on- and off-ramp closures from southbound SR-99 to SR-59/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

A signed detour will be available using Childs Avenue. The California Highway Patrol and the Merced Police Department will oversee traffic control.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to Linden Avenue in Gustine beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in Merced beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Hayden Road to Cunningham Road east of Planada beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for utility work.

• The Merced/Mariposa County line to Ponderosa Way between Midpines and Briceburg beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2019, through Friday, January 25, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each work location.
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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January 18, 2019

MCOE to Host Annual Report on Schools Jan. 23 in Merced, Jan 24 in LB

Dr. Steve Tietjen, county superintendent of schools, will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Jan. 23-24 in Merced and Los Banos. This is the eighth time this comprehensive report on local educational efforts has been shared with the public.
“As county superintendent, I will do everything I can to keep the public informed about the great things happening every day in classrooms across our county, as well as the internal and external factors influencing public education,” Tietjen said.
The session Jan. 23 will be at Yosemite Church on Yosemite Avenue in Merced. A separate session is planned Jan. 24 at the Los Banos Community Center. Both events are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch is provided.
This year’s presentation will focus on student achievement, innovative teaching practices and bilingual education. Information and data on student achievement will be shared. A student performance from Delhi High School’s mariachi band also is planned, plus videos highlighting students and teachers prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and shot in classrooms in several school districts throughout the county.
“For nearly a decade the Merced County Office of Education has hosted an annual event to bring the community together and focus on education and the many partnerships we have throughout Merced County,” Tietjen said.



“Through these partnerships we create a stronger educational experience for our students and create schools that have so much to offer those students, their families and the community.”
The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, the Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union.
For more information about the event, contact MCOE at (209) 381-6601 or make a reservation for the events at rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

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January 17, 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE STATE ROUTE 140 FROM MIDPINES TO EL PORTAL IN MARIPOSA COUNTY MARIPOSA COUNTY

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is planning a pre-emptive closure of State Route 140 in and near the Ferguson Fire burn scar beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. This is due to an ongoing storm that could impact the roadway, and the closure is scheduled for the sake of public safety. The estimated time of opening is dependent upon the impact of the weather. This closure will take place for approximately 17 miles from Bear Creek near Midpines to Foresta Road in El Portal – approximately 4 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance. Risks for this stretch of roadway in storm conditions include mudslides and the movement of debris such as rocks onto highway lanes. Caltrans crews will close the road when the storm begins. After the storm has passed, Caltrans crews will clear any debris and inspect the road before reopening to traffic. This closure is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and other issues..


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

 

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January 16, 2019

City of Merced offices will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The regularly scheduled Monday City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
There will be no trash collection on the Monday holiday, and all garbage pickup will be delayed one day for the rest of the week.

The Martin Luther King Jr. March will assemble at the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, starting at 10 a.m. Monday. The March will begin at 11 a.m. and proceed to the Merced Theatre, 301 Main St. At the Theatre there will be a program beginning at noon. There is no charge for the activities.

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January 14, 2019

Atwater High CTE Students Work Together

Written by:Atwater FFA

With the state and national focus renewing efforts to strengthen Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that provide students the knowledge and skills associated with today’s job and career occupational needs, students with the Atwater High School Agriculture and Graphic Arts programs worked together in providing “real world” products towards needed marketing and promotional materials.

For students of the Atwater FFA and Atwater High School agriculture program, they had an interest in creating and purchasing various marketing banners utilized at trade shows and educational presentations to showcase the various opportunities agriculture education provides in terms of academic success, personal growth, leadership, and career exploration. “Agriculture education is not just for students who have an interest in agriculture, but all students who have an interest in various personal, academic, and career knowledge, skills, and development,” said Atwater FFA President Emmanuel Mejia. The project was budgeted with FFA fundraising efforts by the students and was originally going to be contracted out to create the layout and submit to a company for printing.

With the Merced Union High School District’s re-focus and investment in CTE classes, the Atwater FFA did not have to look far for a resource to get the job done as they turned to Atwater High School’s Photography and Computer Graphic Arts department and their students. Under the leadership of Laura Eckman, students from her department and classes gathered photographs from the agriculture students and prepared various marketing banner layouts utilizing today’s technology and software. The project covered three weeks of student involvement and effort. “This is an example of a school utilizing the knowledge and skills learned by students and applying that knowledge and skills in a professional setting that benefits all stakeholders involved,” said Atwater agriculture instructor Dave Gossman. “The product produced by the students was ‘first class’!”

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


Atwater High School Photography and Graphic Arts student Angela Esau showcases the marketing banners designed by the high school CTE students to Atwater High School Agriculture student Kaya Briscoe.


