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Merced River group vows to continue meeting

WINTON — A list long list of options for the future of the Merced River Stakeholder’s group hung on the wall Monday evening.

The top of the list read "stop." The next option said "continue." Then it continued with more specific goals.

However, before the night ended, the "stop" option was crossed off the list.

The group, which educates the public about the Merced River and is meant to represent the diverse interests of those with stake in the watershed, has had its ups and downs over the past 10 years. Disagreements and splits within it flared recently as its facilitation funding drew to a close. These hurdles caused some to believe that the group will or should dissolve.

But on Monday, that no longer appeared to be an option. "I haven’t heard one person say that we should stop MRS," said Teri Murrison, the meeting’s guest facilitator.

This came after she asked a couple of times "do you want to continue?" And there were nods all around the about 15-person table.

The stakeholders — farmers, landowners, environmental, education and agency representatives — met in a small room at Washington Elementary School in Winton this week. But in September the group had split, with some meeting at UC Merced and others at Washington School. Part of the membership did not believe their needs and opinions about upcoming or past projects around the river were taken seriously.

The group came back together in November, but tempers flared and accusations flew. They agreed to meet again in January to decide how to proceed.

Read the full story in Wednesday's Merced Sun-Star.

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