Dirty air
Coughing and sniffling more than usual lately? If so, the cause may be an inversion last week that made Butte County’s air dirtier than at any time this year.

The culprit was particulate matter due mostly to wood burning in heaters and fireplaces, according to Butte County air-quality officials. Levels rose above 150, into the category labeled “unhealthy.” The particles can lodge in the lungs and cause serious health problems, a press release noted.

All residents were urged to avoid prolonged outdoor exertion, especially in the early morning hours. People also were asked not to burn wood until the weekend, when rain was expected to clear the air.

New blood on Enloe board
Former Chico City Manager Tom Lando (pictured) is among six new members of Enloe Medical Center’s Board of Trustees and one of three from the community. The others are Eric Larrabee, a Durham-area rice farmer, and Matt Jackson, who recently retired as assistant superintendent and vice president for education and student programs at Butte College.

Three other new members, from within the Enloe system, will join them beginning Jan. 1. They are Dr. Joseph Matthews, a colon/rectal surgeon, who will replace neurosurgeon Bruce Burke as a physician trustee; Dr. John Howard, an oncologist/hematologist, who will replace Dan Thomas, a plastic surgeon, as chief of the medical staff; and Lance Tennis, a Chico rice farmer who will replace attorney Carl Leverenz as chairman of the Enloe Foundation.

The board is headed by Chairman Darby Makel, who owns an engineering company, and Vice Chairwoman Judy Sitton, co-owner of a software company. They moved into their positions last summer, when former Chairwoman Betty Dean and Vice-Chairman Mark Spelts resigned in the wake of the physicians’ vote of no confidence in then-CEO Dan Neumeister, who resigned in July.

The board has its work cut out for it, with rising expansion costs, the need to pick a new CEO, a nasty union-organizing conflict and an ongoing shortage of anesthesiologists all nibbling at the nonprofit organization.

New tribal leaders
The Mechoopda Indian Tribe also has changed the makeup of its governing council, replacing longtime Chairman Steve Santos, who elected to retire after three terms, with Dennis Ramirez. Ramirez is a road maintenance supervisor with Glenn County.

Sandra Knight, most recently council secretary, will become vice chairwoman, while Robin Forristel will step into the secretary slot. Joining them on the seven-member council will be Treasurer Kimberly Crowley and members-at-large Paulita Hopper, Donna Rose and Arlene Ward.

The tribe is seeking federal authorization to construct a casino south of Chico, near the intersection of Highways 99 and 149. Butte County strongly opposes the site.