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News Briefs

Visiting Honduran Jesuit priest Father Ismael Moreno Coto, known as Padre Melo, will speak about the violence and corruption in Honduras and Latin America at 7 pm Tuesday, April 2, at the Friends Meeting House, 2274 Onyx St. in Eugene. 

Between tuition equity and local school budget cuts, Latinos will have a lot to talk about at the second Lane Latin@ Leadership Forum: “Latin@s and the Education System” on April 4. (The @ symbol is a gender-inclusive way to write “Latino.”) Organizer Phillip Carrasco says that the forum will include a couple of potential questions, but the format will emphasize an open dialogue between five panelists and the audience. 

Attention, fans of downtown Olive Street’s businesses and organizations: It’s time to re-route your paths for the next six months. The city is closing Olive Street between 12th and 13th avenues for the construction of Capstone’s student housing project from approximately April 1 until phase one is completed in September.

Oregon DEQ sent CPM Development Corporation a warning letter March 13 for failure to collect required water quality monitoring data at its Eugene Sand & Gravel facility on Coburg Road along the north bank of the McKenzie River. Failure to collect such data is classified as a serious violation of Oregon environmental law.

The 4J School Board heard more public testimony March 20 both in support of and in opposition to the district’s move to a common high school schedule, and against cuts to health and library programs. And the board’s chair proposed holding more feedback sessions with teachers and community members.

City Hall may be fenced-off, padlocked and dormant, but seven proposals in response to the city’s request for proposals (RFP) from architects show that the process of redesigning and rebuilding the award-winning structure has begun. City Manager Jon Ruiz will announce finalists March 29 and is expected to select the winning firm (or firms) by April 12, after evaluating the applications on a points scale with city staff.

The City of Eugene has referred Pacific Recycling to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for enforcement regarding violations at its facility on Cross Street near Roosevelt Boulevard. The referral concerns two different Clean Water Act violations. First, Pacific Recycling has failed to submit a plan to the city regarding how it will reduce high pollution levels in stormwater discharges from the site. The city has sent Pacific Recycling three separate letters since November 2012 seeking such a plan, to no avail.

While former commissioner Rob Handy might have a lost a battle in the fight for better public records disclosure from Lane County government, he feels that he made some headway in the war. He said in a press statement that the goal of his suit “was to shine a light on the arbitrary nature in which Lane County” responds to public records requests, and with this goal in mind, Handy says the suit was a success. 

Some city leaders are asking voters to approve a city service fee on the ballot in May, but others are saying “not so fast” — the sacrificial services on the chopping block don’t have to be the first cut.

Eugene’s 4J School Board agreed last week to convene a work session this week to address issues that have arisen over moving all district high schools to a common 3x5 schedule. The proposal to address the schedule change came after the Eugene Education Association (EEA) asked the board to postpone the move, citing opposition by a majority of high school teachers, and more than two dozen parents, teachers and students spoke against the change at a packed meeting. The board also addressed the latest budget shortfall projections and proposed cuts to services in a number of programs.

The recent announcement that two foreign investors have pulled out of the International Port of Coos Bay’s coal export proposal doesn’t mean the coal train plans have been entirely derailed. The announcement leads to even more questions, says Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, one of several Lane County groups working to stop the fossil fuel exports. 

Claiming support from both liberals and conservatives, a small group of Eugene citizens has organized a Political Action Committee (PAC) to campaign against Ballot Measure 20-211, the proposed fees for city residences and business that will be on the ballot in May. 

Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way (CiTJAW) has a website at votenocityfee.org and the PAC directors are Bonny Bettman McCornack and Paul Nicholson, both former city councilors. David Monk is the treasurer.

Although only 46 wolves live in Oregon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently recommended the removal of gray wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. 

• Rosboro LLC, 746-8411, plans to hire Western Helicopter, 503-538-9469, to aerially spray Velpar DF and/or Transline on 97 acres in the Coast Range near the headwaters of Swartz Creek and South Fork Ferguson Creek. See ODF notice 2013-781-00226.

Lane County has been feeling the pinch of budget cuts, and the conservatives on the County Commission have proposed a tax levy to fund jails. When it comes to Congressman Peter DeFazio’s plan to split some of Oregon’s public forests into a timber trust and a conservation trust, the controversy comes from all sides of the political spectrum. A resolution has been introduced into the Oregon Legislature that would support the timber plan.

Between climate change, pollution and resource depletion, the coastal areas have a lot to plan for. Oregon is preparing for these challenges by establishing five small marine reserves to preserve habitat and to monitor ecological and biological changes. Cape Perpetua south of Yachats is the closest marine reserve to Eugene. Conservationists are hoping that the marine reserves will help keep populations of fish and other species within the reserve high and potentially keep surrounding populations buoyed via a spillover effect. 

Oregon DEQ sent Georgia-Pacific Chemicals a warning letter Feb. 19 for exceeding the limit for total phenols in its Clean Water Act discharge permit by 200 percent at its Eugene facility on Hwy. 99 during November. Georgia-Pacific blamed the high level on laboratory error, but DEQ could not find supporting evidence for this claim. According to DEQ, phenol is toxic to many aquatic organisms, and DEQ has referred this violation to its Office of Compliance and Enforcement for formal enforcement.

When it comes to saving the environment, lawyers and protesters often go hand in hand, so it may come as no surprise that alongside (though not an official part of) the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO Feb. 28 to March 3, there were acts of protest.

The Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) has fought for the rights of foster children, but now the organization wants to pass a bill that would let the kids know what their rights are. Currently on the table, with an upcoming hearing in March, is a bill of rights that helps youth understand what they can do in any situation. Lydia Bradley, the OFYC program manager, says this is a long time coming. 

“I doubt we’ll put in a Ferris wheel,” Brian Obie says of his proposed new development downtown. County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Feb. 26 to give Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson authority to enter into discussions for an interim lease and exclusive negotiating rights with Obie and Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County (HACSA) for land at East 6th Avenue and Oak, near Obie’s 5th Street Public Market. 

The Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) have been using treesits, blockades and other forms of civil disobedience to halt logging in the Elliott State Forest for the past four years. But a bill, HB 2595, that was brought before the Oregon Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee in Salem March 4 would make free speech and protest activities a felony, complete with a mandatory minimum sentence. Another bill, HB 2596, also aiming to quell state forests protests, has also been introduced.

Deadlines for submitting comments to Oregon DEQ regarding over two dozen local facility’s industrial stormwater pollution control plans take place over the next eight days. Comments are due by 5 pm on the following dates. March 7: Rexius Forest By-Products, Frito-Lay Eugene, Teevin Bros Log Yard, Superior Steel, Spec Pipe. March 11: Western Pneumatics, Weyerhaeuser (Bertelsen Road), USF Reddaway, Western Coating, Tyree Oil.

The Lane County dump smells like fundraising to Commissioner Faye Stewart. A bill that has been introduced to the State Legislature, SB 248, would increase garbage “tipping” fees up to $10 more per ton at Short Mountain Landfill in order to raise funds for what has been dubbed the Goshen Region Employment and Transition (GREAT) Plan. The fee would apply to the entire county and would likely raise residential and business garbage fees.

When you think of the gender gap, you probably think of fields like math and science or construction. But Wikipedia says it has its own gender gap in female entry writers, and it’s trying to fix the problem. The Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Fembot Project and the ASUO Women’s Center will host workshops to train women as Wikipedia editors March 8-9.