After more than fifteen years of effort by a handful of dedicated community members, the launch of the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum is right around the corner! Last week, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the museum and the plans to exhibit Modesto’s rock-and-roll and pop-culture history.
Open Cockpit Day at Castle Air Museum!
Still a few more hours to check out Open Cockpit Day at Castle Air Museum! Lots of fun for the whole family, including a chance to tour a presidential aircraft, build model airplanes, and use a flight simulator! Big thanks to Roger Wood and Atwater Rotary Club-Atwater Ca for their help putting on today’s event.
MEMORIAL DAY 2021 EVENTS
Each year, our community observes Memorial Day in such meaningful ways, and for that I am appreciative. More photos from #AD21 Memorial Day Remembrance Events: Lakewood Funeral Home / Lakewood Memorial Park and Ceres Memorial Park Thank you to American Legion Ceres Post 491 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10293 for your efforts
#AD21 Memorial Day Remembrance Events: Honoring our Fallen Heroes at the Lion Bridge on 7th Street in Modesto
A historic evening for Merced! The Merced LGBTQ Alliance, in partnership with the greater Merced community and allies, raised a Progress Pride flag in Bob Hart Square. The flag will fly high for ALL of #NationalPrideMonth, helping to bring visibility and dignity to our neighbors.
Happy Birthday, EJ!
Assemblymember Adam Gray celebrates with Mr. E.J. Almo Lorenzi, a beloved leader in the greater Merced region, and his 90th birthday celebrations. His contributions to, and support for, our community are larger than life.
Gustine Police Officers Sworn In
Congratulations to the newest Gustine Police Department Officers, who were sworn in this evening. It is exciting to hear that this class of officers represents a broad cross section of our community, including officers who graduated from Merced College, are bilingual (Spanish and Tagalog), and of various ages and genders — and a K9, too! Congrats!
Merced County Homeless Shelter
The community came together to help bring the vision for a low-barrier shelter to life. With the help of wrap-around services, six individuals have already moved on to permanent housing and many more have found stable employment — a huge accomplishment in less than two months!
Recently-Opened Homeless Navigation Center Reaches Capacity
Since opening its doors in late March, the Merced County Navigation Center is already making significant progress in addressing homelessness. Late last week, the facility reached its capacity with all 66 of its beds filled (this number fluctuates daily). The standard capacity is 75, but current COVID-19 distancing protocols reduced that figure by nine. Out of those who have passed through the Navigation Center, six have already moved into permanent housing and several have found employment, which is a significant achievement in a relatively short span of time. The Navigation Center (located near B and 13 streets in Merced) serves as a low-barrier emergency sheltering option for individuals currently residing in public spaces, and other places not suitable for human habitation. This initial step of transitioning individuals out of homelessness includes providing a safe and service-rich temporary shelter with connections to onsite supportive services. To make a referral, contact the countywide New Direction Outreach and Engagement Center by calling (209) 726-2700. Once a referral is made, an assigned outreach worker will contact, screen, and refer individuals to the appropriate housing and community services based on a standard assessment tool. Read more about the Navigation Center here: www.countyofmerced.com/NavigationCenter#MercedCountyNavigationCenter
Assemblymember Adam Gray, Supervisor Josh Pedrozo, and Merced Mayor Matt Serratto support this month’s featured small business, The Branding Iron! Come by on Wednesday, May 26th to receive 10% off all orders placed between 4:30pm-8:30pm.
Assemblymember Adam Gray leads a Rally to Fight the State Water Grab on the Capitol Steps in Sacramento on Monday, August 20, 2018 to protect the Valley’s water, agriculture and economy.
Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement after being stripped of his position as Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.
History repeats itself.
“Five years ago, I fought to pass legislation to hold the State Water Board accountable for the devastating economic impacts the state water grab will inflict on the people living in my district and the greater San Joaquin Valley. Despite active opposition from legislative leadership, my bill was approved by a narrow committee vote, and I was summarily removed from my position on the Assembly Water Committee.
“This year, Speaker Anthony Rendon and State Water Board staff put forward special legislation to short-circuit the voluntary agreements being negotiated by the state and our local irrigation districts. The language was inserted into a Budget Trailer bill and gave the State Water Board staff the authority to implement an even more destructive version of their water grab without review and without even a public vote. I voted no.
“As a result of my commitment to defend my district, Speaker Rendon has stripped me of my position as Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.
