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COMMUNITY NEWS

March 27, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps Modesto Junior College Field Day Competition

Written by: Atwater FFA

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 27, 2017

Bridges won’t close during rehab work

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

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

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

Road work ahead

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

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

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

Flags will line bridge

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

 

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

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

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

Traffic signals adjusted

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

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

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

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

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March 27, 2017

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

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 AT HENRY MILLER DRIVE IN MERCED COUNTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road to SR-140 for highway construction.

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

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

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


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

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March 27, 2017

Costa Statement on Vote to Repeal and Replace ACA

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

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

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March 24, 2017

Feed the Ducks

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

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March 23, 2017

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

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



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

 

Photos by Nathan Quevedo Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

 


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


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


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


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

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March 23, 2017

 

Costa Statement on CVP Initial Water Allocations

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

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

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

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

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

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March 22 , 2017

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

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

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

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March 21, 2017

Mary Camper picked for Planning Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

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March 21, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE CELEBRATES
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH POETRY READINGS

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


Click here to see flyer


Linda Scheller

Click here to see flyer



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March 21, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps Merced College FFA Field Day

Written by: Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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March 10, 2017

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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March 20, 2017

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

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

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

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March 20 , 2017

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

Photos by Dylan McMullen Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

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March 20, 2017

Assemblyman Gray “Water Grab Will Create Valley of Despair”

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

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

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

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

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

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March 20 , 2017

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

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

Closures will occur as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 AT FOWLER AVENUE IN MERCED COUNTY

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

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

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

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

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March 20 , 2017

MCAG seeking applicants for Measure V Citizens Oversight Committee

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

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

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March 17 , 2017

Merced County Students Awarded for Biliteracy Proficiency

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Photos by Dylan McMullen Courtesy Merced County Office of Education

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March 17, 2017

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

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

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

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Costa Statement on President Trump’s FY2018 Budget Blueprint

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

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

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

Summary of cuts in Budget Blueprint:

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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March 16, 2017

Walmart ends plans for Merced distribution center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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March 16, 2017

LODI WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL – APRIL 1

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

 

 

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

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March 16 , 2017

MCOE, MCSD Win Excellence in Communication Awards From CalSPRA

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

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

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March 14, 2017

 

Atwater FFA Sweeps CSU Chico and Butte College Field Day

Written by: Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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March 14, 2017

 

LODI WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL IS APRIL 1

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

 

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

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March 14 , 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road to State Route 140 for highway construction.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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March 14 , 2017

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

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


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


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

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March 14, 2017


Apply now for Measure V Oversight Committee

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

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

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

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March 14 , 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

 

 

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

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

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March 14 , 2017

California Department of Education Releases New Accountability System


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

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

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


Statements from Merced County School District Superintendents

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 10, 2017

Schools Offer Free Tdap Vaccinations

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


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



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


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

 

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March 10, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE ART PROFESSOR
EXHIBITS WORK IN AREA GALLERY

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

 

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

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March 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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March 8, 2017

Students Bond with Puppies
After Donating to Animal Rescue Group

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

 




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



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March 8 , 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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March 8, 2017

City Finance Office Brad Grant resigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leslie Abasta McGowan of Merced

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

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

 

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March 7 , 2017

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

Written by: Atwater FFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 7, 2017

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

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

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March 7 , 2017

 

Students to Compete at Academic Pentathlon on Saturday at UC Merced

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

Merced County Students to be Awarded for Biliteracy Proficiency

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

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March 4, 2017

Water meter update, seal use on Council agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 4, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE CELEBRATES
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WITH READING AND BOOK SIGNING

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


Linda Scheller

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March 4 , 2017

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

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

Closures will occur as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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March 4 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE TO HOST PLANT SALE

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

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

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March 4 ,2017

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

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



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

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March 4, 2017

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

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

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

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March 3 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES
AVAILABILITY OF SCHOLARSHIPS

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

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

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March 3 , 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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March 3 , 2017

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

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March 2 , 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ada Givens students participating in their school science fair.



Ada Givens students participating in their school science fair.



Franklin Elementary Principal Cesar Hernandez hands out
certificates to students


Students at Franklin Elementary School

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March 2 , 2017

The Bus to hold public hearings

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

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

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

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

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March 1 , 2017

R Street crossing set to open late Wednesday

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

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

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

Bike Park Community Design Meeting

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

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March 1 , 2017

Costa Announces Passport Services for Merced County Residents

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

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

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

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

Costa Statement on Initial CVP Water Allocations

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

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

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


Congressman Jim Costa

 

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

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

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

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

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

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February 28, 2017

Atwater FFA Parli Pro Team Excelling Towards Section Finals

Written by: Atwater FFA

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

 

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

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February 28, 2017

REPEAT SCAMMER GETS SENTENCED
TO 11 YEARS IN PRISON

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

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

 



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

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

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February 25, 2017

 

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

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

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

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


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February 25, 2017

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

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

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

DETOUR:

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

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


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



TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND 16TH STREET IN MERCED

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road to SR-140 to install rumble strips.

One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 27, 2017, through Friday, March 3, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rumble strips are designed to alert drivers when their vehicles leave their traffic lane. As tires pass over the rumble strips, drivers can hear the noise and feel the vibration produced by these rumble strips. These strips are ground into the pavement surface.
One-way traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15-minute delays.
Work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction related issues.

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

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


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

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February 25, 2017

Design meeting Thursday for bike park

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

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

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February 23 , 2017

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

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

 

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

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February 22, 2017

ACE To Resume Full Service February 22nd

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


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

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February 22, 2017

Thursday Town Hall meeting at Tenaya Middle School

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


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

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February 18, 2017

Special district results, cannabis consultant
on agenda

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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February 18, 2017

Students Celebrate Perfect Attendance

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

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

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



 



Students at Franklin Elementary School



Franklin Elementary Principal Cesar Hernandez hands out
certificates to students


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February 18, 2017

Homeless Count shows number of homeless down

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 18, 2017

Costa Calls Attention to Dangerous
Flooding in Merced

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

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

Full text of the letter follows:

February 17, 2017

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

Dear Governor Brown:

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


Congressman Jim Costa

 

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

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

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

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February 18, 2017

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

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

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

DETOUR:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 FROM MCCABE ROAD TO STATE ROUTE 140 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 33 (SR-33) from McCabe Road to SR-140 to install rumble strips.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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February 18, 2017

MCAG recruiting Executive Director

Merced – Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking an enthusiastic, experienced professional to serve as its new Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity for a creative and resourceful leader to help shape the future of the agency.
The ideal candidate is an energetic, results-oriented, visionary leader with excellent communication skills and the proven abilities to facilitate change, develop and strengthen relationships, and build consensus with MCAG’s many regional partners. Strong candidates will have a track record of developing effective relationships with a diverse governing body and the leadership and people skills to unite divergent viewpoints into a common goal. The ideal candidate will possess a strong understanding of transportation funding and project delivery; be familiar with regional transportation and land use planning principles associated with demographics, air quality and natural resource protection; and have experience/knowledge of the diverse issues facing suburban and rural areas.

 

MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority.
MCAG is working with CPS HR Consulting to lead this recruitment effort. Please visit http://www.cpshr.us/recruitment_current.html for a full brochure of position details and requirements. The final filing date is Friday, March 17, 2017. For further details or information, please contact Stuart Satow at (916) 471-3134 or ssatow@cpshr.us.

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February 18, 2017

Assemblyman Gray’s New Law Erases
$59 Million in Workers’ Compensation Fraud

 

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced that his Assembly Bill 1244, which was signed into law last year, has prevented more than $59 million in fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claims.

“This is an example of a common sense policy actually working to make doing business in California cheaper and easier,” said Gray. “Since becoming law, we have seen a reduction of more than $1 million of fraud per day.”

The new law requires the state to suspend any medical provider convicted of fraud from participating in the workers’ compensation system. The Division of Workers’ Compensation recently announced it


used the provisions of Gray’s bill to suspend seven fraudulent medical providers who had filed more than 8,500 claims totaling at least $59 million.

“Workers Compensation fraud is out of control, and the problem is growing,” said Gray. “Last year we made significant strides to put crooked doctors and lawyers on notice, and we are starting to see the fruits of that labor. But the fraud is not gone and the fight is not over. I have introduced legislation this year to further protect employers and employees from becoming victims of these con artists.”

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February 17, 2017

 

Costa Statement on Major Disaster Declaration and Upcoming Storms

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement as more storms begin to hit California’s San Joaquin Valley.

“Since January, there have been mandatory evacuations up and down the state of California. In Merced County, families have been forced to leave their homes, and the county estimates that there is $3-3.5 million in damage due to the storms during the beginning of January,” said Rep. Costa. “As a result of the storms events in the past of four weeks, the cost of damages is only continuing to rise, so while I welcome the major disaster declaration issued by Governor Brown and President Trump, it’s simply not enough. The current declaration only enables public entities in Merced, not individuals, to recoup costs from flood damages that took place at the first of the year.”

Rep. Costa continued saying, “As Californians gear up for another storm system today and into the weekend, I will be monitoring flood damages and impacts closely. If the time comes, I will be sending letters and picking up the phone to call Governor Brown and the White House to ensure that residents in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties receive the resources they need to address any catastrophic damages.”


Congressman Jim Costa

On February 14, President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for the State of California. The major disaster declaration activates support and resources from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to counties in California that have affected by storm events that took place January 3 through January 12. Merced County is one of 34 counties that are eligible to apply for public assistance grants. For-profit entities and individuals are not eligible to apply for public assistance grants.

Separately, on February 14, President Trump issued an emergency declaration for Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties for storms events that began on February 7 and is continuous.

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February 17, 2017


ACE To Run One Train Friday, February 17th

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run one train on Friday, February 17th. ACE is negotiating with Union Pacific to run two trains on Monday, February 20th for the President’s Day holiday. Weather related delays in repairs to Union Pacific tracks are still a factor.
The planned ACE schedule through Monday is below.
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
For riders still impacted by the service changes, there are some other local alternatives to explore.

Local Car Pools: My Commute Connection
Bus: RTD Route 150 (bus from Stockton and south San Joaquin County to BART)
Capitol Corridor will honor validated ACE tickets between Fremont and San Jose during the duration of the outage

To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 16, 2017

Get ready for more stormy weather

A new series of winter storms are expected to hit Merced bringing several inches of rain to the already soaked City. Emergency officials caution people to be prepared for potential flooding.

“City crews are checking the City’s storm drains and gutters for debris that could lead to street flooding and looking for other weather hazards,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “Creeks running through the City will be monitored once the storm event begins to watch for potential flooding.”

Residents should be prepared in case of a potential power outages, and the possibility of high, fast rising water that could cause localized flooding. Drivers are cautioned to slow down in the rain and on wet streets.

Sandbags are available at Fire Station 51, located at 99 E. 16th St. Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City and people need to bring a shovel.

The City has stored sand in 10 locations throughout the City and sandbags are available at Fire Station 51 during regular business hours. Sandbags also can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. A map showing the sand locations is available at the City website, www.cityofmerced.org.

The City website also has links to the National Weather Service website that contains detailed information on the storm, including forecast information, radar maps, and any warnings that have been issued. The City website also contains links to information regarding water levels on Bear Creek and other local streams.



Sand distribution points are:
• Buena Vista and Sarasota
• Parsons Av. and Brookdale Dr.
• Parsons Av. And Oregon Dr.
• Childs Ave. and G St.
• 1200 block of W. 9th St.
• W.N. Bear Creek and Shadow Brook Dr.
• Cheney Dr. and Buckner Rd.
• East Side of Mansionette between Kingfisher & Mercy Ave.
• Campus Dr. and Line Dr.
• W. 24th and K St.

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

City offices closed Monday for the holiday

City of Merced offices are closed Monday, Feb. 20, to celebrate the Presidents Day holiday.
The City Council meeting regularly scheduled for Monday will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.
There will be no refuse collection on Monday. Trash pickup will be delayed by one day for the entire week.

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February 16, 2017

CALTRANS INSTALLING SAFETY FEATURES ON 32 MILES OF
STATE ROUTE 33 IN STANISLAUS AND MERCED COUNTIES

Stanislaus/Merced County – Caltrans is preparing for a project that will add centerline, edgeline and shoulder rumble strips to 32 miles of State Route 33 (SR-33).

The project is scheduled to begin the week of February 20, and be completed June 2017. No work is scheduled for Memorial Day (May 29).

Crews are scheduled to work Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. One way-traffic control will be used and drivers should expect 15 minute delays.

Work will be performed at the following locations:

• In Merced County, from McCabe Road to SR-140, a total of 9 miles;

• In Stanislaus County, rumble strips will be added from Jensen Road to Poppy Avenue, and from Walnut Avenue to the San Joaquin County line, or 23 miles.

This $516,000 project has been awarded to Linear Options of Durham.

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

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


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

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February 16, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Legislation to Strengthen Child Marijuana Protections

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 729, to combat the purchase and consumption of marijuana by children and people under the age of 21.

“With the legalization of recreational use marijuana under Proposition 64, it is more important than ever that safeguards are put in place to ensure marijuana stays out of the hands of children,” said Gray. “Anyone that has read the proposition can see the chapter titled ‘Protecting Minors’ is sparse on details to actually accomplish that goal.”

AB 729 will fill in the gaps in Proposition 64 to prevent the purchase and consumption of marijuana by people under the age of 21 by applying similar laws on the books for alcohol and tobacco to marijuana. Specifically, the bill:
• Requires mandatory license suspension or revocation for repeat offenders who sell marijuana to a person under 21.
• Allows law enforcement to enter and conduct inspections of licensed locations.
• Adds implementation language for law enforcement to conduct underage sting operations.

 


• Requires licensed retailers to maintain an unobstructed view for law enforcement into their establishment.
• Allows retailers to seize false identification.
• Requires cultivators and retailers to post a “No Person Under 21 Allowed” sign outside and inside their business.
• Adds playground, hospital, and church to the list of locations from which a licensee may not be located within 600 feet.

“The California Legislature, and specifically the Governmental Organization Committee which I chair, has a long history of regulating age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco,” said Gray. “We have passed a number of laws to successfully reduce the use of these products by children. It is incumbent on the Legislature now to ensure the same child protections are enacted into law for California’s newest age-restricted product – marijuana.”

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February 16, 2017

 

ACE To Run Modified Service 2/16, 2/17 and 2/20

The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will run modified service on Thursday, February 16th, Friday, February 17th, and Monday, February 20th. The trains that will be in operation are:
Thursday, February 16th: AM – ACE 03 PM – ACE 06
Friday, February 17th: AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06

Monday, February 20th (President’s Day, planned limited service): AM – ACE 03 and ACE 05 PM – ACE 04 and ACE 06
To see the full ACE schedule, please visit our Web site at www.acerail.com. To stay up to date with any service outages please sign up for our alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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February 15, 2017

Costa Nominates El Capitan High School Student to the U.S. Air Force Academy

MERCED, CA — On Friday, February 10th, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) visited El Capitan High School to meet with Ethan Torres. Ethan is a senior and the first student at El Capitan High School to ever receive a congressional nomination to a military academy. Ethan was nominated to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The young men and women who receive a congressional nomination to attend our nation’s military academies are well-rounded, bright, and committed, and Ethan is no exception,” said Rep. Costa. “I’m confident that Ethan has a great future ahead of him. I commend Principal Shaw and his faculty and staff for always striving to ensure that their students are well-educated and prepared for the future.”

