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Lead Stories

Back in the early ’90s my good friend Mike Ryan and his buddy made it their mission to scout a trail on motorcycles that could be done by bicycle from Junction City to Cape Perpetua. It took some time but they eventually succeeded, and as a personal challenge, Mike promised himself he would ride this same route every year until he turned 60. 

Forget the rain clouds, spring is here and it’s time to pump up your tires and strap on your helmet — the month of May is filled with community bike rides. Take your pick, from biking to music in the moonlight to family rides with an ice cream incentive or a workout that comes with both conversation and a view. It’s up to you. 

 “There’s something about doing active things in a group that is just very powerful, and for Eugene we love to bike and we love to drink beer,” says BikeInShapes founder Ross Kanaga. 

Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich has never quite lived down dressing up in a tricorner hat for a Tea Party tax day rally in 2009. The incident came up again at a recent City Club of Eugene debate between Bozievich and challenger Dawn Lesley for the West Lane Commission seat. 

Bozievich was asked about going as Uncle Sam to the rally. He clarified that in fact the outfit was a colonial soldier’s costume. Lesley, when asked to weigh in, laughed and said not only had she never donned a colonial soldier’s outfit, there was also very little chance she ever would. 

Statewide Offices

U.S. Senator (Democrat) — Jeff Merkley

Merkley has two challengers in the primary, lawyer William Bryk of New York, who has never been to Oregon, and Pavel Goberman of Beaverton, an immigrant and perennial candidate for various elected posts. Merkley is a rising star in the Senate and a strong voice for economic justice and health care reform. In November he will face a Republican challenger, either Jason Conger or Monica Wehby.

 

Oregon Governor (Democrat) — John Kitzhaber

The East Lane County Commission District wraps around Springfield and parts of Eugene like some misshapen monster hand pinching the cities in its clutches. It’s a vast district, stretching from the Cascades into, strangely enough, the Churchill area of Eugene, and encompassing Oakridge, Marcola, Coburg, Cottage Grove and Creswell.

This beast of a district also encompasses issues from logging and gravel mining to jobs and rural broadband, and it has attracted an array of challengers for incumbent Commissioner Faye Stewart’s seat who all argue that it’s time for a change.

Springfield City Councilor Sheri Moore and Licensed Practical Nurse Charmaine Rehg are challenging the current Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken for the Springfield district seat. Both Moore and Rehg say the current commissioners are not responsive enough to the public’s concerns.

“I was seeing that the county really does have a lot to do with the lives of the people of Springfield,” Moore says, “and I’m not happy about the way they’re doing the job.”

New wrinkles have been raised about the razing of the old Eugene City Hall and the present proposal that would build anew. Architect Otto Poticha has offered to purchase an option on the old building and site. On the other hand, the city of Eugene and Lane County have announced a plan to swap part of the land where City Hall now stands for Lane County’s “butterfly lot.” 

It looks like another round of downtown area planning is needed to put these issues being raised together in the context of a broader downtown vision. The time is — if anything — overripe for reviewing and renewing that vision and for furthering its goals through all the major projects that are simmering downtown.

From the Cuthbert Amphitheater to WOW Hall to The Shedd, and even Wednesday nights at Max’s Tavern or impromptu nights at Tiny Tavern, Eugene offers multiple stages and shows. But the audience has spoken: People want to see live music that established venues aren’t always able to offer, featuring artists of varying levels of popularity and financial pull. A few scrappy individuals are bringing that music to our ears.

Regular folks who work at salons, radio stations and grocery stores are opting to offer their own homes as venues, booking shows themselves rather than relying on local establishments. Churches in Eugene even have a history of hosting shows such as Holly Near, booked by Meyer, whose hit concert filled the Unitarian Universalist Church last Valentine’s Day. And new venues like The Boreal are filling their all-ages shows to capacity. With independent spaces catering to various genres of music from punk rock to folk, Eugeneans have had the opportunity to catch Mickey Hart, Bruce Cockburn, Holly Near, La Luz, Peter Case, Tony Trischka, King Tuff, White Mystery and Diarrhea Planet — all outside the walls of a commerical venue. 

