2014 - A Year in Pictures
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FR E E TI M E SWEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE THE TIMES WEEK OF JANUARY 1, 2015
2014 A YEAR INPICTURES
HERE'S A LOOK BACK AT THE PAST YEAR THROUGH THE LENSES OF TIMES PHOTOGRAPHERS,INCLUDING LYNDA BROMMAGE, JOHN MILLER AND JONATHAN WHITAKER.
come in to reveal
he will become
the next Merced
TIMES PHOTO BYJONATHAN WHITAKER
TIMES PHOTO BY JOHN MILLERThe first Central Valley Honor Flight to originate at Castle Airport in Atwater returns in late October with great fanfare to honor a group of local World War II
veterans who had a chance to visit Washington, D.C. and their war memorials on display there. SEE MORE PHOTOS ON PAGE B2
TIMES PHOTO BY LYNDA BROMMAGEJamie Hooraert, the first woman to reach the finish line at the first-ever MERCO
Half Marathon in June. Time in at 1:35:19.
TIMES PHOTO BY JONATHAN WHITAKERMing Luke, the new interim conductor of the Merced Symphony, makes his debut
at the Merced Theatre in early November.
THE TOP 14 STORIES OF 2014We hesitate to rank by num-
ber the top stories that we cov-
ered in Merced County this past
year, but we'd like to take a mo-
ment to remember the ones that
immediately stick out in our
minds as we also celebrate the
promise of the New Year 2015.
Well at least we're talking
about it. The lack of water, or
drought, if you will, brought the
U.S. president to a Los Banos
farm, and prompted emergency
measures from Sacramento.
Farmers complained, some got
into the well drilling business,
the Merced Irrigation District up-
dated policies, and the county
starting thinking of an ordinance
to stop water exports. Politicians
like Congressman Jim Costa
had his hands full as debate
swirled, and State Senator An-
thony Cannella and Assembly-
man Adam Gray buddied up and
pushed a bipartisan state water
bill that includes plans for more
storage. They all won re-election
despite some criticism that this
sort of action to protect the Cen-
tral Valley during dry years
should have happened years
A new era of public safety di-
rection for the entire county is
starting after a void was left in
2014 with the sudden resignation
of Sheriff Mark Pazin for a job at
the statewide level. The race for
a new sheriff that ensued was
ripe with competition and debate
on tough local issues including
gang and drug violence, an un-
acceptable homicide rate, county
jail woes, and gun rights. For the
grand finale, it was Pat Lunney,
a very experienced lawman and
administrator, versus Vern
Warnke, the down-to-earth,
hands-on retired Sheriff's ser-
geant. Warnke appeared to have
stronger support in the county's
rural areas and won the coveted
position to become the county's
top law enforcement official.
See Review, Page B4
B2 THURSDAY, JANUARY 1, 2015 THE TIMES
2014 A YEAR IN PICTURES
TIMES PHOTO BY JOHN MILLERDespite the struggling local economy and the need for community donations, the commu-
nity of Atwater pulled off one of its biggest Fourth of July celebrations in 2014 with a big
parade, party in the park and a grand finale fireworks demonstration at the Castle Com-
merce Center and Airport.
TIMES PHOTO BY LYNDA BROMMAGEA riveting dance performance in August by students
of MCOE with disabilities. Morgan Boyle with cere-
bral palsy, center stage, brought tears to the eyes of
TIMES PHOTO BY JOHN MILLERLe Grand hosted its 86th annual Community Day during the Memorial Day week-
end of late May. The theme was 'History Tells the Story,' celebrating 100 years of
Freedom from the beginning of WWI in 1914 to present day.
TIMES PHOTO BY LYNDA BROMMAGEA happy baby is snuggled in a blanket during the
Breast Feeding Lactation Graduation in August.
TIMES PHOTO BY JOHN MILLERThis wild action shot was taken at the bull riding demonstra-
tion during the Merced Couinty Fair in June.
HILMAR TIMES PHOTO BY STEWART SCHULZEHilmar native Dave Ramos and his mighty machine takes off under a cloudy sky during the 14th annual Hilmar Tractor Pull in July.
