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Chico gets new interim city manager | Almond exports stalled | Droughtscaping your garden

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Friday, April 22.

Chico City Council confirms new interim city manager

The Chico City Council confirmed a new interim city manager this week, following the resignation of the previous city manager, Mark Orme, earlier this month.

The council Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Paul Hahn as the city’s interim city manager. He's replacing Chico Police Chief Matt Madden, who temporarily filled the position but has returned to his role at the Police Department.

Orme, the previous city manager, announced his resignation in late March, following a performance evaluation by the council. His last day was April 1.

One of Hahn's tasks as interim city manager will be overseeing the completion of the city-run Pallet shelter site for unhoused residents, following delays in its opening.

— Alec Stutson, NSPR

COVID cases are starting to increase, but remain mild

Cases of COVID-19 are much lower than they’ve been in a long time, but there are signs the numbers are ticking up. At the same time, mask mandates and other restrictions are disappearing.

Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, said while this increase was predicted, he didn’t expect how infectious the subvariants of omicron would be.

“They are leading to a modest surge, and it’s hard to tell how much of it is the variant and how much of it is people leaving their guard down. And it’s probably a little bit of both,” he said. “The thing that is comforting is this doesn’t seem to be leading to an increase in hospitalization.”

It’s important to keep an eye on the numbers of hospitalizations, Wachter said, adding that the current surge in cases seems to be mild.

— CapRadio Staff

Almond industry waits to get paid while port delays stall exports

Almonds are harvested every year in August, but this year many growers and processors are still holding onto last year’s product due to continued congestion at California’s ports.

According to Aubrey Bettencourt, president of the Almond Alliance of California, the current supply of almonds is more than twice what's normal for this time of year.

“We need to move 1.3 billion pounds of almonds between now and July 31 if we’re going to be on pace to handle the harvest of 2022,” she said.

Long delays at the state’s ports have stalled exports. It takes so long to refill shipping containers that it’s been cheaper to just ship the containers empty overseas despite a high demand for California products like almonds.

“These are almonds that are sold,” Bettencourt said. “And unfortunately until they’re delivered, our farmers, our handlers, our truckers, no one gets paid.”

For some almond varieties, the price per pound dropped almost 40% between August and January.

— Kerry Klein (KVPR), The California Report  

Water restrictions may be on the horizon; tips for saving landscaping during drought

As a third-year of drought continues in California and we come into summer, some locations in the North State may see water restrictions. This means gardeners may be confronted with some tough decisions.

Cynthia Weiner, with the UC Master Gardeners of Butte County program, said it will be important for gardeners to prioritize plants, putting those like fruit and landscape trees at the top.

“They’re the ones that were most costly to purchase and you probably have a lot more time invested in them to reach maturity,” she said.

Most trees can go several weeks between waterings, Weiner said, if they’re watered deeply.

Weiner said other tips include: mulching with bark or gravel to keep moisture in the ground, making sure water delivery systems are well maintained so they don’t lose water, and watering in the early morning hours to reduce evaporation.

— Ken Devol, NSPR

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Warren v. Chico plaintiffs file dispute against city: “The city of Chico and plaintiffs in the Warren v. Chico settlement filed briefs Wednesday evening in preparation for a dispute resolution that, once settled, could finally lead to the opening of the Pallet non-congregate housing shelter.” — Chico Enterprise-Record
  • PG&E planned power outage update: “Power will be out from about 12:01 a.m. until about 6:30 a.m. Saturday for 1,500 PG&E customers in Greenville, Crescent Mills and Taylorsville.” — Plumas News
  • Yreka extending ban on fireworks this summer: “The City Council reaffirmed an existing prohibition on fireworks at Tuesday’s meeting. The council will seek advice from its legal counsel around banning the sale and use of fireworks through the end of the year. However, an existing pause put in place last summer will continue.” — The Siskiyou Daily News
  • YC council OKs Recology contract amendment: “The Yuba City City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the current Recology service contract during its council meeting on Tuesday night.” — The Appeal-Democrat
  • Can a conservative break through for California attorney general?: “The last time California voters elected a Republican to statewide office, Gavin Newsom was the youthful mayor of San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg had just opened up Facebook to non-college students and Donald Trump was a Democratic celebrity tycoon wrapping up the sixth season of ‘The Apprentice.’” — CalMatters

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Sarah is an award-winning reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio for six years and was previously the station’s News Director before leaving to study at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.