When David Evans checked his mail on March 22, what he found made him want to shout from the rooftops. “We have it! We have it finally!” Evans recalls thinking, adding, “When it finally arrived in the mail I had this really unusual sensation of having this wonderful secret that only I knew.” 

Well, the secret is out. The Oregon Health Authority approved his application for Emerald City Medicinal (ECM), making Evans the first proud owner to legally operate a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Eugene. 

Bethany Sherman, a 32-year-old software analyst in Eugene, never pictured herself on the forefront of developing safe marijuana practices. But when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, she delved into researching treatment options. “My research turned up that cannabis can be an effective treatment for MS,” Sherman says. The primary components of marijuana with medicinal properties, THC, CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol), have pain-relief, anti-spasmodic/anti-convulsant and neuro-protectant properties. “That’s very powerful to an MS patient,” Sherman says. 

1935 Oregon passes the Uniform State Narcotic Act, criminalizing cannabis

1936 Reefer Madness, cult classic anti-pot propaganda film, premieres

1937 U.S. Congress passes “Marihuana” Tax Act, “effectively criminalizing marijuana” nationwide

1952 The Boggs Act requires mandatory prison sentencing for cannabis possession offenses 

1968 The Grateful Dead play first Eugene show at Erb Memorial Union

Alex Notman

 et al.

With the potential high for another ballot measure this November to legalize recreational cannabis use, EW thought it time to take to the streets to ask the people what they think. What did we learn? In our tiny, unscientific random sampling downtown of Eugeneans actually willing to talk about pot on record, the overwhelming response was in favor of legalization. However, that was pretty much the only thing people agreed on. The devil is in the details and those details still need some major hashing out, but there’s no better time to start hashing than the present.

When a helicopter flies over Cedar Valley, residents tend to assume it’s searching for illegal pot operations in the nearby forest. That’s what Curry County neighbors John Burns and Kathyrn Rickard thought when they heard the blades whirring over their rural homes. They didn’t think the helicopter flying overhead would be raining toxic chemicals upon their homes, their farms and their bodies. 

Rickard was inside studying when she heard the chopper. Shortly after, she walked out on her deck to give her eyes a break from her computer screen, and “instantly, I was not feeling good.” She smelled something heavy and oily, she says. Her chest hurt. She went back inside and tried to continue with her work. She got tired, had a severe headache and felt nauseous with a burning nose and throat. Her husband, Eric, came home and worked outside beneath the deck for a while and then he too came inside and complained of feeling sick. The family’s dogs, which had been outside during the spray, were eating grass and vomiting and wouldn’t eat dinner. 

I decided to walk to the Oregon Coast from my house downtown, out past Fern Ridge, up to Triangle Lake, down through Deadwood and Mapleton, and out to the beach south of Florence — 72 miles. Walking it would be a definitive act, yes! But this tired old body would have to walk 24 miles a day for three days. My wife, Louise, suggested I might want to get my legs in shape, so I started walking a 5-mile loop on the Riverbank Path. In a few weeks I got my time down from 95 minutes to 70, but then I stopped.

Months later, one day in February, I just got up out of my reading chair, where I more or less live, and went back to the park. This time I took a camera, and instead of trying to walk faster I decided to walk longer. In a few weeks I extended my loop from 5 to 7 miles, then 9, 11, and finally 12 and a half at a leisurely 3 mph; the first time I walked all 12 and a half miles it took 4 hours, 10 minutes. Oddly, I’d never walk it that fast again. 

You know him as the government employee with the most swagger (Tom Haverford, Parks and Recreation), the rambunctious, Oligocene-era rabbit pirate Squint (Ice Age: Continental Drift), the guy at James Franco’s party who gets kicked into hell’s sinkhole by Kevin Hart (This is the End) and the tagline-spewing hack comedian Raaaaaaaandy (Funny People). And, of course, just as standup comedian Aziz Ansari.

“Overall in the environmental community, women in the field are increasing, but it’s traditionally dominated by men,” Chandra LeGue says. “There have been lots of great women ecowarriors, and there have always been a few standout women in the field.”