Abigail Ramirez, Angela Esau, Gage Xiong, Dimineka Miranda, and Alexis Masasso of the Atwater High School Photography and Graphic Arts department gather in front of the agriculture banners designed by them for the high school's Agriculture department.

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January 14, 2019

The Merced Police Department will hold the swearing in ceremony for our newest Police Officer, Tucker Zazueta. The ceremony will take place at the Merced Civic Center Council Chambers located at 678 W. 18th Street on Friday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 p.m.


Officer Tucker Zazueta #275

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January 12, 2019

HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION EVENT
Free for Merced County residents

Merced – The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (Authority) is hosting a
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection event on Saturday, January 19, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. This event is for Merced County residents and Conditionally-Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQG) and will be held at the Highway 59 Landfill HHW Facility, 7040 N. Highway 59, Merced.

HHW is any leftover household product that contains ingredients that are corrosive, reactive, 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 five gallons).

Before bringing items out to the facility, please call 209-723-4481 ext. 224 to identify the amount and type of HHW that will be dropped off. 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.mcrwma.org/31/Household-Hazardous-Waste or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 224.

The Merced County Association of Governments is the organization responsible for administering the Regional Waste Authority. The Regional Waste Authority operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

For more information, please visit www.mcrwma.org/31/Household-Hazardous-Waste or call Regional Waste Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 224.

The Merced County Association of Governments is the organization responsible for administering the Regional Waste Authority. The Regional Waste Authority operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and the Billy Wright landfill in Los Banos. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

Click here to see Flyer

 

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January 12, 2019

Education Foundation Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit Arts, Outdoor Education

A night of dinner theater and virtual trip to Camp Green Meadows are planned Feb. 9 in Merced to raise funds for arts programs and outdoor education in Merced County.
The event, presented by the Merced County Education Foundation, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Merced Multicultural Arts Center on West Main Street.
Stacie Arancibia, executive director for the MCEF, said event proceeds will be used to help support arts programs in the county's schools as well as Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School.
This is the first year arts programs have been added to the fundraiser. In the past two years the dinner has raised funds for the outdoor school near Yosemite National Park for modernization and to build a new nurse’s station.
Performances by a variety of students are planned, along with a choir, individual actors and an entire class presentation. Bob Bassett, principal of Camp Green Meadows, also will speak.
Along with capital improvements, the MCEF uses funds to sponsor foster youth or other needy students to attend summer camp or a local arts program. The MCEF also recently approved a number of grants to support arts programs in a variety of districts. The foundation's motto is "Creating Educational Experiences Beyond the Classroom."


Tickets are available for $50 each and table and event sponsorships opportunities are available. Tickets can be purchased at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mcef/event/797066/ or by contacting Stacie Arancibia at sarancibia@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6602

