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News Briefs

Health care insurance has long been confusing, and the troubled rollout of Cover Oregon hasn’t clarified much. But Jan. 10, the Oregon Microenterprise Network (OMEN) will visit NEDCO offices in Springfield to listen to small business owners and help answer questions about buying health care for employees.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Dec. 20 their intent to find that the State of Oregon has failed to submit an approvable coastal nonpoint pollution control program (required by the federal Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990). The agencies specifically propose to find Oregon’s program deficient with regard to new development, onsite sewage disposal, and forestry. Public comments on the proposed finding are being accepted through March 20.

After staying at a small, makeshift camp at Franklin Park for more than eight months, one group of homeless people’s luck ran out two days before Christmas. City workers picked up the people’s belongings to take to storage, and in the process two tents were destroyed. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership sounds like a conspiracy theory. The TPP talks about a trade deal that will govern 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports as well as affect copyrights, pharmaceuticals and more. The talks are being conducted in secret, and only a few portions of the agreement and memos about it have been leaked. Congressman Peter DeFazio says he vehemently opposes the TPP.

In May 2008 Ian Van Ornum was Tasered by a Eugene police officer while prostrate on the ground. On Dec. 27, 2013, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that he could continue to pursue his appeal of his conviction for resisting arrest. The appeals court can either not take action, which would leave Van Ornum’s conviction standing, or decide to send the case back to trial court.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Predator Defense and other wildlife advocates have long protested what they say are lax trapping laws in Oregon. A Dec. 15 incident in which a man’s leg was broken in a beaver trap, in conjunction with a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife saying “dog owners share in the responsibility to keep their pets safe during trapping seasons,” has strengthened HSUS’s resolve to make ODFW tighten its trapping regulations. 

“Why do they treat people as if they are the problem?” asks Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics. She says residents of Gold Beach and Cedar Valley in Curry County who have been experiencing health problems from an Oct. 16 aerial spray of pesticides are being treated as it they, not the spraying of toxics, are the problem. 

Eugene’s City Hall, shuttered since August 2012 due to the loss of steam heat and earthquake concerns, is up for a new historic designation that could help protect it. On Dec. 22, Otto Poticha, a local architect and leader in the fight to save the building, submitted an application to give the building a City of Eugene Historic Property Designation. 

• Roseburg Resources Company (541) 935-2507, plans to ground spray glyphosate, imazapyr, triclopyr amine and/or triclopyr ester on noxious weeds on its forest lands in townships 18S 06W, 18S 08W and 19S 06W, a countywide notification. See ODF notice 2013-781-00163-C.

• Roseburg Resources plans to aerial and ground spray atrazine, clopyralid, hexazinone, metsulfuron methyl, sulfometuron methyl, glyphosate, imazapyr, non-ionic surfactant, triclopyr amine and/or triclopyr ester on 57 acres near Sturtevant and Wolf Creeks. See ODF notice 2013-781-00163-C.

They don’t look like much to the unknowing eye, but the 12 cottages at UO’s Columbia Terrace Houses have a history that experts say dates back to WWII. That history marks big changes for Oregon, and that’s why preservation advocates say they shouldn’t be torn down or moved to make way for UO Housing’s new central kitchen.

“We kind of think of WWII as having happened in Europe,” says George Kramer, who wrote a book about Camp White and WWII. “People don’t understand how much Oregon changed as a result of WWII.”

As the Eugene City Council’s winter break progresses, Whoville campers are focusing on their relationships with businesses around the camp to show that giving homeless people a place to rest can improve things for everyone. Whoville is one of several protest camps seeking a legal place for homeless people to sleep.

The megaload of oil extraction equipment heading through Eastern Oregon to the tar sands of Canada hit another snag when climate justice activists blockaded the road in two places east and west of John Day as part of a series of protests against the nearly one-million-pound shipment. Twelve of the 16 people arrested on Dec. 16 were members of Eugene-based Cascadia Forest Defenders. 

