Farm Bureau opposes mine
“Don’t put a gravel mine on good farm land.” That’s what the Butte County Farm Bureau is saying to county officials in a letter announcing its opposition to Baldwin Contracting Co.’s proposed M&T gravel mine (see “Rolling Rocks,” Newslines, CN&R, Dec. 21).

The bureau has two concerns. One is that the land is currently under a Williamson Act contract and is classified as prime farm land. The proposal’s reclamation plans calls for conversion of the land to a non-agricultural use, which is not permitted under the act. Second, the mine will create a waterway—diversion of Little Chico Creek—within 15 feet of neighboring orchards and allow the groundwater aquifer to be exposed to contamination from farming.

Both “pose a threat to the continued agricultural practices to all the lands surrounding the mine,” the bureau notes.

Killer gets the max
The man whose “roundhouse blow” led to the death of Holiday Inn security guard Travis Williams (see “A Moment of Violence,” Newslines, CN&R, Nov. 9) received the maximum sentence last Thursday (Jan. 11), 12 years in prison.

Lloyd Murray, 25, of Oroville, who had been on parole from prison just three weeks at the time of the December 2005 incident, will serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, assault likely to cause serious injury and attempting to dissuade a witness.

The incident occurred sometime after midnight, when Williams, 22, responded to a fight in the inn’s parking lot. He was standing outside the group surrounding the fighters when Murray “blindsided” him with a punch. He toppled to the pavement, hitting his head on the asphalt. He died five days later.

By all accounts he was an exceptional young man who, among other things, had gone to Thailand to help out following the tsunami and single-handedly organized a fund-raiser at the inn for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Out of the cold
The Torres Community Shelter has been busy lately. The group of homeless residents there has grown since the current cold snap started and is hovering around 90 people per night.

“We have a capacity for 120, but we’re basically two big dorms here,” said Corla Bertrand (pictured), the shelter’s director. “We’re currently hitting the 90s, so it feels really full. It’s a very lively place.”

The extra bodies are no surprise to Bertrand, who said the shelter saw 20 percent more homeless seeking beds in 2006 than in 2005. Next week (Jan. 25), the shelter will help with a county-wide homeless count; there’s a $5 incentive for the homeless to participate. Call the shelter (891-9048) for more information.