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SMOKE DETECTOR Lone sentinel is first line of wildfire defense for mountain communities


Bruce Jenkins


Vol. 46, Issue 2 • August 4–August 31, 2022 OPINION

Insurance & Financial Services


Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Editor’s Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


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Ridge wellness center . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Monarch habitat restoration showing results. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

•Retirement Income Planning FEATURE


Colby Mountain’s wildfire-detector




August Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Chow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Brezsny’s Astrology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 ON THE COVER: PHOTO OF KEN JORDAN BY HOWARD HARDEE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/DESIGN BY TINA FLYNN

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 56, Chico, CA 95927 Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor Jason Cassidy Editor at large Melissa Daugherty Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky Staff Writers Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith Calendar Editor/Editorial Assistant Trevor Whitney Contributors Alastair Bland, Ken Pordes, Juan-Carlos Selznick, Robert Speer, Addison Winslow Managing Art Director Tina Flynn Publications & Advertising Designers Cathy Arnold, Katelynn Mitrano, Jocelyn Parker Sales & Business Coordinator Jennifer Osa Advertising Consultant Ray Laager

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Advertising Mail PO Box 13370 Sacramento, CA 95813 Phone (530) 894-2300 Website chico.newsreview.com President/CEO Jeff vonKaenel Director of Nuts & Bolts Deborah Redmond Director of Dollars & Sense Miranda Hansen Accounting Staff Gus Trevino System Support Specialist Kalin Jenkins Got a News Tip? chiconewstips@newsreview.com Post Calendar Events chico.newsreview.com/calendar Want to Advertise? cnradinfo@newsreview.com Editorial Policies: Opinions expressed in CN&R are those of the authors and not of Chico Community Publishing, Inc. Contact the editor for permission to reprint articles or other portions of the paper. CN&R is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or review materials. Email letters to cnrletters@newsreview.com. All letters received become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to print letters in condensed form and to edit them for libel. Advertising Policies: All advertising is subject to the newspaper’s Standards of Acceptance. The advertiser and not the newspaper assumes the responsibility for the truthful content of their advertising message. CN&R is printed at Western Web on recycled newsprint. CN&R is a member of Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, AAN and AWN.

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Being wise with our water Fsmoke issue’s feature story (“The watcher,” page 16), North State spotter Ken Jordan took his post in early May—

by Jason Cassidy j a s o n c @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

operation; some properties still rely on wells. Not every well is the same depth or specification, and some have gone dry. Obviously, wasting water is foolhardy anywhere in a drought. Chicoans across the board do a great job conserving, having reduced our average daily use 35 percent since 2015. Many of us have the basics down, such as not leaving hoses running and faucets dripping. Other decisions are individual—situation dependent. Do you have a lawn that’s recreational or ornamental? The answer may guide how much, or whether, to water it. (Either way, don’t neglect the trees.) Are finances preventing you from updating your plumbing fixtures or well? Check with Cal Water (calwater.com/conservation) and Butte County (buttecounty.net/drought) for assistance programs. The North State is better positioned than most of California when it comes to water. After all, the State Water Project starts up here; we’re situated at the source. But we’re not awash in aqua. As climate change shifts patterns, we need to monitor—and not squander—this most precious Ω resource.

ire season came early this year. As Howard Hardee details in this

month of the region’s biggest blaze so far, the 595-acre River Fire in Colusa County. Wildfires have popped up all over: Through July, Cal Fire already had counted 90 statewide burning over 50,000 acres. With fire, thoughts turn to water. California’s third year of drought has exacerbated tinderbox conditions. Reservoirs are conspicuously shallow. Levels in aquifers—invisible yet vital, especially to most every local resident, whether connected to a well or a utility—have dropped, too. Gov. Gavin Newsom has emergency orders in effect, primarily on water purveyors and industrial landowners. What does all this mean for us, here, at our homes in Butte County? It depends where you live—and not just the community. Foothills differ from the valley, but circumstances can vary neighborhood to neighborhood, even neighbor to neighbor. Take Chico, which Cal Water covers with its groundwater

LETTERS No more NIMBY As we all know, Chico has a very checkered past handling our homeless population. Now, and only now, have we made a reasonable attempt to meet the requirements of Warren v. Chico. Three homeless encampments have been cleared and referrals given to campers for the Pallet or Torres shelters (both nearly full). Those for whom there was no space or did not “qualify,” the settlement agreement recommended three designated campsites. That option has given rise to what I call the “double port-a-potty/dumpster” site at Cohasset and Eaton roads, meant only to house five to 10 folks. This is another sad commentary on Chico’s attitude toward the homeless. There was so much uproar about whose backyards the others were to be located in, it was decided at a June council meeting that we are going to just see what happens with one site (maybe we wouldn’t need the others?). Well, this first site is



AUGUST 4, 2022

already maxed out. Rather than the “not in my backyard” approach, is it possible for us to gratefully consider that solutions are being found and that not everyone will be pleased with specific outcomes? Rebecca Cook McGuire Chico

‘The fix was in’ ChicoSol journalist Dave Waddell was awarded by a Butte County judge (with taxpayer dollars) $43,637 in legal fees that he risked trying to get public records released to him by the city of Chico higher-ups concerning officerinvolved killings in Chico (including that of my son, Tyler Scott Rushing). Once the records were reviewed by Waddell, he concluded, in his own words, that the records “reveal that these so-called investigations were blatantly biased in every killing I looked at involving the Chico Police Department. The fix was in to exonerate

the killing officers in every instance.” From my point of view, the actions of Chico’s city council, legal department and police department have been unconscionable and shocking. Scott Rushing Ventura

Capitol offenses The Congressional hearings regarding the January 6 attack on our nation’s capitol have revealed much about the inner workings of the Trump White House. Cassidy Hutchinson was a close observer of what went on and was willing to testify at length about Trump’s central role in the Capitol riot on that fateful day. She also told of Trump’s erratic and downright irrational behavior on numerous other occasions. Her testimony was quite astounding as she described a unique period in presidential history. America is so fortunate to have LETTERS C O N T I N U E D

O N PA G E 7

A yokel abroad I am finally back at the editor’s laptop after a planned three-week break that turned to into four weeks thanks to finally running out of luck in dodging COVID-19. On the eve of our flight back to the U.S. after an invigorating adventure throughout the U.K., Ireland and France, my wife, Connie, and I had to quarantine after I tested positive for the virus. Thankfully, I had relatively mild symptoms, and Connie didn’t get it. Other than the pinch of many extra costs, it was pas mal to be holed up in a Paris hotel with a beautiful view and great food delivered to my room. So, how are folks doing across the pond these postBrexit, “post”-pandemic, post-Le Pen (for now) days? Seen through the eyes of this Nor-Cal yokel as we drove two rental cars more than 2,000 miles, touring modern cities, medieval cities, truly ancient ruins, and tiny villages dotting the rugged coastlines and endless farmlands and ranchlands, the broad sampling of people encountered (in the U.K. and Ireland at least) seemed an awful lot like us. The masks are gone, the pubs are all open, and “help wanted” signs are everywhere. Gas prices are high, too (nearly double what we are now paying in the U.S.), and that along with soaring inflation rates (more than 9 percent in both countries) is doing a number on their cost of living. Despite this, the people on the Isles we interacted with were in very good spirits. I found barkeeps, musicians, innkeepers and cool kids at rock shows were relieved and energized to have their communities (and tourists, for the most part) back and things returning to “normal.” France was a little different. The joie de vivre to be found in the slow days and rich foods of Alpine villages was wonderful and felt far removed from the real world. In stark contrast, in Paris, there was a thrilling energy mixed with signs of anxiety and fatigue among many locals, thanks to the full return of crushing humanity. It was palpable as soon as we set foot in the city. All of it (except COVID) was good to us. Being on vacation, we were removed from reality on purpose, eschewing work, newspapers and social media as we tried for a few weeks to live moment by moment. (One that I’ll remember: During a post-sunny-picnic bayside stroll, Connie pulled up the song “Galway Girl” on her phone, and as Steve Earle sang, “Takin’ a whirl ’round the Salthill prom with a Galway girl,” we realized were at that very moment walking along the Salthill promenade in Galway. Pretty cool.) I’m very grateful to my bosses and co-workers (especially Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky, who made sure the CN&R didn’t miss a beat) for making my first big break since pre-pandemic possible. I’m also very happy to be back in Chico, re-energized to get back to the work of telling Chico’s story.

Jason Cassidy is editor of the Chico News & Review


Rest in peace, friend of Chico [See Downstroke, page 8, for more on this story.] passing. L Nickell’s Tom was truly unique—as a public

ike so many, I was shocked to hear of Tom

servant to this community and as my friend. In his roles of vice mayor, park by commissioner, CARD Evan trustee and concerned Tuchinsky citizen, he served Chicoans his way. I met Tom in 2006, six months after I’d arrived in Chico as the new editor of the CN&R. Retired from the California Highway Patrol, Tom threw his hat in the ring for City Council that year. Bob Speer and I interviewed the candidates ahead of the paper’s endorsements. At the end of our session, Tom Tom Nickell asked me, “Are you related to Harold Tuchinsky, Mr. T?” Turns out, my father was his junior high woodshop teacher in Los Angeles, and Tom still had a project from those days in his garage. The CN&R ended up endorsing Mark Sorensen, much to the consternation of the cadre of progressive who’d rallied around

Tom. Amid a barrage of angry emails and calls, I reached out to Tom. “No explanation necessary,” he interjected. “I just have to knock on a few more doors.” Relieved by his grace, I remarked how I wished more of his backers had the same reaction. His response: “If you need to borrow my flak jacket, let me know.” Come November, he edged Sorensen by 78 votes. Tom became vice mayor the next twoyear cycle and, characteristically, supported Sorensen’s appointment to the Planning Commission. (Sorensen, hired last month as Chico’s new city manager, went on to serve two council terms, leading a conservative majority as mayor.) Tom looked past political labels to find allies willing to tackle city problems. His approach was iconoclastic. Tom shared beliefs strongly held by progressives— smart growth and protecting the environment, for instance—while also standing firm for GUEST COMMENT C O N T I N U E D