Click here to see Flyer

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January 11, 2019

MCOE, Probation Department Partner for Phoenix Project

A collaborative project between the Merced County Office of Education and the county’s probation office is giving participants a new chance to live productive lives and contribute to society.
It’s the Phoenix Project and like the proverbial bird rising from the ashes a dozen graduates have completed the voluntary training program and eight of them have already found jobs.
Holly Newlon, MCOE director of educational services, said Phoenix Project participants are feeling a sense of hope for the future and they’re realizing they have talents.
“Research has shown how the dignity of a job and employment is a proven factor helping people not return to crime. People who have not been successful yet are getting a feeling they are smart and just need an opportunity to demonstrate they are smart,” Newlon said.
Toula Moua-Eccles, a career educator with the Educational Services office at MCOE, also is encouraged by the program’s early success.
“It’s given them a lot of hope,” Moua-Eccles said. “It’s life-changing; their lives are changed and all the lives around them, their parents, children, friends and families. They are also talking with others and sharing their successes by word-of-mouth.”
Jeff Kettering, the county’s chief probation officer, praises the program.
“This collaboration with MCOE has given our clients a chance to show that individuals can change the path their lives have taken. The success seen during the first year of the Phoenix Project has exceeded my expectations and I look forward to seeing continued success in the future.” Kettering said.
Howard Nelson, 53, of Merced said he would recommend Phoenix to anybody, especially young people. He’s a finish carpenter who completed six months of classes and is certified in numerous skill sets. He helped build a greenhouse at Merced County Juvenile Hall along with an 8-foot by 10-foot house.
“It is real helpful,” Nelson said. “The staff are excellent and they take care of you. Anyone who is an ex-convict or felon can do this program. It’s cost-free and anyone on probation or parole should jump on the wagon. You have got to want change in order to change.”
Phoenix Project costs are funded through probation money and participants are referred to the program through probation officers. Fifty-two people have been referred for training and only six have dropped out. Newlon said there’s an 88 percent completion rate and that is incredibly high.
Moua-Eccles said participants’ transportation costs, uniforms, interview clothes and necessary work tools have been furnished. Bus passes and transportation stipends for those who must travel for training are provided and Phoenix has helped its clients get driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
Newlon said the most common age group of participants is 35 to 44; the oldest was 56 and anyone over 18 can take part. Free tutoring is offered so participants can get their GED.
Typically, about half of those referred will attend a series of seminars and then meet with Moua-Eccles who helps assess their natural strengths and interests and what might be needed to bolster mathematics and academic skills. She helps her clients come up with a career action plan and sees they get the career training to fulfill high-demand jobs.
Newlon said the end goal of the year-round program is to help people get and stay employed and reduce recidivism. She foresees the program continuing for some time and notes it’s making an impact.
Moua-Eccles said participants have enrolled in classes in truck driving, maintenance mechanic, construction, welding and solar installations, all fields with high demand for qualified workers.
She meets with participants to go over career assessment results and talk about any personal barriers to advancement. They hone in on vocational interests and what the person wants to do professionally.
“Their confidence level starts medium and then goes high; their confidence goes through the roof,” Moua-Eccles said.
Jamieson Diaz of Dos Palos has just gotten hired as a truck driver for Button Transportation of Merced. The 45-year-old Phoenix graduate will go to Dixon to attend company orientation and then drive 18-wheelers hauling agricultural products throughout the state.
“I knew I wanted to find a career. I enjoy driving and the scenery. Phoenix is a good experience; it’s excellent and they got me focused about what would be best for me. Truck driving was at the top of my list. It was a process but I was willing to do it,” Diaz said.
Diaz said God had a plan for his life. He was determined from the start and is grateful for all that has been done for him. He attended the truck driving school through Advanced Career Institute.
William Swindle of Hilmar just got hired as an industrial maintenance mechanic at Foster Farms. The 41-year-old said you get out of it what you put into it. He attended Modesto Technical College for seven months.
“I’m blessed to have had the opportunity. Seize the opportunity if you get the chance,” Swindle said.


 


Phoenix Project graduates pose for a photo at MCOE.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation at MCOE.


Merced County Probation Chief Jeff Kettering speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation at MCOE.


MCOE Career Educator Toula Moua-Eccles speaks at the Phoenix Project graduation.

PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

Click here to see video

 

VIDEO COURTESY MERCED EDUCATION TELEVISION (METV)

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January 11, 2019

.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM MERCED/STANISLAUS COUNTY LINE TO GRIFFITH ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane on southbound State Route 99 from just north of the Merced/Stanislaus County line in Turlock to Griffith Road for striping.

Work is scheduled beginning Tuesday, January 15, 2019, through Thursday, January 17, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

This work is part of a project that will replace the two outside lanes and shoulder on both northbound and southbound SR-99, from just north of the Bradbury Road overcrossing to just north of the county line. Construction is scheduled to conclude by spring 2019.

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
LANE CLOSURES
INTERSTATE 5 FROM ALLEN ROAD TO COTTONWOOD ROAD IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #1 (left) lane on northbound and southbound Interstate 5 from Allen Road to Cottonwood Road for pavement work.

Work is scheduled beginning Monday, January 14, 2019, through Friday, January 18, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15-minute delays. Please use an alternate route if 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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January 9, 20


DISCOUNTED STUDENT PASSES AVAILABLE TO RIDE THE BUS

MERCED– Students returning to school this month are eligible to ride The Bus at reduced rates. All high school and college students receive a 25 percent discount for unlimited monthly passes on all fixed routes throughout the County or a 40 percent discount when they buy a pass for the whole semester.

“Students are an important, and growing, demographic in our region who may need a dependable and affordable mode of public transportation,” said Artis Smith, Transit Director. “We want to do our part to support educational attainment by giving young people the resources they need to be successful.”

Student passes can be purchased at The Bus’ office located at 1810 K Street in Merced. In addition, Merced College students can obtain a pass at the bookstores on either the Merced or Los Banos campuses and CSU Stanislaus students can purchase theirs at the Student Union on the Turlock campus. UC Merced students receive riding privileges by using their ‘Cat Card’. Presentation of a valid student ID or evidence of enrollment is required at the time of purchase. Cash, debit and credit cards are all acceptable forms of payment.

The Bus schedules and fare rates can be found at www.mercedthebus.com or by calling The Bus at (209) 723-3100. Real-time information regarding bus locations, services and arrival times can be found at www.thebuslive.com. All buses are equipped with bike racks and are wheelchair accessible.

