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Latest News in Merced, CA
Downtown parade, festival and more planned for Juneteenth 2022 festivities in Merced
Celebrations of the nation’s newest federal holiday are slated to be bigger than ever in Merced this year, as the community gathers for a weekend of festivities honoring Juneteenth ?— including a first-time parade.Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War, has been commemorated annually for over a century.“Juneteenth is an inspiration to all of us as to where we came from and where we’re going,” Merced resident and local NAACP chapter member Tamara Cobb said while a...
Celebrations of the nation’s newest federal holiday are slated to be bigger than ever in Merced this year, as the community gathers for a weekend of festivities honoring Juneteenth ?— including a first-time parade.
Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War, has been commemorated annually for over a century.
“Juneteenth is an inspiration to all of us as to where we came from and where we’re going,” Merced resident and local NAACP chapter member Tamara Cobb said while addressing the City Council Monday. “Juneteenth celebrates freedom of all American people.”
The holiday’s roots go back to June 19, 1865. Although President Abraham Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, it wasn’t until then that Black slaves in Texas were freed and slavery in the U.S. finally ended.
Black communities in Texas and beyond have celebrated Juneteenth since, according to the NAACP.
It wasn’t until last year, though, that President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, officially recognizing it as a federal holiday.
Merced Mayor Matt Serratto honored the holiday by issuing a Juneteenth proclamation during Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience,” Serratto said while addressing members of the public and the NAACP Merced County Branch.
“It is inclusive of all races, ethnicities and nationalities, as nothing is more comforting than the hand of a friend.”
This month, festivities commemorating the holiday will be bigger and more joyful than ever, organizers say. Celebrations will kick off June 17 and run through the 19.
“We wanted to make Juneteenth the biggest and baddest its ever been,” NAACP Merced County Branch President Allen Brooks told the Sun-Star.
The biggest event will be the Juneteenth Parade on June 18. The parade, largely organized by Cobb, is a first for Merced’s Juneteenth celebrations.
The event is put on by several community groups that came together to make this year’s Juneteenth special, Brooks said. Those groups include the local NAACP chapter, Positive Brothers United and the Black Parallel School Board.
The march will begin from the Merced Theatre at 10 a.m. and travel to McNamara Park. As parade-goers arrive at the park, they can enjoy a festival with free food and drinks, games with prizes, live performances and vendors.
“Everybody should come out and enjoy some culture and enjoy themselves,” Brooks said. “It’ll be a wonderful celebration.”
Before the parade, festivities will get started on June 17 at Gilbert Macias Park with a community day for families. Children up to age 5 can enjoy face painting, rock painting and a bounce house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The weekend will close out with another community park day on June 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Joe Herb Park.
This story was originally published June 13, 2022 5:00 AM.
Atwater council member supports in-person sports betting at California tribal casinos
When I saw a Google alert that I was opposing the tribal-backed, in-person, sports wagering measure set to be on the November ballot, it was news to me.No one had asked for my position, and certainly no one asked if they could use my name.I doubt it was the result of the No campaign’s dishonesty; I am sure it was a mistake. But if the world is wondering if you’re lying or just incompetent, you’re not in a good spot.For the record, I absolutely support ...
When I saw a Google alert that I was opposing the tribal-backed, in-person, sports wagering measure set to be on the November ballot, it was news to me.
No one had asked for my position, and certainly no one asked if they could use my name.
I doubt it was the result of the No campaign’s dishonesty; I am sure it was a mistake. But if the world is wondering if you’re lying or just incompetent, you’re not in a good spot.
For the record, I absolutely support the upcoming ballot measure that would allow in-person sports betting at tribal casinos. I’m not a gambler myself, but tribal casinos have proven to be good neighbors and huge economic drivers across the Central Valley.
Tribes are sovereign nations. They should be allowed to expand into sports betting on their land because it’s their land.
Plus, the additional revenue will help tribes prosper, and the increased gaming activity will help businesses surrounding casinos and provide local jobs — this of course helps cities.
