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September19, 2019

MAYOR MIKE MURPHY OPINION EDITORIAL

Our kids are back in school, back to school nights are in full swing, and the weather is cooling down. Soon the holiday season will be upon us.
As we settle into fall, I’d like to share an update on what’s happening in the City of Merced. Your City Council has been working hard to increase the quality of life in our City on the Rise.
We are in a period of strong growth in the building sector. Last fiscal year we issued more building permits than we have in any recent year. Earlier this year, Merced County was identified as having the fastest growing population in the state. Locally, much of the population growth has occurred as a result of UC Merced’s 2020 Project, which will bring the student population to 10,000 students by August 2020.
I am proud of the fact that growth in our housing stock is not just in north Merced. New subdivisions are under construction in south Merced and infill housing projects are happening in central Merced.
In our downtown, the Tioga apartments, El Capitan Hotel, and Mainzer Theatre projects are steaming ahead. Those projects will open in the coming months, bringing additional housing, entertainment, and top-rated hotel capacity to the community. A few short years ago, finding parking downtown was never a problem. Now we are making plans to create more parking to accommodate the increased demand. Downtown is becoming a destination and more improvements are on the way.
The view of Merced from the freeway will also be changing. In the coming years, the Campus Parkway interchange will be home to a five-story Hilton Garden Inn. Other plans there include a conference center, restaurants, a gas station, and multi-family housing. Expect groundbreakings on some of those in 2020 after the winter weather.
4813-0940-2532, v. 2
Work is progressing on building Campus Parkway, the 4-lane expressway that will ultimately link Highway 99 to Yosemite Avenue near the UC Merced campus. Phase II is currently under construction from Childs Avenue to Highway 140. It is more than 80 percent complete and is scheduled to be finished next year. Merced County is heading up this important project and will begin construction on Phase III in 2020.
Merced is getting some new places to take the family to eat. Teriyaki Don, a Fresno favorite, just opened in the Promenade Shopping Center. Atwater’s Freddy’s Kitchen-Torteria, is sharing its cuisine in Merced. Rally’s/Checkers Burgers is also coming. And if you just want to grab a cup of coffee, Dutch Brothers Coffee is opening a drive-thru on Childs Avenue near Parsons.
The owners of Merced Mall are moving forward with their plans to bring us an improved mall experience.

 

 

It isn’t just housing, restaurant, and retail options that are expanding. Our existing industrial businesses are also expanding, which is a good sign. It shows that our local businesses believe in our community. For example, Titan Doors, O’Keeffe’s/Safti-First, and Centurion Boats all are making major expansions to their local operations. In total, they’re adding tens of thousands of square-feet to their local facilities. All this expansion means these companies can grow sales and increase hiring.

 

Homelessness is an issue that concerns all of us. Like other California cities, we have significant challenges, but progress is being made. We will soon break ground on a complex on 13th Street with housing to help our homeless veterans. Additionally, the City is in a partnership to create a multi-family housing project at Childs Avenue and B Street. One quarter of the units will be dedicated to permanent supportive care, the kind of housing that has been shown to work in helping people experiencing homelessness.
There are big things happening in Merced, and some smaller things too. For example, one of the accomplishments that fills me with pride is the new bike path that we constructed connecting Black Rascal Creek to Bear Creek along Highway 59. The City also put in a new playground at Applegate Park. This is the City’s first wheelchair accessible playground and is adapted for children with special needs. Near John Muir Elementary we will be turning an old firehouse that was decommissioned years ago into a youth recreation center. We’ve also been steadily increasing the number of police officers and emergency dispatchers and replacing outdated vehicles and equipment in our fire, police, and public works departments.
Overall, we are headed in a good direction as a city. We will remain prudent in our fiscal expenditures saving money for the next rainy day and making key investments that will serve the public and pay dividends for many years to come. Merced is a City on the Rise.
Mike Murphy is Mayor of the City of Merced.

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September19, 2019

 

Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Attend Local Leadership Conference

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA chapter officer team joined thirteen other FFA chapters from the Merced-Mariposa section at the annual FFA Sectional Officer Leadership Conference (SOLC) held at Merced College September 10th.
The annual leadership conference is held each year to help students develop and strengthen leadership skills and responsibilities within their offices. The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA officer team is composed of Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian.
This year the theme for the Merced Mariposa Sectional FFA is “Stepping Towards Purpose.” Various activities were held at the conference which included understanding body language, proper etiquette, chapter fundraising, public speaking, facilitating a meeting, analytical skills, and finding team strengths. “I learned how to communicate with my team and to not be afraid to speak up,” said Sabrina Lopez. This conference was the first of two leadership conferences the officer team will be attending this year. Later in the month, the officers will be attending a regional FFA leadership conference in Modesto. Nearly 200 chapter officers from the Central Region and the 2019-2020 California FFA Association State Officer Team will be attending the leadership conference. The skills that the students learn will be taken back to the high school and shared throughout the 2019-2020 school year.


Members of the Atwater FFA chapter and Merced-Mariposa FFA officer team (back row) Hayley Vargas, Vanessa Varela, Jennifer Velazquez, Ethan Slate, Daniel Lopez, Simarjot Gandhoke, Eryka Lepper, Sabrina Lopez
(front row) Juan Carlos Orozco, Alyssa Carrillo, Isabella Alexander, Derek Brusenski, Kindall Grisham, and Emmanuel Mejia gather following the sectional leadership conference held at merced College.

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

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

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September19, 2019

New El Nido Superintendent Brings Classroom, Administrative Experience

The El Nido community and its school are an incredible gem to Lori Gonzalez, the new superintendent-principal of the El Nido School District.
Gonzalez took on her new role Aug. 13, replacing Rae Ann Jimenez as superintendent. The El Nido district has 159 students from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade and 26 staff members, including nine teachers.
“It’s a welcome change for me,” Gonzalez said. “El Nido is such an incredible gift to me. I am excited to start a new career path. You can see the love they have for the students. Everyone is just so welcoming.”
Gonzalez, 50, said her goal is to serve the needs of the students and move the district forward to the 21st Century.
“I’m looking at making sure we meet the needs of all the students and implement the right programs and instructional strategies. I want to ensure our students are college and career-ready and ensure our teachers are fully equipped to provide the best instruction for students,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez started her educational career in 1992; she taught kindergarten for three years and third grade for six years with the Selma Unified School District.
For three years Gonzalez was a teacher on special assignment, covering reading programs. She then became program manager of curriculum, instruction and funding at Lincoln Middle School for three years.
In 2006, Gonzalez became vice principal at Sutter Middle School in Fowler, holding that position for two years until becoming principal at the same site for four years.
Later Gonzalez was promoted to director of Educational Services and promoted again to associate superintendent. In this role she focused on data assessment, funding, construction along with curriculum and instruction.
From April to August Gonzalez was interim superintendent of the district before accepting the El Nido superintendency.
Born in Mexico, Gonzalez was raised in Sanger. A 1986 graduate of Sanger High School, she received her bachelor’s degree in 1991 from California State University, Fresno and her master’s degree there five years later. Her

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Young Patriot Challenge to Explore U.S. Constitution through Essay, Speech, Poster

The Merced County Young Patriot Challenge will give county students an opportunity to share their perspective on the United States Constitution through a poster, essay or speech.
The contest, which celebrates its eighth year, is open to all Merced County students, including homeschooled students, and helps to assist teachers in complying with the federal mandate that the U.S. Constitution should be the subject of lessons and activities for appropriate classes during Constitution Day, which is Sept. 17. The contest runs Sept. 16-20.
The theme for the 2019 Young Patriot Challenge is “Should the Constitution be Amended to Include Term Limits for Members of the U.S. Congress? Explain Your Position.” Middle school students compete by writing an essay and high school students will give a prepared speech explaining their position on the prompt. Elementary school students are asked to develop posters around the theme “symbols of liberty, justice, etc.”
Young Patriot Challenge Chairperson Barbara Riis-Christensen said “The Power under the Constitution will always be in people,” which is a quote from founding father George Washington.
An awards ceremony for parents and contest winners at all levels will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Rd.
For more information, call Riis-Christensen (209) 358-8404 and visit http://www.ypcusa.net.

 


Lori Gonzalez, the new superintendent-principal of the El Nido School District.

PHOTO BY DYLAN MCMULLEN COURTESY MERCED COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

concentration was English language arts, with a reading specialist credential.
Her educational philosophy calls for serving students and providing them a path for success.
Gonzalez and her husband Leonel have three grown children from 19 to 27 years of age.
“I feel very appreciative of the board members who believe in my philosophy of education and am excited to work alongside them,” Gonzalez said.

