Wattage in their cottage

I took a field trip out to Emma Wilson Elementary School last week, where two bright sixth-graders, Lauren Stornetta and Andrea Wolf, told me about their science classes’ energy-conservation project.

The students have been presenting their research and tips to the younger kids, even delicately advising teachers on how to keep power use down. “We’re here to lower kilowatts,” the girls, posing as energy detectives, told an attentive second-grade class. “It’s way too high, and the school’s paying too much money for it.”

Indeed, the Chico Unified School District estimates that energy costs this year will be $500,000 more than last. Rob Peters, the CUSD maintenance and operations supervisor in charge of district utilities, can, by computer, track every classroom’s temperature and details like whether the fan is on. “I can tell when things go wrong,” he said. “I can tell when they go to recess and they leave the door open,” he said.

The students in Laurie DeBock‘s and Joan McCormick‘s classes are asking people at Emma Wilson to keep the windows closed, hold off on pressing the button that turns on the air-conditioner, turn off computers and even work with the lights off.

The students have been monitoring energy use, and they hope that if it goes down and the school saves money, the dollars will trickle down to school supplies.The Silver Dollar Fair sounds like it’s going to be another winning week this year, judging from the details unveiled at a May 8 gathering.

The theme plays off the idea that there won’t be the tigers found in previous years, but there will be bears and lions—sea lions, that is.

Fair Manager Tom DiGrazia is understandably excited about the festivities. There will be auto races, a free country concert featuring Aaron Tippin, a talent show, rides, Clydesdales, a mobile dairy classroom and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, there’s no smoking allowed in the grandstands and Kiddieland. A favorite is the junior livestock auction, a scholarship fund-raiser, and DiGrazia tallied off the animals from memory: “295 hogs, 450 lambs… 20 goats, nine rabbits… That’s scary. It’s pretty anal when you know that.” Since I wrote about Chico Heat star Bo Durkac and his business venture selling a hitting manual, he’s been halfway around the world and back again.

As Durkac writes in his online player’s journal at Baseballamerica.com, he was supposed to be playing in Taiwan this year, but, as he put it, he “stunk so badly” he was “hitting the ball like Calista Flockhart” and was summarily released. He tried to get back on board with the Heat, but a new third baseman had already been signed and the roster was full. Durkac had hoped that his three-year veteran status would make the Heat try harder to keep him, but hey—you leave, you give up your seat on the bus. He was traded and/or sold to the Sonoma County Crushers.

We wish you the best, Bo. Seeing you in Crusher colors at a Heat game will be kind of like when Mike Piazza left the Dodgers. (Hey, that’s the best analogy I could come up with. I’m no Rick Riley.)