O N PA G E 7

AUGUST 4, 2022



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AUGUST 4, 2022




by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

I let my guard down. Early last month, my family and I took a nice, long coastal vacation. Ten days, two beach towns. One in Northern California and the other about twothirds of the way into Oregon. We had everything we needed. Comfortable accommodations, delicious seafood and the sound of lapping waves to lull us to sleep at night. 22 Some people are drawn to the desert, others to the mountains. But for me, the ocean calls. It’s always been that way, almost primally so. Everything there feels lighter, easier, calmer. The way the air fills my lungs is like inhaling a gentle breeze. I love combing beaches and discovering magical creatures in tide pools, but I’m just as content sitting outside and doing nothing but appreciate my surroundings. This may sound weird to anyone who isn’t a Gen-Xer or a redneck, but I also love wearing flannel in the summer. There isn’t much more thrilling to me than piling on layers of clothing while on the drive out of the oppressive valley heat. It’s like the prelude to happiness. Sixty-two degrees in July. Heaven. We generally make at least one coastal sojourn every summer to refresh and revitalize our bodies and spirits. It really is the best kind of medicine, and I look forward to it all year. On the second leg of this trip, we were joined by a couple of family members at an epic rented beach house. We were healthy, they were healthy. I felt drunk with the feeling of the way things used to be, the “before COVID” times. You know, back when you didn’t have to think about masks or variants or surges. For the first time in more than two years, I also felt safe. Everyone in my small household is vaccinated and boostered, most importantly my immunocompromised child. We began our trip wearing masks when occasionally indoors in public, but toward the end of it, we started taking chances. A few unmasked trips to the grocery store, a couple of gift shops, and then, finally, two restaurants, where we dined indoors for the first time since the start of To be a part of this event, please contact us at the pandemic. Thing is, I know nobody else can be trusted with safeguarding my health. chicobestof@newsreview.com And considering how many people flouted the initial state shutdown, when the virus was even deadlier, I can only imagine how those same folks are going about their business today. During our final two days of vacation, I had a slight headache and what felt like allergies, but by the time we arrived home, I had a sinking suspicion. Unfortunately, my instincts were confirmed with a positive COVID test. After years of being hyper-vigilant about taking precautions, we’d taken too many risks, and they caught up with me. Indeed, it was my own damn fault. I spent the next 10 days isolated in my bedroom. I mostly slept, only waking to eat, drink or use the bathroom. I lost my sense of taste and smell for a few days, but the worst part of the illness was my aching body, including excruciating back pain. It was miserable. Even after I tested negative, I was so, so exhausted. Right around the time I started recovering, Butte County re-entered the classification for “high” community spread (see “Surge protectors,” July 14, chico.newsreview.com), as outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along with that spike in infections has been a sharp increase in local hospitalizations. I’m glad I wasn’t one of those statistics. But I’m most thankful that— somehow, some way—my loved ones didn’t get sick. It was a reminder that the benefits of simple precautions are worth the effort. Lesson learned.





What do you like most about yourself?

Asked at Vallombrosa Post Office

Rachael Clark hospital tech

If I had to pick one, I guess my perfectionism. It stresses me out, but I like it. It helps me stay focused with everything that’s going on—work, school, life, planning a wedding. I try to be a good person as much as I can.

Ali Sarsour retired

Anything they want me to do, I was available to do it. I help people. Like one time, I was teaching Arabic, and it came out that these two guys in my class—they came from Iran—started talking about having a mosque. We ended up opening a big mosque. When Paradise burned, we opened the mosque for people to send us stuff and [for them] to come and get some of the [supplies]. I was there, [but] it’s not just me. It was a lot of people.


public safety and fellow law enforcement officers. He attracted voters from across the political spectrum while maddening politicos who expected him to toe a monolithic line. He’d let anyone he respected, regardless of affiliation, put a campaign sign at the front of his house. He was appointed to the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission in 2017. He handily won election to the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board the next year. I suspect he would have filed to seek another term this November. Tom enjoyed serving, with a focus on what concerned his Chico neighbors. Myriad folks knew Tom as a friend—a generous friend. That is what he became to my wife, Amy, and me. He did not stand on formalities. Councilman to editor? No, I was Mr. T’s son. We as people were his first thought when he heard of the Humboldt Fire (2008 harbinger of the Camp Fire) blazing toward Paradise. Just after Amy and I got a reverse-911 call advising we might face evacuation, the phone rang with Tom telling us to get off the Ridge immediately. The two of us and our four dogs would stay at his place. “We can worry about the politics later,” he concluded, taking nothing but a “yes” as the answer. Our vehicle wound up being one of the last down Clark Road before flames cut off that route. We reached his home in a half-hour. Relatives who hesitated got stuck on Skyway for hours. Tom offered us accommodations for as long as needed—fortunately, we were stranded just one night. That was Tom. Caring. Selfless. Unique. I miss him. Ω Adios, Amigo.

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Caitlin Junti college student

My perserverence. I moved halfway across the United States—[from] Oklahoma—by myself to go to college. It’s hotter back home than it is here.


C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 4

survived those turbulent four years of Trump’s irresponsible leadership and moved on to more normal times. Thanks to those who were able to discern the truth in all the chaos. We can rebuild our democracy again. Robert Woods Forest Ranch

Erica Blaschke teacher

I guess I like that I’m hard working. As a teacher, I put in a lot of hours. I also enjoy some downtime, and I just came back from Europe!

Write a letter Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for Sept. 1 print publication is August 22. AUGUST 4, 2022




The No Hotel in California Park community group got the results it hoped for when the Chico Planning Commission voted 3-2 (with two absent) to deny the use permit application for the TownePlace Suites project. A four-story, 112-room hotel was proposed to be built near California Park and the Sierra Sunrise Terrace senior apartments, at the intersection of Highway 32 and Bruce Road. Residents in the area have lobbied the city and local media to keep it from going through. On July 21, Commissioner Rich Ober made the motion to deny based on the project not meeting two of five criteria outlined in the city’s municipal code— namely that it was inconsistent with the city’s general plan and that it was not compatible with the neighborhood. There was a 10-day window to appeal the decision to the City Council. According to the applicant’s local representative, James Stevens, appeal paperwork was filed with the city’s Planning Division on July 29.


Chico has lost two of its former vice mayors in short succession. Jim Walker (pictured) died on June 18 at the age of 64 after a months-long struggle with brain cancer. One month later, on July 19, Tom Nickell (see Guest Comment, page 4) was found dead in his Chico home. He was 66. The cause and exact date of Nickell’s death has not been released by the Butte County Coroner’s office. Both men were Democrats who had similar public-service experience. They served overlapping four-year terms on the Chico City Council—Nickell 2006-2010, Walker 2008-2012—with Walker succeeding Nickell as vice mayor. Both had stints on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission and the board of the Chico Area Recreation and Park District. Walker was a longtime physician’s assistant in Chico, most recently working with Enloe Medical Center, and Nickell was retired from the

California Highway Patrol.

A memorial for Walker will take place on Sept. 25, with details to be posted on the Newton-Bracewell website (nbcfh. com), and a memorial for Nickell will happen Oct. 1, 1 p.m., at Lakeside Pavilion. 8

CN&R J U LY 7, 2 0 2 2

A place to heal Paradisians creating Equilibrium Wellness Center to provide unifying community space on the Ridge story & photos by

Ashiah Scharaga as h i a h s @ n ew srev i ew. c o m

Paradise Stronger and the Equilibrium Wellness Center

6848 Skyway, Ste. P, Paradise (530) 327-7235 www.paradisestronger.org

Ahave experienced homelessness— Mercer lived out of a hotel as a teen, aron Singer and Jess Mercer both

Singer out of his car about a decade ago. During these times, each turned to local community recreational centers to find comfort and belonging—a place that felt like home when they didn’t have one. Mercer said finding that safe, accepting space was “so valuable to me as a young kid really searching for community.” That is the kind of place the two Camp Fire survivors want to cre-

ate for Paradise in the wake of the disaster, Mercer said—one where everybody is welcome and belongs. On a recent afternoon, the pair stood together in the back room of Paradise Stronger, a nonprofit gym located off the Skyway in Paradise, and spoke excitedly about their plans for the new Equilibrium Wellness Center. Volunteers worked on walls, the whir of drills punctuating the conversation. With a $150,000 grant from the North Valley Community Foundation’s

Butte Strong Fund, the pair hope to officially open the center in the next few months. “There’s a lot of people who still live in their cars and still live in [RVs] and don’t have a space that offers a reprieve,” Singer said. The center will provide wellness classes, a variety of events and activities, and a place for the community to just “come and sit and be.” Even before they really knew one another, Singer and Mercer shared a love of their town and a

Paradise Stronger Executive Director Aaron Singer and Jess Mercer, a trauma expert, have partnered to create the Equilibrium Wellness Center supporting community wellbeing and recovery from the Camp Fire.

drive to help their community heal, rebuild and grow after the Camp Fire. It’s that drive that led Singer to found Paradise Stronger, designed to be a hub of health, wellness and support for the Paradise community. And it’s what led Mercer to create Butte County Art on Wheels and the Balanced Brain Project in order to help fire survivors and youth process and heal from trauma with art and creative self-expression. The pair crossed paths many times over the past several years as they worked on different community events and programs. (They also serve as board members of The Gold Nugget Museum.) When they realized they had the same dream—to create a wellness center to help their fragmented community connect and heal—they formed a natural partnership.

‘Something for everybody’ What might look like just an empty back room in a Paradise shopping center to some is to Mercer and Singer a blank canvas filled with limitless potential. There will be couches and a projector so people can use the space for family movie nights or game and trivia nights. There are shelves along one wall, where they plan to set up a free book exchange and provide board games, art supplies and a spot to display locally made artwork. They already have a drum set and piano, and aim

“There’s a lot of people dealing with PTSD and emotional trauma. There’s a lot of people who need a space to decompress.” —Aaron Singer

to bring in more instruments and set up a performance space for open mic nights and poetry readings. The center will include a sensory nook as well, a trauma-informed space designed to help people cope with anxiety and shift from a survival mentality into the present moment. There is also an existing kitchen area in the room, which Singer and Mercer plan to get up and running for skills-based nutrition and cooking classes, and hope to offer to community members in need. The pair envision renting out the space for parties or team-building exercises, as well. Other offerings could include one-onone counseling and emotional well-being classes on topics like PTSD. “It’ll be something for everybody,” Mercer said. “It’s like a menu of wellness, and you just choose what you need that day.” The Butte Strong grant will fund the project for two years and cover a portion of salaries (including Mercer’s as the project manager, as well as a center intern), discounts for some members, scholarships for youth, some office renovations and items for the center—e.g., lighting, games, a ping pong table, a pool table, rugs and computers—according to David Little, NVCF executive vice president of communications. Mercer and Singer said it is their goal to create a comfortable, inclusive space that will host a variety of events and classes of all price points—some free, some paywhat-you-can and others with an admission charge. Paradise Stronger will continue to require a membership or drop in fee, but people are not required to use the gym’s services in order to access the center.

Just like home In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, most of the community was scattered and forced to relocate. The sense of separation has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. “A series of compounded trauma has led to kind of an almost unbearable isolation,” Mercer said. “We were isolated in our campers that were already isolating.” Mercer has noticed that people are struggling to have real conversations outside of Zoom, text messages or online video games. Similarly, Singer said he’s witnessed loved ones continue to struggle with depression and PTSD. They both know people who are still living in RVs nearly NEWSLINES c o n t i n U e d

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The Equilibrium Wellness Center is a blank canvas that Paradise Stronger plans to transform into a welcoming space with classes, activities, music and more over the next couple months.

four years post-fire. It’s been a challenge for the community to create and foster shared spaces where everyone can relax and decompress; where they can just show up and be themselves,



AUGUST 4, 2022

Mercer said. There’s no longer a bowling alley or movie theater in Paradise, for example. Many people still don’t have actual living rooms and are longing for them. Singer said his goal is to provide a space

geared toward “helping people find their own head space and emotional space so they can feel like they have some kind of reprieve; they can have a break from life.” The Equilibrium Wellness Center broadens the scope of healing and strength-building provided by Paradise Stronger, which Singer said opened in 2020 with the “desire to help the whole person,” physically and emotionally. The gym hosts monthly hikes, walks with doctors (where participants can get to know a local health provider and ask them questions) and other educational wellness events. Paradise Stronger also offers specialized exercise classes for seniors and people with disabilities. The nonprofit received two previous grants from the Butte Strong Fund totaling $90,000 to help provide classes, equipment, staff, and group counseling. Little with NVCF said the nonprofit has launched successful programs and taken on a significant role in community recovery.