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MCOE, School Districts and Law Enforcement Work Together to Improve Attendance

September is Attendance Awareness Month across the country and a joint program spearheaded by the Merced County Office of Education seeks to increase student attendance. The Here to Learn Program is a collaboration between MCOE, the District Attorney’s office and the 20 school districts in Merced County who want to improve student attendance at school - the cornerstone of learning.
Andrea Valtierra-Gongora, a criminal investigator with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, is part of the joint effort for the Here to Learn Program. The goal of the program is to improve attendance. These joint efforts have led to the development and implementation of S.A.F.E. (Supporting Attendance with Families through Education.), which is the key to academic success when kids attend school on a regular basis.
“S.A.F.E. supports the vision of the Merced County Office of Education, to nurture all students, serve our districts and communities and lead our systems for the betterment of all. The mission of the county is to develop capacity of stakeholders, build bridges to resources and make connections,” said, Valtierra-Gongora.
Valtierra-Gongora supports the vision and mission of MCOE by making home visits, presenting to parent groups, making referrals to community agencies, and attending School Attendance Review Boards. Home visits can involve school nurses, school psychologists, behavioral health workers and attendance clerks. Valtierra-Gongora can make referrals to the Family Resource Center, Merced County Human Services Agency and Merced County Behavioral Health.
During the first year of implementation of the Here to Learn Program, 12 school districts in the county have seen improved attendance rates.
“I think it’s exciting when you see big improvements in attendance. When you see serious cases, that’s disheartening to know kids are suffering,” Valtierra-Gongora said. “It’s a community and district effort with agencies intervening to provide support services.”
There are 180 days in the school year. One student had 30 absences during the 2017-2018 school year; that number went down to 13 in the 2018-2019 school year, which is a huge improvement. A kindergarten student had 49 absences; in the first grade this was down to 19 absences and most recently only eight absences were recorded in the 2018-2019 school year.
In the 2016-2017 school year, five children had 305 absences. As of the 2018-2019 school year, that number dropped to 48 absences. Valtierra-Gongora said she is excited when she sees attendance improvements and will call parents to congratulate them, who are happy to hear the news.
“It may take a while,” Valtierra-Gongora concluded, “but as long as students continue to improve and agencies stress the importance of regular all-day school attendance, things are looking up.”

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September19, 2019

Almond Alliance Praises Governor Newsom For His Plan to Veto Senate Bill 1

Modesto, CA – Governor Newsom said Saturday that he will not sign SB 1 by State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, which would have adopted into California law the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and other regulations as they existed when President Obama left office. The Almond Alliance commends and thanks the Governor for recognizing that SB 1 in its current form posed significant challenges for agriculture, water districts, businesses and risked dismantling years of collaborative efforts to develop voluntary water agreements. The California almond industry is committed to ensuring that Californian’s have clean water, air and a healthy working environment. As written, SB 1 would surely have resulted in years of costly litigation specific to California’s water supply which is exactly why the Almond Alliance continues to support all parties working towards voluntary agreements.

The bill would have limited the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment. “We look forward to being part of substantive stakeholder discussions on policies to bring continuous improvement to California’s clean drinking water, air and the environment. We’ll bring our industry’s on-going commitment to identifying ways to meet the state’s environmental goals, but also a strong voice to the real-world challenges new policies pose to the almond industry” said Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino.

SB 1 sought to lock in place clean water, air and labor law that existed on January 19, 2017, the day before President Donald Trump took office. The bill was set to expire in January 2025, when Trump would be scheduled to leave office after a second term.
The Almond Alliance will continue to work collaboratively with Governor Newsom and his team and the California legislature on environmental, water and air issues.


About the Almond Alliance of California

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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August 29 , 2019

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

VACAVILLE, CA? “A lack of basic financial knowledge contributes to the uphill battle many youth face when entering adulthood,” says Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Through our ‘Awesome Cause’ of financial education, financial literacy, and financial advocacy, we strive to be a part of the solution for our members and the communities we serve.”
Travis Credit Union aims to reach 1,000 young adults this year through financial education efforts. That is why it invested in revamping its Mad City Money Young Adult Financial Boot Camp for 2019! Here are some updates:
• Interactive, app-based learning
• 50 Amazon Kindle Fires for any attendee to use
• Hosted Wi-Fi
• A fresh look and logo

These eco-friendly and tech-focused improvements are the perfect compliments to today’s generation and its love of mobile banking.
At Mad City Money, participants leap forward into the shoes of adulthood, experiencing today’s fast paced society with all the obligations that will come their way! From a pushy car salesperson, to a commission-based realtor, to a credit union for financial services, attendees must decipher between their wants and needs, all while attempting to stay on an assigned budget. And if this were not enough, the Fickle Finger of Fate is always on the lookout, ready to remind attendees how life can happen at the most inconvenient times.
Thanks to this whirlwind of reality, overspending is a common theme, as highlighted by the reflections of one young adult: “If I choose to purchase an expensive car and a house, I end up struggling to provide for basic needs like food and clothing.” Our goal for the program is for attendees to make financial mistakes with us, before they make them in the real world.

 

By learning about budgeting, savings, debt, and the importance of credit worthiness, young adults are able to achieve long-term financial health. Through an informal study, Travis Credit Union discovered every $1 invested in Mad City Money creates $52 of value in the communities it serves. This is due to the central realization attendees leave with: “One way or another, my choices with money will impact my life.”

The seminar will take place on September 21, 2019 from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Half Dome Room at the UC Merced, 5200 Lake Road, Merced, CA. If you wish to register an attendee, or are interested in volunteering as a sales merchant, please visit www.traviscu.org/mcm.
Refreshments, prizes and a drawing for an Apple Watch will be provided at all Mad City Moneys open to the community.
Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, it is the 14th largest credit union in California with more than 207,000 members and more than $3.1 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo, and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community, its solid, secure history, and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

For more information call Travis Credit Union 1-800-877-8328.

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August 27 , 2019

California Educator Named to the National FFA Board of Directors

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, August 20, 2019/National FFA Organization) – Dave Gossman, California has been named to the National FFA Board of Directors.

Dave began his career as an FFA member at Arroyo Grande High School in Arroyo Grande, Calif. In college, he pursued a degree in exotic animal training and management and became a sea lion and dolphin trainer before recognizing his passion for becoming an agriculture instructor. Following becoming a dolphin trainer, EMT and volunteer firefighter in Hawaii, Dave pursued and received his Master of Science with a specialization in agricultural education from California Polytech University in San Luis Obispo, California in 2002.

He began his teaching career at Atwater High School as a part of a three teacher agricultural program staff with 250 agriculture students. Today, he is department chair at the Atwater agriculture program/FFA chapter and has more than 1,100 students and ten staff members, the largest program in the nation. He specializes in agriscience and horticulture and oversees the management and coordination of the department. He is a mentor teacher and has presented multiple professional workshops. He has served on the California Agriculture Teacher Association Executive Committee CATA) as well as the CATA president.

"Dave brings a wealth of experiences in developing, building and expanding an urban agriculture program," said National FFA Advisor and board chair Dr. Steve A. Brown. "Through his involvement on the board, we are certain he will continue to advance the mission of the National FFA Organization as we prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders."

Dave and his wife, Tiffany reside in Merced and have two sons. His term on the National FFA Board of Directors began
July 1, 2019.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.


High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Dave Gossman was named to the National FFA Board of Directors to assist with the continued growth and development of the National FFA Organization.

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About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 669,989 student members as part of 8,630 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and official news page of the National FFA Organization.

About National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees composed of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA Alumni, the foundation is a separately registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

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August 27 , 2019


Almond Alliance of California applauds trade deal between U.S. and Japan

Modesto, CA – The Almond Alliance of California applauds the recently announced trade deal between the United States and Japan. U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the agreement Sunday at a meeting at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. Both President Trump and Prime Minister Abe said they will sign the deal around meetings of the United Nations General Assembly next month.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry pointed out, “This deal is very important for California almond growers since they rely on access to foreign markets to sell their crops and Japan is a significant destination for California almonds. The Almond Alliance welcomes the latest news.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the agreement is three-fold, addressing industrial tariffs, agriculture and digital trade. The agreement will also require Japan to open its market to more imports of U.S. agricultural products and will eventually pave the way for an additional $7 billion in ag exports to Japan.

Almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agricultural export. The California almond industry exports 67% of what it produces. With exports of nearly $4.5 billion in 2017, the California almond industry contributes significantly to the longstanding trade surplus generated by American agriculture.


About the Almond Alliance of California

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds are an economic powerhouse, generating more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contributing more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. For more information on the Almond Alliance, visithttps://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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August 27 , 2019

 

Atwater High School FFA Freshman Attend Leadership Conference

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Twenty-two 9th grade agriculture students representing the Atwater High School FFA chapter joined over 1000 other 9th grade agriculture students from California’s FFA Central Region at the annual FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference (GLC). The conference was held August 21st at the Modesto Junior College Ag Pavilion. Under the direction of the California FFA Association, this unique conference is designed to assist students with career information and a personal plan towards accomplishing the educational requirements and skills to accomplish each student’s career objective. I had a terrific time as I got to meet new people from other schools while learning about FFA and leadership opportunities,” said Atwater FFA member Kendall Borba.

The conference provided students various workshops and activities geared towards careers in agriculture, opportunities in the FFA, motivation to get involved, and developing a personal plan. “The conference theme was centered on laying a solid foundation for students to identify educational and personal skills needed to accomplish their career interest,” said
Atwater FFA advisor Shelby West. “The students really became enthused with the program and activities, while leaving with a better understanding of what they need to accomplish during their high school years.”

