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Whatever appliance repair issue you're stressed over, there's no problem too big or small for our team to handle. At Appliance Service Plus, we offer a total package of quality service, fair prices, friendly customer service, and effective fixes. Unlike some appliance companies in Planada, our technicians are trained rigorously and undergo extensive background checks. We work with all major appliances and are capable of GE appliance repair, Maytag appliance repair, Frigidaire appliance repair, and more.

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Latest News in Planada, CA

Merced County community divided over farmer’s proposal to expand dairy

It’s a windy day in LeGrand as Eddie Hoekstra drives through rows of cattle on his farm. Hoekstra manages about 8,000 cows on his 2,290-acre farm called Hillcrest Dairy. He’s 53 years old and has managed the farm for over 20 years.As he gets older, he says, he thinks a lot about how he wants to leave the farm to his sons. Two of them have degrees in agriculture and a third son works at the dairy as well.“If they want to stay in the dairy business in California, we have to be competitive,” he said....

It’s a windy day in LeGrand as Eddie Hoekstra drives through rows of cattle on his farm. Hoekstra manages about 8,000 cows on his 2,290-acre farm called Hillcrest Dairy. He’s 53 years old and has managed the farm for over 20 years.

As he gets older, he says, he thinks a lot about how he wants to leave the farm to his sons. Two of them have degrees in agriculture and a third son works at the dairy as well.

“If they want to stay in the dairy business in California, we have to be competitive,” he said.

It’s one reason Hoekstra has submitted a proposal to the county to increase the number of cows on his farm by 1,700. That would bring the total herd to nearly 9,750. The proposal includes building roughly 195,000 square feet of new stalls. And at a time of record high inflation, he sees the expansion as key to the survival of his family business.

“It's one of those things where you constantly have to look at improving your bottom line,” he says.

Merced County is the second-largest dairy-producing county in the state. The county’s dairy industry produced more than a billion dollars in profits in 2020, representing about one-third of the county’s agricultural production, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

But just down the road from Hillcrest Dairy is the unincorporated community of Planada, population 4,000. The community is predominantly Latino and roughly 28% of the residents live below the poverty line. There, some residents are worried that any more cows will only diminish their quality of life.

Residents divided over dairy farm expansion

Rita Rodriguez is cutting the cilantro for her albondigas, or meatball soup, in her kitchen in Planada. She and her husband have lived in this home for nearly 30 years. Rodriguez, 67, says the worst part of living a mile down the road from the farm is the smell.

Especially in the summertime,” she says. “You're sitting outside enjoying a nice summer evening outside and then all of a sudden, it's like this pollution just comes into the air. We just can’t handle it.”

She says it doesn’t smell everyday, but it's frequent and can last for hours at a time.

Her husband David Rodriguez, 67, says living down the road from Hillcrest Farms has been frustrating. Especially when they try to raise concerns about the odor.

He feels, “anxiety, anger, because there are times you can't do anything about it, especially at the moment,” he says. “And then in the past, when we've gone and talked with the Board of Supervisors, it just goes in one ear and out the other.”

John Pedrozo is a former chairman of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. He represented the district that includes Planada. He also comes from a dairy farming family. He says he understands the residents' concerns, but occasional odors are just part of living in an agricultural community

“You're going to get a certain amount of stench for that for a little while because the sediment in the lagoon comes through with the water,” he says. “So it's going to smell somewhat, but it goes away.”

Pedrozo says Hoekstra’s contributions to the community far outweigh the inconvenience of the cow manure odor.

Alicia Rodriguez, 57, has lived in Planada for 37 years and volunteers at the elementary school. She agrees with Pedrozo.

“He gives for community day. He gives to the churches,” she says. “He gives to any program there is for kids and is constantly giving money to Planada.”

But community advocates say that’s not enough. Madeline Harris, with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, says the California Environmental Quality Act requires the county to look into a dairy’s impact on air and water quality. If there are significant environmental impacts, farmers are required to show mitigation efforts.