“It’ll be something for everybody. It’s like a menu of wellness, and you just choose what you need that day.” —Jess Mercer

“Paradise Stronger is an innovative program that sees needs in the community and tries to fill them,” he said. Underlying the need for the dedicated outlet that the Equilibrium Wellness Center will provide, Singer added: “There’s a lot of people dealing with PTSD and emotional trauma. There’s a lot of people who need a space to decompress. “I want community to happen. I want community to heal in that space.” Ω NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

O N PA G E 1 2


Butterfly effect Endangered western monarch population rebounds 125-fold as restoration project takes root


Evan Tuchinsky eva nt@ newsr ev iew.c o m

Omometer heat more intense than the therwould indicate, Angela n a recent July afternoon, the

Laws headed into a clearing at the Oroville Wildlife Area. She checked her handheld GPS, then strode past rows of plantings until locating her quarry: a narrow leaf milkweed plant. Squatting, she carefully examined each stalk and noted her observations. Laws, a biologist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, had come to Oroville seeking signs of monarch butterflies. She joined biologist Kim Armstrong of Chico-based River Partners, plus two interns, at the site of a habitat restoration conducted by their organizations and others. They conducted the second of three counts this summer to log progress—vibrance of the milkweed and presence of butterflies. As the CN&R reported a year ago (see “Regal restoration,” Aug. 5, 2021), the population of western monarchs had declined 99.9 percent since the 1980s; only around 2,000 were observed in 2020 during annual overwintering count along the Pacific coast. On July 21, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature added the monarch to its endangered list.

Angela Laws checks a showy milkweed, which dwarfs most other plantings at the Oroville Wildlife Area project. PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY



AUGUST 4, 2022

River Partners secured a $1.2 mil-

lion state grant to restore 595 acres over eight sites statewide. At the Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA), the group planted 1,500 irrigated milkweeds. This winter, about 250,000 monarchs were observed on the coast. That 125-fold increase obviously represents success, and the OWA has proven especially vital. Armstrong found six monarch caterpillars during an Oroville visit in May and a butterfly in June; Laws, who has toured the eight sites twice, said she consistently finds more butterfly species at Oroville than the others. Breadth of life is important, too. The restoration focuses on monarchs—for good reason, being what Armstrong calls “an iconic keystone species” and “a really good indicator for problems in the ecosystem”—but the milkweed benefits a spectrum of pollinators as well as animals, such as birds, that feed on these insects. Turns out, the monarch project is having a butterfly effect. “Because plants and insects are so near the bottom of the food web, when you’re doing this sort of restoration, you’re going to affect many other species than just monarchs,” Laws said during a break in the count. “They’re going to be impacted in positive ways when we do this type of work.” That’s not to diminish the impact on monarchs, though. Laws said project researchers have seen the butterflies at three of the sites where they weren’t last

year, including OWA. Southern California has year-round populations, she explained, while monarchs migrate through the Sacramento Valley twice annually. “That’s why it’s important to have this habitat here,” she continued, “and the monarchs are finding it.”

Cautious optimism Monarchs hit the verge of extinction for multiple reasons— climate change, pesticides, land use—that essentially distill to habitat. The butterfly eats only milkweed and lays eggs under the leaves. With development supplanting farmland and weedkillers proliferating, monarchs and other native pollinators have lost their nectar source. River Partners, which mounts a range of habitat restorations, teamed with other nonprofits (e.g., the Xerces Society) and public agencies (e.g., California Department of Fish and Wildlife) to reverse the decline. The project incorporates milkweeds into acreage of native plantings. Growth varies. At the OWA site, on rocky terrain through the southern end of the nature preserve, only hardy species—weeds, mostly, and deeper-rooted trees— survive. Showy milkweeds, distinguished by their broad leaves and their blossoms, tower over most of the plantings. By contrast, at River Partners’ Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park restoration, with richer soil, narrow and showy milkweeds thrive amid rows of elderberries and myriad other lush plants. Armstrong, who works out of Chico, checks on the North State sites more frequently than Laws, who works out of Sacramento. They met up at OWA on July 8 and will conduct their final count there in August. Both expressed enthusiasm about the monarch numbers … and caution. “It’s a huge increase; it’s hopeful,” Laws said. “It shows these animals do have the capacity to recover, so if we do continue

Above: Monarch caterpillars inhabit a milkweed plant at the Oroville Wildlife Area, site of a restoration project to increase the butterfly’s population. PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVER PARTNERS

Left: A monarch butterfly at Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz. PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

climate change and also water in California.”

Nurturing nature

these restoration and conservation efforts, we can be successful in saving western monarchs. “We’re not out of the woods yet. This was just one year; we want to see sustained growth over time. And in the 1980s, there were millions of monarchs along the coast. We have a long way to go. “But what this shows is that it can be done.” The precipitously low level frightened conservation biologists such as Laws because a “freak event” such weather or a disaster could wipe out the species. The population jump provides a bit of a buffer. Why did it happen? “It’s hard to say there was one thing that was more important than the other in leading up to the

increase,” Laws said. “I think we don’t know yet, but certainly we know that continuing to restore habitat, reducing pesticide use, those sorts of things, are going to continue to benefit monarchs and other pollinators in California.” Counterintuitively, dry conditions may have helped. Laws, citing research from UC Davis professor Arthur Shapiro, said “monarchs and butterflies in the valley tend to do better during drought years, at least during the first few years of drought. It’s not exactly clear why, but you can see that native plants like milkweed are drought tolerant.” In the long run, however, Shapiro and other researchers have found climate change detrimental. Laws said western butterfly populations have dropped 1.4 percent a

year over 40 years—“that’s a huge decline over time.” One of the leading factors is increased temperatures in the fall. At OWA, River Partners added milkweed to an existing, irrigated restoration two years ago. That was the first of the eight locations planted; not all have irrigation. Milkweed already grew at the Oroville preserve—the biologists monitor a spot, known as the control site, where narrow leaf plants sprout naturally. “This project was set up as an experiment,” Armstrong said by the edge of the glen. “At those sites [without irrigation] where we didn’t get a lot of rain … we haven’t had a whole lot of success yet. So it’s been a real challenge for us, and it’s just going to become more of a challenge with

Laws has been particularly encouraged by what she’s seen in Oroville. The second count yielded no monarchs, though both biologists identified marks on stems indicating milkweed activity. But Laws came across seven other butterfly species—double what she’s been finding at the other sites. Midday, Armstrong pointed out a buckeye and caught in her net a hairstreak butterfly. Native bees and flies buzzed around the tiny flower heads of narrow leaf milkweeds. The pink blossoms of showy milkweeds invited more pollinators. “Many species of butterfly have host plant requirements, and some of those are out here,” Laws said, naming buckwheat as a plant intentionally seeded in the restoration. “There are many butterflies that would benefit from this. And, of course, all the nectar that’s available. “If it was all just dead invasive grasses, there wouldn’t be any NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D AUGUST 4, 2022

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resources available for any [pollinator] to use in a degraded habitat like that. I think it is indicative of success when you start seeing more butterflies, more individuals of each species—that shows things are going well.” Armstrong noted songbirds in the surrounding treeline. They and other avians are among the insectivores whose survival interconnects with the project. In that way, Laws added, “by creating habitat for monarchs, we’re creating habitat for many other species.” Another good omen is several milkweeds at OWA have spawned new plants. Their seeds, dispersed by the wind much like a dandelion’s, took root and sprouted. Armstrong has not observed similar spread at the river site, which was planted a half-year later, “but likely it will have the same result.” Conservationists do not expect restoration projects alone to reverse the decline in mon-

archs. They press legislation and litigation against pesticides. They lobby elected leaders. Despite the recent international designation, the U.S. has yet to recognize monarchs under the Endangered Species Act. However, in June, multiple government and conservation agencies did convene for the first ever Monarch Butterfly Summit, at which the U.S. Department of the Interior awarded $1 million to the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service committed to opening a national Pollinator Conservation Center. In addition their own habitat efforts, conservationists promote participation by their neighbors. The Xerces Society, for one, has plant lists to guide homeowners in replacing lawns and garden patches with natives such as California nectar plants for monarchs. While River Partners expands habitat annually, nearly

tripling the North State footprint with a 300-acre project near Redding, residents could compound growth exponentially.

“It reduces your water bill while providing habitat,” Armstrong said. “That’s a good one.” Ω

A showy milkweed at River Partners’ BidwellSacramento River State Park restoration, where soil conditions have yielded more robust plant growth than at the Oroville site. PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

How much more immorality and non-transparency are the taxpayers and voters of Butte County going to take from the “higher ups” in law enforcement and city politics? Recent scandals include a local journalist being reimbursed his legal fees, $43,000± because the City of Chico did not comply with state laws to release public records regarding the killing of four civilians in officer-involved shootings PLUS the City of Chico being slammed down by the SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES when the justices DENIED the Chico City Council’s appeal of the favorable ruling the family of Tyler Scott Rushing received from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that allows the Rushing family to put the Chico PD officers who killed their son on trial. Why is the City Council of Chico obstructing the trial? How much did the taxpayers of Chico pay Alvarez-Glassman, Colvin for these follies, non-transparency, and failure to follow statutory requirements? 14


