Upgraded Living May 2023

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I've said it before, and it likely won't come as a surprise when I say it again—our Women in Business issue is far and away my favorite issue of the year. Sure, every issue holds a special place in my heart after starting Upgraded Living Magazine 187 issues ago, but in those 16 years, the May issue continues to be just a bit more remarkable. Whether it's the opportunity to shine a much-deserved spotlight on some of the exceptional women in our community who have thrived in business, or being trusted with their personal stories of surmounting countless trials and tribulations, this issue feels just a bit more intimate than others, and there's something incredibly special about that.

I'm excited to say this issue is a perfect follow-up to our previous Women in Business issues with no shortage of women who have built beloved brands, restaurants, stores, service-based businesses, and more throughout the Northstate. Each has proved they have the grit, tenacity, and care to succeed in a world where nearly half of all businesses fail in the first five years.

We're kicking May off with a piece on Linda WatkinsBennett, a woman who I've personally admired for decades. As a journalist, she has quite literally put her life on the line, endured tragedy, and worked tirelessly to bring us the news day after day, month after month, and year after year. Furthermore, she succeeded in not only breaking into an industry that was male-dominated when she started but also blazed a trail for other women to follow. She did all of this while successfully raising a family of her own, a feat that couldn't be more worthy of praise. Her story is one shared by many women, including my own mother, who I'm proud to say is a successful woman in business herself and also featured in this issue. She too broke into a male-dominated industry, worked tirelessly, and pushed forward through any hurdle to reach her dream of becoming a successful businessperson. What's more, she did so while raising a family of her own, and I couldn't be more proud to be her son. I'm sure Linda's son would say the same. Take the time to read these incredible stories, and please support these wonderful women in business. They all provide so much to their families, each other, and our communities in general.


AVEED KHAKI Owner/Publisher

JASON CORONA Sales Director




DIANE CLIFFORD Cover Story Photographer


DOUG LOVE Real Estate



6 UPGRADED LIVING MAGAZINE MAY 2023 FROM THE PUBLISHER For editorial or general magazine inquiries, please contact: Aveed Khaki, 530.519.5683 aveed@upgradedliving.com For sales inquiries, please contact: Jason Corona, 530.591.2634 jason@upgradedliving.com
Aveed Khaki


15 Local news anchor Linda WatkinsBennett opens this year's Women in Business issue with 38 years of excellence in journalism.

18 Emmy Norton takes the helm as chief surgical officer and opens the doors to Meriam Park's new surgery center.

19 Diane Pajouh and her team of wondrous women set the scene for the new Pajouh Automotive Center.

22 Laura Eckstrom brings form, function, and style to clients of PatioPros.

25 Get a glimpse into the success of some of the North Valley's brightest business owners in our Women in Business mini-profiles.

26 Patricia Savage launches her mediation business, ADR North Inc., a better way to resolve conflict.

27 Local attorney Nicole Reimer discusses keeping things on the up and up in the Northstate.

30 Best friends and business confidants, Effie Khaki and Sherry Landis discuss the cyclical real estate market and their 30+ years of success.

42 Celebrating her 50th year in real estate, Georgie Bellin reflects on a life and business well-lived.

46 The owners of Acorns to Oaks delight with a preschool and personality children are sure to adore.

48 The team at ChromeWorks restores our community in more ways than one.

52 ChicoStart welcomes entrepreneurs from all walks of life and skill levels.

54 Jamie Withrow, of Labelz in Chico, provides the designers you love at prices you'll swoon for.

63 Dee Luna


44 Vince and Kristina Clarkson open the doors to the new Hudson's Appliance Center, Outdoor, & More in Chico!

61 The California Nut Festival is back, and we can attest, it's nuttier than ever!

64 We get our day drunk on with some of Butte County's best mimosas.

68 Tim Milhorn delivers the wide world of the world's best-selling liquor: soju.

72 Local musician extraordinaire, Katie Barrett dazzles with musical prowess.

74 Cool Kid Summer Sun sets a new meaning for the word impressive.

78 Our monthly calendar of events is chock full of excitement this month!


57 Finding success in both business and raising a family is no easy task, but Sis Gilmore makes it look like second nature. Discover how she continues to grow personally and professionally in this month's cover story.


44 64 15
dishes on her 30 years at Chico's legendary breakfast joint, Morning Thunder. SIS GILMORE OF NURSES AND PROFESSIONAL HEALTHCARE PHOTO COURTESY: DIANE NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Success well earned

When it comes to local women in business, there are few names or faces as recognizable as Linda Watkins-Bennett. A staple of journalism in the North Valley for decades, she got her start when the industry was undeniably male-dominated and less than welcoming to women looking to make a name for themselves. Regardless, she set her sights forward, fought the uphill battle, and earned her position at the top. Over the years, she has delivered some of the area’s biggest—and certainly most memorable— stories. She has created inroads and partnerships throughout the community and within her own industry, earning the respect of her peers and Northstate residents alike. She stands as a shining example that anything is possible if you

believe in yourself and work for what you want.

Linda’s grandparents moved to Chico in 1941 in search of their own dream. Her grandfather took up work at the Diamond Match Company, while her grandmother worked hard at home and took on side jobs to help support the family, like knocking and harvesting almonds in nearby almond orchards. Their example instilled the value of hard work in their four children, encouraging their youngest daughter, Linda’s mother, to strive for the same. She was the first member of the family to go to college, and as a result, had the same wish for her daughters. “There was no question about whether my sister or I were going

to go to college.” Linda says, “She just wanted us to get an education so we could be what we wanted to be. She didn’t expect anything else. She and my father divorced when I was a toddler, and she did everything she could as a single mother to set the right example for us. She made sure we had the tools we needed to succeed. We were definitely poor monetarily, but we were rich in so many other ways.”

A natural-born storyteller, Linda grew up enamored with writing and spent a decent amount of her time at Chico High School exploring that skill. When she entered college at Chico State, there was little doubt as to what she wanted to do. As she felt creative writing “had been done,” she wanted to chart her own path, and broadcasting was still a somewhat new frontier for women. “Barbara Walters was one of the original female anchors.” Linda recalls, “I first became aware of women in broadcasting thanks to her, and the job seemed like a dream come true. She blazed the trail for so many women and was one of the reasons I decided to major in communications and broadcasting.” Linda graduated from the program in 1985 and set out to make a name for herself in the industry, finding her first television internship right here in Chico at KHSL News.

At the time, most broadcast hopefuls were looking to larger markets to get their foot in the door. Considered “union shops,” the internship programs provided a mostly eyes-on introduction to the studio and networking. By staying local, Linda was able to get a jumpstart in broadcasting with actual hands-on experience. She was afforded the opportunity to shadow other reporters in the field, work in the studio, and create her own reel. Being in a smaller market without the demands of traffic and travel, she was able to continue working a second job at the former Karen’s restaurant until she was hired full-time at KHSL.

38 years since she first stepped foot in the newsroom, Linda has just about seen and done it all where broadcasting is concerned. During that time, she has reported, written, produced, and anchored the local news. She has won


numerous awards and watched her news station grow, merge, and evolve to adapt to an ever-changing world filled with new technology and new expectations. All the while, Linda has remained true to her calling and steadfast in her commitment to providing unbiased information to those who look to her for it.

“So much has changed in the time I’ve been here.” Linda says, “Everything is so different with technology now. Reporting, writing, editing, and even filming can all take place right on your phone. When I started, I had to go out, videotape the report, return to my desk at the station and type it all out, then edit it, before heading back out to deliver it live. Now, everything can be done in the field on one device. It’s amazing how far we’ve come! I began as an intern and put in

25 years in the field reporting. My first opportunity to anchor came about 3 years after I started, and not long after, I was anchoring the news at noon. I also anchored the early morning news for almost a year and more recently took over the 4 pm show when Debbie Cobb retired. It’s been an incredible journey.”

As one can imagine, that journey has had its fair share of ups and downs though, as news isn’t always positive. Linda has been on the frontline for everything from fatal car wrecks to the disastrous Camp Fire, an experience which still haunts her to this day. “The Camp Fire tops all the stories I’ve ever had to report.” Linda says in a somber tone, “I couldn’t stop myself from crying on air. We were live 24/7 for five straight days, with each of us taking four-hour shifts at the news desk.

There were live news conferences every night where we would wait to hear the number of deaths, the identities of those located and those still missing, and the ever-growing magnitude of the damage. I stopped counting at 100 personal friends who lost their homes up there. I still continue covering it because it needs to be covered. Thankfully, the emotion has shifted to positive as we have a representative come in once a month to talk about the important updates, community events, and rebuilding efforts.”

Though Linda’s success is incredible, it’s important to note she’s earned it while also having a family of her own. Married for 38 years with one son, Linda is proof that you truly can have it all. “You have to love what you do.” Linda advises, “That’s where the reward is. I love my family, and I love the work I do, so I invest myself fully in both. Broadcasting is a very hard business. Sometimes we face danger just to make sure we don’t get scooped. It’s exciting, frightening, and rewarding all at the same time. You have to be brave and put your time in, but just as with everything else, you get what you put into it. When it comes to journalism, it’s important to understand the power you have and why you need to remain fair, balanced, and impartial regardless of who you are speaking with. I’m just grateful to have been given the opportunity to make a difference in my community and tell stories that might otherwise have not been told—happy and sad alike. I’ve been a huge advocate of the arts for years, and this platform has given me the ability to shine a light on everything the arts bring to Northern California. I couldn’t be happier with the path I decided to take 38 years ago.”

Linda continues to be a champion of those marginalized and without a voice while bringing everything the Northstate has to offer directly to your TV on Action News Now. She is currently the anchor of Action News Now at Noon and produces and anchors Action News Now at 4 pm, and we couldn’t imagine local broadcasting without her. If you see her around town, please say hello and extend a thank you for everything she’s done for our community and women in broadcasting.


The only constant is change

North Valley Eye Care has spent years cultivating an inclusive company culture focused on welcoming raw talent and rewarding work ethic. As a result, they have developed one the hardest-working and most effective teams in the Northstate, and their meteoric growth is proof of exactly that. Chief Surgical Officer Emmy Norton is a shining example of how far a strong work ethic can get you, and from the sound of it, there’s nothing but blue sky ahead of her.

Originally from Oahu, Hawaii, Emmy moved to Chico for school and to spend time with her mother. She found a job opening posted for North Valley Eye Care in 2016, applied, and was hired as an ophthalmic technician. Over the seven years that followed, she

moved into the surgery department, quickly became one of the organization’s surgery coordinators, rose to lead surgery coordinator 15 months after joining the surgery department, and by 2018 had become the department’s surgery director. In 2020, Emmy was once again promoted from within the company to Chief Surgical Officer, the position she maintains today.

“North Valley Eye Care’s parent company, Ridge Eye Care, Inc. operates as a family company.” Emmy says, “Everyone I’ve worked with has become my work family. We’re constantly looking forward and finding ways to be the best for our patients. Working in that kind of atmosphere over the past seven years, and cultivating that kind

of culture, has been really incredible. You just love going to work each day, because it feels like you’re making a difference. When I started, we had three private practices and a handful of federally funded practices. Now we have 9 private practices and even more federally funded practices. It’s said that the only constant here is change, and it remains true to this day.”

Change is always in the cards, thanks to Drs. Isaac Barthelow and Anthony Rudick, the owners of North Valley Eye Care and the Ridge Eye Care Inc. Citing a number of issues with the way surgeries were being handled at surgical centers around the country, they decided to create a better system and one that would allow for a more thoughtful continuum of care for their patients. They dove headfirst into the project of opening their own surgery center separate from North Valley Eye Care and Ridge Eye Care Inc. in 2020. Though separate, the new surgery center would partner with Ridge Eye Care Inc. and give them the ability to control the inefficiencies and inadequacies they had been experiencing elsewhere, while providing them with a surgical center built specifically for the type of procedures they do. They hashed out the final details on concept, design, and real estate throughout 2021, and their teams spent the last year hammering out the majority of the paperwork, fine details, and plans for its opening. When it came time to find the perfect person to run the new surgical center, Emmy was the obvious choice. With the surgical center slated to open soon on the North Valley Eye Care campus at Meriam Park on Bruce Road, Emmy couldn’t be more thrilled to revel in the fruits of their team’s labors.

“We have an incredible team, and I couldn’t ask for a better one.” Emmy raved, “Their knowledge is absolutely incredible! We have 60 years of combined cataract surgery experience between just two of our techs, we have amazing nurses, and a team that continues to amaze me each and every day. We can’t wait to have them working in our very own surgery center! Getting there has been a challenge—between all the hoops you have to jump through to not only be considered a safe accredited surgery center but also the best in the Northstate, there was no shortage of work to be done. Everyone agreed early on that if we were


going to do this, we were going to make sure it was the best surgical center possible, and we couldn’t be more proud to say that we’ve built exactly that. Our goal is to be able to offer patients the care they really need. We want to be able to provide services to those who are less fortunate and have been pushed aside by everyone else. The surgery center will give us the ability to finally do that. It’s been the goal of Drs. Barthelow and Rudick for a long time. Our mission is to help patients regardless of what insurance they have— even if they have no insurance at all. Cataract surgery will be our biggest surgery at the center, but we’ll also be able to provide so many other treatments including glaucoma treatment, advanced refractive, and LenSx laser, just to name a few. We’ll even be able to offer LASIK eventually. By the time the surgery center is running at full capacity, we expect to be providing 4,800-5,000 surgeries each year.”

Eventually, Emmy plans to take on a new role overseeing a new administrator and all of the organization’s surgical directors. As if she wasn’t impressive enough, she’s doing everything she’s done over the past five months while pregnant with her baby boy who’s due in September. Never satisfied with the status quo, and always looking forward, Emmy finished our interview by saying, “I would love to see us have more than just one surgery center in Northern California, and that’s certainly our goal.”

