This always happens — we get so many great questions that we can’t answer them all during our one-hour live chat, which has just ended.
I’ll sign off with this intriguing question posed by someone who’s new to Redding:
“The biggest issue we see is the surrounding counties declaring water shortages and emergency cutbacks. So, our question is where does Redding’s residential water come from and is it possible the city will be subject to water shortages in this drought?”
We can’t answer this question today – but we will soon.
Our next live chat takes place June 24 and you don’t have to wait until then to send in your questions. Find out how to Ask the Record Searchlight at the bottom of this story.
If you find this kind of community-driven journalism valuable, please subscribe at the link below.
For now, people want to know what’s happening with the new campus for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, whether there’s a possibility of downtown Redding trolley cars and what’s causing headaches for many motorists along Hilltop Drive.
Join Senior Reporter Michele Chandler, moderator of the chat.
Is there an update on the new Bethel campus?
Q: What is happening with the new Bethel campus that should have started construction two or three years ago?
Hi, it’s Michele Chandler here.
A: It will be at least another five years before Bethel Church begins moving to its $96 million new campus off Collyer Drive in east Redding, administrator Charlie Harper told Record Searchlight business reporter David Benda in late February.
Harper, a member of the church’s senior leadership team, said the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry will continue to lease space for classes at the Redding Civic Auditorium for at least another seven years. The school will eventually relocate to the new campus, to be located on Collyer Drive and Twin Tower Drive, east of Churn Creek Road on the north side of Highway 299.
Last week, Bethel spokesman Aaron Tesauro said via email that pandemic led to the megachurch’s decision to slow down work on the new campus.
“We chose to delay the site work during the pandemic to ensure that our energy was focused on serving the immediate needs of our church family and local community,” Tesauro wrote.
The 171,708-square-foot campus will be built in phases and include 1,851 parking spaces and 300 bike racks. There will be a one-story worship center that seats 2,600 people and a two-story building for the School of Supernatural Ministry with classroom space for up to 3,000 students.
Why McDonald’s has to close early
Q: It seems like every few weeks our McDonald’s closes with cones in their driveway for several days. Do you know why?
Hi, this is David Benda.
A: I recently wrote about the challenges employers are having amid the pandemic finding employees to fill jobs.
Chalk this up as an example.
Diane Gross, whose family has owned the three McDonald’s locations in Redding for decades, said they have been forced to close their East Cypress Avenue and Lake Boulevard locations early from time to time because they don’t have the staff to keep the doors open.
“There are not a lot of people applying (for work), so that is the reason we close early, when we are short-staffed,” said Gross, whose father Dave McGeorge opened the first McDonald’s in Redding in 1972. McGeorge, who was affectionately known as Mr. Big Mac, died in April at the age of 81.
Like many other businesses, Gross offers incentives to new hires. They start at $15 an hour, and after they work 500 hours, they get a $500 bonus, she said.
“If they stick around. But a lot of them will work a week and disappear. Or they don’t show up for orientation,” Gross said.
Finding child care, the extension of the extra $300 federal unemployment benefit through early September and concerns about contracting COVID-19 are among the reasons would-be job seekers are staying home, experts say.
Gross said she has had a difficult time hiring employees for two to three months and she doesn’t know when things will change.
More on steam whistles in Redding
Q: What were the years of operation for the steam whistles in Redding and where were they located?
Hi, this is David Benda.
A: You must be referring to the whistle at Gerlinger Steel and Supply Co. on Sacramento Street in downtown Redding.
Jay Thompson of the Shasta Historical Society said it is the only whistle in Redding that he can think of that has been sounding off for years.
The whistle still blows on weekdays at 8 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. And it’s an electronic whistle. No steam.
Nicknamed the Hooter, Gerlinger Steel was given the whistle in 1937 by the Redding Steam Laundry Co., according to a 1998 Record Searchlight article.