TIMES PHOTO BY LYNDA BROMMAGEJules Comeyne, a Vietnam War veteran, volunteered
his time showing visitors into the famed B-52 at the
Castle Air Museum during the month of May.
of the city's
with a cake
in the form
TIMES PHOTOBY JONATHANWHITAKER
SEE MORE PHOTOS ON B3
THURSDAY, JANUARY 1, 2015 B3THE TIMES
SEE YOURAD HERE
2014 A YEAR IN PICTURES
TIMES PHOTO BY JONATHAN WHITAKERJacquelain Jackie Cole, a 72-year-old woman strug-gling with homelessness and living with her belongingsin a downtown Merced alley, came to community atten-tion as the cold days of winter approached in 2014. Whileshe has some Social Security benefits, she says its notenough to get into housing. Reportedly, an anonymousdonor was helping Jackie get into a small apartment forthe new year.
TIMES PHOTO BY JONATHAN WHITAKERLocal government leaders break ground on the $52 million "Phase 1A" of the Atwater-Merced Expressway project. The project, which involves the wideningof the San Joaquin Valley's busiest highway, will provide motorists with a safer route to and from Castle Airport Development Center and the University of Cal-ifornia, Merced. Phase 1A of the project will involve construction of the first section of the AME from SR-99 to Green Sands Avenue. It's scheduled to be com-pleted by February 2016.
TIMES PHOTO BY LYNDA BROMMAGEA little girl from the Denisa's School of Dance is thrilled to perform for the audience durning Art Hop thispast summer.
SEE MORE PHOTOS ON B4
It seems bigger for Atwater, asMerced is still trying to get a vi-able Campus Parkway plan offthe table. But the Atwater-Merced Expressway (AME) con-struction is really big for theentire region. It will widen High-way 99 and eventually providemotorists with a quick, directroute to and from the CastleCommerce Center and maybeeven U.C. Merced. The $52 mil-lion "Phase 1A" of the projectstarted in 2014 and will extendfrom 99 to Green Sands Avenue.It's scheduled to be completed inFebruary 2016.
The Bradley Overpass inMerced was finally opened inMerced after a few, long years ofCaltrans construction. Also, theHighway 99 expansion near Ar-boleda was also completed. Bothfeature significant traffic andsafety improvements.
Merced's city elections havemade lots of news in the past,but not for the process itself. Ittook the threat of a lawsuit from aLatino civil rights group to get theattention of everybody as the hotsummer started. The MALDEFgroup, and local sympathizers,targeted Merced's "at-large" vot-
ing system for the absence ofLatinos and South Merced resi-dents on the council, especiallyconsidering Latinos make up halfthe population of the city. A set-tlement included a city spon-sored ballot measure to draw up"by-district" elections. Voters ap-proved. Look for the process tomake headlines in 2015.
Main Street Unity
Fed up may be strong words,but something had to be done,they say. The Merced MainStreet Association formed thisyear to help improve the busi-ness climate in downtownMerced. It's a grassroots organi-zation made up entirely of down-town merchants who are willingto volunteer their time and effortto improve the business climateon and around Main Street. Anytime now, members say, they willcontract with the city to managea big chunk of the "double tax"money downtown merchantspay. They are looking to improvepublic safety, maintain services,and attract shoppers with specialevents.
It's a road expansion ideathat's more than 50 years old andit won't go away despite the factthat many residents living alongthe route don't want it. Little by lit-tle, city planners want to continueon with right-of-way access andtargeting grant money for an-other "north-south corridor" on
Parsons Avenue through town.Well this year, the Merced CityCouncil finally held a specialpublic meeting on the project,and before a packed audience ofpassionate opinions, leaders de-cided to keep the plan on thebooks, albeit with a lower priority.They still have to work on Cam-pus Parkway, you see.
It was a great party idea fromCity Councilman Mike Murphy,and then former Council memberMary-Michal Rawling joined in.The year 2014 marked the 125thAnniversary of the founding (orincorporation) of the City ofMerced. Leaders, volunteers andresidents came together in for ayear's worth of celebrations in-cluding a birthday cake cere-mony at the Merced Theatre,concerts at Courthouse Park, ahistory exhibit at the CourthouseMuseum, and the return of MercyGulch Days on Main Street.
They're still around. In fact,last year's Homeless Countrecorded an increase in theMerced area. In Los Banos, thenew city manager spent a greatdeal of time last spring working tofind housing for the residents ofa camp on a site destined to bemade into a state courthouse. InMerced, the camp near the AutoPlaza at the railroad tracks near16th Street and Highway 99 wasfinally cleared. But another one