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News Briefs

Current laws in Oregon make it illegal to pay people of opposite sex different wages to do the same job. There are also federal protections. However, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) conducted a study between 2011 and 2014 and found that women in Oregon make an average 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments on two applications for Clean Water Act construction discharge permits until 5 pm Thursday, April 9. Both projects involve the disturbance of 5 acres or more of land. The first project is at Swanson Group’s Springfield Plywood/Veneer Facility, located at 1651 South F St., and the other project is at Roosevelt Middle School (located at 680 E. 24th Ave. in Eugene). Visit goo.gl/Yp4iAK for information on how to submit comments.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is booming: Winter Green Farm in Noti delivers fresh farm produce to about 500 members each week, up from 35 members when it first started 24 years ago. 

“Local food is rockin’ it,” says Linda Davies, Winter Green Farm’s office and CSA manager. Add a community supported fishery (CSF) to the mix and the Oregon-grown food scene looks even better. 

Walk into the kennel area at Greenhill Humane Society and you are struck by two things: First, the hopefulness and worry on the furry faces of dogs, from Chihuahuas to huskies, looking for forever homes, and second, the loudness of the barking and yelping echoing off the cement walls. 

• ODOT 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, 99 and Beltline were sprayed recently.

Two bills in the Oregon Legislature regarding wage theft and wage and hour violations had public hearings in the House last week. They are each part of a broader effort to hold employers to higher standards on how they treat and pay their workers.

Smarter Balanced — Oregon’s latest, more rigorous standardized test — is officially here. The Smarter Balanced testing window opened March 10 in Eugene School District 4J, and the testing period extends to early June. 

To discuss the ins and outs of standardized testing in the U.S., the Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE) invited Anya Kamenetz, NPR education blogger and author of The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing — But You Don’t Have to Be, to speak in Eugene April 1 at Tsunami Books. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments on the proposed cleanup plan for the McAyeal’s Wardrobe Cleaners site through 5 pm on Tuesday, March 31. The site is located between the downtown Eugene Public Library and Kiva. The cleaners operated at that location starting in 1972, leaving behind soil and groundwater contaminated with dry-cleaning solvents. Contaminated groundwater that would otherwise occupy the library basement is currently diverted to a treatment system before being discharged to the city’s storm sewer system.

The Youth Mental Health Protection Act (HB 2307) would ban licensed mental health providers and psychologists in Oregon from providing “conversion therapy” to minors. Conversion therapy is a largely discredited practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. HB 2307 passed in the Oregon House 41 to 18 on March 17 and now heads to the Senate.

The problems with the DOT-111 tank railcars that exploded and killed 47 and destroyed the downtown core of the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic have been known since 1991, according to Congressman Peter DeFazio, yet the federal government still hasn’t pushed to fix them.

• Union Pacific plans to spray railroad tracks running through Eugene this week.

• 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 and 99 through Eugene were sprayed recently.

What’s the environmental impact of your bud? 

A March 6 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference panel at the UO law school explored illegal marijuana grows in Northern California, home to the Redwoods and Mt. Shasta, and their negative impacts on water and wildlife, including coho salmon and Pacific fishers.

Panelist Thomas Wheeler, program and legal coordinator for the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), explained that trespass grows in California’s Humboldt County often consist of thousands of plants on private or national forest land. 

Organizers with the Oregon Community Rights Network (OCRN) have launched a campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the Oregon ballot in November 2016 that will affirm the right to local self-government and potentially reframe how environmental debates play out. 

The amendment would protect the right of local governments to pass ordinances — even if they conflict with the interests of corporations — and ensure that these ordinances are legally binding. 

Motorcyclists may see some new laws on the books after this legislative session, including ones that would let them filter through traffic jams and pass through some red lights. BikePAC of Oregon — the main motorcycle lobby group in the state — has been working hard to persuade legislators to take up a few motorcyclist issues. 

Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood is an eclectic blend of houses, businesses and industrial complexes, “a mixed-use neighborhood,” as Ninkasi CEO Nikos Ridge puts it. This mix can bring unwelcome noise to Whiteaker residents: Shouts and music from the booming nightlife scene on Blair Boulevard make their way in to households or, in Ninkasi’s case, industrial noise from its new brewing facility.

When a society uses mass incarceration as a means of control, we know it has social impacts, but a panel on “The Ecology of a Police State” at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) March 6 explored how prisons also impact the environment.

Eugene’s six community garden sites, from Amazon Park to the Whit, brighten local neighborhoods with colorful bursts of tomatoes and chard. It takes a network of volunteers, nonprofits and city staff to keep the garden plots up and running. 

Last year, however, the city of Eugene reorganized its staffing and cut the staff time of the community gardens manager in half, from .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) to .25 FTE.

• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to ground and aerial spray 6 acres located 1 mile southeast of Cottage Grove near Taylor Butte with Accord Concentrate, Atrazine 4L, Weedone LV6 EC, Velpar DF, Oust XP, Oust Extra, DMA4 IVM, Transline and/or Sulfomet XP. See ODF notification 2015-771-03472, call Tim Meehan at 726-3588 with questions.

Pacific Recycling has been fined yet again for environmental violations, this time involving asbestos. (For a listing of past appearances in this space go to goo.gl/fNr376.) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a civil penalty of $32,000 against Eugene-based Pacific Recycling on February 3 for asbestos violations associated with an abatement project at a facility in Independence, Oregon, owned by CPM Development Corporation. DEQ assessed a separate penalty of $10,400 against CPM.

“I’ve gotten better and better in the role of watchdog,” says Commissioner Pete Sorenson of his decision to run again for his long-time South Eugene seat on Lane County’s Board of Commissioners in the May 2016 primary. 

The election might be more than a year away, but Sorenson has already begun lining up endorsements, from local politicians — Mayor Kitty Piercy — to legislators in Salem — Rep. Phil Barnhart. 

Oregon state legislators are worried that their constituents don’t know enough about state government. 

There are three bills proposed in the current 2015 session to improve civics education in Oregon: HB 2977, HB 2955 and SB 484. Each has a different angle, but all stem from the same general feeling: Kids graduating today don’t know enough about the legislative process to understand that they have a stake in the system. 

A representative from a local advocacy group has filed a formal request with the Lane County District Attorney’s Office seeking the release of records from Greenhill Humane Society. 

At issue is whether Greenhill — a private nonprofit that runs its own shelter but also receives public funds from the county to administer the First Avenue Shelter — is subject to Oregon’s public records laws regarding the work it does at First Avenue. 

Greenhill took over the management of FAS from the county in 2012.

It’s school board election season, and board positions are opening up at Lane Community College and Eugene School District 4J. Two candidates, one for LCC and one for 4J, are ready to fill soon-to-be-empty spots, running on platforms of affordability, equity, transparency and more.

The latest brewery to bubble up in the Willamette Valley is getting ready to take off, and you can help make it happen. Old Growth Ales recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for equipment, truck upgrades, licensing fees, marketing and other expenses. The end goal: to make locally sourced botanic and medicinal ales commercially available.