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Latest News in Planada, CA
Houlihan Park to receive $2.4 million in state-funded upgrades
The Merced County Timeshttps://mercedcountytimes.com/houlihan-park-to-receive-2-4-million-in-state-funded-upgrades/
It took a village.After eight long years of hard work, residents in the Planada community can rejoice in successfully securing a $2.4-million grant from the California Statewide Park Program (Prop. 68) to revitalize Houlihan Park with new features such as a children’s splash park, an outdoor stage, and jogging paths and exercise stations.Likewise, it was announced that Pioneer Park in Gustine will receive $1.3 million to build a new basketball court, splash pad, playground, free play area, picnic areas and install fencing...
It took a village.
After eight long years of hard work, residents in the Planada community can rejoice in successfully securing a $2.4-million grant from the California Statewide Park Program (Prop. 68) to revitalize Houlihan Park with new features such as a children’s splash park, an outdoor stage, and jogging paths and exercise stations.
Likewise, it was announced that Pioneer Park in Gustine will receive $1.3 million to build a new basketball court, splash pad, playground, free play area, picnic areas and install fencing around the park.
Selected from a pool of 487 applications from across the state, the Planada effort began years ago when Building Healthy Communities (BHC) was launched, a health equity initiative funded through The California Endowment aimed at supporting residents as leaders, to be problem solvers in their communities.
Planada residents prioritized improving their park at BHC’s earliest community meetings. BHC provided a platform for parents to springboard into action, organizing and building community power while creating important partnerships with non-profit groups and the County of Merced.
This collective effort was solidified when the group submitted a grant proposal in Round 3 of the California Statewide Park Program, a competitive program to create new parks and new recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California.
Planada community residents themselves developed the specific recommendations in the grant proposal. The recommendations where captured during an eight-part series of workshops that were conducted from July to September 2018 to identify infrastructure improvement needs. The process involved coalition-building and dialogue for the whole community to present a unified voice and vision for the park.
Yolanda Trevino Rangel, a longtime resident of Planada, has been involved in this effort from day one, and notes that: “It wasn’t easy but collectively the community rallied, fought long and hard for this to come to fruition. In the process not only did we design a great park for our families, but we built a stronger community.” This provided an opportunity for neighbors to come together and build consensus around a park master plan that meets the unique needs of Planada. As Leticia Mungia, a Planada community leader, put it: “The future of our community looks brighter. This is the only park our families have access to and we must protect our precious green and open spaces that are critical to the development of children.”
Ms. Claudia Corchado of Cultiva La Salud worked with community stakeholder groups including Mujeres Poderosas (Powerful Women) and saw first-hand how, “Community and community organizing have to be connected to any system change efforts especially in low income communities. Leaders, stakeholders and funders should not plan for policy, systems or environmental changes without residents leading the change. Residents that live in these communities are the experts, the consultants and they are the solution. This effort is a perfect example of how resident power, relationship building and government agencies responding to community needs can improve neighborhoods and create healthy places for generations to come. This project can serve as a model for other communities to follow.”
As the project began to build steam the Merced County Parks Department was also in process of improving the existing restrooms as well as disabled access to the park.
A champion of this effort, Merced County Board Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza shared that: “I am proud of what the community members have been able to accomplish. In my role as a board supervisor I have been committed to making sure that communities like Planada and others across my district get the resources so that our children, who live in and among these communities, have adequate and safe parks to play in.”
Photos: The pride and pain of the UFW march
High Country Newshttps://www.hcn.org/articles/photos-the-pride-and-pain-of-the-ufw-march
The sun rises on California’s San Joaquin Valley, coloring the dawn sky with soft light blues and pinks. Sunrays shine on people as they emerge from cars, unloading water bottles, sombreros, bandannas, painkillers and portable speakers for the morning’s reception. A light breeze ripples the various cultural and historical flags the demonstrators carry, including the United States flag, the California state flag, Mexico’s flag and the flag of the American Indian Movement. The historic banner that leads this crusade, with its...
The sun rises on California’s San Joaquin Valley, coloring the dawn sky with soft light blues and pinks. Sunrays shine on people as they emerge from cars, unloading water bottles, sombreros, bandannas, painkillers and portable speakers for the morning’s reception. A light breeze ripples the various cultural and historical flags the demonstrators carry, including the United States flag, the California state flag, Mexico’s flag and the flag of the American Indian Movement. The historic banner that leads this crusade, with its black Aztec eagle on a rich red background, represents the labor union, the United Farm Workers. This morning routine, and the preparation for the day, will repeat daily throughout the duration of the march.
On Aug. 3, 2022, the United Farm Workers (UFW) began a 24-day “peregrinación,” walking from Delano, California, to the state Capitol in Sacramento. The marchers embarked on a 335-mile route in the blazing summer heat, retracing the route of the legendary 1966 “March to Sacramento,” led by the UFW’s iconic founders, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. In ’66, California farmworkers were on a six-month strike when the union decided to make a dramatic public statement by marching to the state Capitol, demanding higher pay, safer working conditions and recognition of their union. In 1994, on the first anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s death, Arturo Rodriguez led the union once again to Sacramento, defining a new chapter in its existence and reassuring farmworkers and growers that Cesar Chavez’s legacy is still very much alive.