In-person sports betting at tribal casinos maintains a certain measure of control over who gets to place bets, unlike another measure, sponsored by out-of-state gambling corporations, which opens the door to underage sports gambling.
Online gambling would turn every computer, tablet and smartphone into a gambling machine. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, online gambling is five times more addictive than in-person.
Anyone with kids should be alarmed by the possibilities.
I am also unconvinced by the online-gambling ballot measure’s claim that the public funds generated would solve homelessness.
Come on, seriously? More money has not proven to provide better results.
Every year California approves a record budget in spending and the results are minimal, at best.
We’re spending more on education, yet too many of our kids can’t read or engage in math and science at an adequate level. We’re spending on housing, but the housing crisis is worse than ever.
And don’t get me started on the bullet train. I am convinced there is no amount of money that could get that train running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, as voters were promised.
The state Lottery was supposed to fund education, and certainly some money has gone to schools. But more than anything, another massive bureaucracy was created, which has been rife with waste and mismanagement.
As for homelessness, we’ve spent $30 billion over the past five years, and yet homelessness is as bad as ever.
Why would this online gambling measure be any different?
Plus, it’s simply bad public policy to fund homelessness and mental health programs on the back of addictive online gambling, which will lead to further addiction and financial distress. And none of the funds are guaranteed to go to approximately 97 percent of California’s cities, including Atwater, and this would likely be yet another example of smaller cities being overlooked by the big cities.
I am skeptical of the online gambling measure. It would have negative consequences for kids and families and will not be a quick fix to homelessness.
However, I believe the tribal, in-person measure is one to support. I respect tribal sovereignty and have seen firsthand the contributions tribes make not only to their tribal members, but to neighboring communities.
The in-person sports-wagering measure is responsible, it will help both the tribes and local communities and, of course, its proponents haven’t used my name without my permission.
This November, let’s support California tribes by voting “yes” on in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and vote “no” on the out-of-state, online sports gambling measure.
This story was originally published June 11, 2022 5:00 AM.
The latest insolvency risk: climate change
A single large-scale natural disaster can cause the sudden failure of an otherwise solvent insurer, warns a new report from the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC).The latest installment of PACICC’s Why Insurers Fail series found the “traditional” causes of failure — internal operations (problematic business approaches), organizational structure (such as corporate governance) and lax regulatory oversight — still factor prominently into insurer failures. But now add c...
A single large-scale natural disaster can cause the sudden failure of an otherwise solvent insurer, warns a new report from the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC).
The latest installment of PACICC’s Why Insurers Fail series found the “traditional” causes of failure — internal operations (problematic business approaches), organizational structure (such as corporate governance) and lax regulatory oversight — still factor prominently into insurer failures. But now add climate risk to the mix.
Climate change, which has fuelled increases in the severity and frequency of natural disasters, has become a “new and significant” source of potential insurance failures, PACICC says.
“This was certainly the case with Merced Property and Casualty Company (Merced), a small and historically stable P&C insurance company headquartered in Atwater, California,” PACICC says in the report, Mapping the road to ruin: Lessons learned from four recent insurer failures.
Failure to properly understand exposure aggregation, and the inadequate stress-testing of capital and reinsurance requirements in the context of such aggregations, can lead directly to sudden insurer failure, PACICC warns. Naturally-occurring perils that can lead to catastrophic loss include earthquakes, floods, wildfires, landslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe storms and storm surges.
“Many of these perils appear to be accelerating in line with scientists’ warnings regarding the consequences of climate change,” PACICC says. “High-impact, low-probability perils, while not cited as a primary cause of failure in any of the Why Insurers Fail research studies to date, have more recently led to numerous P&C insurers’ failures abroad.”
In the case of Merced Property & Casualty Company, one of the most disastrous wildfires in history caused the sudden failure of the 112-year-old insurer in 2018.
The so-called “Camp Fire” in California resulted in US$17 billion in insured losses and destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings, including every building in the town of Paradise.
The fire brings to mind the Lytton, B.C. wildfire, albeit on a much smaller scale. The Lytton wildfire destroyed an estimated 90% of the town last year and caused an estimated $102 million in insured losses.
