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Merced County Connection Archive

Posted on: July 8, 2019

Merced County Connection - July 2019 Newsletter

Newsletter - Merced County Connection


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100-Year-Old Fire Badge Returned to Family

Lost for more than 100 years, a Merced Fire Badge found its way home recently after quite a journey. On May 23, District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira returned a "Merced Fire Department" badge from 1916 to the great-grandson of the owner—volunteer Fireman Frank L. Freitas.

The badge was found inside of a workshop at a home in Merced Falls. The individual who found the badge is friends with Pareira and turned the badge over to him in hopes of finding and returning it to the family.

Although the back of the badge was inscribed with a date (May 12, 1916) and a name (Frank R. Freetas), locating the family of the firefighter wasn't as easy as expected—the last name and middle initial of the individual was misspelled.

However, Sarah Lim, Director of the Merced County Courthouse Museum, was able to go through archived minutes from the Merced City Fire Department (there was no County Fire Department at the time). By going through the minutes, city directories and old photos, Lim was able to determine that the name was misspelled and the original owner was a relative of Kory Billings, a local realtor and member of the Playhouse Merced Board of Directors.

The badge was returned to Billings and his family in May during a ceremony in the Board of Supervisors Chambers. Also in attendance were representatives from the Merced County Fire Department, Merced City Fire Department, Merced County Board of Supervisors and staff, Atwater City Council, and staff from Merced City.

Billings described the circumstances that brought the badge back into his family as "amazing."

"In no way, shape or form would I have ever thought that this artifact would be coming back to the family," said Billings, surrounded by friends and family during the ceremony. "To actually see it and have it in my hands now is very exciting."

Pareira describes himself as a history buff and said it was an honor to return this piece of history to the owner’s family after so many years of it being lost.

"Some days are about potholes and some days are about connecting with warm fuzzies—today was a warm fuzzy day," Pareira said after the ceremony. "I’m glad we were able to return this badge to where it belongs."

Campus Parkway Update

Segment II of Campus Parkway is still coming along! In June, crews poured portions of the concrete bridge that will bring the expressway over Highway 140 and the BNSF railroad tracks.

This is the first of four major concrete pours that need to happen to complete the bridges. To date, about 75 percent of Segment II is complete.

The overall Campus Parkway project includes the construction of a four-lane expressway from Highway 99, connecting to Highway 140, and extending to Yosemite Avenue. The current project was funded by State resources thanks to the efforts of former Senator Anthony Cannella and Assemblyman Adam Gray.

The current phase of the project (Segment II) remains on schedule to be finished in the first quarter of 2020. Once complete, Campus Parkway will represent the southeastern portion of the "Merced Loop System," which will eventually circle Merced City and connect surrounding communities.

Another important regional project is located at the opposite corner of the Merced Loop System. Known as the Atwater-Merced Expressway, the County is in the process of completing preliminary work and searching for funding opportunities for Phase 1B of the Expressway, which will extend it from its current Highway 99 interchange to the Mid-California International Trade District (formerly Castle Commerce Center.)

Merced County Advocates in D.C.

Annual trip focuses on promoting policies and funding streams that are beneficial to Merced County and its local jurisdictions.

In early May, Merced County participated in the Merced County Association of Governments' "One Voice" trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for a variety of regional projects and issues surrounding transportation, housing and homelessness, public safety, water, and economic development.

The delegation also included the cities of Merced, Atwater, Gustine, Livingston and Los Banos as well as staff from MCAG and Townsend Public Affairs, Inc.

The group held 20 meetings with federal agencies and representatives over a two-day period.

County Public Health Department Achieves National Accreditation

In June, the Merced County Department of Public Health announced that it received national accreditation—a benchmark that represents years of work to bring the County's Public Health system up to the highest national performance standards.

