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When a helicopter flies over Cedar Valley, residents tend to assume it’s searching for illegal pot operations in the nearby forest. That’s what Curry County neighbors John Burns and Kathyrn Rickard thought when they heard the blades whirring over their rural homes. They didn’t think the helicopter flying overhead would be raining toxic chemicals upon their homes, their farms and their bodies. 

Rickard was inside studying when she heard the chopper. Shortly after, she walked out on her deck to give her eyes a break from her computer screen, and “instantly, I was not feeling good.” She smelled something heavy and oily, she says. Her chest hurt. She went back inside and tried to continue with her work. She got tired, had a severe headache and felt nauseous with a burning nose and throat. Her husband, Eric, came home and worked outside beneath the deck for a while and then he too came inside and complained of feeling sick. The family’s dogs, which had been outside during the spray, were eating grass and vomiting and wouldn’t eat dinner. 

Fifty-five bias-related incidents were reported to Eugene’s Equity and Human Rights Center (EHRC) in 2013 — an increase of four reports from last year. Equity and Human Rights Analyst Lindsey Foltz says a lot of bias-related activity is unreported, in part because of a lack of trust of the government or police. 

Local schools continue to struggle with insufficient funding, and two Lane County school districts, Fern Ridge and Pleasant Hill, filed bond measures that will appear on the May Primary ballot to help pay for improvements to property and facilities that school officials say are greatly needed — one school is basically providing federally assisted school lunches out of a gym concession stand.

In Eugene, we’re used to weird. In some neighborhoods, shooting a politically charged, hardcore punk music video in public would solicit no more than a passing glance. Doing it uninvited in a local church, as Russian feminist performance art collective Pussy Riot did in 2012, might be a trespass leading to a hand-slap, but not much more than a nuisance or prank.

The city of Eugene sent a “request for corrective action” letter to Gibson Steel Fab, Inc. last month for various Clean Water Act violations, citing Gibson for deficiencies in employee education and monthly inspections, storing several hazardous materials without secondary containment and failing to contain overspray from painting operations so as to prevent it from coming into contact with stormwater.

The city of Eugene paid 60 staff members to shut down the Whoville homeless camp on the corner of Broadway and Hilyard streets April 4 — a move that campers and homeless rights advocates say put many of the Whoville residents back on the streets alone.

“They’ve taken old, they’ve taken veterans, they’ve taken everybody who has a problem, said ‘You have to go,’ instead of giving them a place to sleep at night and giving them some sort of peace of mind,” Whoville camper Jacob Baird says.

• It’s hard to calculate what it cost the city of Eugene to shut down Whoville last week, but it had to be a lot, figuring overtime for EPD and maybe others of the 60 or so city employees who were called to participate. Regardless of whether the coordinated action at this scale was justified or not, it gives the city administration a black eye. We noticed a “Fire Jon Ruiz” Facebook page is up as of April 6. The page has lots of posts but as we go to press it only has 59 “likes.”

Sarah Ebert may be a newcomer to choreographing for the Eugene Ballet Company, but she hasn’t shied away from the pace. “In modern dance, we take months to let things marinate — we explore, we play. But in ballet, the time limit is interesting. It’s fast, and it works, because the EBC dancers are willing to experiment,” Ebert says. 

What’s happening with the LUCiA development on Friendly Street? Construction on the second row of townhouses is expected to wrap up by June 1 and one of the units has already been sold, says Mel Bankoff, who is in partnership with architect Jan Fillinger of studio-e architecture and  project manager Teri Reifer (see our 2013 story at wkly.ws/1q3). Bankoff says he plans to have open houses in mid-April. The third phase of residential development will begin in June with a completion target of March 2015.

During the rainy spring in Kabul it is painfully simple to turn eyes skyward and, ignoring the all-seeing aerostat balloon, to imagine being home. Though the wet weather forced Kabul’s children to reel in the famous kites that compete with the military blimps for the sky, it exposed another city wonder. 

• “Building Equity and Inclusion at the UO and Beyond” is the topic at City Club of Eugene at noon Friday, April 11, at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette. Speaker is Yvette Alex-Assensoh, VP for equity and inclusion at UO. See CityClubofEugene.org.

After high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and a year at Case Western Reserve, Eric Schiff followed his older brother to Eugene and the UO. “We had done summer trips out here with the family,” says Schiff, who learned metalsmithing from Max Nixon, made jewelry, played fiddle in a few bands, studied computer science and worked as a pre-school teacher at the UO Child Care Center, on his way to a bachelor’s in sociology in 1977.

Since Sol Seed won EW’s Next Big Thing in August 2013, the group’s been busy: “We quit our day jobs and became full-time musicians,” Guasco says. “We started touring full-time every other month. On the off-months we were recording.” 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

New Bums apply a lo-fi Simon and Gar-fuck-it take to the tired old trope of two dudes with guitars. “We’re pretty stripped down with an emphasis on words,” Ben Chasney, of New Bums, tells EW via email.

Some bands like to record new albums as quickly as possible to create cohesiveness. But in the case of the traditional Scottish folk group Battlefield Band and its 2013 release, Room Enough For All, the band took a different tactic. 

The Eugene City Council won’t be nominated for a Mother Teresa award this year. A few days ago the city tore down a functioning homeless camp — before having an alternative site available — and dumped the camp’s desperate residents on the street. The technical term for the thinking behind such a move is DUMB, DUMB, DUMB. Don’t we already get enough dumb from the Supreme Court? 

Thursday, April 17, at the Hult Center, the Eugene Symphony plays three 19th-century Euro-classics: Sibelius’s tone poem Finlandia, Schumann’s Piano Concerto (featuring the esteemed soloist Antonio Pompa-Baldi) and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3. It’s a typical program for American orchestras that regard classical music as a historical museum of centuries-old artifacts from Europe.

Daaaamn! South Central is in the house once again. Schoolboy Q goes hard; his flow is razor sharp, his punchlines hit like fists, his producers drop beats that rattle and scream like hollow points, and when all’s said and done, he’s carrying on a legacy nearly 30 years deep.

Photo by Rick Levin


Since its debut in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof has held a certain special status among Broadway shows. It is the Beastie Boys of musicals — beloved, offbeat, wise and wiseacre-ish, slapstick hip. More times than I can count, the mere mention of Fiddler has caused a friend to break out in baritone: “If I were a rich man, yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum…”

A soul stolen by a photograph, a tree-worshiping Christian camper and five wildly different folks stuck in a box: It can only be the Northwest Festival of Ten-Minute Plays, the fascinating evening that feels like flipping up rocks and seeing a pulsating world beneath, then moving to the next. NW10 encompasses all the grand excitement of sharing art without any of the pretension.


As I came to your location on my daily visit to you and the trains, you were pretty much gone. The big machines were doing their job of scooping up everything in their path and slamming it in the waiting Dumpster. The police were gathered out front, their numbers indicating a “point” was being made. The “jail” van was still there, blocking Hilyard (it was sealed off from both directions).