AUGUST 4, 2022

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t was 2010, and Rachel Nohrden, a single mother jasmine that grows along the who worked full-time as a nurse, was priced out of fence and when it blooms, it the Redding rental market. smells amazing,” Nohrden says. “I was actually born and raised in Santa Cruz What impresses Nohrden most, County, … and I moved to Redding to attend Shasta however, is the commitment CHIP has College, where I got my CNA license,” Nohrden recalls. to its residents—both in terms of keeping the “I met my husband (there), and had a little girl, Holly, property in excellent repair, and by offering commuwho’s 13 now. But I went through my divorce and it nity events that build friendships between neighbors. was difficult up here because I didn’t have family.” In fact, Nohrden is a CHIP volunteer at Linden, teachHer biggest concern was a home to raise her ing art lessons to resident children in the spacious daughter in, and everywhere she looked, and well-stocked community room. “On rents were too expensive, even though Mother’s Day, we do projects with the she worked 40 hours a week. kids, have cookies or cake or ice “Then someone told me about cream socials, then the kids run the Linden Apartments,” she home with their gifts for their says, adding they were built mothers,” she says. The people and are managed by CHIP, Like all of us, Nohrden here—their hearts the Community Housing has suffered ups and Improvement Program. downs over the past few are big. It’s a very Nohrden submitted a years, but having a stable safe and wonderful rental application and— home has helped her and much to her relief—she her now-teenage daughter place to live.” and Holly were approved for move forward. Nohrden just Rachel Nohrden CHIP resident at Linden a two-bedroom apartment. finished her master’s degree, Apartments in “We’ve lived here ever since,” for instance, and started a Redding Nohrden says proudly. “Holly new job as an office manager. could barely climb the stairs—she “Being able to live at Linden, to was only 1 ½ when we moved in.” have a roof over our heads, allowed But it is still a perfect home, more than a me the opportunity to continue my educadecade later. “This is one of the nicest apartment comtion and find an amazing job,” she says. “The people plexes in Redding,” she says, and she looked at many here—their hearts are big. It’s a very safe and wonderbefore finding Linden. She and her daughter share a ful place to live.” two-story end unit, which includes a living area, kitchen What’s next? Nohrden has begun exploring CHIP’s and half-bath downstairs, as well as two bedrooms build-a-home program. “For me, one of my personal and a bathroom upstairs. There is also a large, fenced, goals would be able to move up to the next level with grassy backyard—perfect for a little girl to play—and home ownership,” she says. where they now both relax or entertain friends. “There’s

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THE WATCHER Smoke spotter at Colby Mountain fire lookout is a critical safeguard for vulnerable mountain communities by

Howard Hardee


en Jordan calls it “spotting smokes,” and it’s an easy job when the mountain air is clear: “Sometimes, it’s second nature to spot a smoke without even looking for it.” White, gray or bluish, woodsmoke typically stands out clearly against the dark backdrop of alpine forest, he says, and his peripheral vision has been trained for decades to catch it. Black smoke likely indicates something human-made—a house, car or something else containing oil—is burning, which is alarming but also easy to spot; “I’ve only seen that once or twice.” 16


AUGUST 4, 2022

Jordan, 74, is engaged in his 38th wildfire season of spotting smokes rising in wispy tendrils from the canopy of Lassen National Forest—the first sign of a potential disaster. A one-person wildfiredetection system, he’s the lone U.S. Forest Service staffer at the Colby Mountain fire lookout, a mile-high outpost on the border of Butte and Tehama counties with a sweeping view of some 250,000 acres of mountainous terrain from Lassen Volcanic National Park to the floor of the Sacramento Valley. On a fairly clear mid-July morning on Colby Mountain, with a red flag warning issued by Cal Fire due to dry conditions and high winds, Jordan patrolled the platform and pointed out the highlights of the spectacular 360-degree vista. Mount Lassen loomed majestically on the hori-

zon due north. The rocky and rugged Ishi Wilderness stretched to the east, with the Sacramento Valley beyond mostly obscured by smog. Jordan identified Humboldt Summit; the headwaters of Butte Creek; Forest Ranch and Cohasset in the distance; and finally his main charges to the south, the small mountain communities of Butte Meadows and Jonesville. With the exception of bald spots from logging clear-cuts and a burn scar along a ridge above Butte Meadows and Jonesville—a sliver of the nearly 1 million acres touched by last summer’s disastrous Dixie Fire—the forest visible from the platform was dense, vast and, if anything, overstocked with fuel thanks to decades of fire suppression. “Smokey Bear’s message was too effective,” Jordan said of the

U.S. Forest Service’s famous public education campaign that falsely suggested wildfires were both unnatural and entirely within human control. “There haven’t been enough fires for the forest to burn as nature intended.” Indeed, some burns are beneficial. Jordan pointed again to the ridgeline where wildland firefighters stopped the Dixie Fire by a back-burn and dozier line cut high on the ridge. He believes the effort saved Butte Meadows and Jonesville. His own report also helped alert residents of that fastapproaching fire, and he got on the radio to help fire engine drivers navigate back roads and reach the critical ridge. Longtime Butte Meadows resident Barbara Mann first came to her family cabin in 1936 as a 6-month-old girl. A

From far left: Ken Jordan on the job at the Colby Mountain fire lookout, where he’s been spotting smokes for 38 wildfire seasons. The view of the forest looking north from the Colby Mountain lookout, with Mount Lassen in the background. The lookout tower on Colby Mountain, built in 1912.



presentations for residents in Butte Meadows and Jonesville. He’s often invited to family gatherings, too. “We in the community appreciate him,” Mann said. “He makes a lot of suggestions about how we can be better prepared—‘You need gas, you need food, you need a way to communicate with your family.’ “I really can’t say enough about the coverage he has provided for Butte Meadows and Jonesville.”

Critical observations

founding member of Butte Meadows-Jonesville Community Association who was involved in building the community’s volunteer-run firehouse, she credits residents with banding together during crises; they’ve been known to take shovels and picks to cut fire lines to save each other’s homes. But she believes they’re all still standing because of Jordan’s watchful eye. “If we hadn’t had Ken Jordan at Colby Mountain all these years, I don’t think we would exist today as a community,” she said. “He’s an educated, credentialed and on-top-of-everything type person. He can even see my wood stove in the morning, if you can believe it—he sees the puff of smoke. He is so familiar with the terrain and who lives on the terrain.”

Way of life(saving) Contrary to the idea that there’s nothing left to burn in Butte and surrounding counties following the devastating Dixie and Camp fires, Jordan doesn’t hesitate to say “there is plenty left to burn.” Conditions are “worse than ever” thanks to the two-decadeslong megadrought in the American West that has turned vegetation into tinder, Jordan said. And many of the steep and heavily forested areas surrounding Butte Meadows, Forest Ranch and Cohasset have been untouched by wildfire for roughly a century, according to the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, an online mapping tool that shows California fire perimeters dating to 1878. Special places are at risk, including such historic gems as the Jonesville Hotel, the Bambi

Inn and the old Diamond Match Company camp. Also dotted throughout the woods are many century-old cabins and more recent constructions that closely resemble mansions, if you ask Jordan. Despite wildfires being a natural element of the landscape, he said, the reality is that today there is simply too much at stake to let them burn unchecked. Jordan typically works six days a week, benefiting from locals who bring him fresh milk and cookies and other essentials. During periods of extreme fire danger, he’ll work 14 days in a row, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., before taking mandatory time off. Nobody watches the forest when he’s away. “People are nervous when I’m not up here,” said Jordan, a Butte Meadows resident himself. “When I’m home and not watching, even I don’t like it. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.” Jordan’s life has revolved around

spotting smokes from the Colby Mountain fire lookout since he first ascended the 43 steps to the top platform in the spring of 1985. From the beginning, he’s been

in awe of the surrounding landscape and the tower itself, built in 1912. He ranks a fire lookout behind only Smokey Bear as the definitive icon of the U.S. Forest Service, and the Colby Mountain lookout is special to him personally. “It’s been a nice refuge for me,” Jordan said. “I always told myself if I had a job where I needed to wear a tie, I was really screwing up. And it’s turned into more than just a job. It’s a way of life.” He subscribes to magazines for fire lookout enthusiasts and gleefully shares photos of unique structures from around the country. Jordan even met his late wife, Cheryl, while she was visiting Colby Mountain in 2000. They spent much of their time together spotting smokes and staying at the lookout, which includes 14-by-14-foot living quarters with a bed, electric refrigerator and gas stove. “She was a good lookout, too,” Jordan said. “She could see smokes even before I did.” There’s a public-education component to his role. He welcomes visitors to the Colby Mountain Fire Lookout and has given many

Jordan loves the sense of immersion he gets at the lookout. Stargazing from the platform is “magnificent,” he said. “Sometimes it’s so clear, you can almost read by the starlight.” After sunset, the valley floor glows with city lights. The dark areas he used to observe in the 1980s have been illuminated by an unbroken string of lights along Highway 99 from Chico to Red Bluff. “And it’s been glowing brighter since the Camp Fire,” he said of the valley’s post-disaster population boom. With more people has come noticeably more air pollution, Jordan said. The clearest views are typically early in the morning, before smog rolls up from the southern Sacramento Valley. Over the years, his view has steadily become more obscured, ever-earlier in the summer. No matter the visibility, Jordan uses analog methods to site fires, using an apparatus known as the Osborne Fire Finder—a specialized alidade mounted on a 360-degree steel ring—to roughly pinpoint their locations on a map. Then he relays the coordinates to Forest Service stations in Susanville or Oroville, depending on which is closer to the newly sparked fire. “My job is to see it quickly and get them moving,” he said. “Once a reconnaissance plane spots it, my job is done.” WATCHER C O N T I N U E D AUGUST 4, 2022

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Jordan has reported hundreds of

fires since 1985. He often gets asked whether he’s ever prevented a major one. It’s impossible to say for sure, but he almost certainly has. “If you stop it at an acre, you never know what it might have grown into,” he said. “I’ve committed myself to Jonesville and Butte Meadows and Cohasset and the Ishi Wilderness. The only fire that has put people in jeopardy was the Dixie Fire. I’m proud that none of the fires that threatened those communities have come from the area I’m watching.” He was already off for the season when the Camp Fire started on Nov. 8, 2018, but his presence at the lookout wouldn’t have changed anything: The Paradise Ridge is out of his sight line, he said, and the fire’s speed was too extreme for a report to have made a difference. The greatest risk of wildfire comes from lightning strikes, he said. Lightning has struck close enough to shake the tower on several occasions, and Jordan recalls eerie times when his hair would stand on end from the highly charged atmosphere, but the tower itself has never been struck. Just in case, he has a “lightning stool” designed to prevent him from being electrocuted during a storm.