The FFA establishes various levels or “degrees” during one’s FFA experience in high school. The “Greenhand” degree is the first level a student can obtain as a first-year high school agriculture student/FFA member. The FFA provides more extensive leadership conferences for sophomores, juniors, and seniors based on the level and degree earned by each student. The Atwater FFA will be recognizing over 450 students for their FFA Greenhand and Chapter Farmer (2nd year FFA members) degrees in November. “I was introduced to the numerous academic, leadership, agriculture, and FFA opportunities agriculture education and FFA have to offer, said Atwater High School freshman Shayleigh Miller.


Atwater High School freshman agriculture students and FFA members Colton Dukes, Stephanie Venegas, Tana Reed, Kendall Borba, and America Chavez gathered during their CA Dept. of Ed sponsored FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference held in Modesto, CA.

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Participants at this year’s Greenhand Leadership Conference included: Shayleigh Miller, Reyna Morales, Mateo Duran, Trenton Hall, Nathan Metz, Sydney Nickelson, Ianna Ortega, Jordan Garcia, Jatziry Castro Delgado, Kendall Borba, America Chavez, Colton Dukes, Stephanie Venegas Solorio, Cassidy Carrillo, Allison Garner, Sonia Valdez Guzman, Rosalinda Becerra, Narely Ayala, Matt Kamykowski, Hunter Birmingham, Hannah Pope, and Tana Reed.

 

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


Twenty-two Atwater High School freshman agriculture students including (pictured front row) Stephanie Venegas-Slorio, Rosalinda Becerra, Reyna Morales, (pictured back row) Hunter Birmingham, Allison Garner, Shayleigh Miller, Hannah Pope, Tana Reed, Kendall Borba, America Chavez, Colton Dukes, Sydney Nickelson, Nathan Metz, Matt Kamykowski, Mateo Duran, Jordan Garcia, Trent Hall, Sonia Valdez Guzman, Narely Ayala, Cassidy Carrillo, Jatziry Castro Delgado, and Lanna Ortega joined over 1000 other high school agriculture students at a recent California FFA Greenhand Leadership Conference.

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August 27 , 2019

Atwater School District Earns Accreditation for Teacher Mentoring Program

The Atwater Elementary School District has developed a two-year program that helps its new teachers mature into seasoned professionals who are more likely to stay in their jobs for many years.
Ana Boyenga, the district’s assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said it took the district three years to get accredited by the California Teaching Commission to offer the teacher mentoring program.
Diana Heller, Stephanie Ludwig and Linda Lamerson, teachers on special assignment, head up the induction program.
Atwater, the Los Banos Unified School District, the Merced Union High School District and the Merced County Office of Education all offer teacher induction programs that are approved by the California Teacher Commission.
“We need to support our new teachers so they stay. It’s customized to their needs, not a cookie-cutter approach. This is a selling point that they are going to get a coach when they come. It's really important for our school district and board,” Boyenga said.
Heller said new teachers are not sure what to expect when they start teaching. Expectations could be completely different from reality. She said Atwater’s induction program is unique and differs from others.
The district has 232 teachers and is still looking for new teachers, Boyenga said. In her 25th year in education, she said she had a mentor teacher when she started out.

The teacher induction program operates year-round. Participating teachers who have provisional credentials when they start take part in an exit interview at program’s end and then receive a clear teaching credential.
Each induction participant receives a minimum of one hour per week of individualized support from a full-time mentor. Each participant develops a unique Individual Learning Plan which is used for professional growth. The plans are based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
A goal of the program is to increase student achievement in meeting California’s adopted state standards by developing teacher competence. The district wants every student to have a highly qualified teacher who continues to grow as a professional through reflection, collaboration with colleagues and adoption of appropriate teaching methods.

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August 23, 2019

Merced is seeing industry thrive

Most people have heard the great things happening in Merced’s retail world -- the arrival of Dutch Brother’s Coffee, Rally’s/Checkers Burgers and Planet Fitness.

The Merced Mall is transforming and at the Mission Interchange the Gateway Shopping Center is beginning construction and the Campus Parkway Plaza is in the planning stages.

And, people can’t miss the renovation going on Downtown with the El Capital Hotel, the Mainzer Theater and the Hotel Tioga.

But there’s more taking place in Merced than expanded retail, and that’s an industrial sector that’s prospering.

“Our retail and commercial sector is doing well, along with our housing market, and so is our industrial side,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “The industrial side of Merced is undergoing an expansion that is bringing jobs and revenue to the community.
“We are getting construction jobs, and then permanent jobs for Merced,” Carrigan said.

Merced’s industrial sector is flourishing with the expansion of existing businesses and the addition of new industrial buildings. The growth is spread across a variety of markets

“That’s a good indicator of the City’s economic vitality,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz.

Another good sign is that the companies are located throughout the City’s industrial zones.

“We are seeing these expansions in several of our industrial parks across the southern section of the City,” said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “It’s not just concentrated in one area.”

In the case of Titan Metal Products, the expansion is doubling the size of its facilities. Titan Doors, 1891 Wardrobe Ave., makes stock and custom doors, door frames and assemblies. Some of the firm’s doors are fire and ballistic rated. Titan’s products were recently used in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.

The existing Titan plant is 18,725 square feet, and it is adding on another 19,000 square feet of space to the door and assembly area.

 



Centurion Boats, 2047 Grogan Ave., has been a maker of high performance towboats since 1976, specializing in wake-surfing towboats. A division of Correct Craft, Centurion is headquartered in Merced and offers seven models for sale, along with the ability to custom build a boat.

The company is undergoing a 24,234 square foot shop and office expansion, putting in a 3,600 square foot development and engineering facility, along with a test tank. All of the growth of the facility increases the research and development capacity to the facility.

O’Keeffe Safti-First, 220 S. R St., has specialized in architectural glass and metal products for 75 years. Some of O’Keeffe’s custom skylights, ladders and aluminum building products are in the Stanford Medical Center, the Intel Campus and the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Safti-First is known for its fire-rated glass and framing systems, some of which are at the UC Davis campus, the U.S. Military Academy, West Point and Folsom Prison.

The firm is adding a 30,651 square foot manufacturing facility plus a 7,764 square foot cold room to accommodate growing market demands.

Pacific Gas and Electric, is a utility company providing electricity and natural gas to Merced customers. The firm has expansion work going on at its service center and corporation yard located on the corner of Childs Avenue and Kibby Road.

The utility company is locating its regional management office at that site in a 15,400 square foot building, and installing a 9,100 square foot operations building. The utility is also putting in a 23,500 square foot combination garage/warehouse at the site.

In addition to the existing plant expansions, developers are seeing a demand for more buildings that are ready for industrial tenants to move in.

Lawler Excavation is constructing two new industrial buildings on Cessna Way in the City’s industrial park. The buildings, one 8,400 square feet and the other 7,500 square feet, could be used as warehouses or for other light industrial uses.

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August 22, 2019

Schedule of Events Announced for 2019 California Food Expo
Featuring Educational Sessions Covering the Food Industry’s Hottest Topics and Expanded Award Platform

Fresno, California – August 21, 2019…The first official California Food Expo (Expo) will connect more than 140 California food and beverage companies with an estimated 750 pre-qualified local and national buyers at its annual food industry trade event, and will open its doors for over 1,200 members of the public during its evening celebration – Expolicious.
This year’s Expo will feature some of California’s most unique, innovative and diverse food and beverage companies, over 20 percent of which you will not find at other food industry trade shows. With a healthy mix of exhibitors from northern, central and southern California, Expo goers can expect to see products that range from vegan ice cream, to sustainably sourced vodka made from day-old baked goods.
An impressive line-up of educational sessions will kick-off the Expo on Monday, September 9, all of which is open exclusively to Expo sponsors, exhibitors and pre-qualified buyer attendees. Sessions will cover the food industry’s hottest topics including: Consumer Trends, Sustainability, eCommerce and Influential Food Brands. Speakers and panelists will be a combination of some of food industry’s experts and the innovators behind a variety of California’s leading food companies.
An expanded award platform provides valuable opportunities for exhibitors to increase their exposure before, during and after the Expo. This year’s awards include the Fred Ruiz Award; the Golden State Award; and the New Product Awards, which will include the Buyer’s Choice Awards and the Consumer’s Choice Awards, both of which will offer a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.


The Expo’s new website is mobile-friendly and includes the complete schedule of events, award details, who attends/who exhibits and social media feeds. The final exhibitor listing and map of the show floor will also be made available closer to the event.
About the California Food Expo:
The California Food Expo is an exclusive industry trade show for California food and beverage companies to connect with more than 750 pre-qualified retail and foodservice buyers, network with industry peers and showcase California’s thriving food industry.
More than 140 California food and beverage companies are expected to participate in the two-day event which includes educational sessions, business-to-business tradeshow, and a competition for California renowned chefs. The 2019 event will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center starting Monday, September 9, through Tuesday, September 10, 2019. For more information about the California Food Expo including the complete event

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August 22, 2019

 

Atwater School District Earns Accreditation for Teacher Mentoring Program

The Atwater Elementary School District has developed a two-year program that helps its new teachers mature into seasoned professionals who are more likely to stay in their jobs for many years.
Ana Boyenga, the district’s assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said it took the district three years to get accredited by the California Teaching Commission to offer the teacher mentoring program.
Diana Heller, Stephanie Ludwig and Linda Lamerson, teachers on special assignment, head up the induction program.
Atwater, the Los Banos Unified School District and Merced Union High School District are the only school districts in Merced County to offer their own induction programs.
“We need to support our new teachers so they stay. It’s customized to their needs, not a cookie-cutter approach. This is a selling point that they are going to get a coach when they come. It’s really important for our school district and board,” Boyenga said.
Heller said new teachers are not sure what to expect when they start teaching. Expectations could be completely different from reality. She said Atwater’s induction program is unique and differs from others.
The district has 232 teachers and is still looking for new teachers, Boyenga said. In her 25th year in education, she said she had a mentor teacher when she started out.
The teacher induction program operates all year round. Participating teachers who have provisional credentials when they start take part in an exit interview at program’s end and then get a clear teaching credential.
Each induction participant receives a minimum of one hour per week of individualized support from a full-time mentor. Each participant develops a unique Individual Learning Plan which is used for professional growth. The plans are based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
The ultimate goals of the program are to increase student achievement in meeting California’s adopted state standards by developing teacher competence. The district wants every student to have a highly qualified teacher who continues to grow as a professional through reflection, collaboration with colleagues and adoption of appropriate teaching methods.