 

 

The Bus is the single public transportation service provider for all of Merced County 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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January 8, 2019

Atwater FFA Officers Escape to Hilmar Cheese

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Fourteen Atwater High School FFA leadership students visited Hilmar Cheese for a unique leadership retreat designed to strengthen teambuilding and student relationships. Members of the veteran FFA chapter officer team joined newly elected freshman FFA Greenhand officers at Hilmar Cheese for various workshops, cheese industry presentations, and the new Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room. “This was an opportunity to strengthen and build student relationships and team building between some of our veteran agriculture students and our newly elected freshman agriculture leaders,” said Atwater FFA advisor Kim Macintosh.

The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to experience the Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room. The goal is to use teamwork, communication, creative thinking, determination and a sense of urgency to find clues, decipher puzzles and solve activities to complete the challenge of “escape”.

“I thought the trip and activity was going to be pretty boring, but boy was I wrong!” said Atwater agriculture student Ethan Slate. “The opportunity to experience the AgXscape, learn about the Hilmar Cheese Plant, and the opportunity to learn about my fellow school and classmates was awesome.”

 

 

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


Atwater FFA members Alfredo Elizarraraz, Emmanuel Mejia, Cristal Venegas, Luz Soto, Alyssa Carrillo, Kaya Briscoe, and Elisabeth Garner fell a little short escaping from the Hilmar Cheese AgXscape Room during their recent leadership retreat.


Members of the Atwater FFA Chapter and Greenhand Officer team (back row) Gurkirath Gandhok, Tristan Cardey, Michael Bray, Ethan Slate, Thomas Garner, Alfredo Elizarraraz, Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Emmanuel Mejia, (front row) Cecelia Venegas, Iysis Villafan, Kaya Briscoe, Luz Soto, and Elisabeth Garner received an industry and cheese processing presentation at a recent visit at Hilmar Cheese.

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January 8, 2019

City Fire Department holding fire training exercises

The City of Merced Fire Department will be conducting a controlled structural firefighting training exercise from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 9, 11 and 13.
These burns allow firefighter’s to practice necessary skills regarding fire suppression and analyzing fire behavior.
The training burn will be located at 1800 Stretch Road. During this training burn, traffic may be interrupted on Stretch Road between Hawthorne Avenue and Country Drive. The smoke produced from the burns is anticipated to move in a southeast direction.
Control burns allow firefighters to practice tactical decision-making regarding fire suppression, hose line deployment, search and rescue efforts, as well

as other techniques that assist in the protection of life and property. These techniques are utilized under the direct supervision of highly trained and qualified personnel. The public will see numerous fire apparatus in this area as well as a columns and drifting smoke during parts of this exercise.
The City of Merced Fire Department would like to give a special thanks to the City of Merced for donating this property and completing all of the requirements to allow this building to be utilized for a training burn,” said Acting Fire Chief Billy Alcorn.

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January 5, 2019

Atwater FFA Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by: Alyssa Carrillo, Atwater FFA

Eight Atwater FFA agriculture students showcased their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) projects at a recent Merced-Mariposa sectional contest that recognizes students throughout the county for their FFA, agriculture-related project(s). 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. Over one hundred students throughout the Mariposa and Merced counties participated, and they will be recognized in early February at an awards banquet in early February at the Merced County Fairgrounds.

Atwater High School agriculture students first participated at the local level with various Atwater administration and community members serving as judges. The students then participated at the county level where they were judged and evaluated by various community and industry representatives. Student representatives and competitors at the sectional level included: Colby Flatt (work experience, orchard maintenance, and poultry), Kaya Mattis (rabbits), Kiah Betschart (horses and goats), Liliana Vargas (floral), Michael Bray (rabbits), Nick Giesbrecht (agriculture mechanics), Tristan Cardey (rabbits and goats), and Zion Brigham (sheep).

The experience provides students the opportunity to communicate and share their 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.

 

 

 

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


Atwater High School agriculture student Liliana Vargas showcases her floral skills with current Atwater High School agriculture instructor Taylor Helton and administrator Rita Schroeder during the FFA Project Competition event.


Atwater High School agriculture mechanics student Nick Giesbrecht demonstrates the operation of a wood / logging mill machine to Atwater High School administrator Rita Schroeder.


Atwater High School agriculture student Kaya Mattis shares various rabbit record keeping techniques to Atwater High School administrator Rita Schroeder during the local FFA competition.

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January 5, 2019

HUD Plan, Hazard report on Council agenda

The City Council will hear a presentation on the 2019 HUD Annual Action Plan and a presentation on a study of hazardous materials in the City at its Monday night meeting.