For Merced, estimated losses in the town of Paradise alone totalled US$64 million. Merced also had an estimated US$87 in liabilities — far in excess of its US$23 million of capital.
The Camp Fire in California began around 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2018, when a powerline owned by utility firm Pacific Gas & Electric Co. sparked a massive fire around Camp Creek Road in the Pulga area of Butte County, Calif. Facilitated by Diablo winds, dry weather and combustible vegetation, the Camp Fire quickly swallowed up three nearby towns in Butte County — Concow, Magalia and Paradise.
In Merced’s case, the company had particularly concentrated risks. Its business strategy relied heavily on homeowners’ insurance sold in California (the insurer, established in 1906 as Merced Mutual Insurance Co., sold a variety of policies, including home, auto, marine and farm). At the end of 2017, the homeowner line accounted for 60.5% of Merced’s active policies and 81.4% of its direct written premiums.
In addition, Merced’s insured risks were heavily concentrated in areas that were classified as “high severity zones” by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Although very risky, this lack of business and geographical diversity was common for many small, regional insurers in California,” PACICC’s report says. While the primary cause of failure for Merced was catastrophic loss from the 2018 Camp Fire, an over-concentration of risk, both geographically in areas highly susceptible to natural disasters and by line of business, contributed to the failure.
Given the last failure of a Canadian P&C insurer occurred two decades ago, it might be tempting to conclude insurer failures are a thing of the past, PACICC says.
“Despite numerous improvements in P&C insurers’ operations, governance and supervision, it is still possible for insurers to fail — and they continue to do so,” the compensation fund notes. “The role of climate change in magnifying the damage caused by naturally-occurring perils adds a new dynamic to the equation.
“This is now a fourth potential cause of P&C insurer failure. Possible ‘roads to ruin’ exist in all insurance jurisdictions around the world — including Canada.”
Feature image: In this Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, photo, Joe Budds, a construction foreman for Otto Construction, inspects one of the rooms at the Feather River Hospital that was damaged during last year’s Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. Once the town’s largest employer, Feather River Hospital is still closed but plans are in the works to reopen the emergency room. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Dole Sunshine Company Convenes Corporate, Government and NGO Leaders for Inaugural Sunshine for All® Summit to Address Global Food Insecurity Crisis
Dole Sunshine Companyhttps://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dole-sunshine-company-convenes-corporate-government-and-ngo-leaders-for-inaugural-sunshine-for-all-summit-to-address-global-food-insecurity-crisis-301568398.html
DSC gathered leaders from across the country in Jackson, MS to create systemic changeDSC also unveiled plans to expand its Sunshine for All Cities nutrition access and education program to Merced, CAWESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its journey to achieve the goals outlined in the ...
DSC gathered leaders from across the country in Jackson, MS to create systemic change
DSC also unveiled plans to expand its Sunshine for All Cities nutrition access and education program to Merced, CA
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its journey to achieve the goals outlined in the Dole Promise and bring sustainable nutrition to all, the Dole Sunshine Company (DSC) brought together CPG brands, NGOs, and government officials in Jackson, MS on June 9, 2022 for the first-ever Sunshine for All Summit. During the event, key updates to the Dole Sunshine for All Cities program were unveiled, and leaders participated in a roundtable discussion on how the private and public sectors must work together to achieve systemic change in areas of food and nutrition access and sustainability.
"At DSC, we understand it's not enough to merely distribute nutritious foods to communities in need. We believe the well-being of society and business are interdependent and we must embrace the mindset that enables tangible results and solutions for improved nutrition knowledge and understanding," said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President of Dole Packaged Foods & Beverages Group. "The Summit in Jackson served as a great starting point for this model, as we addressed many critical topics that will propel our vision of creating a more sustainable world for all, starting at the local level and expanding globally."
The Summit celebrated the two years of work and progress that has been made since launch of the Sunshine for All Cities program in Jackson in August 2020, which has brought nutrition access and education to more than 20,000 residents to-date and is already garnering positive traction in Baltimore, which kicked off in March 2022.
