Where’s the fire (station)?
For more than two decades, the city of Chico has been planning to put a fire station at the corner of West Eighth Avenue and Highway 32, as part of the Emma Wilson School/Oak Way Park complex. Firefighters are now working out of an uncomfortable temporary facility nearby, and they want to move into better digs. Unfortunately, conditions around the intersection have changed over time, getting busier and more complicated, and it may not be the ideal location for the station. Or so the Chico City Council seemed to think Tuesday night (Sept. 19), as members considered whether to go ahead and build a new station there.

City Manager Greg Jones warned that, on a $4 million project, further delay would cost about $50,000 a month in increased construction expenses. But councilmembers wanted to look at other sites, particularly the corner of the park at Oak Way, to see if they might work better. They also listened when Supervisor Jane Dolan told them they really should wait to see what Caltrans’ current traffic corridor study of Nord Avenue says. The report will be released in time for the council to take up the issue again in November.

It’s election season, so duck!
Labor Day is the traditional opening of election season, so it’s no surprise that political guns have been going off all around Chico in recent days. The first salvo was fired last Friday (Sept. 14), when the Hooker Oak Alliance announced its City Council candidate endorsements. The alliance describes itself as a “broad-based community and business Political Action Committee,” which means it’s a lot like the Chamber of Commerce but with money to spend. Not surprisingly, it endorsed the same slate of candidates the chamber did: Dan Herbert, Mark Sorensen and Michael Dailey.

Monday (Sept. 18), Patty Garamendi, wife of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate (and current state insurance commissioner) John Garamendi, was in town to tout her husband and other Democratic candidates before the Chico State Democratic Club. And, at noon on Main Street, the Yes on 89 folks staged some political theater calling attention to their effort on behalf of publicly financed campaigns (see “Agit-prop for clean campaigns,” Newslines, page 16).

Tuesday (Sept. 19), local Democratic activists held a press conference at the City Council building to announce the kickoff of their fall campaign. City Councilman Andy Holcombe announced they had opened campaign offices in Oroville and Chico and would generate “500 volunteers to do grassroots campaigning” on behalf of the slate led by Phil Angelides and Dianne Feinstein. The group then showed it had lots of energy by chanting “Go Phil! Go Dianne!” to the TV camera.

Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 20), a group of Butte County teachers affiliated with the California Teachers Association held a news conference in front of John McManus Elementary School to announce their support of Angelides for governor. The Democrat can be trusted to invest in schools and make a college education more affordable for all, they said.

Finally, Wednesday night, the Chico Association of Realtors hosted a Chico City Council candidates’ forum at the Chico Elks Lodge. It was not open to the general public, however.