“It’s an honor to be nominated to the Air Force Academy,” said Ethan Torres, student at El Capitan High School and nominee for the U.S. Air Force Academy. “I would like to thank Congressman Costa and my family, friends, teachers, and school for all of the support.”

"We are extremely proud of Ethan for being the first El Capitan student to receive this recognition, said Principal Shaw, El Capitan High School. “Ethan is a positive influence on campus and is leaving his legacy by receiving this nomination. He has set an example for future students as to what is possible for their lives."

Congressman Costa joined Ethan Torres, his parents, Principal Shaw, and teachers for lunch to celebrate Ethan’s nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

 


Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, Principal Shaw, and Torres Family

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Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, El Capitan Faculty and Staff

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picture to left

Rep. Costa, Ethan Torres, and Arturo Fuentes (Senior Counselor, El Capitan High School)

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February 15 , 2017

 

ANNUAL DANCE KALEIDOSCOPE COMES TO MERCED COLLEGE STAGE

The best young talent from area dance studios will perform when Dance Kaleidoscope returns to the Merced College Theater on Saturday, Feb. 25.
Presented by the Merced Dance Teachers Cooperative and Merced College Community Services, Dance Kaleidoscope is the collaborative effort of local dance studios. The event showcases many of the young talent being trained in the area’s premier dance studios. Dance Kaleidoscope performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Dance Kaleidoscope features dancers from Denisa’s School of Dance, Mariposa Academy of Performing Arts, Merced Academy of Dance, STEPS Dance Studio, The Dancers’ Studio, and The South Pacific Dance Company.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for Merced College student body card holders, children under 12, military, and seniors.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Merced College Business Resource Center located at 630 W. 19th Street, online at mccd.tix.com, or at the Merced College Theater Box Office one hour before the show.
For more information, call 209.384.6224.
Dance February 2016

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

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

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February 15 , 2017

 

Merced County Fair Announces
2017 Entertainment Line-Up
Great Musical Entertainment and Action-Packed Grandstand Shows Are a Winning Combination
for the Fair

 

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, February 13, 2017…The Merced County Fair is excited to announce its full entertainment line-up for the 2017 Table Mountain FREE Concert Series presented by Coors Light, which is held on the Outdoor Theatre Stage, as well as its Grandstand Entertainment presented by Table Mountain Casino, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Coors Light and Rancho San Miguel Markets.
“We switched a couple things up with entertainment and I’m really excited to see how the community responds to it,” said Teresa Burrola, CEO of The Merced County Fair. “This year we are bringing in a Michael Jackson tribute show on opening night to kick of the Fair. Then we will also have a Bull Competition in the Grandstand where you can see young bucking bulls graded before they enter into the rodeo circuit. It’s unlike anything we have had before and has really gained in popularity.”
DATE -- TIME -- SHOW -- ARTIST WEBSITE:
June 7-- 8:30 p.m. -- I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience
http://iamkingtheshow.com/
June 8 -- 8:30 p.m. -- John Michael Montgomery
http://www.johnmichael.com/
June 9 -- 8:30 p.m. -- WAR
http://www.war.com/
June 10 -- 8:30 p.m. -- Moonshine Bandits
http://moonshinebandits.com/
June 11 -- 7:30 p.m. -- Noel Torres (Show starts at 7:30 p.m.)
https://www.facebook.com/NoelTorresMusica


Admission to these concerts is free with your paid Fair admission, which is $8 for Adults and $4 for kids 12 and under (remember, kids 5 and under are always free) at the gate entrance. Save big on your Fair admission and carnival rides now with a special, online only pre-sale starting Wednesday, March 15 at 10 a.m. Pre-sale Admission tickets will be just $6 for Adults; Season Passes are only $25 and you can visit the Fair every day if you want; and Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristbands are just $25 and are good for any one day of the Fair! Pre-sale tickets can be purchased www.MercedCountyFair.com.
Last year the Grandstand shows boosted the biggest crowds in years and part of that can be attributed to the new mix of shows such as the return of monster trucks. Merced County Fair Management expects big crowds again with this year’s great line-up. All shows begin at 7 p.m. and are $5. Children 5 years and under are free. DATE -- SHOW -- EVENT -- WEBSITE:
Wednesday, June 7 -- Auto Racing
http://www.racemerced.com
Thursday, June 8 -- WGAS Motorsports’ Monster Trucks,
Free Style Moto X & Tuff Truck Racing
https://www.wgasmotorsports.com
Friday, June 9 -- Bull Competition
http://www.goldcoastbuckingbulls.com
Saturday, June 10 -- Valley Tractor Pullers’ Tractor Pull
http://www.vtpapullers.org



MORE INFROMATION ON OUTDOOR THEATRE ARTISTS:

I Am King…The Michael Jackson Experience takes the audience on a musical and visual journey into the world of the “King of Pop” featuring an incredible cast of talented musicians and Broadway and Las Vegas dancers to bring Jackson to life! These talented tribute artists sing live while mastering the intense dancing that Jackson was so famous for. It’s a show you don’t want to miss featuring hits like “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Man in the Mirror” and many more!

John Michael Montgomery’s career has spanned more than two decades, featured more than 30 top Billboard country chart singles, include seven that reached #1: "I Love the Way You Love Me," "I Swear,” "Be My Baby Tonight," "If You've Got Love," "I Can Love You Like That," "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," and "The Little Girl." Many have described his ability to connect to the audience and relate to fans as one of the many reasons he has had such a long, successful career.

Formed in 1969, WAR was one of the most popular funk groups of the '70s and also one of the most eclectic, freely melding soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae and rock influences into an effortlessly funky whole. WAR’s career spans more than four decades and hits have included: "Spill the Wine," "The World Is a Ghetto," "The Cisco Kid," "Why Can't We Be Friends?," "Low Rider," and "Summer." Over time, members of WAR have changed but the unique musical style is unwavering, consistently led by founding member Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan.

High School friends from Los Banos, Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren and Brett “Bird” Brooks first formed their country-rap group Moonshine Bandits in 1999 and later released their first album Soggy Crackerz in 2003. Formed at a time when only Bubba Sparxxx, Haystak and a few other artists were mixing country, rap, and rock – the Moonshine Bandits stood out with their unique sound, energetic show and outlaw music anthems. Their music has included collaborations across musical genres; Bubba Sparxxx on their 2006 Prohibition album, as did Danny Boone from the group Rehab. Bay area rapper, E-40, lent his skills to 2009's Divebars and Truckstops album. In 2011, Moonshine Bandits released Whiskey and Women, then in 2014, Calicountry was released and reached #22 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and then Blacked Out (2015) topped out at #13.

Regional Mexican singer and songwriter Noel Torres from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, grew up around music with his father singing at family gatherings and parties. Influenced by the music of Los Tucanes de Tijuana and Ramon Ayala, Noel Torres loved to sing romantic ballads and corridos. Torres released his first album, Al Frente y de Frente in 2011, with its single, "El Tiempo Contigo" landing on the charts. He followed quickly with a second album that year entitled Llegamos, Estamos y Seguimos. The first single, "La Guanábana," spent 20 weeks on the airplay charts and was nominated for Corrido of the Year at the 2012 Premios de la Radio awards. A second single, "Sigo Sencillo," spent almost six months on the chart. He released his third album La Estructura in 2013 and then his fourth album La Balanza in 2014, off which he earned five top singles including "Me Interestas" and "Para Que Tantos Besos.” Recent singles include "No Andan Canado Venados" and "Pensarte."

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

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February 15 , 2017

Annual Parent Institute Conference Aims to Empower, Educate Parents

About 600 people are expected to take part in the Parent Institute Dream Big Conference Feb. 25 at Merced’s Golden Valley High School. The fourth-annual event staged by the Merced County Office of Education and several other agencies stresses the role parents have in raising their children.
Christie Hendricks, MCOE assistant superintendent in charge of the Early Education department, said students from birth to college age are targeted at the conference.
“There’s something for everyone regardless of the age of the children,” Hendricks said. “This is an opportunity for parents to come together and learn about programs and organizations throughout the county.”
Participants from Merced, Madera, Stanislaus, Tulare and Fresno counties are expected for the event that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school, 2121 E. Childs Ave.
Rosa Barragan, MCOE program manager for resource, referral and alternative payment, said the goal is to have more than 100 exhibitors, including the Livingston Medical Group, all area high schools, UC Merced, Merced College, the county’s Human Services Agency, parenting initiatives, mental health, credit unions, law enforcement, special education and migrant education programs.
Barragan said about 25 workshops will be conducted in English, Spanish and Hmong languages. Barragan and Sol Rivas, a former Head Start assistant director and educational consultant, are co-chairmen of the event, which started out four years ago with about 400 parents participating.
All of the exhibits, events and presentations are tied to supporting families in some way, Hendricks said.
Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch of Texas, a veteran, author and motivational speaker, and university professor Dr. Francisco Reveles of Yuba City are keynote speakers for the conference.
Barragan said one of the biggest takeaways from the conference is for parents to learn about what’s available in the community and how to connect with these organizations.
“We don’t have all the answers. It’s such a great satisfaction when parents come up to you to thank you. It’s a great feeling,” Barragan said.
Hendricks said conference preparation is a yearlong planning process. She said the conference is an uplifting experience and a day where parents are empowered to get and stay engaged with their children throughout their educational careers.
She stressed how much children look up to their parents and what role models they are in their eyes. The keynote speakers will focus on adults who made a difference in their lives, she added.
Barragan said part of the conference is a strand for 13 to 17 year olds. About 40 teens are expected to participate in concurrent goal-setting activities.
Hendricks said the “dream big” theme came to pass since every parent has big dreams for their children. The conference is a reminder that no dream is too big for their children and parents should encourage their children to reach for higher aspirations.
“No one has done anything of this scale. There’s nothing else like this,” Hendricks said.
For more information about registering for the conference, call (209) 381-6793.

Merced County ROP Students Participate in Several California Competitions

Students from two Merced County high schools brought home key awards from a recent Bakersfield conference focusing on marketing and virtual enterprise business programs.
Dos Palos High School students of business teacher Jenny Hunger and Atwater High School students in Elaine Post’s Regional Occupational Program marketing class excelled at the California State Virtual Enterprise Trade Show Jan. 18-19 at the Rabobank Convention Center in downtown Bakersfield.
Nineteen of the 21 Dos Palos juniors and seniors took part in the two-day event. They placed first overall for their booth, second place for business card, sixth place for their website and eighth place for their catalog, along with honorable mentions for their marketing and sales presentations.
Fourteen sophomores through seniors from Atwater took a first place award for their prowess in a hypothetical job interview for a bank and for a payroll supervisor position.
They also received honorable mentions for a commercial for their virtual enterprise firm Green-E Apparel and for a human relations manual.
Hunger said 150 schools with 1,500 students from throughout California participated in the annual show. She said each year her students get a little better with their products and presentations. Through their “Hydrus” company, the students developed a “shower bomb” product containing corn starch, baking soda and essential oils which is activated in a shower. The students have been selling their product as a fund-raising effort.
Post said students can take her ROP marketing class each year and 10 of her students will return next year. Her students have been marketing polo shirts, T-shirts and hoodies made from recycled water bottles originally developed by a South Carolina firm.
In another competition in the Bay Area in January, two of Lisa Benson’s students in her marketing foundations community class at Merced High School qualified as overall finalists at the recent DECA Northern California District Career Development Conference in San Ramon.
Joshua Rashe was named a finalist in the principles of marketing competition and Alex Gonzales earned similar honors in the principles of business management category. About 800 Northern California high school students competed in the Jan. 13-15 competition.
Benson said DECA programs prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management areas. Eight MHS sophomores through seniors accompanied Benson to the conference. Students took part in exams and role-playing competition during the event.
Seven former DECA students accompanied students as alumni mentors. She said her students enjoyed networking with other students during the conference and speaking competitions serve to raise the students’ confidence.

 

Le Grand Restorative Justice Helps to Resolve Conflict, Create Positive Culture

Six years ago the Le Grand Union High School District started a program that has had a profound effect on the way students interact with each other and their teachers. It’s called restorative justice and other school systems want to know how it works.
Superintendent Donna Alley said before restorative justice was launched, students did not have the tools to resolve conflicts.
“The culture here is more peaceful. I would say it didn’t happen overnight,” Alley said. “This is about relationships. There are no programs that change children, but relationships do. Students thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level.”
When an incident occurs in a classroom, instead of sending the offending student to the office, he or she is sent to the “thinkery” or a place where they can reflect on what they did wrong. A meeting is set up between the student and the teacher and provides opportunities for the student to be heard by the teacher and vice-versa, Principal Javier Martinez explained.
An eight-student panel called the Restorative Justice League listens to the issues that come up and helps decide how to solve the problem, Alley said. She is encouraged by statistics recorded before and after the program was instituted in 2011.
In the 2010-2011 school year, 80 students were suspended. In the 2015-2016 school year, only two suspensions were recorded. In 2010-2011, there were eight student expulsions; five years later, there are none.
Alley said restorative justice is keeping students in school and engaged in education.
The respect between students and staff also has grown dramatically.
Educators from Utah, Arizona, Fresno, as well as Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II and representatives of the governor’s office have visited Le Grand to learn about the program. The district has 504 students from ninth through 12th grades.
Conflict resolution leader Fernando Maciel facilitates mediations between students and teachers. Martinez said what they find many times is the circumstances that prompted the classroom issue emanated from outside the school setting.
“A lot of times in school you want instant resolution,” Alley said. “That can’t happen instantly; you have to be patient. We try to resolve the issue within a 24-hour period. With student-to-student issues, we try to remediate them right away. Before restorative justice, the problem would have festered before they forgot what was going on.”
Often students say they overreacted to a situation and apologize. The students shake on it and move forward.
“We see this as a process that helps students succeed, not just in school but in life. We started a mentoring program with seniors and incoming freshmen. They meet for academic support, advice and to address social concerns,” Alley said.
Martinez puts it another way.

McSwain to Celebrate Reading is Fun Week

McSwain School students will celebrate the wonder of books Feb. 21-24 during Reading is Fun Week.
Librarian Ronda Douglas said a number of events are planned in the 17th annual observance to accentuate the importance of reading.
“Books matter; they are valuable. We’re just celebrating reading,” Douglas said. “We have seen a decline in reading. We want our students to have a balanced educational experience and reading always has first place.”
Reading is Fun Week will include community members and area educators reading to students along with the appearance of Los Angeles actor Tom Katsis, who is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. As guest presenter, Katsis will speak at three assemblies and meet with third grade students who have been reading biographies of famous people, including President Lincoln. He is expected to share his experiences researching the life of Lincoln with the students, Douglas said.
Thursday night will be Camp Read-A-Lot. The family literacy night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will include parents meeting with students and then enjoying a campfire-like experience in the West Campus Cafeteria, with storytelling and singing led by Douglas and the library staff, along with district Superintendent Helio Brasil.
Douglas said today’s students are mightily distracted with many things competing for their attention and more work is needed to get children to want to read. She said parents are encouraged to read with their children at home and the importance of reading is becoming a culture at school.
Friday’s all-school readathon is being conducted in conjunction with the McSwain Foundation. Students have garnered pledges for the number of books they have read during the day. In years past, McSwain students have raised between $10,000 and $15,000 for the foundation through their reading.
The library also is hosting a book drive. Donations of like-new or gently used picture books or early readers are being encouraged from fourth through eighth grade students who have outgrown them.

