Chasing the glimmer

At the top of the list of businesses I was determined to check on after the Camp Fire was Mendon’s Nursery—a special place to many people in this part of the North State, including yours truly.

My husband and I said our wedding vows under an arbor purchased there. Years later, on our way home to Chico with our days-old infant, who was born at Adventist Health Feather River’s Birth Day Place, we popped in and picked up a fig sapling that we refer to as Henry’s tree. We visited countless times simply to peruse what’s in stock. That often ended in impulse buys.

I made it to Mendon’s on Nov. 10, two days after the fire began. The gates were closed, and I could tell that the building with the registers was gone. Still, with portions of the property seemingly unscathed, customers like me have held our breath awaiting news of the nursery’s fate. Sadly, on Tuesday (March 12), the owners put speculation to rest with a long Facebook post announcing its permanent closure. A liquidation sale begins Friday.

That’s not what I was hoping to hear, and I feel like that’s a common theme in the pages of the CN&R these days. We’ve reported on a lot of heavy things lately. Producing depressing but important stories is standard fare in this business. What’s unusual is when so many of them are tied to one subject. Over the past four months, more than 120 pieces related to the fire have been published in this newspaper. (You can find them archived on our website by clicking on the Camp Fire Reports link.)

Regular readers know what I’m talking about. Take, for example, as first reported in the CN&R, Meredith J. Cooper’s in-depth cover story and recent follow-up piece on the town’s contaminated water and the Paradise Irrigation District’s prediction that it’s going to take years to fix the conveyance system. It’s a daunting scenario.

Speaking of bleak forecasts, in this issue (page 18), Evan Tuchinsky paints the picture of the local health care landscape as it stands today. There’s a lot to wrap your head around, but the short version is that many medical providers on the Ridge have fled the region, and it’s unclear whether Adventist Health will ever reopen its hospital and several ancillary services. Though some doctors have relocated down in the valley, the contraction affects the region as a whole.

A case in point is the closure of the aforementioned Birth Day Place. The popular facility drew expectant mothers from Chico and beyond. According to Tuchinsky’s reporting, however, all of its affiliated obstetricians have left the area. That certainly doesn’t bode well for reopening that beloved maternity ward.

Deep sigh.

I’m finding it harder to find the bright side these days. But this week there’s a glimmer on the horizon. In Newslines (page 8), you’ll read about a couple of local builders who’ve formed a new construction firm and are among those leading the charge on residential rebuilding. Meanwhile, the town and the county are working on ways to expedite the process.

It’s the good news all of us probably could use about now. When it comes to positivity, I’ll take what I can get.

About Melissa Daugherty 75 Articles
Melissa Daugherty is an award-winning columnist and editorial writer who started her career as a higher education reporter at a daily newspaper. Daugherty spent 17 years at the CN&R, eight of them as editor-in-chief. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable is her super power.