Merced County's Public Health Department is the first in the San Joaquin Valley to achieve this benchmark through the Public Health Accreditation Board and is one of fewer than 300 accredited health departments nationwide. This accomplishment required:

  • Measuring Merced County Public Health's performance against a set of nationally-recognized standards;
  • Promoting high performance and continuous quality improvement;
  • Illustrating accountability to the public and policymakers;
  • Increasing visibility to the public leading to greater trust.

Dr. Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, Merced County's Public Health Director, said the accreditation process is a rigorous undertaking that involves multi-faceted, peerreviewed assessment procedures to ensure the department meets or exceeds a set of 100 quality standards and measures.

"Accreditation ensures that our programs and services are responsive to the needs of our community," she said. "It's also our receipt to the community that we are not only meeting, but in many cases exceeding requirements."

Did You Know?

Did you know that the Merced County Library offers a plethora of digital services? All are free to use through the Library and only require a library card.

Libby, by OverDrive:

Check-out up to six eBooks or audiobooks at a time for your phone, tablet or computer. The best part — no late fees!

  1. Download the "Libby, by OverDrive" app.
  2. Find and select "Merced County Library."
  3. Enter your library card.


Search, renew and place orders for books and e-resources throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley Library System.

  1. Download the "SJVLS Library Catalog" app.
  2. Enter your library card information.


Learn any of the 98 languages offered through personalized courses, music and more.

  1. Download the "Pronunciator" app for either iPhone or iPad.
  2. Enter login credentials as provided by Library staff.


Offers online databases for topics such as car repair, health, history, home improvement, academic journals and many more.

  1. Download the "EBSCOhost" app.
  2. Obtain an authorization key from the Library to access databases.

Cloud Library:

Another resource to access eBooks for your phone, tablet or computer.

  1. Download the "CloudLibrary by Bibliotheca" app.
  2. Enter location.
  3. Enter your library card information.

Peace Officer’s Memorial Ceremony

Seventeen names — all of which are read out loud every year so they’re never forgotten.

These are the names of local law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty dating back to 1914.

On May 15, they were again among the names read during the 14th annual Merced County Peace Officer's Memorial Ceremony, which takes place in front of the Peace Officer’s Memorial Wall outside of the County Administration Building.

Sheriff Vern Warnke said the ceremony is a time to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"We hear a lot about what it is to be a hero — have no doubt, these men are heroes," Warnke said. "They paid a high price to keep us safe."

HSA Relocates in Los Banos

The Human Services Agency recently consolidated two of its Los Banos offices into one new location at 947 W. Pacheco Blvd., Suite C at the San Luis Plaza in Los Banos.

This new site will improve customer service by incorporating the Los Banos Employment and Training and Eligibility offices.

Later this summer, the Westside Family Services Center will move to 415 F St. (The Public Health Department will continue to operate at the 415 F St. site Mondays and Wednesdays.)

  • HSA Toll-Free: 1-855-421-6770
  • Report Child Abuse: (209) 385-3104
  • Report Elder Abuse: (209) 385-3105

Registration Race Results

In June, Assessor-Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters Barbara Levey and the Board of Supervisors recognized schools and students that participated in the "Registration Race" program that gets high school kids pre-registered to vote. This effort resulted in nearly 500 registrations! Here are the numbers:

  • Atwater High School — 45
  • Buhach Colony High School — 88
  • Golden Valley High School — 171
  • Los Banos High School — 183
  • Total registrations 487

Congratulations to Taylor Parmley and Los Banos High School for finishing first in the Registration Race!

If you'd like to register to vote or pre-register if you're 16 or 17 years old, please visit

Proposed Budget "At-a-Glance"

The FY 19-20 Proposed Budget is $670.1 million, which is an increase of $45.6 million from last year’s Final Budget of $624.5 million. This increase is primarily due to increased Federal/State revenues for health and human services programs, road funded projects, and development of the California Auto-Tech Testing and Development Center (CATDC). Of the $670.1 million, $528.6 million is programmatic funding and $141.5 million requires funding from local discretionary resources (net county costs).