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February 14, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Earn High Honors at State Competitions

Written by: Atwater FFA

Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students filled a charter bus and joined (a record) 1300+ high school students representing nearly 100 high schools throughout central and northern California at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day on February 4th. The FFA Field Day marks the beginning of the FFA judging season where thousands of students throughout California compete in various agriculture skill contests. In Modesto, six Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure students completed along with 30 other high school teams from as far south as San Luis Obispo to as far north as Orland at the annual Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational.

The Atwater FFA Agronomy judging team placed 2nd overall with Dillon Guillen (1st overall), Kelso Kamesch (2nd overall), Jennifer Valazquez, and Luz Soto leading the team. Other contestants included Felicity Garcia, Lj Sanchez, and Vanessa Verela. The Agronomy contest involves the study field crops and weeds with students responsible for the identification of nearly 200 crops and plants, seed, bean, and hay evaluation, and an oral presentation pertaining to their evaluations.

The Atwater FFA Milk Quality and Dairy Foods team earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their knowledge and skills in milk quality (tasting), cheese identification, real vs imitation dairy foods, and a written exam on the dairy industry. “We have a young, enthusiastic, and dedicated team that is developing their skills for future success,” said coach and FFA advisor Dave Gossman. Kendyll Cruz (4th overall), Odalys De La Torre (8th overall), Callie Norton, Leivy Craig, Luke van Warmerdam, Jose Montanez, Joseph Hayward, and Natalie Frontella competed in the contest.

The Atwater FFA Ag Mechanics team competed and earned a 2nd place overall team finish as they demonstrated their woodworking, electrical, oxy-fuel welding & cutting skills, tool identification, and a written exam on all aspects of agriculture mechanics. “This contest is all about ‘hands-on’ application of skills,” said coach and FFA advisor Sam Meredith, “We look forward to the opportunity to continue developing our skills and competing against other highly skilled individuals and teams throughout the upcoming contests.” Members of the Ag Mechanics team included Daniel Mesa (2nd overall), Nathaniel Cavallero (6th overall), Joel Rojas, and Daisy Flores-Mota. Other students who competed included Justin Sorginson.


The Atwater FFA Floral Judging team placed 2nd overall with a team composed of Arely Venegas (3rd overall), Samantha Theodozio (9th overall), Ariana Freitas, and Liliana Vargas. The students competed in plant identification, arrangements, and floral skills. Other students who competed included Jessica Prado and Marissa Nuno.

The Atwater FFA Small Engines team placed 6tht overall as they demonstrated their skills and knowledge in small engine tool and part identification, engine theory, problem solving, and hands-on engine troubleshooting and repair. The team was composed of Zion Brigham, Ricardo Ortega, Madison Hall, and Mathew Rogers. “The opportunity for our students to be exposed to hundreds of other high school students engaged in skill application competition generated tremendous enthusiasm from the students,” said coach and FFA advisor Shelby West.

The Atwater FFA Nursery and Landscape team had a partial team complete with Daryl Dorsey placing 1st high individual and Jeff Clark placing 2nd high individual overall with their teammates competing at another contest. Both students demonstrated knowledge and skills in their plant identification, plant selection & evaluation, transplanting, and written exam on all aspects of horticulture and the horticulture industry.

Job Interview contest was led by a 9th place individual finish by Daisy Flores. The contest involves students completing a cover letter, resume, job application, and panel interview. This event emphasizes developing, practicing, and demonstrating skills needed when seeking employment. Kayla Briscoe placed 6th overall in the FFA Creed contest. Other participants included Emily Junez, Kaya Briscoe-Mattis, Ana Lozano.


Thirty-five Atwater High School agriculture students competed in various agriculture industry related skill-based contests among 1300+ other state-wide high school agriculture students at the Arbuckle FFA Field Day.


The Atwater High School FFA Agriculture Mechanics team comprised of (left to right) Justin Sarginson, Daniel Mesa, Daisy Flores-Mota, Joel Rojas, and Nathaniel Cavallero placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.


The Atwater High School FFA Agronomy team comprised of (left to right) Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, LJ Sanchez, Felicity Garcia, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, and Luz Soto placed 2nd overall at the annual Arbuckle FFA Field Day where over 1300+ individual high school agriculture students throughout the state competed.

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

The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed 4th in their group at the Modesto Junior College Parliamentary Procedure Invitational with a team composed of Alyssa Carrillo, Mariah Castro, Michael Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, and Mayra Edith Alvarez.

This was the first contest of the year for the FFA Career Development Events (CDE’s) throughout the state of California. The primary judging season begins March 5th at at UC Davis followed by Chico State University followed by UC Davis, Merced College, Modesto Junior College, West Hills College, Reedley College, Fresno State University, and the 2017 FFA State Finals at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The contests are developed for all California high school agriculture students where they are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of agriculture pathways and industry sectors.

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

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February 14, 2017


ACE Service Canceled Through Wednesday, February 15th

Due to persistent and developing weather factors, as well as additional unforeseen service disruptions since yesterday, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger service will be canceled through Wednesday, February 15, 2017. We will continue to provide service-related updates as information becomes available.


We are rerouting trains and diligently working to restore service to normal operations. We sincerely apologize for the disruptions and impact to our customers, commuter partners and the communities we serve.

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February 1 , 2017

MCOE, Preschool Network Host Workshop to Focus on Brain Development in Young Children

Transitional kindergarten and pre-kindergarten staff members can take part in a daylong workshop on March 25 in Madera to explore toxic stress, brain development and the importance of developing close relationships with young children.
The California Preschool Instructional Network’s social-emotional development arm from Region 7, which includes Merced County, will hear Dr. Ross A. Thompson speak at a session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Madera County Office of Education, 1105 S. Madera Ave., Madera.
The event is sponsored by the Merced County Office of Education’s Early Education office.
Dr. Thompson’s expertise focuses on early socio-emotional development in building close relationships.
His research explores the influence of relational processes on emotional growth, conscience development, emotion regulation, and self-understanding in young children. He has worked on early childhood mental health, school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention and research ethics.

 

Second, he has worked on the applications of developmental relational science to public policy problems concerning children and families, such as early childhood mental health, the constituents of school readiness, divorce and child custody concerns, child maltreatment prevention, and research ethics.
For more information about registration, contact Kathleen Nevatt at the Merced County Office of Education at (209) 381-6785.

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February 14, 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The latest numbers from the Homeless Count will be presented during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.

People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 14, 2017

Assemblyman Gray Introduces Service to Civilian Act

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of the Service to Civilian Act to assist retiring military servicemembers as they transition into civilian life.

“Despite having the nation’s largest veteran population, California’s policies are increasingly driving veterans out of the state,” said Gray. “Our policies are especially burdensome for newly retired, post-9/11 veterans just transitioning to civilian life.”

Unlike most other states, California provides no form of tax exemption for military retirement pay. Gray previously introduced legislation to fully exempt military retirement pay from the state income tax, but that measure stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to cost concerns.

“I continue to believe California should not balance its checkbook on the backs of veterans,” said Gray. “Military retirement pay should be fully tax exempt as it is in 20 other states. As we continue to make that case in Sacramento, the Service to Civilian Act is an important first step.”

 

The Service to Civilian Act would provide a depreciating tax exemption over the course of the first five years after a veteran retires from military service. The bill calls for 100 percent of military retirement pay to be exempt from state income tax in the first year of retirement, 80 percent the second year, 60 percent the third year, 40 percent the fourth year, and 20 percent the fifth year.

“Retiring from the service creates an incredible amount of uncertainty for military families,” continued Gray. “Newly retired veterans are less likely to have civilian employment or a place to live, and are more likely to struggle with post-traumatic stress and the lack of military structure. The Service to Civilian Act will give our veterans a running start at a time they and their families need it most.”

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February 14, 2017

Costa Statement on USDA Recommendation to Establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommendation to establish a California Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO).

“For years I have advocated and worked hard to give California dairy producers the opportunity to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order,” said Rep. Costa. “Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture released a proposal that would allow California's dairy producers to make their own determination of what is best for California’s dairy industry. Dairy producers have the opportunity to evaluate what joining the Federal Milk Marketing Order system will mean for their bottom line. I will continue working with California’s dairymen and cooperatives as they assess the USDA proposal and decide on the merits of remaining independent or joining the 10 other Federal Milk Marketing Orders around the country.”

In 2013, Rep. Costa joined in introducing the California Federal Milk


Congressman Jim Costa

Marketing Act to allow California dairy producers to decide if they want to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order. Rep. Costa advocated for the provisions in the legislation during Farm Bill negotiations, and the legislation was included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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February 11, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 59 BETWEEN SANDY MUSH ROAD AND WEST DICKENSON FERRY ROAD

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

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

DETOUR:

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

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

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

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 165 FROM CAMPBELL STREET TO FOWLER AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform various road construction activities on State Route 165 (SR-165) from Campbell Street (south of Hilmar) to Fowler Avenue. Work will occur as follows:
• The right shoulder on northbound SR-165 at Campbell Street will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.;

• The northbound and southbound lanes on SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will alternately close with one-way traffic control on Monday, February 13, 2017, from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m.;

• The right shoulder on northbound and southbound SR-165 at Fowler Avenue will close beginning Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 49 FROM BEAR VALLEY ROAD TO
STATE ROUTE 120 IN MARIPOSA COUNTY

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49 (SR-49) from Bear Valley Road to SR-120 for drainage work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Motorists should expect 10 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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


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

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

Crews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


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

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree workCrews will begin work on Monday, February 13, 2017, through Friday, February 17, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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


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

 

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February 11, 2017

Merced County Office of Education Announces Speech Festival Winners

The Merced County Office of Education announced the winners of the Merced County Speech Festival at an awards ceremony Feb. 8.
The competition was held in late January for fourth- through eighth-grade students and 23 schools from 11 school districts in Merced County participated in the event with 175 students competing.
Awards for the top three students in each grade and honorable mentions were presented at the Clark and Newbold Rooms at MCOE.
This year, speeches for the festival were an open platform. Students gave speeches about any subject using selected categories from the Writing Festival. The speech selections were: Persuasive, Tall Tale, Legend, Fable or a Report of Information.
Students stood in front of the audience and a panel of three judges — some memorized their speeches, some used props and others had vivid gesturing and staging.
First place winners were invited to give their award winning speeches at the awards reception.

Click here to see:

2017 Merced County Speech Festival Winners

 


PHOTOS BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION



Winners from the 2017 Merced County Speech Festival pose for a photo with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson and MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia.


Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District winners pose with MCOE Assistant Superintendent John Magneson.


McSwain 6th grader Leah Chapman won first place for her speech about Chinese New Year.

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February 11, 2017

WAHNETTA HALL TRUST FUND APPLICATIONS DUE

The Wahnetta Hall Trust Fund was established in 1995. The Trust provisions require that the City of Merced use a specific portion of the trust for an endowment fund with income being used to establish and maintain a mini-train system and/or a band concert program in Applegate Park.
The Merced City Council annually disburses these funds to organizations that meet eligibility criteria and can perform the services as described in the Trust. This year there is $1,200 available for distribution. Past recipients have included the Kiwanis Club of Greater Merced for the mini-train operation, as well as the Merced County


Regional Arts Council, Merced Symphony Association, and Merced Community Band for band concerts at the Merced Open Air Theater in Applegate Park.
The application deadline for 2017 funding is March 17, 2017. Non-profit organizations interested in applying for funding should submit their letters of request to Mike Conway, Director, Office of Recreation, 678 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340. Please call 385-6298 for additional information on eligibility criteria and application requirements.

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February 11, 2017

COURT ISSUES FINAL JUDGEMENT AND INJUNCTION
IN SIESTA MOTAL PROSTITUTION ABATEMENT CASE

Merced County Superior Court Judge Brian McCabe issued a Permanent Injunction this week against the Siesta Motel, its owners and operators and ordered that they abate any illegal activities occurring on the premises, including any and all prostitution related activity.

The Motel has been on police radar over the last few years for being a place where prostitution, assaults, robberies, and drug-related activities take place, resulting in the Merced Police Department completing over 100 police reports from crimes that occurred on the Property from 2011-2014, said Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall.

“Crimes like prostitution, and drug dealing are quality of life offenses that can destroy neighborhoods and make it more difficult for neighboring businesses to succeed, said District Attorney Larry Morse II. We appreciate the focus Chief Andrade and his officers have brought to these urban flight offenses and we will continue to work with the City of Merced and the Merced Police Department to prosecute those who profit from prostitution and drug dealing, Morse added.”

The injunction will require numerous improvements to the property to address public safety and security, and to prevent prostitution and sex trafficking at this location Wall said. The motel owners will be

 

required to maintain a high resolution camera security system with remote access by the Merced Police Department and allow them unrestricted access to the property for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this injunction he added.

According to Wall, the injunction requires the Defendants to maintain an on-site manager at all times, to allow no loitering, for each resident guest to be identified upon entry onto the property, for towing of all unauthorized vehicles, for arrests of trespassers, record retention and access, no rentals for periods of less than 12 hours, termination of unit rentals for illegal activity, an agreed “do not rent” list, ample and abundant high intensity lighting, and costs to the City Police of $5,345 for investigation and remediation of the nuisance conditions on the property.

The judgements this week confirm several years of legal efforts in this case, and since the filing, the incidents of prostitution and related crimes have greatly diminished at the Motel, said Wall.

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February 10, 2017

Date Set for Bike Park Community Design Meeting

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


For more information call
Parks and Recreation at 385-6235.

Click here to see flyer

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February 9, 2017


A CREDIT SCAM HAS MADE ITS WAY
TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY

Following the recent arrest of two women who tried to use bogus paystubs to gain “pre-approval” for financing at a car dealership, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office is advising local businesses to be extra vigilant in processing credit applications.

The first woman to try using the fraudulent paystubs was successful in gaining “pre-approval” for a car and was able drive it off of the lot, said Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby. The financing company did decline the application due to the documents being fraudulent, but only after she made off with the car. The second woman was denied credit by the finance manager after he recognized the paystub and knew it was also fraudulent.

The paystubs were created on a website called calistubs.com and will often bear a watermark with the web address, as pictured below. The website allows users to create a paystub in a matter of seconds that may look genuine and print out the same, said Colby. Verifying employment information on a paystub prior to releasing vehicles or merchandise on a credit approval is one way to help protect yourself against fraud, he added.

If you have been a victim of this scam you can contact Anna Hazel, an investigator from Merced District Attorney’s Office at (209) 385-7381 ext. 4256.


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February 9, 2017

Costa Continues to Serve on House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) announced that in the 115th Congress, he will continue to serve on the U.S. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees.

Rep. Costa will maintain his position as the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. The subcommittee oversees livestock, dairy, and poultry issues along with foreign agriculture assistance and trade promotion programs. Costa will also serve on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, Research that oversees specialty crops, plant pests and diseases, research, and education.

Costa will continue to serve on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans and Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Water, Power, and Oceans is responsible for the nation’s water resources, interstate water, and ocean issues. The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee oversees energy production and mining on federal lands, both on and off-shore.

“In order to maintain and grow our San Joaquin Valley economy, we must have a secure water supply and a thriving agriculture industry,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “As a member of both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, I have the distinct opportunity to advocate for many policies that impact our Valley, like working to ensure a reliable water supply and supporting the San Joaquin Valley


Congressman Jim Costa

farmers who produce the highest quality food and fiber for the world. Additionally, I will be a leader in negotiating the 2018 Farm Bill, which will not only have a direct effect on farming, ranching, and dairy operations, but also on funding for nutrition assistance, conservation, and rural development programs.”

