Sunday, 16 June 2024


A bee sculpture created by Orland artist Jake Midgley. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

ORLAND, Calif. — Caltrans recently began construction on a unique city gateway project that will bring new buzz to the city of Orland, known as the “Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

The centerpiece of the $2.7 million project at the interchange of Interstate 5 and State Route 32 will be two bee sculptures created by Orland artist Jake Midgley that will stand about 16 feet high at opposite sides of the interchange and will be complemented by unique honeycomb-like paving.

The project is made possible through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, a sweeping, $1.2 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs and join with communities throughout the state to reclaim, transform and beautify public spaces.

“Public art and public transportation are a natural, powerful pairing, one that Orland’s new queen-bee themed city gateway will wonderfully demonstrate for many years to come,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares.

This project — the second of six Clean California projects to begin construction in Caltrans District 3, which includes Glenn County — also will upgrade the interchange where 2,500 vehicles travel each day. Increased safety measures will include additional paving and new landscaping with inert material such as rock, gravel, and recycled glass.

The contract was awarded to Vanguard Construction of Livermore.

Many Clean California projects throughout the state will include public art and other design aesthetics. Among its many positive attributes, art in public spaces has been shown to benefit communities by reducing illegal dumping and graffiti.

“The city of Orland is pleased and proud to partner with Caltrans in beautifying the freeway interchange at exit 619 in Orland,” said Orland City Manager Peter R. Carr. “The unique, locally hand-crafted honeybee sculptures and honeycomb-stamped concrete will announce to motorists that they have arrived in the Queen Bee Capital of North America, will become an enduring asset of local esteem, and will instill public pride in the state’s highway system. Leveraging the talents of a local welder-artist and state contractors, this project benefits the community and the traveling public with an improved freeway interchange experience.”

Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal said the feedback Caltrans received from the city during the planning stages for the project, and from the public during the community meeting held in January, were extremely valuable.

“Caltrans fully appreciates the effort the City of Orland made to gather public input for this project,” he said. “This engagement provided us with important information to improve the safety and aesthetics of this gateway to the City of Orland. The two locally designed bee sculptures and honeycomb paving included in the project will make clear the city’s unique identity as the Queen Bee Capital of North America.”

This project is among 126 Clean California beautification projects worth $312 million designed to help energize communities and create connectivity along the state highway system.

There are an additional 105 projects statewide funded by nearly $300 million in Clean California local grants to remove litter and transform public spaces in underserved communities. Collectively, these projects are expected to generate 7,200 jobs.

The new state budget includes $100 million to fund another round of Clean California local grant projects.

Since launching Clean California in July 2021, Caltrans has removed more than 1.1 million cubic yards of litter from state highways — the equivalent of nearly 19,000 tons or enough to fill 344 Olympic-size swimming pools — and hired more than 800 new team members as part of Clean California, including 420 maintenance workers who collect litter and remove graffiti. For more information, visit

CHICO, Calif. — The Chico Police Department said it is investigating a hate crime that occurred at a synagogue in the city.

At 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Chico Police Dispatch Center received a call regarding a vandalism incident at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, located on the 1300 block of Hemlock Street.

Officers arrived on scene and discovered that an unidentified individual burned a sign in front of the synagogue and drew swastikas on the sign. The officers collected evidence and began an investigation.

Police said the vandalism is being treated as a hate crime.

“These incidents are serious acts against members of our community and will be investigated thoroughly,” the agency said.

The Chico Police Department is asking for assistance from any community members who may have information regarding this incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at 530-897-4900.

CHICO, California — In partnership with United Way of Northern California, Tri Counties Bank has launched the NorCal Wildfire Fund, with an initial contribution of $20,000.

The goal is to raise $3 million, which will assist communities affected by wildfires across Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties.

The bank encourages donations to the NorCal Wildfire fund at any Tri Counties Bank branch or online at

“Together, we can begin to heal the damage left by these wildfires," said Richard Smith, president and CEO of Tri Counties Bank. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their homes, and our brave firefighters and first responders who protect us.”

Funds will be distributed through United Way of Northern California, or UWNC, directly serving fire victims with immediate needs, as well as major recovery efforts:

• RV assistance program.
• Stable Housing Opportunities Program (SHOP).
• Unmet Needs Roundtable.
• Mental health services for survivors.
• 2-1-1 helpline.
• Grants to community service providers.

The 2022 season has seen six individuals dead, 400 homes destroyed and 200,000 acres burned.

“Tri Counties Bank has worked with United Way during our relief efforts for many wildfires,” said Larry Olmstead, president and CEO, United Way of Northern California. “Like us, the bank cares deeply about the communities it serves. This partnership, aided by the generosity of our neighbors, will allow us to deliver crucial aid to those in need.”

CHICO, Calif. — For the second time this week, the Chico Police Department said it is investigating a hate crime.

This time, the hate crime involves a mural dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women located at 945 W 2nd St.

The artist reported an unidentified individual drew swastikas and obscene language on the mural and attempted to light the bottom on fire.

One of the artists who created that mural, Shane Grammer, also created a mural in Upper Lake depicting Vanessa Niko in honor of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, as Lake County News has reported.

“At this time, it is unknown if this incident is related to the hate crime also being investigated at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue,” the Chico Police Department said.

On Wednesday afternoon, police officers responded to the synagogue, where they found someone had drawn swastikas on a sign in front of the synagogue and then set the sign on fire.

The department said both the synagogue and mural cases have been forwarded to its detective bureau for further investigation.

“The Chico Police Department takes these incidents seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. Hate crimes impact not only individuals but our community,” the agency said in a Thursday statement.