Total Budget

Fund SourceDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
General Fund$ 511.876%
Other Funds$ 158.324%

General Fund

Fund SourceDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
Departmental Revenue$ 370.372%
Net County Cost$ 141.528%

Net County Costs

CategoryDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
Public Safety / Justice System$ 76.854%
Support Services / CIP$ 40.429%
Health & Human Services$ 6.24%
Municipal / Countywide Services$ 18.113%

Revenue vs. Expenditures

08 / 0909 / 1010 / 1111 / 1212 / 1313 / 1414 / 1515 / 1616 / 1717 / 1818 / 19 (Est.)
(in Millions)
$ 304$ 306$ 309$ 299$ 308$ 325$ 345$ 387$ 388$ 415$ 415
(in Millions)
$ 317$ 319$ 323$ 306$ 307$ 322$ 343$ 376$ 382$ 411$ 411

Net County Costs: Prior Year Comparison

FY 17 / 18 Approved (in Millions)FY 18 / 19 Approved (in Millions)FY 19 / 20 Proposed (in Millions)
Local Public Safety / Justice System$ 68.7$ 73.2$ 76.8
Health & Human Services$ 4.9$ 5.4$ 6.2
Municipal & Countywide Services$ 16.2$ 18.1$ 18.1
Support Services / CIP$ 38.6$ 38.3$ 40.4
Local Requirements$ 128.4$ 135.0$ 141.5

Total Reserves

08 / 0909 / 1010 / 1111 / 1212 / 1313 / 1414 / 1515 / 1616 / 1717 / 1818 / 1919 / 20
General Fund
(in Millions)
$ 31.1$ 19.6$ 19.6$ 19.6$ 19.6$ 18.6$ 18.6$ 18.6$ 23.6$ 30.1$ 31.1$ 31.1
Fire Fund
(in Millions)
$ 7.1$ 7.1$ 7.1$ 7.1$ 6.7$ 6.6$ 6.6$ 6.6$ 9.7$ 6.9$ 6.9$ 6.9

Upcoming Meetings

Board of SupervisorsPlanning Commission
  • July 9, 2019
  • July 30, 2019
  • August 13, 2019
  • August 27, 2019
  • September 10, 2019
  • September 17, 2019

Regular Board of Supervisors meetings are held on scheduled Tuesdays at 10 a.m., unless otherwise specified. Meetings are held in the Board Chambers located in the County Administration Building at 2222 M Street, Third Floor, Merced, CA 95340.
  • July 10, 2019
  • July 24, 2019
  • August 14, 2019
  • August 28, 2019
  • September 11, 2019
  • September 25, 2019

Regular Planning Commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month (with the exception of December) in the Board Chambers located in the County Administration Building at 2222 M Street, Third Floor, Merced, CA 95340.

Municipal Advisory Councils
  • Delhi MAC meetings:
    7 p.m. second Thursday of the month,
    16091 Locust St., Delhi
  • Franklin-Beachwood MAC meetings:
    6 p.m. fourth Wednesday of the month,
    Franklin Elementary on Franklin Road
  • Hilmar MAC meetings:
    6 p.m. fourth Monday of the month.
    20077 Falke St., Hilmar
  • Le Grand MAC meetings:
    7 p.m. first Monday of the month,
    13038 E. Jefferson St., Le Grand
  • McSwain MAC meetings:
    7 p.m. fourth Thursday of the month,
    926 N. Scott Road, Merced
  • Planada MAC meetings:
    6 p.m. first Wednesday of the month,
    9167 Stanford Ave., Planada
  • Snelling MAC meetings:
    6:30 p.m. second Wednesday of the month,
    Old Snelling Courthouse, SR 59, Snelling
  • Winton MAC meetings:
    7 p.m. third Tuesday of the month,
    7091 W. Walnut Ave., Winton

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