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Merced County Connection Archive

Posted on: October 1, 2019

Merced County Connection - October 2019 Newsletter

Newsletter - Merced County Connection


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Lambs, Chickens Helping Rehabilitate In-Custody Youth at Juvenile Complex

Some may see them as unlikely companions, but to the youths at the Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex (JJCC), the animals in their care are a natural fit.

It's all part of the "Animal Care Program," which allows eligible youths at the JJCC to care for two lambs and 10 chickens. The animals are housed on-site in pens and coops built by the youths.

Assistant Chief Probation Officer Kalisa Rochester, whose department is responsible for the JJCC, said the program provides participants with an opportunity to learn responsibility and compassion by feeding and caring for the animals.

"Many of these kids have had a difficult start to life and now they're trying to turn themselves around," Rochester said. "When you see them bottle-feed the lambs, look after the chickens and take responsibility in their own hands—you know they're getting back on the right path."

The lambs were donated to the JJCC by Principal Derrick Dean from the Merced County Office of Education.

For the youths to qualify to care for the animals, they need to display good behavior and trustworthiness.

Caring for the animals comes with its benefits, according to Chief Probation Officer Jeff Kettering. After the youths collect the chicken eggs, which usually total 10 to 12 a day, they use them to cook various meals.

While meeting with the youths who care for the animals, Kettering said two years ago, he never envisioned having animals at the JJCC, but now "here we are with two lambs and 10 chickens."

Though some may see it as unconventional, Kettering said the program has been a huge success that they intend to continue into the future. Once the lambs become full grown, they plan to bring new ones in.

In addition to the animals, the JJCC also houses a robust garden where youths grow produce such as watermelons and tomatoes.

Blaker Brewing Set to Open at Castle

Craft brew company brings new vibe to the former military base

If you drive out to the former Castle Air Force Base along Santa Fe Drive, you'll notice a different atmosphere.

Now known as the Mid-California International Trade District (MCITD), the site is home to bustling businesses, popular food options and government agencies. If you know where to look, you might even catch a glimpse of a Google driverless car at the on-site Waymo facility.

Now, another exciting company will soon open its doors at the MCITD—Blaker Brewing.

The Ceres-based business is in the final stages of renovating an old gas station near the MCITD entrance that will offer an industrial look with large roll-up doors. The site is located just off of Santa Fe Drive at the corner of G St. and Airdrome Entry.

The taproom will offer craft beers with an outdoor seating venue.

In addition to its normal business, Blaker Brewing plans to host special events at the new location including brewfests, barbecues and musical entertainment. The site will also have capacity for food trucks.

There will be 12 types of beer on tap at the Castle site, which is expected to open within a month of this newsletter's publication.

WWII Veteran Honored for Service

Atwater resident survived Pearl Harbor, finally receives medals

Many can't imagine the level of bravery and personal sacrifice displayed by the allied soldiers of World War II.

For 99-year-old Atwater resident Frank Paredes, he lived it.

Paredes — an Army and Marine Corps veteran — served during WWII and was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese. His response? Man a machine gun and shoot down two Japanese planes.

Despite his heroic efforts, Paredes never received the medals he was due. His service records were reportedly lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in the '70s.

His family recently documented his service and shared the situation with the Office of Congressman Jim Costa, whose staff assisted in getting Paredes his well-deserved medals. The five medals were presented to him at a September ceremony that included several local dignitaries.

In Remembrance

Andrew Murphy

Andrew Murphy, Merced County's first County Administrative Officer (CAO), died in August at the age of 92. Mr. Murphy was born in San Francisco in 1926 and served in the Merchant Marines and U.S. Army during World War II. Prior to coming to Merced County, Mr. Murphy worked for Contra Costa and Fresno counties as a Personnel Officer. In 1955, he was named Merced County's first CAO, and served in the position until he retired in 1976. Along with his strong public service record, Mr. Murphy was also dedicated to his family, including Florence—his wife of 61 years, six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

Paul Rotondaro

Merced County Fire Captain Paul Rotondaro died in a vehicle accident in early October. Captain Rotondaro, 36, was on duty when his vehicle was struck by another on Highway 140. Captain Rotondaro joined the Merced County Fire Department in 2006 and worked in various capacities throughout Merced County over his career. In recognition of his many contributions to the Department and community, he was honored earlier this year as the 2018 Firefighter of the Year for Merced County. Following Captain Rotondaro's death, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

One Stop Permitting Center Dramatically Expedites Permit Approval Time

Two years ago, Merced County set out to improve its customer service by addressing turnaround times on building permit applications.

The issue wasn't a new one and isn't unique to Merced County. To be approved, permit applications need to be cleared through several departments. Sometimes, they need to be sent back to the applicant for modifications.

With these applications changing hands so often, it resulted in frustration for applicants, developers and residents. Merced County saw this as an opportunity for process improvement.