The Chico Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance. Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at 530-897-4911, reference case number 22-006874.

SACRAMENTO – State leaders this week announced the first round of awards for the Community Economic Resilience Fund, or CERF, a new state initiative supporting innovative plans and strategies to diversify local economies and develop sustainable industries that create good-paying, broadly-accessible jobs for all Californians.

As part of CERF’s initial planning phase, 13 economic development entities known as High Road Transition Collaboratives will receive $5 million each to develop roadmaps, including a strategy and recommended series of investments, for their region.

Following this planning phase, the program’s implementation phase will begin in 2023 and provide $500 million to fund projects identified by the High Road Transition Collaboratives.

High Road Transition Collaboratives represent California’s 13 distinct regional economies and bring together diverse community, labor, industry, and business interests.

The announcement includes 11 of the 13 awardees. Awardees were selected through a competitive bidding process based on their readiness and commitment to conduct inclusive planning processes that engage various community groups, including voices that have been traditionally left out of economic planning.

CERF was created by Senate Bill 162 and is administered by an interagency leadership team that includes the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and the Labor & Workforce Development Agency.

“We have an incredible opportunity to harness once-in-a-generation Federal and State investments to build a low carbon economy that creates good-paying jobs,” said Samuel Assefa, director of the Office of Planning and Research. “We are thrilled to announce the CERF Planning Phase partnerships with organizations representing labor, community, business, and industry leaders to chart an inclusive and equitable economic future for all Californians.”

“This announcement signifies a major step forward in economic development, as regional coalitions have come together across California ready to roll up their sleeves and build regional economic development strategies that will create more inclusive and vibrant economies built on a foundation of equity,” said Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to Gov. Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development. “As California and our federal partners work collaboratively to make significant investments to support local economies, these High Road Transition Collaboratives will play a major part in guiding these dollars to ensure the greatest impact for all Californians.”

“This first-of-its-kind state investment recognizes that California is an ecosystem of diverse economies, each of which has its own challenges and opportunities,” said Natalie Palugyai, secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. “By empowering regions to develop the blueprints for their own futures – and requiring that they do so in a manner that is inclusive and equitable – CERF is changing the way California views economic planning.”

High Road Transition Collaboratives - Planning Phase Awardees:

North State
Fiscal agent: North State Planning and Development Collective – Chico State Enterprises
Regional convener: Partnership between Sierra Institute for Community and Environment And North State Planning and Development Collective – Chico State Enterprises

Fiscal agent and regional convener: Valley Vision Inc.

Redwood Coast
Fiscal agent: Arcata Economic Development Corporation
Regional convener: California Center for Rural Policy at CalPoly Humboldt

Bay Area
Fiscal agent: Bay Area Good Jobs Partnership for Equity, with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development as the fiscal lead
Regional convener: All Home

Northern San Joaquin Valley
Fiscal agent: Merced Community College District
Regional convener: County of Merced, Department of Workforce Investment

Eastern Sierra
Fiscal agent and regional convener: Sierra Business Council

Central San Joaquin Valley
Fiscal agent and regional convener: Central Valley Community Foundation

Orange County
Fiscal agent: Charitable Ventures of Orange County
Regional convener: Orange County Business Council

Los Angeles County
Fiscal agent: California Community Foundation
Regional convener: The Economic Development Corporation of Los Angeles County

Kern County
Fiscal agent: Kern Community College District
Regional convener: Kern Coalition, a partnership between Better Bakersfield and Boundless Kern, Community Action Partnership of Kern, Kern Inyo and Mono Central Labor Council, Building Healthy Communities, and Kern Community College District

Central Coast
Fiscal agent: Economic Development Collaborative
Regional convener: Regional Economic Action Coalition (REACH)

In response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 Budget included $600 million for CERF to ensure that California’s economy creates high-quality, family-supporting jobs, advances California’s climate agenda, and helps the state’s industries to build long term resilience against climate-caused and other economic disruptions.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, in partnership with the Pepperwood Preserve, will conduct a prescribed fire on the nature preserve starting Thursday, Oct. 27, or when conditions allow.

Prescribed burning activities will occur in open grasslands and forest understory. The project size is targeting treatment of up to 105 acres to promote healthy forests and reduce wildfire risk on a strategic fire control ridge separating Franz Valley and the Mark West area.

Project objectives also include mimicking natural ecological processes by returning fire to the landscape, promote native plant propagation and wildlife habitat and reduce fuel loading in the forest understory.

Smoke will be visible from multiple vantage points throughout Sonoma and Napa counties from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please do not report the fire to local first responders as they are already aware of the prescribed fire plan.

Prescribed burns are carefully planned and must meet strict criteria for ecological benefit, weather parameters, smoke management and fire safety guidelines. The planned operation is subject to last-minute changes due to those conditions.

When all conditions are met, trained wildland firefighters conduct the burn while monitoring the set criteria, fire behavior and designated fire control lines. The prescribed burn will comply with requirements of the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District.

Located in eastern Sonoma County, approximately 25 minutes from downtown Santa Rosa and a 90-minute drive north of San Francisco, Pepperwood manages a 3,200-acre nature preserve located in the heart of a globally-recognized biodiversity hotspot.

The preserve is an important refuge for over 750 varieties of native plants and 150 species of wildlife including birds, reptiles and mammals representing California's diverse climates.

Pepperwood offers a wide array of opportunities for public engagement via the Dwight Center for Conservation Science, a 9,400 square-foot green facility featuring classrooms, laboratories, offices and space for visiting scholars.

For information on wildfire safety, please visit us at

Upcoming Calendar

Father's Day
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.29.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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