Looking ahead at what's to come for this change-driving program, renderings were revealed for the proposed Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi Culinary Arts Center in Jackson (view the renderings here). It will serve as a sprawling educational hub designed by Durrell Design Group and equipped with state-of-the-art GE Appliances including 13 full-size kitchens (refrigerators, ranges, microwave and dishwashers), washers and dryers for club member usage and 80 small appliances (stand mixers, air fry toaster ovens, blenders, food processors, etc.).
Further, DSC announced that Merced, CA, will be the next destination to receive the Sunshine for All Cities program, and is slated to launch in August 2022.
The event concluded with a roundtable discussion that addressed how this model can be replicated in other communities and how public and private organizations can come together to improve the overall health and wellness of the citizens in Jackson and beyond. "This is the moment that we could change what we're doing behaviorally to impact policy; to do more to deal with development with our community," said Mississippi State Senator John Horhn, discussing the program's bottom-up approach of bettering the Jackson community and setting the baseline for the future of the Sunshine for All projects in the future.
Participants from the public sector included key staff members from Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's office, Mississippi State Senators John Horhn and Sollie B. Norwood, Congressman Bennie Thompson, City of Jackson Councilmen Vernon Hartley, Sr. and Aaron Banks, Jackson State University, and Jackson Public Schools. The corporate sector was represented by key leaders from DSC, Itochu Corporation, GE Appliances, SodexoMagic, Bumble Bee Seafoods, Durrell Design Group, Roberts Company, EasyKale, Foot Print Farms, and Dole Sunshine for All Cities Chef Ambassador Nick Wallace. NGOs included The Boys & Girls Clubs, Partnership for a Healthier America, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, R U Hungry?, and Draw a Smile Foundation.
To follow the progress and impact of the Dole Sunshine for All Cities program, visit dolesunshine.com.
About Dole Sunshine Company
The name Dole Sunshine Company is used to represent the global interests and combined efforts of Dole Asia Holdings, Dole Worldwide Packaged Foods and Dole Asia Fresh. Dole Sunshine Company is not an actual business entity and does not operate as such in any country or region. For more information on Dole Sunshine Company, please visit sunshineforall.com.
About the Dole Promise
In June 2020 Dole Asia Holdings announced The Dole Promise, with its three pillars around nutrition, sustainability, and the creation of shared value.
Better for People: Access to sustainable nutrition for 1 billion people by 2025, moving towards zero processed sugar in all Dole Packaged Foods products by 2025.
Better for Planet: Working towards zero fruit loss from Dole farms to markets by 2025, aiming for zero fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025. Working towards net zero carbon emissions in Dole operations by 2030.
Better for all Stakeholders: Dole will continue to positively impact all farmers, communities and people working for Dole – through its commitment to equal opportunity, living wages, and an ever-increasing level of safety, nutrition, and wellbeing. The company also seeks to advance human rights within the direct operations and supply chains by building a culture of transparency and accountability. The company also aims for a 50% increase in the value of its business by 2025.
SOURCE Dole Sunshine Company
Senator Wiener’s Mental Health Workforce Legislation Passes Assembly Health Committee Unanimously
Senator Scott Wienerhttps://sd11.senate.ca.gov/news/20220615-senator-wiener%E2%80%99s-mental-health-workforce-legislation-passes-assembly-health-committee
SACRAMENTO - Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 964, the Behavioral Health Workforce Revitalization Act, passed the Assembly Health Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. It will now be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.SB 964 increases California’s investment in its behavioral health workforce to retain workers, increase the size of the behavioral health workforce, and support behavioral health workers who are facing a significant increase in demand for services.“As...
SACRAMENTO - Today, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 964, the Behavioral Health Workforce Revitalization Act, passed the Assembly Health Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. It will now be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
SB 964 increases California’s investment in its behavioral health workforce to retain workers, increase the size of the behavioral health workforce, and support behavioral health workers who are facing a significant increase in demand for services.