If you’ve experienced changes in your vision, call North Valley Eye Care today and have it checked out. They can be reached by phone at (530) 891-1900 or online at www.NorthValleyEyeCare.com. If you’d like to see what positions are currently available on their team, you can find them on their website as well.

Eight years in the making

Driving on Highway 99 near Garner Lane in Chico, it’s almost impossible to miss the monumental amount of work underway on the west side of the freeway. If you’ve been an Upgraded Living reader over the past few years, you likely already know exactly what’s going on—the realization of a dream eight years in the making.

Diane and Jerry Pajouh purchased Courtesy Automotive Center in May 2015. Now, as they celebrate their eighth anniversary, they are nearing completion of the promise they made to themselves when they first moved to Chico. “We moved here with our family, purchased the business, and began working on plans to completely move the facility while putting our signatures on the store itself.” Diane said, “We bought the property on Garner as soon as we arrived and knew it would be the perfect place for our new auto center.”

Calling it an auto center is no exaggeration, as it will be home to seven unique brands: BMW, Mercedes, GMC, Cadillac, Volvo, Buick, and Subaru. Together, the brands will offer a breadth of options from entry-level vehicles to luxury, each with its own offering of electric vehicles. Diane raved, “We’re

at the cusp of electrification, and we’ve designed the new auto center to provide everything necessary for that giant leap into electrification. We have a variety of electric vehicles available for sale today and many more on the way.”

The all-electric Subaru Solterra sits in one of their showrooms as proof of that statement. Perfectly reminiscent of the Subaru vehicles that many have come to know and love, it comes with standard symmetrical all-wheel drive and a luxurious interior at a price point far lower than most electric vehicles. Additional electric vehicles for sale now are the BMW i4, iX, and i7; the Mercedes EQB, EQS, and EQS SUV; and the Volvo C40 and XC40. The Cadillac Lyric and GMC Hummer Electric are expected any day now. The new automotive center will sell, service, and care for all vehicles, gas and electric-powered, in the same location.

Though the growth and evolution of the business are awe-inspiring, there’s undoubtedly more to it than just its new location. “Culture and customer service have been everything to us since the day we took over.” Diane said, “In a male-dominated industry, where approximately 85% of the buying

decisions are influenced by women, it was important for Jerry and myself to provide a more welcoming atmosphere to our business. I wanted to bring together a team of women who loved cars, were knowledgeable about them, and were excited to assist customers throughout the car ownership journey. I’m proud to say we’re well on our way and couldn’t be more thrilled with the team we’ve put together. Pictured above are, Jessica, our BDC sales manager; Kylie, our office manager; and Sandra who runs our guest relations department. We employ 25 other women in various areas of our company, and we are also a family business. Our niece Michelle is our social media director and our daughter, Jesika, will start in May as a product genius. Truly, these women are absolutely phenomenal, and we couldn’t do what we do without them.”

With a brand new auto center right around the corner, Diane couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come, and neither can we. Keep up on updates for the Pajouh’s new automotive center at www.chicocourtesy.com or on any of their social media profiles.


Embracing the Changing Terrain

Born in Paradise, Laura Eckstrom tackles life like she snowboards, full force and without fear. Her life experiences have shown that you shouldn’t be afraid to shift course and move into unfamiliar fields. “I’ve made switches in my career a couple times, and every one was worth it. I feel like I learned so much in each field.”

Laura took her first job as a sophomore in high school working in childcare at a Paradise health club. Holding down a job while participating in three high school sports required a lot of planning and dedication, but her strong drive kept her focused. She then went on to work at the Tea Bar & Fusion Café in Chico for seven years where she moved from a dishwasher

position all the way up to management. Laura credits Tea Innovations co-founder Shelly Blanshei with “teaching me pretty much everything I know as far as my work ethic goes.” Laura enrolled in beauty school and spent time as an esthetician doing lash work, which then evolved into working in the medical field with a local dermatologist. It was during this time that she met her husband, Ben, who later introduced her to a career in the construction business.

That career change took Laura to sales and design at Proframe Construction and PatioPros. Proframe has been headquartered here, in Chico, for more than 12 years. They build residential and commercial projects ranging from decks and additions to entire custom homes. Laura’s experience at the company began with designing the interiors of the spec houses Proframe was building. She would select tile, flooring, and paint along with helping to develop the interior layout of the home. Early on, as Proframe elected to market their homes themselves, Laura also began to work on staging. She says, “Through everything I’d read, I learned that staging sells, so I decided we need to get the items needed to do it, and learned I really loved it.” She enjoyed being able to create something beautiful that people loved and felt at home in. Even though they now have real estate agents helping with the sales, Laura says the artistic side is still one of her favorite aspects of the job.

In addition to her design work with Proframe, she also works with PatioPros. As you may have read in our previous issue, it began as a branch of Proframe Construction and evolved into its own entity. PatioPros builds custom shade covers designed specifically for each client’s home or commercial property. Whether it’s building a pergola, a louvered patio cover, or a light-filled sunroom, PatioPros’ quality craftsmanship and personalized customer service are well-received in the community. Laura’s main focus at PatioPros is developing and designing their Instagram and Facebook accounts while assisting with sales when needed. She’ll meet with clients at their home, discuss what they’re looking for in a shade structure, take measurements and photos, and then meet with the PatioPros team to develop and deliver an estimate for the customer.


Spring just happens to coincide with the Chico Home & Garden Show, bringing in a wave of new clients looking to prepare their home and patio for months of outside activities. This busy season finds Laura out in the sales field more frequently. “I love going out on an appointment and spending time with clients while learning and figuring out what they want and need for their space. It’s so fulfilling to be able to provide that service for them, and watching it all come to life is so exciting.”

Laura was new to construction when she first started with the company, so she says she’s always learning something new, which is exciting. “It keeps me busy and on my toes.” She shares that the most challenging aspect of the job goes hand-in-hand with that, “My knowledge is still growing. Coming into a world that was completely new to me was difficult, with a learning curve around every corner, but with each curve has come a new feeling of confidence.” As far as advice for others considering a foray into a new field, she says, “Don’t be afraid to do it. Even if you’re scared, you’ll always learn something. Good or bad, at least you’re learning from it.”

That proclivity towards embracing the lessons learned from each experience, be it positive or negative, can also be seen in Laura’s personal life. During the COVID pandemic, she and her husband Ben decided to renovate their home. However, this remodel relegated the couple and Ben’s two children to living in tents in their backyard for 12 weeks throughout the construction. She says it was definitely interesting, but she doesn’t need to ever do it again. “I think we found that if we could endure all of that, then we can make it for the long haul.” They recently married, starting their journey as a family together in a snowboard wedding ceremony on top of Heavenly Ski Resort in Tahoe. Laura is ready for whatever comes next. She continues to embrace the curves and learns from the changes in terrain as she cruises down life’s mountain.

You can connect with Laura Eckstrom at Proframe Construction by calling (530) 636-4574 and PatioPros at (530) 924-6400. You can also visit them online at www.proframeconstruction.com and www.PatioPros.com.

A Chico native, Hayley grew up with a love for fashion and fell in love with the idea of pursuing it through the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). Passionate about owning her own store someday, she worked in retail for years before moving back to Chico and later opened her own boutique on Cohasset Road. Small and quaint, the boutique specifically carries items that everyone else doesn’t. Her offerings are in fast fashion, with styles and inventory constantly changing. Most importantly, she has something for everyone including clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Stop by and see why we love her shop!



169 Cohasset Road, Suite 3, Chico www.shoppinkwillow.com

Real Food. Real Butter. Real Good Home Cooking. It's been the motto of The Roost Cafe since they opened their doors in 2004. Linda Juanarena has remained committed to providing exactly that at their new, larger location on Main Street in Downtown Chico, and the countless rave reviews prove it's not just a delicious recipe, but also a perfect one for success. The Roost Cafe is known for their eggs Benedict, but they also offer a delicious menu full of breakfast and lunch items for everyone to enjoy.


817 Main St, Downtown Chico www.toasttab.com/roost-cafe

(530) 892-1281

A highly-creative landscape designer and small business owner with over 40 years of experience, Kathleen Elliott specializes in family-oriented and environmentally sensitive landscapes for commercial and residential properties. She has expert knowledge of environmental sensitivity, erosion control, drought tolerance, fire safety, sustainable landscape design, and horticulture, including healing gardens. There are few in our community who have the breadth of knowledge or experience that she brings to each and every one of her landscape projects, and as her customers will be the first to tell you, you couldn’t be in better hands when it comes to landscape design.

www.mountainviewgardencenter.com | (925) 209-7702

Hayley Riley Kathleen Elliott Linda Juanarena

In the midst of things

Sometimes, difficult circumstances arise in which people must find legal help; it’s good to know that there are lawyers like Patricia Savage, when you do.

Patricia practices in several different legal areas, including employment and business law as the managing partner at Savage, Lamb, & Reimer LLP, a Chicobased firm. “I represent businesses—and occasionally employees, depending on the circumstances—in litigation,” she says. “Which means I spend a good deal of my professional life working through complex legal issues.” Some of those issues revolve around problems with harassment, discrimination, and wage and hour law. A simpler way to think of it, is to take what you know about human resources, dial that up several degrees, and then you would have an idea of what Patricia does in her day-to-day. Patricia often helps companies who seek advice as a legal professional to implement solutions to keep them on the right side of the law, and ultimately out of the courtroom. However, if they do end up

getting sued, she will represent them when they go before a judge.

“The reason I know how to represent businesses,” she says, “is because I spent the first 10 years of my career exclusively representing employees. After the first decade, I realized that I’d rather protect employers from getting sued in the first place.” Patricia tells me that litigation is not a happy place for anybody to be. Lawsuits take a long time, and the uncertainty and constant back-and-forth make people frightened, unhappy, and nervous. “Any time you can get things right from the get-go, meaning helping an employer follow the law so they don’t get sued, or helping an employee and employer reach an early resolution without having to sue, life is kinder for everyone,” Patricia says.

A lover of poetry and the arts, Patricia was a single mother with a young son when she received her bachelor’s degree in rhetoric with honors from U.C. Berkeley. Understanding the transient nature of the

value of an undergraduate degree, she made the decision to attend Santa Clara University School of Law for her Juris Doctorate. “I thought I was going to be an environmental lawyer and save the world from poisons and toxins,” she says. “But you know, they say life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans, so that’s sort of what happened to me.” Patricia has been in Chico on and off for the last 27 years and teaches at both Chico State and Cal Northern School of Law.

Now, Patricia is at the beginning of a transition into an exciting phase— offering her skill set in alternative dispute resolution to provide private arbitration and mediation services. “Essentially, mediation brings disparate people and positions together to see if they can reach an endgame and find a resolution for their dispute earlier rather than later. An arbitrator makes rulings on a case but away from the regular court system,” Patricia says.

Mediation is greatly encouraged by the courts as it takes less time than a trial and is ultimately very effective, but despite these obvious advantages, there is an alarming lack of mediators in Butte County. Patricia is attempting to fill that void with her business ADR, North Inc. Only lawyers who have substantial practice, who take their work seriously and have integrity, can become mediators, and they must have a solid foundation of both maturity and experience. Reading reviews for Patricia on the law website Avvo, it’s clear she has those qualities in spades, as well as warmth and compassion. “Patricia treated me like family,” one reviewer says. “I feel like I found the best possible person to help me, and I am so thankful for her intelligence and compassion,” says another.

Patricia Savage, Esq. is a lawyer at the law firm of Savage, Lamb, & Reimer, LLP. She provides counsel for claims avoidance, trial, mediation, arbitration, best employment policies and practices, and through administrative law hearings. She can be reached by telephone at (530) 809-1851, and more client reviews can be found by searching her name on www.avvo.com.


The Value of hard work

Nicole Reimer is the president and sole shareholder of Reimer Law, PC, which she opened in 2019. In 2022, her business partnered with the Law Offices of Patricia A. Savage and the Law Offices of E. Ryan Lamb to become Savage, Lamb, and Reimer, LLP. In just one year, the firm has grown to include paralegals and an associate attorney. “Our firm offers a wide variety of legal services to the public,” Nicole says. “Each of our practices complements the others nicely to seamlessly refer cases back and forth amongst ourselves.”

Nicole primarily represents business entities and clarifies that a lawyer can’t ethically say they specialize in an area of law as a lawyer unless they’ve been cleared by the California State Bar as a

certified specialist. “My firm has a strong background, focus, and experience in working with business owners and the community in their trust, estate, and probate needs,” she says.

Nicole attended Chico State, majoring in journalism and minoring in criminal justice, but from the get-go, she knew which classes really lit a fire in her. “After taking several law classes for my minor, as well as media law for my major, I discovered that I actually enjoyed those classes more than I did the journalism classes,” she says. “I would get out of my constitutional law class and call my mom while walking back to my apartment and just ramble on and on to her about all of the things I learned in class that

day.” After she graduated, a family friend suggested she study at Chico’s own Cal Northern School of Law. The school’s classes are held in the evening, allowing students to work while they attend. It takes four years to get through the program, but Nicole was a dedicated student and she worked in law offices throughout in order to get a feel for what it would be like once she graduated. She became a certified law student and was able to practice law with the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. That step enabled her to take and defend depositions, participate in mediations, and represent the firm in court hearings with her supervising attorney present. When the time came for her to graduate, Nicole was salutatorian of her class, having received the second-highest grade point average every year of her studies.

