The ER returns to Merced, and other items

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Modesto Bee

There’s a columnist for the Modesto Bee by the name of Ron Agostini who uses a writing technique that is appealing to me.  About once a week, Ron publishes a sports oriented column that contains about a dozen items. 

The content of each item is too short for a complete column, but bundled together, it makes for interesting reading.  He always begins the feature with the claim “estimated reading time, two minutes.”

So in tribute to Ron, here is my bundle of items from around Merced County. 

Estimated reading time:  two-and-a-half minutes.

Merced City Signs

It’s so nice to see the letters E and R replaced on the Merced sign heading north on G Street just beyond the railroad overpass. 

The letters had been missing for about a year and it made the city seem a little less than welcoming to visitors and residents.  Thank you to the City of Merced for replacing the letters.  Shame on whoever removed them in the first place.

Speaking of letters, some are missing from the sign in front of Merced City Hall downtown.  Maybe these missing letters can be restored soon. 

Perhaps future designs of signs can take into consideration the elimination of letters and numbers that can be pried off by those with little or no regard for their community.

Town Hall Meetings

Two town hall meetings were held by the City of Merced in recent weeks to gather citizen input on how our community should move forward in the near future.  According to the Merced Sun Star, the north side town hall was sparsely attended while the south side meeting had great attendance.  What’s that telling us?

Presidential Visit

Regardless of your politics, having a U.S. President visit your community is a big deal.  It was great to see Los Banos added to the President’s schedule on his Valentines’ Day visit. 

The visit including a meeting with a foreign dignitary Friday night, and was extended by a couple of days so he’d have time to play three rounds of golf with some school buddies. 

While in Merced County, the President got to see our water issues front and center with a flyover of the San Luis Reservoir.  No matter how long the visit could have been, not every community can have the honor of welcoming the Chief Executive.  

I would have appreciated seeing more diversity among the lawmakers invited to accompany the President, namely Valley Republican House members Jeff Denham and Devon Nunes.  But I still see the visit for what it meant to our community; it was a big deal.

Google at Castle

Speaking of big deals, congratulations to the Merced County Office of Aviation, Commerce and Economic Development on landing Google at the Castle Commerce Center in Atwater.  Google was interested in the wide open spaces offered by Castle’s expansive runways to test new technologies involving cars that drive themselves.  The number of jobs coming to the community may be small, but you never know whether this small step by Google might lead to a giant leap for ancillary jobs that could be created in Merced County by other high tech companies from the Silicon Valley.

Panera and Chipotle

It’s also nice to see Panera Bread and soon Chipotle operating in the old Blockbuster building at Olive Avenue and R Street.  Little by little, the region is picking up more economic activity.  Why not celebrate these small signs of success with a Panera cookie or a Chipotle burrito.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.