On the rocks
Next time, listen to Grandpa.

That’s the lesson hopefully learned by a group of young people in Oroville who took a walk in their back yard and ended up stuck on some slippery rocks and having to be rescued by Butte County sheriff’s deputies and California Department of Forestry personnel.

The five youths, aged 2, 6, 8, 16 and 22, were warned by their grandfather not to stray too far as they left for a walk around 2:30 p.m. on Feb 17. Heedless, the group made its way through thick brush to a waterfall area near Lake Oroville. When they hadn’t returned by 7 p.m., family members called 911.

Sheriff’s rescue personnel were able to locate the group quickly, but due to the thick brush weren’t able to make contact until 2 a.m., when temperatures had dropped to about 30 degrees. By that time, the lost kids had been joined by two other family members and a neighbor who had gone looking for them. That party also required assistance getting off the rocks. Since the original group was not dressed for bad weather, rescuers worried about the possibility of hypothermia, especially in the case of the 2-year-old.

With help from CDF workers, who cut a trail through the manzanita to reach the group, rescue workers pulled the eight individuals from the rocks and administered basic first aid. No injuries were reported, although the sheriff’s helicopter was dinged up during a low over-flight of the area.

Don’t book that speaker just yet
Five colleges at Chico State University will not be seeing new fees for extra internships, guest speakers and equipment, after the California State University Chancellor’s Office convinced administrators to drop the vote that had been planned for this spring.

Only students in each of the affected colleges would have been able to vote on the Academic Enhancement Fees, and the funds raised would have been overseen by a panel that included students. The fees, ranging from $50 to $120 per student, would have been voted on March 11 and 12 by students in these colleges: Agriculture; Business; Engineering, Computer Science and Technology; Humanities and Fine Arts; and Natural Sciences.

At the Feb. 18 Academic Senate meeting, Associated Students President Jimmy Reed said he was “disappointed” that the Chancellor’s Office had postponed the plan. The CSU’s concern was that students would already have to pay higher fees next semester—somewhat ironic in that the Chancellor’s Office has supported fee increases.

Charlie Crabb, dean of the College of Agriculture, said he’s “disappointed that we’re not able to move forward with the fee as we’d planned,” especially since students in his department seemed to be 3-to-1 in favor of the fee.

However, Ken Derucher, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, said he’s not regretful that his college will miss out on as much as $360,000 a year and will just try harder to secure private donations. “Students were hit with a fee increase [already],” he said. “We’ll put it on hold and consider it at a time when it’s more economically feasible.”

Esplanade House II: Fight for financing to open March 4
Let’s get ready to rumble.

The public hearing on whether the city should help fund the expansion of the Esplanade House transitional housing program was set this week for March 4. The last go-round, when the program came before council for permission to move from its present location on The Esplanade and East Avenue, was a real donnybrook, complete with threats, shouts, tears and even humor. Esplanade House supporters want to move north along the Esplanade about a half-mile, but some of their new neighbors, fearing a loss of property values, fought the decision.

Because it did not qualify for some federal funding, the program now must ask the city for $1.4 million from its low-income housing funds, which currently shows about $5 million in uncommitted money. Council will send notices of the hearing to about 500 people within the next few days. Mayor Maureen Kirk wants it clear up front that this is strictly a funding issue and not a revisit of the program’s merits.