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News Briefs

Lane County’s green credentials haven’t just slipped lower under the current conservative board majority, they’ve disappeared altogether.   

In 2010 the Lane County commissioners voted to protect the environment 10 out of 12 times, according to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters Environmental Scorecard.

In 2011 under a new, conservative county majority there were not enough votes on the environment to score the Lane County commissioners at all, the OLCV says. The Eugene City Council was also impossible to score, according to the OLCV.

Attempts to turn rural Parvin Butte into a gravel mine have turned the once peaceful hill and the town around it into a morass of legal and political controversy. In the latest twist, the decision to allow mining on Parvin Butte in Dexter without a site review was reconsidered by the Lane County hearings official on March 6, resulting in a partial victory for the Parvin Butte neighbors.

Despite the concerns of local animal advocates, Eugene and Lane County continue to work to transition to a “new model” for animal services. There are two upcoming “community input sessions” the public can attend to voice worries over the impending demise of Lane County Animal Services (LCAS).

Envision Eugene’s two-year process will wrap up over the next couple of months and City Manager Jon Ruiz will present his recommendations to the City Council after we go to press this week, drawing criticism from community members who are concerned that the manager’s secret analysis will short-circuit the public process. Adding to the concern is the manager’s canceling of a Tuesday morning meeting with the 70-member Community Resource Group (CRG) to preview his recommendations before they go to the council.

What will happen when a natural disaster shuts down our bridges, highways and rail lines and prevents the distribution of food to local stores? “Reality is, every community has about three days food supply available in grocery stores to feed itself,” says Deb McGee, who describes herself as a “Peaceful Valley subsistence farmer” in rural Eugene. “It is also true that 90 percent of what we eat could be grown locally if we chose to eat seasonally.”

Animal advocates want to know why Lane County isn’t considering trimming salaries over $90,000 instead of cutting much-needed services. Budget cuts at the city of Eugene and at Lane County have led to a proposal that Lane County Animal Services be ended and a new plan put in its place. But no new plan has been drafted, and who and what would take over dealing with the area’s homeless pets from LCAS is unclear. 

The name of the anonymous company that wants to export six to 10 million tons of dirty coal a year from Coos Bay via trains running through Eugene might be made known at the beginning of April. Public records requests for more information on the secretive proposal have been met with charges of thousands of dollars.

Everyone has boundaries, and some of us get a little hot under the collar when those boundaries are pushed. Lane County doesn’t want so much to push Eugene and Springfield’s boundaries, as it wants to control all the lands around the cities. One of the things that could be affected is water quality.

In western Lane County, Weyerhaeuser (541) 744-4684 plans to aerially spray Atrazine 4L, Transline, Velpar DF, Sulfomet XP and 2,4-D Ester with Foam Buster on 51 acres about 1-1/2 miles south of Cottage Grove near a tributary of Wallace Creek. Notice 2012-771-00156.

You might have noticed a chemical spill, a man foaming at the mouth and folks in hazmat suits if you were driving down Hwy. 99 by the Georgia-Pacific Eugene Resin Plant on the cold snowy morning of Feb. 29. 

Two farmers and a priest walk into a bar and … oh wait, is that how the joke goes? Springfield’s Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) is hatching Sprout!, which is no joke — it’s a food hub that will be housed in the former First Christian Church on 4th and A streets.

NEDCO Assistant Director Sarai Johnson says the hub will have three main components: a year-round farmers market, a central kitchen that can accommodate up to five businesses at once, and an expansion of NEDCO’s Hatch business incubator program.

The problems with cheap plastic bags don’t end with environmental ramifications, according to Environment Oregon’s Sarah Higginbotham, and that’s why businesses and members of the recycling industry are joining environmentalists to support a Eugene ban on plastic grocery bags. The City Council voted unanimously (with Councilor Mike Clark absent) on Feb. 27 to draft a plastic bag ban ordinance.

The top of Parvin Butte, which sits in the middle of the rural community of Dexter, is now almost completely leveled, according to neighbor Arlen Markus. 

