The Merced City Fire Department has been the focus of public safety funding initiatives in recent days.
State Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria presented Fire Chief Derek Parker with a check for $4 million on Nov. 9 to support the construction of Fire Station 56 in north Merced. The support comes as the chief also seeks an approval at the City Council meeting this coming Monday night to update his department’s “cost-recovery” fees that are billed to insurance companies for emergency services provided to residents. It’s part of an expansion plan that would increase the department’s role in emergency calls, services rendered, transport, and improving a gap in emergency response times. On Page 5 of this newspaper, there’s a related op-ed on the entire issue.
When constructed, Fire Station 56 is expected to reach underserved regions in Merced with emergency services and will include a police department substation and career technical education resources. It will be located at Barclay and Bellevue roads. The station will support an engine, a ladder truck, an ambulance, a battalion chief, and an Emergency Operations Center.
The timeline for completion is three to five years; however, the department opened hiring for up to 24 firefighters just this week with a goal to have trained fire personnel ready to protect the community when the station opens.
“Investments like this are exactly the type of investments the state should be making,” said Assemblywoman Soria. “I will continue to advocate fearlessly for resources for this fire department and others to ensure communities across our district have the resources and tools necessary to keep our public safe.”
The $4 million in funding is part of more than $140 million that has been approved in the state budget to benefit communities in Assembly District 27 — including Madera, Mendota, Kerman and Tranquility.
The unincorporated community of Franklin-Beachwood near Merced also received $3.5 million within the same funding package for the construction of a public park.
At the most recent Merced City Council meeting, leaders honored the Slaton family of Merced by naming the picnic shelter at Ray Flanagan Park as the “Slaton Family Shelter.”
The significance of the site in south Merced is deeply intertwined with the Slaton family’s history and connection to the city. Once owned by family members, the land continues to be associated with the family. The Slaton’s retain ownership of 5 acres adjacent to Flanagan Park, as well as parcels of land across the street.
The park has served as the central gathering place for family events throughout the years. It holds particular importance as the venue for two annual family reunions: May Day, commemorating Mr. John Slaton’s arrival in the Merced area back in the 1930s, and Labor Day, for the annual Slaton Family Reunion.
John Slaton’s remarkable local journey, accompanied by his 17 children, led to the establishment of a family legacy deeply ingrained in local business, agriculture, the foundation of churches, education, healthcare, community service and sports which significantly contributed to the City of Merced and Merced County.