Nicole has a passion for her job and enjoys the mental exercise it provides. “I love researching to try and solve a puzzle and win the battle of minds against another attorney,” she says. “I also really enjoy helping my clients and feeling like I am able to take a stressful situation off their shoulders and make their lives a little easier. Understanding the legal process can be a challenge, and I like feeling like I can help my clients navigate through it.” However, as much as she loves her job, Nicole has other responsibilities in her life that take precedence. “I am a mother first,” she says. “I have two wonderful young children that are my top priority. My daughter Emmery is almost three years old, and my son Owen turns one this month. I am always thinking about them, and I have their pictures on my wall and as the background on my computer screen. It isn't uncommon for me to stop by the office with my children on one of the days I work from home, and they love the people I work with.”

Since her graduation from law school, Nicole has been primarily focused on assisting her clients with their estate planning and business law needs. She is knowledgeable in drafting wills, trusts, special needs trusts, powers of attorney, and advanced healthcare directives. She also has experience in arbitration, mediation, and judicial litigation hearings. She can be reached at (530) 809-1851.


Elizabeth Vichi, Speech-Language Pathologist

Elizabeth Vichi is a speech-language pathologist and has been the owner and developer of Full Circle Speech Therapy Inc since 2016. While developing an amazing early intervention team of speech therapists, occupational therapists, and educated personnel, Elizabeth spent the last six years mastering her craft as a licensed infant feeding specialist, helping mothers and caregivers with feeding their babies for optimal gains, maturation, and development. Elizabeth has developed Full Circle as the leading pediatric clinic in the Northstate, serving Butte and Tehama Counties as well as surrounding communities.



643 West East Avenue, Chico


(530) 892-9127

Jessica Rowe has owned and operated three retail stores in Northern California in the past 17 years. She discovered a need for one in Orland and decided to open Sparrow & Crow to cater to those seeking the popular bohemian cowgirl look. Jessica couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Downtown Orland business community, one that she states is truly woman-owned and totally supportive of one another’s businesses. Sparrow and Crow in a size-inclusive boutique carrying sizes from extra small to XXL because, as Jessica will be the first to tell you, “Women are beautiful in all sizes!”



715 Fourth St, Orland (530) 965-2130

Iris opened her art gallery and store, Nothing But Love, on the Skyway in Paradise in May of 2022. Her store features local artists, antiques, and specialty foods, all of which she believes bring healing power to the Ridge, an area that could still certainly use it. Now celebrating its first year in business, Nothing But Love has made a name for itself as a staple of the Paradise art community. As someone who has been a longtime active partner of the Paradise Art Center, the success of her business is a dream come true. Visit this amazing gallery and congratulate Iris on her first anniversary!



6393 Skyway, Paradise

(530) 353-8445

Iris Natividad Jessica Rowe

effie khaki & Sherry Calbert

It's all cyclical

“People might be wondering why we’ve used the same photo three years in a row to tell our story.” Effie Khaki laughed, “We’re REALTORs though; people should be used to seeing the same photo for at least another fifteen years!” She turns to look at her best friend and fellow REALTOR, Sherry Landis, and the two begin laughing

uncontrollably. It is, for everyone who knows the two, completely on brand. For the rest of the cafe-goers at Bidwell Perk, it's clearly an inside joke they wish they were in on. Both Effie and Sherry live their lives in search of joy, and they continue to credit over 30 years of laughter and friendship to their ongoing success in real estate.

It’s true, Effie and Sherry have seen it all in their 30+ years of real estate together. Perhaps more importantly though, they’ve seen it all—over and over again. “The photo of the two of us laughing really could be taken in so many different ways.” Sherry said, “Like we said last year, real estate is no laughing matter. However, there is some humor in seeing the same things happen over and over again. At this point, we’ve seen interest rates rise and fall, prices rise and fall, and demand rise and fall; we’ve seen it all so many times, none of it is really surprising anymore. You just have to laugh


and realize it’s all cyclical. In the end, it all balances out.”

Both Effie and Sherry agree that real estate is a long-term investment and should be approached that way. Unless you’re looking to flip a home, market conditions play less of a factor over the 30-year life of a mortgage. In fact, they both believe that one of the best times for a buyer to get into a home is when interest rates are a bit higher than normal.

“If interest rates ever shot up to double digits like they were in the late 70s through late 80s, I’d be wary of buying a home.” Effie started, “Interest rates right now are higher than they were a year ago, sure, but competition is inversely proportional. Buying a home a year ago meant competing with so many offers that were being piled one on top of the other with almost no end in sight. If you won the bidding war, whatever you paid for the property was what you paid for the property. There’s no way to change that valuation going forward—it’s just what you owe on your loan. A higher interest rate, on the other hand, is a different story. With less competition, you have a better chance of buying a home at a more attractive price than you did last year, and interest rates are always subject to change, meaning you have the ability to refinance when the next dip in rates arrives. Get the house you want now for a better price, and make a goal to get down to a lower monthly payment as soon as you’re able.”

Sherry sat across from Effie nodding in agreement before continuing, “It’s also important to know what the difference is in terms of long-term cost between buying and renting. We know of so many potential buyers who are sitting on the sidelines thinking now isn’t the right time to jump in, but with rental prices being incredibly high themselves, it’s really a question of whether you want to build equity in your own home or just put money in someone else’s pocket. We always recommend that our renters sit down with their financial advisor and lender

to get an idea of what they can actually afford in a home based on what they’re currently comfortable paying in rent. The number is usually pretty surprising to most of our clients, and the break-even point is far sooner than they would think. More importantly, they’re building equity and actually own an asset which has proven to be one of the best investments historically.”

Just as Sherry had earlier, Effie too was nodding in agreement. She echoed Sherry’s sentiment, “It’s rarely a bad time to begin investing in real estate or adding to your real estate portfolio. There have been times over our careers when it has been, but I believe we can both confidently say this certainly isn’t one of them.”

Effie and Sherry have worked closely with one another for over 30 years. They’ve hosted their own radio show, sold haunted houses, brokered deals with international buyers, and each earned every award Century 21 has to offer nationally, including maintaining a position in the top 1% of Century 21 REALTORs in the nation.

Separately, they’ve each also sold hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate locally and made their names synonymous with the industry in our area. There’s a good chance you may be living in a home they originally listed, as together, they’ve sold thousands of them in Chico alone. Though both have been top producers for decades, they credit much of their success to believing clients should be treated as family rather than a number.

“We’ve received 42 Centurion Awards, done tons of transactions together, and we’ve always been each other’s confidant.” Effie said, “We’ve done whatever we could to help each other, rather than be actual competitors.”

Sherry continued, “I’ve always said Effie was the best REALTOR. She’s an incredible negotiator, and if I wasn’t in real estate myself, I would have had her do all my

own transactions. Anytime we would go on vacation, Effie would negotiate our extras at the hotel—free champagne, desserts, etc. We’ve always had healthy competition and continue to be happy for each other’s success.”

Effie finished, “Throughout all these years, our friendship hasn’t been broken by working together. In fact, we’re even stronger. We’ve been there for each other’s happiness and sadness, and our friendship has weathered all the cycles of real estate.”

Effie and Sherry both wanted to note that neither feels their success is due solely to their own work, but also to the support of those around them. While there’s been a huge shakeup in local real estate, they’ve been loyal to the same company for over 30 years and have nothing but wonderful things to say about the time they’ve spent working there. Each has various people who have positively impacted their lives, but both mentioned their office manager, Doug Love, for the unending love and support he’s shown over the years. They both also mentioned branch leader, Shelinda Bryant, for her tireless efforts in making sure their needs were always taken care of.

“Our office has always been one big family.” Effie said, “If someone is down, the rest of the group lifts them up.” Sherry continued, “It’s been over three decades of watching lives evolve. It’s unusual to be in one office for so long, but this is far more than an office to either of us.”

Effie Khaki and Sherry Landis epitomize the strength, friendship, and success we’ve been so honored to discover throughout our women in business issues, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for both of them.

If there’s real estate you’re looking to buy or sell, give Effie or Sherry a call! Effie can be reached at (530) 514-3334, and Sherry can be reached at (530) 514-4855.


Carrie Tatreau, CCIM, Broker-Associate

Carrie Tatreau comes from a construction and commercial property management background. Having worked for builders before becoming an associate broker herself, she maintains a unique understanding of commercial real estate making her perfectly suited to assisting both building owners and tenants alike. She carries a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation and is currently on the board of directors for the Sierra North Valley Association of Realtors. Perhaps most importantly, Carrie remains committed to her strong work ethic and maintaining the highest standards of integrity. Carrie says, “I love to answer my phone and exceed your expectations!”


DRE #01926238



(530) 570-5107

Kelsey is a 5th generation Chicoan, a self-proclaimed nerd and adrenaline junkie that loves spontaneous adventures and contract questions. Kelsey has an eclectic background that includes working alongside some of Northern California’s top agents. She is a proud CSUC alumni (go Wildcats!) and holds a Master’s Degree in Business. Kelsey’s diverse background across several functional areas, drive, and creativity make her the perfect professional blend to achieve the absolute best results for her clients. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and looks forward to exceeding your expectations.


DRE #02035244

Nikole Enns



(530) 908-4905

Nikole Enns is a Chicoan through and through with an unmistakable eye for fashion and design. She turned that gift into a business when she started her own interior design studio, IKO Design Studio, in 2011. Now, as a well-known interior designer, she’s opening a brick-and-mortar store in Downtown Chico to make her style accessible to the masses. Ikoda Collective is a vendor collaborative which will be home to makers and artisans, carrying small batch, handmade items with a Palm Springs vibe. Her lifestyle collective will feature 40+ vendors in vintage furniture, jewelry, custom hats, and more. Stop by 232 Broadway Street for its grand opening on Mother’s Day weekend.


232 Broadway Street, Downtown Chico


Kelsey Watt, REALTOR

Originally from Orland, Jenn Salisbury began working in the medical staffing industry for 13 years before making her way into insurance as the backend administrator. Wearing numerous hats in both businesses, she always felt like there was something more for her—something bigger on the horizon. Not feeling fulfilled, she told her ever-supportive husband, Wes, that she wanted something else. The couple bought a home in Vina and drove by Lassen Steakhouse each day. It had been on the market for two years, and one day she decided to convince Wes they should buy it. They figured out the logistics and worked with her mother to do just that. Jenn and Wes reopened Lassen Steakhouse in January of 2022 with a new take on an old classic. Together, they quickly grew the business, but decided early on to split the responsibilities to ensure they never ended up stepping on each other's toes. This year, Wes took over the restaurant—his passion—and Jenn set out to grow their wedding and event venue, Lassen Gardens, which she had her eye on from the beginning. With their first full year behind them, Jenn is looking to make Lassen Gardens their next big thing, and from the looks of their reservation books, she'll have no problem doing just that. A mother to their three kids—London, Ellihana, and Olivia—Jenn proves that it's more than possible to be a wonderful mother and successful business owner. Visit them for dinner at Lassen Steakhouse, Thursday-Sunday from 4pm-10pm, and call Jenn for all of your event venue needs at Lassen Gardens!

4945 CA-99E, Vina, CA






(530) 908-4905


(530) 839-2838

Sweet Chico is a downtown staple for candy, gelato, and good times down memory lane. Robin Klitzke, her family, and her team have been serving up smiles downtown since she took over the business in 2021. As a woman in business, Robin is proud to show her kids the value of hard work and how important it is to do a job that brings joy to yourself and others. Stop by for great products, excellent service, and friendly smiles Tuesday through Sunday!


@SweetChicoCo 121 W 3rd St, Downtown Chico


(530) 332-9866

Robin Klitzke Jenn Salisbury
3535 Downtown Chico 328 Broadway 5thstreetclothingco.com @5thstreetclothingco

Alyssa Palomino opened Unforgettable Bridal Boutique in Downtown Oroville at the end of 2020. In the past three years, her business has grown tremendously, and she believes its success is due to doing business “the right way,” a quality instilled in her by her grandparents who owned Marr Dodge in Oroville. Alyssa believes in providing a personal experience to every bride that walks into her shop. She provides champagne and charcuterie and doesn’t set time limits for picking out a gown, inviting brides to make it a true party. Perhaps most importantly, her business is also size-inclusive. It’s bridal gown shopping done “the right way.” Visit her and experience it for yourself.



1435 Myers Street, Oroville


(530) 764-1772

Tracy Riddle, BSN, MSN, CRNA is a certified registered nurse anesthetist who experienced crippling jet lag and dehydration after participating in marathons. She utilized IV hydration services in larger cities to recover and found the results were so profound that she decided to bring IV hydration to Chico, opening Chico’s very first IV hydration spa, Pure Hydration. Now open in their NEW Meriam Park location, Pure Hydration provides IV infusions that deliver essential vitamins and more right into the bloodstream, ensuring residents and visitors alike feel their best! Visit her website to book your treatment today!



2275 Springfield Drive Ste 120, Chico


(530) 636-4272

LeAnn purchased Signs & Graphic Design in 2018 and has since completely reorganized the business model and streamlined the business infrastructure from the bottom up to serve clients more efficiently. If there’s a sign in town that you’ve noticed recently, there’s a good chance LeAnn and the team had a hand in designing and building it! Now, in their brand new location, LeAnn and Jessica can scale to meet the demand of our ever-growing community, providing signage services to businesses in need while building even deeper relationships with their longtime customers.


2233 Nord Avenue, Suite 3, Chico


(530) 343-2543

Tracy Riddle, BSN, MSN, CRNA Alyssa Palomino LeAnn Cooley and Jessica Vega

Staying Strong

A great time was had by all at the anniversary party to celebrate 50 years of service in one person’s career in real estate. That’s 50 years and counting.

The anniversary party was for the great Georgie Bellin, still working full-time, still guiding her clients through the complications of real estate transactions like the pro she is, with the same energy as Day One, treating everyone like family and friends.

When Georgie talks about the start of her career, she mentions the inspiration she gained from the people who told her it couldn’t be done—not by a woman, much less by a young woman. REALTORs® were men, and women weren’t invited into the business.