Shift in sentinels Jordan claims that still nothing beats the human eye at detecting newly sparked fires, an assertion echoed by other lookouts. “Cameras are virtually worthless for initial detection,” he said. Nonetheless, the

number of active fire lookouts in the U.S. has dwindled from thousands to hundreds in recent decades as fire agencies across the country have turned more to aircraft, forest cameras and citizen reports to detect burgeoning blazes. In California, only 198 of California’s 625 fire lookout towers are still standing, and only about 50 of those are staffed, according to the Forest Fire Lookout Association. That trend may be reversing somewhat, as the state of Pennsylvania recently rebuilt 16 fire lookouts, and people living in wildland-urban interfaces are increasingly appreciative of having eyes in the sky. But Jordan still views the fire lookout as a structure standing halfway in the past: “I assume, one day, lookouts will be replaced by drones or something like that.” For now, Jordan remains a critical

watchman in the mountains of Butte County. And the fire season has been starting earlier and running later than ever before. Typically, he’s on duty from before Memorial Day to the end of October. This year, his first day at the lookout was on May 12—his earliest-ever start date. This is also his first full season since 2000 that he is spotting smokes alone. Cheryl died from lung cancer last May. During her time in hospice care, she urged Jordan to return to the lookout as soon as he could, knowing how important the place was for her husband. He was back on duty less than two weeks after her death. “It was good to focus my atten-

The early stages of the 2012 Reading Fire in Lassen National Park seen from the Mount Harkness lookout, which was destroyed in last year’s Dixie Fire. PHOTO COURTESY OF LASSEN NATIONAL PARK

tion away from my grief,” he said. “I’m still working through it.” Cheryl’s cremains are in a wooden urn engraved with a forest scene, complete with an outline of the fire lookout. Only recently has Jordan started feeling OK about leaving them at home while he’s keeping watch. Last summer, Jordan was evacuated from the lookout for a few weeks during the Dixie Fire, which destroyed the historic fire lookout on Mount Harkness—leaving him as the lone sentinel watching the southern Lassen National Forest. Whereas he used to coordinate with other lookouts in the area to triangulate precisely the location of fires, now he leans heavily on his knowledge of the landscape to approximate the source of smoke and relay the information to responders. Working alone has other limitations. Jordan, who had hip replacement surgery last year, cannot see into the Deer Creek drainage without descending the lookout’s steps and hustling down a dirt-andgravel path to the opposite side of a ridge with his binoculars, ready to peer into the area his counterpart on Mount Harkness used to cover. It’s a daily reminder that he’s one of the last smoke spotters. “I’m the old man of Lassen Forest now,” he said, scanning the treeline from his vantage on Colby Mountain. “This lookout is more important than ever.” Ω


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SUN7 Music

1078 Gallery

DELLOW: NorCal folk/rock band. Sun, 8/7, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St, Ste. 120. simpletix.com

with Anaheim hip-hop crew Weapons of Mass Creation. Thu, 8/4, 8pm. $15. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St.

REECE THOMPSON: Local singer/songwriter playing covers. Thu, 8/4, 6:30pm. Free. Almendra Winery & Distillery, 9275 Midway Road, Durham.

ROYAL OAKS: Live music on the patio during Thursday Night Market. Thu, 8/4, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com


downtown plaza. This week, Cali reggae faves Mystic Roots. Fri, 8/5, 7pm. City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

TYLER DEVOLL: Local singer/songwriter during happy hour. Fri, 9/2, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

SAT6 (530) 520-0119.

W. Second St.

ALL MONTH Art & Museums 1078 GALLERY: Perpetual Motion, a multimedia exhibit by Sara Bernson and Zach Cross exploring the theme of dissociation. Reception Thursday, Aug. 25. Through 9/4. Free. 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org

CHICO ART CENTER: Introspection Paintings by Heather Martindale, Photorealistic oil paintings depicting movement of the human body by the Idaho-based artist. Reception Saturday, Aug. 6, 5-7pm. Through 9/23. Free. 450 Orange St. chicoartcenter.com

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART: Celebrate RED YELLOW BLUE, an exhibit filled with works by Northern California artists. Each piece is dominant in the colors of red, yellow, or blue in celebration of the museum’s fifth birthday in the historic Veterans Memorial Hall. Through 8/21. $5. 900 Esplanade. (530) 487-7272. monca.org



AUGUST 4, 2022

Markets FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am1pm); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Thursday Night Market downtown (Thursdays, 6pm); Chico State University Farm (Thursdays, noon-4 p.m.). Magalia: Magalia Community Center (Sundays, 10am). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30am2pm); “Farmers Market Mobile” in Paradise, 1397 South Park Drive (Thursdays, 2pm).

Open Mics & Karaoke BILL’S KARAOKE: Hosted by Reba Gray. Sundays, 7:30pm. Free. Bill’s Towne Lounge, 135 Main St. CASINO COMEDY NIGHT: Live comedy every other Thursday at the Spirits Lounge in the casino. Every other Thursday, 8pm. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. goldcountrycasino.com

COMEDY THURSDAY: Weekly comedy show and open mic hosted by Dillon Collins. Thursdays,

OPEN MIC AT THE DOWNLO: Hosted by Jeff Pershing. Sign up to perform two songs. All ages until 10pm. Fridays, 6:30pm. Free. The DownLo, 319 Main St.

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Open mic comedy night hosted by Dillon Collins. Sign ups 8pm. Wednesdays, 9pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. (530) 520-0119.

SECRET TRAIL OPEN MIC: Weekly open mic at the brewery. Wednesdays, 6pm. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

THU4 Music HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: Live music during happy hour by Doug Stein, Bryan Gravy and a rotating cast of local musicians. Thu, 8/4, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

THE JACK MOVES: Outpatient Records presents the New Jersey throwback R&B duo along

Sign up to perform from 6-6:30pm, then enjoy art, drinks and friends. A no-host bar will be available, serving beer, hard seltzer and nonalcoholic options. $3 suggested donation at the door. Mon, 8/8, 6:30pm. Free. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org


FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the

GNARAOKE: Karaoke hosted by Donna & Mike. Thursdays, 7pm. Free. Gnarly Deli, 243

WORD CHURCH: A spoken word poetry open mic.


local disco-pop duo with support from Tite Nauts and Meg Amor. Hosted by Moshiriously and featuring free ice cream. Fri, 8/5, 7:30pm. $7. 1078 Gallery, 1710 Park Ave. 1078gallery.org



FRI5 ASTRONAUT ICE CREAM: CD-release party for the

8pm. Free. Bellas Sports Pub, 231 Main St.


Events BIZ KIDZ SHOWCASE: Young entrepreneurs showcase original business products and services. The event includes prizes, face painting, character appearances and a raffle. Bring new school supply donations to the event for a chance to win a $500 gift card to the mall retailer of your choice. Sat, 8/6, 11am. Chico Marketplace, 1950 E. 20th St., Ste. 727. (530) 343-0706. shopchicomarketplace.com

COHASSET BAZAAR & MUSIC FESTIVAL: Live music, parade, rummage sale, vendors, wood raffle, prizes, BBQ and natural foods, bake sale, photo booth, beer, wine and horseshoes. 100 percent of the profit goes to the Cohasset Community Association center. Sat, 8/6, 9am. $10. 11 Maple Creek Ranch Rd, Cohasset. (530) 570-3088. cohassetcommunity.org

Music BLONDILLION & THE GOODY BAGS AND RONI JEAN: Rock night at the Range featuring two local bands. Sat, 8/6, 9pm. $10. Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

HURRIKANE: Scorpions tribute band. Sat, 8/6, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. (877) 652-4646.

ROGER JAEGER: Live music during brunch. Sat, 8/6, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

SIP & SEED: Tiny Acres Urban Farm and The Commons host a microgreen seeding event complete with beer, wine and a workshop that will teach you to grow and harvest your micro crop. Tue, 8/9, 6pm. $35. The Commons Social Empourium, 2412 Park Ave.

THU11 Music EMMA & WILL: Local singer/songwriter duo playing covers. Thu, 8/11, 6:30pm. Free. Almendra Winery & Distillery, 9275 Midway Road, Durham.

HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: See Thursday, 8/4. Thu, 8/11, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St. MUMBLEFINGER: Live music on the patio by the Grammy-nominated guitarist during Thursday Night Market. Thu, 8/11, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

REBELUTION: The Isla Vista reggae/rock band is on tour with special guests Steel Pulse, Denm and DJ Mackle. Wed, 8/10, 8pm. $30$215. Rolling Hills Casino Amphitheater, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. rollinghills casino.com

FRI12 Music ARTHUR BUEZO: Live music during happy hour. Fri, 8/12, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

FOLK PUNK FRIDAY: A stacked lineup featuring Sacramento punks Lokeigh, Little Tiny Knife and Gas Station Breakfast; LA’s Dumpster Fire Orchestra; and locals D’Artanion and The Human Twitch! Fri, 8/12, 7pm. $10. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. This week, Legend. Fri, 8/12, 7pm. City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com


Submit events for the online calendar as well as the monthly print edition at chico.newsreview.com/calendar

JEFF KING: Live music at the winery. Fri, 8/12, 7pm. Live Vine, 652 Luds Way, Oroville.

REECE THOMPSON: Local singer/songwriter playing covers. Fri, 8/12, 7pm. Chico Taproom, 2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 114.




Museum of Northern California Art

MATT AXTON: LA-based country rock singer/song-

Theater THE 39 STEPS: A boring man meets a sexy, mysterious woman who claims that she is a spy. When she ends up murdered, a secret organization is hot on the man’s trail. Brought to the stage by four actors playing over 150 characters. Fri, 8/12, 7:30pm. $18$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecompany.csstix.com

writer whose grandmother, Mae Boren Axton, co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel” with Elvis and nurtured the early careers of Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks and others. Sun, 8/14, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste.120. simpletix.com

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sun, 8/14, 2pm. $18-$20.


Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecompany.csstix.com

Music BASSMINT: Dance to EDM music every second Saturday. Sat, 8/13, 9pm. Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

CHIQUIS: The LA singer known for her hit single, “Paloma Blanca,” is on tour. Sat, 8/13, 8pm. $39$79. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. (800) 334-9400. goldcountry casino.com

REECE THOMPSON: Local singer/songwriter serenades the brunch crowd. Sat, 8/13, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

WHOLE LOTTA ROSIES: All-female AC/DC tribute band. Sat, 8/13, 10pm. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

MON15 Music THE PAUL THORN BAND: Benefit concert for KZFR featuring the acclaimed Mississippi blues rocker and his band. Mon, 8/15, 6:30pm. $25. Paradise Performing Arts Center, 777 Nunneley Road, Paradise. eventbrite.com

THU18 Music HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Thu, 8/18, 4pm. Free.


Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sat, 8/13, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecompany.csstix.com

JOHN HOOVER & THE MIGHTY QUINNS: Live music on the patio during the Thursday Night Market. Thu, 8/18, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

THE 39 STEPS Aug. 12-28

Chico Theater Co.

STRUNG NUGGET BAND: Live music in the Barrel Room. Thu, 8/18, 6:30pm. Free. Almendra Winery & Distillery, 9275 Midway Road, Durham.

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Thu, 8/18, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecom pany.csstix.com

FRI19 Music FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. This week, Rigmarole. Fri, 8/19, 7pm. City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com INTIMATE STARES: The Seaside noisemakers are joined by Chico noisemakers West By Swan and LDF. $10. Fri, 8/19, 7:30pm. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

MILE TWELVE: Progressive string band from Boston. Fri, 8/19, 5pm. $12. The Barn at Meriam Park, 1930 Market Place. meriampark.com

NEON VELVET: Pop covers from the ‘80s to the present. Fri, 8/19, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

TYLER DEVOLL: See Aug. 5. Fri, 9/2, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Fri, 8/19, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chico theatrecompany.csstix.com

SAT20 Events CHICO SUMMERFEST 2022: Local bands Yurkovic and River Road Band, plus Boston and Pat Benatar tribute bands, with food/drinks, vendors, kid zone. Sat, 8/20, 12pm. $40. Patrick Ranch Museum, 10381 Midway, Durham. chicosummer fest.com

Music DECADES: Cover band with a catalogue of music spanning from the 1940s to today. Sat, 8/20, 10pm. Free. Feather Falls Casino & Lodge, 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville. featherfallscasino.com

GREG LOIACONO: CD-release party for the Mother Hips co-founder. Sat, 8/20, 7:30pm. $20. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. chicowomensclub.org

LUKE SWEENEY: The SF garage/psych rock guitarist visits the lounge. Joining him is Brooklyn dream pop/post-punk band Colatura, with locals Similar Alien and Aman Cowell. Sat, 8/20, 7pm. Naked Lounge, 118 W. Second St.

