Fire damages Newman residence

A fire which officials said originated in a clothes dryer damaged a Newman home Tuesday night, June 16.

Fire Chief Keith Bowen said firefighters responding to a call of a working structure fire in the 1100 block of Fresno Street arrived to find flames showing from the side of a laundry room area. Crews were able to extinguish the flames before they spread to the living area, Bowen reported.

The living quarters sustained minor smoke damage, Bowen said, but the occupant was displaced due to disconnection of power and gas and found lodging with relatives.

No injuries were reported.

The damage was estimated at $15,000.

The fire was reported shortly before 11 a.m.

Fire crews were on the scene for about 90 minutes.

Newman to receive CARES Act money through county

Newman will receive up to $402,000 in coronavirus relief funding being shared by Stanislaus County to help offset expenses attributed to the pandemic.

Supervisor Jim DeMartini said the county is dividing $15 million of its $96 million in CARES Act funding with the county’s nine cities.

Funds will be pro-rated based on each city’s population, he explained.

City Manager Michael Holland said the funding, which is provided on a reimbursement basis for qualified expenses, will help alleviate expenses that otherwise would have come from the city’s budget.

“We have to demonstrate to the county how we spent it and how we plan to spend it in the future, and how that meets federal guidelines,” said Holland, adding that expenses through the end of the calendar year can qualify for funding.

He said staff time related to the pandemic, the purchase of personal protective equipment and building modifications are among the expenses which are expected to qualify for funding.

The city will investigate whether expenses such as installing touchless water faucets are eligible.

Those expenses, he said, may very well approach or reach the funding made available through the county.

“Sharing the CARES Act money is very generous of (the county). Not all counties are doing that,” Holland recently told the City Council while thanking DeMartini. “(Finance Director Lewis Humphries) and I have already been looking at the federal guidelines to see how we can use that funding. We want to make sure that we are able to capture as much of that $402,000 as allowable.”

Gustine values climb

Assessed property values in Gustine climbed 5.5 percent over 2019, according to the 2020 assessment roll released recently by Barbara Levey, Merced County assessor, clerk-recorder and registrar of voters.

Countywide, assessed values increased 5.77 percent from a year ago.

Increases among the county’s six cities ranged from 18 percent in Livingston to 4.8 percent in Atwater.

The assessment roll reflects a continuation of increases in Gustine, which saw a 5.2 percent increase in 2019 and a gain of 6.2 percent in 2018.

Increases in the assessment roll are a result of reassessments for new construction, changes in ownership and annual review of decline in value properties as well as mandated consumer price index increases over Prop. 13 values.

Gustine’s assessed values for 2020 totaled $406.8 million, up by more than $21 million from $385.6 million the prior year.

Gustine residents asked to not flush wipes

City officials in Gustine have a message to residents regarding the disposable wipes labeled as “flushable.”

Please don’t do it.

Director of Public Works Dan Arnold told the City Council last week that an abundance of disposal wipes flushed into the city’s sewer system recently plugged a lift station at Meredith and Linden.

Arnold said crews removed enough wipes from the lift station to fill half a pickup truck load.

“Though they say they are flushable, they are not good for the pumps,” Arnold shared. “They just wreak havoc.”

The wipes may be biodegradable over time, City Manager Doug Dunford added, but don’t break down quickly enough to pass through the sewer system without issue.

“It is imperative that people don’t flush those down the toilet,” he emphasized.

The clog burned up a lift station pump, Dunford added, but “didn’t do as much damage as we were afraid it had.”

Vegetation fire in Newman

Newman firefighters responded to a vegetation fire which spread to a fence Monday morning, June 22.

Fire Chief Keith Bowen said the incident occurred on Inyo at P Street.

The fire caused damage to the fence estimated at $500.

Bowen said the fire ignited by natural causes in decomposing grass clippings which had been piled against the fence line.

The fire had been extinguished by locals with a garden hose and rake upon arrival of firefighters, Bowen said.

A passing pedestrian alerted the occupant of the home to the fire, which was reported shortly before 4 a.m.

West Side weather

Newman resident Marge Carvalho, an observer for the National Weather Service, reported the following high/low temperatures for the past week. Readings for the previous 24-hour period are recorded at 5 p.m. daily.

Monday, June 15: 93/60

Tuesday, June 16: 93/56

Wednesday, June 17: 93/58

Thursday, June 18: 100/62

Friday, June 19: 104/62

Saturday, June 20: 104/62

Sunday, June 21: 104/62