Missing hunter found dead in Concow
An Oroville man was found dead near a Concow-area marijuana garden last week, leading sheriff’s deputies to warn unsuspecting hikers and hunters to keep out of any pot gardens they may come across.

Mike Vang went squirrel hunting on Sept. 23, Sheriff’s Office investigators said. He was found dead of a single gunshot wound to his chest three days later, about 25 feet uphill from the marijuana garden. An investigation into Vang’s death is underway.

Sgt. John Kuhn pointed out that, while the department isn’t yet positive that there is a connection between Vang’s death and the marijuana garden, citizens should be careful when in isolated, mountainous areas where the plants can be grown.

Vang was married and had four children.

Huge turnout to honor pilot who died
Family, friends and colleagues by the hundreds turned out Oct. 1 at a memorial service for Enloe Medical Center FlightCare pilot Ron Jones.

Jones died Sept. 22 when the helicopter he was bringing to an auto wreck crashed near a Butte Meadows landing area. While a Federal Aviation Administration investigation is pending, Enloe officials believe dust from the landing spot disoriented Jones, causing him to hit some trees.

Surviving the crash were nurses Mike Ferris, who has been released from the hospital, and Stacie Reed, who remains in serious condition with multiple fractures. Jones was credited with saving their lives by turning off the fuel supply to the helicopter as it crashed, avoiding an explosion.

Both nurses attended the memorial service at the Chico Elks Lodge, with Reed coming in on a gurney and staying about a half-hour.

When Enloe buys a new helicopter, it will retire the old call letters, N911NT, and replace them with N922RJ, for Sept. 22, Ron Jones.

Tin soldiers and Davis coming
Within the next month five armed members of the California National Guard will be patrolling the Chico Municipal Airport as part of the nation’s effort to beef up security across the country. Gov. Gray Davis announced Oct. 2 that guards would be on duty at 31 California airports for the next six months.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a directive that all commercial airports establish a uniformed presence for terminals, parking lots and boarding areas until further notice. This week the City Council voted to allocate $74,000 from the airport fund to hire additional security from Pride Asset Protection, the private company that is already handling such services. Pride will increase its roving patrol at the airport from the current midnight-to-4 a.m. shift by adding uniformed patrol from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The city may try to recover its costs by increasing the rent it charges United Express Airlines. That company, however, has said it is hurting financially in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack back east. Chico Police Chief Mike Efford said he would ask his patrolmen to cruise the airport as often as possible for additional security.

City utility tax to remain at 3.9 percent
Despite expected lower utility bills, the City Council this week voted to extend the 3.9 percent utility rate, which is down from the normal 5 percent. The reduction in rate was put through earlier this year when utility bills rose dramatically and the city realized it would be on the receiving end of an unanticipated windfall. The extension will continue until June 2002, with a review set for next January.