Head Start, Early Head Start Recruiting Families Across Merced County

The Merced County Office of Education’s Head Start program is currently recruiting and enrolling families for the 2018-2019 school year. The goal is to ensure that all families in Merced County who qualify for services have access to the Head Start program.

Head Start is a comprehensive prenatal, infant and preschool and family development program that is available to three and four-year-old children nationwide. MCOE Head Start provides an exceptional education complemented by health and social services for families in Merced County. The MCOE Head Start program can serve up to 1,157 children in a variety of settings, including full-day (10 hours), school-day (6 ½ hours) and part-day (3 ½ hours) classes, as well as a home-based program and services to pregnant women. Head Start families benefit from access to a variety of community resources, health and nutrition education programs, diverse parent education programs, and other social services to support the entire family.

Eligible families are those whose total annual income does not exceed the federal poverty guidelines. The program is also able to provide services to families who do not qualify under the federal poverty guidelines but have a child with a diagnosed special need. MCOE is proud to serve families of all cultures and bi-lingual staff is available as needed.

If your family could benefit from the Head Start program or you know a family that would, contact Head Start’s Administrative Offices at (209) 381-5170 today.

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August 20 , 2019

 

Jaime Caudillo, local leader of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang, and
Steven Rincon, member of the Norteno Criminal Street Gang,
sentenced to life in prison

Today, Judge Carol Ash sentenced Jaime Caudillo to 50 years, 8 months to
life in prison for shooting a police officer, illegally possessing a firearm, and
gang activity. She also sentenced Steven Rincon, a three strikes defendant,
to 80 years to life in prison for his role in the shooting, illegally possessing a
firearm, and gang activity. On May 23, 2019, following an eleven-day trial
prosecuted by attorneys Nicole Silveira and Katie Gates, a Merced County
jury found Mr. Caudillo and Mr. Rincon, guilty of shooting a police officer,
being felons in possession of firearms, and committing the crimes for the
benefit of a criminal street gang. Both defendants are convicted felons and
active members of the Norteno criminal street gang in Merced County. Mr.
Caudillo has status as a higher ranking Norteno within the gang.
On February 28, 2015, then Officer Ryan Rasmussen of the Merced Police
Department arrived to assist Officer Rinder in a routine traffic stop. Mr.
Rincon was the driver of the vehicle, and Mr. Caudillo was the passenger.
Within moments, Mr. Caudillo opened fire on Officer Rasmussen, while Mr.
Rincon sped off almost simultaneously. The shots fired by Mr. Caudillo hit
Officer Rasmussen’s hand, as well as his bulletproof vest. After a manhunt
involving support from multiple agencies and spanning several hours,
officers took both defendants into custody and discovered that Mr. Rincon
possessed a firearm.

 

MPD Officer Steven Odom testified as a gang expert during the trial. He
opined the crimes were committed for the benefit of the criminal street gang
and the act of shooting a police officer, the gang’s primary enemy, is the
ultimate act for violent members to demonstrate their commitment to the
gang.
As a result of the shooting, Officer Rasmussen lost his right pinky finger and
endured seven corrective surgeries. Ultimately, he was unable to continue
as a patrol officer due to the injuries he suffered in the line of duty. However,
earlier this year, Ryan Rasmussen returned to active service in law
enforcement when the Merced County District Attorney’s Office hired him as
an investigator. During the sentencing, Investigator Rasmussen told Judge
Ash he and his family will continue to fight against the criminal activities of
gang members like the defendants, vowing, “My family will not stop. They
will never quit, and, by God, they will never give up fighting people like
them.”
This is the second life sentence for Mr. Rincon. On July 30, 2019, he was
sentenced to 55 years to life in prison for his role in a 2017 jail homicide.
That sentence followed a January trial, with a jury verdict on February 1,
2019, finding Mr. Rincon guilty of first degree murder. Attorneys Matthew
Serratto and Tyson McCoy prosecuted that case.

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August 20 , 2019

 

Atwater High Ag Teacher Recognized With State Award

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

Merced Union High School District and Atwater High School’s agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Kaylyn Davenport was recognized by the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) with the “2019 Outstanding Young Teacher” award during a recent conference and awards ceremony held at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The award recognizes an outstanding young teacher (5-7 years of service) for their participation and leadership in civic, community, agriculture. agribusiness, and professional activities.

Kaylyn Davenport’s father Phil Schiber was a former Atwater High School agriculture instructor when Kaylyn was a child. She grew up influenced by his passion for the job and his working with students. This inspired her at a young age to follow in his footsteps. She attended Atwater High School as a student and was a very involved agriculture and FFA student. As an agriculture teacher at Atwater High School, Kaylyn has focused on building and expanding the school’s floral program. She has coached three state champion FFA judging teams including a national championship.

Kaylyn’s future goals are to expand student Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE’s) opportunities which is a component of the agriculture education 3-circle model of classroom/lab, leadership, and hands-on application of skills (SAE’s) in an agriculture skill areas.


Atwater High School agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Kaylyn Schiber was recognized by the California Agricultural Teacher's Association's "Outstanding Young Teacher" award at a recent awards and conference ceremony at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

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

Kaylyn’s advice to new teachers is to “ask questions”! She appreciates the California Agriculture Teachers’ Association for their encouragement towards collaboration and mentoring among colleagues. “Utilizing the experience and wisdom of experienced teachers creates a culture of growth,” says Davenport. “I enjoy the opportunity to work with my coworkers and create a culture of making a positive impact on our students.”

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

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August 20 , 2019

 

Livingston Schools Recognized Nationally for Counseling Programs

Counselors at two Livingston elementary schools have been recognized nationally for their comprehensive counseling programs.
Andres Zamora, Livingston Union School District superintendent, said counselors at Selma Herndon and Campus Park schools have been singled out by the American School Counselors Association. That follows similar honors last year for Livingston Middle School from the organization.
“Our goal is to ensure students come to school well-adjusted, confident and ready to learn. They are one of the few elementary schools with a full-time counselor,” Zamora said.
Kuljinder Sekhon, the district’s assistant superintendent of instruction and pupil services, said counselors provide direct support to students.
“Society’s changing. We see more of a need for social-emotional support than ever. Support is always going to be needed,” Sekhon said.
Zamora said the counselors are teaching organization, responsibility and problem-solving skills with their peers on social issues. Livingston counselors were recognized during a formal ceremony at the association’s summer convention in Boston.
“As superintendent, I feel very proud we’ve been able to shape this program. Our counselors are really phenomenal, dedicated and caring, making a positive difference in students. The heart of the program is the people,” Zamora said.
Sekhon said for any program to be effective there has to be support from the superintendent and the school board. These efforts, including providing professional development, supplies and resources, make the program possible, she added.

Sekhon said the counselors’ association national model integrates data-informed decision-making, a developmentally appropriate curriculum focused on mindsets and behaviors that all students need for postsecondary readiness and success, and closing achievement and opportunity gaps. The result is improved student achievement, attendance and discipline.
This year, 71 schools in 21 states received the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation during a special ceremony at the American School Counselor Association’s Annual Conference in Boston, Mass.
The RAMP designation, awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA National Model, recognizes schools committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-informed school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. Since the program’s inception, nearly 900 schools have been designated as RAMP recipients.
“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA assistant director. “These schools used data to drive their program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. RAMP designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to strive for excellence.”

