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منبع: سايت كلاس زبان انگليسي
A New Plan For a Safer Dam:
Many people have been thinking about the floods that happened in New Orleans, Louisiana. California officials are thinking about floods too. In the spring, heavy rains and melting snow add a lot of water to the lake behind Folsom Dam. People believe too much water could breach the dam. Then the dam might break and flood the towns below the lake. A flood would be very dangerous for the people who live near the dam. They need to find a solution and a way to keep the nearby towns safe.
Senator Deborah Ortiz has an idea that might help. She wants to ask the State of California for funds to make the Folsom Dam seven feet taller. Then the dam would be able to hold back more water. This would help keep the towns safe from floods.
Senator Ortiz is also asking the state to build a new bridge across the water below the dam. Folsom Dam Road is above the dam, and a lot of traffic once used the road. Right now, the road is closed. Most of the people who used the road every day are angry. They demand that the road be opened again. A bridge would make it easier for people to get to the other side of the dam.
Senator Ortiz hopes that the state will pay for these projects. She thinks they will protect Sacramento and make the drivers happier.
Civil Service :
Civil service offers jobs to thousands of men and women. They work at many different levels of the government. The levels are city, county, state, and federal.
All areas of civil service work on the merit system. This system is set up to protect the employee. It is meant to have each job filled by the people best qualified to have them.
The merit system makes sure each employee gets equal and fair pay. Training is provided for those who need it. Fair treatment will be given to all no matter who they are.
Many kinds of jobs are available through civil service. Some of these jobs could be clerks, cabinet makers, painters, law enforcement, and mail delivery.
A problem with trying to get a civil service job is that it takes a long time to get placed in a job. Another problem is that applying for a job can be time consuming. However, once you get a civil service job, you will be secure in the job for a long time, as long as you work hard.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers in San Francisco went on strike. They are some of the highest paid transit workers in the country. They want raises of 5% to 6%. BART managers say they can only pay a 3% raise.
BART's 93 miles of track and 56 trains serve the whole San Francisco Bay Area. None of the trains will run during the strike. Managers will not use substitute drivers.
The strike added 275,000 extra commuters to the rush hour traffic. Rush hour took 6 hours instead of 2 hours. There were not enough parking spaces for all the cars.
People used many ways to get into San Francisco. They formed car pools. They rode buses. They took ferries.
Union leaders and BART managers were trying to settle the strike. They met with the mayor. They talked all night. But after three days they still had not settled the strike.
County Starts Using Electric Buses:
A city in California recently got some new buses. They cost $490,000 each. The new buses are different than the old ones.
These new buses are better for the environment. They are called hybrid buses. They run on diesel and electric power. This will help keep the air cleaner.
One bus driver said that the air smells much cleaner when he drives the new buses. He smells diesel all day when he drives the old ones.
The company that builds the buses had many good things to say about them. For example, they said that they use a lot less fuel. They also said that they are 90 percent cleaner for the environment. The buses are very quiet too.
The buses have a diesel engine in the back and batteries on top. When the engine starts-up it is powered by electricity. Then the diesel power takes over. The motor recharges the batteries.
Over time the city would like to replace all 50 of their buses with the new hybrid buses. They hope to do this over the next three years. The city has had help purchasing the buses with grant money.
Disc Jockey Threatens Lives:
Many people listen to a specific radio station. One morning listeners heard more than just music. They heard the disc jockey threaten himself and others.
People who work at the radio station called the police. They got worried when they heard the disc jockey talking about a fight he had with his wife. He was talking about it while he was on the air.
The police wanted to calm the man down. They needed to be very careful. The man's young son was in the building.
Officers talked to the man. He quickly walked out of his booth. He was taken to the police station.
Nobody was hurt. The little boy was fine. People just got worried and wanted to make sure everyone would stay safe.
Farmers and the Weather:
The weather is very important to farmers. This time of year seems to be cooler than usual. This change is nice for some farmers but causes worry for others.
One man who grows grapes said that he welcomed the cooler weather. It was giving him and his workers extra time to bottle their wine. Usually they would still be picking grapes this time of year.
Other farmers are not quite as happy. The possible rain can cause a lot of damage to their crops. Food that is not picked right away can often rot.