That was in the early ‘70’s, when women represented about 25% of all REALTORs® in the nation. In Chico and the North Valley, the percentage was more like 10%. Against even greater odds, Georgie added the 99% male-populated commercial field to her résumé.

Now, women are 66% of the overall REALTOR® population. When I joined the business, some 10 years after Georgie, women had become a rapidly dominating force. A lot of the men were still having a hard time with it.

An old broker I interviewed with at the time, said, “These women have it easy. Their husbands are working their tails off, and these housewives get to sell houses on the side.”

Truth be told, single women were the dominating force, and many of them were raising kids on their own, fighting an uphill battle.

On the first day of my career I was shown a training video, “Selling Techniques,” in which a renowned national real estate trainer performed a demonstration of a first-time meeting with a prospective client.

He sits at a desk facing a couple. His shirt-collar lapels hang outside of his blazer jacket like orange pointed wings. “And what do you do for a living, Mr. Thompson?” he asks. He takes notes as Mr. Thompson replies.

After several minutes of dialogue and skillful rapport-building with Mr. Thompson, he puts down the pen and folds his hands together. “And Mrs. Thompson, do you have any children?” He soon turns again to Mr. Thompson to get down to business.

Somehow, I don’t think Georgie would have ever employed that style of interview to gain clients. Nobody would, now, let’s hope.

In a 50-year career, some things have thankfully changed.

Doug Love is Sales Manager at Century 21 in Chico. Email dougwlove@gmail.com. Call or text 530-680-0817.


Sherry's experience and expert knowledge of the Chico market, combined with her incredible ability to work with others and negotiate deals, made the sale of our home smooth and successful. I highly recommend Sherry as a realtor.

You will find this estate tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac on your own private 6-acre lot. Step inside this gorgeous home and experience the warmth of wood floors & inviting fireplaces, large windows, expansive views, and contemporary living. The Family Room, Kitchen, and Nook provide you with that Great Room experience. The separate Dining and Living Rooms give you the space to entertain and enjoy large gatherings. The kitchen was recently upgraded with walnut cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, beautiful light fixtures, and granite countertops! Upstairs, you will find three bedrooms and a grand master suite with two walk-in closets and a luxurious on-suite bath with soaking tub and step-in shower. The backyard has everything: a saltwater swimming pool with waterfalls, covered outdoor kitchen & bar, bocce ball court, firepit, and yes, even a 1500-bottle wine cellar.

Darling home located in a wonderful neighborhood that is central to shopping and school! The washer, dryer, and refrigerator is included in the sale. Ceiling fans, some laminate flooring, fenced yard, covered patio, dog run. City services sewer and water. County records shows 884 sq.ft., yet the 2 car garage was converted for the 3rd bedroom (buyer to verify sq.ft., etc.) Bed: 3.0 Bath: 2.5 SqFt: 1,206 Price: $330,000

Behind the gate!!!! Canyon Oaks Premium building lot!!!! Views galore where the eagles soar!! Watch beautiful sunsets, Check out the Bear and Salmon Hole and Butte Creek Golf Course! It's no wonder this street name is Rising Ridge!!! The sounds, the smells and the feeling of privacy and serenity are at your fingertips! Flat 2 acre parcel located on a cul-de-sac with Bidwell Park in your back yard!!!

Acres: 2.02 Price: $375,000

How can I help you?

Call me today!

(530) 514-4855

Sherry Landis Real Estate, Inc.

Serving happy customers for over 33 years.

Bed: 4.0 Bath: 4.0 SqFt: 4,417 Price: $1,699,000 Call me today at (530) 514-4855

Bed: 3.0 Bath: 2.0 SqFt: 1,765 Price: $559,500

Pssst! The owners will be jetting off to a far away place, leaving behind this delightful home that seems to echo years of laughter and happiness. As you enter the home, you will be immediately drawn into its warm and happy aura. The spacious living and dining rooms have held numerous parties and entertained many family members and friends. The joy can be felt throughout each and every space of this gorgeous home. On cold and rainy days, you'll enjoy snuggling up and warming your toes near the cozy fireplace. The kitchen, with its breakfast bar, granite counter tops, gas stove/oven, microwave oven, and a refrigerator is a dream for any cook. This home offers an open floor plan, high ceilings, dual pane windows, whole house fan, indoor laundry room with sink, plus side-by-side washer and dryer. The master suite boasts his and her closets, dual vanity, and granite countertops. To top it off, the yard is beautiful with its darling dining patio, mature landscaping, and offers plenty of space for gardening. This home is also equipped with a 3-car garage, with one of the spaces currently used as a media room. Here, whether working in the garden or just relaxing on the rocking chair on your patio—today, tomorrow, or the whole week need not mean urgency!

Located on a private cul-de-sac, this Paradise lot was once home to an elegant residence. Still remaining are the beautiful wrought iron entry gate with its brick work, a pond, paved driveway etc. The property is connected to PID water and condition of septic is unknown to seller. Buyer to investigate.

Acres: 1.02 Price: $55,000

Situated in a wonderful neighborhood in lower Paradise with an easy commute to Chico, this amazing property once held a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1370 sqft home with a 2 car garage. The previous home was on PID water, septic tank and had a natural gas. The seller does not have information about the condition of the septic tank—buyer to investigate. Price: $39,500

Own a piece of PARADISE!!! If you are looking for your private estate property, then come and see what this gorgeous 1+ acre parcel has to offer. Situated on a quiet cul-de-sac location, it will take only one look to know this is where you want your dream home to be. While its heavenly, the price is down to Earth. Bring your blueprint and build! Acres: 1.02 Price: $49,900

"My wife and I have bought and sold several properties and we have worked with many realtors. Effie Khaki is by far the best realtor we have ever worked with. She is intelligent, kind, and a great communicator. I hope to work with her again."
-Dr. Eric Simchuk, Chico

T hrough the years with georgie bellin

Cigar smoke swirls around men in fedorastyle hats as they sit back and discuss how to help the young men coming back from Vietnam invest the money they had saved while serving. This was Georgie Bellin’s first exposure to the world of real estate, a world primarily dominated by men with very few opportunities for women as agents. She began her professional journey in Chico, working for some of the town’s business leaders doing short-hand and typing letters. Though she learned an incredible amount from each of these experiences, she always knew there was more for her out there. Luckily for the Chico real estate industry, she decided to find out exactly what it was.

In 1972, Georgie Bellin was a recent economics graduate from Chico State waiting for an opportunity to teach high school math & business. In the interim, she found a job at a real estate company doing the bookkeeping and collecting rent. Georgie says she loved understanding

how money and investments work. “I saw these young couples coming in and paying rent that was more than they would pay if they owned. I wanted to get them into a position of owning their own home.” She remembers asking her boss at the time if she could become an agent, and he replied that no one was going to buy real estate from a woman, especially from one who has never owned any real estate. In fact, it wasn’t until 1974 that women could even get a credit card without a male cosigner. Georgie shares, she would like to thank him for this because, in response to his denial, she jumped on the Greyhound bus to Sacramento, took her test to become a real estate agent, passed, and got her license in 1973. 50 years later, she’s sold more than a few houses and continues to ‘dare greatly’ in business and life. Even in getting her pilot's license at age 28, Georgie learned to reach for the stars at a young age.

Real estate was the perfect fit for Georgie’s

education, skills, and personality. “I absolutely loved every part of it,” Georgie says. She didn’t have a car and would ride her bicycle to meet her clients at their houses. She still has her very first contract, a single-page carbon copy as opposed to today’s 50-page contracts. In the early days, Georgie sat in many sales trailers in the mud and muck of new subdivision developments where homes were selling for $50,000. She says, “Helping people get into that first house was just such a thrill, and it still is today!”

Georgie’s C.V. literally fills more pages than this article itself. It’s a laundry list of major accomplishments, any one of which a regular person would be thrilled to list on its own. In 1982, Georgie became a licensed real estate broker. She was appointed to the City of Chico Planning Commision in 1978 before being elected to the Chico City Council in 1983. In 1985, at the age of 35, Georgie was voted to the position of mayor of Chico. She even traveled to Taiwan as a local business ambassador and hosted former president of the Soviet Union,

Georgie Bellin as Mayor of Chico, 1985

Mikhail Gorbachev, when he visited Chico. The prior list covers the first seven bullet points of over 23 on just the first page of her résumé, and the momentum only continues to build from there. “Civic participation has always been very important to me.” Georgie says, “It’s necessary to be an active and contributing member of your community.” Indeed, Georgie made well on this by joining, participating, and taking a leadership role in nearly every local organization she could, including the Chico Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and many more. She unsurprisingly also earned a wealth of awards for her work in the process. So much for a woman no one would ever buy real estate from.

Over the years, Georgie has worked with countless buyers, sellers, and commercial property owners alike, showing each one the same care, respect, and attention that is vital to any successful real estate transaction. It’s no surprise she has created a massive community of friends and business associates as a result. Those first-time home buyers we mentioned at the beginning of this story, who were purchasing their first homes for $50,000, are some of those she considers her closest friends. Many of them are now retiring from their careers, downsizing their homes, and looking for guidance on their next steps; Georgie is proud to be there for that part of their journey as well.

“Working with the aging population is challenging,” she says, “but since I am aging myself, I understand their challenges. As a breast cancer survivor, I can understand the challenges of aging more than most.” She quotes a favorite poem, the Desiderata, “Take kindly the counsel of the years.” Georgie shares, ”After you have been through so many of life’s challenges, you’re wiser, more patient, and surely kinder. Now, I’ve reached this point where I can give the wisdom of my years.” Her focus has shifted from those first-time homebuyers to helping people as they get older, while continuing to help their children and grandchildren. Georgie’s daughter Angie Slover now also works alongside her in real estate sales.

Downsizing is so much more than finding a smaller home. So much has to be done before you put the house on the market to sell. The attics, basements, and garages are full. There is sorting and packing to be done. Sometimes, these homes have been in the family for years, which can prove to be a daunting task and overwhelming at any age without help. It can take months, but Georgie has an amazing group of trusted associates she has assembled over her 50 years in real estate to aid in these endeavors. They sort, sell, donate, and pack to ship items off to the seller’s children. They’ve even driven cars to deliver to grandchildren. She says, “It takes years of experience to know how to help, how to advise, and how to listen not only to their fears and concerns but also the concerns of their families. These are big changes and aging is inevitable. How we handle it is up to us. There is a responsibility to create legacies that will help the next generation. No other profession like real estate makes that happen.

With an extensive real estate career and equally extensive time serving our community, Georgie is excited about her next big undertaking— mentoring and shepherding in the next generation of real estate professionals. Tune in to our next issue of Upgraded Living to see what she has in store for those interested in a life in real estate.

If you’d like some advice—whether it be buying or selling a home or jumping into the real estate industry yourself, contact Georgie Bellin at Century21 Select Real Estate at (530) 570-9209.

Georgie Bellin receives J. Pat Lappin Award, 2006

Price matching outside the box

Vince and Kristina Clarkson, owners of Hudson’s Appliance Center Outdoor and More, work hard to make their clients feel welcome and at home when they come into either of their two showrooms in Paradise and Chico. It’s not often that you venture into a home store looking for a refrigerator and come out with a new appliance along with new friends, but I feel like this happens a lot at Hudson’s. The Clarksons' warm, friendly personalities pull you in and inspire confidence in the fact that they are going to help you decide on the best product for your home while finding you the absolute best price they can.

Vince and Kristina are highschool sweethearts who were born and raised in Paradise. Following highschool, they married, and Vince enlisted in the Marine Corps where he spent 10 years in active duty. Their time with the military would take them to southern California and Arizona along with Vince’s three deployments around the world.

In 2014, they moved their family of four back to Paradise to take over the running of Hudson’s from Vince’s father which started over 55 years ago. In 2018, six months before the Camp Fire, they opened up an additional store in Chico. Vince says, “We opened up a very small satellite location just to get our feet wet in Chico and see how the market was going to be for us. That was temporary. This was our goal—to buy and to build a much bigger, nicer store.” This beautiful brand new showroom in south Chico enables them to feature their products in a fresh and expansive way. Refrigerators and ranges are set in among cabinets and countertops. Patio furniture sits next to a roomy spa while outdoor kitchens, complete with built-in grills and mini refrigerators, allow customers to get a feel of how they’d look at home. Previously, they were only able to display about 10 percent of their available inventory. Now that they carry so much more than just appliances, having this 5,000 square foot

showroom allows them to easily share their product availability with the community. In addition to home appliances, they carry patio furniture, outdoor kitchens, barbeque grills, spas, and even mattresses. “We’re really geared towards more of a home store which is why we rebranded ourselves as ‘Hudson’s Appliance Center Outdoor and More’ to showcase that we do more than just appliances now.”

Kristina shares that they started branching out from appliances about eight years ago at the Paradise store, with barbecue grills and premium American-made coolers. After the fire, the Clarksons learned that the furniture store in Paradise wouldn't be reopening, and as the community began rebuilding, they decided to expand more into patio furniture, adding mattresses and bedding to their inventory as well. She says, “I think our biggest forward move was duplicating what we had in Paradise down in Chico. It was well received, and we were already pulling a lot of customers from the surrounding areas up to Paradise, so adding a store down here was just easier for the consumers coming from other areas.”