“I have spent my entire time in public office fighting Sacramento’s insatiable thirst for the Valley’s water. Every time I am punished by my own party’s leadership for standing up for my district, it is a reminder that I was elected to represent the people who live and work in Merced and Stanislaus counties.
“No elected official should ever vote for policies that promise to destroy thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic opportunity in their district for the benefit of others. I remain unmoved. I would and will vote no again.”
The State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) is engaged in an inappropriate and unacceptable action designed to short-circuit the regulatory process and kill the spirit of negotiation. This action would have lasting health, economic and social impacts on the 460,000 people living in my Assembly District as well as the millions living in the San Joaquin Valley.Letter to Director Sobeck from Assemblymember Adam Gray
Assemblymember Adam Gray leads a Rally to Fight the State Water Grab on the Capitol Steps in Sacramento on Monday, August 20, 2018 to protect the Valley’s water, agriculture and economy.
Read the Bee Editorial Board from 2015 “Speaker Atkins Punishes Gray for trying to help Valley”
EDITORIAL: Speaker Atkins punishes Gray for trying to help Valley
BY THE BEE EDITORIAL BOARD
APRIL 22, 2015 05:37 PM
It’s not easy being a “Valleycrat,” as Assembly Member Adam Gray of Merced learned the hard way last week.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a Valleycrat is a Democrat from the San Joaquin Valley whose political beliefs are more conservative than party members from coastal California. Valleycrats often focus on pragmatic solutions to thorny problems and try to stick up for their constituents.
The rub comes when sticking up for constituents — or even voting your conscience — puts you at odds with the liberal Democratic leadership that runs the Legislature.
You can end up in the infamous “doghouse,” the smallest office in the Capitol, as happened to then-Assembly Member Juan Arambula in 2006. Arambula’s sin was not voting on a public works bond package because it did not include money for dams. Arambula bolted the party and became an Independent.
Another Valleycrat, then-Assembly Member Nicole Parra of Hanford, was ordered from her office in 2008 as punishment for bucking the party on a budget vote. Karen Bass, the Speaker at the time, was so mad she assigned Parra space across the street in a building where no other lawmakers were quartered.
But we digress.
Gray was dismissed from the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee by Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego after his Assembly Bill 1242 passed its first committee vote April 14. A member of Atkins’ staff told The Modesto Bee it was a routine reassignment. Don’t you believe it.
AB 1242 is important to the Valley. Basically, it anticipates the demands expected from the State Water Resources Control Board that more water be left in rivers for the benefit of fish and downstream users. AB 1242 would require the state to recognize the potential harm of these demands and take steps to mitigate that damage.
Understand: The expectation was that Gray’s bill wouldn’t make it out of committee. But AB 1242 passed despite long odds, largely because at least two dozen people from Modesto and Merced cared enough to attend the vote and testify about its importance. Dozens of others submitted letters explaining the impact the state’s expected water grab will have on farming and residents.
Atkins should not believe for a second that the Valley will sit quietly while she tries to silence our voices with her childish party games. Give her a taste of Valley straight talk by email, http://asmdc.org/speaker/, phone (916) 319-2078, Twitter @toniatkins, or in writing State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849; Sacramento, CA 94249-0078.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray introduces Assembly Bill 62 to provide a tax credit for essential and small businesses seeking to comply with costly new COVID-19 regulations.
“While the 5th largest economy in the world has failed to address longstanding shortages of swabs, reagents, and lab capacity associated with COVID-19 testing, Cal/OSHA wants to fine your local donut shop for running out of hand sanitizer or being unable to obtain and afford an infinite number of tests,” said Assemblymember Gray.
“Instead of putting our money where our mouth is, State regulators continue to push the costs associated with COVID-19 onto employers, many of whom are already struggling to keep their doors open. Voters soundly rejected this kind of government overreach when they defeated Prop 15. But recently adopted Cal/OSHA regulations double-down on such schemes by imposing burdensome testing, PPE, and other regulatory requirements on employers of every size.
“The State cannot hold small businesses to a higher standard than it is willing to hold itself. COVID-19 cases are spiraling throughout the state, yet state government has had nothing but excuses for why unemployment checks are late, testing supplies are running out in rural communities, contracts to boost lab capacity and essential supplies of PPE keep falling through. Now, hospitalizations are breaking records despite a prolonged economic shutdown.
“While the State pays no penalty for its incompetence or indifference, Cal/OSHA has adopted dozens of new regulations that owners of small businesses will be forced to meet no matter the cost. “AB 62 flips this script. It will provide a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for any costs associated with complying with these new regulations. Instead of the State dictating rules from Sacramento, it will allow the State to partner with small businesses as we defeat this global pandemic.