“At the end of the day, if the dairy is contributing to schools or other things in the community, if those things are not actually mitigating the environmental impacts that are being caused to the community, then the dairy expansion should not be allowable under CEQA,” she says.

Could a dairy digester help reduce odor?

Back at Hillcrest Dairy, Eddie Hoekstra says he tries to stay in compliance with the various regulations set forth by the state. And he tries to be a good neighbor.

I've said from the beginning when we moved here that I didn't want to be a nuisance to the community,” he says. “I wanted to be an asset.”

He’s also considering installing a dairy digester which, among other things, could help reduce the smell from the dairy.

Right now, Hoekstra manages manure by dumping it into lagoons. The digester would seal methane formed in the lagoon with a large covering. The gas can then be converted into a form of biofuel that can be pumped into natural gas pipelines or used for vehicle fuel.

Hoakstra says he’s signed and submitted a letter of intent for a digester to the county.

“If we are in agreement, then the next step would be for [the company we partner with] to drop the plan and then they would submit that to the county,he says.

But Harris, with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, says dairy digesters don’t address all of the issues that communities near dairies experience.

“It wouldn't address the enteric emissions that come from cow burps, so it doesn't even address all of the methane emissions that dairies produce,” she says. “And it wouldn't address a lot of the other nuisances, like odor and flies that communities face if all of the manure isn't being covered.”

Officials are currently preparing the environmental impact report for the dairy expansion. The Merced County Planning Commission will decide on Hillcrest Dairy’s expansion proposal after that.

Local pediatrician receives Woman of the Year Award

Dr. Sima Asadi of Merced received the California Woman of the Year Award for State Assembly District 21 during a ceremony on Tuesday.Assemblyman Adam Gray, along with Merced County Supervisor Josh Pedrozo and Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto, showed up to honor the woman who helped thousands of residents with free vaccination clinics during some of the toughest times of the COVID-19 pandemic.“You could describe Sima Asadi as a champion for children,” said Gray in making the announcement. “But that doesn’t e...

Dr. Sima Asadi of Merced received the California Woman of the Year Award for State Assembly District 21 during a ceremony on Tuesday.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, along with Merced County Supervisor Josh Pedrozo and Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto, showed up to honor the woman who helped thousands of residents with free vaccination clinics during some of the toughest times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You could describe Sima Asadi as a champion for children,” said Gray in making the announcement. “But that doesn’t even come close to telling the story of what Dr. Asadi has meant to this community. She’s been an advocate, a healer and a humanitarian.”

A leading pediatrician in the Merced community for the past 20 years, Dr. Asadi has been instrumental in procuring and administering covid tests, as well as administering vaccinations. She has personally given more than 15,000 vaccinations to first-responders, senior citizens, school staff and administration, city and county employees, children and homeless residents of Merced County.

Dr. Asadi chairs the Pediatric Department at Merced Medical Center among other duties. As the pandemic emerged, she was the first doctor to begin testing for COVID-19 in Merced County – often administering tests to medical personnel from the trunk of her car.

She was also the first to begin vaccinations, attracting a cadre of volunteer as the effort grew.

“That first day, a friend who is a nursing instructor at Merced College, called and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I’m vaccinating now,’” Asadi said. “So she goes home, grabs her stethoscope and the next thing I know, I’ve got two volunteers helping. That turns into 10, then 30. I had obstetricians, nurses then CEOs – that’s when Adam came on.”

Recognizing the importance of the region’s many essential workers in the food industry, Assemblyman Gray swung into action.

“We could see what Dr. Asadi was accomplishing, working with volunteers and through sheer willpower. We wanted to help,” he said.

Hoping to set up a visit to a migrant-labor camp, Dr. Asadi contacted Jose Gonzalez, superintendent of the Planada Unified School District.

