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Caltrans Gateway Monument and Mural Project

CVV News l November 23, 2022

At a recent meeting, the Merced City Council unanimously approved acceptance of $850,000 in grant funding to support the installation of gateway monuments on various state routes and $350,000 in grant funding to support the installation of murals on various state highway structures in the City of Merced. 

“This project, funded by Governor Gavin Newsom’s landmark $1.2 billion Clean California initiative, will afford the City of Merced resources to construct and install six welcome monuments and eight large-scale murals reflective of the City’s rich and diverse cultures,” stated Mayor Matthew Serratto. 

“Like billboards, the murals will represent impressionable images that will humanize and transform otherwise underappreciated and unnoticed areas. Additionally, these murals and gateway monuments will enhance unity in our community by linking culturally significant artwork from Downtown Merced to existing South Merced murals,” concluded Serratto. 

Fifteen artists responded to the Clean California Mural Project through the City’s Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Proposals were reviewed by the Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission (ACAC), which serves as an advisory body to the City Council on matters having to do with public art, art projects, cultural programs and activities, and the promotion of the arts within the City of Merced.

An appointed commissioner subcommittee ranked designs based on criteria listed in the RFP. Eight artists’ designs were then submitted for approval by the City Council. To conclude the process, designs were reviewed and approved by the Caltrans Landscape Review Committee. 

“Whether folks are passing through Merced and the San Joaquin Valley on their way to Yosemite or coming to this great city to live, work, study or visit friends and family, this Clean California gateway project will be a highlight of their journeys in the near future,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “I commend everyone concerned – particularly the local artists whose works will be featured – for their effort in making this idea a reality.” 

Project work will commence mid-December and is scheduled to conclude four months from the start date. Visit to view artist biographies, design inspirations, and progress on their respective designs.

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million designed to help energize communities and create connectivity along the state highway system. There are an additional 105 projects statewide funded by nearly $300 million in Clean California local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities. Collectively, these projects are expected to generate 7,200 jobs. The new state budget includes $100 million to fund another round of Clean California local grant projects. 

Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of litter from state highways – the equivalent of more than 19,000 tons or enough to fill 348 Olympic-size swimming pools – and hired more than 800 new team members as part of Clean California, including 420 maintenance workers who collect litter and remove graffiti. For more information, visit

Merced County Mobile Steam Lab Van to Roll Out Early Next School Year

The Education Technology Mobile STEAM Lab made its debut on May 19 at the Merced City School District STEAM Festival, where Merced County STEAM team members set up five different stations of activities for students to participate in.

The repurposed van, in partnership with MCOE’s Early Education program, will focus on educational hands-on activities, engineering design process, 21st century skills and tools, along with a variety of other STEAM activities.

STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math, is an educational approach to learning that encourages students to engage in activities that involve inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking.

The Mobile STEAM Lab will help support Family Math Nights, Family Coding Nights, Outdoor STEAM Adventures and provide opportunities for schools to host activities for students at the start of the 2022-23 school year and beyond.

The Merced County STEAM team consists of content experts and Educational Technology staff from MCOE’s Educational Services Department.

For more information on STEAM events and the Mobile STEAM Lab contact Matt Edwards at or Maria Villa

Felicia Roberts took an idea gathered a few people to reached into a minority community to highlight the positive, using a minority newspaper the Central Valley Voice. Roberts was joined by her sisters Carolyn Williams, Alleashia Thomas, niece Hermonie Lynn Williams, nephew Ron Williams, cousin Jerald Lester, Jay Slaffey, Greg Savage, Tim Daniels and the late J Denise Fontaine. Each individual played an important role in the birth of the newspapers. Since, then many have stood strong behind the success of the newspapers and its goal to fill a void in the Central Valley community. The Central Valley Voice published their 1st issue in November 1991. Its purposed was to highlight the achievements of minorities in the Central Valley. The Voice focuses on the accomplishments of African Americans and Hispanics giving young people role models while diminishing the stereotypical pictures of gangs, crime and violence that permeate the minority communities. Since 1991, the Central Valley Voice has provided an important voice for the minority community throughout the Madera, Merced. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

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