LeGue has been with conservation group Oregon Wild for 10 years, focusing mostly on conservation of public forestlands, “and I do that through participating in the public process,” she says. According to LeGue, this involves working with federal agencies to promote a vision of how federal forests should be managed. Luckily that also involves leading public hikes out into public lands, which means she can leave Oregon Wild’s small Lincoln Street office and get out into the forests she loves. 

Raquel Hecht laughs at the fact that she has not one but two full-time jobs. She’s an immigration attorney, has been practicing law for almost 21 years in Eugene and is a founding partner of Hecht & Norman LLP, a law firm with offices in Eugene, Salem, Medford and Bend. 

But more recently, Hecht has been focusing on the growth of Grupo Latino de Acción Directa (GLAD), a community gathering of Latino members and allies that is dedicated to mentorship and engagement. The group organizes educational forums and opportunities to learn about topics relevant to immigration, education, labor and the law. 

Patricia Cortez started volunteering in 1997 at Amigos, an organization that assists Latino families arriving in the U.S. after experiencing political violence and torture. Since then, not only has Cortez held every position within the organization, she created Juventud Faceta, a leadership program for Latino youth.

Not many people can say their business’ name was used for a nationwide campaign headed by the first lady, but Denise Thomas-Morrow, owner of Let’s Move Fitness and CEO of nonprofit Healthy Moves, knows that feeling all too well. When she first heard that Michelle Obama named her child fitness program “Let’s Move,” she could hardly believe it. 

“Who would have known back in 1988 [when Thomas-Morrow started her business] that the First Lady wanted to use my business name for her national campaign?” Thomas-Morrow says. “You don’t really want to go against the president and his wife, so instead I thought we could try to get involved with their cause.”

Other schools may get more recognition for science, but the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific organization, is UO chemistry professor Geri Richmond. She’s also on the National Science Board, which governs the largest science funding organization in the U.S., the National Science Foundation. 

Showing the importance of scientific exploration and then landing funding for that exploration are big challenges, Richmond says. If 10 to 20 percent of funded experiments prove worthwhile, she says, that’s a huge success, but there’s no way to tell which studies will yield valuable results. “I don’t believe that the federal government should be funding everything out there that somebody has a curiosity about,” she adds, “but I believe that we have the structure in place to be able to evaluate what the best curiosities are to explore.”

One day, a patient with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and depression walked into a doctor’s clinic in Milwaukee, Wis. Due to the limited time they had for the appointment, the doctor told the patient they could only treat one of the afflictions during that visit. The patient chose to tackle the weight issue, completely ignoring all of the other problems. For Dr. Leigh Saint-Louis, that was the moment she knew she could never practice medicine this way again. 

For five years, the doctor who usually goes simply as “Dr. Leigh” has provided a private practice to about 400 patients, and she’s done it her way. She charges $79 per visit, no matter the length, the reason or the insurance that you have. With no receptionist or nurses, Saint-Louis fosters an intimate relationship with her patients. She gives out her number and her email regularly to better communicate with people she treats. 

Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik are suing Gov. John Kitzhaber and the state of Oregon under the Public Trust Doctrine, and their climate change case came before the Oregon Court of Appeals in January.

On a dark wintry day in 1942, Hope Pressman crossed Prince Lucien Campbell Memorial Courtyard in the rain toward a lone light shining from the otherwise shadowy UO art museum. The museum, which later became the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, was only open to serious researchers for one hour a week due to a lack of funds. But as a senior studying Chinese history, Pressman needed a book. She made her way to that lone light hanging above the desk of Gertrude Bass Warner, whose library of Asian history and art was housed in the museum. Pressman found the book, quickly scribbled some notes and left. 

Lots of people have opinions on city budget shortfalls, school funding crises, parent education challenges and the problems facing at-risk youth. Laura Illig has been hard at work tackling all these problems.

As chair of the city of Eugene Budget Committee, chair of the Yes for 4J Schools campaign for the successful 2013 bond measure, the fundraising chair of the Democratic Party of Lane County and a board member of Parenting Now and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Lane County, Illig is, to say the least, deeply involved in local civic and political life. And that’s on top of running her business-consulting firm, Corinthian Consulting.