Rep. Costa has served on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees since he took office in 2005. As a third-generation farmer who was raised on a dairy farm in the San Joaquin Valley, Costa advocates for policies in both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees that ensure the future economic viability of the Valley.

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February 8, 2017

Costa Says Attacks against High-Speed Rail are Political and False

Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement in response to a letter sent to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao from the California Republican delegation regarding high-speed rail.

“California is leading our nation in investments to improve our transportation infrastructure with the construction of high-speed rail. In 2015, the high-speed rail groundbreaking took place in my district, and two years later, over 119 miles are now under construction. As a direct result, the San Joaquin Valley’s economy has experienced increased job creation and business growth.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues in California are continuing their political attacks on the High Speed Rail Authority in a public letter to Secretary Chao, and the notion that funding for High Speed Rail is a waste of federal tax payer dollars is simply false. The dollar expenditures that are used to back their claims are simply inaccurate.

“The positive impacts of High Speed Rail construction can be seen in the Central Valley and throughout California. We can and we must


Congressman Jim Costa


·improve our state’s transportation systems and high-speed rail will provide easy connectivity through California, providing a state-of-the-art transit system across the state, from Los Angeles to San Diego and further north to San Francisco and Sacramento.”

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February 7, 2017

DANGEROUS COCKROACH POWDER SOLD AT
LOS BANOS FLEA MARKET

An illegal cockroach powder that has been sold recently at the Merced Spring Flea Market is not safe for humans or animals and should not be used in the home, District Attorney Larry Morse II announced today. The Merced District Attorney’s Office became aware of this potential health hazard after a woman came forward and said that she had purchased the powder at the Flea Market.

The powder was advertised on Face book, in a Spanish magazine, as well as on business cards that were left on doorsteps, with the names “El Mejor Remedio” or “El Mejor Polvo.” The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office has arrested Julio Pino Reyes for making, advertising and selling the powder.

If you did purchase and use this product keep it in a dry location and away from other materials Morse advised. Sean Runyon from the Merced County Department of Agriculture recommends that if you have already applied the powder inside of your home, to contact your local fire department and they can then evaluate the safety of the home. Seek medical attention if you are suffering any pesticide related symptoms, and do not throw this product away in your trashcan or put it down the sink.

You can bring it to either of these locations at no charge: Highway 59 Landfill at 7040 N. State Highway 59, Merced, CA 95348 Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or to the Los Banos Spring Cleanup/Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday April 8th only, from 7:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. at the Los Banos Spring Fair Parking Lot. If you have any additional questions, you may contact Jennifer Halpin with the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority at (209) 723-4481 ext. 24.

 

 

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February 7, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Bring Home SAE Honors

Written by: Atwater FFA

Ten Atwater FFA Students earned honors at the annual Merced-Mariposa Sectional FFA Project Competition Banquet held at the Merced County Fairgrounds last week. 93 FFA students throughout the Merced and Mariposa counties were recognized for their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs. A SAE program is the actual, hands-on application of concepts and principles learned in the agricultural classroom. Students are supervised by agricultural education teachers in cooperation with parents, employers, and other adults who assist them in development and achievement of their educational and career goals.

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

The participants and results of Atwater FFA students were as follows: Audrey Esau (Silver), Austin Burris (Gold), Callie Norton (Gold), Colby Flatt (Gold), Courtney Creighton (Gold), Daniel Mesa (Gold and Merit Award), Katelyn Baptista (Gold), Kaya Briscoe-Mattis (Gold), Stephania Valdovinos (Gold), Zion Brigham (Gold). In addition of the results, $750 scholarships where were given out to the most deserving seniors who had competed for three or more years. Austin Burris receive a “Judges Selection” scholarship for his rabbit project, and Courtney Creighton received the Migliazzo & Sons Dairy scholarship for her poultry SAE.

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


 

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


Ten Atwater High School agriculture students along with the Atwater High School agriculture staff joined twelve other county high schools and students for the annual FFA Project Competition Banquet where students were recognized for their agriculture related projects.


Atwater High School agriculture student Zion Brigham receives recognition for his FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) sheep project from Merced County representative and community member Jim Cunningham.


Atwater High School agriculture student Daniel Mesa receives recognition for his FFA FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) ag mechanics project from Merced County representative and community member Jerry O'Banion.

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February 7 , 2017

Merced High Wins 9th Consecutive Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 11 Merced County high schools converged at Merced College on Feb. 4 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon, and for the ninth consecutive year, Merced High School took top honors.
The 36th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science. This year’s theme was World War II.
High schools that participated this year are: Atwater, Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Los Banos, Merced, Merced Scholars Charter, Valley Community School – Atwater and Valley Community School – Los Banos.
Merced High was the highest scoring team for the Super Quiz and team member Steven Yeung was the top-scoring student at the event.
Merced High will go on to represent Merced County in March, 2017, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are the Community Foundation of Merced County, Merced College, Educational Employees Credit Union, Mani Nallasivan, M.D. – Merced Vein & Vascular Center and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,500 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.
Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.
Attached is the complete list of awards for all categories.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.


After a long day of competing, students are awarded at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon at Merced College on Feb. 4.

 



Merced High School earned the top spot for the ninth year in a row at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.


Merced School Employee Federal Credit Union scholarship awardees pose with representatives from the credit union after the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve M Tietjen hosts the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon awards at the Merced College Theater on Feb. 4.


Merced High student John Richey takes the music test at the 2017 Merced County Academic Decathlon.

 

PHOTOS BY NATHAN QUEVEDO COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

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February 7 , 2017

Assemblyman Gray Announces Overhaul of State Water Management

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) today announced the introduction of new legislation, Assembly Bill 313, to overhaul California’s water management structure.

“Water management at the state level is broken,” said Gray. “Anyone who has tried to work with the state on water knows that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, conflicts of interest are the norm, and state agencies act as their own prosecution, judge, and jury. The net effect is an ineffective bureaucratic maze which leaves us unable to capitalize on vital opportunities and prioritizes special interests working behind the scenes over good public policy.”

AB 313 proposes to restructure the administration and enforcement of water rights and the State Water Project. Authority and enforcement over water rights would be moved from the State Water Resources Control Board and housed under the Department of Water Resources (DWR) with enforcement proceedings conducted separately by the Office of Administrative Hearings. DWR’s current authority and water rights underlying the State Water Project would be transferred to a new State Water Project Authority to eliminate the conflict of DWR both administering and enforcing water rights while simultaneously possessing water rights of its own.

“The way the state enforces water rights is like letting a pitcher call his own strikes and balls,” continued Gray. “The State Water Board writes the regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and put folks on trial in a court they run themselves. Where is the umpire? Where are the checks and balances?”
California’s water management structure has gone largely unchanged since the current model was adopted in 1969. Emphasizing the need to tackle the issue now, Gray cited a 2010 report from the Little Hoover Commission, titled Managing for Change: Modernizing California’s Water Governance, which urged the Governor and the Legislature to modernize and restructure this antiquated system to improve transparency, oversight, and accountability.

“These changes have been a long time coming,” said Gray. “California has failed to manage and plan for the future, because responsibilities are dispersed throughout different departments of government and no one talks to each other. To meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and an ever expanding economy, we need to integrate water governance in a way that allows progress instead of gridlock.”

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February 7 , 2017

Three railroad crossings closing for repairs in the City

Three crossings of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad will close so that the company can repair the tracks. The BNSF line is the northern train line through town closest to Bear Creek.

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

The R Street crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 10 through 2 p.m. Feb. 17.


The Glen Avenue crossing will close from 2 p.m. Feb. 13 through 2 p.m. Feb. 20.
The Tower Road crossing, near Highway 140, will close starting at noon Feb. 15 through noon Feb. 22.

Detour signs will be posts at the crossings to guide drivers. Please drive carefully, especially around Glen Avenue because of the schools impacted by the RR crossing closure.

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February 4 , 2017

Special district elections, bridge contract on
Council agenda

A public hearing on proposed maintenance district increases and the awarding of a contract for bridge repairs are on the agenda for Monday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

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

Property owners are voting on fee increases in three maintenance districts: Oakmont No. 3, Campus North, and Mansionette. During the public hearing Monday night, people can comment on the proposed increases.

The increases are to cover the increased costs of providing services for the three districts. The ballots are due by Feb. 6 and the results of the election will be announced at the Feb. 21 Council meeting.

Council is being asked to award a contract to Viking Construction Company of Rancho Cordova for $2,716,573 for the repair of the G and M Street bridges. The other bidder on the project was Myers & Sons Construction of Sacramento.The work to be done will include rehabilitation of the M and G Street bridge structures, creek channel, and roadways to fix deteriorated


conditions and add upgrades to comply with new standards. There will be some traffic disruptions during the construction work.

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss anticipated litigation and the performance evaluations of the city manager and the finance director.

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

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

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February 4, 2017

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 99 AND MISSION AVENUE
IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the southbound onramp to State Route 99 at Mission Avenue for landscape work.

Crews will work on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

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

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

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

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, February 6, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 33 AT STATE ROUTE 152 IN MERCED COUNTY

Merced County — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close various off and on-ramps at the State Route 152/State Route 33 interchange for shoulder work. Closures will occur as follows:

• The southbound on-ramp from State Route 33 (SR-33) to SR-152 will be closed on Monday, February 6, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for shoulder work;

• The westbound off and on-ramps from State Route 152 (SR-152) to SR-33 will be closed from Tuesday, February 7, 2017, through Wednesday, February 8, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. or shoulder work.

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

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

 

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

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February 4 , 2017

Homeless Summit set for Friday, Feb. 17

The results of the January Homeless Count will be released during the Second Annual Homeless Summit Friday, Feb. 17.
The event will include a number of presentations dealing with how homelessness is being addressed in Merced County. Public agencies and private organizations involved with helping the homeless will have information booths and share their experience. The Summit is sponsored by the Merced County Continuum of Care.
The Summit will be held in the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.,


Merced. A continental breakfast and information booths will be available when the doors open at 8 a.m. The presentations will be from 9 to 11 a.m.
People are asked to preregister at https://MercedHomelessSummit.EventBrite.com.

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February 3 , 2017

Elementary Students Participate in Signing Day

High school athletes aren’t the only ones making commitments as part of National Signing Day 2017. Hundreds of elementary students in the Merced City School District signed their names on posters and banners this week as a symbol of their commitment to education.

At Gracey Elementary, staff members called out the name of each student who signed on Wednesday, and their classmates clapped and cheered for them. UC Merced students were also on hand to offer materials about the university and a little extra inspiration. They asked the children what they want to be when they grow up and spoke about how education can help unlock those opportunities. The Signing Day event was an extension of an assembly Gracey held on Monday, which focused on higher education.

At Reyes Elementary, students enjoyed a similar event on Thursday. They were invited to sign their names on large banners featuring motivational phrases, which were displayed in the multi-purpose room. The students and staff members were also encouraged to wear clothes representing their favorite college or university, and they took part in a door decorating contest to show their spirit as well. Staff members also made special announcements throughout the week and showed video clips highlighting college and career readiness.

Administrators say it’s important to get children thinking about their futures at an early age so they will embrace the idea of continuing their education in order to achieve their goals and dreams.


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary


Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event



Students of Gracey Elementary during yesterday’s event


Students of Reyes Elementary

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February 3 , 2017

 

Three Town Hall meetings set

The Merced City Council invites residents to attend their neighborhood Town Hall meeting this month. Three meetings have been set up so that the public can let the Council know what issues they are facing.
Comments and ideas help the City Council and staff prepare the annual budget and address issues in their neighborhoods.
The meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m. The meetings are:


North Merced — Feb. 8, Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr.
Central Merced — Feb. 16, Merced MultiCultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.
South Merced — Feb. 23, Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. 8th St.

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

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February 3 , 2017

MERCED COLLEGE FOUNDATION TO HOST
2017 STATE OF THE COLLEGE LUNCHEON

The 5th annual State of the College Address and Presentation of the President’s Medallion, sponsored by the Merced College Foundation, is scheduled for Friday, April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held at the College’s gynasium.
This year, Merced College will honor Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center in recognition of its support of the College’s nursing and scholarship programs.
Individual tickets to the catered lunch are $50. Table sponsorships for eight guests are $500, and corporate sponsorships are $1,000 for a table of eight. Table sponsors receive recognition during the event and added benefits are provided to corporate sponsors
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or online the PayPal at www.mercedcollegefoundation.org.
For more information, or to reserve your table, contact the Merced College Foundation.

 

 

 

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

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February 1 , 2017

Students Learn about Mosquitoes and Safety Measures

Students at Peterson Elementary School in Merced enjoyed a special science lesson Tuesday morning. Representatives from the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District visited three classrooms to teach third graders all about mosquitoes. They spoke about the diseases the insects can spread, their life cycle, and how our immune systems respond to being bitten.

Students had a chance to see one of the pests under a microscope and to examine samples of their egg rafts, larvae, and pupae. The presentation also included an animated movie with facts about mosquitoes in the Central Valley, along with a booklet full of puzzles and other games related to the lesson.

One of the goals of this ongoing educational program is to spread awareness about the importance of removing standing water around homes to keep insects from laying eggs in those areas. Biologist Jason Bakken is one of the presenters who travels to schools across the county. He says, “Backyards are the most difficult areas for us to reach. We hope by educating the students, they will share that message with their families to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.”

The Merced County Mosquito Abatement District has been collaborating with school districts throughout this area since 1992. Staff members expect to reach their 100,000th student later this year.


The view from a camera looking through a microscope lens at a mosquito slide


Merced County Mosquito Abatement District biologist Jason Bakken speaking to third grade students at Peterson Elementary


Peterson Elementary third graders looking at samples of mosquito egg rafts, larvae, and pupae


A Peterson Elementary third grader looking through a microscope at a mosquito slide

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February 1 , 2017

MCOE Schedules Events in Merced, Los Banos to Unveil 6th Annual Education Report

The Merced County Office of Education will unveil the Merced County Schools Annual Education Report at public events in Merced and Los Banos in late February.
The report, sponsored by Stifel, a municipal finance group, Educational Employees Credit Union, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Travis Credit Union, details student demographics and achievements, collaborations and best practices. Additionally, the report focuses on Special Education in Merced County and how MCOE works with school districts and several other organizations throughout the county to serve this student population.
There are two Report on Our Schools events scheduled to unveil the annual education report. The first is Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Yosemite Church, 2230 East Yosemite Ave. in Merced, and the second on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Los Banos Community Center, 645 7th St. in Los Banos. Both events are from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include lunch. RSVP is required to Lori Ward at rsvp@mcoe.org or (209) 381-6601.

 

 

Event sponsorships are available by contacting Lori Ward.
For more information about the event, call MCOE Media and Communications Manager Nathan Quevedo at (209) 381-6658.

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February 1 , 2017

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

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean Avenue to Dell Street in the city of Merced for maintenance.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, January 30, 2017, through Friday, February 3, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

 


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

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

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 30, 2017, through Friday, February 3, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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

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

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February 1 , 2017

Atwater FFA Earns Top Finish at Parli Pro Speaking Contest

Written by: Atwater FFA

Twenty-six novice and advanced parliamentary procedure teams representing high schools throughout California gathered at Minarets High School this past weekend the annual Minarets FFA Parliamentary Procedure Invitational. The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team placed 2nd overall with senior Daryl Dorsey earning the Advanced Chairman award. The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team placed in the middle of the pack. “Today was a pretty good day as this was the first big contest for many competitors,” said FFA advisor Shelby West. “They put forth a tremendous effort and the experience provides us with a foundation to build upon.”