One thing that they’ve continued to focus on at both locations is their commitment to price matching. Kristina says, “That’s our biggest push. It has been for almost nine years now. Letting the customer know that you can still shop local without spending a penny more. You’re going to get better customer support and more product knowledge as well.” In addition, if the customer doesn’t want to spend an entire day going store-to-store to compare prices on a product they’re interested in, the staff will go straight to Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy to see if it's on sale and offer the exact same sales price, ensuring the customer always gets price matching. In addition to their dedicated sales staff, Hudson’s employs full-time installers, service technicians, and warranty service representatives in order to better serve their customers. They service everything they sell and process all of the warranties themselves. Vince explains, “We don’t do warranty work for Lowe’s, Best Buy, or Home Depot because if we were to accept calls for warranty work for them, our inherent customers would be four, five, or six weeks out for service calls. We only do warranty work for our customers which usually means a week turnaround time for service. Sometimes it’s even faster if, say, it's a refrigerator, and they’re losing food, we try to squeeze them in and take care of them within a few days.” They pride themselves on providing continued customer service past the point of purchase.

The Clarksons share, “Our staff is just amazing. They’re able to run the show without us, but they don’t have to because we are still very much involved.” Both Vince and Kristina can be found at either the Chico or Paradise showrooms, building those community connections.

Hudson’s focuses on selling quality American-made products. They sell the major brands of appliances: Amana, Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, GE and Jenn-Air. They are the platinum Traeger dealer in the Northstate and have an extensive inventory of their wood-fired grills along with a great selection of accessories. The showrooms offer a variety of Orion brand coolers for outdoor activities, and all of their patio furniture features Sunbrella fabrics for durability and weather resistance.

Go and check out Vince and Kristina Clarkson’s new showroom at 587 Country Drive in Chico, take a look at their Instagram, @Hudsons_Appliance, or find them on Facebook and see what locally owned and operated Hudson’s Appliance Center Outdoor and More has for your home.

Part of the Village

Shannon Sivadon and Erica Metzen are co-owners and directors of Acorns to Oaks Preschool and Daycare in Chico. They aren’t just business partners though, they’re lifelong friends. Shannon moved to Chico in 1998 and Erica was her first best friend in junior high, then into Pleasant Valley High School, and even roommates during their college years. As they moved into their different fields, they’d share virtual morning coffees on the way to work, always staying connected even as their paths separated.

Shannon received her degree in child development and went on to work in various daycare facilities. In 2018, she worked in Paradise running the childcare at Beyond Fitness. The Camp Fire completely destroyed the fitness center, and Shannon was then without a job. She says Erica had always encouraged her to open up her own in-home daycare, but she never felt confident enough to do that. However, she explains the fire provided the impetus needed to take the leap and branch out with her own home daycare business. She chose the name Acorn to Oaks because of her proximity to Hooker Oak, along with the fact she had always liked the phrase, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

Erica’s path took her to Chico State to

earn a degree in liberal studies with the intent of becoming a teacher. However, after graduation, it just didn’t feel like the right fit for her, so she went into finance. She worked at a local bank for 12 years, gradually working her way up into an auditor position. While she liked what she did, she would come home and tell her husband, “I wish I actually made an imprint on someone’s life.” She wanted to feel like she was making a difference. Her husband Dan, who she shares is extremely supportive, told her to quit her job if she wasn’t happy there. Six months later, she became pregnant with her son and elected to stay at home with him until she was ready to work in an outside field again.

She knew how successful Shannon was in her business and realized that with her own background in finance and accounting, a partnership between the two would be a good fit. Erica’s husband, who is a contractor, purchased a building and together they worked on renovating it in preparation for expanding Shannon’s at-home daycare business. Erica and Shannon opened the new Acorns to Oaks Preschool and Daycare in March of 2023. It consists of two buildings—one holds the infant center for 0-2 year olds, and the other is the preschool for children ages 3-5 years. A beautiful oak tree mural

painted by Christine MacShane graces the wall of the entrance, complete with friendly forest animals scampering on and around it. There are two spacious classrooms, the owl room and the fox room, each decorated with coordinating wall murals and lined with cubbies labeled with the preschooler’s names. A colorful “Look What I Did” wall showcases daily pieces of art the children worked on recently alongside visual cues on colors, shapes, and numbers. Shannon shares that, “Although we are curriculum based, we do a balance of both curriculum and play.” They employ the Mother Goose Time model of curriculum and offer additional information about it on their website, www.atochico.com. Shannon has over twenty years of experience working with young children and is extremely passionate about what she does. “I, along with Erica, put our heart and soul into the business, and I think it shows.” They share how important it is to be present in the day-to-day running of the business. “Our passion and our drive in wanting to be part of the village raising our children is why we’re here.”

Acorns to Oaks Preschool and Daycare is located at 555 East Avenue in Chico and can be reached through their website, www.atochico.com or by phone at 530-715-7315. They’re open Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm.


Restoring Quality of Life

Tucked away in a nondescript building near the Chico Airport sits ChromeWorks, a business that is just about as under the radar as the building it occupies. Though the business and the building shy away from being flashy, their products and services are flashed on the smiles of faces all over the country and certainly right here at home. Jerry Robinson, a master technician with over 32 years in the dental industry, opened the business 30 years ago to manufacture and provide dental solutions to individuals in need. Since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, expanding multiple times before moving into its 6,500-square-foot custom-designed facility at the Chico Municipal Airport. Now home to five additional master technicians and 17 other highly skilled and trained technicians, along with an abundance of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, the company is poised to continue its meteoric growth trajectory and expand into new product categories. As Jerry and his team will be the first to tell you, they couldn’t be more excited to do just that.

“It’s true most people have no idea that we’re here.” Jerry laughs as he guides me through their maze-like headquarters, “We’re one of the older businesses in the

area, but we’ve kept a pretty low profile. We figured, after recently celebrating our 30th anniversary, that it was time to let the public know we’re here! So many people use our products locally each and every day, but they have no idea those products were made right here in Chico.”

For the past 30 years, Chromeworks has manufactured dental frames that provide the foundation for a wide assortment of dental products necessary in bridgework, implants, bite opening, and dentures. They’ve also created a number of supplemental products like gingival masks and talon splints that help dental professionals provide better quality and more natural-looking dental restorations that last longer. “Quality is everything to us,” Jerry says, “and we do everything we can to ensure that each and every piece that leaves our facility is perfect. So many of our products are created by hand, and every frame that leaves our lab is inspected by either myself or Debbie Garcia, ChromeWorks’ general manager. Quality and attention to detail really matter when it comes to dental work, and we built this facility to ensure both.”

ChromeWorks’ headquarters not only provides quality and attention to detail

but efficiency and sustainability as well. What seems like a maze happens to be a perfectly orchestrated and positioned workflow crucial to the productivity of this type of work. Workstations are positioned for a circular flow of product development, providing technicians the ability to safely and efficiently hand off projects from one technician to the next. Custom materialhandling equipment, developed by Jerry and his engineers, provide his team with an easier method of pouring heavy bags of mold into larger hoppers. Self-filling sinks eliminate handling errors, and water-cooling equipment keeps molds at 41 degrees, cutting the time to cure each project in more than half. These features dramatically improve the final quality and fit of each item they create. Finally, their massive solar array ensures the facility is powered as sustainably as possible each and every day. To say this production facility was painstakingly designed to optimize efficiency would be an understatement. Jerry says, “There’s a high attrition rate of dental labs all over the country with much of the work going overseas to cut costs. We’ve taken every measure possible and made significant investments in the company to ensure work stays right here in Chico to do right by our employees and support our local community.”

ChromeWorks General Manager Debbie

Garcia feels passionately about just that, saying, “Most labs went digital, but the product doesn’t fit as well, and that’s an important distinction for something that’s going to be in your mouth all day. Just a seed temporarily wedged in your tooth can drive you crazy—imagine an ill-fitting semi-permanent mouthpiece. We even went digital and quickly learned there was a significant difference, so we switched back. We’re now the only large lab doing everything by hand. It’s a huge thing for us, and our employees make that possible. Each position at ChromeWorks is a highlyskilled position, and we crosstrain each employee in-house in every position. We don’t care if they went to school previously, have a degree, or anything else. If they’re interested in learning and being an active and contributing member of the team, we’ll teach them everything they need to know.”

Debbie moved to Chico from San Jose in 2006 after being headhunted by Jerry. Having worked as a dental technician since 1976, she was the perfect candidate for the position, and as Jerry is quick to mention, he couldn’t have asked for a better individual to manage the business. “She knows everything there is to know about what we do here.” Jerry says, “More importantly, she cares—not just about the quality of the products we create but also about the quality of living for each member of our team. That kind of dual focus is difficult to find these days.”

Restoration is an art form, and a company that cares about creating realistic restorations that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing requires an artistic touch. That creativity is delivered in spades by Michele DeVor, a breast cancer survivor who is helping ChromeWorks blend the worlds of art and medicine. A graphic designer by trade, Michele began working at ChromeWorks and soon found her calling in starting a new division for the company in nipple prostheses. “I’ve always been interested in medical arts.” Michele says, “We had the equipment to create something unique that was desperately needed, and I was passionate in providing breast cancer survivors with something that looked and felt real, just like our dental products do. It can sometimes take years after surviving breast cancer for a patient to be ready for reconstructive surgery. In the meantime, they often look at themselves in a mirror

feeling disfigured or incomplete. It affects everything—your sense of self, your confidence, everything. After going through the treatments and surviving, patients just want to get back to life as usual, and many women will wear a prosthetic nipple after surgery until they become eligible for reconstruction. I did my research, and the items I found on the market looked generic and not at all life-like, so I decided to take my eye for art and make something better. It took a few months to do it, and I created all of the molds by stone, so there was considerable trial and error, but it was worth it in the end.”

One look at Michele’s creations next to others that are widely available on the market is enough to make that judgment for yourself—the difference between the two is night and day. Michele’s nipple prostheses are so life-like, they are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. They are applied with a medical-grade adhesive so they can be put on or taken off as needed and are purely cosmetic. They are also seamless and blend naturally with the skin; as there’s no ridge along the edge, it’s almost impossible to tell where the skin ends and the prosthetic begins. One year into the project, Michele now creates everything digitally, designing each piece in 3D. With eight base colors, she is able to mix as needed to create a perfect match, and although she does provide custom work to perfectly match a remaining nipple in a single mastectomy, she also creates plenty of ready-to-purchase options on Etsy and Amazon for double mastectomies.

“There’s so much more we can do with this new division of the company.” Michele smiles, “I’m looking forward to eventually creating fingers, toes, noses, ears, and more to help doctors provide those who have lost a part of their body feel whole again. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop each piece, but the gift we’re able to give those in despair is worth every moment of it.”

ChromeWorks is currently looking to expand and train five more individuals interested in joining its incredible team of talented and passionate technicians. For more information on ChromeWorks or to apply for one of their available positions, visit them online at www.ChromeWorksInc.com or give them a call at (530) 343-2278

A comparison of Chromeworks' nipple prosthetic versus the competition | Chromeworks' version on the right

Recession 2023: To Be or Not To Be

What do we do if there is a recession in 2023? The stock market really has two options on a given day—it can go up, or it can go down. We know this. History has shown that the markets are resilient and having the willpower and a plan during moments of turmoil is key to building wealth.

Wisdom cannot be found in someone who has not endured challenges or learning opportunities. Thankfully (sarcasm), many of us gained much wisdom, as well as lessons that we wish not to repeat. And not so long ago.

15 years ago, the world experienced the greatest recession since the Great Depression of the ’30s, now referred to as the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). And it’s only been three years since the world shut down due to a global pandemic. In both instances, investors rode an intense rollercoaster of volatility as confidence in governments, healthcare, banking institutions, and globalization crashed along with the markets.

Those of us who chose to “grin and bare it” were rewarded, as in both instances, the markets eventually recovered and surpassed their prior highs. Some investors or traders that could not take the stress of watching their balances drop are still “waiting for the right time” to get back in. Others sold when they should have bought and bought when they should have sold. It is human nature to want to act in times of chaos.

If you are struggling with the emotions and fears of a pending recession, talking with an investment advisor can be beneficial to your long-term investment success. We are your partner, planner, financial therapist, confidant, and coach.

This is the question—but does it matter?
This is not tax advice. | Sweeney & Michel, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. This brochure is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Sweeney & Michel, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Sweeney & Michel, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place. Renée Michel, MBA and Joe Sweeney, CFP® | 196 Cohasset Road, Suite 100, Chico CA 95926 (530) 487-1777 | renee@sweeneymichel.com | joe@sweeneymichel.com | www.sweeneymichel.com

Women in Business Helping women in business

It is often said that starting a business is one of the biggest risks someone can take. Giving up the security of employment and venturing out on your own is no easy task, and this issue of Upgraded Living is filled with women who have done it. As most are likely to admit, finding success is much easier when you have support, and the team at ChicoStart offers just that. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, ChicoStart has a laundry list of over 300 entrepreneurial success stories it is rightfully proud of, and they’re looking forward to the next ten years of adding to it

Launched in 2013, by Wendy Porter, the original concept for ChicoStart was to provide a co-working space where individuals could share in the costs associated with operating within an office. At the time, it was the only one in town and seriously needed as one of the biggest costs when starting a business is often securing office space. The concept has since evolved to become a dynamic and full-featured resource center. “What makes ChicoStart valuable,” Executive Director, Eva Shepherd-Nicoll

explains, “is what we’re able to provide to our community. We are very focused on removing the barriers that exist to starting, running, and thriving in business. We provide mentorship and resources throughout the process.”

After spending 30 years in the Bay Area working with startups and in venture capital, Eva decided it was time to move to Chico and bring her experience and expertise to the Northstate. “I’ve worked with aerospace, underwater robotics, networking, and just about everything in between.” Eva says, “I really just love helping people, and the best way to help people is to get businesses started in a community. Everyone has a higher quality of life by making higher-skilled jobs available in the area. ChicoStart provides that opportunity. We are a co-working space that evolved into a startup incubator and finally an entrepreneurial resource hub. We have a state designation as a governor’s office of business and fully serve 18 counties now. Covid really pushed us in all the right directions. Situations like those force you to sink or swim, and it really made me

do what I tell my students to do—look at what your unique value proposition is and how you can monetize it.”