Farmers are usually on a very strict schedule. They need to get all of their food picked before the weather gets bad. When the rains start early it can ruin a lot of their crops.
It seems that some farmers are happy about the cooler weather and others are concerned. It has been a nice relief for a few of them. For others, they hope that the rain will not start because it could ruin many of their crops.
Farmers Plant Different Crops:
Some farmers are having a hard time picking their crops. There are not enough workers to help them with the harvest.
One farmer used to grow peaches, but will soon switch to growing almonds. Peaches require more labor to harvest. They are fragile, and must be picked by hand. Machines would damage the ripe peaches. Then the farmer could not sell them. He is using a bulldozer to remove his peach trees. Then he will plant almond trees in their place.
Almonds are harvested differently. It does not take as many workers to pick them because a machine shakes the almond trees. The almonds fall on the ground and then are gathered up. The farmer does not have to hire many workers to pick the almonds off the trees.
Some farmers think there are two reasons why there is a shortage of farm workers. One reason is that there are a lot of construction jobs in the area. These jobs pay higher wages. Many workers are taking construction jobs instead of picking fruit.
Another reason is that it has become more difficult to cross the border from Mexico into California. Many farm workers come from Mexico. Fewer are able to cross the border in order to work on the fruit farms.
One solution might be to allow Mexican workers to work here as guests. That would help them to provide for their family and help farmers harvest their crops.
Farmers say that unless things change, more produce will come from other countries. This is because labor is cheaper in other nations than it is in the United States.
Guest Worker Program:
Farmers need lots of workers to help them on their farms. They often hire people from Mexico to do work. People that the farmers hire are all supposed to be citizens of the United States.
A citizen is a person that legally lives in a country. It is against the law to hire workers that are not citizens. Sometimes illegal citizens are hired anyway. They will work for less money.
Farmers say that it can be hard to tell if a person is an illegal worker. Papers that prove a person is a citizen often look real even if they are not. Some farmers do not care if their workers are illegal. Hiring illegal workers saves them money.
Many farmers want a deal to be made. The deal would be between Mexico and the United States. It would be called a “Guest Worker” program. This program would help both the farmers and workers. It would let them legally work together.
Farmers in California need lots of workers. Lots of people in Mexico want to work in California. Farmers hope that the United States and Mexico will start a “Guest Worker” program. This program would make working together legal for everyone.
Every morning, kids from a local high school are working hard. They are making and selling special coffee at a coffee cafe. They are also making a lot of money.
These students can make up to twelve hundred dollars a day. They are selling their special coffee to airplane passengers. After the students get paid, the rest of the money goes to helping a local youth project.
These high school students use a space in the Oakland airport. It is usually very crowded. Many people who fly on the planes like to drink the special coffee.
One customer thinks that the coffee costs a lot but it is good and worth it. Most customers are pleasant but some are unhappy. They do not like it if the coffee cafe is not open for business.
The students earn $6.10 an hour plus tips. They also get school credit while they learn how to run a business. Many of the students enjoy the work although it took some time to learn how to do it.
They have to learn how to steam milk, load the pots, and add flavor. It takes some skill and sometimes mistakes are made. The most common mistake is forgetting to add the coffee.
Looking for a Job:
Are you looking for a job? More and more people are looking for work. Also, more people are changing jobs as job markets change. How do you find out about new jobs? Besides the local newspaper, there are many places to check for more information on possible jobs.
Public libraries in most towns and cities have information about jobs and different careers. This information includes lists of local, state, and federal government job opportunities. The information tells you how to apply for the jobs.
Government offices provide services in locating jobs. Federal, state, and local governments offer many civil service job opportunities. Civil service jobs are jobs with the federal, state, or local government like forest rangers, post office clerks, and highway workers.
Many businesses hire workers through employment agencies. Employment agencies handle both temporary and permanent jobs. Many employment agencies list jobs in the want ad section of newspapers. You can also find the names of employment agencies in the telephone directory. Employment agencies usually charge a fee.
Your friends and relatives who are working are another source to learn about jobs. They can tell you about job openings where they are working or about other jobs.
Man Answers Email:
A computer company has a special person who answers all questions that are sent to him. The person is a 63 year old man. He is known for always finding the right answers. On the Internet, more people are finding out about this smart man.