REESE WEIL: Live music during brunch. Sat, 8/20, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

TOMMY VEXT: The heavy metal singer/ songwriter know for his former bands Bad Wolves, Divine Heresy and Westfield Massacre is on tour. Sat, 8/20, 9pm. $20. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sat, 8/20, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chico theatrecompany.csstix.com

SUN21 Events BLUES & BREWS: A benefit for True North and Torres Community Shelter with live music by Big Mo & The Full Moon Band, Stump Jumperz and The Unknowns. Plus, beer! ... and wine and food. Sun, 8/21, 1-7pm. $25. Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St. truenorthbutte.org

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sun, 8/21, 2pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatre company.csstix.com

THU25 Music 3LH: The surfy rock band is visiting from Garden Grove along with Los Shadows from San Diego. Local support from The Wind-Ups. Thu, 8/25, 9pm. $10. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

4 ON THE FLOOR: Live music on the patio during the Thursday Night Market. Thu, 8/25, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Thu, 8/25, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Friday, 8/12. Thu, 8/25, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecompany. csstix.com

FRI26 Music ERIC MCANLIS: Live music during happy hour. Fri, 8/26, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. This week, The Rockhounds. Fri, 8/26, 7pm. City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Friday, 8/12. Fri, 8/26, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatrecompany. csstix.com

SAT27 Events FEST-PLANADE: Ellis Art and Engineering host a summer art fair featuring local artists, live


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music, mini carnival games, face painting, a kids craft table and food and drinks. Sat, 8/27, 10am. Free. Ellis Art & Engineering, 3035 Esplanade. (530) 891-0335. ellishasit.com

THU1 Music

Music KELLY TWINS: The dueling piano duo is back on the patio for more music covers and delicious drinks. Sat, 8/27, 8pm. $15. Argus Bar + Patio, 212 W. Second St. MAX MINARDI: Local singer/songwriter during brunch. Sat, 8/27, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

Theater THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sat, 8/27, 7:30pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatre company.csstix.com


HIPPY HAPPY HOUR: See Aug. 4. Thu, 9/1, 4pm. Free. Om on the Range, 301 Main St.

RUZZ GUITAR BLUES REVUE: Live music from the UK on the patio during Thursday Night Market. Thu, 9/1, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

FRI2 Music FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT: Live local music in the downtown plaza. This week, Chuck Epperson Band. Fri, 9/2, 7pm. City Plaza, 418 Main St. downtownchico.com

TYLER DEVOLL: See Friday, 8/5. Fri, 9/2, 5pm. Free. La


Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

DRAG BRUNCH: Kings and Queens take over every last Sunday of the month. Sun, 8/28, 1pm & 4pm. $20. Gnarly Deli, 243 W. Second St. gnarlydeli.square.site

Music OHGEESY: The LA rapper and former Shorline Mafia member brings his GEEZYWORLD tour to town along with DJ Vision and Hawaii Slim. Sun, 8/28, 8pm. $30. Senator Theater, 517 Main St. jmaxproductions.net

THE 39 STEPS: See Aug. 12. Sun, 8/28, 2pm. $18-$20. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatre company.csstix.com

SAT3 Music LYNN BROWN: Live music during brunch. Sat, 9/3, 11am. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. lasalleschico.com

SHORDIE SHORDIE: The Baltimore rapper known for his hit single, “Betchua.” Sat, 9/3, 7pm. $20-$35. El Rey Theater, 230 W. Second St. elreychico.com


CLUB ROCK If the clubs are movin’, then the scene is hot, and in the middle of summer, three of Chico’s small stages have great bills combining exciting out-of-town acts and (sometimes) local crews. See this August: Smooth New Jersey R&B duo Jack Moves joined by Anaheim hip-hop seven-piece Weapons of Mass Creation on Aug. 4 at Argus Bar + Patio; S.F. psych-rock guitarist Luke Sweeney lands at the Naked Lounge on Aug. 20 to join Brooklyn’s Colatura and Chico crews Similar Alien and Aman Cowell; and over at Duffy’s Tavern on Aug. 25, Garden Grove surf-rockers 3LH play with Los Shadows from San Diego and Chico lo-fi garage rockers The Wind-Ups.

Counterclockwise from top: Luke Sweeney, Jack Moves, 3LH.



AUGUST 4, 2022

Landfill equipment operators work as a team. The yellow bulldozer pushes material while the blue compactor crushes. PHOTO COURTESY OF BUTTE COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS

With rising demand, Neal Road landfill squeezes in more Constantly under construction, this Butte County facility makes the most of its limited space



area we recycle mattresses, electronic waste, utte County’s longest-running tires, scrap metal, carpet, cardboard, and construction site changes daily, as mixed beverage containers. At the disposal it has for more than half a century. Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility is in a area, we scrape and reuse as much gravel as possible to conserve resources. We’re constant state of transformation. continuously road building.” “Landfill customers are amazed,” More than 7.2 million tons of waste have says Eric Miller, Manager of the Waste been buried at Neal Road landfill since it Management Division for Butte County opened in 1970, the final resting place Public Works. “If they hadn’t been for consumer goods that are here for a few months, they either unwanted or have see that the internal roads reached their product have all moved.” life. About 200,000 To make room tons more arrives for more waste, each year. The the landfill’s challenge: Where 24-person crew to put it? keeps reshaping “How do the contours of we best develop the site. Earththis site?” movers push Miller says. and compact the “It’s a long-term waste to make challenge for us space for more ERIC MILLER and other landfills, material heaped Manager, Waste Management Division, Butte County Public to maximize site on top. The facility’s Works life, while maintaining highest elevation is about environmental compliance.” 480 feet above sea level – more The Neal Road facility is than three times the height of Whitney permitted for 140 acres of solid waste and Hall at California State University, Chico. is regulated by State Air, Water, and Waste “Our fill sequencing is very strategic,” says agencies. Recent changes in environmental Miller. “We’re always changing roads as we fill laws related to waste diversion (CalRecycle), up each module. We plan our moves six months SB1383 mandates cities and counties in advance. … It’s all carefully engineered.” throughout California to divert organic wastes And in the landfill business, little goes from landfill disposal. Organic wastes (such to waste, he adds. “In our drop-off recycling

“It amazes me how quickly this place is filling. Butte County’s population has decreased since 2010, but our per capita waste disposal is up.”

as food scraps and yard waste) make up 34% of all solid waste. By converting such waste into biofuel or compost, it can in turn add many years to a landfill’s site life. Another major driving force of SB1383 is that diverting organic materials can help reduce green-house gas emissions. To conserve precious air space, landfill material is compacted as much as possible, explains Craig Cissell, Deputy Director of Butte County’s Waste and Recycling Division. With their drivers sitting 12 feet above the trash, giant blue compactors roll back and forth over layers of freshly delivered material. Humongous spiked wheels act like a blender and break up the trash while also crushing it, resulting in maximum compaction. So does their weight: 84,000 pounds. A 40-ton bulldozer pushes waste into place. The site buzzes with the roar of their engines 10 hours a day, 360 days a year. These machines aren’t cheap; they cost nearly $1 million each. “We use 6,000 gallons of diesel a month,” Miller adds. “It’s been a challenge with the recent price of fuel.” Waste material is sandwiched with


protection. Multiple layers of state-of-theart plastic liners blanket the bottom of each module to prevent leakage. “It has to last forever,” Miller says. Every night, crews cover the waste with either plastic tarps, soil or wood chips. “We don’t want birds or other vectors to scavenge,” explains Cissell. “And we don’t want rain water to come directly in contact with waste.” The next morning, the construction project picks up where it left off – trying to recycle as much as possible while squeezing in more trash. “It amazes me how quickly this place is filling,” Miller says. “Butte County’s population has decreased since 2010, but our per capita waste disposal is up.”

Learn more at www.buttecounty.net/ publicworks.


r e d r u m f o Tales True crime podcasts look back at two Nor-Cal cases

Iderer a violent sexual predator and murterrorized the North State, n the sweltering summer of 1978,

claiming victims from Redding and one from Chico. by In 1997, a Ken Smith pathological sporting goods kens@ newsrev iew.c om salesman from Cottonwood True crime who claimed podcasts: to be part of a For more information shadowy cabal on Small Town Murder of international and it’s sister show, assassins conCrime in Sports, visit shutupandgiveme spired to murder murder.com. his pregnant Information on Morbid wife. can be found at Both crimes wondery.com happened in our region, and both were subjects of nationally popular true crime podcasts. Last summer, the show Morbid: A True Crime Podcast produced a two-episode deep dive into the horrific crimes of Darrel Keith Rich (episodes “246” and “247”), tagged by the day’s media outlets as “The Hilltop Rapist” after a road in Redding where he sometimes stalked his prey. And in June, true crime comedy show Small Town Murder released a nearly threehour-long episode about Todd Jesse Garton (“292 – A Liar, a Killer, and an idiot”), whose web of ridiculous lies entangled three co-conspirators and led to the death of his wife and the couple’s unborn child. While some people balk at the idea of using real-life crime as inspiration for entertainment, the genre’s allure and impact on television, film, literature, and now podcasting, is apparent. And it’s nothing new: Salacious crimes are depicted in lurid detail everywhere from the Bible to 19th century penny dread-



AUGUST 4, 2022

fuls to cheap cable TV shows. Like it or not, humankind is riveted by its own darker leanings. The easily offended or fainthearted should stop reading now: Trigger warnings abound in the following paragraphs.

One crazy summer Morbid is not only a top-rated true crime show but holds a consistent Top 10 spot on Apple Podcast and Spotify’s weekly lists of mostlistened-to podcasts of all genres. The insanely popular show is hosted by Alaina Urquhart (an autopsy technician) and Ashleigh “Ash” Kelley (a hairdresser); Urquhart is also Kelley’s aunt, and the duo’s communication forged by a lifelong connection to one another—coupled with a shared passion for the macabre—is the foundation of their charm. The hosts’ well-researched descriptions of heinous crimes and big mysteries are softened by subtle humor and banter about their shared history and everyday lives. Urquhart and Kelley start their account of Rich’s crimes with a dive into his childhood, citing court transcripts and the book A Season of Madness by Robert Scott as their primary sources. Adopted and raised by volatile parents who divorced when he was young, the young man grew increasingly moody and angry through his teens. “Without treatment, he could become violent,” reported one high school counselor, but no action was ever taken. Rich’s reign of terror began on June 13, 1978, when he tackled a woman on the side of the road, propositioned her and beat her

nearly to death. Six days later, he abducted and sexually assaulted another woman who was walking home from the Shasta County Fair, and six days after that, he raped another teenager leaving Redding’s skating rink, Viking Skate Country. On the Fourth of July, he assaulted two more women in separate attacks, with the second becoming his first murder victim. By August, he’d killed three women and an 11-year-old girl. The only one of Rich’s murder victims not from Shasta County was his third, a 27-year-old wife and mother from Oroville who he met Aug. 8 at Chico’s Madison Bear Garden. Rich was apprehended later that year, found guilty and executed by lethal

injection in 2000. Though the Morbid hosts try not to dwell on too many grisly details—and defer to his surviving assault victims by not identifying them—the episodes are tough to listen to in parts and tell a truly gripping tale about horrendous crimes that happened in our collective backyard.

