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Numbers published by the Oregon Department of Education last week show that across Lane County, some parents and students continue to choose “opting out” of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a standardized test introduced to Oregon public schools last year. 

In Eugene School District 4J, 12.3 percent, or 1,121 students, did not participate in the math portion of the test. The number of opt-outs has remained relatively steady from last year.

The Oregon Electric Railway first arrived in Eugene in 1912, but its historical significance today remains relevant to the area — and especially to the city’s African-American residents.

The Lane County Historical Museum is hosting an exhibit about the arrival of railroads to Eugene and the employment opportunities for African-Americans that came with it. “Rails Through Eugene: A Black History Connection” was put together by the Oregon Black Pioneers, a nonprofit group based in Salem that focuses on bringing Oregon’s black history to light. 

Standing still. Using the bathroom. Sleeping. These are things we all do and, in fact, all things we do to survive. But laws in some cities, including Eugene, penalize people for trying to meet their basic needs. 

Local advocates for the unhoused are teaming up with representatives from the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights in three states, including Oregon. Paul Boden of WRAP will take part in a Sept. 22 forum discussing the Oregon Homeless Bill of Rights and Right to Rest legislation.

Just months into his new gig as Eugene Water & Electric Board’s general manager, Frank Lawson brings outside experience and insider knowledge to the state’s largest publicly owned utility. With EWEB’s recent controversies, it’s a challenging management task, one that Lawson seems confident he’s up for. 

“I have experience in sales, in marketing, in finance, in engineering, in operations,” Lawson says. “I’ve also worked in a variety of different types of organizations, ranging from 80 to 80,000 people.” 

BRING Recycling is hosting its eighth annual Home and Garden Tour from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, Sep. 11, throughout the Eugene-Springfield area.

BRING Recycling began in 1971 as a neighborhood project to collect recycling in Eugene. BRING says its main values are promoting the idea of living well with less. BRING has prevented waste and launched conservation education programs in K-12 schools. 

In the wake of reporter Serena Markstrom Nugent’s civil lawsuit against The Register-Guard for firing her after she checked emails while on pregnancy disability leave, it appears that the R-G is considering cutting some employees that were involved in the case.

Oregon’s high school graduation rate ranked fourth lowest in the country in the 2013-14 school year; Oregon’s student-teacher ratio is a third higher than the U.S. average; two years ago, Oregon had the third largest class sizes in the U.S. 

These painful statistics are so frequently cited that Oregonians almost go numb upon reading them, but as a new report by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) and other education advocates points out, Oregon must figure out a way to fully fund its schools if the state ever wants to see its rankings rise. 

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is, for some Lane County voters, a possible alternative to Bernie Sanders. But while Johnson told EW during a recent phone call that he believes climate change is man-made, he also believes a free market economy is part of the fix.

Do you remember what your favorite color was when you were a kid? Winter Peterson remembers hers: multicolor.

“I saw that on a container of glitter when I was a kid and thought it was one color,” she says. “But no – it was all colors.”

Since then, her worldview hasn’t gotten any less colorful. Peterson calls herself a “recreational, loud, gaudy person,” and she can often be seen around Eugene in drag or even a clown costume. “People don’t expect to see clowns out at the bars,” she says.

Some Bernie Sanders supporters wept as they watched Hillary Clinton snag her party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Months of hard grassroots toil erased. Millions of dreams squashed.

Many diehard Berners balk at the notion of another Clinton presidency. And of course Trump is a non-starter. The quadrennial scrum for the Oval Office has devolved into a dog and pony show of oligarchic proportions.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 on Aug. 30 to call a six-month halt on its efforts to change its initiative petition process, Commissioner Pete Sorenson tells EW

The initiative petition process allows the public to collect signatures and get measures on the ballots, such as efforts to ban aerial sprays of pesticides or genetically modified crops — two issues that local group Community Rights Lane County has been working on.

Students from the Academy of Arts and Academics (A3), a public high school in Springfield, will head to Nepal in October to volunteer, hike the first stages of the Everest Trek and visit the U.S. Embassy.

Mike Fisher, the school’s director and a former volunteer with the Peace Corps, and Ed Mendelssohn, the school’s managing director, say they started planning the trip last winter after a visit to the Tacoma School of the Arts. 

In the Whiteaker neighborhood, threads of the Black Panther Party, Central American farm workers, LGBTQ+ community and the Black Lives Matter movement are taking shape in a mural that will be unveiled during the Friday, Aug. 26, Whiteaker Art Walk.

Local blues institution and Saturday Market staple Eagle Park Slim, né Autry McNeace, passed away at 74 last weekend, leaving behind his partner Gwen Johnson, his son Donnie McNeace, two grandchildren as well as Johnson’s nine children and 16 grandchildren. While Slim has had a history of heart failure, and earlier this summer received a wireless heart-monitoring system implant, Johnson tells EW the results for cause of death are still pending.

Last week’s heat wave sent Lane County residents scurrying for shade. Press releases from the city and county offered suggestions for cool places like the library or swimming pools to take cover. But for those without air conditioning or in some cases without a roof over their heads, heat waves can turn deadly.

Willamette Family Inc., an affordable health care provider that offers services ranging from mental health to substance abuse counseling, recently dramatically increased the number of people it serves at its newest Eugene clinic.

Willamette Family’s new Rapid Access Center and Medical Clinic opened January 2016 at 12th and Charnelton, and after serving 123 clients in the first month, Willamette Family says it now serves around 1,000 people per month. 

Like a horror movie zombie, the logging plan for about 2.5 million acres of Oregon’s public forests known as the “Whopper” is back, and within days of its Aug. 5 announcement, enviros and the timber industry filed lawsuits against it. 

Celebrants at the 25th annual Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival braved the hot temperatures Saturday, Aug. 13, at Alton Baker Park

Local attorney Michael Arnold was the guest speaker at the monthly 9-12 Project Lane County meeting discussing constitutional law Aug. 9. 

Arnold is known for his high-profile cases such as defending mixed martial artist Gerald Strebendt in his murder trial and briefly becoming Ammon Bundy’s attorney after traveling to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during its occupation earlier this year. 

A blistering report by the U.S. Justice Department finds that “the Baltimore Police Department for years has hounded black residents who make up most of the city’s population, systematically stopping, searching and arresting them, often with little provocation or rationale,” The New York Times reports.

“The ultimate con artist,” “the master of impersonations.” In Eugene? 

The Downtown Athletic Club sent out an email Aug. 2, saying it had severed its relationship with general manager Carlo DiMaria, who “intentionally misstated experience on his resume.”

Grouping couches together, chilling racks of beer, lighting coals for the grill. These aren’t preparations for the neighborhood potluck. They’re what some people have done to get comfortable for playing hours of Pokémon Go on a downtown street corner.

While some stores are seeing an increase in foot traffic, that hasn’t translated into a similar increase in profitable business. 

On a bright weekday morning, 12 students fill out a downtown Eugene classroom as an excited buzz of conversation fills the space, and University of Oregon psychology professor Holly Arrow leads the class in a discussion about facts, opinion and confusion between the two.

Bob Emmons looks like he wants to spit.

Standing on sun-scorched grass in Scobert Gardens Park, Emmons is hardly able to endure the blighted landscape, littered with empty beer cans, cigarette packs and pizza boxes. Shoeless daysleepers stretch out flat in swaying blots of shade. Summer breezes tumbleweed a plastic grocery bag across the dusty lawn and leave it at his feet.