“I can already hear those who created and supported these regulations saying the State cannot afford to spend the billions of dollars it will likely cost to implement this bill. Well, now you know how small business owners feel. After 9 months of enormous sacrifice and struggle, do you really think the small-business owners of California can afford it any better?”
We should all be very proud of our youth. Look at the achievements that these Merced’s Golden Valley FFA members have made by becoming 2020 National FFA Proficiency Finalists in Environmental and Natural Resources proficiency, Fruit Production proficiency, Beef Production Entrepreneurship and Fiber and Oil Production proficiency.
Please watch their video stories.
Learn More: Golden Valley FFA Facebook Page
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the amendment which granted American women the right to vote and The Merced County Courthouse Museum has organized a fantastic exhibit spotlighting 40 admirable women from Merced County who, with courage and strength, led the effort for social, political, and gender equity. The exhibit will run from March 12 to June 14 at the Merced County Courthouse Museum.
March is #WomensHistoryMonth, and the Legislature will celebrate the accomplishments of women through California on March 23 at the 2020 Women of the Year Ceremony. Here is a highlight of women in our community who are a change makers, fighters, and who is pave the way for future generations. #AD21CommunityProfiles
Odessa Johnson has lived in Modesto for more than 50 years, and she has made countless contributions to our community that will live on forever. In 1967, she became the first African-American educator at Modesto High School, and eventually she rose to become Dean of Modesto Junior College, a Modesto City Schools Board Member, and a U.C. Regent. She is a civil rights leader who has dedicated her life to improving the world for future generations.
Captain Becky Hagen
Captain Becky Hagen began her career with the California Highway Patrol twenty years ago, but she made history when she became the first female commander of CHP – Merced Area in March 2018. Throughout her career, she has been assigned to several CHP area offices, but as commander of our area, one of her top priorities is driving down the death and collision rates on the county’s roads and highways. Captain Hagen has dedicated her to career to keeping Californians safe.
Alicia Rodriguez has been a cherished volunteer in and member of Planada for more than twenty years. Each day, she works to provide a safe and welcoming space for local families and to increase access to community resources for those who would otherwise be without. Her work as with our the St Vincent de Paul- Planada chapter has strengthened community ties.
Ms. Faye Lane has selflessly dedicated herself to shaping the lives of Ceres Unified School District students for decades, working for thirty-two years as a classified employee. She was elected to the School Board in 2007, and she continues to serve with distinction today.
Patty Castillo Davis
With accolades including opening for Dwight Yoakum, playing alongside Grand Old Opry performers, and singing at the Vatican, Ceres’s very own Patty Castillo Davis has made her mark in our community. In addition to her musical talents, she regularly serves the community by providing food, shelter, and clothing to those in need. Through her music, she creates a greater awareness for the arts while also highlighting social justice and gender inequities.
Modesto’s very own USA Olympian, Kendall Wesenberg, competed in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Though she played a variety of sports growing up, she didn’t pursue the sport that would make her an Olympian until she was in college at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In addition to her Olympic showing, Kendall is the first American woman to win the European Cup for skeleton.
A business owner, volunteer, and community organizer, Sue Emanivong is one of Merced’s hardest working residents. A first-generation Laotian whose parents immigrated from a refugee camp in the 1980s, and she is a lead organizers of the local Laotian New Year celebration. She’s also behind the summer Street Faire, Red Nose Day, Kid’s Day, and Back-to-School Supply Drive. Sue helps to unite our community and ensure a healthy, well-informed community.
Katrina K. Hoyer
Dr. Katrina K. Hoyer is an Assistant Professor and researcher at UC Merced (Ph.D. from UCLA) and is one of the leading immunologists studying the immune system’s response to Valley Fever — a disease which, until recently, has been little understood. Dr. Hoyer organized and hosted last year’s inaugural Valley Fever Summit at UC Merced and is the recipient of a major grant for Valley Fever research.
Livingston’s Martha Nateras is the founder and president of the Young Women’s Conference, a nonprofit organization which seeks to to empower, enrich, and inspire our world’s future, women leaders. She also works as a counselor at Livingston High School and is a local rotarian.