America’s dumbest criminals Small Town Murder takes an entirely different approach to its recollections of murder cases. Hosted by comedians James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman, the show focuses on zany, mostly lesserknown crimes committed in small towns. Mixing comedy with true

From left: Jimmie Whisman and James Pietragallo, hosts of Small Town Murder. PHOTO COURTESY OF SMALL TOWN MURDER

crime—particularly murder—can be risky business when it comes to respect and good taste, but they avoid making jokes about or being critical of the victims, instead focusing on criminals with out-there motives and methods (“because we’re assholes, but we’re not scumbags!” they declare in a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode). They also talk about the crazier aspects of small-town life and the often botched investigations carried out by inexperienced or downright incompetent law enforcement agents. Each episode starts with a bit of information about the community they’re covering and the surrounding area—in Garton’s case, Cottonwood. Pietragallo explains Cottonwood and the North State are a far cry from the coastal, cosmopolitan California most of their national audience might imagine, describing it instead as “inland … this is militia country.” The men riff on Cottonwood real estate; demographics (“That just seems really on purpose or something, it’s weird,” they remark about a California town with few black or Asian people); and local events like the Hot Rods and Hogs car and bike show. After years of doing the show, Pietragallo has developed excellent research skills he applies to each episode, and he goes deep into this “bonkers-ass murder,” as he describes it. Garton was born in Shasta County, and his youth was split between there and Portland, Ore. When he was 15, Garton began telling his classmates he was a member of the Irish Republican Army, and even got an IRA logo tattooed on his arm. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he claimed to have obtained the rank of lieutenant (he was in fact a lance corporal) and to be a sniper for the federal government. He later said he was part of an international, independent ring of assassins known as The Company. His real job for most of this time was selling camoflauge gear and archery supplies. Since his teen years, he also carried on concurrent relationships with two women—Carole, whom he

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From left: Ashleigh “Ash” Kelley and Alaina Urquhart, hosts of Morbid. PHOTO COURTESY OF MORBID

married, and Lynn Noyes, the mistress who wanted him to get rid of Carole … for good. Carole was mostly unaware of her husband’s long time dalliance, and the couple lived what she thought was a stable life in Cottonwood. At age 28, she was pregnant and blissfully ignorant to the fact her husband was plotting her murder—and that he and his friends made several botched attempts to murder Noyes’ husband, as well. Noyes was an accomplice to these schemes, as were two other men, Norman Daniels and Dale Gordon. Daniels particularly bought Garton’s BS about The Company and aspired to become a member. Garton told him if he killed Carole, he would get $25,000 and be initiated into the

Todd Jesse Garton

Darrel Keith Rich

secret firm. If he failed or backed out, Garton claimed The Company would kill him. On May 16, 1998, Garton came home from working a gun show to find his wife shot to death and his truck missing. Daniels was arrested the following day and sang like a canary, outing everyone involved and Garton’s crazy lies. Garton was so pathological he seemed to believe some of his yarns and at his trial in 2001 sometimes spoke in a fake Irish accident. The jury and judge weren’t impressed with any of the defendants: Daniels was sentenced to 50 years, Noyes to 25, and Gordon to 10. Garton is currently on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison. Small Town Murder and Morbid are both available on several platforms (see info box for site links); Pietragallo and Whisman are embarking on a live tour in August, with stops in San Francisco and Sacramento. Ω AUGUST 4, 2022



REEL WORLD Left: Outer Range Below: Compartment No. 6

Midsummer streaming

A new espionage thriller plus a couple of neo-westerns and road movies now queued up

TAliaonShawkat Hulu) has Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, and Amy Brenneman in a he Old Man series (FX network, streaming

scaldingly convoluted espionage thriller that speaks of, if not to, by the Byzantine geopolitical Juan-Carlos warfare of recent decades. Selznick Bridges and Lithgow are aging CIA operatives drawn back into the fray when clandestine moves and countermoves of past missions begin to resurface in dangerously undesirable ways. There are personal stakes as well—the daughter (Shawkat) of Bridges’ character is working in Lithgow’s crew and might be a double agent. The elders try to keep a professional lid on everything, but personal dramas intrude at nearly every turn, including Bridges’ relationship with a woman (Brenneman) who gives him shelter in a moment of crisis. The four-way tangle of rooting interests in this seven-episode series makes for powerful emotions and stark insights in a tale that thoroughly resists good guy/bad guy simplifications. Outer Range, an Amazon Prime series, begins as something of a modern western in the Yellowstone mode but soon takes increasingly mysterious plunges into other dimensions—chiefly by way of a huge and seemingly bottomless hole that is discovered on a remote stretch of ranch land that is both



AUGUST 4, 2022

coveted and contested. The result is a fascinating and vertiginous blend of soapy horse opera, sci-fi fantasy and myth. In a sense, Outer Range operates in the famous “outer limits”—where, in this case, the earth is mostly flat, except for the precipitous curves and cycles of human existence. The tale features Josh Brolin and Will Patton as virulently rivalrous ranchers, each with cantankerous wives, conflicted pairs of sons and dynamic daughters variously involved in the fray. Lili Taylor (as Brolin’s wife) and Imogen Poots (as the mysterious “hippie” who pitches a tent on that eerie rangeland) are standouts in the big supporting cast. Patton’s antic lunacy deserves a companion miniseries of its own. And Brolin has placed another monumental landmark on his trail through desolate 21st century spaces—No Country For Old Men, two Sicario movies and now this. The feature-length Montana Story (available on multiple streaming platforms) centers on the fraught reunion of an estranged pair of siblings—which is occasioned by the impending death of their father, a fearsomely tempestuous Montana rancher. Erin (Haley Lu Richardson) and her younger brother Cal (Owen Teague) have different mothers and sharply contrasting attitudes toward their father, and the return to the home ranch brings them into mutual confrontations with all those tangled relationships, including their own. What ensues in this “neo-western” is a profoundly tangled (and very moving) rite of passage for two still-young adults. The understated lead performances are especially fine, and the writer-director team of Scott McGehee and David Siegel (creators of the Lake Tahoe-based The

Deep End, with Tilda Swinton) get richly nuanced work out of a diverse supporting cast and grandly evocative imagery out of the Montana setting. In the Iranian Hit the Road (on multiple streaming platforms), a family of four is on a mysteriously urgent journey through rugged terrain. Mom (Pantea Panahiha), a woman of dignity and grace, sits in front. Dad (Hasan Majuni), a gruffly cantankerous type, sits in back with the cast of his broken left leg protruding between the two front seats. Little Brother (Rayan Sarlak)—smart, restless and very vocal—is back there too, and the ailing family dog is in the back of the back. Big Brother (Amin Simiar), intense and mostly silent, is doing the driving. The rambunctious biplay between Mom, Dad and Little Brother sets a tone of genially The Old Man

sardonic comedy, but the older brother’s grim silences are the first sign that a serious mission underlies the family’s journey into sunlit wilderness. Filmmaker Panah Panahi, son of a major Iranian auteur making his feature-film debut, conjures an impressive mix of comic realism and undercurrents of moral and political seriousness. Compartment No. 6 (Amazon Prime), from Finnish writer-director Juho Kuosmanen, is also something of a road movie, but in this case the journey is by rail. Laura (Seidi Haarla), a young Finnish woman studying archaeology in Russia, is on her way to the remote locale of some ancient petroglyphs and finds herself stuck sharing a railway sleeper compartment with Ljoha (Yuri Borisov), a bumptious young Russian on his way to construction work in the same region. The three-day journey in close quarters puts the ill-matched pair at odds in a variety of ways, but a briefly companionate relationship begins to take shape. Kuosmanen and his actors steer clear of cultural and emotional oversimplifications, with the result that Compartment No. 6 becomes an intriguing dual portrait of two people getting a little lost in their young, modern lives and then beginning to understand Ω themselves a little more.


It’s all in the name

The pasta special, with chicken, spinach, black beans, corn and cilantro in a heavy and spicy cayenne cream sauce.

Halal Boss Smokehouse— enough said

Abarbecue you want to compete in the game. It’s a business

touch of swagger is essential if

where, from backyards to brickand-mortar storefronts, bragging rights and word-of-mouth praise are a grillmaster’s stock and trade. story and photos by It also helps Ken Smith to let people know a little bit kens@ newsrev iew.c om about what sets your seared and smoked delicacies apart Halal Boss from others. Smokehouse 1600 Mangrove Ave., Sameer Ste. 175 Aldabashi’s (530) 809-2826 chosen Hours: 10:30 a.m.name for 9 p.m. (closed Tuesdays) his new bar-

becue restaurant—Halal Boss Smokehouse—is inspired. It’s also a bit audacious in far Northern California, where every tri-tip slinging spatula swinger can’t wait to tell you why their meat can’t be beat. But Aldabashi has the chops— both the skills and cuts of meat—to back up the “boss” moniker. He started barbecuing professionally in his early teens, when his family migrated from Yemen and his father opened a grocery/meat market with a food court in Oakland. If you know, then you know—some of the best barbecue ever can be found in that city’s bodegas and mini marts, and Sameer said his family’s competed with the best, drawing patrons from all over the Bay Area in search of what he

described as “something a little different.” The first difference is in the quality of meat. Halal meat is raised and processed according to Muslim law, which is surprisingly similar in some requirements to “certified organic” but far more strict and farreaching. These rules include that the meat cannot contain hormones, preservatives or other chemicals; animals must be humanely raised and killed; and all blood must be drained. Additionally, HBS adds Middle Eastern flair to some of its barbecue entrees and other dishes that makes them truly unique—and incredibly tasty. HBS is a real family restauAbove: Two Smokehouse Combo plates. Left: Sameer “Halal Boss” Aldabashi.