The air compressor that powered the whistle broke down in 1991 and the whistle was retired. But people kept asking about the whistle and it was finally brought back in 1994, the article stated.
About that Hilltop Drive construction zone…
Q: How long will the traffic lane repositioning continue at Hilltop Drive and Lake Boulevard, adjacent to the assisted living facility construction? The lane markers appear to be just a bit less-than permanent, and have created a hassle for Hilltop residents, who now have to do U-turns against traffic just to get in and out of apartment complexes.
Hi, this is David Benda.
A: Redding Public Works Director Chuck Aukland said the traffic control measures in that area will continue over the next three months.
The work is being done in coordination with the new Hilltop Springs retirement community that is being built on north Hilltop Drive.
Crews are finishing up utility work and doing frontage improvements along the roadway, including putting in curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping, Aukland said.
He said Eddie Axner Construction is doing the work. A phone message left Wednesday morning with the company was not immediately returned.
When the project was approved in late 2019, plans called for Hilltop to be expanded to four lanes, with bike lanes.
Confusion over info on road conditions from Caltrans?
Q: Why there is often different information for our local highways on various California Department of Transportation sites? Often Caltrans QuickMap says one thing, the Caltrans website says another and the 800 phone number says something else. Why no consistency? Why not just one source for information?
Hi, it’s Michele Chandler again.
A: Your question is especially pertinent as people hit the road for summer travel. For an answer, we turned to Christopher Woodward, public information officer for Caltrans District 2.
First off, he said that Caltrans’ toll free number, 1-800-427-7623 and website, https://roads.dot.ca.gov/, are older systems that are updated manually by employees at Caltrans’ office in Sacramento with information about roadwork, lane closures and other conditions.
“There are instances at times where the system does not get fully populated. So there are times when a closure may not be in the system. There are some inaccuracies at times with these systems, based on the large amount of lane closures throughout the state,” said Woodward.
He recommends that travelers use the agency’s QuickMap service, which is more up-to-date, but accessible only by those with smartphones. The service shows things including real-time traffic volumes, allowing users to view areas though traffic cameras along the roads.
Those without smartphones can direct questions to Caltrans’ local office at 530-225-3426 or via email D2pio@dot.ca.gov. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8-5 p.m.
“We get calls from people where they have the flip phones or landline phones and they call in for the best information that they can get and we try our best to provide it,” said Woodward.
Will trolley cable cars ever roll into Redding?
Q: Red Bluff has city buses that look like the trolley cable cars of San Francisco. When will Redding have something as neat as that is?
Hi, Michele Chandler here.
A: Having cable car look-alikes in downtown Redding sure sounds cool. But people hankering to hop on a red trolley will just have to keep heading down to SF or Red Bluff for the time being.
About a decade ago, the Redding Area Bus Authority considered converting an old bus to look like a trolley car, Redding Public Works Director Chuck Aukland said.
After discovering that it would cost between $60,000 to $80,000 to make the conversion and there was no exclusive downtown route anyway, it was “ultimately decided that was not the best investment,” said Aukland.
Last September, the Downtown Area Shuttle Service, nicknamed DASH, launched free rides on two different 10-minute loops around Redding, taking people to downtown destinations to work or shop. The baby blue and chartreuse electric shuttles don’t look like cable cars and aren’t getting “a ton of ridership either,” added Aukland.
“It just didn’t seem cost effective” for the city to operate a transportation route that only services the downtown, he said.
How the Ask the Record Searchlight live chat works
Participate by sending your questions. You can post them in the comments section of this story or:
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- Contact one of the journalists directly. Visit the staff directory.
The live chat is brought to you as part of our newsroom-wide Ask the Record Searchlight initiative. From the popularity of this new feature, it’s clear that readers appreciate being able to turn to journalism that’s directly shaped by what the community wants to know. To support this and other Ask the Record Searchlight efforts, please subscribe.
Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support our entire newsroom’s commitment to public service journalism by subscribing today.