Settlement offered in spy plane crash
Several people who were working at the Oroville Mercury-Register when a spy plane-in-training crashed into it have agreed to settle their cases against the government.

The U.S. Air Force has offered each plaintiff $25,000—some of which will be lost to attorney fees—to end the civil case. More than a dozen plaintiffs claimed they suffered physical and emotional injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder. The crash, which happened Aug. 7, 1996, shortly after the U-2 plane took off on a performance check from Beale Air Force Base, killed a newspaper customer, Geraldine Vering, and Pilot Randy Roby.

Rick Longley, an education reporter for the paper, said he agreed to the settlement. He said he was somewhat surprised at how much the accident affected him, even to this day. “It’s something that I’ll never forget,” Longley said. “It was a pretty surreal and frightening experience.”

Some plaintiffs have refused to settle, holding out for a court trial. Their attorney, Dan Wilcoxin of Sacramento, did not return a call for comment by press time.

CUSD moves to buy high school site
The Chico Unified School District continues to press forward in its attempts to secure land for a fourth high school.

Last week, the CUSD Board of Trustees agreed to take the next step in its ongoing negotiations for an “option agreement” with property owners the Schmidbauer family of Eureka. Mike Weissenborn, facilities planner for the CUSD, said the district hopes to buy 50 acres at the southeast corner of Bruce Road and 20th Street. The estimated selling price would be $60,000 an acre.

But in case that parcel doesn’t pan out because of environmental constraints such as Butte County meadowfoam, the district is also securing environmental-impact reports on three other pieces of property: other land owned by the Schmidbauers plus some owned by Enloe Health System.

Weissenborn said the CUSD hopes, as federal regulatory agencies have advised, to apply for a wetlands fill permit on its own, separating the school from the Schmidbauers’ planned residential development.

Test scores in; CUSD a tad better
The latest results of an increasingly insistent battery of tests for public-school students are in, and students in the Chico Unified School District hover slightly above the state average in most subjects.

The scores, released Aug. 15, show the results of the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-9) administered in spring 2001 to second- through 11th-grade students. Also reported were results of the new California Standards Tests and the high school exit exam.

On the SAT-9, scores were higher than last year for all but ninth graders in reading and all but second-, ninth- and 10th-graders in math.

While the CUSD average was above that of the state and the rest of Butte County, some schools’ students did better than others. For example, schools where there are many English-language learners and parents with lower education levels saw scores as low as the 17th percentile. But many scores were above the 50th percentile, even as high as the 82nd.