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Measure U passes by a landslide
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Voters in the Ceres Unified School District appeared to have passed Measure U.

With 42 of 52 precincts counted, the measure received 4,691 yes votes to 2059 votes, or 69.5 percent to 30.5 percent.

Measure U would allow CUSD to issue $60 million in bonds to upgrade all Ceres schools and designate $25 million for a third junior high school. Matching funds from the state would also be provided to help pay for the upgrades. Measure U would place an assessment of up to $60 for every $100,000 of assessed valuation annually for 30 years. A property with an assessed valuation of $200,000 would be assessed by another $120 per year.

"This sends the message that this community believes that investing in schools is the best thing and the right thing to do," said Walt Hanline, superintendent of the Ceres Unified School District.

The measure only needed 55 percent for passage. Hanline said that because the measure exceeded the two-thirds majority threshold pleased him.

Polling data confirmed that the community was supportive of Measure U all along, said Hanline.

Hanline called the Measure U committee "a powerful group of people."

Now CUSD's task is to move fast.

"We're going to have to move very very fast," said Hanline. "We have a whole a whole lot of projects to do. There is about a billion dollars available on this bond sitting in Sacramento and we have to move fast to get some of that."

The measure allows all five recently built schools - Sinclear, Berryhill, La Rosa, Adkison, and Hidahl - to receive a library/computer lab/ classroom complex. Measure U also allows CUSD to replace aging portable classrooms and upgrade bathroom facilities at the older schools.

CUSD officials will us Measure U to improve vocational education at Ceres High School and adding a third junior high schools to avoid overcrowding.

CHS will receive a $3.8 million 8-classroom wing and replacement of portables. Measure U also helps pay for a $10.5 million 16-classroom wing at Central Valley High School.

Most of the schools would see a replacement of older portable classrooms with more permanent modular classrooms. Modular classrooms would look like permanent buildings and set on concrete pads and have a life of 80 to 100 years.

The fate of Measure S, the half-cent sales tax measure for roads in Stanislaus County, is still in the air due to the close vote tally.

The latest vote count showed that S received 74,491 votes, or 65.9 percent. It requires a 66 percent plus one vote majority.

The measure would bring on a 20-year tax increase to raise an estimated $700 million for road maintenance and road construction projects.

Half of the revenues would be spent on local road maintenance and spent as the cities and county see fit, while the other half would be used to construct new roads. The formula would give Ceres $27.6 million for local road maintenance.

The pot of money for new road projects is being split for spending in three corridors: northern, central and southern. The Service/Mitchell/99 interchange project would take a $30 million chunk of the central corridor monies of $350 million. Ceres officials orginally requested for $62 million for Service/Mitchell.

In the other corridors, the new tax dollars would be spent to improve Highway 132 in Modesto, Highway 108 in Riverbank and Oakdale, and the West Main Corridor in Turlock, Newman, and Patterson.

A close vote count in Hughson was too close to declare a winner in the Hughson City Council race. Firefighter Doug Humphreys appeared headed to victory with 385 votes but things were closer between retired city manager Henry G. Hesling Jr., and rancher Ben J. Manley. Hesling received 368 votes and Manley received 373 votes.

Ramon Bawanan was the lone candidate on the ballot to become mayor of Hughson.

Ceres farmer Bill Berryhill appeared to have defeated Turlock farmer John Eisenhut for the state Assembly's District 26 seat. Berryhill, a former member of the Ceres Unified School District Board, received 55,940 votes, or 52 percent, to Eisenhut's 52,308 votes, or 48 percent. Berryhill polled better in San Joaquin County than he did in Stanislaus County where things were closer. In Stanislaus County, Eisenhut had 20,884 votes against 20,701 for Berryhill.