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Latest News in Hilmar, CA
Merced County-based Hilmar Cheese Company to build multi-million dollar plant
Merced County-based Hilmar Cheese Company on Wednesday announced it’s building a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas.The company is scheduled to break ground on the new facility this summer, and expects the plant to be fully operational in 2024, according to a news release.The plant, which represents a $460 million capital investment, is expected to create 247 jobs.“We greatly appreciate the warm welcome from the state of Kansas and the city of Dodge City offici...
Merced County-based Hilmar Cheese Company on Wednesday announced it’s building a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas.
The company is scheduled to break ground on the new facility this summer, and expects the plant to be fully operational in 2024, according to a news release.
The plant, which represents a $460 million capital investment, is expected to create 247 jobs.
“We greatly appreciate the warm welcome from the state of Kansas and the city of Dodge City officials whose values of integrity and excellence closely align with ours,” said Hilmar Cheese Company CEO & President David Ahlem.
“Dodge City gives us many opportunities including a local skilled labor force, a supportive and expanding agricultural region and excellent transportation network that allows us to easily reach our expanding markets.”
Hilmar Cheese Company was established in 1984 by 12 local dairy farm families in the Central Valley. The company has customers in 50 countries. It currently produces a variety of cheese including cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, Colby, Colby Jack and mozzarella.
The company, which is headquartered in the Merced County community of Hilmar, added a production facility in Dalhart, Texas in 2007.
“The additional facility, along with our existing facilities, will help Hilmar Cheese Company continue to fulfill its purpose to improve lives,” the company stated.
“This manufacturing location will help meet the growing demand for our cheese and whey products worldwide. Hilmar Cheese Company plans to continue to invest in and operate the California Headquarters and Innovation Center, the California manufacturing site and Texas manufacturing site.”
Ahlem called Dodge City an “ideal choice” based on its central location, critical existing infrastructure, proximity to the growing local dairy industry and business friendly climate.
According to the release, the new facility will help Hilmar Cheese Company meet the growing demand of its customers and the marketplace for cheese and whey products worldwide.
The new facility will showcase sustainable solutions. Hilmar Cheese Company has adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment and goal to achieve a Net Zero dairy by 2050.
“We’re really happy with our decision and excited about becoming a part of this outstanding community,” Ahlem said.
This story was originally published May 5, 2021 3:17 PM.
Clockwork Labs raises $22M for community sandbox MMORPG BitCraft
Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Learn more.Clockwork Labs has raised $22 million so that it can develop BitCra...
Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Learn more.
Andreessen Horowitz led the round to further develop their community sandbox MMORPG, BitCraft, alongside a new unannounced database technology that powers the game.
No compatible source was found for this media.
David Baszucki, Roblox founder and CEO, also participated in the round as a private investor. A16z and Baszucki join an existing list of investors and games industry legends and leaders, including Supercell, CCP Games CEO Hilmar Petursson, and Unity cofounder David Helgason.
Clockwork Labs credits Skycatcher, a game-focused investment fund based in Texas, with providing the first major funding that helped jumpstart the project. This is all pretty for a company that has just 16 people.
“We set out to make the game and it was definitely part of our calculus that we didn’t really have the ability to go and make a game in the style of traditional MMOs,” said Tyler Cloutier, cofounder of Clockwork Labs, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We are really focusing more on players creating content, and also procedurally generated content. So this is stuff that doesn’t require a huge team to create, but does require some pretty advanced technology. And that’s our angle on player content and procedurally generated.”
Overall, the game is more human directed when it comes to design.
“If you’re having to hand create a static world, it takes a lot of artists and a lot of actual level design to go do that. Whereas what we’re doing is we’re letting the players change and create the world themselves. So they are, in their own way, the level designers,” Cloutier said.
The company’s first game project, BitCraft, has received broad positive reception since it was announced in September of last year, the company said.
“The additional capital raised will enable us to scale the team considerably and we are now even better equipped to face all challenges attached to creating a game world as ambitious as BitCraft’s,” Alessandro Asoni, cofounder of Clockwork Labs said, in a statement. “Besides the obvious benefits of having additional funding, we are especially happy that so many accomplished industry innovators share our confidence in the BitCraft project.”
Clockwork Labs wants to attract engineering and game programming talent, while also expanding the team in other areas. The company, which is founded by engineers with strong computer science backgrounds, is actively recruiting compiler, database, and distributed systems engineers as it seeks to make the foundational technology for BitCraft available to other developers as a standalone product.