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

Atwater High School’s agriculture program continues to grow. “With the growth and expansion of agriculture instructors over the past few years, we have been able to expand opportunities for students outside the classroom in college and career related skills that will serve and benefit their futures,” said agriculture instructor Sam Meredith. “It’s all about providing opportunities for students to enhance their personal growth, academic success, and career development.”

Students who competed on the team included (Advanced) Daryl Dorsey (Outstanding Chair award), Dayana Argueta, Amanjot Gandhoke, Jeff Clark, Courtney Creighton, Callie Norton, Paige Brigham, Natalie Frontella, Alyssa Carrillo, Cristal Venegas, Micheal Bray, Itzel Chavez, Hayley Vargas, Emmanuel Mejia, Stephanie Aguanui, and Vanessa Varela. The team will be heading to the UC Davis Parliamentary Procedure Invitational on March 3rd to compete again with sectional, regional, and state final competition coming up in the coming two months.


The Atwater FFA Advanced Parliamentary Procedure team students Paige Brigham, Amanjot Gandhoke, Daryl Dorsey, Natalie Frontella, Dayana Argueta, Callie Norton, Jeff Clark, and Courtney Creighton placed 2nd overall at the Minarets Parliamentary Procedure Invitational this past weekend.


The Atwater FFA Novice Parliamentary Procedure team students Stephanie Anguiano, Vanessa Varela, Cristal Venagus, Hayley Vargus, Emmanuel Mejia, Alyssa Carrillo, Micheal Bray, and Itzel Chavez competed in their first contest of the year with a middle of the pack finish.

 

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

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February 1 , 2017

‘World War II’ is theme of the 36th Merced County Academic Decathlon

Students from 11 Merced County high schools will converge at Merced College on Feb. 4 for the Merced County Academic Decathlon. This year’s theme: World War II.
The 36th year in Merced County, the Academic Decathlon pits area high schools against each other in a contest of academics. Students compete in the areas of art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, social science and science.
High schools participating this year are: Atwater, Buhach Colony, Delhi, El Capitan, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Los Banos, Merced, Merced Scholars Charter, Valley Community School – Atwater, and Valley Community School – Los Banos.
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, 2017, at the State Academic Decathlon in Sacramento.
Sponsorship partners for the Academic Decathlon are the Community Foundation of Merced County, Merced College, Educational Employees Credit Union, Mani Nallasivan, M.D. – Merced Vein & Vascular Center and the Merced County Office of Education.
In addition, Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union donates $5,500 to sponsor the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program.


Participating schools pay a $750 participation fee. Of that, $500 is matched by the Robert Wayne Scholarship Program. This brings the scholarships to $1,000 for each school. All participating teams are awarded that in scholarship money, two scholarships at $250 each and one scholarship at $500.
Wayne, who founded MSEFCU and served on the MCAD Board for many years, passed away on Nov. 9, 2009.
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 El Capitan High School gym, 100 Farmland Ave. just north of Merced, and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. in the Merced College Theater, 3600 M St. in Merced.

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January 25, 2017

Costa Gives Merced County Sheriff’s Posse Tour of U.S. Capitol Building

WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, January 21, 2017, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) gave the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse a tour of the United State Capitol Building.

On Inauguration Day, Americans celebrate our nation’s democratic principles and the peaceful transition of power. It was truly an honor to have the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse representing the San Joaquin Valley in the President’s Inauguration Day parade,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “On Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking the Sheriff’s Posse on a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, and we had the opportunity to go on the platform of where the swearing-in of President Donald Trump took place. It was special to have Sheriff Vern Warnke, the Sheriff’s Posse and their families in Washington, D.C. to participate in a historical moment for our nation.”

"Words can't express just how grateful and blessed I feel to have been able to participate is such a historic event," exclaimsMerced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. "Collectively, the Posse and I, count the entire experience as amazing. Our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude to all who made this trip possible and a huge success. A special thanks to Rep. Jim Costa for his continuous support and belief in law enforcement and the Sheriff’s Posse."

 

 

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January 25, 2017

MCOE, Merced County DA Team Up for County’s First Mock Trial at Historic Courthouse

On January 11, for the first time since 1950, the original Merced County Courthouse hosted a trial.
But this trial had high school students from throughout Merced County as the prosecution and defense and Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II will serve as the presiding judge.
The Merced County Office of Education in partnership with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office hosted the county’s first Mock Trial and students from Dos Palos High School, Pacheco High School in Los Banos and Delhi High School participated in the trials in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the iconic building in Courthouse Park.
The hypothetical case, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which runs the program statewide, involves human trafficking and false imprisonment.
Students learn the gamut of roles and responsibilities in the courtroom and participate as the defense and the prosecution attorneys, witnesses, the court clerk and even the bailiff. Students may also serve as courtroom artists and journalists. The Mock Trials also give students a better knowledge of the legal system and increase their analytical abilities, self-confidence and communication skills.
At an awards reception the next day, participating schools were awarded based on scores tallied up during the Mock Trials by scoring attorneys. Local attorneys Eric Beiswanger, Corbett Browning and David Foster served as the scoring attorneys.
Dos Palos High took first place, with Pacheco High in second place and Delhi High in third. The outstanding role winner was Ashlyn Climer from Dos Palos High; prosecution team expert in human trafficking was Dana Greyjoy; and courtroom artist winner was Calista Jones from Delhi High.
For more information, please contact MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.


Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse III, acting as presiding judge in the county's first Mock Trial event, listens to testimony from a witness.

PHOTOS COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Students from from throughout Merced County participated in the county's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Dos Palos High School placed first in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Pacheco High School in Los Banos placed second in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.


Students from Delhi High School placed third in Merced County's first Mock Trial event.

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January 25, 2017

Livingston, Planada Students Work With Mural Artist to Paint a Picture

Livingston's Campus Park Elementary School has a new focal point: A wall on one of its classroom buildings now is adorned with a spacious mural that shows what its students, teachers, staff members and parents can do when they come together on a common project.
The 20-foot by 60-foot mural shows its school mascot, the bald eagle, towering over scenes of its students and San Joaquin Valley landmarks. The full-color mural involved all 500 transitional kindergarten through fifth grade students as well as renowned international muralist Joel Bergner and UC Merced art professor Richard Gomez.
It took the campus community about five full days to complete the mural on the long wall of the C building. It was subsequently dedicated at an unveiling ceremony at the 1840 H St. school.
Livingston Union School District Superintendent Andres Zamora beams as he recounts what went into the project designed to cement the importance of art into the overall curriculum.
"I think the mural looks fantastic and that's special. It's something we put up," Zamora said. "It's not every day you have a local muralist partnered with an international artist and that's so engaging for our kids. We were able to give all 500 of our students an opportunity to leave their mark behind."
The district's first mural was done in 2015-2016 at Livingston Middle School and Zamora is hoping Livingston educators can continue the collaboration with Gomez and other artists in future projects at other school sites.
Zamora said as students walk out of the Campus Park cafeteria their eyes are certainly drawn to the mural which now is a highlight for the school.
Further south in Merced County, Gomez, Bergner and the Planada community collaborated on a large mural on the bleachers, retaining wall and buildings at Glen Davis Ballpark on the east side of Planada Elementary School.
The two-week project culminated in a December ceremony where the mural was dedicated.
Planada School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez said actual work on the mural was preceded last spring by a six-month goal-setting process. Planada Elementary School Principal Idelfonso Nava said the community came together to rejuvenate the wall, which had been the victim of tagging.
Bergner said the Planada mural was a collaborative effort where a variety of social issues were addressed.
A larger-than-life rooster looks over a local landscape featuring other animals and an embodiment of the culture of Planada, Gonzalez said.
Back in Livingston, Campus Park Principal Jorge Arteaga said creation of the mural helped the school incorporate art lessons into the classroom. Aerosol paints were used, making it resemble an oil painting.
"It created a really positive opportunity to engage our parents and students in the arts," Arteaga said. "Students were just excited to be in school. It's one of those experiences the kids will remember for a lifetime."
The towering eagle and its massive wings is Campus Park's mascot and the whole idea of the mural was to bring the school's values to the forefront, Arteaga said. The campus slogan is "Where Eagles Take Flight and Soar to New Heights Above and Beyond."
Gomez said the new mural seems to be well received and he has received a lot of support from the Livingston community. Gomez heads up the university's GAST program, which stands for Global Art Studies.
Getting 500 students to complete a sizable art project is quite an accomplishment, Gomez believes.
Zamora said the Campus Park project is part of the district's overall goal of providing enriching opportunities for its students and keeping them engaged academically.
Livingston's police chief, Reuben Chavez, helped develop the mural concept and provided the artists with breakfast and lunch while they guided the students. A community workshop was held beforehand to define the design features of the mural.

LIVINGSTON PHOTOS COURTESY LIVINGSTON UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT - PLANADA PHOTOS BY NATE GOMES COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION


Renowned mural artist Joel Bergner speaks with Planada students at Glen Davis Ballpark near Planada Elementary School.


Campus Park Elementary School students gather to celebrate the unveiling of a mural on one of the classroom buildings.


Campus Park Elementary School students help paint a mural on one of the classroom buildings at the school.


Planada students and community members helped to create a mural at Glen Davis Ballpark on the east side of Planada Elementary School.

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January 25, 2017

Atwater FFA Students Qualify for Regional Speaking Finals

Written by:Audrey Esau, Atwater FFA

The Atwater High School FFA joined 141 FFA speaking contestants, representing fourteen high school agriculture programs at the annual Merced-Mariposa FFA Public Speaking Sectional Finals at Merced College January 21st. The “top 4” individual finalists in each speaking contest advance to the regional prelims in February. Atwater FFA had eleven of the twenty sectional finalists advancing to the regional prelims next month.

Atwater High School agriculture program senior Jasmine Flores placed 1st overall in Extemporaneous Speaking with Kendyll Cruz (3rd overall) also qualifying for the regional prelims. In Extemporaneous Speaking, students 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. The speech is delivered from memory. Stephania Valdovinos (5th overall), Ana Lozano, and Jennifer Velazquez also participated in the section finals event.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Callie Norton placed 2nd overall in Prepared Public Speaking with senior Julianna Dailey (4th overall) also qualifying for the regional prelims. Both speeches was on cybersecurity in the agriculture industry and fear marketing. The contest for all participants involves a 6-8 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. Dillon Guillen and Kaya Briscoe-Mattis also participated and earned top finishes.

Atwater High School agriculture program sophomores Anessa Cardenas (3rd 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. Emily Junez (5th overall), Lilianna Vargas, and Natalie Frontella also competed in the sectional finals.

Atwater High School agriculture program junior Joel Rojas placed 8th overall 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. Other Atwater FFA members that competed in the Job Interview contest included Ashley Bond, Christina Aguilar, Daisy Flores, and Kelsi Kamesch.

Freshman agriculture students Luz Soto (5th overall) and Alyssa Carrillo (11th overall) made it to the section’s final round and placed in the top one-third of the competitors. This event is designed to recognize outstanding FFA members for their ability to present the


The Atwater FFA Sectional Impromptu Speaking contest participants included Liliana Vargas, Emily Junez, Anessa Cardenas, and Natalie Frontella where members qualified at Merced College for the FFA regional finals next month..


The Atwater FFA Sectional Extemporaneous Speaking contest participants included Ana Lozano, Kendyll Cruz, Jasmine Flores, and Jennifer Velazquez where members qualified at merced College for the FFA regional finals next month.

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

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. Alyssa Carrillo, Mariah Castro, Daisy Flores-Mota, Katelyn Hawthorne also competed in the section finals.

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

 

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

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January 25, 2017



Merced County Office of Education Hosts Merced County Speech Festival

The Merced County Office of Education will host the final day of the 2017 Merced County Speech Festival on Jan. 25 and hold the awards reception on Feb. 8.
The final day of the speech festival will be held in the Clark/Newbold, M, and J-2 conference rooms at MCOE, on the corner of 13th and M streets in Merced, from 9 a.m. to noon.
23 schools are expected to participate from 11 school districts throughout Merced County with nearly 175 students competing.
The speech festival spans from grades 4 to 8 and is open to all Merced County students in those grades.
Students may give a speech about any subject using one of the specified categories, which are based on some of the categories from the Spring Writing Festival. The categories are Persuasive Speech, Tall Tale Speech, Legend Speech, Fable Speech, or Speech on a Report of Information.

Students will stand in front of the audience and a panel of three judges to deliver their speeches. First, second and third place winners will be announced at school sites after the competitions along with fourth through eighth place earning an honorable mention.
The award ceremony is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the Clark/Newbold conference rooms at MCOE. First place winners will be invited to give their award winning speeches that evening in front of other students, family, friends, teachers, principals and superintendents.
For more information, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 24, 2017

MERCED COLLEGE ANNOUNCES SELECTION
OF NEW DEAN OF INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

Merced College has hired its first Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, a position that will place Dr. Baba Adam in a position to lead the College in areas of institutional research and planning. Dr. Adam has a long and successful history of directing institutional research programs in community colleges and universities, most recently as the director of institutional research at Butte College, which serves students in Chico, Oroville, and nearby communities.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Adam’s wealth of experience and deep knowledge in institutional effectiveness and accreditation,” said Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli. “He brings well-needed expertise and energy to our team.”
Dr. Adam will lead a team of three institutional researchers responsible for a host of college programs that promote and support strategic planning, data analysis and assessment, program review, accreditation, student success and equity, enrollment management, grants, and other critical initiatives.
“With the nation’s growing concern for accountability, which is driven by our accreditation agencies, as well as state and federal regulations, becoming more efficient and successful with our limited resources is good for our students and good for our taxpayers,” Dr. Adam said.
With that that in mind, President Vitelli noted that the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness is a new position at the College, but one that serves a vital need.
“Dr. Baba Adam has the experience, knowledge, and background to establish our new Office of Institutional Effectiveness,” he said. “As we approach our external accreditation and the development of a new strategic plan, his leadership in these areas is perfect timing.”
Dr. Adam, a native of Nigeria, earned his Doctorate of Education from the University of Oklahoma in 1995. He and his wife Zarah have four children.



Dr. Baba Adam settles into his office as Merced College’s Dean of Institutional Effectiveness.

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

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January 24, 2017

Fathers, Father Figures, and Role Models Invited to Breakfast

The cafeteria at Gracey Elementary was filled with special guests this morning as the school hosted a breakfast for all of their students’ fathers, father figures, and role models.
The adults could enjoy doughnuts, pan dulce, coffee, and juice provided by the Parent Teacher Club or purchase a school breakfast (which is always free for all students). Then they sat down for some quality time with their children and a chance to interact with other parents.
Principal Jose Munoz said he and his staff held this event because Gracey has great participation from mothers and other female relatives of their students, but they want to make sure fathers and other male relatives feel comfortable being involved as well. He explained, “We wanted to encourage dads to come to school, come and visit their kids, see the school, be with their kids, and learn a little more about what their kids are doing at school.”
Fourth grader Catalina Ramirez was one of the many children who enjoyed spending the morning with her father. She said, “It feels fun, and it feels like a lot of company with him…I love him for coming.”






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January 24,2017

Merced PD lobby closed for maintenance Friday

The Merced Police Station lobby at 611 W. 22nd St. will be closed to the public Friday, Jan. 27 due to routine maintenance. People needing assistance can use the phone outside the building to reach Dispatch. The station will reopen Monday, Jan. 30.


