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News Briefs

Two high school seniors from Eugene and Springfield have formed a coalition called the Willamette Valley Student Union, a group of high school students seeking to implement change in education, starting with standardized testing. 

Emmy Lindsey, a senior from South Eugene High School, says the idea for the union formed last school year with the roll out of Smarter Balanced, a standardized test students took for the first time this April. Around 11 percent of students in Eugene School District 4J did not take the test.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27, on an application from Fern Ridge School District for Clean Water Act permitting of discharges of construction-related stormwater pollution at Elmira Elementary School. Visit goo.gl/Yp4iAK for info on commenting.

The clock may be ticking for the unique bit of open space in Eugene’s downtown that is Kesey Square. But Ali Emami, owner of the two buildings that have common walls with the plaza, says that when he heard rumors the public space might be sold and developed into apartments, he came before the Eugene City Council last week to again renew his offer to open up the walls of the buildings and make the space more inviting.

Civilian oversight of the police tends to be reactive not proactive, says Mark Gissiner, Eugene’s civilian police auditor. Yet a recent $755,000 jury verdict in the “Bowl of Dicks” retaliation case against the University of Oregon’s police department has not prompted change in the UO’s police oversight.

For the first time since 2003, Eugene School District 4J has increased its year-to-year enrollment, according to school officials. With an additional 217 students this year over last year, it’s the largest increase since 1996, says Kerry Delf, 4J associate director for communications.

4J Superintendent Gustavo Balderas says the increase is partly due to the onset of full-day kindergarten, which started districtwide for the first time this year. Some new students are also transfers, he says.

• ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed. Hwy. 36 will be sprayed soon. 

• Weyerhaeuser Company, 746-2511, plans to aerially spread urea fertilizer pellets on 1,877 acres south of the McKenzie River near Ritchie Creek, Haagen Creek and other tributaries. See ODF notification 2015-771-13224, call Brian Dally at 726-3588 with questions.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently visited Bright Oak Meat Company’s Marcola Road facility in response to a complaint of “a strong and pervasive odor” originating from the facility. Odor no longer appeared to be an issue by the time of DEQ’s visit, and the company attributed the problem to animal viscera not having been transported off-site by a waste hauler. DEQ asked to see waste and wastewater monitoring records during its visit and discovered that Bright Oak was not conducting required monitoring, in violation of Oregon law.

The seventh annual Great Willamette Clean Up Saturday, Oct. 3, saw a record turnout of 400 volunteers in Lane County to haul truckloads of trash, tires and abandoned household and camping items from the river shallows, riparian areas and islands. Another 400 volunteers were involved along the Willamette in other counties all the way to Scappoose Bay north of Portland. Kayaks, canoes and drift boats provided access to areas not accessible by foot. 

Oregon’s 2016 big-game hunting regulations will be on the agenda when the Fish and Wildlife Commission meets in Florence Oct. 8 and 9. 

Specifically the commission will discuss opening up target areas where “cougar numbers will be proactively reduced in response to established criteria” for cougar conflicts with humans, livestock or other game animals such as mule deer.

As the city of Roseburg and the community around Umpqua Community College try to process and recover from the Oct. 1 mass shooting that killed nine people and injured nine more, Oregon and the nation are seeking answers for why the shooter, who also died, would bring six guns to campus and seek to murder his writing class. 

ODOT is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwys. I-5, 99 and 126 were recently sprayed. According to an Oct. 1 notification, ODOT plans to spray Hwy. 36 from Junction City to Mapleton including near schools, beginning Oct. 15. This will be the fourth time this year Hwy. 36 will be sprayed.

Dr. Julian Bell is all fired up about climate change. But rather than lobby politicians to enact laws cracking down on fossil fuels causing greenhouse gas, he’s decided to dive right into politics and run for governor against incumbent Kate Brown in the Democratic primary. 

As Linda Wheatley stood on the edges of the Civic Stadium site on June 29 and watched the structure become engulfed by flames, she felt sick. “It was as if something I owned myself were burning,” she says. 

It’s the opposite of Citizens United and then some. Corporations have rights beyond personhood, according to Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Those rights allow corporations to run roughshod over local communities, affecting everything from their drinking water (think of Nestlé in the Columbia Gorge) to their homes (as with coal trains running through towns). 

Two big conventions — or “cons,” as attendees call them — hit Eugene this weekend, one focused on gaming and the other revolving around comics and pop culture. 

The emergence of tech-centric events is great for the area economically, but the question of whether this town is too small for multiple cons has led to a little drama, according to event organizers.

Campaign season is well under way for the presidential election. Locally, candidates for Eugene City Council and mayor, and Lane County Board of Commissioners are starting to declare themselves. 

But those elections and campaigns are still taking shape, while here in Eugene, a campaign has launched for a Nov. 3 special election: the library levy.

Vote Yes! for Libraries has kicked off its campaign. Measure 20-235 would add $2.7 million a year, for five years, to the library’s operating budget. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwy. 99 was recently sprayed.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting comments through 5 pm on Friday, Sept. 25 on an application from Utah-based Layton Construction for Clean Water Act permitting of discharges of construction-related stormwater pollution at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, in Springfield. Visit goo.gl/Yp4iAK for info on commenting.

Photo by Gary Hale / Forestland Dwellers

 

Eugene lost a culinary legend with the passing of chef Gabriel Gil last week. Known best for his influence on local restaurants past and present, including Rabbit Bistro and Bar, Soubise and Tacovore, Gil was a friend and inspiration to many in the local restaurant community. 

Gil was 43 years old and died after suffering a medical crisis.

His partner in life and work, Amy Hand, says working with Gil was “challenging but rewarding. I learned a tremendous amount from him — he upped my personal game. It was inspiring to work with him.”

Oregon Department of Transportation is currently spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. Hwy. 36 near Mapleton and Hwy. 99 near Eugene were recently sprayed.

Although statewide results won’t become public until Sept. 17 for the Smarter Balanced Assessment — a standardized test Oregon students took this spring to determine if schools are teaching in alignment with the Common Core State Standards — preliminary results show that around 11 percent of Eugene School District 4J students did not take the test.

For local anti-testing group Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE), this statistic is good news. For school officials on the local and state level, the number strikes a more ominous tone. 

350 Eugene, a local climate activist group, will hold its fall gathering from 7 to 8:45 pm Thursday, Sept. 10, at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street. The group is planning for the Paris 2015 United Nations climate summit Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. A global climate march is being planned in November.