In an email to GamesBeat, A16z’s Lai said, “We were impressed by how the Clockwork Labs team is building both a compelling game in BitCraft as well as new proprietary technology in their underlying database architecture. That unique combo of innovation in both game design and infrastructure stood out to us, and follows in the footsteps of companies like Epic Games who have been able to innovate along both dimensions.”
Clockwork Labs was founded in 2019. The company previously raised $4.3 million in August 2021. The headquarters is nominally in San Francisco, but Cloutier said the studio is operating fully remote, with employees all over the world.
A deeper dive
I had a chance to go a bit deeper with Cloutier this time around. Other worlds are more combat-focused and static, Cloutier said. But this community sandbox is more like a dynamic world, where players create new things like a road connecting two cities or a sea trade route. It’s less about heroic roles like fighting monsters and more like roles where you are building or farming.
“Building and creating things like farming, fishery, trading, like free trade, and that kind of stuff, which often gets cut, is we wanted to make into the forefront. Focusing more on that means you have to build a dynamic world where players themselves are creating things.”
It’s similar to the elements of free trade in games like Runescape, or changing the world like you can in Minecraft. But it has long-term progression and it should have political systems like Eve Online, where there are struggles between civilizations. Valheim has also been an inspiration.
Once in a while, you may still get barbarians that can come in and slaughter everybody on the farms every now and then. There is enough wildness in the game to make it feel dangerious, but it’s less likely for something to come in and ruin everything.
Still, someone ” just making a little farm shouldn’t in a very peaceful area should not have to worry about having all of their stuff destroyed,” Cloutier said.
Some of this sounds like a blockchain game to me, but Cloutier said the company hasn’t made any announcements on that front yet. Nor has it ruled anything out.
“We’re interested in making a great game that people play because it’s fund, and we’ll use whatever means we have we have to make a fun game,” Cloutier said.
The game has had play sessions since last fall, with perhaps 1,000 people playing at a time. And that number will be increasing this year. The team is using Unity’s game engine as well as its own proprietary backend technology.
In the game, the setting takes place on earth, as it would be about 10,000 years after a cataclysmic event. The incentives of the game are set up so that you can specialize — in roles like carpentry, smithing, farming, fishing, mining — and reap the rewards for it.
“When you become sort of a master smith, you’re creating the things that people are using in the actual world to build up their civilization or to create some very special,” Cloutier said.
Resilient Escalon beats Hilmar for second straight Sac-Joaquin Section championship
When the game was on the line, Escalon coach Andrew Beam fittingly went to a blocking fullback recovering from a meniscus injury he suffered earlier in the season.JP Lial didn’t disappoint.The senior scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, leading the Cougars to a 20-13 victory over Hilmar in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game on Saturday night at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton.It was the second straight section crown for the Cougars, who beat Hilmar in the Division VI ...
When the game was on the line, Escalon coach Andrew Beam fittingly went to a blocking fullback recovering from a meniscus injury he suffered earlier in the season.
JP Lial didn’t disappoint.
The senior scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, leading the Cougars to a 20-13 victory over Hilmar in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game on Saturday night at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton.
It was the second straight section crown for the Cougars, who beat Hilmar in the Division VI final in 2019, the last time section playoffs were held.
“(Each championship) is different, as I’m finding out,” Escalon coach Andrew Beam said. “Nothing is the same year in and year out. Unbelievable effort from our guys to be resilient and answer ... when things weren’t going our way.”
The team’s toughness was challenged before the game as running back Matthew Baptista, who rushed for 455 yards and nine touchdowns this season, was deemed out after suffering an injury last week against Ripon. During the game, running back Logan Anderson, who had rushed for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns, injured his ankle in the first half, and was limited in the second.
Anderson’s resilience in returning for the final two quarters mirrored that of an Escalon team that’s won nine straight and will play for a NorCal championship next week. Pairings will be announced Sunday afternoon.
“This is one of the biggest games we’re ever going to play in and I know my family, my teammates, my brothers would do the same for me,” Anderson said. “So I just sucked it up and played through it.”
Escalon (12-1) struck first courtesy of Ryker Peters, who burst through the left side of the Cougars’ offensive line and past the Yellowjackets’ secondary for 66 of his team-high 141 yards, scoring his only touchdown of the night.
The No. 1-seeded Cougars scored again after quarterback Donovan Rozevink found Owen Nash streaking down the right sideline. He heaved the ball to the receiver, who caught it, broke two tackles and crossed the goal line for a 45-yard connection.
