Fires, Mystery Writing Politicians, Crossfit Champs and EW’s New Reporter in this Week’s Slant 

As we go to press, the Bedrock Fire up Fall Creek continues to grow in size — nearly 6,200 acres as of Wednesday morning. The plume of smoke is visible from parts of town and the light smattering of rain we got July 25 hasn’t quenched the dryness. Thanks, human-caused climate change! (Every time we say that a troll gets its wings). Interested in tracking fires in Oregon? One resource is, where you can find wildfire updates and smoke information. So far, Bedrock smoke hasn’t hit us. Yet. 

Seeing a new name in our pages? Readers of our newsletter know that Emerson Brady, a recent graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, has hit the ground running as Eugene Weekly’s newest reporter. Got a news tip? Hit her up at Want to be in the know with our sometimes snarky, always timely (despite being produced by a weekly) newsletters? Sign up at The newsletters fill you in on our online extra content — like Sen. Jeff Merkley’s recent town hall at Lane Community College and the unionization of local Schnitzer Steel workers.


Shanna Bunce

She’s a pediatrician by trade, a mother of three boys and her interests include gardening, knitting and hiking. Eugene resident Shanna Bunce also is a kick-ass CrossFit athlete, and she will be looking to defend her world age-group title (55-59) at the NOBULL CrossFit Games, August 1 through 6 in Madison, Wisconsin. Think of it as the Olympics for CrossFit, and it’s not for the meek. Only the fittest of the fit can enter. Bunce comes into the competition ranked third in her age group, and we wish her good luck!

Here’s a mystery: Few novelists turn down a reporter’s request for an interview about their work. Not so with LaVonne Griffin-Valade, sworn in June 30 as Oregon’s secretary of state after the resignation of Shemia Fagan. Wait, a novelist? Turns out Griffin-Valade has written four mystery/crime novels set in the Oregon desert around her hometown of John Day, all featuring fictional Oregon State Police Sgt. Maggie Blackthorne. Starting in 2021 with Dead Point, first in the series, Griffin-Valade deftly describes not only the stark desert landscape but addresses such issues as Blackthorne’s work as a woman in an all-male environment, local attitudes towards BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people, the challenge of solving crime in an underfunded police force and the cultural divide that has parts of Oregon trying to secede and join Idaho. We’ve asked several times for an interview, but so far Griffin-Valade is exercising her right to remain silent.

When athletic and cultural icons LeBron James, Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian show up and cheer on the Inter Miami CF soccer team, the sport has surely entered the pop culture stratosphere. Of course, it helps that the match is the U.S. debut of the best soccer player ever, Argentinian Lionel Messi. But, hey, locally Eugene’s own Lane United Football Club is helping fuel soccer’s boom. Five Lane United alums are playing on U.S. teams. Is the next Messi chasing the ball somewhere in L.A., Dallas, St. Louis or Eugene?

After the July 21 City Club of Eugene meeting on “The Future of Civil Rights in Oregon,” we were reminded of the strangely popular governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, saying that slavery helped some people. That’s a candidate for president of this country talking such crap. He’s also said stupid things about homelessness, like blaming “leftist policies” for the issue in California, while Florida and the rest of the nation have similar struggles. That brings us to the topic for the City Club meeting on July 28, the last one for the summer: “Ending Homelessness in Eugene: All Hands on Deck.” It starts at noon in the Maple Room at the Inn at the 5th.

What we’re reading: Lots of articles about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, already mentioned as a Democratic candidate for president in 2028. The New Yorker recently had a fine profile, followed by The New York Times. We wonder how Vice-President Kamala Harris views Whitmer. As a rival? Hopefully, the Trump-fueled increase in hate against people of color and women will have swung back the other direction by then.

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