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August 15, 2019

 

Cooling Zones open today through Friday, others open in County

A heat wave that hit the Valley has resulted in the City of Merced and other agencies in Merced County to open Cooling Zones from today through Friday.
The City Cooling Zone will be in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St. from 3 to 8 p.m. There will be water, snacks and other supplies available, along with some entertainment. The Cooling Zone is pet friendly.
City officials encourage everyone to get in out of the heat and take advantage of the cooling zone, especially if they don’t have air conditioning or just have a swamp cooler.
Residents should remember to stay hydrated and stay cool. And they should be good neighbors, checking in on friends and family, and making sure seniors and at-risk residents are OK.
“Don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Fire Chief Billy Alcorn said.
A complete list of all the Cooling Zones in the County is available at www.countyofmerced.com/news
Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness

 

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke—which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature—may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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August 14 , 2019

Michael Beltran named Merced City Engineer

Michael Beltran has been appointed City Engineer for the City of Merced. The announcement was made by City Manager Steve Carrigan.
Beltran has been serving as Interim City Engineer since March 2019.
“I am ecstatic to help build the City where I grew up and lived all my life,” Beltran said. “It’s an exciting time to be in Merced.
“I’m looking forward to working with all the residential and commercial developers that are building in the City,” he said. “And I’m eagerly anticipating completing some challenging projects we have coming up, such as the widening of Highway 59.”
“Michael is a good fit for the organization,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “He has the right experience, a good management style and a calm demeanor, no matter what is going on around him.”
Carrigan said he was impressed by the way Beltran handled a variety of situations while serving as the Interim City Engineer. “Not everything went smoothly, as you would expect. There were some bumps, but Michael didn’t let it bother him. He found the right solutions and settled everybody down.
“His private sector experience gives him a good understanding of what people need and what they are going through,” Carrigan said.
Beltran, 38, has a strong background in civil and geotechnical engineering that he obtained while working for Precision Civic Engineering and Kleinfelder, Inc..
Before coming to the City, his projects included Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the Atwater Wastewater Treatment Plant. He has been involved in school construction projects in Merced, Atwater, along with UC Merced.
He worked on the Merced Center parking structure, natural gas facilities in Alberta Canada, the California High Speed Rail project, electrical substations owned by local utility districts and numerous interchanges and highway bridges in the region.
He has a bachelors degree in civil engineering from Fresno State and is a registered professional engineer in the State. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, where he held several offices. He also is a member of the San Joaquin Valley Road Commissioners and County Engineers.
Born at the old Mercy Hospital on M Street, Beltran was raised in Merced and attended Golden Valley High School, where he was part of its first four-year class.

 


Michael Beltran


Beltran and his wife, Samantha, have two daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 7 to 15.
He and his family are NASCAR fans, who enjoy attending the races together. Other family fun activities include mini vacations to Lake McClure, trips to the coast, family walks and movie nights.
“I watch all of their sports activities, too,” he said, “And I enjoy coaching them.”
One of his other pastimes is scuba diving. Usually it’s diving along the Monterey Coast, but every year he and a group of friends head to Santa Catalina and the Channel Islands for some variety.
Beltran will start the job Aug 26. The job pays $132,438.48 a year.

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August 14 , 2019

Working with Modesto student to push the strongest anti-vaping law in America

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking alongside one of the brightest young people that I have ever met. Rana Banankhah, who will be starting her sophomore year at Modesto High School shortly, wrote a well-researched and eloquent op-ed in June which was published in the Modesto Bee describing her experience as a high school student seeing the upsurge in vaping among her classmates. In July, I invited Miss Banankhah to testify in support of my legislation, AB 1639, in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. AB 1639 seeks to enact the strongest and most comprehensive proposal any state has put forward to address the vaping epidemic that is consuming our youth.

This morning, the Modesto Bee published Miss Banankhah’s follow-up op-ed in which she details her experience in Sacramento and her thoughts on my legislation. Please take a moment to read her piece when you have a moment. I am proud to represent and work with students like Rana, and I am thankful that we have excellent educators and role models in our community.

As always, if you have questions or if I can do to be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

Adam

 

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August 14 , 2019

Atwater FFA Branches Out During Leadership Retreat

Written by: Eryka Lepper, Atwater FFA

“We are all one piece of the puzzle” was selected as the 2019-2020 Atwater FFA theme as advisors and chapter officers gathered in Yosemite National Park for their annual Atwater FFA Chapter Officer Leadership Retreat on August 5th-7th. The primary goals of the three day retreat was to plan the calendar, identify yearly objectives to help strengthen and continue the growth of its members and program, and strengthen team building skills.

“Our officer team starts the school year with focus, vision, and enthusiasm in leading their organization and our students,” said FFA advisor Kim Mesa. This year’s officer team hopes to inspire student leadership, expand personal success, increase participation from current members, and strengthen recruitment of new members. “This year’s theme represents the goal towards inclusion and diversity among all students and the opportunities for them to explore academic success, personal growth, leadership, skill development, and career exploration through agriculture education and the FFA,” said Atwater FFA President Hayley Vargas.

Leadership retreat highlights included two days exploring and hiking Yosemite National Park’s valley and all the scenery associated with its beauty. For many students and some staff members, this was their first trip inside the park. “The opportunity to explore and visit a beautiful park such as Yosemite while getting to know fellow students and teachers was a highlight and a lifelong memorable experience.” said FFA officer Jennifer Velazquez.

The Atwater High School agriculture program has been recognized as one of the state’s most productive agriculture programs by the California Agricultural Teacher’s Association (CATA) and the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE). “We have tremendous support from our school administration, school district, and our community in supporting FFA and agriculture education as a way to get students involved and provide individuals with purpose, direction and self-confidence in life,” said agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Jose Vargas.

The new officer team is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that the upcoming 2019-2020 school year holds for them. This year’s officer team includes Hayley Vargas, President; Daniel Lopez, Vice President; Jennifer Velazquez, Secretary; Simarjot Gandhoke, Treasurer; Eryka Lepper, Reporter; Ethan Slate, Sentinel; Sabrina Lopez, Historian; and Vanessa Varela, Parliamentarian. In addition to the Atwater FFA chapter officers, three other Atwater FFA members Emmanuel Mejia and Alyssa Carrillo joined the leadership retreat as they will be serving as sectional FFA officers within the California FFA Association.

 

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


Atwater FFA chapter and sectional officers Ethan Slate, Halyley vargas, Simarjot Gandhoke, Alyssa Carrillo, Sabrina Lopez, Jennifer Velazquez, Daniel Lopez, Eryka Lepper, Emmanuel Mejia, and Vanessa Varela joined the Atwater High School agriculture instructors at Yosemite National Park for a 3-day leadership retreat.


Atwater High School agriculture students Jennifer Velazquez, Ethan Slate, Sabrina Lopez, Alyssa Carrillo,and Simarjot Gandhoke enjoy Atwater High agricultue instructors Kim Mesa and Jose Vargas with a communication-related team building activity.


The 2019-2020 Atwater FFA Chapter Officers Hayley Vargas (President), Daniel Lopez (VP), Jennifer Velazquez (Secretary), Sabrina Lopez (Historian), Eryka Lepper (Reporter), Ethank Slate (Sentinel), Vanessa varela (Parliamentarian, and Simarjot Gandhoke gathered at Yosemite National Park for their annual FFA leadership retreat.

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August 14 , 2019

MCSD students receive free shoes, backpacks, and haircuts

 

Hundreds of students at Stowell Elementary in Merced will be heading back to class in style, thanks to generous donations by local community groups.

The school hosted a “meet and greet” on Tuesday to give students and their parents a chance to say hello to their teachers and other staff members in hopes of preventing any first day jitters.

During the event, Costco employees handed out free backpacks, and Grace Community Church provided new shoes for the children. Christopher Mora from C6 Blendz set up a barber chair in the multipurpose room to give the kids haircuts.

Families could also cool down with refreshing drinks and snow cones made by local vendors, and cheerleaders from El Capitan High School volunteered their time to help keep the event running smoothly.

Principal Dalinda Saich and Learning Director Richard Alvarado say they are extremely grateful to everyone who took part in Tuesday’s event, and they are looking forward to a great school year!

All of the district’s 14 elementary schools and 4 middle schools will be back in session on Wednesday, August 14.




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August 14 , 2019

Weaver School District Makes Way for New Classrooms, Office Space

Pardon our dust.
That’s the plea of John Curry, Weaver Union School District superintendent, as the Childs Avenue campus is in the midst of a major renovation.
In the 4 to 5-acre space at Childs Avenue and Coffee Road, contractors have been demolishing four old portable classrooms, the parking drop-off area, a district portable, the old preschool and the soccer field.
In their places, by January 2021, will be 12 new classrooms and a main office complex facing the Coffee-Childs corner.
“Right now there is a lot of dust,” Curry said. “The community and staff have been patient during construction. They are all troopers! We should focus on what it will look like when it’s done, which will make all of this worth it.”
The $14.2 million construction project was made possible by voters passing the $9 million Measure G ballot measure seven years ago. The balance of the funds are coming from district coffers.
Some of the Weaver buildings on the 19-acre campus date back to 1949, including the district office which is scheduled to be demolished.
District administrators will be moving to a new office at 1240 D St. in December.

 

Most of the other buildings on the Weaver Middle School campus were modernized through to a previous bond measure. Planning for the current construction started in 2013 when architectural plans were drawn.
Before it’s finished, the entire campus will get a fresh coat of paint. The existing gym and locker rooms also will be modernized and freshened up, Curry said.
The new Weaver Middle School complex also will be surrounded by security fencing for the first time.