He does not look like a computer expert. He has silver hair and is gentle. He feels that his age helps him with his job. He remembers a lot of things people ask about. He says that every day is different, so he is never bored.
He tries to return the answers within 24 hours. He will answer any questions that he can. The questions he gets are very different each day. He loves his job.
Other companies do not have a place for people to ask questions. If they do, it may take a long time to get an answer. Sometimes you may never get an answer at all.
It is important for companies to have a person who will answer your questions. It keeps the customers happy. Happy customers will keep coming back.
New Sewer Rates in Small Town:
The state of California has new clean water standards. This means that all counties in the state will need to meet these standards. When permits at a sewage treatment plants expire the facility must rebuild in order to meet the new regulations.
When a sewage plant is upgraded all of the customers in the area share the cost of the improvements. The money required to improve a facility is passed on to customers as a rate increase. As permits expire in large cities the cost to customers should not be too much because there are a lot of people living there.
This is not true for people who live in small cities. Their costs will increase quite a bit. One small city is facing a very large increase in sewer rates. Their rates will more than double. Some people are saying that they will not be able to afford the cost.
It will cost about $6.4 million to update the current facility in one small city. Only 83 families live in this area. They will have to pay much more money than a person living in a very large city. One man said that his new sewage rates would be higher than his property taxes. It would cost his family fifty-two cents per hour for sewer service. That will be about $3 each time he needs to flush the toilet. It will cost about 10 times more to pour a glass of water down the drain than it does to fill the glass in the first place.
Many more small areas will face the same problem very soon. The people that live there have prepared reports and gathered signatures to give to lawmakers in Sacramento. They hope to get some help with this problem.
If they do not have a new plant up and running by the time their current permit expires they will be punished. They will face fines of several thousand dollars each day for being out of compliance with new clean water standards. They hope to get help from lawmakers before this happens.
More than 2000 San Joaquin County workers planned a strike. Workers strike because they want change. Often, they want more money or changes in their work place.
The strike did not happen because the union and the county reached an agreement in time. Both sides say there are details to settle before the contract is final. Because there was no strike, people can get services at the hospital, the courthouse, and other county offices.
Carl Sharsmith loves the mountains. Carl is a park ranger in Yosemite National Park. He has worked for 63 years in the park.
Carl wakes up every morning at 6:00 a.m. His cabin door looks out toward the top of a mountain. At ninety years old, Carl is the oldest park ranger.
Ranger Carl likes to walk in his favorite meadow. Many visitors have walked with him over the years. He points out wild berries and onions. He tells people stories about the beauty of the high country.
Other rangers say Carl helps the visitors feel good about being there. Even though he has seen things at the park, he believes it is a miracle.
There is a book about Carl. It is called Mountain Sage. It tells about Carl's love of the meadows he cares for. He tries to show the meadows to everyone who visits.
Police Officers Needed:
Police departments need more officers. They are trying to hire more people to work for them. They are having a hard time finding good workers.
One reason is money. New police officers do not make much money compared to other jobs. Many people that might want to become police officers choose other jobs because they will make more money.
Another reason police departments are having a difficult time is that it can be hard to qualify for the job. People that are trying to become officers need to pass many tests. These tests are not always easy.
One of the tests given is to see how honest the applicants are. These people also have to take drug tests. Many of them do not pass these tests.
Lots of people that want to become police officers are not qualified for the job. They cannot pass all of the tests. Many different departments try to get the few qualified applicants to work for them.
Relief Group Sends Supplies:
Three men wanted to help survivors who lost their homes in a hurricane. They asked people who lived in their area to help too. People donated food, water, and even medicines. They collected a lot of supplies to send to the Gulf Coast.
The men who started collecting were ready to send supplies after five days. They loaded a semi-truck with food, medicine and other things. The first truck was sent to Louisiana to help people who had lost their belongings and homes. It took the truck about a day and a half to get there from California.
Seven more trucks were loaded and made ready. The trucks were sent to states that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Those states are Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. The supplies will be given to people who survived the hurricane.
Chris Snow is a volunteer who is loading supplies into the trucks. He was asked why he was helping. He said, "It's a disaster and everybody needs to jump in and help."
Roads Being Fixed After Rainy Weather:
There have been many weeks of rainy weather in one area of California. The rain has a tendency to seep into the cracks of the road. When cars and trucks drive on these wet roads it breaks down the base. This causes potholes to develop.
