Merced County Times 10 26 2017 E Edition Page 1

MERCED COUNTYTIMES OCTOBER 26, 2017 THE POWER OF POSITIVE PRESS Serving The Central Valley Since 1964 VOLUME 53, ISSUE 43 Weekly Edition 383-0433 FREE CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED FIND US ON FACEBOOK! Our Web Site: Merced County Times .net Students Meet Scientists To Discuss Fair Projects See Education, Page C-1 Merced College Art Gallery Opens Printmaking Exhibit See Free Times, B-1 Read for FREE: County Times Online .com Check out our new digital edition online at LOCAL RESIDENTS HEAR CALL TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY BY BEVERLY BARELA T aking the battle for cleaner air in the Central Valley to the neighborhood level, the Central California Environmental Jus- tice Network (CCEJN) sponsored an all- day conference called Roots of Resistance on Oct. 21 at the Merced Mul- ticultural Arts Center in Merced. The conference was a direct result of the passage of Assembly Bill 617 in July - a breakthrough in air pollution law which brings environmentally-challenged neighborhoods to the forefront of a new movement and is anticipated to bring $230 million in funding to the San Joaquin Valley to improve air quality. During the day, there were workshops seeking input from attendees on their air quality issues. Topics of conversation in- cluded how toxic are commercial agricul- tural pesticides, how bad is volatilization (exposure to post-application vapor from volatile agricultural pesticides, peaking possibly 48 hours later), and how do resi- dents in ag areas stop farming operations from exposing them to air pollution from dust and pesticide drift. Citizens attempting to get help were en- couraged with information such as ac- cording to the Fugitive Dust Rule, if air at a residence is clouded with dust from farming more than a certain percentage over a 15-minute period as measured by an opacity monitor, the violator will be fined. Farmers can effect mitigation by uti- lizing Conservation Management Prac- tices to minimize dust, and there will soon be new almond harvesters that remove dust coming to the Valley. Residents were urged to keep making complaints with each suspected air pollu- tion incident even when meeting with re- sistance from local regulatory agencies with staff steeped in cronyism and en- meshed in the good ol' boys network. One attendee noted the typical re- sponse of some county personnel to com- plaints of dust and odor from farming operations was that the county has a right- to-farm ordinance so if you live in an ag zone, you have to put up with it. However, in an article entitled "Housing Slump Gives Breathing Room to Land Use Debates" by California Health Report, the author, Tim Moran, described Maxwell Norton, a UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor in Merced, as believing right-to-farm ordinances are not effective. In the article, Maxwell was quoted as say- ing, "You cannot take a person's right to complain to a regulatory authority away, if they feel a regulation has been violated. And the regulatory agencies are required to investigate." Future of pot market goes to council BY JOHN MILLER T he sale and distribution of what in- dustry experts prefer to call cannabis have taken another step forward as the city's Planning Commission voted last Wednesday to make a recom- mendation to City Council of an ordi- nance that would allow for a total of 4 dispensaries within the city limits. In addition to the dispensaries, the ordnance would also allow for a vari- ety of cannabis-related business, such as testing facilities, manufactur- ing plants, distribution business, and others, within various zones through- out Merced. Amendments by city staff to the or- dinance that were discussed during the previous week's study session in- cluded a clarification that of the 4 dis- pensaries to be permitted, at least one dispensary would be required to dis- pense medicinal cannabis goods. The change was made due to state legislation that was adopted in-be- tween sessions that allowed medical and adult-use dispensaries to coin- cide on the same premises, as such, city staff and the SCI Consulting Group were concerned that the previ- ous wording of the drafted ordinance would place medical-only dispen- saries at a commercial disadvantage over adult-use dispensaries. Additional changes highlighted more specific criminal convictions that would preclude one from obtaining a Commercial Cannabis Business Per- mit, including violent felonies and felony drug sales. Other changes in- clude requirements that owners be at least 21 years of age, and outlined cri- teria for the denial of annual permit Neil Hall of SCI Consulting gives city planning officials an overview of the draft cannabis ordinance for Merced. Nightmare On Calimyrna Avenue TIMES PHOTO BY JOHN MILLER This home at 2211 Calimyrna Avenue in central Merced is transformed into an orange and black nightmare to behold for the Halloween holiday. See more haunted houses on Page 9. Supervisors praise new agreement with L.A. Port BY BEVERLY BARELA T he Merced County Board of Supervisors this week unanimously approved a "memorandum of agreement," formalizing a working relationship be- tween the Port of Los Angeles and the local Castle Commerce Center / Castle Airport. "This is an unprecedented opportunity for Merced County," declared Supervisor Daron McDaniel, the board chair. "This is a long-term vision and another step in our continued effort to develop Castle, but if we can make it happen, it has the potential to bring substantial economic activity and jobs to this county." Eugene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, spoke in support of the relationship with Merced County during Tuesday's regular meet- ing. He was accompanied by David Libatique, sen- ior director of the Port's Government Affairs Division. McDaniel, who traveled to the Port of Los Ange- les in connection with the MOA's creation, said the new advancement was an example of out-of-the- box thinking. There is a possibility that Castle could become a future inland port, he said. The MOA is anticipated to be the first of many steps in the working relationship, opening the door to significant investment and development at Cas- tle. Specifically, it initiates the development of a joint business development plan, an exporter outreach A new pact between Merced County and the Port of Los Angeles could bring big investment and lots of jobs to the Castle Commerce Center and Airport, local officials say. See Air, Page 4 See Future, Page 4 See Agreement, Page 4

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