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August 14 , 2019

TRAFFIC ADVISORY
RAMP CLOSURES
STATE ROUTE 99 FROM THE FRESNO/MERCED COUNTY LINE TO GURR ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)will conduct various construction activities on northbound and southbound State Route 99 (SR-99) from the Fresno/Merced County line to Gurr Road.
Work will be performed as follows:
• The #1, #2 lanes on northbound and southbound SR-99 will be closed alternately from the Fresno/Merced County Line to Billy Wright Road beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
• Full off and on-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 at the John Chuck Erreca Rest Area will be closed beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
• Full connector off and on-ramp closures on northbound and southbound SR-99 from SR-165 beginning Sunday, August 11, 2019, through Friday, August16, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. for paving
Motorists should expect delays of 10 minutes. Alternate routes should be taken if possible.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
FULL HIGHWAY CLOSURE
STATE ROUTE 140 FROM PARSONS AVENUE TO KIBBY ROAD

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform a full highway closure on northbound and southbound State Route 140 (SR-140) for highway construction.
Work is scheduled on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, from 12:00 a.m. (midnight) until 5:00 a.m.
Signs will be posted for the following detour route:
• Motorists traveling eastbound on SR-140 are asked to take North Parsons Road to Childs Avenue to Kibby Road back to SR-140.
• Motorists traveling westbound on SR-140 are asked to take Kibby Road to Childs Avenue to North Parsons Road back to SR-140.
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.

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August 3 , 2019

Annual Bloodless Bullfight to Benefit Valley Children’s Hospital Cancer Center and Families Living with Autism this Saturday!

Livingston, CA, Thursday, August 1, 2019: The California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization and the Carlos Vieira Foundation are proud to host the 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight fundraiser to benefit children with Cancer and Autism in the Central Valley.

The 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight will take place at the Stevinson Arena on Saturday, August 3, 2019. The annual bloodless bullfights have helped raise over $150,000.00 which has gone to Valley Children’s Hospital Cancer Unit and the Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign that provides grant services to families living with autism.

Patrons can purchase tickets to attend the event at a discounted pre-sale price of $15 or buy at the door for $20. Children ten and under are free. Most resources, including the Stevinson Bullring, bullfighters, the bull owners, and the Forcado Groups, donate their time for the cause. Every penny will go towards helping families raising a child with cancer or autism. To purchase tickets, visit www.carlosvieirafoundation.org where you can also find other ticket sales locations.

The mission of Valley Children's Hospital is to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to children, regardless of their ability to pay, and to continuously improve the health and well being of children. Valley Children’s Hospital has one of the largest service areas in the nation, treating severely ill and injured children in California’s Central Valley.

 

 

 


The California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and the sportsmanship of bloodless bullfighting throughout the State of California.

The Carlos Vieira Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization who focuses primarily on assisting families living with autism through Direct Help Grant Program in 21 counties in California’s Central Valley. We also work with communities to provide healthy, safe and drug-free youth activities, including Boxing and Jujitsu, and we support the mental health community through education, fundraising and facilitating resources. For more information about the Carlos Vieira Foundation, visit our website, www.carlosvieirafoundation.org, call (209) 394-1444, or email info@carlosvieirafoundation.org.

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August 3 , 2019

Reviving the fight to count hydropower to fight climate change

For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the original source of clean electricity. Our efforts have been stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is green enough. Recently, I introduced ACA 17 to require that hydroelectric power be counted as a renewable resource under California's various climate policies, including SB 100.

Signed into law in 2018, SB 100 established a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045; however, hydropower is prohibited from being considered renewable under that law. Hydropower is clean, safe, and produces no emissions. In places like Merced, Turlock, and Modesto, we used local money to build local hydroelectric projects. We had greenhouse-gas free energy for decades before the impacts of climate change were ever realized. Rather than be rewarded for our forward-thinking, state law penalizes local ratepayers with higher energy bills that subsidize more expensive sources of clean energy -- like wind and solar.

 

 

 

ACA 17 puts hydro on the same playing field as every other zero-emission energy source. It will lower energy bill in the communities that benefit from hydropower, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, and allow us to fight climate change in a cost-effective way. Please read my recently-published OpEd, and as always, don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or if there is anything that I can help you with!

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August 3 , 2019

Chancellor honored, fireworks update on agenda

The City Council will honor UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and hear an update on the Celebrate Safe Fireworks Campaign at its Monday night meeting.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

On the agenda:

• The City will recognize Chancellor Dorothy Leland for her time and contributions to UC Merced and the City of Merced. In addition, a reception will be held in her honor at 5:30 p.m. on the Second Floor Landing outside the Council Chamber prior to the meeting.

• Hear the final report on the Celebrate Safe Fireworks Campaign 2019 from the Fire Chief and the Police Chief. The campaign is an effort to curb the use of illegal fireworks within the City.

• Hear a report on the recommended size and configuration of the proposed police station and future fire stations, and funding requirements for a potential bond measure.

• Conduct a continued public hearing on accessory dwelling units, and consider modifying the City’s zoning regulations.

 

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


The meetings are streamed on Facebook Live on the City’s Facebook, City of Merced. A link to the live meeting is also 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, outside the chambers prior to the meeting and 72 hours before the meeting at the City Clerk’s Office. Request to Speak forms are available at the meeting or can be downloaded from the City's website. Cards must be turned in to the City Clerk in order for a person to be recognized by the Council. Hmong and Spanish translators are available at all regular Council meetings.

The City Council meets the first and third Monday of the month, except when there is a holiday, when it meets the following day.

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July 31, 2019

Students Wrap Up Math Camp at Atwater Elementary School District

The Atwater Elementary School District will wrap up this week a two-week Math Camp for approximately 200 incoming fourth-graders.
Nine district teachers went through math training June 11-12 at Stanford University let by Dr. Jo Boaler, a professor at Stanford and the author of "Mathematical Mindsets."
Back in January, the Merced County Office of Education brought Boaler to Valley Community School in Atwater to give presentations to teachers.
Ana Boyenga, assistant superintendent for Educational Services with the Atwater district, said Math Camp is designed to demonstrate that math is for everyone.
Boyenga said training emphasizes even skilled mathematicians work slowly and that's fine. Math Camp sessions are designed to build competency and confidence in math skills for students.
Math Camp sessions were offered from 8 a.m. to noon at Bellevue, Aileen Colburn, Elmer Wood, Peggy Heller, Thomas Olaeta, Shaffer and Mitchell K-6 schools.
"Our camp includes students from across the achievement ranges. Teachers will combine mindset messages each day along with math instruction. We want students to see math as a growth subject, and that every problem could be seen and solved differently," Boyenga said.
In conjunction with Math Camp, the Atwater district will once again hold Jump Start Academy for students entering first grade. Students will have an opportunity to review literacy skills that are key to that grade. These sessions also run from through Aug. 2 at all elementary schools sites in the district, Boyenga said
Math Camp and Jump Start are both intended to help students extend their learning through the fun and enriching experiences to help avoid the “summer slide.”



PHOTOS COURTESY ATWATER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

More than 200 Students Attend Delhi Unified Summer Literacy Program

DELHI — Delhi’s elementary school students just wound up a summer school program designed to boost their literacy skills.
Adolfo Melara, superintendent of the Delhi Unified School District, said more than 200 students from third grade were enrolled in sessions from June 17 to July 19.
Melara said 139 students took part in corrective reading training along with 19 newcomers. Twenty-five students took part in Gifted and Talented Education classes. Another 25 special education students participated in an extended year program.
Credit recovery options also were available for 225 students in secondary grades, middle school and high school students.
“Many students lack word attack skills to benefit from grade-level academic content. Students in third grade and above had a perfect opportunity to learn how to read. We’ve seen a lot of benefit from it,” Melara said.
The corrective reading program concentrates on explicit reading skills. Vocabulary and word-attack skills are covered and students learn basic vocabulary words and how to read fluently on a daily basis.
Rosa Gonzalez, summer school principal, said students were excited to be there and everything went well.

 


 

PHOTOS COURTESY DELHI UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

Delhi Unified Partnership Focuses on Community, Sustainable Energy

DELHI — Delhi schools and a Los Angeles-based company are partnering on a program to spread sustainable energy in the community, bringing all-electric cars and charging stations to town.
The Sustainable Energy Pilot Program is a cooperative effort of the Delhi Unified School District, Greencommuter and the Leadership Council to bring electric vehicles and electric charging stations here, school Superintendent Adolfo Melara said.
Melara said the partnership is part of a California Air Resources Board plan to expand awareness of sustainable energy in Delhi. Seven Level 2 charging stations are being installed next to the district’s business office at Shanks and Schendel avenues.
Tentatively, six Chevrolet Bolt all-electric vehicles and two Teslas will be available for rental by Delhi residents for commuter and excursion purposes. The charging stations and the accompanying lot are near completion; two of the stations are fast-charging stations.
“We want to be participants in the next wave of society’s use of sustainable energy,” Melara said. “We believe this will bring ancillary businesses to the local area and provide services for the community. That’s good for Delhi.”
Leslie Graham, director of grants and partnerships for Los Angeles-based Greencommuter, said the partnership is a great opportunity and she’s excited to see how the community of Delhi will adapt to the new technology.
Graham said Greencommuter is a private, benefit corporation which has a mission to eliminate pollution. Greencommuter has been approved to conduct business in a number of California counties, including Fresno, Kern and Los Angeles.
Melara said over the past four years the Delhi Unified School District Board of Education has discussed ways to bring sustainable energy to the community and the schools. Discussion of the actual partnership began in earnest last September.
Delhi trustees, the Municipal Advisory Council, parent and community groups heard informational presentations about the sustainable energy partnership. Melara said community members have been overwhelmingly supportive.
“Our community is very excited,” Melara said.
A number of Delhi area residents commute north and south along Highway 99 and some commute to the East Bay. Local residents are being trained to provide vanpool and ridesharing services to the public.
Before creation of the Delhi charging station, Melara said there are not very many electric vehicle charging stations in northern Merced County.