Following several brainstorming sessions and meetings with members of the Board of Supervisors, County Administration and department heads, the idea for a "One Stop" permitting center evolved and eventually opened in 2017.

Also known as the "Development Services Center," the renovated site houses multiple County departments on the Second Floor of the County Administration Building, such as Planning, Public Works, Public Health's Division of Environmental Health and Fire.

Now, Merced County and its constituents are seeing it pay dividends. For example, from July through September, Merced County received 481 building permit applications and approved 77 percent within five days. Within 30 days, 96 percent were approved.

Mark Hendrickson, Merced County's Director of Community and Economic Development, said the success of the "One Stop" Development Services Center shows the County's commitment to moving at the speed of business.

"The One Stop Development Services Center has allowed us to enhance customer service through improved collaboration and coordination among County departments," Hendrickson said. "We'll continue building on this success into the future."

Employee Spotlight

With more than 2,000 employees, the Merced County team has some outstanding members who do exceptional work. Here are some recent examples:

Ignacio Pizano - Sheriff's Deputy

Sheriff's Deputy Ignacio Pizano was recognized by Sheriff Vern Warnke and the Board of Supervisors in July for his work in recovering stolen vehicles. Last year, Deputy Pizano recovered 18 stolen vehicles (nine of them occupied by at least one person) and so far this year, he's recovered 10 stolen vehicles.

Kalisa Rochester - Asst. Chief Probation Officer

Assistant Chief Probation Officer Kalisa Rochester was presented with the "Brian Anderson Award" by the California Association of Probation Institution Administrators in September. Rochester was recognized for her years of innovation and dedication to the in-custody youths at the Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex as well as her commitment to the department and CAPIA.

Mike van Loben Sels - Acting Unit Chief

Mike van Loben Sels is currently serving as Acting Fire Chief for the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit. Chief van Loben Sels started with the Merced County Fire Department as a Paid-Call Firefighter in 1992 and worked his way up through the ranks. He's currently working with Fire and County administration on ways to streamline Fire services.

Merced County Tax Collector Goes Green with e-Tax Bills

The Merced County Tax Collector’s Office has a new e-Tax Bill service that allows taxpayers to sign up for electronic billing. For those who sign up, this service will eliminate paper bills and allow taxpayers to conveniently save electronic tax bills for their records. Regular paper bills will continue to be mailed for those who do not sign up for the e-Tax Bills.

To sign up, Simply visit Merced County Tax Collector's website, click on the e-Tax Bill button and register. Once you enter your email address, you’ll receive a verification email. Simply follow the link to sign in and add your Assessment Numbers (ASMT) to receive, view, save and pay electronically. If you do not know your ASMT number, there is a user-friendly address lookup function. You will receive an email when your tax bill is available during the regular tax bill mailing cycle. Your e-Tax Bill account is password protected for your security.

Final Budget "At-a-Glance"

The FY 19-20 Final Budget is $674 million, which is an increase of $49.5 million from last year’s Final Budget of $624.5 million. This increase is primarily due to additional road projects, development of the California Auto-Tech Testing and Development Center (CATDC), and investment in countywide infrastructure. Of the $674 million, $533 million is programmatic funding and $141 million requires funding from local discretionary resources (net county costs).

Total Budget

Fund SourceDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
General Fund$ 513.976%
Other Funds$ 160.124%

General Fund

Fund SourceDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
Departmental Revenue$ 372.973%
Net County Cost$ 141.027%

Net County Costs

CategoryDollar Amount (in Millions)Percentage
Public Safety / Justice System$ 75.454%
Support Services / CIP$ 41.729%
Health & Human Services$ 5.84%
Municipal / Countywide Services$ 18.113%

Revenue vs. Expenditures

08 / 0909 / 1010 / 1111 / 1212 / 1313 / 1414 / 1515 / 1616 / 1717 / 1818 / 19
(in Millions)
$ 304$ 306$ 309$ 299$ 308$ 325$ 345$ 387$ 388$ 415$ 408
(in Millions)
$ 317$ 319$ 323$ 306$ 307$ 322$ 343$ 376$ 382$ 411$ 410

Net County Costs: Prior Year Comparison

FY 17 / 18 Approved (in Millions)FY 18 / 19 Approved (in Millions)FY 19 / 20 Final (in Millions)
Local Public Safety / Justice System$ 68.7$ 73.2$ 75.4
Health & Human Services$ 4.9$ 5.4$ 5.8
Municipal & Countywide Services$ 16.2$ 18.1$ 18.1
Support Services / CIP$ 38.6$ 38.3$ 41.7
Local Requirements$ 128.4$ 135.0$ 141.0

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
  • October 1, 2019
  • October 22, 2019
  • November 5, 2019
  • November 19, 2019
  • December 10, 2019
  • December 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.
  • October 9, 2019
  • October 23, 2019
  • November 13, 2019
  • November 27, 2019
  • December 4, 2019
  • December 18, 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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