“As California works to expand access to mental health treatment, we must shore up and expand our mental health workforce,” said Senator Wiener. “Mental health professionals have incredibly hard jobs and are burning out. We don’t pay them enough. We need to create stronger incentives for people to enter this life-saving field and to stay part of it. SB 964 will support mental health workers and strengthen this critically important workforce.”
SB 964 is a critical investment in our behavioral health workforce. The legislation establishes a Behavioral Health Workforce Preservation and Restoration Fund to provide hiring and performance-based bonuses, salary increases or supplements, overtime pay, and hazard pay for workers in the behavioral health sector.
SB 964 also creates a stipend program for students in Master of Social Work (MSW) programs who specialize in public behavioral health. Students will be eligible for a stipend of $18,500 a year for up to two years, and will be required to complete two years of continuous, full-time employment in a public behavioral health agency.
In addition, SB 964:
Expands access to culturally competent care by making peer support specialists a statewide Medi-Cal benefit and establishing a statewide certifying body to certify these peer specialists
Develops accelerated social work programs with new coursework focused on behavioral health
Creates new career ladders for peers and community health workers by developing an accelerated program from certification to associates, bachelors, and masters programs
Requires a study of California’s behavioral health licensing requirements to eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic barriers that keep well-trained and talented workers from entering the field and working at the top of their scope
Requires a comprehensive landscape analysis of the behavioral health workforce to further develop strategies for retaining workers
Develops grants and stipends to Masters-level and dual Masters & Doctoral-level students seeking degrees in fields associated with behavioral health, excluding social workers.
Creates a public behavioral health pipeline that establishes partnerships between the public behavioral health delivery system with high schools and community colleges
Requires the offering of an LGBTQ+ competency training for licensed and non-licensed substance use disorder providers and mental health providers
Requires specialized training for providers that are non-native English speakers to improve charting and documentation skills
Strengthens support for substance use disorder counselors and coaches by establishing programs including but not limited to: tuition assistance and test preparation, scholarships and stipends
Fund scholarships for a new workforce training program: Primary Care Providers Training and Education in Addiction Medicine (PC-TEAM), a one year fellowship at UC Irvine.
Provides financial assistance to nonprofits/public sector to support paid field internships and increase slots for pre-licensees obtaining their clinical hours for licensure in the form of grants or direct payments.
Authorizes the CA State Loan Repayment Program to increase the number of awards granted to primary care providing behavioral health services or working in a team-based care setting and behavioral health providers
Establishes a program for tuition reimbursement and stipends to encourage licensed mental health and medical professionals to complete substance use disorder-specific courses.
Establishes the Behavioral Health Education Partnership Program to strengthen and expand collaborations between behavioral health educational institutions in order to expand the number of placement slots for students working in behavioral health and to develop a specialized curriculum focused on working in the public behavioral health delivery system.
Currently, only one-third of Californians who live with a mental illness receive the care they need. One of the largest drivers of this failure is a shortage of behavioral healthcare workers. Today, 31 California counties in “high need” for mental health services report having a workforce shortage.
With healthcare workers resigning in droves and mental health needs skyrocketing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the behavioral health workforce shortage has gone from challenge to crisis. Even with the increase in need for quality mental health and addiction treatment, facilities across the state are closing due to worker shortages. When workers can instead, for example, become traveling nurses and receive a $100,000 signing bonus, it becomes even more difficult for hospitals and other facilities to retain staff. And without essential behavioral health workers providing this important care, people with mild mental health symptoms can fall into severe mental illness.
Those in rural, linguistically and ethnically diverse, and LGBTQ+ communities are severely underserved when it comes to all health care, and this is especially true of mental health care. And those suffering from severe mental illness are often forced to cycle between hospital emergency rooms, jails and city streets because of a lack of mental health care workers and resources.
SB 964 is sponsored by the Steinberg Institute. Senators Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) and Anna Caballero (D-Merced) are principal co-authors of SB 964, and Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) is a co-author. Assemblymembers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Marc Levine (D-Marin County), Mike Gipson (D-Carson), and Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) are co-authors.