Delhi Unified School District has partnered with a Southern California corporation to provide sustainable ridesharing in electric vehicles.

PHOTOS COURTESY DELHI UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

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July 31, 2019

California Food Expo Expands Proven Award Platform

New Golden State and Fred Ruiz Awards unveiled
promising brand exposure and exclusive connections for Expo exhibitors

Fresno, California – July 29, 2019 …The California Food Expo’s expanded suite of awards promises expanded brand exposure and exclusive new opportunities with the unveiling of the Golden State Award and the Fred Ruiz Award. Applications for these awards and the New Product Awards announced in June are available on the Expo’s website now through August 23, 2019.

“The Expo’s first priority is connecting exhibiting companies with business opportunities through new retail and foodservice buyer introductions, heightened brand awareness, and valuable industry and peer network connections,” said Amy Fuentes, Manager of the California Food Expo. “Our award programs have served as a catalyst for new product launches and reinforced longstanding company brands in valuable retail stores including Whole Foods, William Sonoma, Safeway, Vons, Vallarta Supermarkets and others.”

The Golden State Award invites all exhibitors to submit a product of their choice for a chance to be voted the most ‘liked’ California Food Expo product. All submissions will be posted on the Expo’s Instagram page and Facebook where followers will be able to vote by liking the product of their choice beginning on Monday, August 26 through Sunday, September 8, 2019. Award participants are encouraged to rally their followers for a chance to win a complimentary 10x10 booth at the 2020 California Food Expo. All submissions will be displayed on a photo backdrop at this year’s Expo.

The Fred Ruiz Award, named in honor of Fred Ruiz, founder of Ruiz Food Products Inc., the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the U.S. will recognize one innovative California food or beverage company who is recognized by their peers as a pioneer in innovation and a steward in their community. Award finalists will have the honor to present their company to a member of the Ruiz family and the Expo’s founding partners for an opportunity to be chosen as the sole winner of this prestigious award


The New Product Awards announced in June offers awards in two distinct categories: the Buyer’s Choice Award and Consumer’s Choice Awards, giving participants an opportunity to have their entries reviewed and judged by both buyers and consumers for a chance to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in each category.

The Buyer’s Choice Award will be judged by the Expo’s Retail Advisory Council – an esteemed group of retail buyers who represent a diverse range of categories and store formats. The Consumer’s Choice Award will be judged by the Expo’s official Consumer Panel which mirrors the demographics of California for gender, ethnicity, age, income and education.

All award applications are available exclusively to 2019 confirmed exhibitors and are open for submission now through August 23, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. For more information about the full suite of Expo awards, including complete contest rules and how to apply, please visit: https://californiafoodexpo.com/awards.

About the California Food Expo:
The California Food Expo is an exclusive industry trade show for California food and beverage companies to connect with more than 750 qualified retail and foodservice buyers, network with industry peers and showcase California’s thriving food industry.

More than 150 California food and beverage companies are expected to participate in the two-day event which includes educational sessions, business-to-business tradeshow, and a competition for California renowned chefs. The 2019 event will be hosted at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center starting Monday, September 9, through Tuesday, September 10, 2019. For more information about the California Food Expo including the complete event agenda, or to register to exhibit or attend, please visit:www.CaliforniaFoodExpo.com

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July 27 , 2019

Joaquin Flores, leader of the local A-Town Surenos, sentenced to life in prison by Merced County Superior Court Judge Schechter

Defendant Joaquin Flores was sentenced on July 25, 2019, to fifteen years to life in prison for his role in a 2018 attempted murder. Flores was also sentenced to an additional fourteen years and four months to be served consecutively to the life sentence. On June 21, 2019, a Merced County jury found defendants, Joaquin Flores and Eric Cruz Madero, guilty of premeditated attempted murder. The jury also found it true that both defendants were acting for the benefit of a street gang. Flores and Madero are documented members of the A-Town criminal street gang based in Atwater. A-Town is the largest Sureno criminal street gang in Merced County, and Flores is a known leader.
On June 1, 2018, defendants Madero and Flores were inmates at the Merced County Jail where they conspired with several other Sureno gang members to kill a fellow incarcerated gang member. In a coordinated gang attack, members of the Sureno gang supplied intelligence and weapons to defendants Flores and Madero to carry out the killing at the downtown jail. Defendant Flores was the highest-ranking gang member in the cell at the time of the attack and provided a knife and instructions to defendant Madero. Utilizing two jail-made knives furnished by the gang, Defendant Madero viciously stabbed the victim in the head, chest, and torso in attempt to take the victim’s life. The victim suffered numerous stab wounds and bone fractures, but ultimately survived thanks to the lifesaving efforts of first responders and medical personnel.

 


Defendant Madero is currently awaiting sentencing on August 6, 2019 and faces a life sentence. Deputy District Attorneys Tyson McCoy and Kimberly Madayag prosecuted this case. Defendant Flores’ other convictions, resulting in the additional fourteen years in prison, were for 2017 incidents involving conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the jail and being a felon and gang member in possession of a firearm.
Merced County Sheriff’s Sergeant Eugene Collins conducted an exemplary investigation, exposing the elaborate gang conspiracy in this case. Detective Matthew Vierra from the Atwater Police Department and California Department of Corrections, Special Agent James Rochester assisted in the investigation. All three officers played a vital role in the successful prosecution of these violent gang offenders. The District Attorney’s Office thanks the agencies of all three officers for their diligence and commitment to bringing some of Merced County’s most violent gang members to justice.


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July 27 , 2019

Caltrans Upgrading Drainage on State Routes 59 & 140
In Merced County Due to SB 1 Funds Project Will Protect Integrity of Roadway to Provide Safer Commute for Motorists

MERCED COUNTY — Caltrans is replacing four culverts on State Routes 59 and 140 in Merced County due to funds from Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. This project will remove old culverts and install upgraded culverts near Sandy Mush Road and the Merced River bridge on SR-59, and near Los Banos Creek in Gustine and the Le Grand Canal on SR-140.
“Keeping Merced County’s highways safe and structurally sound, especially during storms, is crucial for the great folks of the Central Valley and the local agricultural industry,” said Acting Caltrans Director Bob Franzoia. “Funds from SB 1 will continue to upgrade our drainage systems throughout the state, and this is a great example of what can be done.”
SR-59 is a vital route for local commuters and agricultural traffic in Merced County, and SR-140 is a heavily-used interregional connector between the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada and an allseasons route into Yosemite National Park. Heavy, five-axle trucks use these highways to carry locally-grown crops like tomatoes and walnuts, as well as cattle and dairy products. In recent years, more than 65 percent of the traffic on SR-59 has been these heavy trucks. On SR-140, that number is approximately 60 percent.

“Important state highways like SR-59 and SR-140 continue to be reliable serving the Central Valley, including Merced County, a statewide hub for the dairy industry,” said Caltrans District 10 Director Dan McElhinney. “These improvements will enhance reliability.
“With the help of SB 1, we’ll continue to fix deteriorating foundational aspects of our roads such as these culverts.”
BRM Construction has been awarded this estimated $390,000 project. Work began Monday, July 22, 2019, and is scheduled to conclude by the end of August 2019.
More information and updates on projects can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d10/projects.html or on Twitter via @CaltransDist10. SB 1 provides an ongoing funding increase of approximately $1.8 billion annually for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the state highway system. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027.
Caltrans is committed to conducting its business in a fully transparent manner and detailing its progress to the public. For complete details on SB 1, visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/.

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


TRAFFIC ADVISORY
REST AREA CLOSURE
CHUCK ERRECA REST AREA ON
INTERSTATE 5 IN MERCED COUNTY

MERCED COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the northbound and southbound off-ramps from Interstate 5 to the Chuck Erreca Rest Area for pavement work.
The ramps – as well as the rest area – will be closed Sunday, July 28, 2019, through Friday, August 2, 2019, from 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m.

 


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July 24 , 2019

City opens Cooling Zones as temperatures climb

The City of Merced is opening its cooling center immediately because temperatures will stay in triple digits and the National Weather Service has declared an excessive heat watch. Other agencies in Merced County are also opening Cooling Zones to accommodate their residents.

Cooling zone will open Tuesday through Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room in the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall), 678 W. 18th St.

The Cooling Zone is open to anyone who needs to come in out of the heat. People can bring their pets as long as they are housebroken and get along with other animals and people in the Cooling Zone. Water and some snacks are available, along with family-oriented entertainment.

“It’s going to be hot and humid, so be careful,” said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “Stay hydrated and make sure everyone in your family drinks lots of fluids and stays cool.”

“This is the time to be extra neighborly and check up on your friends and the people around you to make sure they are doing OK,” he said. “Remember, the heat is hard on our vulnerable populations.”

“If you only have a swamp cooler, if you don’t have air conditioning or it’s broken, visit a friend or family member with AC, or come to our Cooling Zone,” said Fire Chief Bill Alcorn.

