Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Revised vote totals are in for some of the valley’s tightest political races. New numbers released Friday evening from Merced County for California’s 16th Congressional District have Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra now leading Democratic incumbent Jim Costa by 741 votes.

Costa increased his lead in Fresno County by around 1700 votes on Friday, but that was more than offset with gains by Tacherra in Madera and Merced counties.  Tacherra ended the day increase his overall lead by five votes.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Central California isn't necessarily known for advancing the world of technology, but Ezra David Romero reports that some are trying to change that. Merced County, a region know for milk and almonds, is working to attract high tech companies to fill what was once Castle Air Force Base in Atwater. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This is the first story in a two part series by Ezra David Romero about what some are calling a tech boom in Central California. This week we talk Merced, next we explore Fresno. 

Meet a guy who wakes up and spends his entire day with Google.

“I’m Daniel Galindo, I’m a student at the Merced JC,” Galindo says.

This 22-year-old won’t label himself as nerd or a techie; he doesn’t have a programming degree or write code.

John D. Sutter / Twitter

Journalist John D. Sutter is on a quest to do something that many valley residents do, kayak on the San Joaquin River. But instead of going for a short trip from Lost Lake Park to Highway 41, he has a much longer journey in mind - Friant Dam all the way to San Francisco Bay. 

When author Anne Fadiman first visited Merced in the late 1980s, she says more than 10,000 Hmong refugees and their children were living there. At that time, about one out of every six people living in Merced was Hmong, she says.

The hospitals were overwhelmed by the new refugee population, she recalls. Medical interpretation was not legally mandated at that time, and Merced Community Medical Center had just one Hmong interpreter. It often fell to the hospital janitor, or a family’s young child, to translate sensitive medical information to a patient.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

When Mailu Lor translates for a Hmong patient, she can’t just repeat the doctor’s orders, word for word. That’s because the Hmong language often doesn’t contain advanced medical terminology, or names for diseases, like diabetes.

“Hmong language is a very difficult language,” Lor said. “We don’t have any dictionary for medical terminology.”

The Great Historic Fresno Scavenger Hunt

This week on Valley Edition we step into the doors of a Merced health clinic that serves the homeless. The City of Merced was hit hard by the economic crash and foreclosure crisis in the past decade. In an already poor and medically under-served region, the recession created a new group of homeless people who have very limited access to medical care. But one determined doctor, aided by Golden Valley Health Centers staff and student volunteers from UC Merced, is striving to ensure these people don’t fall through the cracks.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Below a Highway 99 overpass, and sandwiched between the D Street homeless shelter and the railroad tracks, is an unlikely beacon of hope for Merced residents low on luck. It’s an RV that houses Golden Valley Health Center’s mobile health clinic for the homeless.

Nick Arellano, 55, has come to the mobile unit to see Dr. Salvador Sandoval, the homeless clinic’s doctor. Arellano has long hair and blue eyes that shine from his weathered face.

“How are you doing?” Sandoval asks.

California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal agency that oversees the nation's railroad system has officially approved plans for the first leg of California's controversial high speed rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration's approval on Wednesday was a necessary step to allow construction to begin early next year on the Fresno to Merced component of the system. 

The approval by the FRA will allow the California High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with purchasing right-of-way from landowners for the system. 

Merced Democratic Congressman Dennis Cardoza announced his retirement today, effective Wednesday at midnight. Cardoza told the press that "sensitive family needs" prompted his resignation. Last October, he announced that he did not plan on seeking re-election.  His seat in California's 18th Congressional district includes Merced, as well as portions of Modesto,  Stockton, Madera and Fresno.