Merced County Times Newspaper
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Times Photos by John Miller

Measure J supporters gather for campaign kickoff

 

A diverse crowd of residents from across the county gathered last Thursday in central Merced to rally and support the campaign effort for Measure J — a $247-million bond that will provide locally-controlled funding to upgrade outdated instructional facilities at Merced College. A similar event in Los Banos is expected in the coming days.

Community leaders in Merced pointed out that it’s been nearly 20 years since residents were asked to consider such a bond for the main academic institution that prepares this region’s future workforce and supports those who seek higher education.

Merced County is the fastest growing county in California, and Measure J supporters say the college is growing along with it, and there’s a need for more space with modern technology. The initiative is a result of extensive research, community outreach, and the gradual development of the Merced College Facilities Master Plan. The FMP provides a roadmap for facilities development in order to support the goals and strategies of the College’s Educational Master Plan (EMP).

Merced College plans to expand and modernize labs and classrooms, build an automotive technology and welding center, add a mechanized agriculture complex, construct an allied health simulation lab for the nursing program, increase capacity at the Los Banos campus for Career Technical Education programs, among many other capital improvement projects.

The redevelopment and expansion is also expected to be a boost for local construction jobs, as well as increase opportunities for new and existing Merced College educators.

Local voters will decide on the bond measure in the upcoming March 3 Primary Election. It will cost approximately $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually for as long as the bonds are outstanding. A typical homeowner in Merced County will pay approximately $45 per year—less than $4 a month, on average.

At the rally, residents were encouraged to help the effort in a variety of ways — from picking up yard signs and car magnets, to signing up to help the “Friends of Merced College for Yes on J,” to just getting the word out to potential voters.
For more information regarding Measure J, readers are encouraged to visit online:
https://www.yesformercedcollege.com.

Taking the Measure J case to longtime residents, educators

 

Merced College President Chris Vitelli and the Executive Director of the Merced College Foundation Jill Cunningham met with longtime Merced County residents and retired educators this week to speak about the benefits of the Measure J bond measure that’s on the ballot for the March 3 Primary Election.

The two were introduced by E.J. Lorenzi and Jim Rosa, both supporters of Measure J, during a well-attended luncheon at the Merced Elks Lodge.

Vitelli urged the group to join the effort to provide future Merced College students with renewed campus opportunities and broader pathways toward higher education and careers in the local workforce and beyond. Vitelli and Cunningham also took poignant questions from audience members about the current status of the local community college system and how it is partnering with local high schools and UC Merced.

 

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