rant. The current staff consists of Sameer and his sisters Yulanda and Fahdah (who said she prefers to go by “Jasmine”). Sameer mans the grill, Yulanda prepares the specials, and Jasmine runs the register and serves food in the immaculately clean and nicely appointed dining area. During a recent visit, my dining companion and I ordered separate Smokehouse Combos ($18 each), which feature a choice of two barbecued meats and two sides, served with a dinner roll made even more delicious when used to sop up some of HBS’s

sweet barbecue sauce. Between our two trays, I sampled the lamb ribs, tri-tip and beef links, all of which were delicious (beef ribs and smoked chicken were the other options). Sauce is served cooked-in or on the side to order, and I took mine on the side to try both the mild and the spicy varieties, both of which were delicious. All of the cuts made this meat lover’s heart sing with delight. The sides I sampled, the Boss BBQ beans and macaroni salad, were also exceptional. The beans were thick and sweet, like HBS’s barbecue sauce, with a subtle taste and aroma of honey. The macaroni salad was light and refreshing— a simple, savory contrast to the beans—and included peas and finely chopped onions and red peppers. Additionally, I lucked into a sizable helping of the daily special, one of Yulanda’s original concoctions so new that it was yet to be named (“I can cook dishes but I can never name them; I just know what I put in them,” she said). After ordering, I spotted Jasmine delivering a plate to another customer and asked if I could try a small sample. I was expecting a spoonful or two when Yulanda appeared with a heaping plate of her creation: gluten-free penne pasta with chicken, spinach, black beans, corn and cilantro, all in a heavy cream sauce colored by and kicking with cayenne pepper. To my good fortune, the extra entree was fantastic. Other daily specials include lamb kabsa (a meat and rice dish), salmon and rice, and a variety of traditional Middle Eastern dishes and Yulanda’s originals. My companion and I left HBS feeling full and happy, both from our food and the friendly conversation with the Aldabashi family. There’s still plenty more on the menu to work through—chicken, fish and tri-tip sandwiches, fried and crispy chicken wings and burgers. I can’t wait to return. Ω AUGUST 4, 2022



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ARTS New PRINTDEVO eDITION eveRy mONTh by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com


THAT SMELL The last of my azalea flowers has just gone brown. In late spring, there is a sweet

spot in the middle of my backyard where the azalea and jasmine fragrances mingle, and to sit at the table placed right exactly there with a beer within reach and the sun on my face is to be in heaven on Earth. Today, it is high summer in Chico, and the middle of my backyard in the middle of the day is hell on Earth. Sitting there exposed to the afternoon sun means death for delicate flowers, not to mention pink-skinned men. Only the hardy species thrive around here this time of year, which is probably why the entertainment calendar is dominated by rockers in July and August. Chico’s bars and cafes are jammed with native and invasive acts inspiring movement in the locals, despite the heat, and producing a collaborative perfume of humanity that is not without its own musky charm. And it’s not just cover bands, which seem to have dominated the calendar during COVID times. Raise a glass to the good people putting original music on the stages at Duffy’s Tavern, Argus Bar + Patio, Naked Lounge, Gnarly Deli, Secret Trail Brewing Co., Om on the Range, Tackle Box and Mulberry Station Brewing Co. It gives me hope for the rebound of the music scene. Arts DEVO’s pick from the August rock batch is the Intimate Stares show on Aug. 18 at Naked Lounge, with locals West By Swan and LDF opening. The headliners are from Seaside (near Monterey), and they claim to produce “bombastic, heavy, space rock infused post-punk stonThe last azalea er noise”; that’s everything I needed to hear. Apologies ahead of time for any smells I bring to the party.

exPaNDeD cOveRage 24/7 aT


ARTS FORECAST Even though the temperature here won’t drop significantly for months, we


have reached the other side of the summer mountain and are within sight of cool new seasons of programming that will balance out the arts-and-culture calendar. Two of the biggies in town—North State Symphony and Chico Performances—just dropped their lists of what’s to come, and the former is betting on better days ahead with its hopeful theme for the season: “Experience Joy.” The orchestra’s kickoff will be Sept. 24 at Laxson Auditorium, and the opening program starts things on a high-energy note with Latin Fireworks: Mariachi Meets the Symphony. Joining the celebration of Latin composers (Arturo Marquez, Juventino Rosas and more) will be three-time Grammy-winning Mariachi Garibaldi de Jamie Cuellar ensemble. The rest of the schedule includes eam of dedicated journalistsofcan a production Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Nov. 13); a Holiday Pops! show (Dec. 9); Haydn’s Drumroll and health crises of the past century. (Feb. 11); a young-audience concert of The Conductor’s Spellbook (March 7); and a seasonN&R can continue award-winning closerour that includes Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with utte County,“blazing” including pianist COVID-19, Charlie Albright. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 9 (northstatesymphony.org). ldfire recoveryChico and prevention. Performances is bringing another wonderfully eclectic season of performing arts to our little corner of the world, with multiple world-famous musicians scheduled for the Laxson stage, including The Beach Boys (Sept. 7), Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt (Nov. 2), Tommy Emmanuel (Dec. 7), The Mavericks (Dec. 13), Pink Martini (March 9) and Los Lobos (March 19). Other intriguing selections include the experimental Ukrainian world-music quartet DakhaBrakha (Sept. 28); a 50th anniversary performance by the adventurous Pilobolus dance send cash.)company (Feb. 17); and a multidiscipline tribute to the wildfireravaged trees of our state called


Treelogy: A Musical Portrait of California’s Redwood, Sequoia and Joshua Trees, featuring Billy Childs, Steven Mackey, Gabriella Smith and Delirium Musicumsince (Feb. 28). Independent local journalism, 1977. Now more Ticket than ever.packages go on sale Aug. 8, single tickets on Aug. 15 (chicoperformances.com).


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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY For The week oF AUGUST 4, 2022 ARIES (March 21-April 19): Aries poet Ada

Limón advises us to notice and love “the music of the world.” She says that praising and giving attention to the good things “are as important and necessary as witnessing and naming and holding the grief and sorrow that comes with being alive.” This is always a crucial principle to keep in mind, but it will be extra essential for you in the coming weeks. Your ability to attract the influences and resources you need most will thrive if you focus on and celebrate the music of the world. PS: I encourage you to sing more than usual, too.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Here’s my

hope for you in the coming months: You will cultivate a specialty for connecting people and situations that need to be affiliated but aren’t yet. You will regard your flair for blending as a gift you offer generously. Can you picture yourself doing that? I think it will be fun and will also benefit you in unexpected ways. So here’s my proposed plan: Conspire to heal fragmentation and schisms. Unite heavenly and earthly things. Keep the far side and the near side in touch with each other. Never let the past forget about the future, and vice versa. One more thing, Taurus: Be gleefully imaginative as you mix and conjoin and combine.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In a play

by Gemini philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, a character says, “Hell is other people.” What did he mean by that? One interpretation is that our fellow humans always judge us, and their judgments rarely align with who we really are and who we imagine ourselves to be. Here’s my solution for that problem: Choose allies and companions whose views of you match your own. Is that so hard? I suspect it will be easier than usual for you in the coming months, Gemini. Take advantage of life’s natural tendency to connect you with cohorts who appreciate you. Be picky as you avoid the hell of other people.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The people

most likely to succeed as entrepreneurs are those with a high degree of analytical intelligence. Right? Well, it’s more complicated than that. Reasoning ability and problem-solving skills are key skills, but not as important as emotional intelligence: the power to understand and manage feelings. I mention this, Cancerian, because the coming months will be a favorable time to advance your ambitions by enhancing and expressing your emotional intelligence. Here’s some reading to foster your powers: 1) tinyurl.com/EmotionSmarts; 2) tinyurl.com/SmartFeeler; 3) tinyurl.com/ WiseFeeler; 4) tinyurl.com/BrightFeeler.

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AUGUST 4, 2022

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the coming weeks,

Leo, I urge you to always be confident that YOU ARE THE PARTY! Everywhere you go, bring the spirits of fun and revelry. Be educationally entertaining and entertainingly educational. Amuse yourself by making life more interesting for everyone. At the same time, be kind and humble, never arrogant or insensitive. A vital part of your assignment is to nourish and inspire others with your radiance and charm. That formula will ensure you get everything you need. I foresee bounty flowing your way! PS: Regularly reward your admirers and followers with your magnanimous Chesire-cat grin.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In my Astrologi-

cal Book of Life, here’s what I have inscribed about Virgos: You may not always find the perfect solution, but you are skilled at finding the best solution available. This will be an especially valuable knack in the coming weeks, both for yourself and others. I trust you will scan for practical but compassionate answers, even if they are partial. And I hope you will address at least some of everyone’s needs, even if no one is completely satisfied. You can be the master of creative compromise that we all need. Thanks in advance for your excellent service!

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Everyone knows that “balance” is a keyword for you Librans. However, there are many interpretations of

by rob brezSny what balance entails. Here’s how I define it for you during the coming weeks: 1. an openness to consider several different ways to capitalize on an opportunity, but to ultimately choose just one way; 2. the ability to see and understand all sides of every story, while also knowing that for pragmatism’s sake you must endorse a single version of the story; 3. the capacity to be both constructively critical and supportively sympathetic; 4. the facility to be welcoming and inviting while still maintaining healthy boundaries.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “Life is

enchanting for me because I have so much control over what I think,” my Scorpio friend Daria told me. “If I decide to flatter myself with comments about how attractive I am, I can do just that. If I would like to imagine a good fairy visiting me while I sleep and giving me a dream of having an orgasm with my lover while we fly over the Serengeti Plains, I can.” I asked her about the times when worries gush forth unbidden from her subconscious mind and disturb her joy. She said, “I simply picture myself shoving those worries in a hole in the ground and blowing them up with an exploding rose.” I bring Daria’s mind-management expertise to your attention, Scorpio, because the coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to raise your mastery over what you think.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

People might impatiently advise you to relax and settle down. Others might tell you to stop dreaming such big visions and formulating such adventurous plans. Still others might give you the side-eye because they imagine you are having too much fun and brainstorming too wildly and laughing too loudly. If you receive messages like those, give the complainers a copy of this horoscope. It will tell them that YOU WILL NOT COMPLY WITH ANY INHIBITING DIRECTIVES. Your astrologer, me, authorizes you to be as vast and venturesome and enterprising and spontaneous as you dare. In doing so, I am speaking on behalf of the cosmic rhythms. Your plucky audacity has been heavenly ordained.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In

accordance with astrological omens, I hereby authorize you to worry, worry and worry some more. Stew and simmer and ferment as you weigh all the options and mull the correct actions. But when the time is right, end your fretting with crisp decisiveness. Shake off any residual doubt that still clings to you. And then undertake robust action to transform the situation that provoked your righteous brooding. In my astrological opinion, what I have just described is your best plan for success in the coming days.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “I was

looking for a love unlike my parents’ love or my sister’s love or the love on a foreign kitchen floor,” writes Rebecca Dinerstein Knight in her novel The Sunlit Night. “I wanted to forgive my mother and father for their misery and find myself a light man who lived buoyantly and to be both his light and his dark.” I offer you her thoughts, Aquarius, in the hope of inspiring you to expand and deepen your ideas about the love you want. The coming weeks will be a favorable time to revise and reinvigorate your definitions of intimacy and togetherness. You will have extra power to see new truths about how best to create maximum synergy and symbiosis.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “Even raw and messy emotions can be understood as a form of light, crackling and bursting with energy,” writes Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés. For example, “We can use the light of rage in a positive way, in order to see into places we cannot usually see.” Likewise, confusion might be a healthy sign that a long-held misunderstanding is dissolving. Disappointment may herald the demise of an unrealistic expectation. So let’s unleash a big cheer for raw and messy emotions, Pisces! I suspect they will soon be your gateway to clarity and renewal.

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888.

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