When Asadi’s team arrived, a mariachi band played them into the parking lot. “We just started vaccinating and kept at it until we ran out,” Asadi said. She also organized clinics in Snelling, Le Grand and Planada vaccinating 3,500 educators, 1,000 seniors and those living in homeless camps in Merced County.

“We were the fastest shots in the west,” she laughed. “We would travel with vaccine, especially for ag workers. You had to get out there – a lot of these people don’t have cars; they’re not literate. Same with the homeless.”

Asadi quickly recognized the impact COVID-19 was having on the community’s children.

“I would hear, ‘I’m a single father, and I can’t do my job if my kids are not in school,’” said Asadi. “If that person is making $15 an hour — or less — and can’t afford childcare, they’re going to do one of three things – leave the kids home alone, bring them with them so they can stand there in the fields, or they’re going to send them to Mexico.”

That reality made Dr. Asadi fear for the safety of children of all ages.

“There is no one in this county who has vaccinated more children than me,” she said. “We have to weigh our interventions. … Two years ago, when we didn’t have vaccines, closing classrooms was more appropriate; now not so much.

“Kids need to be in school,” she said. “And as parents we need them to be there.”

Dr. Asadi lives in Merced with her husband, Ahmad Foroutan, a nut farmer who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. They have three children, one in graduate school, one in college and one attending Merced High School.

She joins a long list of notable women honored by Assemblymember Gray as Woman of the Year, including Alicia Rodriguez of Planada last year, Laura Elkington in 2020 and Mireya Aguila in 2019.

A Merced County park’s getting a $3.7M upgrade — including a new walking path, art and more

Winton Community Park is getting a second life thanks to a $3.7 million investment from the state’s Clean California Local Grant Program, a Merced County news release announced Wednesday.The state program, funded through the California Department of Transportation, was founded for communities to upgrade public spaces. About $296 million is being distributed across California to improve outdoor spaces via beautificati...

Winton Community Park is getting a second life thanks to a $3.7 million investment from the state’s Clean California Local Grant Program, a Merced County news release announced Wednesday.

The state program, funded through the California Department of Transportation, was founded for communities to upgrade public spaces. About $296 million is being distributed across California to improve outdoor spaces via beautification, public art, litter removal and the rehabilitation of facilities needing repair.

Winton’s 21.5-acre park is one of 105 projects awarded through the “highly-competitive” state program, the release said. The grant will allow the park — the only one located in the unincorporated community — to receive necessary renovations, upgrades and brand new amenities.

The plan for Winton Community Park is part of a larger initiative by Merced County to renovate old parks and build new ones, according to the release.

Winton Community Park was constructed in 1972. Newfound recreation opportunities will abound as plans for the park move forward.

A 5,650-foot walking path slated for construction around the perimeter of the park will allow for an easy mile-long stroll. Walkers will be accompanied by a beautified view of 20 newly planted trees and an art project designed and made by high school students.

The soccer and baseball fields, as well as the basketball court, are all scheduled to get lighting updates. The soccer field is also set to receive a face lift with grading and reseeding. Four new baseball dugouts will be added, too.

A playground, two picnic shelters and 60 graffiti-resistant tables are also on the list of brand-new facilities.

“It’s an exciting time to be a resident of Winton,” County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira, whose District 4 encompasses Winton, said in the release. “This park is loved and used often by the community. The renovation project will bring joy to many families and help beautify an often unsung gem of our county.”

County officials will soon embark on design work for the plan. Possible groundbreaking and project completion dates will be assessed in the coming weeks as the design moves forward, the release said.

In addition to the $3.7 million, the park is also getting $455,590 in per capita funding from the state’s Proposition 68 park program. Those dollars will go toward improving the restroom and concession facilities. Work is estimated to conclude by mid-2024, according to the release.

Winton is the fourth area in Merced County to be granted Proposition 68 funds, following award announcements for Livingston, Gustine and Planada.

