Paradise man pleads no contest to animal abuse
An 83-year-old Paradise man who was facing multiple charges of animal abuse pleaded no contest to the charges this week and acknowledged the allegations in court.

James Warren was sentenced to three years of probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 to the Northwest Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, based in Oroville. He was also ordered not to possess any animals as part of his sentence.

Warren was charged with animal abuse in March, after a neighbor complained that he was neglecting the 160 head of cattle grazing on his land. A subsequent investigation found that many of the malnourished cattle were infested with parasites and that several had died in the pasture (of preventable disease) and been left to rot in the open.

New Peace Center director inspired to action by 9-11 attacks
Layne Whitley has cared for wolves in Colorado, worked in Yellowstone and taught handicapped children at a boarding school. Now she has a new job in Chico.

Whitley is the freshly hired director of the Chico Peace and Justice Center. She’s been an environmental activist for years, but she said it was the death of a neighbor at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, that inspired her movement toward peace activism. Killing isn’t a solution for any reason, she said.

“Nobody should have to suffer the way my neighbor did,” Whitley said.

Whitley is originally from Massachusetts. She’s a former AmeriCorps volunteer and was assigned to a Pomo Indian reservation on the Mendocino coast, where she taught the low-income community how to garden its own food efficiently.

“My goal is to show others to start being their own caretakers,” said Whitley.

She hopes to raise awareness of the center in the community and plans to hold open workshops about gaining financial independence. (Read: how to get out of debt and make wise investments.) She also hopes to organize a large media library for the public.

Though Whitley said running the center is work she loves, it won’t make her rich. She’ll earn $10 an hour and work a 20-hour week.

No tower, no dice
Last week, the city’s Finance Committee considered the nonprofit Right Now Foundation’s request for $397,000 in loans to help renovate and buy the Senator Theatre for use as a community arts center. The committee decided that it wanted to see a more detailed business plan to ascertain whether the city’s investment would be secure in a functioning theater. If all goes well, it will recommend to the Chico City Council that $200,000 be given to the Right Now foundation, with the remainder of its request to be filled by donations from the community.

“Rick Keene and Maureen Kirk are very much in favor of saving the theater; Larry Wahl had to disqualify himself [because of conflicting interest],” said City Manager Tom Lando.

Senator owner Eric Hart also requested $320,000 for historic-restoration purposes but was told that he would be given a special low-interest loan for restoring the façade only if the theater’s tower is restored. If Hart doesn’t want that, he can ask for a regular loan, which would mean he would later have to pay prevailing wages (which kept him out of the process before).

"Things went really well for the Right Now Foundation," said DNA, its head. "We feel like the city is anxious to see the project come to fruition. … We’re definitely looking for patrons of the arts to come forward and help us out to keep this project alive."