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News Briefs

Local schools continue to struggle with insufficient funding, and two Lane County school districts, Fern Ridge and Pleasant Hill, filed bond measures that will appear on the May Primary ballot to help pay for improvements to property and facilities that school officials say are greatly needed — one school is basically providing federally assisted school lunches out of a gym concession stand.

The city of Eugene sent a “request for corrective action” letter to Gibson Steel Fab, Inc. last month for various Clean Water Act violations, citing Gibson for deficiencies in employee education and monthly inspections, storing several hazardous materials without secondary containment and failing to contain overspray from painting operations so as to prevent it from coming into contact with stormwater.

The city of Eugene paid 60 staff members to shut down the Whoville homeless camp on the corner of Broadway and Hilyard streets April 4 — a move that campers and homeless rights advocates say put many of the Whoville residents back on the streets alone.

“They’ve taken old, they’ve taken veterans, they’ve taken everybody who has a problem, said ‘You have to go,’ instead of giving them a place to sleep at night and giving them some sort of peace of mind,” Whoville camper Jacob Baird says.

• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to backpack spray 8 acres near Norris Creek with Velpar L, Velpar DF, Transline and/or Forestry Garlon XRT with additives methylated seed oil and/or non-ionic surfactant. See ODF notice 2014-781-00306, call Stewardship Forester Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

Kevin Sullivan

 et al.

Thanks to a disagreement over Robert’s Rules of Order, the Lane County Republicans have recently acquired new leadership in the form of chair, vice-chair and secretary to fill the seats of Paul Barnett, Bill Young and Kristy Cooper, who have all resigned. This split happened as the races heat up for three Lane County Commission seats in the May primary.

The city of Eugene sent “request for corrective action” letters to three Eugene businesses, A&K Development Company, Oregon Ice Cream Company and Oregon Tread Rubber Company, in late February for various Clean Water Act violations.

“Here we go again. Big money moves into a neighborhood and excavates 40 feet into the ground near the river,” Wende Hitchcock says in exasperation. She says a gravel site along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River near Delight Valley Road has applied to the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to expand its operations, including excavation and asphalt production. Hitchcock and other neighbors fear impacts to the rural community from noise and trucks to possible affects on wildlife and water.

Unhoused Eugeneans will speak at a panel during an April 7 event that the Eugene Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) Homelessness Work Group hopes will help deconstruct stereotypes people commonly apply to the homeless.

Six people who currently reside at Whoville, Opportunity Village Eugene and the city-approved rest stop at the intersection of Garfield and Roosevelt Streets will respond to a prompt and then answer questions from the audience. 

On Oct. 16, 2013 John Burns says a private timber helicopter dripped poison onto him, his land, his neighbors and their water supply. He started coughing and his sinuses ran for hours. Neighbors reported their dogs getting sick and even dying, a horse went blind and the local fire chief had to go to the emergency room. Five months later, the more than 30 people of the Cedar Valley area outside Gold Beach who reported symptoms from asthma to nose bleeds still don’t know what was in the chemical mix that hit the rural community.

Policies currently in place in Lane County would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks only 3 percent by 2035 — 17 percent less than the state goal of 20 percent — according to an evaluation completed in February by the Central Lane Scenario Planning Team.

The city of Eugene has more than 43 miles of alleys threaded between homes and businesses; some are paved, some gravel and some are grassy and overgrown. Where some people might see dreary and even dangerous passageways, Jeff Luers and the Eugene Green Alley Project see a chance to turn Eugene’s often potholed back alleys into environmental, walkable and even wildlife-friendly corridors. On March 31 you can “rally for the alley” at a Ninkasi Pints for a Cause fundraiser. 

Step aside, Keystone XL pipeline: Oregon is advancing toward acquiring a new fossil fuel pipeline of its own, after the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Coos Bay received a conditional export license from the U.S. Department of Energy on March 24. 

Oregon has its fair share of invasive species, such as nutria brought into the state for fur in the 1880s, and red-eared sliders, turtles that compete with our native western pond and painted turtles. Moving species from one place to another can wreak havoc on native ecosystems, but as climate change pushes species to extinction, conservationists have posed the idea of assisted migration, moving a species from its native range to a better-suited territory that more closely matches its ideal climate. 

