Glenn Medical Center: Stayin’ alive
The Glenn County Board of Supervisors and Enloe Medical Center have apparently found a solution to keeping Glenn Medical Center open as a 24-hour emergency medical operation. Last January Enloe announced it would be shutting down the Willows-located hospital in March. Following a loud public outcry, Enloe said it would try to operate the facility as an outpatient service. Serious injuries and illnesses would be shipped to the Enloe Medical Center in Chico. Glenn County threatened to sue and bought some time from the Enloe folks.

This week the supervisors voted to turn over hospital administrative operations to an apparent Mr. Fix-it of the medical industry, William J. Casey. Casey, who lives and works in Chico, is the former head of Chico’s old Community Hospital, which was bought out by Enloe, and runs a number of rural hospitals across the state, including ones in Kingsburg, San Luis Obispo, Hollister, Taft and Sonora.

Ann Prater, Enloe’s director of public affairs, said Enloe President Phil Wolfe “was impressed by [Casey’s] background and what he’s been able to do with rural healthcare. He came to both Phil and [Glenn County Supervisor] Denny [Bungarz] and said, ‘If you need some help I might be interested.’ “

Under the agreement, Enloe will continue to operate the facility until Nov. 1, then the county will run things, and if it meets an agreed-upon “standard of financial performance,” Casey will take over. This allows Enloe to be released from its 50-year operating contract with the county.

Woman files sex assault claim in Butte County Jail
An Oroville woman charges that a correctional officer sexually assaulted her while she was an inmate in the Butte County Jail.

D’Aun Thompson says the assault took place on New Year’s Day, when Correctional Officer Dutch Thayer forced her into a secluded area of the jail, where he fondled and kissed her face and breasts. She also alleges that Thayer continued to sexually harass her until she was released from the jail this spring, and that the county negligently failed to protect her from his advances. In a formal claim for damages filed against Butte County, Thompson is asking for damages in excess of $10,000, along with reimbursement for her medical expenses and loss of wages.

Butte County Jail Commander Gary Keeler could not be reached for comment on the allegations.

County eyes downtown Chico property
Butte County General Services Director Bill Curry confirmed Tuesday that the county is considering buying a hefty piece of property in downtown Chico.

The property, located at the corner of East Fourth and Orient Streets, now houses the King of Kings Church, several small offices and a laundromat. It’s listed at $2.5 million by Coldwell Banker DuFour Realty. While confirming that the county is interested, Curry declined to state how the property would be used. A church secretary said the church is in a “state of flux” but is still offering Sunday services.

The county has several offices in the first floor of Chico’s municipal building, located just a couple of blocks away.

Next stop: fee increase
County bus riders will pay a little more next month, as the Butte County Transit Authority plans to increase bus fares.

The amount of the hikes will vary, depending on where and when people are riding. The numbers aren’t firm yet, but BCT wants to raise intercity commuter fees to $1 (from 90 cents), discounted senior/disabled/student fares to 55 cents (from 45 cents), and a monthly pass to $30 (from $27).

Jim Peplow, Butte County Association of Governments senior planner, who gave a report on the proposed fare increase to the Board of Supervisors Aug. 13, said the hike (the first since 1986) is necessary due to increased costs. The board will again discuss the fare hike at its Sept. 10 meeting.