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

The Council will be asked for direction on the annual Department of Housing and Urban Development Annual Action Plan. The City is holding community meetings to seek comments from the public on the plan.

Council also will hear an update on the proposed Childs Avenue and B Street Affordable Housing Project. The project is a mix of affordable housing, housing for homeless and veterans housing, with supportive services available to residents.

The City received a California Office of Emergency Services grant to study the hazardous commodities that travel through the City and are used in the City. The study also analyzed the level of risk and how to plan for the risks involved with the materials.

Also on the agenda is a request to close Martin Luther King Jr. Way from W. 8th Street to Main Street on Jan. 21 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, March and Celebration.

The Council will meet in closed session to discuss existing litigation, confer with labor negotiators and discuss employee evaluations.

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

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

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January 5, 2019

Caltrans Offers Safety Tips for Winter Driving

SACRAMENTO — Caltrans urges motorists to be prepared and use caution when driving this winter. Taking action and being proactive can help reduce the risk of injury and even death on the highways during the upcoming storm. Operators of vehicles must use their best judgment in all types of weather. Snow and rain are expected on Sierra Nevada highways this weekend (Saturday, January 5, and Sunday, January 6, 2019), and motorists are encouraged to allow for more travel time, slow down, carry chains and bring extra food and water. There is also rainfall expected for lower-elevation passes, like State Route 140 in Mariposa County. Caltrans expects to have crews patrolling SR-140 from north of Briceburg to Yosemite National Park on Jan. 5, watching for potential slide activity or debris flow. Crews will also check to ensure culverts and drains are clear and functioning. Before traveling, Caltrans recommends checking weather and road conditions. Caltrans QuickMap is an online resource with real-time traffic flow information, chain control alerts, and closure information. It is available at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or as a Google and Apple app. Motorists can also call 511 or the Caltrans Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-7623 for travel information. Live traffic cameras can also be useful to check conditions before traveling and are available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/video/.

Winter driving tips:
• Reduce your speed to match driving conditions and allow more time to reach your destination. Know that bridges and ramps may be more slippery than the roadway.
• Keep your fuel tank full. Bad weather may cause long delays or closures. • Turn on your headlights to see and be seen. Be observant and maintain a safe distance behind snow removal equipment. Do not pass snow plows unless directed to do so.
• When driving in fog, reduce your speed and use headlights on low-beam along with fog lights. Stay to the right along the white edge line and never stop in the road. If visibility is not adequate, pull off of the roadway when safe to do so.
* Do not drive through flooded areas. Safely turn around and find another route.
• If you start sliding on snow or ice, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal and steer in the direction you wish to travel. Do not lock your brakes. Pump the brakes if needed, or apply steady pressure if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes.
• Don’t use cruise control.
• Avoid in-car distractions while driving.
• If you are stalled, activate your hazard signals and stay with your vehicle.
* Conserve fuel by periodically turning your engine on and off while maintaining warmth, but be aware of possible exhaust and carbon monoxide issues.
• If you approach an emergency, maintenance, or any other vehicle stopped on the side of the road, move over when safe to do so or slow down. Be prepared. The following actions can help prevent vehicle failures and help if you become stranded:
• Winterize your vehicle. Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, heater/defroster, and exhaust system are in good working order. Make sure fluids are topped-off, especially windshield washer fluid.
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated and always carry tire chains.
• Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle with the following items: flashlight, blankets, extra clothing, water, snacks, towel, gloves, ice scraper, shovel, broom, sand, and carry a spare key on your person in case you lock yourself out of your vehicle.

 

All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires, should carry chains when traveling in snowy weather. Highway signs and QuickMap will indicate when chains are required, and drivers must stop and install chains. Motorists should pull off the roadway completely to install chains. If you need help, chain installers may be available to assist for a fee. Please note, chain installers are not Caltrans employees. They are independent business people who are licensed to install chains. Once chains are installed, obey the speed limit of 25 or 30 miles per hour, posted at various locations. Chain Control Information:
• R-1: Chains, traction devices or snow tires with proper tread depth of 6/32” are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles.
• R-2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. (NOTE: Four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
* R-3: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions. (NOTE: R-1 and R-2 are the most common chain controls. The highway will usually be closed before an R-3 control is imposed). For more information on winter driving, chain controls, and additional resources, visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html. Caltrans’ “Weathering the Storm” winter driving tips brochure is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/winter_driving2015.pdf.

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TRAFFIC ADVISORY
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CONTROL
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM INTERSTATE 5 TO YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

MERCED/MARIPOSA COUNTIES — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be performing intermittent one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Interstate 5 (I-5) in Merced County to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County for various road construction and maintenance activities.