The Eugene Police Auditor’s office received 400 complaints last year — the most the office has received since it opened. Police Auditor Mark Gissiner attributes the rise partially to low capacity at Lane County Jail and the District Attorney’s office no longer pursuing certain cases, including drug charges.

“So some people feel because it’s not pursued, there’s no evidence and therefore they have a point that the officer did not have probable cause,” Gissiner says.

Chelsea Gerlach was sent to prison in 2007 for her participation in ecologically motivated sabotage with the Earth Liberation Front. Gerlach is now out of prison and on probation, and she is returning to Eugene to guest DJ “Chance to Dance,” an ecstatic dance at the WOW Hall March 22 that will raise money for Gerlach’s 3-year-old nephew Malachi, who has cerebral palsy.

Last weekend a cougar was shot in the head and killed in Eugene after being captured and put in a cage. The 2-year-old cougar killed three chickens and two goats named Justin Timberlake and Rufio near Hendricks Park, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW reports that another young male cougar was trapped and killed March 17 and a trap has been set for a third cougar. These latest cougar captures mark the trend of increased cougar killings in Oregon, says Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense.

• Giustina Land and Timber Co., 345-2301, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services Inc., (503) 538-9469, to aerially spray herbicides including Atrazine, 2,4-D, Clopyralid, Hexazinone, Sulfometuron Methyl and Triclpopyr Amine on 69 acres near tributaries of South Fork Ferguson Creek, Owens Creek and the Long Tom River. See ODF notice 2014-781-00273, call State Forester Robin L. Biesecker at 935-2283 with questions.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a penalty of $7,608 against Michael Brown of Oakland, Ore., on March 4 for sewage-related violations at Saginaw Mobile Home Park north of Cottage Grove. DEQ has expressed “particular concern” due to Brown’s “prior history of discharging partially treated sewage onto the ground” and noted that the treatment system at this site “may be causing harm to public health or the environment.” DEQ sent Brown a “warning letter with opportunity to correct” back in November following a DEQ visit to the site in late October.

Representatives from Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer rights advocacy group, held a March 2 panel at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. The pair of presenters focused on the history of big money in politics and the potential of even more dollars being spent to stop the climate change movement. 

Though speculating on water is illegal, WaterWatch of Oregon says Willamette Water Company was looking to do just that back in 2008 when it applied for a permit to withdraw 22 million gallons per day from the McKenzie River. On March 7, the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) issued a final order denying the Willamette Water Co.’s controversial application to control a large amount of the McKenzie’s water.

The Alder Street Advocates neighborhood group is planning a transportation-themed mural to be painted on the street surface of Alder Street between 19th and 24th avenues. The design and painting of the mural will happen through the collaborative efforts of people who live in the neighborhood. 

Grant applicant Allen Hancock says the applicants have gone door to door and found 50 people who are interested in participating. “Not only because they want to create some art and make the street beautiful, but because they want to meet their neighbors,” he says.

Under Oregon law a nuclear power plant can’t be constructed in this state until there is a safe, permanent way to deal with nuclear waste, and even then, citizens reserve the right to vote on whether a plant can be built, according to Chuck Johnson of Oregon and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. While Oregon does not have a commercial nuclear reactor, Johnson is concerned with the Columbia Generating Station (CGS), a Washington nuclear power plant just across the Columbia River from Oregon.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently sent PeaceHealth a warning letter for hazardous waste law violations discovered by DEQ during an unannounced inspection last month at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield. The facility is classified as a “small quantity generator” of hazardous waste because it generates between 220 and 2,000 pounds of hazardous waste per month.

The Eugene Police Department’s Civilian Review Board (CRB) has reviewed two cases that were filed with the Eugene Police Auditor’s office in the past nine months regarding allegations of officers unlawfully frisking African-American women. 

On Feb. 11 the CRB discussed a case in which a male officer patted down a female while her car was being impounded for not having insurance. Police Auditor Mark Gissiner says pat-down searches can only be performed if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous or if he or she is being taken into custody.