Twenty-eight years later, history is repeating itself. The organization and its allies are again making the grueling journey, this time to urge California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the California Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act (Assembly Bill 2183). The bill would give farmworkers more voting rights and provide protection for those voting in union elections. Currently, the voting system only permits farmworkers to vote in person and at their place of employment, where farmworkers often face intimidation from their employers. If the bill passes, it would enable them to vote from home by mail, as well as to form a union. A similar bill, AB 61, was vetoed last September by the governor, who said that it contained “various inconsistencies.”
The UFW and its supporters were not discouraged; union members say it has only made “la causa” stronger. Each morning, the sound of prayers begins the day — led by a local priest, a member of the Native American movement, sometimes a “permanent marcher,” one of the 21 marchers who have committed themselves to the entire 335 miles. At 7 a.m., El Capitán Antonio Cortez blows his whistle, signaling that it’s time for the demonstrators to line up. Each day, one person walks in front carrying La Virgen de Guadalupe, an honor for whoever has been chosen to set the pace that day. Marchers hold tightly to the flags that waved in the morning’s warm but rapidly changing weather, walking along the side of the highways. By noon, temperatures will reach the high 90s, and by 2 p.m., triple-digit heat will beat down on everyone. Permanent marchers are up front in their red UFW shirts, and supporters line the roads. The immortal chant — “¡Si, se puede!” — carries the group throughout the day.
Zaydee Sanchez is a Mexican American visual storyteller, documentary photographer and writer from Tulare, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. She seeks to highlight underreported communities and overlooked narratives, with a focus on labor workers, gender and displacement. Zaydee is an International Women's Media Foundation grantee and a 2021 USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism Fellow. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera, National Geographic, NPR and more. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Doctor honored for her efforts to vaccinate Merced County residents during COVID pandemic
Andrew Kuhn March 25https://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/article259752055.html
Merced County leaders gathered this week to honor a local pediatrician who by all accounts went the extra mile to assist in efforts to vaccinate residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.Dr. Sima Asadi was recognized Tuesday as the “California Woman of the Year” for Assembly District 21 during a ceremony outside her practice in Merced.Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, was on hand to personally recognize Asadi’s service to the people of Merced County and California, providing her with a state resolution for the spe...
Merced County leaders gathered this week to honor a local pediatrician who by all accounts went the extra mile to assist in efforts to vaccinate residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Sima Asadi was recognized Tuesday as the “California Woman of the Year” for Assembly District 21 during a ceremony outside her practice in Merced.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, was on hand to personally recognize Asadi’s service to the people of Merced County and California, providing her with a state resolution for the special honor.
Asadi operates an independent pediatric practice in Merced — the first in the county to begin testing for COVID-19 and administering vaccinations.
With the help of volunteers, Asadi organized clinics in a focused effort to vaccinate farm workers, educators and elderly people throughout Merced County, including rural places like Planada and Le Grand.
“This past year as we’ve struggled to deal with the pandemic and all of the associated challenges, Dr. Asadi and her team and her family have just gone way, way above and beyond,” Gray said.
Asadi said she was thankful for the recognition and for those who volunteered their time during the pandemic. “It is incredibly with a lot of respect and humility, that I accept this honor, Asadi said.
According to Asadi, she recognized early on that the only way to be successful as a community was if the private and public sectors worked together to address a crisis of such a large magnitude.
Asadi said she was on county phone calls since the first day of the pandemic, staying involved so that at any given time she would understand where the greatest need was — whether it was testing or vaccinations.
In addition to her office hours, she began vaccinating patients in the parking lot of her practice, even cutting a lot of days short in order to do so.
Asadi set up clinics in Planada with the help of Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose Gonzalez and began working with the City of Merced to set up an indoor vaccination clinic.
“I knew that as a private practice pediatrician that I could mobilize volunteers and mobilize effort quicker than the public side,” Asadi said.
Still, Asadi said the effort is not over. She and others working in health care are continuing to work hard to keep people healthy during the COVID pandemic.
“Throughout this whole time not only has Dr. Asadi done and gone over and above in serving the community with the vaccinations and having the clinics, organizing the clinics, organizing volunteers, but the other thing (is) she still has a practice,” said District 2 Supervisor Josh Pedrozo.
Planada pharmacy burglary leads to statewide chase
PLANADA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Four suspects were arrested after a burglary in Merced County led to a chase that ended hours later in Sacramento.Authorities arrested Christina Gamez, 23, from Mendota, along with Andrion Navarrete-Mendoza, 21, and Miguel Valencia, 19, from Fresno. A 17-year-old from Fresno was also arrested.The group is accused of trying to steal large amounts of opiate medications from the San Joaquin Pharmacy in Planada.It started as a burglary i...
