Vlamis makes a good landing

Former BEC director has a new job that’s made for her

In his guest comment next door, retired Chico State biology professor Doug Alexander urges readers to support the groups protecting the North State’s water supply. He doesn’t say it, but as Tom Gascoyne reports in a Newslines story, Alexander had a hand in creating the newest of those groups, AquAlliance.

As Gascoyne explains, the new group has been established to defend the water in the entire Sacramento Valley watershed. Its director is Barbara Vlamis, who after a painful parting last year from the Butte Environmental Council, which she headed for 17 years, seems to have found a role that’s ideally suited for her.

She’s passionate about protecting our water, is an experienced lobbyist, and isn’t afraid to use the courts when necessary. (Indeed, the CN&R has criticized her in the past for being, at times, a little too quick to draw that gun.) She also knows everyone in the field, from bureaucrats in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the state Department of Water Resources to leaders of sport-fishing groups and environmental organizations.

It’s notable that one of Vlamis’ first actions was to make common cause with the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority in support of its lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. We hope that’s a harbinger of future collaboration and recognition that we all share a desire to protect North State water. All the best to Barbara, and thanks to the community-minded folks who set up AquaAlliance for their hard work and dedication.

Two stories to read: There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue, but I want to call special attention to Jaime O’Neill’s sharply written essay about his generation and its impact on America. It’s a personal account, but it’s also a searching look at aspects of the last 50 years of the country’s history. Jaime shows quite compellingly, using his own high school graduating class as an example, how two streams emerged from the same source, one leading to the hippie/activist anti-war camp of the Sixties, the other to today’s angry Tea Party activism.

You’ll also want to read Meredith J. Cooper’s lead Newslines story, “Buried under the road,” about a local mystery that she goes a long way toward clearing up. For more than 30 years there have been rumors that several graves in the 19th-century “colored section” of the Chico Cemetery were paved over by a road, and Cooper’s story shows that the rumors were likely true. It’s a fascinating and disturbing bit of local history—as well as local African-American history, which is why we’re especially pleased to present it during Black History Month.

Interns watch: We’ve got a (mostly) new batch of interns working with us these days. Writers Hillary Feeney and Zong Yang come to us from Chico State University, while fellow writer Dustin Hyman recently received his master’s degree in English from Sonoma State. Writer Nick Dobis re-upped for a second semester, and Matt Siracusa stuck around for another semester to take photos for us. Look for their work in upcoming issues.