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Bee-lieve it: Redding City Council is Buzzing About Bees; More Raises; Child Abuse Prevention; and a Social Media Update

With a unanimous vote, the Redding City Council on Tuesday welcomed the concept of urban beekeeping and directed the Planning Department to work on a new ordinance that would allow bee hives within city limits.

The move came at the request of Palo Cedro-based beekeeper Glenda Wooten, who said a pro-bee ordinance would allow her to keep hives on property in Redding at College View Drive and Old Oregon Trail.

Wooten said she has kept bees near the Ross Pond area northeast of Shasta College for the past 30 years. The McConnell Foundation acquired the land in 2010 and recently asked Wooten to relocate her hives to make room for a walking trail.

The McConnell Foundation offered its property on Old Oregon Trail with the stipulation that Redding would first need to adopt a new ordinance.

Councilwoman Francie Sullivan brought the proposal before the council with the idea that some of the more rural areas in Redding would be suitable for backyard apiaries.

Wooten, a commercial beekeeper, noted that the production of queen bees and honey is Shasta County’s fourth most valuable agricultural product. She reiterated the importance of honeybees for pollinating crops. “Every third bite you eat (is food) pollinated by a bee,” she said.

Bee enthusiast Steven Handy also spoke in favor of a revamped ordinance, noting that beekeeping is a $15 billion business in the United States and represents $100 billion in agricultural production worldwide.

He urged the council to do what it can to support bees, especially with the disturbingly high rates of colony collapse disorder that decimated honeybee populations around the world. Handy said the number of bee hives in the country has dwindled from a prewar total of five million hives to about 2.5 million hives today. Normal hives are home to about 50,000 bees.

Bees are not wasps or hornets but they are often painted with the same brush and often maligned in media and popular culture, Handy said.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

More raises

–Voted 5-0 to grant raises to two bargaining units, a move that spells the end of “Furlough Fridays” at City Hall beginning June 5. City Hall had been closed two Fridays a month for about five years.

Some 200 workers in the Redding Independent Employees Organization will receive a 2.5 percent raise effective Sunday, and in exchange they will begin contributing 7 percent to their CalPERS retirement accounts beginning June 5.

Some 21 Redding Electric Utility employees represented by United Public Employees of California Local 792 will receive three raises of 2.5 percent each over the next 14 months. Those employees, who all hold technical positions, also will begin contributing toward their retirement benefits.

Child abuse prevention

–Proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in the city of Redding and received a report from Rachelle Modena, executive director of the Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council.

The implications of physical and mental abuse of children is staggering, Modena said, with victims of abuse often suffering from homelessness, suicide, drug abuse and domestic violence.

In 2015, Modena said her agency got involved with 467 children who had suffered child abuse, with half of the cases so significant that the victims were assigned to foster care. Some 139 of those children were under the age of 5. On the positive side, she said the agency saw 39 fewer victims than it did in 2014.

The Family Resource Center at 3609 Bechelli Lane will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

Social media

— Received an update on the city’s social media project from Matt Morgan, CEO of Optimize Worldwide. The council voted last November to retain a consultant to develop a campaign to highlight civic accomplishments and initiatives through print, radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other media platforms.

Morgan’s firm was selected in January and awarded a 12-month contract that started Feb. 1. Using social media and consumer review monitoring services and Google alerts, Morgan said he has created a baseline “snapshot” of the city’s online presence that he use for comparison when the Optimize contract concludes next February.

Redding’s 9-month-old Instagram account, which has been operated by volunteers, now has 1,064 followers; its Facebook page has 191 “likes”; and its new Twitter account has 81 followers.

Morgan also registered Redding as an agency on www.nextdoor.com, a neighborhood watch-type site that is active with 14 percent of the households in Redding. The site has 8,062 members in 131 neighborhoods, Morgan said. Redding Fire Chief Gerry Gray is active on the site, as well as Twitter.

Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

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