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News Briefs

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.

Sen. Ron Wyden released his long-awaited company bill to Rep. Peter DeFazio’s O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act on Nov. 26, shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday. Environmental organizations such as Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands immediately greeted the bill, which calls for “ecological forestry” on the controversial public lands, with disappointment and criticism.

Duck confit, duck charcuterie, duck-fat ice cream … sometimes you have to break a few duck eggs and eat a few fowl in order to protect ducks and their habitat. On Dec. 11, local restaurant Party Downtown is teaming up with conservation group McKenzie River Trust (MRT) for an evening of duck feasting and river saving, along with celebrity hunter, gardener and cook Hank Shaw. Shaw is on tour promoting his new book, Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild.

“The media creates a lot of body dissatisfaction, specifically in teen girls,” says Elizabeth Daniels, co-author of a new study, which finds that ethnic identification may help Latina adolescents find better satisfaction in their bodies.

Psychologists at Oregon State University-Cascades and Gallaudet University evaluated more than 100 Latinas, ages 13-18, having them react to images found in advertisements, magazines, television shows and movies. The subject matter consisted of unrealistic images of white women in sexualized roles, according to Daniels.

It’s a tough time to be a Chinook salmon, but members of the McKenzie Flyfishers and the Steamboaters are trying to make things easier for the threatened fish. Concerned by what they say are poor management practices in hatcheries that allow wild fish to breed with hatchery fish, changing their genetic integrity and making them less fit for survival, the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) filed a lawsuit Dec. 2 against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the U.S.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm on Thursday, Dec. 5, concerning the proposed purchase and reuse of the former Elmira Store & Gas Station. According to DEQ, “Petroleum contamination from gasoline and diesel storage has been observed on the property since at least 1998.” Aside from the removal of underground storage tank systems and fuel dispensers in 1999 and some excavation, little cleanup has been completed. Green Energy Alternatives Research proposes to purchase and redevelop the site as a nonprofit community center.

Attempts to move megaloads of Canadian tar sands extraction equipment are being met with strong resistance in Eastern Oregon. On Dec. 1, two opponents of the loads locked themselves to the transport vehicles, while still more of the more than 50 protesters from anti-climate change groups 350.org and Rising Tide as well as Oregon tribes “held down a ceremonial line” in front of the truck, according to Kayla Godowa Tufti, a Eugene resident and Warm Springs tribe member who participated in the action. On Dec.

Turkey may be November’s big flavor, but the slow food movement hopes Eugeneans find another flavor to relish: the Lower Salmon River squash. On Terra Madre Day Dec. 10, Slow Food Eugene and Open Oak Farm will celebrate the Northwest cultivar and learn about the Ark of Taste, a global project dedicated to saving some of the thousands of heritage foods that globalization and monoculture crops are endangering. The 6:30 pm potluck will be held at the Eugene Garden Club, 1645 High St.

The city of Eugene and LTD are competing for ConnectOregon V transportation grants that would create a bike share program and construct three bicycle-pedestrian bridges in West Eugene over Amazon Creek. ConnectOregon is a lottery bond-funded initiative that supports air, rail, marine, transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. 

Fall is in full swing, which means there are piles of leaves accumulating all around the city — in yards, on sidewalks and, unfortunately, in piles that congest bike lanes. Bicyclists are at risk when traveling over slippery piles or swerving into lanes of vehicular travel to avoid the piles. Property owners are liable for any damage resulting from improper leaf placement.

Sites of former meth labs are known for their toxicity, but the risk doesn’t end with labs. The Oregon Health Authority says that homes once occupied by heavy meth users can be contaminated, too, and must be cleaned carefully.

Big Oil is looming. The Keystone XL pipeline project, a massive 1,179 mile crude-oil pipeline that would run through the middle of the U.S., is currently on the forefront of the environmental radar as the country waits to hear whether the U.S. State Department will recommend its approval by the president. On Nov.

Can small sea birds save a forest? Conservation groups like Cascadia Wildlands hope so. Next month the State Land Board decides whether or not to dispose of three parcels of the Elliott State Forest by selling to private buyers, which include interested parties from the timber industry. In a Nov. 10 letter, Cascadia Wildlands and other conservation groups asked the State Land Board, which includes Gov.

In the midst of the city’s budget crisis, the Library Journal rated Eugene Public Library a three-star library. The journal looks per capita at circulation, visits, program attendance and public internet terminal use and ranks libraries across the U.S according to their budget class. By the Library Journal’s metrics, a three-star rating equates to being in the top 3 percent of a library’s budget class in terms of cost-effectiveness.

On Nov. 17 a mural sprung up on the side of Arriving by Bike on 27th Avenue and Willamette. Far from graffiti, this work speaks to the civic engagement that a group of Eugene youth been involved in the last three months.

A group of students ranging in age from 8 to 18, with the support of local nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, have attended every Eugene City Council meeting since Sept. 23 to present their argument for solidifying law on climate change in the city. On Nov. 11 the group submitted a Climate Recovery Ordinance for the council to consider.

On Nov. 24 massive loads of tar sands equipment — some as long as a football field — will hit the roads of rural Eastern Oregon, traveling from Umatilla through the small towns of Prairie City and John Day to Homedale, Idaho. Activists, Native Americans, rural dwellers and more have been fighting the so-called megaload shipments for three years now in Idaho and Montana, and now the fight has come to Oregon.