Horns and interns

Honking, a welcome to students, and a shout out to interns

Let the honking commence. I’m referring, of course, to the return of the college students to a Chico that looks a little different than it did in May. The townies have laid on the horn a bit since the roundabout opened two weeks ago, and I expect it’s going to get a bit noisier outside my office windows for another couple of weeks as students adjust to the new configuration of downtown.

Considering the number of times I’ve seen a student drive the wrong way down a one-way street this time of year, it could get interesting at Second and Flume streets.

Overall, I have to say, I’m one of the believers in this infrastructure project. I haven’t heard much in the way of screeching tires since the project’s completion. Just horns.

In fact, I’ve been responsible for one of the honking episodes. On Monday morning, as I headed out of the roundabout in front of the CN&R offices and attempted to get into our parking lot, I found myself facing a rather large SUV going the wrong way at the one-way entrance to Orient Street. I honked and waved my hand for the driver to jump onto Second Street, just before the Camellia Way bridge. In my rear-view mirror, I could see several vehicles closing in behind me. Fortunately, people tend to drive slower on the roundabout, so that SUV got out of the way in time for me to avoid a fender bender.

Interestingly, drivers aren’t the only ones flummoxed by the revamped roadway. It seems certain pedestrians are having a hard time understanding that the giant new round thing at the former intersection isn’t a crosswalk. On Tuesday, I watched a young man nearly get taken out while walking straight through the roundabout. He actually stopped to wait for traffic coming into the roundabout, but didn’t bother to consider the cars already circling it. He stepped out right in front of one, and was lucky that person hit the brakes. I’m not trying to stereotype here, but that guy most certainly did have a college-y look to him. Ahem.

I know some locals lament the return of the students, but I’m always glad for the energy they bring back to town. After all, I used to be one of them. So did nearly everyone else on the CN&R’s editorial staff.

Moreover, we’ve recruited some of our best interns from Chico State and Butte College. This summer, we once again worked with Melanie MacTavish, an extremely talented photographer and Chico State student. We were also joined by Chico State grad Ryan Coletti (you may remember his story on the Meriam Library flooding) and Katherine Green, who just moved to town from Sacramento and is finishing her general-ed requirements at Butte. Katherine spent much of her summer researching and writing this week’s cover feature about the student-loan crisis. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the increasing financial burden weighing on students, and how that burden means billions of dollars for the federal government.