Adios Chevy’s, hello vacancy: Chevy’s Fresh Mex Grill closed up shop Sept. 30 with nary a sombrero party by way of goodbye.

The event left downtown-watchers wondering what will become of the former bank building at 201 Broadway that the Chevy’s corporation in 1997-98 had customized to its specifications.

“They did an extensive remodel of the building, and I’m sure they invested a large amount of money,” said city Community Development Director Tony Baptiste. (More than $3 million, it was estimated at the time.) He said the building could lend itself to other uses, but “a restaurant would be most likely to use the building in its current renovation.”

Company officials didn’t return our calls, and the local manager (who’s being transferred to San Jose) didn’t feel like talking, but on Tuesday owners of neighboring businesses were carting away barstools and other fixtures that otherwise would have gone into the Dumpster the next day. “This building is going to sit empty for a long time,” said one business owner, relating talk of high rent and utilities costs for the 14,115-square-foot behemoth.

On Sept. 26, a Dallas company cancelled its plans to buy the Emeryville-based Chevy’s chain, blaming California politics, workers’ compensation issues and proposed legislation that would require employers to provide health insurance to their workers.

The restaurant’s closure came as a surprise to city officials, most of the employees of Chevy’s and to the manager of Jamba Juice, which operates downstairs and had shared common areas with Chevy’s.

“We’re still open for business,” assured Gabe Ayala, the manager of the smoothie shop.

Enrollment blues: Fee increases and the corresponding decline in enrollment have trickled down to the Associated Students at Chico State University. A.S. programs will get $20,000 less this year thanks to about 700 fewer students.

“Most of the drop happened at the upper class and also the graduate levels,” explained Herman Ellis, Chico State’s assistant vice president for student life, at the Sept. 29 A.S. Governmental Affairs Committee Meeting. “With a 30 percent increase in fees, no one could really anticipate how that was going to affect the returning students.”

As a result, the university has decided to accept new students in the spring, rather than close enrollment. Ultimately, the A.S., which is dipping into its reserves already, may have to go out for a fee increase earlier than the scheduled 2007 election if it doesn’t want to cut services further.

Hard times: It may not include funding for everything the county needs, but the Butte County Board of Supervisors nonetheless passed the 2003-04 budget proposed by County CAO Paul McIntosh. Citing an $8.8 million hit from the state budget mess and rising costs for social services, the board was forced to make cuts in grant-funded positions with both the District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices, in addition to postponing several public works and capital-improvement projects.

The CN&R magic eight ball says county service fees are likely to increase dramatically, while funding for public health programs will be slashed. If you work for the county, now is a good time to make yourself indispensable.