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News Briefs

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is feeling the burn — of climate change. But maybe he’s feeling the Bern, too. Merkley teamed up with presidential candidate and fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders on Nov. 4 to introduce new climate change legislation. The “Keep It In the Ground Act” would end all new federal leases for oil, gas or coal extraction on public lands and waters. 

It’s halfway though fall term and Michael Schill has been UO president since July 1. He’s five months into his term as the fifth president (counting interim leaders, too) in five years, something that has led the Chronicle of Higher Education to call the Ducks’ leadership position a “revolving door.”

Schill met with members of EW’s editorial board Oct. 30 to talk about some of the UO’s current occupations.

Charles Ogletree has a vision for the Black Lives Matter movement, the youth of our country and even a vision for how to change the conditions of generational poverty featured on HBO’s The Wire. Ogletree, an activist and prominent Harvard law professor, will visit Eugene on Nov. 12 to give speeches on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. 36 and 99 were recently sprayed.

• Coos Bay Rail Link planned to begin spraying the rail line from Coos Bay to Eugene beginning Oct. 23. Call the office manager at 266-7245 for more information. 

“Right now at this moment a coyote is strangling in a neck snare or a wolf is struggling in a leghold trap,” says Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense and one of the nonprofit’s founders. The predator advocacy group is celebrating 25 years of work to protect coyotes, wolves, cougars and other predators on Nov. 5 with movies and a Q&A at the Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th Avenue.

Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call 1-888-996-8080 for herbicide application information. Highways I-5, 36, 58 and 99 were recently sprayed. Most of Highway 36 was sprayed Oct. 20 and the area near Triangle Lake School was sprayed Oct. 23 when classes were not in session. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently fined Central Point-based LTM, Incorporated (doing business as Knife River Materials) $159,144 for polluting a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Coquille River with sediment; grading and stockpiling earthen material without a Clean Water Act permit; and placing wastes where they are likely to escape into waters of the state. LTM/Knife River’s violations stem from an excavation project on Oregon State Hwy. 42 under a contract with Oregon Department of Transportation.

A landslide of citizen protests led the Eugene City Council to vote to postpone a proposed plan to rezone major portions of the South Willamette neighborhood. Those citizens, the South Willamette Neighbors, have united in a badge-wearing, yard-sign bearing movement against the plan, saying the rezoning could ruin the “single-family home” feel of their 20-minute neighborhood. 

Knowing a little science doesn’t hurt when you’re going into politics, says Julie Fahey, a human resources consultant who is running for Oregon state representative in House District 14, a position currently held by Val Hoyle. Fahey has a degree in chemistry, and she says having a background in math and science provides a good framework for politics. 

Two high school seniors from Eugene and Springfield have formed a coalition called the Willamette Valley Student Union, a group of high school students seeking to implement change in education, starting with standardized testing. 

Emmy Lindsey, a senior from South Eugene High School, says the idea for the union formed last school year with the roll out of Smarter Balanced, a standardized test students took for the first time this April. Around 11 percent of students in Eugene School District 4J did not take the test.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27, on an application from Fern Ridge School District for Clean Water Act permitting of discharges of construction-related stormwater pollution at Elmira Elementary School. Visit goo.gl/Yp4iAK for info on commenting.

The clock may be ticking for the unique bit of open space in Eugene’s downtown that is Kesey Square. But Ali Emami, owner of the two buildings that have common walls with the plaza, says that when he heard rumors the public space might be sold and developed into apartments, he came before the Eugene City Council last week to again renew his offer to open up the walls of the buildings and make the space more inviting.

Civilian oversight of the police tends to be reactive not proactive, says Mark Gissiner, Eugene’s civilian police auditor. Yet a recent $755,000 jury verdict in the “Bowl of Dicks” retaliation case against the University of Oregon’s police department has not prompted change in the UO’s police oversight.

For the first time since 2003, Eugene School District 4J has increased its year-to-year enrollment, according to school officials. With an additional 217 students this year over last year, it’s the largest increase since 1996, says Kerry Delf, 4J associate director for communications.

4J Superintendent Gustavo Balderas says the increase is partly due to the onset of full-day kindergarten, which started districtwide for the first time this year. Some new students are also transfers, he says.

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed. Hwy. 36 will be sprayed soon. 

• Weyerhaeuser Company, 746-2511, plans to aerially spread urea fertilizer pellets on 1,877 acres south of the McKenzie River near Ritchie Creek, Haagen Creek and other tributaries. See ODF notification 2015-771-13224, call Brian Dally at 726-3588 with questions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently visited Bright Oak Meat Company’s Marcola Road facility in response to a complaint of “a strong and pervasive odor” originating from the facility. Odor no longer appeared to be an issue by the time of DEQ’s visit, and the company attributed the problem to animal viscera not having been transported off-site by a waste hauler. DEQ asked to see waste and wastewater monitoring records during its visit and discovered that Bright Oak was not conducting required monitoring, in violation of Oregon law.

The seventh annual Great Willamette Clean Up Saturday, Oct. 3, saw a record turnout of 400 volunteers in Lane County to haul truckloads of trash, tires and abandoned household and camping items from the river shallows, riparian areas and islands. Another 400 volunteers were involved along the Willamette in other counties all the way to Scappoose Bay north of Portland. Kayaks, canoes and drift boats provided access to areas not accessible by foot. 

Oregon’s 2016 big-game hunting regulations will be on the agenda when the Fish and Wildlife Commission meets in Florence Oct. 8 and 9. 

Specifically the commission will discuss opening up target areas where “cougar numbers will be proactively reduced in response to established criteria” for cougar conflicts with humans, livestock or other game animals such as mule deer.

As the city of Roseburg and the community around Umpqua Community College try to process and recover from the Oct. 1 mass shooting that killed nine people and injured nine more, Oregon and the nation are seeking answers for why the shooter, who also died, would bring six guns to campus and seek to murder his writing class. 

ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed. According to an Oct. 1 notification, ODOT plans to spray Hwy. 36 from Junction City to Mapleton including near schools, beginning Oct. 15. This will be the fourth time this year Hwy. 36 will be sprayed.

Dr. Julian Bell is all fired up about climate change. But rather than lobby politicians to enact laws cracking down on fossil fuels causing greenhouse gas, he’s decided to dive right into politics and run for governor against incumbent Kate Brown in the Democratic primary. 

As Linda Wheatley stood on the edges of the Civic Stadium site on June 29 and watched the structure become engulfed by flames, she felt sick. “It was as if something I owned myself were burning,” she says. 

It’s the opposite of Citizens United and then some. Corporations have rights beyond personhood, according to Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Those rights allow corporations to run roughshod over local communities, affecting everything from their drinking water (think of Nestlé in the Columbia Gorge) to their homes (as with coal trains running through towns).