Home again

As one of her last acts as California’s superintendent of public instruction, Delaine Eastin ordered last fall that Future Farmers of America field officers be moved from their rural offices to Sacramento cubicles as a cost-cutting measure. Last week, the new superintendent, Jack O’Connell, said they could come back.

Superior Region FFA Supervisor Jeanette Sturzen and Janet Johnson, her secretary, were packed up and out of there the evening they heard the news—via an O’Connell press release.

“I was just hoping and praying that we were going to be able to come back,” said Sturzen, who lives on her family farm in Orland.

“We are very happy,” concurred Johnson, who works part-time and had been commuting to Sacramento with Sturzen.

They are back in their old office at the Chico State University Farm, where they have already received dozens of congratulatory e-mails and phone calls. Teachers and students had protested the political move, saying it would leave 7,900 Superior Region students without immediate, hands-on support as they put on meetings, compete and network.

Sturzen said the worst part of being relocated wasn’t the personal inconvenience, but rather “to not have the hands-on, working face-to-face with the kids and the teachers.”

She sees O’Connell’s decision as a good sign for the future of FFA and the promotion of agriculture in general.

Smoothie sale

Mike Huber and Kelly Brooks-Huber, the young Chico couple who have worked hard to amass several coffee shops and smoothie places around town, are in the process of selling Island Smoothies downtown to another Chico couple.

I called four of their stores before reaching Huber, who explained the decision. Business at Island was great and actually went up when Jamba Juice moved in down the street. But with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old at home, the family was “just spread too thin.”

“We want to focus on the coffee shops,” Huber said.

Ruben and Cupertina Garcia were interested, and Brooks-Huber has been teaching them how to run Island Smoothies in anticipation of their taking over as early as this week.

If anyone has the money and inclination to invest in the Juice Whirled store on Mangrove, Huber added, “I will sell it to the next interested party.”


I was excited to receive a flier from a Michigan-based company called Terryberry, which seems to be the Josten’s of the business world. This “custom business award jeweler” makes “award rings” that are engraved to recognize performance in such areas as training, customer service and sales. Say you got your company’s “safety award” (seriously, it’s in the catalog). Just stroke your beard thoughtfully, making sure your ring is in full view, and all the gals at the bar will know you are one safe guy.

I really need this kind of conversation piece, or something to show the Chico business community I can move in their world. One time, at a business event, I tried to make conversation with Craig Lares of Lares Research, which makes dental lasers, by asking him if he had a laser blazer like on Get Smart. That fell pretty flat. I got pretty much the same reaction when I tried to spice up a story about mattresses by asking the company matriarch if she’d ever contemplated how many families were started on their mattresses.

But if I had that ring, whoo-ee. Stand back, Soroptimists, here I come.