In a November EW Viewpoint, Congressman Peter DeFazio brought up a talking point he’s mentioned almost every time he discussed his controversial O&C trust plan: cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that he says could affect what happens to the publicly owned O&C forests. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent Springfield-based Mid Valley Metal Recycling a letter on Dec. 9 for failing to submit stormwater monitoring results for 2012-13 for its facility on South A Street in Springfield, which has a DEQ-issued Clean Water Act permit to discharge pollution to the Springfield Millrace. DEQ also sent a letter to David L. Penegor on Dec. 11 for solid waste, waste tire, used oil and spill violations at a site on Brabham Road in Pleasant Hill near Highway 58.

One of Oregon’s two nuclear reactors is a noncommercial one at Oregon State University that is training a new generation of nuclear specialists, some with commercial aspirations (the other is at Reed College). However, local utility EWEB gets power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which in turns gets electricity from the Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear reactor in Washington on the Hanford site. 

Whoville campers are worried that history will repeat itself. Before the Eugene City Council’s winter break in 2011, the council and EPD had no plans to close the Occupy Eugene camp at Washington-Jefferson Park during winter break. By Christmas, it was closed. Now that the council has said the same thing about Whoville, some campers say that some of the same tactics used to justify Occupy’s closure are threatening Whoville. 

Record-setting low temperatures can lead to record-setting energy bills, but UO students can get help improving their homes’ energy efficiency. Student and Community Outreach for Renter Efficiency ($CORE) sends peer energy educators to assess students’ dwellings for ways to be more green, complete with about $40 in free fixes.

Without much discussion, the Eugene City Council unanimously approved a supplemental budget Dec. 10, including $2,258,355 increased revenue in the General Fund, which is now facing an approximately $3 million budget gap, down from $5.9 million earlier in 2013. A total of $1.5 million was sent to the replacement fund for the rebuilding of City Hall. Supplemental budgets are passed when the city’s income or expenditures are different than predicted in the fiscal year’s original budget.

Months after county administrator Liane Richardson was fired over changes she made to her pay, Lane County citizens still don’t know the whole story about what happened. Various news organizations, including Eugene Weekly, made public records requests for copies of the outside investigation by USO Consulting that examined the circumstances surrounding the compensation changes, but the county hasn’t released it in an unredacted form. The investigation found that Richardson violated county policy, but the county never gave any more details.

The extended freeze is making Eugene area rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants looking sad and shriveled. Will they survive?

 “The cold weather causes the water in the leaves to evaporate, and with the ground frozen, no water enters the plant and/or leaves,” says Ross Penhallegon of the OSU Lane County Extension. “The leaves then start to wilt and droop. The longer the cold (below 25 degrees) weather, the more damage or water loss to the leaves.”

Mark Frohnmayer is tired of feeling like he has to vote for the “lesser of two evils” in the Oregon elections process, and he’s out to change our primary process to a more open process called “approval voting.”  

The upper level Lane County Public Service Building is going through a $750,000 remodel; this includes the area around where the county commissioners work, though not, according to County Spokesperson Anne Marie Levis, their actual offices. Work began last week and is expected to wrap up on Jan. 25, according to a Sept. 30 email from Capital Projects Manager Brian Craner to Commissioner Pete Sorenson.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm on Monday, Dec. 16, concerning a Clean Water Act discharge permit application for industrial stormwater discharges from Metal Products Company in Springfield. Visit goo.gl/ScwdH to see the company’s stormwater plan, and goo.gl/iMDQb to comment. Metal Products Company’s permit application was prompted by a notice of intent to sue letter sent by Oregon Clean Water Action Project on behalf of Willamette Riverkeeper.

• Eugene’s mayor says Whoville is here to stay through the holidays — or, at least, the city has no plans to disperse the homeless camps before the City Council reconvenes Jan. 13. But the council’s refusal to officially approve four emergency rest stops before its monthlong vacation irked protesters, who say they’ve been harassed by police at the sites and want the council’s protection through the break.