Work (one-way traffic control) will occur as follows on both eastbound and westbound SR-140:

• I-5 to SR-33/Santa Nella Boulevard in Gustine beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for striping.

• Moomjean Avenue to Kibby Road in Merced beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for highway construction.

• Kibby Road to Briceburg Road in Mariposa County beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. for striping.

• Slate Gulch to the Yosemite entrance beginning Monday, January 7, 2019, through Friday, January 11, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for slope repair and clearing.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays at each work location.

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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January 3, 2019

A Final Word to the People of Merced County from District Attorney Larry D. Morse II

At the conclusion of my time as Merced County District Attorney I wanted to take a moment to thank the people of Merced County for the opportunity to serve them these last 12 and a half years as District Attorney and provide an accounting of some of what we accomplished in our efforts to improve public safety.
I have been beyond blessed to have had an incredible management staff and employees throughout my tenure. Working together we transformed the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, literally and figuratively, into one of the most progressive and accomplished in the state.
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a District Attorney is to work for safer communities. I’m proud to report that I will leave office with the county far safer and less violent than when I was elected and, in fact, safer than it has been in decades.
Merced County law enforcement, through innovation and close collaboration, has dramatically reduced violent crime during the last three years, including a historic decline in the homicide rate. From 2005 to 2015 Merced County was averaging 27 homicides a year, including 30 or more in 2013 through 2015. These alarming numbers resulted in Merced County ranking number one, or in the top three, in California for murders per 100,000 people during that period. The vast majority of the violence was driven by criminal street gangs operating in Merced County, sometimes at the direction of high ranking inmates in California prisons.
Shortly after my election in 2006, I created Merced County’s first multi-agency gang task force, now known as MAGNET (Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team) to better coordinate law enforcement efforts against gang violence. In 2015 I brought to Assemblyman Adam Gray a proposal to create an intelligence unit attached to the District Attorney’s office to help law enforcement better track the activities of gang members in our communities. Through Assemblyman Gray’s skillful use of the state budget process, Merced County received $4.5 million to create the VIPER program which employs five intelligence analysts to monitor, assess and disseminate information regarding gang activity in our communities.
Since creating the VIPER program and coordinating its use with county law enforcement we have seen homicides drop to nine in 2016, 19 in 2017 and 14 in 2018. That means for the last three years we have averaged about 14 homicides a year after averaging 30 for the previous three years. The VIPER funding also enabled us to devote nearly half a million dollars to two programs to keep kids out of gang life which are now up and running in Merced and Los Banos.
Not coincidentally, gang violence has been substantially curtailed over the last three years which is the factor most responsible for the decline in homicides. VIPER has been a tremendous success and we owe Assemblyman Gray a debt of gratitude.

The soaring number of homicides also put an incredible burden on the attorneys in our office to get these cases to trial. Two years ago, we had 67 defendants charged with homicide. Chief Deputies Hal Nutt and Rob Carroll devised a priority process for reducing the backlog in homicides and it exceeded our hopes. Murder cases were fast tracked for trial and today there are 32 murder defendants awaiting trial, a decline of more than half.
Even more notable has been our jury trial success rate in homicide cases. In my opinion it is unsurpassed in California over the last 12 years. Since 2006 our attorneys have obtained guilty verdicts against 64 of the 67 defendants we prosecuted for murder. Of those, I’m proud to have personally tried five of them, including obtaining the death penalty against the gang member who murdered Merced Police Officer Stephan Gray. Our attorneys are some of the most talented and best trained in California and I am proud to have had the honor to lead them.
Another vital component of safer communities is ensuring we are doing everything possible to get our children through at least high school graduation. High school dropouts are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than graduates and one of my highest priorities as DA has been to forge a closer relationship with our county’s schools and educators. A decade ago I worked with Merced City School District board members and administrators to push back the school day for junior high students to a dismissal time after 3 p.m. to lessen the opportunities for unsupervised young teenagers to fall prey to gangs or juvenile crime. This has contributed, in some measure, to a dramatic reduction in juvenile crime statistics in our county.
Six years ago I also founded Merced County Project 10% in which UC Merced students are trained to visit eighth grade classrooms to share their own stories and struggles and encourage the eighth graders to commit themselves to graduating high school. Working with former Merced County Office of Education Superintendent Steve Gomes and current Superintendent Steve Tietjen, and administrators across the county, and other local leaders, these UC students have spoken with more than 10,000 eighth graders and we have seen high school graduation rates rise to their highest levels ever. That bodes well for public safety in the decades to come.
Dr. Tietjen and I last year also created a partnership in which a DA investigator is permanently assigned to the Merced County Office of Education to work with our school districts to reduce truancy, especially in K-8 classes. The investigator meets with parents and SARB (School Attendance Re view Board) personnel to target parents whose kids are chronically absent from school. After just one year we have already seen an increase in attendance throughout the county.
Reducing gang violence and fostering a closer working relationship with educators have been the primary challenges of my tenure as District Attorney and I believe we have made enormous strides that have resulted in safer communities. But we have done so many other things to improve the administration of justice in Merced County. Among the most notable are:
*Crime Stoppers – With former Chief Investigator Pat Lunney we created the county’s first Crime Stoppers program.
*Case Management – in 2012, we purchased and implemented, without county general fund dollars, a revolutionary new case management system to better process the thousands of cases we file each year. As a result, Merced County became just the second county in California to go paperless in the courtroom; and still remains one of the few; our attorneys use laptops instead of paper files for all of their courtroom work. We also now use our case management system, not paper exchanges, to transmit documents and information we’re required to provide defense attorneys. We’ve also completed an interface with the Merced Sheriff’s Department to electronically transmit police reports and evidence and are nearing completion of a similar agreement with the Merced Police Department. Interfaces with other county law enforcement agencies are slated to take place in 2019.

