Crucify him: A last-minute replacement reverend for this week’s Chico City Council invocation broke the law when he evoked Jesus’ name in the council chambers. A year ago, a federal district court ruled that mentioning any deity peculiar to a particular religion violated the constitutional separation of church and state. Apparently nobody told that to the Rev. B. C. Reed, an elderly man dressed in black who told the council he’d been tapped by the scheduled speaker, Rev. Peter Hansen, to give the pre-meeting prayer.

Reed began the short invocation in a deep, steady voice, asking “God Almighty” to watch over the firemen, policemen and military troops who find themselves in harm’s way. So far, so good—the name of “God” can be invoked, as it is common to a number of religions. But the good reverend ended the prayer by saying “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The remark went pretty much unnoticed, though Councilmember Coleen Jarvis did ask City Manager Tom Lando if he would contact Rev. Hansen about the gaffe and warn him the city could be sued if such specific speeches were allowed to continue.

Eat lead: With Jesus looking on (possibly illegally) and with virtually no discussion, the Chico City Council voted to allocate $1.5 million to clean up the lead in the ground left by the old shooting range in Upper Bidwell Park. The money, pulled from a city transportation funding source allocated by the state as well as a fund for a cleanup near the Chico Municipal Airport, will also go to building a parking lot for Horseshoe Lake and cleaning the lake itself.

Horseshoe Lake, long a site of the annual Hooked on Fishing affair aimed to get kids interested in fishing instead of drugs, was contaminated over the years by glue that holds together the clay pigeons that skeet shooters blasted to bits above the water. Over the years the toxic bonding agent has contaminated the lake, leading to the cancellation of the fishing event.

Barrels of fun: The state Department of Toxic Substances Control slapped a Delaware chemical company doing business in Chico with a $400,000 fine this week for mishandling toxic waste at three California facilities.

According to department field investigator Rick Robeson, Helena Chemical, on Highway 32, was improperly storing 11 large barrels of pesticide oil and two barrels of pesticide-based solid waste when inspectors paid a visit earlier this year. The Chico facility was actually the better-maintained of the three plants cited in the complaint, as it had simply neglected to label the barrels, while plants down south in Brawley and Blair were storing similar hazardous chemicals in open barrels, sometimes unlabeled and stacked precariously atop one another.

Gray’s lady: Governor Davis’ better half and the state’s first lady, Sharon Davis, will be in town this weekend to do some shopping at the Saturday Farmers’ market and, who knows, she just might manage to work in some campaigning for her recall-a-riffic husband. Maybe Seckund Naychur can rock a special didgeridoo solo for her.