PLANADA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Four suspects were arrested after a burglary in Merced County led to a chase that ended hours later in Sacramento.
Authorities arrested Christina Gamez, 23, from Mendota, along with Andrion Navarrete-Mendoza, 21, and Miguel Valencia, 19, from Fresno. A 17-year-old from Fresno was also arrested.
The group is accused of trying to steal large amounts of opiate medications from the San Joaquin Pharmacy in Planada.
It started as a burglary in Merced County, but ended with four arrests in Sacramento. The criminals broke into a pharmacy in Planada and tried to get away with opoid meds, but a deputy caught trying to make a run for it. The story about the chase, coming up at 6. @ABC30 pic.twitter.com/8Cbw82SUhG%u2014 Nathalie Granda (@NathalieABC30) May 31, 2018
Sheriff Vern Warnke said Deputy Chris Chilton was responding to an alarm at the pharmacy on Wednesday morning. When he arrived, he saw the criminals running out of the store and into a BMW. Chilton started chasing the suspects.
"They hit Highway 140 and Highway 99. They hit speeds up to 90 mph. Deputy Chilton told me they at one time they could've been up to 120 mph," Sheriff Warnke said.
The California Highway Patrol took over the chase until they were able to stop the suspects with spike strips.
Pharmacy co-owner Katie Bass said this is their fourth burglary. They've added more cameras, Plexiglas, and overall protection to keep the criminals out.
"We opened the store wanting to help the community. I know that's what my dad's intention was, and that's been my intention, it makes it hard to want to stay here and work," Bass said.
She said deputies were still investigating the shop when she heard the criminals were arrested.
"These criminals know they can get caught so quickly, and the consequences that come with getting caught. Hopefully, it deters them from coming back again," Bass said.
Sheriff Warnke said the faster response comes from recently adding more deputies to the department, "Our staffing levels have improved greatly, so even our rural parts of the county are being covered very well by our patrol."
The three suspects were booked into the Merced County jail while the 17-year-old was booked into the juvenile correction center. The suspects left a crowbar and a cell phone at the scene.
Deputies said the investigation into the burglary is still ongoing.
Merced County Supervisor reflects on ‘another challenging year’ as new board chair is elected
The first Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting of the year kicked off with the unanimous selection of a new chairman to lead the county’s elected officials.District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel, who served as board chair during 2021, passed the torch to District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira as the two county leaders changed places at the dais.“I would like to thank Daron for all that you did this last year,” Pareira ...
The first Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting of the year kicked off with the unanimous selection of a new chairman to lead the county’s elected officials.
District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel, who served as board chair during 2021, passed the torch to District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira as the two county leaders changed places at the dais.
“I would like to thank Daron for all that you did this last year,” Pareira said after taking his seat as chairman. “Thanks to my colleagues for electing me as chair for this next year.”
Supervisor Scott Silveira, who represents District 5, was unanimously elected by his colleagues as vice chairman.
The supervisors select a new chairman and vice chairman at the start of each new year to preside over meetings and exercise leadership for the board.
The former board chairman reflected on the challenges and accomplishes seen over the course of 2021, as county business continued despite the persistent hurdles of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d like to, as always, thank everyone, including staff and fellow electeds, for moving Merced County forward during what turned out to be another challenging year,” McDaniel said before exiting the chairman’s seat.
The last year saw its fill of tragedy, including more than 700 COVID-19-related deaths of Merced County residents, McDaniel noted.
Other losses close to home included the death of longtime Merced County Supervisor Jerry O’Banion.
“We’ll miss Jerry,” McDaniel said.
Despite the challenging year, McDaniel underscored several major projects that continued moving forward.
He pointed to the 2021 opening of the county’s homeless Navigation Center as one key achievement made in the midst of a difficult year. Although homelessness is an issue that no single local or state agency can address alone, the opening of the Navigation Center marked a crucial step for Merced County, McDaniel said.
The center serves as a low-barrier emergency shelter — meaning, the main priority will be housing people, with minimal restrictions, regardless of their life circumstances. The location provides meals, onsite supportive services and case management to link clients with permanent, affordable housing units as quickly as possible.
McDaniel also highlighted the recently finished expansion of the TRC California self-driving car testing site at the former Castle Air Force base in Atwater. The testing grounds include a 2.2-mile oval test track, a mile-long city course and two large vehicle dynamics areas, among other highlights.
Other local improvements in 2021 included the paving of nearly 19 miles of county roads and groundbreaking for a revamp of Houlihan Park in Planada. The Campus Parkway project’s third segment is about 80% complete, too.
Plus, the county is starting the new year better equipped with tools to combat the virus via improved access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, McDaniel noted.
“I’m confident that in 2022, there’s a lot of positive news in store,” McDaniel said.
This story was originally published January 11, 2022 12:43 PM.