 


Larry D. Morse II

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*Mock Trial program – working with Dr. Tietjen at MCOE two years ago we began a program with Merced County schools in which volunteer prosecutors from our office and other local attorneys teach students how to prepare and present a case in a courtroom. Competitions among local high schools have been held at the Old County Courthouse in 2017 and the new Robert M. Falasco Courthouse in Los Banos in 2018, with new competitions slated for 2019.
*New Facilities in Merced and Los Banos – in October of 2011, the District Attorney’s staff moved into the former County Bank building at 550 W. Main St., in Merced following the purchase and renovation of the 30,000 square foot office and parking structure. The project was paid for with federal and state tobacco tax funds, not county general fund revenue. The move allowed the DA to consolidate all of its Merced employees in one location after having rented five buildings during the previous five years at an annual taxpayer cost of $350,000.
In March of this year, the DA’s Westside employees also moved into newly renovated facilities in the old Los Banos Courthouse at 445 I St, after spending more than a decade in a trailer adjacent to the courthouse. Both moves are expected to provide ample space for the District Attorney’s office for decades to come.
*Collaboration with CASA – the District Attorney facilitated a grant award of $350,000 to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Merced County to provide expanded services to children in foster care.
*Smart Water – the District Attorney and Sheriff Vern Warnke, working with the Merced County Farm Bureau unveiled a revolutionary new program in February of 2018 to assist farmers in their ongoing battle against theft of agricultural property and equipment. SmartWater CSA is an ultraviolet light that enables farmers to mark and identify their property and provides traceability and undeniable proof of ownership when stolen property is recovered.
*Conviction Integrity Unit – recognizing that mistakes can happen in the criminal justice system, the District Attorney created another safety net to review criminal convictions when legitimate factual or evidentiary questions are brought to our attention. A review panel consisting of a Chief Deputy District Attorney, a Supervising Deputy District and a local defense attorney review additional evidence and determine whether a conviction should be revisited.
*Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center – the District Attorney’s new office in Merced permitted creation of in-house rooms to conduct interviews of child victims of sexual assault. The interviews are conducted by a forensically trained social worker in a safe, nurturing and child friendly facility to minimize the trauma of young sexual assault victims.
*Judges – two former chief deputies and one former supervising deputy district attorney were appointed to the Merced County Superior Court. Judge Dave Moranda, Judge Mark Bacciarini, both served as my chief deputies before their appointment to the bench. Earlier this year, my former supervising Deputy District Attorney, Steve Slocum, also was appointed to serve as a Superior Court judge. Each was a highly respected member of the DA management team.
*Appointments of Women – In 2016 Nicole Silveira was appointed the DA’s office’s first woman supervising deputy district attorney; in 2017, Anna Hazel was appointed the office’s first woman to supervise the Bureau of Investigations.
None of these achievements would have been possible without the incredible efforts of Director of Administrative Services Jeannette Pacheco, Chief Deputies Harold Nutt and Rob Carroll, Chief Investigator Bill Olson, former Assistant District Attorney Joe Tresidder and former Chief Investigator Pat Lunney and our other managers. No one could have been better served by a management team than I was and the people of Merced County have benefitted enormously from their talents and dedication.
For 26 years I have been a member of the District Attorney’s office and serving these last 12 years as the elected District Attorney has been the highest honor and privilege of my life. I cannot adequately express the character and commitment of the men and women who work in this office. They are the finest of public servants. I am grateful to the people of Merced County for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading these amazing public safety professionals for three terms. I wish the new District Attorney, Kimberly Helms Lewis, great success and the same enjoyment and satisfaction that I have taken in trying to make Merced County a safer place for all of us.

