What’s great in ‘08

Best of Chico is a CN&R tradition that the community as a whole has embraced. Not everyone is into it, of course, but many people are. Lest you think the winners don’t care, I presented TV weatherman Rob Blair with the Best Local Media Personality plaque live on Wake Up! last year and he was visibly moved, even after the end of the broadcast.

The 24th go-around starts today (Aug. 7). Online voting at www.newsreview.com/chicobest continues through Sept. 5, and we’ll announce the winners Sept. 25.

Last year we had 94 categories. We’ve taken a couple away and added others, bringing the total to 102. Among the things you now can vote for: medical office, dental office, vet, local artist, yoga studio, place to pray/meditate and places for martinis and Bloody Marys. You have my assurance that if my wife’s practice wins, it’ll be legit—no preferential treatment for Bidwell Pediatrics. (That’s Bidwell Pediatrics, best medical practice in Chico.)

We’ve unveiled a few other elements this year.

First, we’ve expanded Best of Oroville and Best on the Ridge. Those inaugural awards in 2007 solely comprised editors’ picks. Now readers will get to select their favorites in 20 categories each, including a couple specific to the communities (e.g. local olive oil for Oroville, nursery for the Ridge). You don’t have to live in Paradise to vote in Best on the Ridge, nor by the lake to vote in Best of Oroville—this is about inclusion, not exclusion.

In that vein, I’m particularly proud about the charitable aspect. My colleagues and I want to share the goodwill we receive with a nonprofit organization that serves the community and deserves support. We’ll put that association’s logo on the winners’ plaques, donate to the cause and partner with the charity for our awards ceremony.

It took us all of two seconds to determine the inaugural beneficiary: the Three Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross. Relief efforts during the wildfires speak for themselves; what’s not as obvious is the financial toll, as the Red Cross got hit by the double whammy of fires in California and floods in the Midwest. We feel great about helping a group that’s helped so many of our neighbors.

Click here for more details about Best Of, then get your typing fingers ready. The ballot awaits!

Personal “Bests”: Now that I’ve been here 2 1/2 years, I have a collection of favorites. I don’t want to sway the voting, so I’ll keep quiet about what I’d pick in the official categories (even medical office … did I mention my wife is a doctor?). I’ll just stick to some people you may know who are bests in my book.

• Local politician—Jane Dolan. She cares, and fights for what she knows is right.

• Regional politician—Jeff Morris. He’s one smart fella.

• National politician—Barack Obama (of course).

• Quote—Steve Bertagna. Council meetings won’t be the same without you … as you’d say, for better and worse.

• Straight shooter—Juanita Sumner. We don’t always agree, but it’s never a mystery why. (For instance, she’ll clearly write why she hates this week’s column.)

• Go-getter—Tom Nickell, walking his councilman beat.

• Do-everything—Scott Winter: LearningChange, Butte Pioneers, General Plan Advisory Committee, Chamber of Commerce board … oh, yeah, fatherhood.

• Inspirational person—Christine LaPado: musician, writer, widowed mom of an exceptional daughter and a magnanimous human being.