A 20-year-old local transient accused of setting seven suspicious fires in Chico’s Upper Bidwell Park in March waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday, clearing the way for a trial.

Joey Lee Valderrama, deemed a “firebug” by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

The largest fire consumed about a quarter of an acre. A trial date is scheduled to be set June 25.

Drivers using State Highway 44 in the vicinity of Shingletown can expect delays starting Monday and continuing through mid-August as Caltrans repaves the roadway.

Motorists can expect one-way traffic controls and delays of up to 15 minutes between Bear Creek Bridge and Sandhouse Road. Work will be conducted Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays until 3 p.m.

The next election for Redding City Council is not until next year, but there is at least on candidate who has already thrown her hat in the ring. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding nurse practitioner Julie Winter filed paperwork last month that allows her to begin fundraising and building a campaign. 

Meantime, Vice Mayor Missy McCarthur told the paper that she is not planning on seeking re-election next year, hinting that she may have her sights set on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. 

James Moran / Flickr CC

Butte County officials are hoping to streamline the path enabling a new, sun-loving “crop” to join a Butte County landscape dominated by almond, walnut and olive orchards. Wednesday evening in Oroville the public had its first opportunity to weigh in.

The plants, officials say, will generate jobs and help California wean itself from fossil fuels. The crop isn’t something you eat; though in most cases, the plants are considered green. It’s electricity — generated at large solar power plants.

Butte College President Kimberly Perry will be leaving at the end of the month. The Chico Enterprise-Record says she has accepted a position at the Bellingham Technical College in Bellingham, Washington. The paper says that Perry submitted a letter of resignation to the board of trustees that will be discussed at its meeting on June 17. She will begin in her new position on July 20.

Braden Gunem / Flickr CC

Some traffic courts in California have been charging ticketed drivers fees before allowing their cases to go to trial. But a new rule approved Monday by the state Judicial Council will put an end to that practice.

In at least eight California counties, ticketed drivers can be required to pay their traffic fines before their cases are allowed to go to trial. The Judicial Council unanimously approved a rule that prohibits that practice.

Judge Harry Hull serves on the council. He says people were essentially paying to see a judge.

Despite many items up for consideration, controversy will likely remain limited as the Butte County Board of Supervisors considers a 646-page draft budget, procuring a sheriff’s office helicopter to replace Vietnam War-era equipment and various other items.

The budget, expected to end up in the neighborhood of $18.5 million, will be discussed in detail at an upcoming hearing later this month The board will hear comments from the public and may make some revisions to the document at its June 23 hearing.

There has been no decision yet by a small claims judge who heard a case this week between a former mayor of Redding and the director of the Northern California Veterans Museum over funds from a gun show, which both sides say they were entitled to.

Penny Meyer / Flickr, Creative Commons

A state Senate bill would change the way fishing licenses are sold in California. Sen. Tom Berryhill of Twain Hart says the bill would change the length of a license from a 12-month calendar period to a consecutive 12-month period, much like a driver’s license. The bill would also lower the fee for 16- and 17-year-old anglers, making it easier for them to afford. 

“How many of us wait at least until spring or you might wait until summer so you’re buying back to back, and what happens is nobody buys anything,  or you just don’t fish at all,” Berryhill said.

Butte County District Attorney's Office

A man and woman involved in a fatal brawl in downtown Chico last summer were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Wednesday, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced.

Joshua Epstein, 30, and Stephanie Vogel, 24 were sentenced to 11 and three years, respectively.

The victim, 45-year-old Randall Sexton, died after being stabbed in the chest and bludgeoned repeatedly with a skateboard during a fight with Epstein and Vogel. All three were described as homeless.