Rozevink completed 8 of 12 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown.
Escalon’s defense dominated most of the first half and Tyler Medina had a lot to do with it. The junior had two interceptions and the defense forced Hilmar to punt on three straight possessions.
Aided by 17 yards on back-to-back Cougar penalties, Hilmar cut Escalon’s lead in half after marching down the field and scoring on a 6-yard Broc Perry touchdown run.
“That’s our resilience,” said Hilmar coach Frank Marques, whose program was playing in its fourth straight section title game. “They battled the whole game ... I’m proud of our kids at the end of the day.”
Coming out of halftime, Escalon got a spark from the injured Anderson, who returned the opening kickoff 66 yards to set up the Cougars on Hilmar’s 28 yard line.
Although the drive ended with a 43-yard missed field goal attempt, his presence was felt as he finished with 7 carries for 61 yards and was a big contributor on special teams.
“At first, I though it was broken,” Anderson said. “But after I got it taped, I knew I was ready to play. I knew I wasn’t going to come out of this game.”
Hilmar drove down the field on the ensuing possession and quarterback Jason Pimentel connected with Derek Taylor for an 11-yard touchdown to close the margin to 14-13 with 6 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
Pimentel, who took over as the starter midseason, finished 6 of 20 for 156 yards and one passing touchdown and 17 carries for 78 yards.
Both teams traded fumbles and punts on their next two possessions between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters before Escalon got the ball back on the Hilmar 41 yard line.
Rozevink again connected with Nash, this time for a 36-yard pass on second and eight to set the Cougars up on the 3 yard line.
Beam then called on the 5-foot-6, 180-pound Lial, who took the handoff, put his head down and charged past the line of scrimmage and into the end zone to extend the lead to 20-13. with 6:49 left to play.
A tough player coming through for a tough team.
“JP’s gone through a lot this year, with reconstructive knee surgery,” Beam said. “But when we needed him most .... JP’s the guy we needed to give it to to go punch it in and he did just that.”
This story was originally published November 28, 2021 6:09 AM.
Kids on campus during COVID: Merced County high school shows how it can be done
Students at Hilmar High, the rare California secondary school that has opened to its full student population, said it’s good to be on campus even though every minute is a reminder that we’re still very much in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.Hilmar Unified School District in north Merced County opened on a hybrid schedule in early November, splitting high school students into two groups...
Students at Hilmar High, the rare California secondary school that has opened to its full student population, said it’s good to be on campus even though every minute is a reminder that we’re still very much in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hilmar Unified School District in north Merced County opened on a hybrid schedule in early November, splitting high school students into two groups. One group is on campus Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other on Thursdays and Fridays. Initially, Wednesdays were distance learning for all.
This semester, though, Groups A and B began coming to school on alternating Wednesdays. So now, every other week, a student gets three days of in-person learning.
Meanwhile, elementary and middle school students have minimum-day instruction five days a week. Parents can opt for distance learning if they choose.
As they arrived for classes Wednesday morning, a handful of Hilmar High students took a moment to talk about how things have been going.
Senior Judith King said students start each day at 8:15 a.m. and stay on campus until 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, and until 3 p.m. the other days. During those hours at school, measures to keep students and staff safe include splitting lunch periods, serving prepackaged grab-and-go meals and enforcing the wearing of face masks, she said.
Get three warnings for not wearing a face mask and you’re suspended, added sophomore Teneal Adams, who noted that another safety protocol includes the cleaning of restrooms multiple times a day.
“I know a couple of her friends have been reprimanded for showing up without masks, so they’re taking it seriously,” said Teneal’s mom, Nikki Adams.
Senior Randy Lozano said teachers keep kids socially distanced in class, and students are responsible for sanitizing their hands every time they enter a classroom, as well as wiping down their desks.
But health and safety measures are just means to the end, which is getting students as much face-to-face teaching and peer interaction as possible.
King said being back in the classrooms even on a hybrid schedule has resulted in her work getting done better and more efficiently. “Being on a (Google) Meet and trying to do a Google doc doesn’t work, so that part kind of sucked,” she said. Other than that, distance learning was OK, she said. “It was just hard because you don’t have a teacher there helping you.”
Senior Zoey Walton said learning online has been “a huge struggle.” She added that she’s made a big improvement in her grades, from below a 2.0 GPA while doing distance learning only to almost a 3.75 GPA now.
