New Year Means New County Lines for Fresno and Merced

Fresno, California Officials say the main reason for the change is to give residents faster access to emergency services.

The unveiling of the new Merced County line sign Monday morning marked a moment that's been in the works for two years and on the minds of residents for decades.

Kenneth Crutcher is one of about 400 Fresno County residents who will become Merced County residents as a result of the boundary change.

Crutcher has lived in the Dos Palos area since the 1930's and says he's always supported the move because it will mean faster emergency response times.

"I've had burglaries over the years and any time I've ever had a problem to call, Merced County always responded. They were there this year, somebody shot off my mailbox. Fresno County said they'd be there, right away, we're on our way, never showed up. Merced County was there within 5 minutes," says Crutcher.

Merced County Supervisor Jerry O'Banion says the need for a change was highlighted when a student at Bryant middle school near Dos Palos was injured but had to wait more than an hour for help to arrive from Fresno County.

"I think the reality of services being within a mile that could not really help just didn't make sense to anyone," says O'Banion.

Now residents will have access to a Merced County Riggs ambulance that's stationed in Dos Palos, and a Merced County sheriff's deputy who will start patrolling the area.

Crutcher says it's a change that will bring him comfort in the New Year. "I didn't think it would ever come to pass really, so we're very happy."

Supervisor O'Banion says the boundary shift won't impact property taxes or put protected farm land at risk.

When the change takes effect at midnight, it will be the first adjustment to Merced County's boundary since 1887.

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