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January 24, 2017

 

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

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in the city of Merced for maintenance.
One-way traffic control will be in effect from Monday, January 23, 2017, through Friday, January 27, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

 

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

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

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 23, 2017, through Friday, January 27, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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

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

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

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January 18, 2017

UC Merced Expanding Entrepreneurial Reach
Campus Gets $2.2 Million From State to Expand Entrepreneurial Reach

UC Merced’s share of $22 million in state funds through Assembly Bill 2664 will help the campus fulfill some of its primary goals: transforming the region economically and providing people with greater opportunity.
Each of the 10 UC campuses is receiving $2.2 million in one-time funding from AB 2664, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.
A proposal put forth through the UC Merced Office of Business Development calls for expanding the resources available to entrepreneurs across the region.
“Success of new businesses is heavily dependent upon connecting to networks,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Peter Schuerman said. “To increase the success rate of new job creators, our expansion program will continue to build partnerships in the region that deliver funding opportunities, mentorship, legal advice and space to grow.”
The multi-pronged plan calls for:
• Significantly expanding the UC Merced Venture Lab, in downtown Merced, to include sites in Atwater and Modesto, making the program more accessible, expanding its network, fostering the development of new startup companies, and attracting new startups to the region;
• Supporting innovators and the improving the program’s sustainability by launching a product development center to spark and develop innovations and advance ideas to the marketplace;
• Establishing a proof-of-concept fund targeted at "graduating" innovations developed at UC Merced;
• Growing Central Valley Ventures, a legal assistance network established in partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Law, to address the needs of entrepreneurs across the entire region, with a special focus on rural entrepreneurs; and
• Extending the UC Davis Venture Catalyst and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneurship Academy and its mentor network southward, to give participants a firm grounding in entrepreneurial principles and access to a broader mentor network.
California’s Central Valley includes some of the poorest regions in the nation. In 2013, 20 percent of Central Valley families lived below the poverty line, as compared to 12.6 percent for all Californians.

Merced’s experience has been typical of other Valley communities, with unemployment consistently exceeding the statewide average over the years.
Part of the problem has been the lack of a diverse economic base, which is where a UC campus can help.
Groundbreaking research is a hallmark of the venerable UC system. The UC generates five inventions each day and more patents than any other university in the country. UC graduate students found new startups every two weeks, and UC-affiliated companies employ more than 38,000 workers across a wide range of industries, adding more than $20 billion in value to the state economy.
“Our program complements this strength of the UC to support and develop innovation by connecting it to entrepreneurship,” Schuerman said. “Innovation makes a promise about the future, and entrepreneurship delivers on that promise. Our program is about liberating innovation so that we can deliver new jobs and a more diverse economy.”
The UC Merced campus has contributed $1.4 billion into the San Joaquin Valley economyto date, and more than $2.6 billion into the state’s economy. At UC Merced, researchers — from undergraduate students through faculty members — are encouraged to explore practical and even commercial applications of their work. Through the UC Merced Venture Lab, students, faculty members, staff, alumni and members of the broader community are developing a new generation of startups. AB 2664 funds will allow the program to continue to grow to meet their needs.
Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, authored AB 2664 to help convert UC research into products that benefit society and help campuses execute long-term plans that play to their strengths and address local and regional needs.
“The possibilities these funds bring have injected a great sense of excitement and energy within each UC campus,” said Christine Gulbranson, UC’s senior vice president for research innovation and partnership. “The new infrastructure and programs to support student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship made possible through Assemblywoman Irwin’s vision, the Legislature’s support, and the governor’s backing will pay educational and economic dividends to California for decades to come.”

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January 17,2017

Bridge funding, traffic study money on Council agenda

Grant funds for bridge repairs and money for an engineering and traffic study are on the agenda for consideration during Tuesday night’s Merced City Council meeting.

The Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. The Council normally meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, however because of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday the meeting was moved to Tuesday.

The Council has approved a project to repair the bridges at G and M Streets that cross Bear Creek. The roadway overlay need replaced, barriers need to be installed, erosion controls need to be improved and the bridges need to be made compliable with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bids opened in August for the project were over the engineer’s estimate. Staff secured $1,298,482 in additional federal grants that Council is being asked to accept at the meeting. Total cost of the project will be $3,735,715.

State law requires a speed zone study to be conducted every seven years to determine appropriate speeds for the City’s streets. The engineering and traffic speed survey also allows the enforcement of traffic laws through the use of radar. The study is expected to
cost $100,000.


 

The Council will meet in closed session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss existing litigation and the performance evaluations of the city manager and the finance director.

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

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

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January 17,2017

City of Merced swears in four new officers

Four new police officers were sworn in by Merced Police Chief Norman AndradeFriday. The officers will begin their field training with a veteran officer before hitting the streets by themselves.

With the arrival of the four new officers, the Department now has 89 sworn officers and is budgeted for 94.

The new officers are:

Badge No. 251: Enrique Rodriguez, 36, who worked as a dispatcher for the City of Merced for 7 ½ years. He is a graduate of Golden Valley High School. He had his badge pinned on him by his wife, Maria. The couple has two boys. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer.

Badge No. 252: Tyler McCannon, 23, is a graduate of Golden Valley High School who is attending Merced College. In his spare time, he enjoys boxing, jujitsu and video games. He had his badge pinned on him by his grandfather, David Rosenberger.

Badge No. 253: Jacob Fister, 27, is a Golden Valley High School graduate who also attended Merced College. Fister is a fourth-generation police officer. He worked for Riggs Ambulance for a number of years as an EMT and MTO. He had his badge pinned on him by his wife, Megan. The couple is expecting a baby. In his spare time, he enjoys remodeling his house, where his current project is redoing a bathroom.

Badge No. 254: Jessica Morehead, 22, a graduate of Syracuse High School in Utah. She received a medical assistant certificate from DACT, Utah, where she was in the Honor Society. She worked at the California Health Care Facility in French Camp. She is engaged to be married. She had her badge pinned on her by her aunt, Mary Morehead, a dispatcher at Delta College, who inspired her to go into law enforcement. In her spare time, she’s been a volunteer in the Fallen Officer Hockey Night and enjoys playing soccer.


Officers Jessica Morehead, Jacob Fister, Tyler McCannon and Enrique Rodriguez were sworn in today by Merced Police Chief Norman Andrade.


Jacob Fister, right, gets his badge pinned on him by his wife, Megan, while Jessica Morehead, left, waits for her aunt, Mary Morehead, to pin her badge on her.

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January 17, 2017

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

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Friday, January 20, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

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

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

Crews will begin work on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Friday, January 20, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

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

 


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
STATE ROUTE 140 AT THIRD AVENUE IN GUSTINE

Merced – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform maintenance activities on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 between Third and Fourth Avenues in the City of Gustine.

Work will affect the left shoulder, right shoulder and bike lane for utility work beginning Tuesday, January 17, 2017, through Thursday, January 19, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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

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

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


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January 17, 2017

Beatles and Stones show settles an old score

Abbey Road and Satisfaction tribute bands face off at the Merced Theatre

MERCED, CA (01/23/17) No doubt the 60s are long gone – but the mods and the rockers are it again in February.

Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown will pit Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance on February 21 at the Merced Theatre.

From Mick Jagger’s (Sir Chris Legrand) infamous gyrations to Keith Richards’ (Trey Garitty) sweet Tele licks, Brian Jones Vox Teardrop, and the band’s original wardrobe, Satisfaction brings all the authenticity of an old Stones show smack into 2017.

“Some of the ‘Keith-isms’ that fans love are the blacked-out-tooth, electrical tape around the snakeskin boots, and the disjointed walk he was famous for,” said Garitty.

“We’ve done everything to present the music just like the original album versions, because that’s what fans have been singing along to for the last 50 years and that’s the way they want to hear it."
Show producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle auditioned over 200 Beatles hopefuls at a casting call in 2008, many of whom played in their own Beatles tribute bands.

“Most of them came in Beatles costumes and wigs – they were all in character,” Nagle said.

For their part, the members of touring Beatles tribute band Abbey Road bring the mop top haircuts, harmonies, and boyish charm of everybody’s favorite Liverpudlians to the stage. They also play modern reissues of the exact same instruments and amps used by the Fab Four.

Axel Clarke (“Ringo Starr”), a high school and college teacher by day, prepares for his time behind the drumkit by studying old video footage, listening to band interviews, and mimicking Starr’s very specific performance style.

“Ringo's style and physical approach to the drumset were unique,” said Clarke.

“He sat very high with his drums low, used big sweeping arm movements, punched at his cymbals more than striking them, bounced his torso in time and kicked his head to the side on big accents — and smiled like a goon at all times. That's Ringo 101 for you!”

Clarke and his bandmates also spend time mining the original Beatles recordings for specific nuances, and unintentional flubs that ended up on the final cut.

“There are subtle mistakes all over the Beatles’ recordings. In 'All My Lovin,' Ringo forgets the form of the song and goes into the chorus beat by mistake," said Clarke.

"He plays that beat for one bar, realizes his error, and switches back to the verse beat. Most people might not notice things like that, but it adds a level of authenticity and would feel weird if it wasn’t there.”

Kicking off the show in signature A Hard Day’s Night-era black suits, the band runs through several costume changes, including mustaches and wigs (a la Sgt. Pepper’s) and full-on Abbey Road attire, before the night is up.

Onstage, the bands alternate mini sets and trade improvised barbs and banter between songs to act out the famous rivalry.

Since 2011, the Beatles vs. Stones cast members have traded improvised barbs and banter to sold out audiences all across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Whether you’re a mod or a rocker, a John or a Mick supporter – Beatles vs. Stones is your ticket back in time to “Yesterday”!

Six alternating power sets with the two bands coming together on stage for an amazing encore makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Here is some additional information about Satisfaction: “Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Show" is the international touring tribute show to the World's Greatest Rock & Roll


Chris Legrand ("Mick"), John Wade ("Bill Wyman") and Trey Garitty ("Keith Richards").


Chris Paul Overall ("Paul"), Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo") and Jesse Wilder ("George")

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

Band. This Billboard & Pollstar highly rated show are entering their 20th year in production with over 3000 performances listed to their credit. Their client list include the nation’s top casinos, performing arts centers, music halls and corporate clients. Performing up to 150 shows a year, this highly acclaimed production showcases the most authentic cast & costuming of its kind. The likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and cast bring a colorful performance to over 50 years of classic hits. They have been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, Showbiz Magazine, Las Vegas Today, CBS Sunday Morning news and hundreds of national newspapers, magazines, television & radio as the world’s greatest show honoring the Rolling Stones and their legacy.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2005: The production became the first ever Rolling Stones show to debut on the Las Vegas strip as part of Legends In Concert Show. They received outstanding reviews as well as feature cover stories in the Las Vegas Sun and ShowBiz magazine.
2007: The group was a featured artist on national television news in the CBS News/New York special on the rising popularity of the tribute industry.
2008: The show was chosen by Paramount Pictures and the IMAX Corporation to perform promotional concerts for the Rolling Stones concert film “Shine a Light” by Martin Scorsese throughout the USA.
2010: The group received their highest accolades ever as they were approved by the Rolling Stones to perform long term engagements with the Walt Disney Corporation. They also embarked on their first ever tour of Russia with sold out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
2011: The group launched a new project entitled “A Symphony for the Devil” featuring the group performing with symphony orchestras around the world.
2012/2013: The group’s World Tour was in honor of the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary.
Las Vegas Sun: "Shined just like the real Stones on the strip"
CBS News New York: "A must see...go get Satisfaction"

New York Examiner: "The best show of its kind...ever!"

"Washington Post: "A spot on portrayal to the Rolling Stones"

Showbiz Magazine: "They have you in the aisles like Jumping Jack Flash"

Here is some additional information about Abbey Road:

With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom–tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world.

The members of Abbey Road perform in a nationally touring theatrical production called "In My Life - A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles." The band headlines Knott's Berry Farm, numerous Harrah's properties, the Coach House and the Belly Up.

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January 13, 2017

MERCED COUNTY FAIR DEBUTS NEW BRAND
WITH A RENEWED FOCUS
ON ATTRACTING YOUNGER FAIRGOERS

MERCED, CALIFORNIA, January 12, 2017 … The Merced County Fair Board of Directors, CEO, Teresa Burrola, and staff are excited to debut the new Merced County Fair corporate logo, which can now be found on the Fair’s website and social media, then will begin to appear on signage around the Merced County Fairgrounds in the coming months. The new corporate logo with its crop rows and flag, replaces the old logo that had featured an antique plow that had been used since 1974.

“The creation of our updated brand for the Merced County Fair is rooted in our proud agricultural heritage. It represents the unwavering commitment of our richly diverse county; its present-day look is more relevant to a broader demographic base and more applicable for use in digital platforms where a wider audience can become more engaged in all that the Fair has to offer,” explained Merced County Fair CEO, Teresa Burrola. “We are committed to remaining true to the core attractions of our Fair, while staying relevant to younger generations by adapting to new platforms to communicate and engage them.”

For the past 125 years, the Merced County Fair has been an integral part of the fabric of Merced’s community. At a time when some California fairs have struggled greatly and a few have even ceased to exist, Merced County Fair is coming off of a record year in 2016 with a 14% increase in attendance, drawing in more than 74,000 people during the five-day Fair. “That is a testament to the role our Fair plays in the community; it is an annual tradition where everyone comes together,” said Burrola.


Plans are already underway for the 2017 Merced County Fair, which will run June 7 – 11. Entertainment is being secured, as well as new attractions and of course, food. Expect more announcements regarding the 2017 Merced County Fair in the coming months. To stay connected, follow the Fair on Facebook, Twitter and now, Instagram.

About The Merced County Fair:
The Merced County Fair, first founded in 1891, represents the 35th District Agricultural Association and is celebrating its 126th anniversary in 2017. 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: Mark Erreca, President; Flip Hassett, First Vice President; Emily Haden, Second Vice President; Vicky Banaga; Lori Gallo; Lee Lor; Kim Rogina; Carol Sartori-Silva; and Dr. Santokh Takhar. Teresa Burrola heads up the daily operations in her role as CEO. The 2017 Merced County Fair will run June 7-11. For more information about the Merced County Fair, please visit www.MercedCountyFair.com.

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January 13, 2017

Summer Academy Enrollment Now Open

Students throughout the Merced City School District will have exciting opportunities during the annual Summer Academy from June 12 – July 14.

The five week session will include hands-on learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). Each grade level will have its own unique theme and project. For example, the youngest students will learn about energy and forces with the help of a marshmallow catapult, while fourth graders will make their own instruments as part of the study of sound waves. All participants will also enjoy a special performance and/or an educational excursion to places such as local zoos, performing arts centers, colleges and universities.

Summer Academy is available to all MCSD students currently in TK/kindergarten through seventh grade. Classes will be offered at Alicia Reyes and Ada Givens elementary schools for elementary students. Current sixth and seventh grade students will be the first to ever attend the cutting edge STEAM Center that is currently under construction on the Givens campus.

New this year is an online foreign language program, which allows participants to learn a variety of languages. This offering will be available to students currently in grades four through seven, on a first come, first served basis. Additionally, online mathematics will continue to be made available for students currently in sixth and seventh grade.

Summer Academy is designed to help students extend their learning through fun and enriching experiences, avoiding the dreaded “summer slide.” According to the California Department of Education, “Research spanning 100 years shows that children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.” Studies also show that high quality summer learning programs can help English learners, as well as English only students improve their vocabulary, support good attendance, and provide a smoother transition from elementary to middle school.

