Bark if you’re happy here
Less than a week before it was prepared to give notice to vacate, the Butte Humane Society sees a long-term future at Chico’s Fair Street animal shelter. The organization’s contract with the city expired in June, and BHS set Nov. 1 as the deadline for a new pact or it would leave at the end of the year.

“The city is really doing its part to come to an agreement with us,” said Cathy Augros, executive director of BHS. “They are working in a timely manner. I feel very optimistic.”

BHS and the city have met weekly throughout the fall, and Augros said she expects a “draft agreement” at today’s meeting (Oct. 26).

Poisoned well
A private well on Miller Avenue, in west Chico, tested positive for high concentrations of a dry-cleaning solvent, the Butte County Health Department has reported. Sampling in the well detected 150 parts per billion of tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a potentially carcinogenic chemical compound; the maximum allowable level for drinking water is 5 ppb.

A consulting company called Adverus has been doing regular testing in the area, working at the behest of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and under contract with the owners of the former Payless Cleaners, which was located near Fifth and Chestnut streets and is the suspected source of the PCE.

In a press release, the Health Department noted that monitoring wells are being installed in the area and additional private wells will be sampled. Chico’s public drinking water supply, which comes from deep aquifers, is unaffected.

Chico has been plagued by several groundwater plumes of PCE and a similar solvent, tricholoethylene (TCE), in recent years, the result of long-ago dry-cleaning companies’ less-than-ideal disposal practices.

Museum moving along
Thanks in part to a $300,000 gift, the Northern California Natural History Museum (artist’s conception below) is about to move from the planning to the building stage. Greg Liggett, the museum’s executive director, says groundbreaking could take place as early as next summer.

The gift was from Saratoga residents Steve and Shelley Newberry, whose son, Scott, is a Chico State student. Steve Newberry is CEO of Lam Research, a high-tech development company that already funds a Chico State scholarship in engineering.

The money is being used to prepare for the design and construction phase of the project. In August, the museum distributed a Request for Qualifications to firms with the experience to design and build the facility. It has since whittled down the list of applicants to three.

The museum is expected to cost $4.1 million and, as shown here, will be located on the grassy field next to the Bidwell Mansion Visitors Center. It will feature a wide range of exhibits on the North State region, including its geologic history and biologic regions.