God bless Gridley

The city of Gridley’s motto—the small town that loves company—is a nod to the hospitality often inherent in rural life. But that slogan is especially true now that the southern Butte County city has welcomed Camp Fire survivors with open arms.

For those unfamiliar with the farming community straddling Highway 99, it’s long been the second smallest municipality in the county. Post-disaster, however unbelievable, that distinction belongs to Paradise.

Gridley may be tiny but it also is mighty in terms of its response to those in need of housing. As Ashiah Scharaga reports in this week’s cover story, the town is now home to the largest FEMA community in the North State, a soft place to land for hundreds of weary and traumatized wildfire refugees.

To that I say, God bless Gridley.

I’m especially impressed with the folks who’ve dedicated much time and energy over the last 10 months in service to those who lost everything. I’m sure not everyone is thrilled about the sudden population growth, but you wouldn’t know it from the efforts of the volunteer relief group in the region.

I have a real affection for small towns. As some readers may recall, I lived in one when I first moved to far-Northern California a couple of decades ago. That would be Hamilton City—then-population 1,900. There, for more than a year, I lived alone on my late grandparents’ almond and walnut farm. Technically, I shared the property with my German shepherd and three horses.

My grandfather for many years was the postmaster in that Glenn County hamlet, so it wasn’t surprising to locals when his Bay Area-born and -raised granddaughter arrived to attend college. That became clear when I started picking up mail at the post office some 17 years after his death and the friendly folks who worked there chatted me up about my roots in the area.

Word travels fast in small towns. Often when I met people, I’d discover that they already were aware of whom I was related to and even where I lived. At first, I found it unnerving. Eventually, I realized it was part of the charm of life in the sticks.

Several of my neighbors—especially the sweet farming couple on the property to the east—were particularly welcoming. It wasn’t long before I adjusted to people giving me what I like to call the “country wave”—even if only momentarily raising my fingers up from the steering wheel while driving the backroads to my house.

Eventually, I succumbed to the pull of city life and moved to Chico, but I look back fondly at life in the orchards.

Sacked Speaking of the big city, Scharaga has a scoop from the Chico City Council’s Tuesday (Sept. 3) meeting. I’m referring to the panel’s vote to part ways with its contracted law firm, the City of Industry-based Alvarez-Glasman & Colvin (see page 8).

That news was revealed in the form of the council voting to put out a request for proposal for attorney services. For several reasons, the CN&R has long been a critic of the city’s attorneys. More on that in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, here’s my advice to the council: Hire someone local.

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About Melissa Daugherty 58 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 13 years at the CN&R, seven as editor-in-chief. Comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable is her super power.