Necola Adams, a native of Merced and known locally as “the Cookie Lady,” is a successful small business owner that has been enriching lives and creating gourmet cookies for over 20 years. Serving freshly made cookies at two-dozen Hollywood sitcom sets doesn’t scratch the value she provides to our community. Necola is also a tremendous community activist, the founder of the Merced County Nut Festival, an active League of Women Voters member, and much more.
Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards Women That Help Their Community
The Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held it’s 2020 Latina Women’s Luncheon. Congratulations to the awardees: Lillian Sanchez-Ramos, Nereida Ochoa-Jantz, Nicole Lopez, and Sylvia Ruano. Their hard work uplifts not only other women and Latinas, but the whole community!
Expanding insurance coverage is important, but if there are no doctors in your community then there still isn’t reliable access to health care. Assemblymember Adam Gray had a discussion with #CentralValley educators about maximizing efforts not only to build a local medical school, but also about how we can strengthen the healthcare workforce by expanding pipeline programs, residency slots, and loan forgiveness programs.
Adam Gray went before the Assembly Budget Subcommittee to advocate for eliminating educational debt (think, scholarship and loan repayment programs) for physicians, behaviorists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in under-served healthcare areas. Attempting to close the healthcare workforce gap.
Friends of the Merced County Fair Dinner
Merced County Recieves State Funding
Merced County receives money to upgrade Houlihan park in Planada and Pioneer Park in Gustine. The money will be used for maintaining and upgrading the community facilities.
Merced County Courthouse Museum to Display Womens’ Exhibit
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the amendment which granted American women the right to vote. The Merced County Courthouse Museum has organized an exhibit spotlighting 40 admirable women from Merced County who, with courage and strength, led the effort for social, political, and gender equity. The exhibit will run from March 12 to June 14 at the Merced County Courthouse Museum. #WomensHistoryMonth
Golden Valley Health Center Opens New Location
Golden Valley Health Centers formally celebrated the opening of its ELEVENTH Modesto location. Dedicated providers like Golden Valley ensure that all individuals, regardless of one’s ability to pay, have access to high-quality, judgment-free, safe healthcare services.
Gray Joins Merced Seniors’ Luncheon
The Merced Senior Community Center invited Assemblymember Adam Gray to join for lunch. They reminisced and shared stories about living in Merced through the years.
New Healthcare Provider Opens Doors In Valley
Another healthcare provider opened its doors in the Valley. With more than 300 locations in California, Western Dental is the leading provider of Medi-Cal dental services in our state. Assemblymember Adam Gray’s team participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony with the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce at the company’s newest location in Los Banos. These clinics are an important part of the efforts to expand meaningful access to healthcare throughout the Valley.
Gray Introduces Legislation to Strengthen California’s Firefighting Mutual Aid System
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) has introduced Assembly Bill 3198 to establish a grant program for local fire departments participating in California’s firefighting mutual aid system.
For nearly seven decades, fire departments have been part of a “neighbor helping neighbor” system of mutual aid. Under the California Fire Service and Rescue Emergency Mutual Aid System, local jurisdictions experiencing an emergency incident likely to exceed, or has exceeded, their ability to control it may request the outside assistance of other jurisdictions.
“Unprecedented wildfires have undoubtedly strained California’s firefighting mutual aid system and we are all too familiar with reports of mutual aid requests for fire suppression going unfilled due to lack of available resources,” said Assemblymember Gray. “It is time to ensure local fire departments have the mutual aid resources they need to quickly deploy at the onset of an emergency incident.”
“As Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, I listened to fire officials from across the state communicate their frustrations with mutual aid as we know it this past month,” said Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita). “Through their testimony, it was clear this system we’ve relied on for decades requires significant updates to accommodate resource shortfalls and more pernicious fires. I commend my colleague Assemblymember Adam Gray for recognizing the urgency in supporting our brave firefighters and first responders in their important, lifesaving work.”
“The Administration and the Legislature have been very proactive in addressing the challenges posed by these catastrophic wildfires,” continued Assemblymember Gray. “Working together, we have made significant progress in deploying technology to detect fires earlier, prioritizing mitigation work, prepositioning resources during extreme weather, and establishing a Wildfire Threat Center to improve forecasts and enhance alerts and warnings. This grant program will be an additional tool for our first responders to keep Californians safe during any type of disaster.”
Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee, and Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, are coauthoring the bill.
“In the weeks ahead, I look forward to working with the fire service, local governments, the Administration and my colleagues in the Legislature to refine this proposal to craft a grant program that best meets the needs of the firefighting mutual aid system,” concluded Assemblymember Gray.