Eva continues, “We help people lift from where they stand and believe without a foundation, you don’t have a future. Our emphasis in regard to women is giving them the programming, resources, and tools they need. We can help with starting a business, running a business, accessing grants, providing coaching, and so much more! We even help with the more subtle things like helping arrange childcare nearby. It’s important to remember everybody isn’t in the same position. We want to give entrepreneurs what they need based on where they’re at.”

ChicoStart’s head of marketing and biz ops, Heather Ugie, stated, “Whether you need office space, one-on-one counseling, technical assistance, mentorship, or workshops and tools, we’ve got it. If there’s something we don’t have in-house, we’re partnered with someone who can provide it—even rapid-prototyping and commercialization. We’re here to help! When people think about us, they often think we just function in tech, but we’re so much more. We help nonprofits and traditional businesses too. We work with Home & Heart, One Million Cups, FATCO, Stylecore, Robin Hood, and so many others. If you’re looking to run a business, we’re here for you.” With 20+ years in the business world, Heather is uniquely qualified to help with just that. Having spent 12 years with the Chico Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Visitor’s Center before it, she brings a wealth of experience and connections to ChicoStart.

With a team full of experienced and passionate individuals and partners, ChicoStart is exactly what any entrepreneur would dream of finding in a support community, and with 40% of the businesses they help being women-owned, there couldn’t be a more appropriate hub for our local women in business. If you’re looking to start a business, run a business, or grow a business, visit ChicoStart at www.ChicoStart.com and see what they can do to help you. Finding success is that much easier when you have a team helping you get there.


Radio Frequency

Microneedling Q & A

What is a Microneedling

This procedure transfers radio-frequency energy into the skin via a sterile tip containing 49 very fine gold needles. The radio-frequency delivers controlled thermal energy to stimulate collagen growth and strengthen elastin fibers to improve the skin's support structure. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars, and stretch marks.

How does it work?

The skin is numbed with a topical lidocaine cream to make the procedure more comfortable. The needles in the sterile tip are then inserted into the skin where they exchange radio-frequency energy to boost collagen stimulation. The tip is moved from area to area until the entire face, neck, and chest are treated.

How effective is it?

Collagen continues to build for several weeks, up to 6 months. Skin is rejuvenated, smoother, tighter, plumper, and facial products are more readily absorbed. Pores are tighter, and the skin has an overall healthy glow. It looks best at 2-6 months.

How many treatments will I need?

Since the results can last up to 6 months, we generally recommend 2-3 per year for best results.

What can I expect during and post procedure? The numbing is key to making this procedure well-tolerated. Some redness and swelling are normal and usually go away in 24-36 hours. The neck and chest heal more slowly, as the skin is thinner there. Makeup can be applied the next day. Some bruising may appear over the bony areas such as the jawline and brow ridge, but resolve quickly. Products with active ingredients (vitamin C, retinol, or Hydroquinone) should not be used for about 48 hours after treatment, as they may sting when applied. Use a good moisturizer the next day and drink lots of water to stay hydrated!

DERM BAR MED-SPA 85 Declaration Dr. Suite 100 Chico, CA 95973 530.342.2672

Labelz has all your favorite designers

Located on Mangrove Avenue, right in the heart of Chico, Labelz Consignment Boutique is like no other store in town. Gorgeous clothes, shoes, and handbags fill the shelves and racks, waiting for their next stylish owner to come in and fall in love with them. So why should you shop consignment when you can just go out and buy new clothes? First, shopping consignment offers designer brands at more affordable prices. Where a handbag from Kate Spade might cost $300 at a retailer, you can expect to pay much less for it at Labelz, which enables you to take home more items that you love. Secondly, the shop has unique items and styles from all over the world thanks to the eclectic mix of people who sell their items on consignment. There’s definitely something in the store for everyone.

Labelz has been in business since 2012, and owner Jamie Withrow emphasizes that she keeps everything fresh by restocking the store regularly; as many as 40 new items are added every day and inventory turns over quickly. “I’m always trying to be particular in the clothes I take,” she says. “I pick for every age group, and watch for quality material and current curated styles. The hunt is all the fun—for me and my clients!” Best sellers include dresses, blouses, sweaters, coats, and purses. There are many designer brands in the store to choose from as well, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Tory Burch, Frye, Johnny Was, and Anthropologie. Consignors can expect to take home up to 60% of the value of very high-end bags, and Jamie encourages them to reach out to her at the store to arrange terms.

In addition to great customer service, Labelz offers layaway, gift certificates, and a plethora of clothing options, as well as both new and used items from names you recognize. You get the experience of shopping designers that you can touch and feel without having to leave town to shop for them, and the added bonus of being able to take the item home with you instead of ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive. Labelz changes their offerings seasonally, and has you covered (literally) in the quality jewelry, formalwear, shoe, and handbag departments as well.

Find Labelz at 974 Mangrove Avenue and on Instagram @chicolablez. It would also behoove you to follow them on Facebook, which is a great place to learn about new stock, sales, and consignment calls for specific items.



Guest Artist Charlie Albright, piano

Join North State Symphony as they capture in sound the iconic beauty of nature’s endless charm. A highlight for this performance is the World Premier of Lassen Awakes! by composer Marko Bajzer, 2022 Artist-in-Residence at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Bajzer was awarded a co-commission by the North State Symphony to produce this original piece, and it will be performed before a live audience for the first time at this concert.


BAJZER - Lassen Awakes! *World Premiere*

RACHMANINOFF - Piano Concerto No. 2

DVORAK - Symphony No. 8

Saturday, May 13 | 7:30 PM | Cascade Theatre, Redding

Sunday, May 14 | 2:00 PM | Laxson Auditorium, Chico

Joy experience
to both performances are available at northstatesymphony.org
Scott Seaton | Music Director 2022–23 Season

Balancing Life's Dance Gracefully

Sis Gilmore is the owner of Nurses and Professional Healthcare (NPH), the premier healthcare staffing agency in Northern California, based right here in Chico. Walking in to meet her, I mention how nice it is to be able to enjoy the day’s sunshine. She shakes my hand, smiles warmly, and agrees, “Everyone needs that, a little sunshine in their soul.” How appropriate then, to discover that Sis possesses that exact element in her personality; to learn that friends, family, and even employees are drawn to her because of the light and pure positivity that surrounds her.

Originally from Eureka, Sis couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and leave the “fog country” in search of fairer weather. She moved to

Chico to attend college and pursue her education. Having lived here since she was in her twenties, she now considers herself a Chicoan. She points to her strong community involvement, the long-term relationships she’s established, and the family quality of Chico that’s become a part of her. “You know that old adage that people talk about, when you go on vacation and you come back home, that it was great to be away but it feels nice to be home? That could not be truer of Chico. Chico is just a nice family hometown.”

Sis remembers her very first job working for Cable Car Candies. “I was so proud when I got my working permit. I started working when I was 13 and have worked

ever since. I’ve never had a hiatus since then.” That dedication to work, to show up and be full steam ahead while having that structure in life is deeply ingrained in Sis. She recognizes those same traits in her children and says it makes her very proud to see each of them giving their all to life, and to all they do. Andrea Gleason, Human Resources Director at NPH, says that “Sis inspires each and every one of her employees by providing an incredible work environment and leading by example. She lights this place on fire. Sis is what makes NPH special.”

Nurses and Professional Healthcare is a nursing registry that supplies temporary and extended staffing to facilities in times


of shortages. Every facility has a staffing crisis at some point, and NPH is there to help alleviate and provide support. NPH is aligned with approximately 130 facilities throughout California, but focus mainly on the Northstate. These hospitals, skilled nursing homes, and other nursing centers will reach out and convey their needs, as NPH then works to fill those shortages with their employees. They employ over 400 individuals to include: CNAs, LVNs, and RNs. Medical staff at NPH are able to choose which facilities, days, and shifts work best for their schedule to balance family life or even continue their education.

Sis began managing NPH in 1999, after then-owner Kevin Stiles asked if she would consider leaving real estate management to work for him. She says that at the time, she didn’t even know what a nursing registry was, but was intrigued by the challenge. She managed NPH for many years and then purchased the company in 2006. While it was daunting at first to consider taking on ownership of the business, it was alluring and exciting as well. The diversity of NPH, along with all the moving parts associated with working in the medical industry, fascinated Sis. As she questioned the plausibility of the idea, her husband Jim told her to absolutely pursue it. She says, “His support and belief in me made the hill easier to climb, and he definitely inspired me to do it.” NPH is her ‘love business’. She loves everything about her time there and is very happy to be the owner. She isn’t deterred by challenges but views them as opportunities to overcome adversity and define who she is. “Nobody could ever have your business interest more at heart than you. Keep your hand on the pulse of your company and surround yourself with talent and excellence.”

Despite her passion for her business, Sis stresses that maintaining harmony between the needs of a family and the needs of a career is extremely important. “I think that came from my dad, when he told me to make sure you always have a work/life balance.” While it’s important to provide and have nice things for your family she wistfully adds, “Your kids will always remember how present you were, and I very much take that to heart.” Throughout her career there were many times she wanted to do mom and kid vacations with her family but worried about it being the wrong time to

be away from work, but she chose to do them anyway. Now, when she’s in her office and looks up at her wall of family photos, she’s so grateful that she went on those trips, took that time with her family, and made those irreplaceable memories.

Not only does Sis strive for her own work/life balance, she advocates it for her staff as well. The office has a family room with a comfy couch, giant bean bags, homework stations, a tv, and space to relax. If an employee has an emergency and needs to bring their child to work, this space is for them. If their children have a baseball game or a class fieldtrip that they may have to miss due to work, Sis encourages them to go, to take advantage of those moments that can go by so fast. She says, “You show up for your kids.” She gives them the opportunity to have a career as well as be a present parent.

When asked about her family, Sis shares that she could talk about them all day long, “My family is my whole world.” Sis’s husband Jim owns and operates a successful construction company and is lovingly supportive of Sis in her endeavors. They are approaching their 19 year anniversary. Sis and Jim have 14 year old twins, Brodie and Lacie, who attend Chico High and have very busy schedules that keep her on the move. Sis wouldn’t change a thing, as participating in their special moments are some of her most treasured memories. Her oldest son, Jason, is getting married to his fiancée Kendra in August, and Sis shares, “I feel really grateful that even though my son is engaged and has two little children, he still makes time for his mom everyday. I’m very close with all of my kids and precious grand babies.” Her oldest daughter Katie, whom Sis refers to as her soulmate, passed away unexpectedly two years ago at the age of 28. Her spirit and memories remain forever strong with her family and community.

As Sis looks back and reflects on her life, her work, her kids, and the time she’s had and has with them, she’s very proud and honored. She feels she’s achieved a healthy work-life balance and says, “Work is important, but family is everything. Life’s a dance; live it gracefully.”

Katie's Korner

Sis’s oldest daughter, Katie Christofferson, passed away unexpectedly two years ago at the age of 28. While Sis and Katie share a very special mother-daughter connection, Katie was very much her own girl and wanted to stand on her own two feet. Sis describes her as extremely tenacious and determined, especially in regards to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse. When all of the colleges surrounding Chico were impacted, and Katie wasn’t able to get into the nursing program, she applied and was awarded a seat in Carrington College’s nursing program in Reno, Nevada. She graduated and was set to begin her career working with children in the pediatric wing at a Reno-area medical center.

In memory of Katie and her love of nursing, two of Nurses and Professional Healthcare’s associated facilities in Fall River and Burney have honored Katie with a scholarship through their annex. It’s the first time they’ve ever done that for someone outside of the community, and Sis considers it a tremendous honor to Katie that they would name a scholarship after her. NPH’s own internal staff have also established and awarded a scholarship in Katie’s name as a gift to Sis and her family. Enabling others to realize their dream of becoming a nurse helps continue Katie’s passion for the calling.

In addition to her love of nursing, Katie loved animals of all kinds, especially her dog, Mimi Rose. Sis shares that NPH and her family have close ties to the Butte Humane Society. Very rarely would you ever see Katie without an animal by her side. “I really loved that about her because it really spoke to the essence of her heart.”

The Butte Humane Society has honored Katie in their new wing with an area known as “Katie’s Korner”. That area is dedicated to welcoming children in to learn about animals and animal care. It’s centered around honoring Katie’s memory and her love for animals.

The opportunity to have her daughter’s passions honored in these ways are precious to Sis Gilmore and her family as they continue to celebrate Katie Christofferson’s life. She was truly one of a kind. She is missed and loved everyday.


Let’s Get NuttY! the California Nut Festival Returns to Patrick Ranch Museum on May 13 TH

Celebrate springtime and the muchanticipated California Nut Festival when it returns on Saturday, May 13, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the historic grounds of the Patrick Ranch Museum in Durham (near Chico).

With a focus on locally grown and produced foods and beverages from the North Valley, tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios take center stage at the crowd-pleasing event. Each year, this spirited festival showcases plentiful gourmet food offerings, always-popular wine, beer, cider and coffee sampling, nut-inspired cooking demonstrations, live music on two outdoor stages, a wonderful art display that features talented local artists (with lots of shopping opportunities) and much more.

As just one event highlight, there will be a spirited “Nutty Chef Competition” where festival attendees can watch as three local chefs compete on stage in succession for bragging rights and a trophy (that the winner can keep for a year). The chefs will be provided with a selection of ingredients – such as olive oil, nuts, honey, spices, sauces, beer, and wine – plus they will be able to bring some “secret” or special ingredients of their own. Chef participants will be announced at a later date.

While fun to attend, the culinary event provides much needed support for the historic Patrick Ranch Museum. To date – and as a direct result of this event –$205,000 has been donated to the Patrick Ranch Museum to preserve and interpret

the agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley.

