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By John Miller~Mid Valley Publications
For the 10th year in a row dozens of friends, family, and loved ones joined together on Saturday to take part in the Riley Brothers Victims Remembrance Walk on Saturday. Starting at noon, the solemn ceremony and Remembrance Walk started with a gathering in the FoodMaxx parking lot where memories and prayers were held in the names of Michael and Marlis Riley, who lost their lives to violence in the Loughborough area a year apart from one another nearly a decade ago. However, this year was particularly emotional for all in attendance, as new advances in Michael Riley’s case has brought justice to the Riley family after a decade of perseverance.
Michael Riley, who served in the ranks of the U.S Navy in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was just a 29 year old honor student attending Merced College hoping to transfer to Harvard Law when his life was cut short. Nearly a year later, 27 year old Marlis Riley would find himself down the street from the Village Meadows Apartment Complex, the site of his older brother’s death, where a fight would break out in the area of Conestoga Drive that would result in the loss of his life.
Organized and led by their mother Marylene Riley, the yearly event serves as a way to keep the brothers memory alive in those who were closest to their hearts. Each year the event starts in the parking lot of FoodMaxx, where participants gather in prayer and song before following the path that Michael Riley is believed to have taken his fateful night. Upon making their way to the sites of both Michael and Marlis’ final moments, where family members share close stories with those in attendance about the impact the two brothers had on their lives. In addition to remembering the tragic loss of two young lives, the event’s participants also emphasize the importance of bringing unnecessary violence to an end and restoring peace to the streets of Merced.
During the ceremony, Marylene Riley noted that on July 19 the individual believed to be responsible for her son’s death was arrested in San Jose, and was in Jail by July 23. In an emotional speech, Riley informed those in attendance that he would be charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, capital murder, premeditated murder, and would receive gang enhancements for his ties to local gangs. “I pray that he gets convicted on all four counts” Riley said through tears at the site of her son’s last moments. “I pray that he will ask for forgiveness and apologize. That’s all I want, is an apology and for him to admit to his wrong and accept Christ as his savior so that his soul can be saved.”
In a prayer following Riley’s speech and the release of balloons, Reverend Jenkins noted that as the balloons floated away with many of them finding their way into the surrounding trees, he saw something poetic in their release. “You may fly free for awhile,” Reverend Jenkins said, “but you will not get away forever. You may get away on this side, but on the other side with the final judge you will get caught.”
Atwater Elementary Earns Prestigious Golden Bell Award
The Atwater Elementary School District earned the key Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.
This is a prestigious statewide award and a great honor for the district, Superintendent Sandra Schiber said.
The AESD program, Common Language for Effective Instruction, Student Engagement, Achieving Depth of Knowledge, Professional Development to Solidify Model Practices, is recognized under the “closing the opportunity gap” award category.
The district will be recognized at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference Nov. 29 in San Francisco.
Ana Boyenga, assistant superintendent of Educational Services, said the program was developed internally by the administrative team in the summer of 2015; one of its main assets is its features can be replicated by other school districts.
Boyenga said the goal of Atwater’s program is high quality education developed through common language and the establishment of three core instructional practices.
These include establishing learning objectives in English language arts and mathematics, student engagement and achieving a depth of knowledge, Boyenga said.
“We’re really excited for the recognition,” she said.
Superintendent, Board of Trustees to Take Oath of Office
MCAG Scholarship Program Now Accepting Applications
The Merced County Board of Education’s reorganizational meeting takes place next month, with the county superintendent of schools and three board members taking the oath of office.
The board will meet Dec. 17 at 12:30 p.m. in the Clark/Newbold Rooms at MCOE, 632 W. 13th St. The meeting is open to the public.
Steve Tietjen, elected to his first full term as superintendent, will be sworn-in by retired Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen. Tietjen was appointed and took the office in December, 2016 to fill the remaining term of Steve Gomes.
Also receiving the oath of office will be Trustee Dennis Hanks, representing Area 1, along with Chris Chavez from Area 2 and Tom Bates from Area 5.
All three trustees are incumbents.
Refreshments will be served after the reorganizational meeting. Then the school board convenes as the Virginia Smith Trust, with the regular business meeting scheduled to begin about 3:30 p.m.
MERCED- Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is now accepting applications for the 2019 Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship. The MCAG Governing Board and staff established this scholarship program in 2010 to honor the memory of Anna Maria Fuentes, Grants Program Manager at MCAG.
The Anna Maria Fuentes Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating high school senior in Merced County with a grade point average of 3.8 or higher who has demonstrated a high level of participation in extracurricular activities including positions of leadership. Applicants must provide a personal essay that describes their need for scholarship in order to pursue higher education goals.
The 2019 scholarship recipient will receive $1,000 and will be eligible to receive additional awards of $1,000 each year for three years based on scholastic performance and documentation.
Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at MCAG, 369 W. 18th Street, Merced and must be received by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The selected scholarship recipient will be notified by May 1, 2019.
Interested applicants can access the scholarship application and instructions at http://www.mcagov.org/217/Scholarship. General inquiries can be directed to Eva Garibay, Public Programs Specialist, at 209-723-3153 x 108.
MCAG is the regional transportation planning agency and metropolitan planning organization for Merced County. In addition to regional transportation planning, MCAG also manages The Bus, YARTS and the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. For more information, visit www.mcagov.org.
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