Potholes can cause a lot of damage to cars. Auto repair experts said the holes in the roads have been causing more damage than usual to cars. They said that they have already seen many bent and cracked wheels.
The rain has caused over $70 million in damage to roads in California in just one month. When the rain finally stopped for a bit, many workers began trying to patch the holes in the roads.
One area actually lost a 40-foot section of road. The heavy rains washed it away. Crews have been working hard to try to fix it.
A new lane is being built around the damaged area. People will have to use this for a little while. Permanent repairs will begin later in the year.
Stolen Identity Blocks New Job:
A young woman was having trouble getting a credit card. She was rejected many times. Then she applied for a new job. She was turned down again. Then the reason became clear. She had become the victim of identity theft. She found out that three different people were using her Social Security number. She discovered this when she applied for a job at a new Target store.
Some employers are checking credit reports before they hire people. They also use background checks. When Target checked on the woman’s credit history, they found a problem. Target did not hire her. But the law said that they had to tell her why. They told her she was a fraud risk.
A lawyer who specializes in workplace law said that credit reports help employers hire good people. The reports help weed out dishonest or unreliable job applicants.
Now the woman knows about her identity theft. She can solve her problem. She must order copies of her credit reports. The she must make corrections and send them back. A law says that the three major credit bureaus must give people credit reports for free. They have to do this once per year. Consumers can order these reports online.
The woman may have some good news. Target told her they would reconsider her for the job. She has to give them a letter from the Social Security office. The letter should verify who she is. She may be able to get a job after all.
When you are working at a job, it is important to be a "team player." A team player works well with the other people on the job. Employers like when their employees get along and still get the job done.
There are many things you can do to be a good team player. When working with others, be willing to compromise. Think of ways to solve problems. Do not demand that your ideas are used.
Show loyalty to your team. Be committed to the team's growth and improvement. Think of ways to help your team meet its goals.
Find a way to work in different conditions. Adapt to change in your work setting. Be responsible and accept new ways of doing your job.
If you do these things, you will be a better team member. Your employer will appreciate your good work.
Truck Drivers Might Strike:
Truck drivers deliver food to grocery stores. Some drivers that deliver to one grocery store are not happy. They want a new contract.
A contract is an agreement between two groups. The truck drivers want the grocery store to agree to some things or they might stop taking them their food. If the drivers stop working they will be on strike.
The truck drivers want some changes to be made. They want to be paid more money. They also want working conditions to be safer and to be treated better.
If the truck drivers go on strike the grocery store might not get all of their supplies. This means that the shelves in the grocery store might not be as full. Customers will not have as many things to buy.
The truck drivers hope that the grocery store will agree to a new contract. Drivers say that if things do not get better they might go on strike. If drivers go on strike the grocery store shelves will not be as full as customers are used to seeing.
When you are hired for a job, you will fill out a W-4 form. This form tells your employer how much money to withhold from your paycheck. This money is for state and federal taxes.
The amount withheld depends on several things: how much money you earn, the number of dependents you have, and if you are over 65 years old or blind. People who live with you and that you take care of are called dependents. These people are counted as “exemptions” on the W-4 form.
The number of exemptions you claim can change. It can change if you get married or divorced. If you have a baby or a dependent dies, it can also change. If your dependent stops living with you, your exemptions can change too.
When you claim the correct number of exemptions, you pay the right amount of tax. If you claim too many exemptions, you will pay more taxes in April. If you don’t claim enough exemptions, more taxes will be taken from your check. You will get a tax refund after April.
Many employees of the state are getting together to protest the way they are treated at work. These people are not happy. They feel that minorities are being discriminated against.
This group of people says that minorities are not being treated fairly at work. They think that minorities are accused of doing things wrong more often than other people. They also feel that workers are getting in trouble if they file complaints.
One woman who worked for the state for fifteen years was fired. She does not think that she should have lost her job. This woman is angry and feels that she was discriminated against because of her race.
When people were running for the office of governor one man spoke about taking care of racial discrimination. Many minorities liked what he had to say and voted for him. This man became governor but many minorities do not feel he has done anything to help them.
This group of people is very unhappy about their working conditions. They do not feel that they are being treated fairly. They gathered to protest what they are calling discrimination against minorities in the workplace.