Radio and Multimedia

At the Merced Sun-Star, I was a co-host for the weekly radio news show “Off the 99” that focused on city, county and educational news stories and interviews in Merced County.

The pros and cons of high-speed rail in California

“Off the 99” takes a look at the often contentious issue of California High Speed rail. Reporters Ameera Butt and Mike North brought in advocates for high speed rail and others who thought the rail is a good idea in theory, but implementation of the project was an issue. The radio show spoke with two co-founders of Californians for High Speed Rail: Brian Stanke and Daniel Krause, about the nonprofit and the costs and benefits associated with the project.

David Mills, from the International Brotherhood of electrical workers local 684, also joined the conversation about how the creation of jobs would stimulate the economy and provide work for countless California workers.

Ameera Butt also spoke to Kole Upton, a local member of Preserve our heritage, by phone. The group formed in August last year in the north Madera County and southern Merced County areas by farmers who say they are going to be adversely affected by the project. The proposed high speed rail, which California High Speed Rail Authority say will cost about $42.6 billion, is currently in its comments period for the draft environmental impact report and statement. Statewide, the Authority has set up sessions and meetings for the public.

Merced’s own Carmageddon

It’s not quite Carmageddon, but construction on Merced roadways has caused local drivers a few of their own headaches. This week, Off the 99’s Ameera Butt and Mike North met with some Merced city officials to discuss what a lot of Mercedians have been complaining about — construction. City officials went into detail about the $18 million G Street Underpass Project, which is ahead of schedule and expected to be finished by December.

Another large-scale project in the city is the Parsons Avenue roadwork. Parsons is known as one of the roughest streets in the city. Rainy weather disrupted both projects during the winter months, but construction workers managed to keep the work on-course. While lots of roadwork is being done now, similar maintenance could be noticeably absent in coming years.

Shutting down Merced’s main jail

This week, “Off the 99” spoke with the president and spokesperson of the Merced County Sheriff’s Employee Association and Sheriff Mark Pazin about the recent proposal to shut down Merced County’s main jail and the implications it would bring to public safety, the inmate population and the community. This is part one of a two-part series addressing the issue.

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