“And whatever you do, don’t leave young children or pets in a vehicle under any circumstances. It can have deadly results in just minutes,” Alcorn said.

When you’re outside drink plenty of water and dress in light, comfortable clothes. Exercise in the mornings or after the sun goes down, he said.
The heat index is expected to reach 104 to 105 degrees today and Wednesday, and then temperatures will hit 104 degrees by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. An excessive heat watch has been posted for Thursday through Sunday.
Below are some tips from the state Office of Emergency Services.
Tips to Prevent Heat Related Illness
• Never leave infants, children or the frail elderly unattended in a parked car.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
• Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
• Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating. (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first.)
• During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
• Use fans as needed.
• Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
• Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
• Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.

 


Read more: Division of Occupational Safety & Health (bilingual resources), Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke -- which occurs when the body can’t control its temperature -- may result in disability or death if emergency treatment is not given. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary, but may include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, orally)
• Unconsciousness
• Dizziness, nausea and confusion
• Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but may include:
• Heavy sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Weakness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Paleness, tiredness, dizziness
What to Do
If you see any of these signs for heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency and should do the following:
• Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the victim.
• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly with a cool bath or shower, or by sponging with cool water, until body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, orally.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Again, get medical assistance as soon as possible.
If a victim’s muscles twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke, keep the victim from injuring him/herself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his/her side.

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July 24 , 2019

CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE
CALTRANS REHABILITATES STATE ROUTE 140
IN FERGUSON FIRE SCAR OF MARIPOSA COUNTY

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) recently completed a $5.4 million project rehabilitating eastbound and
westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) in the Ferguson Fire scar of Mariposa County.
The work was needed after the Ferguson Fire burned through the region in summer 2018. The project included replacing 17 culverts (underground drainage systems) and performing 12 miles worth of hazardous tree and vegetation removal and slope scaling. Slope scaling refers to working on roadside slopes, including implementing erosion control measures, to mitigate future instances of mudslides and debris flow during storms.
The Ferguson Fire started July 13, 2018, in Mariposa County and burned more than 96,900 acres, causing power outages, road damage and road closures. Burnt vegetation and trees exposed slopes to erosion, mud flows and rock falls.
Work began in November 2018 and was completed in July 2019. Caltrans would like to thank motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation during this process.


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


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July 24 , 2019

2019 Bloodless Bullfight Festival Fundraiser for Autism and Cancer

On August 3, 2019, the Carlos Vieira Foundation and the California Portuguese Bloodless Bullfight Organization will host their 8th Annual Bloodless Bullfight fundraiser at the Stevinson Arena (2936 Lander Ave Stevinson, California 95374). Doors open at 5pm, and the event begins at 7pm. This annual event has gained great support over the years in its efforts and success in raising money for Carlos Vieira Foundation’s Race for Autism campaign and Valley Children’s Hospital’s oncology unit. We invite the public to join us for this exciting event for a great cause!
Tickets are now on sale for the pre-sale price of $15. They are available online at carlosvieirafoundation.org/shop or at one of our ticket-stop locations: Hilmar Portuguese Bakery, 51FIFTY Apparel, A.V. Thomas Produce, and M&S Portuguese Bakery. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate on the day of for $20. The proceeds raised will assist Valley Children’s Hospital in continuing to help children living with cancer and the Race for Autism campaign in continuing to help and provide grants to families living with autism in central California.

 

 

 

If you would like more information about the Carlos Vieira Foundation or would like to make a charitable donation, please visit www.carlosvieirafoundation.org.

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July 23 , 2019

Four new officers sworn in Friday, plus Stas

The Merced Police Department added four more officers to the department Friday at a ceremony that also saw the swearing in of the newest K9, Stas.
Conducted by Police Chief Christopher Goodwin, the ceremony took place in the Council Chambers at the Merced Civic Center.
The Department has now filled all 98 positions in its budget, although four of those are in the classification of police officer trainee.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, although we are six months to a year from being fully staffed and fully trained,” said Goodwin.

The latest officers to be sworn in are:
Matthew Calicagno, 26, is a native of Los Banos who received top academic honors while attending the police academy. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and has worked as a substitute teacher. He was a police volunteer in Los Banos.
His pastimes include spending time with family, including his parents, Marylou and Charles, and sisters, Laura and Katie. He also enjoys cooking and working out.
Steven Floratos, 27, is a Fresno native, who earned a number of awards during his five years in the U.S. Army. Prior to entering the Army, he attended college while working part-time.
In his spare time, he enjoys playing softball, but mostly spending time with his wife, Sandra, and young daughter, Reagan.
Justin James Saldivar, 28, a Fresno native, has an associate’s degree in criminology and a bachelor’s degree in business management. Before entering the police academy, he was an estate property assistant for the Fresno County District Attorney and a shift supervisor for CVS Pharmacy. He served as a youth football coach in his spare time.
He enjoys watching movies with his family that includes his fiancé and two children.
Jennifer Shaw, 32, is from Atwater, where she was active in Atwater Youth Cheer. She has been a probation officer and a K9 officer. She received an award for saving a life. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from UC Merced.
When not working, she can be found at the gym or busy with kids’ activities with her son, Carter, or daughter, Natalie.

Stas, 16 months, is from Novato, and is a German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix. He will begin training July 22 through Aug. 23 for handler protection, apprehension and detection of firearms.

 


Officer Matthew Calicagno, Officer Justin Saldivar, and Officer Jennifer Shaw.

 


Stas

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July 23 , 2019

City of Merced Emergency Services to include Text-to-911 services within its 911 Center

A new way of contacting 911 is being implemented in the City of Merced.
The Merced Police Department, in conjunction with the State of California 911 Emergency Communications Branch and AT&T, is providing the availability of a new integrated text-to-911 System.
This service is available to all residents in the City of Merced who may not be able to safely make a voice call to 911 in an emergency. The City of Merced strives to provide additional services to the deaf and hard of hearing community, but also to those residents who may not be able to safely make a voice call. Our preferred way of receiving emergency calls is through a voice call to 911.
The Merced Police Communications Center completed testing with the major network carriers in our area: AT&T, Verizon T-Mobile, Sprint, and Xfinity mobile. All of the testing was successful, and we are now ready to accept text-to-911 messages. We will be the second agency in Merced County to begin accepting text-to-911 messages with others soon to come on board.

 

 

The text-to-911 system is an integrated part of our new phone system. Just as the 911 dispatcher answers a voice call, the text message will come directly to the dispatcher in the same way.
We encourage people to make a voice call to 911 when you are physically safely able to call. When time is of the essence, a voice call is handled faster due to the immediate interaction between the caller and the dispatcher. Remember… “Call when you can, text when you can’t.” The Federal Communications Commission recommends voice call to 911 instead of text-to-911. However, text-to-911 is available when the need arises.

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July 23 , 2019


MCAG seeking applications for committee appointment

MERCED - Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is seeking applicants for appointment to the Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC). The SSTAC is a nine-member council appointed by the MCAG Governing Board to solicit the input of persons who rely on public transit because of youth, advanced age, or mental or physical impairment. The SSTAC is convened annually, at minimum, to conduct public hearings to identify any “unmet transit needs” that are “reasonable to meet” that may exist in Merced County, as required by the Transportation Development Act. The SSTAC also offers input to the MCAG Governing Board on transit service issues.
SSTAC members are appointed to serve a three-year term. The council is comprised of social service and transit providers representing the elderly, the disabled, and persons of limited means while striving for geographic and minority representation. Currently, MCAG is seeking candidates for appointment to the council in the following category:

 

• Local Social Service Transportation Provider for the Disabled
Applications for the SSTAC can be obtained at www.mcagov.org or at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street, Merced. For more information, please contact Natalia Austin at (209)723-3153 x 127 or natalia.austin@mcagov.org.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS, the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority and administers Measure V funds. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.

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July 12, 2019

Planada Superintendent Elected to Lead State Association

Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez is taking on an additional role as executive director of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.
Gonzalez will guide the 600-member statewide organization based in Sacramento. He has been a member of CALSA for nearly 20 years and a board member for 10 years.
The 46-year-old superintendent said he will continue to proudly serve the Planada learning community and expects the executive director duties to take an average of five to seven days a month.
CALSA is a sister organization to the Association of California School Administrators, also headquartered in Sacramento.
Gonzalez was appointed a regional representative to the board by Dr. Fernando Elizondo. He holds the distinction of being the first-ever elected president of the CALSA board.
His plan is to elevate CALSA’s prominence as the advocate for the continued development and placement of Latino educational leaders who are committed to quality public education.
In seeking the role of executive director, Gonzalez articulated for the board a leadership plan aligned with CALSA’s strategic goals.
“I am passionate about providing the best education possible for students. As executive director, I look forward to working with the board, a group of educational leaders who are creative thinkers, collaborative problem solvers, and responsible for shaping our children’s future,” Gonzalez said following his announcement at the 2019 CALSA Summer Institute.
A CALSA board statement reads: “We look forward to having Jose at head of the organization as our executive director. He is conscientious of the needs of our diverse community of educational leaders. He recognizes our past, is focused on addressing our immediate needs and will be trusted to drive our vision of excellence for the future.”
Gonzalez has been Planada superintendent since November 2010.


Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez

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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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