Families can now enroll their children at the school they attend through May 12. Registration forms are available on the MCSD website: http://www.mcsd.k12.ca.us/District/Portal/summer-academy
Administrators and support staff at each school site will be available to answer any additional questions.






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January 12, 2017

Local high school string quartet to join the pros

MERCED, CA (1/09/2017) When the touring show Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown comes to the Merced Theatre on February 21, the John H. Pitman (Turlock) High String Quartet will have the privilege of joining the professional musicians on stage to add some orchestral texture to the evening.


The show pits Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance. The string quartet will perform seven songs on stage with the bands.


Here's the rundown:

The show: The two greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time face off in "Beatles vs. Stones - A Musical Showdown." Taking the side of the Fab Four is Abbey Road, one of the nation's top Beatles tribute bands. With brilliant musicianship and authentic costumes and gear, Abbey Road plays beloved songs spanning the Beatles' career. They engage in a "showdown" of the hits with Stones tribute band Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show, who offer a faithful rendition of the music and style of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the bad boys of the British Invasion. The production includes multimedia, period costumes and vintage instruments. It has toured for years, with a critic for the Orange County Register at one point declaring, “If you see one tribute show, see this one – smart and loads of fun." The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique tribute show in decades.


The string quartet: Pitman High students Kayla Rodenburg, Steven Courney, Marissa Staffero and Dennis Lawson will join the bands for the songs "Eleanor Rigby," "Yesterday," "A Day in the Life," "Hello Goodbye,""Hey Jude," "As Tears Go By," and "Ruby Tuesday."


In addition to performing with Pitman High's Chamber Orchestra, the school's most advanced orchestra, quartet members play with prestigious area symphonies, including the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Modesto Junior College Orchestra and the Stanislaus County Music Educators Association Honors Orchestra. The young musicians consistently receive superior ratings at solo and ensemble competitions. Staffero is the highest ranked viola player with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra and received a ranking of "command performance" as a soloist at a solo and ensemble competition and Rodenburg is the Concert Mistress for the Pitman Chamber Orchestra.

How the "Beatles" and "Stones" connection was started: The producers of "Beatles vs. Stones" approached Pitman Orchestra Director Don Grishaw looking for a talented ensemble which could hold their own with two rock bands in front of an audience. The show commonly uses a local quartet to augment the production while on tour.


Quartet for hire: The Pitman High String Quartet performs at community and private events and may be contacted by calling Don Grishaw at (209) 620-0968 or emailing him at dgrishaw@turlock.k12.ca.us.

The quartet's Beatles and Stones fans: Rodenburg, Courney and Staffero are the quartet's Beatles fans.


Rodenburg's favorite Fab Four tune is "Eleanor Rigby." "I'm excited that we get to perform that song during the show in Merced," she said.


Lawson is the quartet's Rolling Stones fan and his favorite Stones song is "Paint it Black."


The details The two greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time face off as the Merced Theatre hosts tributes to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Renowned tribute bands Abbey Road and Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show engage in a musical “showdown” of the hits. “Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Shootout” performs on Tuesday, February 21 at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30 - $50 and may be purchased online atwww.tickets.mercedtheatre.org, by phone at 209.381.0500 or by visiting the Theatre Box Office Tuesday - Friday between 1 pm - 5 pm. The Merced Theatre is located at 301 W. Main Street in Merced 95340. The show is appropriate for all ages.


Steven Courney, Dennis Lawson,
Kayla Rodenburg, and Marissa Staffero

Kayla Rodenburg, 17, has been playing the violin for 11 years and is the Concert Mistress of the Pitman Chamber Orchestra. She has played with MSYO for six years and has performed with SCMEA Honors Orchestras.
"I like the violin because there are so many different genres you can play with it," said Rodenburg. "I can play a Beatles show on one night and classical music the next."
"I love the way all the different instruments blend together in orchestra," she said. "When playing, it's like you're in your own world."
Rodenburg has been involved with ballet and jazz dance for many years and is a member of her school's Interact Club. The senior plans to attend a four year university after high school graduation.
She is a Beatles fan and her favorite Fab Four tune is "Eleanor Rigby."
"I'm excited that we get to perform that song during the show in Merced," she said.

Steven Courney, 17, has been a violinist for seven years and also plays electric bass and guitar. In addition to performing with the Pitman Chamber Orchestra, Courney played three years with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra and with MSYO.
"The violin has a unique sound compared to other instruments," said Courney. "I like that you can play both high and low on the violin."
"I enjoy playing in orchestra," said Courney. "We're like a family."
The senior plans to attend a four year university in the fall and major in English and Philosophy.
His favorite Beatles song? "When I'm Sixty Four."

Marissa Staffero, 16, has been playing the viola for eight years and also plays violin, piano, cello and guitar. In addition to performing with her high school's highest orchestra, Staffero has played with the Modesto Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Modesto Junior College Orchestra. She received a solo command performance rating at a solo and ensemble festival and is the first viola with the SCMEA Honors Orchestra.
"I love the quality of the sound and the range of the viola," said Staffero. "It's like having a violin with another string attached."
"In orchestra, I like learning from others and playing music with your friends," she said.
When not playing music, Staffero enjoys feeding homeless persons with her grandmother. The junior plans to attend a four year university after high school and major in psychology.
Staffero is a long time Beatles fan and her favorite Fab Four tune is "Can't Buy Me Love."


Dennis Lawson, 17, has been playing the cello for seven years. He plays with the Pitman High's Chamber Orchestra and was a member of the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the SCMEA All-Honors Orchestra.
"I decided to learn to play the cello because it sounds just like a human voice," said Lawson.
"Our orchestra is a tight knit group and we have a fantastic teacher," said Lawson.
Lawson plays tennis for Pitman High. The senior hopes to attend Stanford or Yale in the fall and major in biochemistry. He aspires to become a patent lawyer.
He is a Rolling Stones fan and his favorite Stones song is "Paint it Black."

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January 12, 2017


MERCED COLLEGE’S CUSTOMER SERVICE ACADEMY
TO BEGIN NEW ROUND OF WORKSHOPS

Merced College’s Customer Service Academy is once again partnering with the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce in offering a series of professional development training workshops.
The Customer Service Academy workshops will be held at the College’s Business Resource Center, located at 630 West 19th Street in downtown Merced, and will feature comfortable training rooms with state-of-the-art technology.
Workshops will be offered the last two Thursdays of each month from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Topics include Customer Service, Communication, Attitude, Team Building, Conflict Management, Stress Management, Time Management, Values and Ethics, Decision Making and Problem Solving and Managing Change.
“This is the 17th year Merced College has offered the Customer Service Academy,” said Jonae Pistoresi, professor of Business and Management.
“Hundreds of employees from throughout the county have participated, and the feedback we continue to receive from participants is extremely positive.”
The aim of the workshops is to provide participants with skills to better interact with their co-workers and to be able to deliver better internal and external customer service. The program has won multiple awards, including a national award as an economic development best practice. Dozens of California Community Colleges offer the Customer Service Academy to businesses and organizations throughout the state, training thousands of employees each year.

Some statewide participants include the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Beringer Wine Group, Wyn-River Casino, Frances Ford Coppola Presents, Hilton Hotels and Westfield Malls.
The first workshop in the series is “Communication in the Workplace” and will cover topics such as “how to be a better communicator and better listener on a team,” according to Pistoresi.
Non-verbal communication will be covered as well as barriers to good communication in the workplace. The two-day workshop will be held on January 19 and 26. The cost is just $23 and earns a half-unit of college credit.
To register, or for more information, call the Merced College Business Resource Center at 209.386.6733.

 


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

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January 12, 2017

The Merced Police Department will be swearing in four new officers this Friday, January 13th at 1:30 p.m., Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. Please join us to show your support and welcome these new officers to the MPD and City of Merced family. Thank you!


Ofc. Enrique Rodriguez

 


Ofc. Jacob Fister


 


Tyler McCannon

 


Ofc. Jessica Morehead

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January 12, 2017

DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES VICTIM SERVICES GRANT

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office has been selected to receive $373,000 through the federal Victims of Crime Act to expand their victim services programs through a partnership with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, District Attorney Larry D. Morse II announced today.

CASA is an organization comprised of highly trained and dedicated adult volunteers who advocate for the best interest of children in the foster care system. The grant will enable the DA’s office to hire a victim witness advocate who will work with the CASA program and provide resources for CASA to recruit and train more advocates.

“CASA volunteers and I believe we have a moral obligation to change the life path for these children who, through no fault of their own, often find themselves adrift and rudderless when they most need help and guidance. The advocacy provided by CASA volunteers can literally save foster kids from becoming sad statistics in our community,” Morse said.

For an abused or neglected child, a CASA volunteer is someone who listens to and fights for that child, by reaching out to teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, parents, lawyers, caregivers and anyone else who can address that child’s needs, Morse said. “The CASA volunteer is someone whose sole mission is to help a foster child find a way out of the complex, overburdened child welfare system and into a safe, permanent home,” he added.

“Hundreds of kids pass through the Merced County Foster Care system each year,” said Shar Herrera, Executive Director of CASA and co-author of the grant. “These children are removed from their homes and placed in unfamiliar environments through no fault of their own. Many of them live in a state of constant crisis and, understandably, feel very much alone – until they find their Court Appointed Special Advocate,” she said.

Herrera said CASA currently has 82 advocates serving 110 foster children. “While we cherish each of our volunteers, there is so much more that needs to be done. There are more than 550 children in foster care and our goal is to have a CASA advocate for each and every one of them,” she said.


Morse said the foster system is “inextricably tied” to public safety. Nearly half of our foster children have chronic medical problems and many have serious emotional issues. Close to half of all children in the foster system never graduate from high school. An alarming number of these children will become homeless within 18 months of exiting foster care and almost half of the children in foster care will become incarcerated, he added.

“Statistics have long shown that foster kids and high school dropouts are the two most consistent categories of individuals who end up in jails and state prisons,” Morse said. “Unfortunately, fewer than 15% of the children in the foster care system receive the type of services and support that can be delivered to them through CASA and the District Attorney’s Victim Witness Assistance Program, he added.

CASA volunteers must complete 30 hours of training and 10 hours of court observation before being sworn in as an Officer of the Court. They are trained to advocate for foster children in the courtroom, classroom, and community. Each CASA volunteer is matched with a child and a volunteer Peer Coordinator who guides them as they work with a child. The CASA volunteer visits with the child on a regular basis and provides information to the Court. CASA volunteer spends an average of 8-10 hours a month on their foster children’s cases.

Morse encouraged those interested in helping create a brighter future for a foster child to contact CASA of Merced County today at (209) 722-2272 or Mercedcasa.org.

“It’s hard to imagine a more important contribution any volunteer can make than to be the lifeline for a vulnerable child caught in a system they can’t escape without help. CASA volunteers truly change lives,” Morse said.

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January 12, 2017

Merced Symphony Performs for Fourth Graders in Merced, Los Banos

More than 3,000 third- through fifth-grade Merced County students will enjoy a performance by the Merced Symphony Orchestra this week.
Two performances are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13 at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre. There will also be two performances at Pacheco High School in Los Banos on Thursday, Jan. 12.
The orchestra will play two 50-minute sets at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Merced, and the performances will begin at 9 a.m. in Los Banos. The performances are for students, school staff and media by arrangement.

For more information on the school performances, contact Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 10, 2017

FFA Students Attend State Leadership Academy

Written by:Audrey Esau, 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 January 6th and 7th at the Hilton Arden West in Sacramento, 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 2016-2017 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 Natalie Borba, one of seven 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 FFA members who attended the leadership conference were (MFE) Ashley Bond, Zion Brigham, Kayalynn Briscoe-Mattis, Anessa Cardenas, Natalie Frontella, Emily Junez, Grace Reyes, and Chelsea Thompson, (ALA) Belinda Espinoza, Audrey Esau, Daisy Flores, Dillon Guillen, Kelsi Kamesch, Ana Lozano, Callie Norton, and Joel Rojas.


Atwater High School agriculture student Joel Rojas is presented with his FFA Advanced Leadership Academy certificate by California Department of Education representative Hugh Mooney.


Sixteen Atwater High School agriculture students joined over three hundred and fifty other California high school agriculture students at an FFA leadership conference focused on personal growth, career exploration, and leadership skills.


Atwater High School FFA members Zion Brigham and Ashley Bond explore agriculture careers information during the FFA Made for Excellence conference held in Sacramento, California.


Atwater High School FFA members Ana Lozano, Callie Norton, and Dillion Guillen participate in in a "plan of action" activity related to college/university and career goals during the FFA Advanced Leadership Academy in Sacramento, California.

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

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January 10,2017

City weathers the storm, but there’s still a flood watch

The City of Merced weathered the weekend storm with minor street flooding as the streams running through town stayed within their banks. However, the National Weather Service has a flood watch for Merced through 4 p.m. Wednesday and predicts the City could receive more than an inch of rain by then.

The storm brought 2.27 inches of rain in three days and Bear Creek crested at 18.5 feet, well below the 23-foot flood stage. The flood of April 4, 2006 saw Bear Creek reach 24.65 feet.

“Fortunately, Bear Creek didn’t crest,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin. “If that had happened it would have been a whole different story. We were preparing for the worst but it didn’t happen. Hallelujah.”

Elwin said crews didn’t need to use the 1,200 sandbags that were filled in case of an emergency.

There were some minor storm-related issues:
• A section of McCombs Drive flooded when a valve was shut because the creek was too high. A City vacuum truck was sent in to clear the water until the creek level dropped enough to reopen the valve.
• There was a small amount of flooding at Shadowbrook and Julie Drives due to a valve that was shut because of the high creek levels. A submersible pump was set up to deal with the water there.
• Childs Avenue and Highway 59 flooded several times during the storm. Crews closed it off and pumps were set up to drain the water.
“Our Public Works crews deserve a big thanks for the hard work they did over the weekend keeping the drains clear and the roads open,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “They were out in the middle of the night when it was pouring rain checking valves and storm drains to make sure the water didn’t back up and create major flooding.

“We also owe a debt of gratitude to our police and firefighters who were out making sure the streets were safe and reporting on any problems they spotted during the bad weather,” Murphy said.

“We asked the public for their help this weekend. We asked them to stay home and stay safe and they listened,” said Assistant City manager Stephanie Dietz. “The calls for service for both police and fire were way down over the weekend. And, luckily, there were only a few minor fender-benders.

“There’s a flood watch for Merced until Wednesday afternoon,“ Dietz said, “So we are asking people to continue to be careful when they go to work and school.”

More than 2,000 sandbags were handed out to people starting on Thursday when the storm starting becoming big news, said Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson. The number is deceptive because many people came in earlier in the year for sandbags when other rain events came through.

There are still 30,000 sandbags ready for people if needed. People can get sandbags at the main station, Fire Station 51, 99 E. 16th St. anytime. Sand is available at 10 locations throughout the City.

Click here for Sandbag Map

Click here for Sandbag  information

 


 

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Meeting to answer assessment district questions

Wondering about the ballot you got in the mail for an assessment district? Not sure what the district does?

There will be a Town Hall meeting to answer questions from the public regarding the ballots for the Campus Park, Mansionette and Oakmont assessment districts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at Cruickshank Middle School, 601 Mercy Ave.

City staff will be on hand to answer questions that people may have regarding the ballots they received in the mail.