Teneal Adams agreed that being able to communicate with teachers is more challenging online. In person, “I’m able to ask teachers for help and they can show me what to do,” she said.
Her mother added, “She’s better hands-on, like if she can get one-on-one with the teachers. It’s a lot harder at home if she needs help. The emails, because there’s so many students on Zoom at once, it’s hard for the teachers to get back to them sooner. So if she can come on campus and physically talk to the teachers, it’s better for her.”
Beyond academics, there’s the plus of being back with classmates, students said, though campus still feels far from normal.
There are no rallies, but there are dress-up days, King said. No homecoming game, but the choosing of a royal court. After normally running track, she’s trying cross country — one of the outdoor sports that have been allowed to start — for the first time.
Having only half the students on campus at once feels odd, King said, and everyone has friends who are in the opposite group. But even on an uncrowded campus, “you definitely have to watch out. Some people don’t follow guidelines the same way that I think they should.“
Lozano, too, said being careful is crucial. “You can’t hang out with your friends as much because you don’t want to spread the disease and you want to keep your family safe.”
Walton said that this being her senior year, she especially appreciates chances to interact with classmates. “Tomorrow we have a senior lunch, actually, on the football field and we all get to eat pizza and, you know, hang out together, (with) social distance.”
Like most of Merced County’s 20 school districts, Hilmar Unified closed for in-person classes after the pandemic’s outbreak in March. Schools could reopen under state guidelines when a county is in the red, or second-highest, tier of coronavirus restrictions, or with a waiver. Most did not, and most counties quickly returned to the purple, or highest, tier. Hilmar, which has about 2,400 students, was an exception.
Still, opening even on a hybrid schedule has challenges — and risks. Two schools in the district — Hilmar High and Hilmar Middle School — are on Merced County’s workplace outbreaks list. The state defines an outbreak as three or more confirmed coronavirus infections tied to a workplace. If the workplace is an assisted living facility, even one infection puts the site on the outbreak list.
According to the district’s safety plan, employees go through wellness checks and are required to check their temperatures before coming to work. Any temperatures of 100.4 (Fahrenheit) or higher is considered a fever. “If an employee calls in sick or indicates they have COVID-like symptoms either through the wellness check or orally to their supervisor they will be required to stay home.”
Ten months into the pandemic, Isabel Cabral-Johnson, superintendent of Hilmar Unified School District, said sticking to the social distancing guidelines and sanitizing frequently is strictly enforced.
She said having kids back part of the week for in-person learning is a no-brainer. “We love having kids on campus,” she said.
“That’s still the best way for us to teach kids, (having) that in-person learning where you actually have that physical connection with kids, every day as often as you can. So having them here two to three days a week, helps a lot. It’s going really well — the teachers and administrators are pleased.”
Hilmar High teacher Mark Santos said he has seen a marked improvement in performance.
“Since students have been back I have seen an increase in students’ grades and overall classroom involvement..” he said.
“Teaching kids in the actual class is extremely important to me, as it allows me to create relationships with my students, which helps me learn how best I can teach and adapt to their needs. Learning happens when students and teachers are connected and trust each other; that was lacking with distance learning.”
As for the high school students, Cabral-Johnson “looks forward to the day that we can have them back five days a week. But with the social distancing guidelines we just can’t do that right now.”
Cabral-Johnson said having cohorts — groups of students and staff who interact just among themselves — is the best way to do social distancing. If there were fewer high school students, there wouldn’t need to be cohorts.
“But at the high school, we just don’t have enough space to be able to do the social distancing with all of our kids who wanted to come back,” she said. “Once again, if I didn’t have a lot of kids who wanted to come back, I could have done it (without the cohorts). There just wasn’t enough space, so we had to do a Cohort A and B.”
All Merced County school districts are still allowed to hold in-person classes for special education students and those with special circumstances.
Nathan Quevedo, spokesperson for Merced County Office of Education, is aware of only two other K-12 districts doing hybrid learning in Merced County: Dos-Palos Oro-Loma Joint School District and Le Grand Union High School District.
Merced Union High School District — which serves more than 10,000 students at six traditional high schools, three alternative schools and one adult school — expects its campuses to return to hybrid learning March 15.
In neighboring Stanislaus County, county health and education officials announced Tuesday that by March 15, they are aiming for school districts to be able to open junior highs and high schools to all students, using hybrid models similar to those in place at elementary schools.
It’s difficult to track how many school districts statewide are open for in-person learning or hybrid learning.
