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September is a subtle month. Its changes creep up without being readily noticed. Daylength shortens most rapidly around the equinoctes. We come to realize that summer is over and fall is practically upon us. It is typically a sunny month, one of the best for hiking in the mountains. Nights can be quite chilly but the absence of mosquitoes makes watching the campfire a treat.

The sixth annual Next Big Thing contest proved once again that small-town Eugene is home to an incredibly talented and prolific music scene — so prolific that the competition has been divided into three categories for the first time: single/duo, band/group and youth (18 and under). 

After a raging competition of 16 finalists, the best band category was conquered by the funk machine that is Soul Vibrator. In the youth section, Bailee Jordyn won by engaging her audience with a stripped-down vocals and guitar arrangement. Acoustic guitar virtuoso Will Brown nabbed the top single/duo spot.

Eugene, meet your town’s rising music stars.

This November, Oregonians have the chance to make their state the first to require genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. In the wake of failed GMO-labeling ballot initiatives in Washington and California, representatives of Oregon’s “Yes on 92” campaign have invited biologist Michael Hansen to drum up support for the measure.

In 2003 the Lane County Commission voted to move to a “last resort” program in using herbicides on county roadsides. The plan to put a moratorium on pesticide use was in response to concerns for human health as well as concerns for Willamette River steelhead and Chinook salmon. On Sept. 9, with impetus from Commissioner Jay Bozievich and with the encouragement of pro-pesticide group Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the county’s Integrated Vegetation Management Program “last resort” policy will be up for discussion. 

Lane County Commissioners are meeting at 9 am Tuesday, Sept. 9, to consider the use of herbicides along county roads. Chemical agriculture lobbying groups want the county to use toxic sprays. Sign up at Harris Hall at 8:45 am to voice your concerns.

• Giustina Land & Timber, 345-2301, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, Inc., 503-538-9469, to aerially spray 43 acres near Crow Creek with aminopyralid, glyphosate, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl and/or sulfometuron methyl. See ODF notification 2014-781-00875, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

Oregon DEQ has settled Christopher John Bartels’ appeal of the civil penalty assessed against him by DEQ in July of 2013 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to Fern Ridge wetlands on two occasions in 2011 (EW 6/27/13, goo.gl/Xb41PD), by reducing the $15,600 penalty originally assessed to $10,200. DEQ’s settlement with Bartels also includes an additional $7,600 penalty for illegal discharges of blood waste to Fern Ridge Reservoir in February of this year (EW 5/8, goo.gl/BhX5vP).

Park goers might have noticed an oily sheen hugging the banks of Delta Ponds these past few weeks, oozing only a few wing flaps away from the hunting green herons and basking Western pond turtles that frequent the wetlands across from Valley River Center. Don’t worry, says Jonathan Wilson, a stormwater regulatory compliance coordinator for the city of Eugene — it’s just a natural form of shiny bacteria.

Our Pop Quiz on City Hall this week is an attempt to look more closely at the predicament we have gotten ourselves in regarding the fate of City Hall. Is destruction imminent? We hear the city has not yet acquired a demolition permit. Meanwhile, some new information is being batted around this week about estimates for remodeling that were done a couple of years ago by Turner Construction’s Portland office. Was the Eugene City Council given an accurate analysis of the true costs of renovating City Hall vs. tearing it down and rebuilding?

We hear that nearly 90 percent of the 1,300 beds at the Capstone housing project called 13th & Olive are leased and new leases are expected to be signed through September. The construction work that remains will be completed by move-in around Sept. 23.

• A town hall meeting on “Elder Abuse Prevention” will be from 6:30 to 7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Viking Sal Senior Center, 245 W. 5th Ave. in Junction City. Reps. Val Hoyle and Vic Gilliam and attorney Sylvia Sycamore will be on the panel. 

City Hall was once a beautiful building – you need only to look at photos of when it was completed in 1964 to understand that. If it seems ugly now it’s because of years of official neglect. Deferred maintenance has become no maintenance. It didn’t have to be that way.