Energy and service costs for the districts have increased. Those three districts don’t have enough funding to pay for the costs of landscaping, irrigation, pumps, and other maintenance. Residents are being asked to increase how much they pay per year towards those fees.

Campus Park and Mansionette districts are responsible for landscaping and also storm pump maintenance and operation. Oakmont is only a landscaping district.

All money collected by the assessment district can only be spend within the district.

Depending on the district, maintenance can include litter pickup, plant pruning, tree replacement, fertilizing, landscape irrigation, mowing and edging and weed control. It can also include pump and motor repair and parts replacement and other work as needed.

Ballots are in prepaid envelopes and must be returned by Feb. 6. A public hearing will be held at the City Council meeting that night.

People with questions about their assessment district can call Michael Miller at 385-6800.

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January 10, 2017

MCOE, Merced County DA Team Up for County’s First Mock Trial at Historic Courthouse

On January 11, for the first time since 1950, the original Merced County Courthouse will host a trial.
But this trial will have high school students from throughout Merced County as the prosecution and defense and Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II will serve as the presiding judge.
The Merced County Office of Education in partnership with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office will host the county’s first Mock Trial and students from Dos Palos High School, Pacheco High School in Los Banos and Delhi High School will participate in the trials in the historic courtroom on the second floor of the iconic building in Courthouse Park.
The hypothetical case, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which runs the program statewide, involves human trafficking and false imprisonment.
Students learn the gamut of roles and responsibilities in the courtroom and participate as the defense and the prosecution attorneys, witnesses, the court clerk and even the bailiff. Students may also serve as courtroom artists and journalists.
Mock Trials are held in more than 30 other counties up and down the state, but was started in Merced County by District Attorney Morse, whose office provided volunteers to participate as attorney coaches to teams, assisted with recruiting scoring attorneys and will be the presiding judge. Local attorneys Eric Beiswanger, Corbett Browning and David Foster will serve as the scoring attorneys provided by the Merced County Bar Association.



Students who participate in the Mock Trials will gain a better knowledge of the legal system and increase their analytical abilities, self-confidence and communication skills.
An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Merced County Office of Education Clark/Newbold Conference Room. Medals will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams as well as the outstanding role award and a winner for courtroom journalist and artist.

For more information, contact MCOE Events Planner Stacie Arancibia at (209) 381-5910.

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January 7,2017

Merced storm update

City staff met this afternoon to receive a storm update and discuss plans should local creeks and streams overflow their banks this weekend.

The major effects of the storm are expected to be felt Sunday evening into Monday as the water flows down from the foothills, deposited by an “atmospheric river” carrying up to 3 inches of rain.

City Manager Steve Carrigan said City staff has gone through the checklists several times to make sure all the boxes were filled in. “We’ve done all that we can to be prepared for this one,” he said. His advice: “Stay home and stay dry.”

The Public Works Director Ken Elwin, Fire Chief Michael Wilkerson and Police Chief Norman Andrade toured the City’s historic flood spots today, checking for new hazards. Sandbags have been strategically placed in the City at historic flood points. Agencies have been contacted regarding evacuation and emergency housing if needed. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is ready. The creeks were even checked for beaver dams to make sure the water wouldn’t get backed up.

Public Works has numerous crews on standby. With winds expected to be 20 mph, gusting to 30 – tree crews also are on standby. The Merced Fire Department will have a captain ready to serve as a liaison at the Merced County EOC if/when it is activated. Major flooding at Childs Avenue and Hwy 59 is expected due to the volume of rainfall predicted.


If residents need sandbags, they are available at Fire Station 51 on 16th Street. Sand has been deposited at 10 locations through the City. A map and sandbag information is attached.

Sand is available at:
Buena Vista and Sarasota
Parsons Avenue and Brookdale Drive
Parsons Avenue and Oregon Drive
Childs Avenue and G Street
1200 block of W. 9th St.
W.N. Bear Creek and Shadow Brook Dr.
Cheney Drive and Buckner Road
East Side of Mansionette between Kingfisher and Mercy Avenue
Campus Drive and Line Drive
W. 24th and K Street

Click here for Sandbag Map

Click here for Sandbag  information

Click here for County Sandbag information

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January 7, 2017


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

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

Crews will begin work on Monday, January 9, 2017, through Friday, January 13, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

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

 

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

Merced County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Moomjean to Dell Street in Merced for utility work.
One-way traffic control will be in effect on Monday, January 9, 2017, through Friday, January 13, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

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

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

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January 6,2017

City prepares for major storm expected this weekend
‘Wet atmospheric river’ takes aim at California threatening floods: NWS

The National Weather Service is predicting a huge storm for the weekend that could bring up to 3 inches of rain to Merced. Flood warnings have been issued throughout the state because a “wet atmospheric river will take aim at California.”

“City crews have spent the week preparing for this storm,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “They’ve been clearing streets and gutters of leaves and debris, checking storm drain pumps and taking other precautions to safeguard local residents.”

“If you have to be out driving this weekend, please be careful and allow extra time to reach your destination,” said Mayor Mike Murphy.

“Please don’t forget your neighbors. If you have elderly neighbors, consider checking in on them to make sure they are OK. They could probably use some assistance or company,” Murphy said.

The City has stored sand in 10 locations throughout the City and sandbags are available at Fire Station 51 during regular business hours. Sandbags can also be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. A map showing the sand locations is available at the City website, www.cityofmerced.org.

The City website also has links to the National Weather Service website that contains detailed information on the storm, including forecast information, radar maps, and any warnings that have been issued. The website also contains links to information regarding water levels on Bear Creek and other local streams.

The City has worked with local homeless providers to check local creeks to make sure there are no people camped along the streams.

Our Emergency Operations Center is on standby in case it needs to be activated.

City staff urges everyone to be prepared in case of power outages. Have batteries for flashlights, not candles for light in your home. Have alternative power sources for your cellphone and have a full tank of gas in advance of the storm. If you are dependent on a medical device, make sure you have a power source for it.

Below is information provided by FEMA on what to do during a power outage and also information on assembling a three-day disaster supply kit for the family.

Information is provided by FEMA. For more information, go to Ready.gov
Before a Power Outage
Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. For more information visit: Get Tech Ready
Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices.
Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
Keep your car’s gas tank full-gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device determine a back-up plan. For more planning information tips visit: Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs

During a Power Outage: Safety Tips
Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. For more information about food safety visit our food page.
Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.

After a Power Outage
Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.


Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Local maps
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional emergency supplies
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula and diapers
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Fire extinguisher
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
First aid kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may suffer an injury. If you have these basic first aid supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.
Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
Antibiotic ointment
Burn ointment
Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
Thermometer
Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
Non-prescription drugs:
Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
Anti-diarrhea medication
Antacid
Laxative
Other first aid supplies:
Scissors
Tweezers
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

Supplies for the Unique Needs
Remember the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when making your emergency supply kit and family emergency plan.
For Baby:
Formula
Diapers
Bottles
Powdered milk
Medications
Moist towelettes
Diaper rash ointment
For more information about the care and feeding of infants and young children during an emergency, visit the California Dept. of Public Health website.
For Adults:
Denture needs
Contact lenses and supplies
Extra eye glasses
Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.
If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:
Jacket or coat
Long pants
Long sleeve shirt

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January 4, 2017

Beatles and Stones show settles an old score

Abbey Road and Satisfaction tribute bands face off at the Merced Theatre

MERCED, CA (01/23/17) No doubt the 60s are long gone – but the mods and the rockers are it again in February.

Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown will pit Rolling Stones tribute band Satisfaction against rival Brit boys Abbey Road in an all-out musical showdown for rock dominance on February 21 at the Merced Theatre.

From Mick Jagger’s (Sir Chris Legrand) infamous gyrations to Keith Richards’ (Trey Garitty) sweet Tele licks, Brian Jones Vox Teardrop, and the band’s original wardrobe,Satisfaction brings all the authenticity of an old Stones show smack into 2017.

“Some of the ‘Keith-isms’ that fans love are the blacked-out-tooth, electrical tape around the snakeskin boots, and the disjointed walk he was famous for,” said Garitty.

“We’ve done everything to present the music just like the original album versions, because that’s what fans have been singing along to for the last 50 years and that’s the way they want to hear it."
Show producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle auditioned over 200 Beatles hopefuls at a casting call in 2008, many of whom played in their own Beatles tribute bands.

“Most of them came in Beatles costumes and wigs – they were all in character,” Nagle said.

For their part, the members of touring Beatles tribute band Abbey Road bring the mop top haircuts, harmonies, and boyish charm of everybody’s favorite Liverpudlians to the stage. They also play modern reissues of the exact same instruments and amps used by the Fab Four.

Axel Clarke (“Ringo Starr”), a high school and college teacher by day, prepares for his time behind the drumkit by studying old video footage, listening to band interviews, and mimicking Starr’s very specific performance style.

“Ringo's style and physical approach to the drumset were unique,” said Clarke.

“He sat very high with his drums low, used big sweeping arm movements, punched at his cymbals more than striking them, bounced his torso in time and kicked his head to the side on big accents — and smiled like a goon at all times. That's Ringo 101 for you!”

Clarke and his bandmates also spend time mining the original Beatles recordings for specific nuances, and unintentional flubs that ended up on the final cut.

“There are subtle mistakes all over the Beatles’ recordings. In 'All My Lovin,' Ringo forgets the form of the song and goes into the chorus beat by mistake," said Clarke.

"He plays that beat for one bar, realizes his error, and switches back to the verse beat. Most people might not notice things like that, but it adds a level of authenticity and would feel weird if it wasn’t there.”

Kicking off the show in signature A Hard Day’s Night-era black suits, the band runs through several costume changes, including mustaches and wigs (a la Sgt. Pepper’s) and full-on Abbey Road attire, before the night is up.

Onstage, the bands alternate mini sets and trade improvised barbs and banter between songs to act out the famous rivalry.

Since 2011, the Beatles vs. Stones cast members have traded improvised barbs and banter to sold out audiences all across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Whether you’re a mod or a rocker, a John or a Mick supporter – Beatles vs. Stones is your ticket back in time to “Yesterday”!

And here is some additional information about Beatles vs. Stones - A Musical Showdown:
The British Invasion brought us the two most popular rock groups of all time, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as well as the liveliest debate in rock history - which band is the greatest? These two legendary bands will engage in a musical “shoot out of the hits” courtesy of internationally renowned tribute bands, Abbey Road andSatisfaction - the International Rolling Stones Show.

Six alternating power sets with the two bands coming together on stage for an amazing encore makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime even


Chris Legrand ("Mick"), John Wade ("Bill Wyman") and Trey Garitty ("Keith Richards").


Chris Paul Overall ("Paul"), Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo") and Jesse Wilder ("George")

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Here is some additional information about Satisfaction: “Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Show" is the international touring tribute show to the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band. This Billboard & Pollstar highly rated show are entering their 20th year in production with over 3000 performances listed to their credit. Their client list include the nation’s top casinos, performing arts centers, music halls and corporate clients. Performing up to 150 shows a year, this highly acclaimed production showcases the most authentic cast & costuming of its kind. The likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and cast bring a colorful performance to over 50 years of classic hits. They have been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, Showbiz Magazine, Las Vegas Today, CBS Sunday Morning news and hundreds of national newspapers, magazines, television & radio as the world’s greatest show honoring the Rolling Stones and their legacy.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2005: The production became the first ever Rolling Stones show to debut on the Las Vegas strip as part of Legends In Concert Show. They received outstanding reviews as well as feature cover stories in the Las Vegas Sun and ShowBiz magazine.
2007: The group was a featured artist on national television news in the CBS News/New York special on the rising popularity of the tribute industry.
2008: The show was chosen by Paramount Pictures and the IMAX Corporation to perform promotional concerts for the Rolling Stones concert film “Shine a Light” by Martin Scorsese throughout the USA.
2010: The group received their highest accolades ever as they were approved by the Rolling Stones to perform long term engagements with the Walt Disney Corporation. They also embarked on their first ever tour of Russia with sold out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
2011: The group launched a new project entitled “A Symphony for the Devil” featuring the group performing with symphony orchestras around the world.
2012/2013: The group’s World Tour was in honor of the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary.
Las Vegas Sun: "Shined just like the real Stones on the strip"
CBS News New York: "A must see...go get Satisfaction"

New York Examiner: "The best show of its kind...ever!"

"Washington Post: "A spot on portrayal to the Rolling Stones"

Showbiz Magazine: "They have you in the aisles like Jumping Jack Flash"

Here is some additional information about Abbey Road:

With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom–tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world.

The members of Abbey Road perform in a nationally touring theatrical production called "In My Life - A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles." The band headlines Knott's Berry Farm, numerous Harrah's properties, the Coach House and the Belly Up.

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January 4, 2017

Statement by Assemblymember Adam C. Gray to the State Water Resources Control Board; January 3, 2017, Sacramento, California

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) issued the following statement to the Water Resources Control Board during the final hearing of the public comment period on an amendment to the Bay-Delta Plan which would double the minimum environmental flows from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers.

“The proposal before you today contains so many oversights and error and is so substantially flawed that I cannot possibly do every issue justice in the short time I have today.

Instead I will offer brief comments and submit a lengthy letter detailing the problems in full.

These hearings have offered a very public forum to display the enormous disconnect that exists between protecting San Joaquin Valley water supplies, environmental goals for fish populations, and what your plan actually proposes.

Environmental groups criticized this plan at the first Sacramento hearing for failing to demonstrate any legitimate benefit to salmon populations and asked that the plan incorporate nonflow measures without which they believe ecological goals cannot be achieved.

Agricultural interests have leveled the same criticism that, without nonflow measures, the proposal before you today simply wastes precious water without any discernable benefit.

You also heard from irrigation districts, as well as local city and county officials, who explained in great detail that the proposal will jeopardize the drinking water supplies of 1.5 million people in one the most disadvantaged areas of the state where 1 in 4 live in poverty and where unemployment consistently remains 5 points above the rest of the state.

In fact, the areas you have put on the chopping block face significant challenges beyond poverty – challenges like being the largest contiguous health professional shortage area in California, where life expectancy and educational attainment is among the lowest in the state, while violent crime rates, air pollution, and premature deaths are among the highest.

 

We disagree about the number of job losses this plan will cause as well as how severe the economic impacts will be – although it must be pointed out that while the SED predicts removing 300,000 acre-feet of water from the Northern San Joaquin Valley will cost just $68 million, your own economist working on the Delta Tunnels project predicts every 100,000 acre-feet of water has a total economic value of $1.4 billion.

The only source of consistent agreement throughout these hearings has been that all parties prefer the more immediate and enduring option of reaching voluntary settlements.

Unfortunately, because of your staff’s refusal to engage in discussions during the drafting of this report, failure to respond to comments submitted on the prior version, and the disingenuous manipulation of the facts contained in this latest proposal, there is strong and justified belief that you and your staff have not acted in good faith.

The obligation to restore confidence that legitimate settlements can be reached through negotiations is squarely on your shoulders.

There are far too many flaws contained in the current report for it to be considered a viable starting point.

My recommendation is that you call a mulligan – send this report back to your staff and your consultants with a directive to start over.

Quite frankly, the only other option is to spend years bitterly fighting this out in court.”


Click here to read Adam Gray's syatement to the board

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January 4, 2017

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

Mariposa County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 140 from Martin Road, west of Mariposa, to Yosemite National Park for tree work. Due to the New Year’s Holiday, there is no scheduled road work for Sunday, January 1st or Monday, January 2nd.

Crews will begin work on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, through Friday, January 6, 2017, from 6:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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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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