General admission tickets to the California Nut Festival are $35 in advance or $40 the day of the event. While not geared for children, event tickets for children ages 7-12 are $15 and the event is free for children six and under. Advance tickets are available via EventBrite.

To make the festival a weekend getaway for guests outside of the Chico area, the nearest airport is the Sacramento International Airport (90 minutes away) that offers shuttle services and rental car options. For travel options, visit the Chico Chamber of Commerce at www. ChicoChamber.com (click on Visitor Information/Places to Stay) or www. ExploreButteCounty.com for numerous local hotel and bed and breakfast accommodations, perfect for “staycation” ideas, too.

For more information about the 2023 California Nut Festival, please visit www.CaliforniaNutFestival.com, call 530-892-1525 or connect via social media at www.facebook.com/nutfestival.

62 UPGRADED LIVING MAGAZINE MAY 2023 May 11th 5:30pm 1930 Notre Dame Blvd. Event Specials | Raffles | Food | Drinks | Demos Eternal Wellness Spa Holistic Wellness Center Hypnotherapy | Reiki | Wellness Programs Facial | Massage Organic & Pharmaceutical Grade Skin Care (530) 487-5061 | eternalwellnessspa.com Beauty Eternal Plastic Surgery + MedSpa Surgical | Laser | Coolsculpting & Cooltone Subnovii | Laser Hair Reduction Injectables | Tattoo Removal (530) 487-5020 | beautyeternalchico.com Emily Hartmann, MD Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Visionary

If you’ve spent any time dining at Chico’s Morning Thunder Café, you’ve likely found yourself enamored with their consistency. From the food to their service, everything feels perfectly orchestrated, and rarely does such an experience materialize without an incredible leader. Dee Luna is exactly that and has been captaining the ship at Morning Thunder with a consistently warm smile for the past 30 years. It’s no surprise that the breakfast and lunch joint continues to be a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Adenia “Dee” Luna moved to Chico with her mother at the age of two to live with her grandparents on their farm. Her mother remarried when she turned five, and the small family set out to live a nomadic lifestyle, searching for greener pastures wherever they could. The expedition led Dee all over California and Oregon, repeatedly moving away and returning, landing her at 22 different schools in total. “If there was one positive,” Dee said, “it’s that the constant moving taught me the valuable skill of being able to talk to anyone.”

Dee returned to Chico for college and quickly learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry working at a number of local restaurants like Cozy Diner. She loved the opportunity to connect with residents and visitors but, as with many who share her level of tenacity, felt the call to be her own boss. She decided

And the thunder rolls on

to supplement the money she made working in restaurants by starting her own cleaning business, and unsurprisingly, the business quickly grew. “I worked for Craig Hall Dormitory in high school doing college cleanouts, so I knew quite a bit about the business already.” Dee said, “When I started my own business, I went to apartment complexes and bid jobs for those same college cleanouts. I rapidly built up a customer base with people I knew from the restaurants I worked at and continued building the business until I became pregnant with my son. Considering the chemicals that had to be used for the cleanups, I decided to close up shop and got certified as a massage therapist instead. I always felt there was a need to have a side hustle!”

After leaving Cozy Diner, one of Dee’s regulars said, “You have a job at this new restaurant if you just go down and meet the owner.” The restaurant was Morning Thunder. Dee met with its owner, Mark, and after a short chat was hired to start working the next day. She began as a hostess and worked her way up to being a server. Mark sold the restaurant to his manager, Tish, who in turn promoted Dee to her old manager position. When Tish decided it was time to move on in 2005, she sold the restaurant to Dee, and she’s been the owner ever since.

“I always wanted to be a business owner, I just didn’t know how or what to expect.” Dee said, “I taught myself and learned

whatever I could, wherever I could, as I went along. It’s been an incredible experience. So much has changed in the 30 years I’ve worked at Morning Thunder, but it’s always remained such a fun place. Whether you’re a guest or staff member, we have way more fun than we should ever be allowed to. We have regulars that come in every day, and it’s so cool to be part of their day every day. It’s how they start their morning or celebrate their birthday or anniversary. Just to be regarded as something special in their life by default of just being here is really special. I’ve seen people here on their first dates, get married, have kids of their own, and even watched their kids go to college, then have children of their own. It’s just wonderful!”

When asked about being a woman in business, Dee advised, “I’ve raised two kids along the way, and I was actively involved and even became president of their PTA for 9 years! I still got the best of both worlds, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way, honestly. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t, because you can. I’m proof of it.”

Visit Morning Thunder at 352 Vallombrosa Avenue in Chico, Monday-Friday from 6:30am-2pm and on the weekends from 7am-2pm. Order up my favorite, a Bidwell Egg over easy with bacon and a java shake, and don’t forget to congratulate Dee on her 30th anniversary!


Finding Mimo

We went out on the town to find you the best of the best for your before-noon buzz. Check out how these local joints are mixing up this long-time brunch classic!


Bottomless mimosas are always on our list, and Unwined's is the perfect offering. Choose from five juices: orange, grapefruit, cranberry, pineapple, or pomegranate, and keep the bubbles flowing!


Only available on Cinco de Mayo weekend (May 6-7 from 10am2pm), this flight will include four mimosas crafted by bartender, Colin Jones—Madras, watermelon, fruit punch, and carrot-pineapple ginger. In the weekends that follow, simply ask for the seasonal mimosa special. You won't find it on the menu, so make sure to tell them you read about it right here!



The perfect place to kick back and relax with friends, Unwined is known for their upscale vibe and menu items that are just as delicious as they are beautiful. Their brunch also happens to be one of the best in town, complemented by a DIY Bloody Mary bar, and a bottomless mimosa offer that is a must-order every time you visit.


Housemade spicy garlic tomato sauce, layered roasted potatoes, two eggs, a side of peppered bacon sausage, and focaccia toast for dippin'—the whole thing is baked to perfection in an iron skillet.




Brunch, lunch, or dinner—Parkside has it all, but their patio experience is especially noteworthy, and there are few patios quite like it to enjoy a mimosa-infused brunch! Any one of their brunch items will do, but their breakfast sliders are, how do we say it properly, *chef's kiss*.



The name says it all: this place feels like mom’s house. Smiles and a fun family atmosphere radiate throughout the building. You’re sure to enjoy the amazing patio on a beautiful day or belly up to the bar for a tall Bloody!


Served with a blueberry and mint garnish, this mimosa is enchantingly purple and texturally delightful. Don’t miss this unique spin on the classic mimosa.


Two poached eggs served on English muffins with ham, potatoes, and grilled onions. Served with pesto hollandaise.


Black beans, green onions, avocado, Jack and cheddar cheese, topped with sour cream and your choice of fresh homemade tomato salsa or verde sauce.


The perfect balance of fruit and fizz—not too sweet or too dry, and the only mimosa on our list to mix champagne with a liqueur, Pama Liqueur.



There’s nothing lacking here. Nash’s offers a full menu, full bar, and friendly service to top it off. Enjoy the outdoor patio with views of our beautiful Esplanade or enjoy the volume of happy diners inside.




Perfectly perched on Myers Street in Oroville, Ethan's Eatery offers a delicious breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu with a sunny patio to boot! It's well worth the drive, even for those living out of town! Stop by and pair their massive-mosa with a Monte Cristo. We promise you won't be disappointed.


Served in a schooner with your choice of up to three of their 12 available juices, the massive-mosas live up to every letter of their name. A must try if you have the rest of the day to sleep away.


Jack cheese, tomatoes, scallions with slow roasted carnitas and fresh cilantro lime sauce. Served with a side of black beans and chipotle cream sauce.


If you love pomegranate, this one’s for you. The perfect drink to sip casually during a morning out with friends.


Ethan's Monte Cristo is ham, turkey, bacon, and swiss sandwiched between French toast, and completed with powdered sugar and housemade honey butter. It'll leave you feeling mimosional.



Wooden bench seats on the walls surround a coffee bar at Sin of Cortez, making for a warm communal setting.

Stainless steel decor with bronze accents and toasty paint colors are the perfect accompaniment to the fresh dishes served. You want to take your time here, enjoying every bite just as much as the atmosphere.




This local favorite recently moved into their new digs downtown, and we can't help but visit every chance we get! They recently added mimosas to their menu, and we have to be honest, they go with just about everything on the menu. Stop by and order one up with your breakfast or brunch order today!


Made with grenadine and raspberry syrup, we’d love to wake up to this treat every morning. The grenadine and raspberry add an unexpected but welcomed twist.


2234 ESPLANADE, CHICO Chico’s “original” champagne Sunday brunch, the Italian Cottage has been family-owned and operated since 1965. You can always count on the same great quality ingredients, welcoming environment, and service with a friendly smile.




Served with your choice of raspberry, peach, or mango sorbet, it's the ultimate “adult” float. Not overwhelmingly sweet and the perfect way to impress your breakfast date.


Fresh blueberries, strawberries and bananas atop fluffy cinnamon-sugar dusted French toast.


Cheese, bacon, and fresh avocado served with cottage potatoes topped with sour cream and green onions.



A diner that is both classic and fresh, Morning Thunder serves all of your favorites with a health-minded twist. There is undoubtedly something here for everyone to love, from hungry college students to long-time local breakfast lovers.


The best selling liquor in the world !

And you probably never heard of it. Hint: It originated in Korea. Another hint: It’s made right here in Chico, California. The distilled spirit is called soju, and people compare it to sake. However, there are big differences.

Soju means “burned liquor” because it is distilled at very high temperatures. While it is made from rice, it is also made from other starches which definitely affect the flavor. So, what does soju taste like? The common definition is that it has a vodkalike taste because it has a clean, neutral finish. However, in Korea they say, “Soju tastes like life. One day it’s sweet, one day it’s bitter, and at times it’s just clean and smooth.” It has also been described as having a crisp flavor, with a hint of apple and burnt rice.

Traditionally, soju is made from rice, but during the Korean War there was a rice shortage, so the government banned rice soju. Instead, distilleries used sweet potato, wheat, barley, and tapioca. Today,

soju is primarily made with rice, but it’s not uncommon for it to be a combination of starches.

Like sake, there is a definite tradition in how to drink soju. It starts with the eldest member of a group. Everyone else pours a glass of soju for someone else and never for oneself! Both the pourer and the receiver use two hands on the vessel. You are expected to take a straight shot without looking at the person who poured your drink. Your glass should never be empty. If you don’t want another refill, leave some soju in the glass to indicate you are not ready. It is unusual for bottles of soju to have any left after being opened.

Today’s younger drinkers enjoy flavored vodkas, and soju has incorporated flavored spirits into its lineup. It can be purchased in small, juice-like boxes, and the many flavors include apple, blueberry, citrus, peach, and pineapple. However, it is recommended for first-time imbibers to

drink the traditional liquor. You really need to try it straight the first time around.

Like any distilled spirit, cocktail recipes abound. In the summer, soju mixed with watermelon juice is popular. Beer can also be mixed into a libation called maekju which is three parts soju and seven parts beer. You can also top soju with lemon-lime soda. Traditional cocktails like the Negroni, gimlet, and Bloody Mary can also be made with soju. Like vodka, it is best to buy higher-priced soju as less expensive brands can have a harsh alcohol taste. ABV can range from 16-45% and proof runs from 32 to 90.

The most popular soju brand is Jinro— the top-selling liquor brand in the world. But you can buy soju made right here in Chico at the Golden Beaver Distillery: Biba Soju—California-style which is handmade from Calrose rice and double-pot distilled. Wherever you buy soju, we’re pretty certain you’ll go back for more. Gonbae!


Two Days of

Mas Vida

Walking into the new Mas Vida on the ground level of the Moorhead Building in Downtown Chico is like visiting a hip taqueria in Downtown San Jose. The Day of the Dead decor, dark side walls, vibrant candy skull art, and soft LED lighting bouncing off the Marigold strands that are draped from front to back offer something completely different than we’re used to in Chico. All the while, the soft bass and rhythm of Latin hip hop from one TV carry you through the cityscapes that mesmerize you on the opposite television. The setting is transformative and sets the tone for an authentic dining experience.

Having already taken readers on a journey of one of the company’s other restaurants, Carniceria Mis Reinas in Oroville, we were excited for an opportunity to try their new location in Chico. We ordered a small plate of guacamole and two of their signature Mas Vida tacos, one chicken and the other steak. The chunky, citrus-forward guacamole is served with a vibrant,

non-watery pico and plenty of tortilla chips to share. The price point makes perfect sense once you see the generous portions. Each of the tacos comes with a crisp-edged cheese skirt that cuddles the playfully mixed large-cut onions, plump pinto beans, cilantro, meat, and smooth ranchero sauce. Everything within the taco just tastes and looks like it's a higher quality than what you would normally expect. The mango habanero salsa on the side had the addictive level of heat that spice cravers love, while the fountain beverage and lemonade area keep you cool in case the heat should intensify. Everything left me satisfied and full.

While their modest-sized menu is far from that of their Oroville location, I didn’t find myself frustrated with the options. In fact, I went by again shortly thereafter to grab a quesadilla which was just as delicious. Next time you’re craving a bite to eat, don’t just live a little, live mas.


Taco Tuesdays

La Perla

Just down the road from the previous food expedition, we found ourselves staring at a bountiful wealth of options in Mexican food fare. The menu at La Perla leaves you wondering what they DON’T have while everything from wet burritos and platos de carne, to every manner of seafood, begs you to order what you came for but also take something to go. The brightly illustrated options leave you wishing you’d brought more people so you could share and take a bite of everything. It is, easily, one of the most eye-catching menus I’ve seen in town. We chose two seafood tacos—the softshelled fish taco and a shrimp soft taco— before finding a seat in the ample dining area overlooking the bustling corner of Downtown Chico’s 5th and Broadway Streets.

