Everybody’s business

Off the bench
What’s the perfect business opportunity for a retired ball player? A baseball school, of course. Jonathan Macalutas (pictured) is opening Mac’s Professional Baseball School this week, teaching players aged 7 through high school how to pitch and hit, plus a little infield work.

The former utility player for the Chico Heat, at age 29, had been signed to the Florida Marlins and even went to spring training, but, “I decided to retire and move on with my life.”

After moving to Chico to join the Heat, Macalutas said, he didn’t want to leave after the team was disbanded. “I feel like I’m part of the community now.”

The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineering graduate has set up his school in a 3,000-square-foot space at 3330 Hwy. 32 Unit C; call 343-7397 or 624-4006.

Besides one-on-one private lessons for $25 a half-hour by appointment, he will teach groups or teams. “I’d like to get people excited about the game,” Macalutas said. “There’s stuff I’m teaching that I didn’t learn until my third year in pro ball.”

Friendly competition
Last week, I was invited to a luncheon at the Music Express Inn for members of the Facilities Management Network Group. I’d never heard of them before, but it turns out they have a really cool arrangement: People with event-related businesses, such as caterers and reception hall managers, get together and swap information or learn from guest speakers.

“We all work together,” said Cherilyn Conn of Oxford Suites, who started the group a couple of years ago along with Dave Freitas of Manzanita Place. They realized they were turning away customers who weren’t a good match, and, “We didn’t know who to refer them to.” Now, if someone calls a huge banquet hall and they really need an intimate setting, or they’re shopping in the wrong price range, a group member will steer them toward another facility or caterer.

Sally Mendez, marketing coordinator at the ARC, said her bookings have tripled since joining. Father Mike Newman of the Newman Center was also there, as was Allyson Bedene from A Friend of the Family Catering Co., who invited me. Mendez is the contact for membership, which is free: 891-5865 ex. 202.

Ag excellence
Every time I hear about another ground-breaking development at Chico State’s College of Agriculture it reminds me of how former President Robin Wilson actually thought it would be a good idea to shut down the program and the farm in the 1980s. That just boggles my mind.

I’m also boggled by the sheer impressiveness of the new irrigation training facility unveiled at the University Farm last week. Ag teachers and farmers will come from all over the West to learn about the system, which, among other features, is able to gauge when crops should be watered and how much, for maximum efficiency. The pumps, canal system and meter test facility will also be a résumé-builder for Chico State students.

The $450,000 project is funded by public and private grants.