Party on, sheriff
Just about anybody who’s anyone in local Republican politics will party down with Butte County Sheriff Scott Mackenzie and former state Attorney General Dan Lungren at a swanky fundraiser for Mackenzie May 31.

Darby and Kathleen Makel are hosting the bash, which is being organized by conservative firebrand David Reade. Reade served as the late Bernie Richter’s chief of staff for years (he’s married to Richter’s daughter) but had been virtually invisible until now. For a campaign donation of $125, party-goers can mingle with Supervisors Kim Yamaguchi and Curt Josiassen, radio talk show host Bruce Sessions and members of the Richter family, among others.

When asked why he’s already fund-raising, Mackenzie laughed and said, “The March [2002] primaries are just around the corner, you know.”

Senior casino-goer takes home jackpot
After she uses some of her casino winnings to help out her kids, muses Helen Dallas, there’s one thing she’d like to buy for herself. “I’m going to get a new swivel rocker,” said the Marysville retiree. “The one I have is old and worn.”

Dallas, a Feather Falls Casino regular, is the second lucky slots player this year to walk away from the casino with a jackpot of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

She drove to the Oroville casino for Senior Day May 21 and lined up the reels for a big win on the progressive Wheel of Fortune quarter slots. She’ll get $202,883 paid over the years or a smaller lump sum if she chooses.

“I didn’t know how much it was going to be,” Dallas remembered, and she had to sit tight while casino officials verified the win. “I sat there, and quite a few of the employees gathered around the machine looking at it, and they were smiling and grinning. I asked them, ‘How much is that?’ and they wouldn’t tell me.”

“It was great,” said Debbie Tognietti, marketing director for Feather Falls. “When it’s somebody so close to home, it’s nice. Everyone was excited for her.”

Dallas said that when she finally went to head home—after a free dinner she was too nervous to eat—she found that her car’s headlights had broken. Add another expense to her wish list: “I’d like to have some work done on my car.”

Fire season could be a scorcher
If the summer fire season is as busy as Butte County Fire Chief Bill Sager warns that it might be, we’re in for catastrophe.

Sager told the Board of Supervisors on May 22 that the unusually dry winter and spring, along with the unusually hot early summer, have perfected conditions for serious wildfires. Butte County’s higher elevations got just 70 percent of the normal rainfall levels this year and are “dry as tinder boxes,” Sager said. That the higher elevations are so dry is especially disconcerting, because at this time of the year the underbrush—the fire fuel, essentially—is usually still damp.

"We’re looking at conditions that we usually see in late July and August," Sager said. "And it’s only May."