Jesse Nix, a spokesperson from the communications department for the California Department of Education, said the CDE doesn’t have an official count of schools or districts doing remote versus in-person learning at this time.
However, based on informal dialogue between the CDE and county superintendents, the state estimates as many as 300 school districts in California — or roughly about 30% — are in some form of in-person learning, while the remaining are primarily in distance learning.
Bee staff writer Julian A. Lopez contributed to this report.
This story was originally published February 12, 2021 7:20 AM.
Warriors sweep tournament to claim championship
ALEX BANKS / WESTSIDE CONNECThttp://www.westsideconnect.com/sports/warriors-sweep-tournament-to-claim-championship/article_d0fb4ba8-6433-11ec-900c-b7bb20336719.html
The Warriors swept all three teams they faced in the Hilmar Winter Classic Tournament and punched in their ticket for the championship game victory over Davis High School.Tourney MVP award was presented to senior Reagan Marroquin, while Ciera Thibodeau was honored with the All-Tourney award.In the Championship game Orestimba matched up against the Davis High Spartans and were able to overpower their opponent by putting up a season high of 77 points scored as a team, to come home with the 77-42 win and claiming the championship ...
The Warriors swept all three teams they faced in the Hilmar Winter Classic Tournament and punched in their ticket for the championship game victory over Davis High School.
Tourney MVP award was presented to senior Reagan Marroquin, while Ciera Thibodeau was honored with the All-Tourney award.
In the Championship game Orestimba matched up against the Davis High Spartans and were able to overpower their opponent by putting up a season high of 77 points scored as a team, to come home with the 77-42 win and claiming the championship trophy they well deserved.
At the half Orestimba had a 36-15 lead and led by as many as 24 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Thiboderau would have a new season high of 31 points to lead her squad, with Grace McCauley and Marroquin at hand with a one, two punch. McCauley would rack up 21 points and go 5 for 6 from the field, while Marroquin totaled 18 points shooting 50% from the field.
Olivia Gray (4 points, 3 rebounds), Allison Trovao (2 points, 3 rebounds) and Taylor Gray (1 point, 7 rebounds) were other key players for the Warriors championship victory.
In game number one of the Hilmar Tournament the varsity Warriors came out firing from the jump holding a 33-9 lead at the break and coming back to shut out the Summerville Bears 25-2 in the second half to bring home their first victory in the tourney with a final score of 57-11.
Junior guard Grace McCauley led the Orestimba scoring with a season high of 21 points while putting up four 3-pointers in the second half. Right behind her with the one, two punch were seniors Reagan Marroquin with 15 points and Ceira Thibodeau with 14. Joslyn Sotelo racked up seven and Taylor Gray netted in a basket.
Advancing into the next round after coming off a dominating win, the Warriors would test their skills against the host of the tourney, Hilmar High School. Orestimba would have a slow start at the beginning of the game, trailing 21-18 at the half and continued to trail into the third quarter. Entering into the fourth, the Warriors would pick up the pace and take control of the game having a 21-7 run in the final minutes of the regulation game, enough to pull out the 49-34 victory over the Yellowjackets.
Thibodeau would lead the Warriors scoring with a double-, recording a total of 25 points and 11 rebounds, and going 5 for 8 from the free throw line. Senior guard Marroquin would rack up the points in her stats with 15 points and having eight assists. McCauley would put up five points and five rebounds, while both Allison Trovao and Sotelo would have two points each. Despite their win the Warriors would struggle on their scoring, going 19 for 48 from the field, and 24 turnovers.
The Warriors kicked off their week with their final non-conference match up against the Los Banos Tigers before they entered into the Hilmar Tourney, Tracy Tourney and regular Southern League schedule.
Orestimba’s seniors Ciera Thibodeau and Reagan Marroquin lead the offense with 12 points each, while junior guard Grace McCauley made three 3-pointers and a basket to give her 11 points but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the fast pace scoring of the Tiger’s throughout all four quarters taking the 50-35 victory.
The Warriors would struggle defensively, turning the ball over 14 times, while also giving up 44 points throughout three quarters and only answering back with 30 points themselves.
With the fourth among them they would hold the Tigers to only six points scoring while they looked for a comeback, but the overpowering defense of Los Banos was enough to hold off the Warriors to steal the win.
As a team OHS would go 7 for 10 from the free throw line but struggled from the field going 8 for 26, while shooting 4 for 23 from 3-point land.