“I knew I wanted to work with animals,” says Ashley Olson, who grew up near Sacramento with only a cat and the occasional newt or frog, until she got her first dog on her 18th birthday.

I dare you to not bang your head to the opening strains  of White Zombie’s 1995 hit “More Human Than Human.” And yet, despite the fact that Rob Zombie crafts killer songs, at some point we’ll have to stop referring to him as a musician. In 2014, his acting, directing and filmmaking credits eclipse his musical offerings. 

Mark your calendars twice, because sister pubs Sam Bond’s and Axe and Fiddle have booked two rising Americana powerhouses this week — Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers and Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, respectively.

If Eminem is the Elvis of hip hop — taking sounds of urban America and repacking them for the suburbs — Sean Daley (aka Slug) of Minneapolis indie-rap legend Atmosphere is Eminem in reverse: taking the subjects of suburban life and repacking them for the inner city. 

A NEW CIVIC CENTER

As the city has scattered its departments, plans for what is called City Hall have dwindled to an executive suite and council chamber. Such a City Hall might be pretty but it’s hard to think of it as significant, and it occurs to me that the city’s space needs could be satisfied in any typical commercial building.

My wife and I went through a long-distance period when we were still dating and she went away to school. I used porn as a masturbatory aid during that time. I did not tell her this, as she believes that porn use is equivalent to cheating. Well, fast-forward a couple years (and a marriage), and I let it slip that I had watched some porn during the times we were apart. She flew off the handle, and ever since then insists that we can’t have children because I’m a pedophile for watching porn that may or may not have contained women acting like teenagers.

It’s time for our annual rendition of “September Song,” ’cause September is wine time. Just as a fr’instance, on Labor Day weekend, almost every Oregon winery/tasting room opens, even many not normally open to the public, and they dress up: music usually, nibbles sometimes, special events of various sorts and, of course, lotsa wine.

I really, really, really want to tell you what happens in The One I Love, the smart and slithery new movie by director Charlie McDowell, but I can’t. To reveal the device at the center of this cinematic mind-fuck about a married couple on the skids and their surreal, disarming and ultimately transformative experiences during a weekend retreat suggested by their therapist would be tantamount to breaking the first rule of Fight Club (“Don’t talk about fight club”) or spilling the beans on Rosebud in Citizen Kane (it’s the sled).

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week.

It’s dawn at Buoy 10 on the Columbia River, and some of an estimated 1.5 million fall Chinook salmon are swimming through the mouth of the river heading home to their spawning grounds. The silvery speckled fish, like their fellow coho, steelhead and sockeye, face a gauntlet of challenges as they swim upriver to spawn and die — if they are not caught and eaten first by humans or other predators.

The first fish hooked on fishing guide Bob Rees’ boat on this August morning is an unclipped coho salmon. Brad Halverson of the Sandy River Chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders reels it in quickly after an hour or so of trolling through the rolling waters. Salmon fishing is long periods of quiet interrupted by a fury of reeling and netting that’s over in minutes. 

With the new school year kicking off Sept. 3, Eugene School Board 4J wants to reformat its current curriculum adoption process. After three years of using College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) in the district, the board has not yet actually voted on the official adoption or rejection of the controversial middle school and high school CPM curriculum. Part of this revamp includes reconvening the Instructional Policy Council, which according to board members has not met for years and once played a role in choosing district curriculum. 

From old-growth forests to dynamic desert landscapes, Oregon’s legacy of diverse ecosystems lives on through its protected wilderness areas. That’s exactly what Oregonians will celebrate Sept. 3 for the 50-year anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which protects around 2.5 million acres across 48 sites in Oregon and 110 million acres total nationwide. While observances will be happening all over the U.S., the weeklong celebration in Eugene will be classic Oregon fare: talks, hikes and beer.

Alex Paige, a trans woman from Portland, describes the gender dysphoria she experienced as “a supreme unhappiness with the way my body looked, the way it felt, the way other people interacted with me.” Thanks to an Aug. 14 vote by the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), treatments for gender dysphoria will be covered under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) beginning January 2015.