But the Dexter/Lost Valley community 20 miles outside Eugene has hope that residents won’t be woken up at 8 am in the morning by the sounds of their scenic butte being ripped and torn into gravel by Lost Creek Rock Products: Lane County has asked Hearings Official Gary Darnielle to reconsider his Feb. 14 ruling that gravel mining could continue at the butte. The hearings official is a neutral party.

The city of Eugene and Lane County are planning to do away with Lane County Animal Services (LCAS), sparking an outcry from local advocates for dogs, cats and other pets, who worry this could bring the county back to the days when thousands of stray pets were killed each year.

Lane County, Eugene and Springfield are forming an interagency task team to explore and develop a new model of service delivery for animal services, the county says.

OSU has “deactivated” the snares it put around its sheep farm after Eugene-based Predator Defense and OSU neighbors protested the lethal traps that they say have caught and killed everything from raccoons to coyotes to a baby fawn.

Neighbors say traps have been within 200 feet of at least one home, and well within the range of children, dogs and cats. 

The snares, which were set by the USDA’s Wildlife Services, “wantonly destroy predators and target anything coming through that fence,” according to Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense.

Most Eugeneans probably assume that human trafficking is an international phenomenon, plaguing far-off nations like India and Thailand. This is decidedly not the case. Trafficking is an issue that affects the U.S., and prostitution and servitude in Oregon is on the rise. In order to raise awareness for this pressing human rights issue, and as part of its annual International Women’s Day Forum, the Zonta Club of Eugene-Springfield is holding a luncheon and panel on sex trafficking 11:30 am Thursday, March 8.

Congressman Peter DeFazio’s long-awaited forest plan has gone public, but the bill is under fire from conservation groups, and it’s questionable whether the controversial proposal that aims get funding for Lane and other cash-strapped counties will go anywhere at all. 

When Steven Michael Todd crouched down to speak to a friend this fall, he didn’t intend to commit a crime, and he certainly wasn’t trying to attract the cops’ attention. But that action, next to a wall by Lazar’s Bazar, led to Todd being served with an order excluding him from downtown for 90 days.

On Valentine’s Day Lane County Hearings Official Gary Darnielle ruled that Greg Demers and the McDougal Bros.’ Lost Creek Rock Products can go ahead and mine Parvin Butte, despite possible negative effects on the rural community that surrounds the butte.

It’s not every day that a majority of Eugene’s City Council, Stephen Colbert, Oregon Country Fair and Occupy Eugene have a cause in common. But the far-reaching, unpopular Supreme Court decision on Citizens United has given those concerned about the future of democracy a reason to come together.

Last week the council voted 6-1 to call for a resolution supporting an amendment to the Constitution that would clarify that corporations aren’t people. This week democracy activists are holding People United: More than a March, at 11 am Feb. 25 at the Free Speech Plaza.

Eugene’s Gay/Straight Alliance student leaders will be special guests at a meeting that will discuss equal rights for the gay, lesbian and transgender community in Oregon — and the students are excited about the chance to gain insight from statewide activists.

While the fight rages on against the massive Keystone XL pipeline that would bring tar sands oil from Canada through the U.S. to processing facilities, small groups in the Northwest and the Rockies celebrate a victory in their fight against the machinery that feeds the controversial tar sands.

Hooking up is a pretty basic human need. For some the only criterion for “getting primal” is a warm body and a heartbeat. For others it gets a little bit stickier.  

Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski said that the primal human needs are food, sex and shelter. But for some, food choices have an effect on their love lives, and we don’t mean that whole garlic breath makes for bad kissing problem.

Every year producers and distributors of biofuel cross their fingers and wonder whether an extension of a federal subsidy of biofuels will pass, and this year they drew the short straw. 

The Federal Excise Tax Credit (FET) on biofuels expired in January. The FET was created in the late 1990s to incentivize the use of biofuels — it provided a wholesale level subsidy on biofuels. Without this funding, the biofuel industry, including the biofuel industry in Oregon, is scrambling to maintain stable prices for its products.