Governor signs bill for Butte County widow
The widow of a Butte County sheriff’s deputy who was killed in a bizarre shooting at the tiny village of Inskip last year will receive the retirement benefits her husband worked 30 years to get, thanks to legislation written by Third District Assemblyman Sam Aanestad and signed into law last week by Gov. Gray Davis.

Lt. Larry Estes was 61 and due to retire within the year when he and his partner, Deputy Bill Hunter, 26, were involved in a three-way shootout with a manic-depressive hermit. All three men were killed in the gun battle.

Estes’ widow would have gotten the benefits her husband earned under the latest contract between Butte County and CalPERS, which sets retirement formulas for county employees. But since the contract was signed after Estes’ death, it took a special bill to award her the benefits.

Fight over bicycle turns deadly
An altercation at Pear Grove Trailer Park that claimed the life of Douglas Westlund, 42, of Chico, may have been sparked by a dispute over a bicycle, police said Tuesday. Westlund was stabbed around 9 p.m. at the East Eighth Street park Sunday after attempting to help his brother fight off two assailants. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Enloe Medical Center.

Police said Westlund was something of a transient who sometimes stayed at the park, where his brother, Michael Westlund, lived. Witnesses say Douglas came running to his brother’s aid when two white males in their 20s confronted Michael in front of his trailer. Michael Westlund received a non-life-threatening stab wound in the ensuing fight, police said.

Police arrested two supects in connection with the stabbing Tuesday afternoon. Their names were not released. Anyone with further information is asked to call the Chico police at 865-4907 or 895-4920.

Plastic lunch: Wildcat Card could go off-campus
Imagine popping downtown for a sandwich or slice and paying for it with a swipe of a student ID card. It sounds convenient, but the idea is worrying student leaders, who fear the card would compete with Associated Students-owned business ventures such as food sales.

“We’re trying to be cooperative and meet with the university,” said Tiffany Yost, Associated Students vice president of business and finance. But with A.S. Food Services already in the red, it’s hard to get excited about a card—marketed by a Massachusetts company—that looks like it would make it easier for students to eat off campus.

“If we start opening this up to everyone downtown, is that really good?” Yost wondered.

But Brian Farley, vice president of Campus Services for Student Advantage, said in a telephone interview from Boston that, in the 23 schools where the card is already in use, competition hasn’t been an issue. “The merchant base is already there,” he reasoned. “This just funnels it to the ID card.”

Anne Russell, Chico State’s system administrator for the Wildcat Card, said the balance carried has increased since it was introduced in 1999, with $249,000 having been deposited—presumably by parents—just in the first two months of this school year. “The most important mission is really to provide convenience and enhance opportunities to students,” said Russell. “We see the off-campus merchant program as an extension of our on-campus merchant program.”

Focus groups and surveys would help decide which Chico merchants the Student Advantage marketing people should approach. The merchants would pay a 7- to 10-percent transaction surcharge to accept the card and couldn’t pass any of that on the buyers.