God Bless You
Larry

 

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January 3, 2019

Access to Yosemite National Park will be Limited Along the Highway 41 Corridor Due to the Lapse in Federal Appropriations

Yosemite National Park remains open, however there will be limited access to the park along the Highway 41 corridor from the South Entrance to the Badger Pass Road during the hours of highest visitation due to continuing issues with human waste and resource damage.

Park Rangers will staff a check point at the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, anyone arriving at the checkpoint with a reservation for lodging or camping inside the park will be allowed to proceed. All other visitors will be asked to enter Yosemite using the Highway 140 entrance and enter the park via the El Portal Road. Local residents and guests staying in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite West, and Wawona will be permitted access to drive along Highway 41, the Wawona Road.

Visitors planning to visit the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area will be asked to enter the park via Highway 140.

Visitor services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations. During the government shutdown, national parks are working to remain as open and accessible to the American people as possible.

Unfortunately, the following facilities and areas inside Yosemite National Park are closed due to impacts from human waste and public safety concerns: Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Crane Flat Snow Play Area, and Goat Meadow Snow Play Area, located just outside the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. All park visitor centers remain closed.

 

All normal park rules and regulations still apply and violators will be cited. Dogs are not permitted on park trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and are permitted in developed areas, on sidewalks, and on bicycle paths. For more information on pet regulations, please visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/pets.htm.

Restroom facilities are very limited throughout the park, especially along Wawona Road (Highway 41), El Portal Road (Highway 140), and Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West). Visitors are encouraged to stop and use restroom facilities in the gateway communities before entering the park. Visitors are also encouraged to practice leave no trace principles and please pack in and pack out all trash. Custodial services are very limited at this time.

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

Additional facilities and areas may close within Yosemite National Park at any time for the health and safety of park visitors.

-NPS-


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January 3, 2019


YARTS Fare Increase starts January 1

MERCED – Effective January 1, 2019, Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) service has a new fare rate structure that reflects a fare increase - the first in more than 10 years. The increase was approved in October 2018 by the Joint Powers Authority Board and the Authority Advisory Committee, which is made up of members of the public, local businesses, as well as agencies that work closely with Yosemite National Park. The new rates were sought in order to cover the increasing costs associated with providing the popular bus service to Yosemite from Merced, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tuolumne and Mono counties.

“We were fortunate to maintain operating costs for the service as long as we did,” says YARTS Assistant Manager Cindy Kelly. “Our main goal is to provide a safe and reliable alternative mode of transportation to Yosemite. These new fares will allow us to do just that.”

YARTS is a regional public transit service that provides a year-round alternative to driving to Yosemite from Merced and Mariposa along Highway 140, and from Highways 120, 395 and 41 during summer months. In 2018, the service transported more than 26,000 passengers to and from the National Park.

A roundtrip ticket from Merced, Sonora, or Jamestown to Yosemite has increased from $25 to $32 and from Mariposa to Yosemite from $12 to $16. For a complete YARTS fare schedule, route information, or to reserve tickets, please visit www.yarts.com or call (877) 989-2787.

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


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January 3, 2019

MCOE to Host Annual Report on Schools Jan. 23 in Merced, Jan 24 in LB

Dr. Steve Tietjen, county superintendent of schools, will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at community meetings Jan. 23-24 in Merced and Los Banos. This is the eighth time this comprehensive report on local educational efforts has been shared with the public.
“As county superintendent, I will do everything I can to keep the public informed about the great things happening every day in classrooms across our county, as well as the internal and external factors influencing public education,” Tietjen said.
The session Jan. 23 will be at Yosemite Church on Yosemite Avenue in Merced. A separate session is planned Jan. 24 at the Los Banos Community Center. Both events are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch is provided.
This year’s presentation will focus on student achievement, innovative teaching practices and bilingual education. Information and data on student achievement will be shared. A student performance from Delhi High School’s mariachi band also is planned, plus videos highlighting students and teachers prepared by Merced Educational Television (METV) and shot in classrooms in several school districts throughout the county.
“For nearly a decade the Merced County Office of Education has hosted an annual event to bring the community together and focus on education and the many partnerships we have throughout Merced County,” Tietjen said.



“Through these partnerships we create a stronger educational experience for our students and create schools that have so much to offer those students, their families and the community.”
The report is sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, the Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union.
For more information about the event, contact MCOE at (209) 385-6601 or make a reservation for the events at rsvp@mcoe.org. Table sponsorships are also available and proceeds will benefit Merced County students. For information on sponsorships, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910 or sarancibia@mcoe.org.

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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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