Proposition 68 is part of the State Parks’ Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program, aimed at enhancing parks and recreation opportunities in California’s underserved communities. The per capita program is intended for rehabilitating run down infrastructure and addressing deficiencies in regions lacking access to the outdoors.

DWR Awards $26 Million in Drought Support to Small Communities

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced $26 million in funding commitments to 11 communities through the Small Community Drought Relief program, created by the ...

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced $26 million in funding commitments to 11 communities through the Small Community Drought Relief program, created by the Budget Act of 2021. Identified for funding by DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board, all 11 communities will receive financial assistance to implement projects that invest in long-term solutions such as providing reliable water supply sources, improving water system storage, replacing aging infrastructure and arranging alternative power sources.

The commitments represent the fifth round of funding in the $200 million Small Community Drought Relief program. Since August, 48 projects have been awarded a total of $92 million.

The latest round of funding will support projects in 10 counties: Fresno, Merced, Lake, Yuba, Marin, Siskiyou, Tuolumne, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo and Kings. Of the awarded projects, four will benefit severely disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.

“California’s water cycle can be unpredictable, and it has become even more so with climate change. It is imperative that we adapt and be proactive in our response,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “As this year draws to a close, we are already planning for the potential of a third dry year. This includes providing support to small and rural communities to address water supply challenges and build local resilience should drought conditions continue.”

Recipients of the $26 million in funding include:

DWR coordinated with the State Water Resources Control Board to determine these funding commitments, which complement the board’s historical and ongoing financial assistance to small, economically disadvantaged communities for water infrastructure needs.

The Small Community Drought Relief program currently accepts applications from small communities experiencing hardship due to drought. Funding will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis and interested communities are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

For more information about available drought relief funding, please visit DWR’s Drought Funding webpage.

Contact:Allison Armstrong, Information Officer, Public Affairs, Department of Water Resources 916-820-7652 | allison.armstrong@water.ca.gov

Blair Robertson, Information Officer, Office of Public Affairs, State Water Resources Control Board

Search Warrants Lead to Arrests in Store Burglary

MARIPOSA & MERCED COUNTIES — Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, two search warrants were served by the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department in Merced County in relation to a smash-and-grab burglary that had taken place the day before. One of the search warrants was served in Planada and the other in Le Grand, both in Merced County. As a result, Jesus Moreno (43) and Anna Orozco (36) were taken into custody and...

MARIPOSA & MERCED COUNTIES — Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, two search warrants were served by the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department in Merced County in relation to a smash-and-grab burglary that had taken place the day before. One of the search warrants was served in Planada and the other in Le Grand, both in Merced County. As a result, Jesus Moreno (43) and Anna Orozco (36) were taken into custody and booked into the Mariposa County Adult Detention Facility.

According to the Press Release from the Mariposa Sheriff’s Department, this is the second time Coast Hardware in Mariposa has been burglarized in the same manner. This time, early Saturday morning on Jan. 30, several suspects were reported to be breaking the large display windows in the front of the store and removing items.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived quickly, but not before the suspects had left the scene. Next, the deputies sifted through the evidence left at the scene and reviewed security camera footage. Through the camera footage they were able to obtain a license plate number from a vehicle that was reportedly involved in the burglary.

The day after the burglary, Sheriff’s had enough evidence to serve two arrest warrants. Their first stop was to a home in Planada where they found several items connected to the Coast Hardware burglary. Jesus Moreno (43) was taken into custody. It was also discovered that Moreno had two outstanding warrants in Mariposa County.

Their next stop led them to Le Grand where they once again found more items connected with the burglary. There, they took Anna Orozco (36) into custody.

“Being able to identify these suspects quickly and restore a level of peace for our community and business owners is a big win for us. Dirt bag criminals like these are NOT welcome in Mariposa County. Your Sheriff’s Office continues to take a hard stance on all crimes that hurt our community and incite fear among our residents. We will continue to use all of our resources on all future crimes that threaten our community.”

Mariposa County detectives are continuing to work both cases and identify additional suspects.

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