I passed a salsa bar that impressed me with its selection, and would have overlooked the serve-yourself chip station, had someone who ordered just before us not been occupying it. Delicious, warm chips and a variety of

salsa, including a guacamole cremosa as well as a spicy, pepper-seeded thin salsa were available to us before our meals were served at the table. The tortillas from each taco were lightly grilled with crispy cheese. The fish taco was flaky, seemingly flash-fried to lock in moisture but adding a layer of texture. Inside, the soft tomato, cilantro, onion, pico, shredded lettuce, and a dusting of cotija cheese filled each bite. The shrimp in the second taco was bursting with flavor and offered a pan-seared texture, while the same ingredients from the fish taco completed the item.

A suggestion to anyone who orders these—grab your napkins in advance as these tacos are packed with natural juice, adding to the flavor and the seafood. They also have a delicious relleno and so many other items I cannot wait to try. I dare you to try La Perla for yourself and find something that doesn’t make your mouth water from looking at the menu alone.


The Multi-talented Katie Barrett

Katie Barrett grew up in a family full of musicians, from her grandmothers— Margaret and Margaret—to her parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. Her mom’s mother was a professional pianist, and it was through her that Katie’s music career began to flourish. She started studying piano and eventually focused on being a self-taught drummer. Shoulder surgery led her to pick up the guitar and noodle around until she later also became a self-taught guitarist. Curiosity resulted in trying out a ukulele, which turned into another instrument mastered. Forays into wind instruments and the violin were not as promising, so she concentrated on just the piano, drums, and guitar.

With this tremendous music background, she came up to Chico State from Elk Grove, CA, to attend music school and earn a degree in music composition and percussion studies. Katie completed the music composition program in three years, quite a feat. Her love of music aided the quick road to completion. “I truly love music and the power of music,”

said Barrett. “I wish I could wake up every day and just play music. It helps ground me and keep me focused.” These days, however, she has plenty to keep busy. She and her wife Cassidy have their daughter Tyler to raise and, accompanied by Barrett’s music teaching career, she has a full schedule and hasn’t written much music.

However, that is changing very soon. Katie has begun collaborating with wellknown Chico musician and producer Ethan Swett to put together an upcoming EP album of ten to twelve songs, among them one of her favorite tunes, “Thought of You” and a wonderful cover of Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.” The album will feature many original compositions.

The Chico music scene contains many bands, genres, and a close-knit musical community where artists play in multiple bands and most people seem to know everyone else, at least by name. Barrett credits local musicians Swett, Kyle Williams, Lorna Such, the Sun Followers, and Max Minardi, to name a few, as having a positive effect on her music and creativity. Other far-reaching influences have been Sara Bareilles, Madison Cunningham, the Weepies, and Civil Wars.

Barrett has recently played at Secret Trail with her friend Karen Lindedberg on keys and at Diamond Steakhouse with Kyle Williams. She also performed at Odyssey Winery in February and has already booked some weddings this summer along with other venues. She plans on a few house concerts in her parents’ backyard next to the new pool and gazebo. Check out Katie Barrett’s upcoming dates on Facebook and listen to her play some tunes.


Who is your favorite local woman in business?

Savina Green

Windy Land owns Whirlwind Vintage. She’s one of my besties, and I love her store! She sources her items from local thrift stores so she's being sustainable and giving items a second chance. She’s super outgoing, friendly, and independent. It radiates, and everyone can tell that she's a good person. I think it makes her a great business owner. Check out her stuff on Instagram at @ whirlwindvintage_

Ciera Green

I'm a huge fan of Kelly Gomez! She owns Roots Catering, and she’s so good at what she does. She really cares about not only running an incredible business, but taking care of her staff too. She’s extremely kind and caring, and if you have the pleasure of knowing her, you’ll be treated like family.

Windy Land

Sue Reed, the owner of Bootleg in Downtown Chico is my absolute favorite! She has such a good eye for really unique pieces. She runs the whole damn thing over there, and I think that’s pretty awesome. She’s very helpful when you’re in the store, and sees you from the start, so she knows just what items to pull for you. She’s great at interacting with customers, and I really admire her.

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Enjoy Spring in Downtown Chico

The positive orbit of summer sun

If someone told you Summer Sun has achieved many goals in her life, they would be woefully wrong. Summer is a plethora of accomplishments, a litany of academic awards, and a mountain of positivity and appreciation for what the Chico community has provided. “I really love Chico,” she said. “Being a smaller town, Chico has provided a close-knit community experience. I owe so much to Chico.”

A senior at Chico High, Summer is also the associated student body president, where one of her mentors is Assistant Principal Sara Pasillas, a positive role model. Being in student government has reinforced the idea that students benefit from feeling like they belong and are making the school a better place. It’s all part of the expectation that teenagers “find their people” at the high school level. Summer is involved in many activities where she facilitates bringing diverse people together.

The daughter of Duke Sun and Xueli Zou,

Summer credits her parents with putting her on the path to lifelong learning. This attitude developed early on at Park View Elementary School and continued on at Marsh Junior High School with leadership teacher Lisa Reynolds. “Leadership taught me a lot about being a good person,” said Summer. “I was so lucky to have Mrs. Reynolds as a positive role model when I was 11 years old.”

One of her favorite teachers at Chico High is Kathleen Bishop, her student government advisor. Summer considers Bishop a friend as well as a teacher. Other role models for her have been Melody Blu and Tammara Taylor who are—you guessed it—positive teachers at Chico High. Summer also credits her bestie, Ginger Nichols, as a person who has been there for her since they met in junior high. “I look up to Ginger so much,” said Summer. “She’s confident and speaks her mind in a deliberate and positive manner.”

All of this positivity has had a, well, positive effect on Summer. She has

Night Market
Night Concert
PM Kids Night Out at Kai Music & Arts Available every Friday Night! Drop the kids, enjoy music in the plaza and dinner in one of Chico’s Downtown restaurants. www.downtownchico.com
April 27–September 14 6:00 PM –9:00 PM Friday
June 2–October 13 7:00

applied this in being a role model for others. She resurrected a former club at Chico High, SOFA, the Student Organized Friendship Alliance, a club that meets weekly and focuses on developing relationships with special education kids and their gen-ed peers. Summer sees this as rejuvenating for club members and a win-win for all involved.

During her 10th and 11th grade years, Summer played tennis on the Chico High team. While she loved the sport and the physical and emotional release it afforded, she had to make a mature choice regarding time management. “Tennis taught me discipline and the importance of 100% effort. My coach, Randy Agnew, brought so much positivity to the sport.” Ultimately, Summer gave up tennis to focus on education. “It was tough, but I had to balance my time.”

Apparently, it was time well spent. Even before her senior year, she took first place in the novice parliamentary debate portion of the Stanford Speech and Debate Tournament. This event features students from around the world. Summer competed for the Able2Shine organization, whose purpose is to help students excel in confidence and leadership roles.

This year, Summer was awarded a nomination to the United States Senate Youth Program. Two high schoolers per state were chosen to attend the prestigious program. The selection process proved to be quite arduous and exacting, with a ton of paperwork and many letters of recommendation. One reward, besides actually attending the week-long event, was a $10,000

scholarship from the Department of Education. Summer was one of 104 students selected to attend the program, where sessions included presentations by politicians on both sides of the aisle, a member of the Supreme Court, and the US Surgeon General. In March, Summer attended the Princeton University “Princeton Prize for Race Relations,” another coveted event for high school students.

As for college, Summer has not yet made a choice. She has been accepted to UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Pomona College on the West Coast, among others, and at the time of publication was awaiting word on a number of East Coast schools. She plans on majoring in public policy and anthropology, and these will take her forward in her goal of helping people on the community or political level. We have no doubt Summer Sun will achieve her goals.


bring us home

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MAY 4 & 5

Keeping Dance Alive @ 7-10pm

CUSD Center for the Arts, PV High School Campus, 1474 East Ave., Chico

Come celebrate local arts, artists and performers who bring enriching educational experiences to all ages! Presented by the Chico Ballet Company, Keeping Dance Alive is a community tradition.

Cost: $20

MAY 4 - 7

The Wizard of Oz

Laxson Auditorium

Join Chico State Music and Theater for their spring musical! Based on the classic motion picture and adapted for the stage by John Kane, The Wizard of Oz is the same story you’ve always loved. Join us as we follow Dorothy Gale and a few friends she makes along the yellow brick road to the magical Land of Oz.

Time: 2PM Saturday and Sunday and 7:30PM Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

Cost: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $8 youth and CSU, Chico students


Wildflower Music Festival @ 2-8pm

Where: 2500 Estes Ave., Chico

The 9th Wildflower Music Festival is back!

This is a day of fun for the whole family that includes a kid's area with free activities, bounce houses, and crafts; food vendors for lunch, snacks, dinner and dessert; a silent auction with over 100 items to bid on; and Sierra Nevada. Come listen and dance to the best music Chico has to offer!

Gates open at 1:00. Music starts at 2:00. All proceeds go to support Wildflower Open Classroom K-8 school!

Cost: $55

May Fair @ 10am-1pm

Blue Oak Charter School, 450 W East Ave., Chico

Celebrate the arrival of spring and connect with your Chico community at the May Faire, a free, annual outdoor festival hosted by Blue Oak Charter School on Saturday, May 6th, from 10am to 1pm. Enjoy a variety of activities including face-painting, free crafts for the kids, music and dance

performances, food and craft vendors, and the iconic children's maypole dance. There's something for everyone to enjoy!

Cost: Free


Mother May I? Sip & Shop @ 12-5pm Lassen Traditional Cidery, 643 Entler Ave., Chico

A pop-up with local makers and creatives; the perfect place to celebrate the mother in your life. Follow the pop-up banners for 30+ vendors, cider tasting, tarot card reading, photo booth and more. Ride your bicycle and receive a free ticket to the “Treat Yourself” drawing!!! 100% of proceeds benefit SafeSpace Winter Shelter.

Cost: Free

MAY 12 & 13

Chico Art Festival

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 2341 Floral Ave., Chico

Formerly Art at the Matador, the Chico Visual Arts Alliance presents the Chico ART Festival. The two-day, one-stop Art Expo has four goals: to showcase local artists, to promote Chico as an arts destination center, to educate the public about the variety and value of art in our community, and to throw a really great Chico-style party. Local artists transform their spaces into imaginative galleries open to the public. In addition, there will also be booths for selected community organizations promoting the community well-being and its art.

4 to 8PM Friday, 10AM to 5PM Saturday

MAY 13

Paradise Chocolate Fest @ 10am - 5pm Terry Ashe Park, Paradise

Celebrating 18 years of "Sweetening Kids Lives"! Since its inception in 2006, Paradise Chocolate Fest has contributed over $390,000 to youth programs and services on the Paradise Ridge. From scholarships to upgraded computers, sports uniforms, summer camp and dance classes, musical instruments, reading programs, vision

screening, food banks and more, revenues from the Chocolate Fest ultimately reach out to impact the lives of thousands of Ridge youth, their families and our community. Time: 10AM to 5PM

California Nut Festival @ 11am - 4pm Patrick Ranch Museum, Durham

Get ready to celebrate the return of the California Nut Festival, an agriculturefocused culinary event not to be missed. Guests will spend the day sampling and savoring nut-inspired dishes by local restaurants, caterers and chefs and sipping local wine, beers, coffees and juices, while listening to local musicians on two stages and enjoying art and special activities

Cost: Free

Pollinator Plant Sale @ 10-11am

Honeybee Discovery Center, 501 Walker St., Orland

When you add pollinator-friendly plants to your garden, you help expand the pollinators' food sources and breeding range. Come and check out a lot of unique and beautiful plants perfect for Mother’s Day gifts!

MAY 25 - 29

Silver Dollar Fair @10am - 10pm

Silver Dollar Fairground 2357 Fair St., Chico Rides, food, games, art projects, live music, livestock—the Silver Dollar Fair has it all! A staple of Chico’s summertime since time immemorial, the fair runs for just five days, and it’s really a challenge to see how much you can fit in during that time. Live music on the Farmer’s Brewing stage will include Nate Smith and Ned LeDoux.

Time: 10AM to 10PM

MAY 31

Shakespeare in the Park @ 8-10pm

Join Legacy Stage for Shakespeare in the Park 2023 from May 31 - June 10 at the Cedar Grove Meadow in Bidwell Park. This will be the third Shakespeare in the Park production. Come experience an evening under the stars with Legacy Stage, who hope to continue the tradition of annual Shakespeare in the Park for years to come.

Cost: $20 general admission


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Articles inside


pages 78-79

The positive orbit of summer sun

pages 74-75

The Multi-talented Katie Barrett

pages 72-73

Taco Tuesdays La Perla

page 71

Mas Vida

page 70

The best selling liquor in the world !

pages 68-69


pages 65-67

Finding Mimo

pages 64-65

And the thunder rolls on

page 63

Let’s Get NuttY! the California Nut Festival Returns to Patrick Ranch Museum on May 13 TH

pages 61-63

Katie's Korner

pages 59-60

Balancing Life's Dance Gracefully

pages 57-59

Labelz has all your favorite designers

pages 54-56

Women in Business Helping women in business

pages 52-53

Recession 2023: To Be or Not To Be

pages 50-51

Restoring Quality of Life

pages 48-49

Part of the Village

pages 46-47

Price matching outside the box

pages 44-45

T hrough the years with georgie bellin

pages 42-43

Staying Strong

pages 37-41

The Value of hard work

pages 27-36

In the midst of things

page 26

Embracing the Changing Terrain

pages 22-25

Eight years in the making

pages 20-21

The only constant is change

pages 18-19

Success well earned

pages 15-17


pages 6-14
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