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March 30 marks one year from the day Brian Babb was shot and killed by a Eugene police officer while having a mental health crisis. His family is celebrating his life and reminding the public that they are still working to create a federal bill that would prevent similar deaths in the future in a March 30 event at the Vet’s Club. 

On March 15, Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 4040 into law and effectively shut down a lawsuit that seeks to protect Oregon’s wolves.

Wolf advocates at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) earlier this month lamented the Oregon Legislature’s decision to pass HB 4040, a bill that both ratifies the decision to delist wolves from the state’s endangered species list and prevents environmental groups from pursuing their lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), which voted to delist wolves last November.

As owner of GNG Fitness in Eugene, Via McGriff adheres to the belief that a gym workout should mean more than simply pumping up your pecs or trimming an inch off your waistline.

McGriff, who played volleyball in college and on semi-pro teams overseas, says that fitness is not only physical but mental and spiritual as well, and to this end she started up the Holiday Give Back Challenge, a holistic routine that taps a contestant’s “mental ability to maintain or make it through the tough days.”

• Travelers to the coast may have noticed that Alpha-Bit Café in Mapleton closed in mid-February following a farewell sale. Old photos are still being posted on the Alpha-Bit and Alpha Farm Facebook pages. So what happened? The café and bookstore support the Alpha Farm Intentional Community in Deadwood and hundreds of people have worked there over the decades.

• “Working Together to Build a Better Bethel” is the topic at City Club of Eugene at noon Friday, March 18, at the UO Downtown Baker Center, 975 High Street. Speakers include Greg Evans, Ethan Nelson, Debi Farr, Colt Gill and Clayton Walker. $5 for non-members. See cityclubofeugene.org. 

In Afghanistan

• 2,349 U.S. troops killed (2,349 last month)

• 20,071 U.S. troops wounded in action (20,071)

• 1,629 U.S. contractors killed (1,629)

• 16,179 civilians killed (updates NA)

• $730.8 billion cost of war ($728.2 billion)

• $292.4 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($291.3 million)

 

Against ISIS

• $8.7 billion cost of military action ($8.3 billion last month)

• $3.5 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($3.3 million)

The panel was “Leisure Time, Life Satisfaction and the Environment.” The name that was added to the March 5 panel after the conference brochure came out was “Cylvia Hayes, CEO 3E Strategies, former First Lady of Oregon.”

Attendees at last week’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference who happened to look at the PIELC 2016 addendum would have noticed that former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancée was listed as a speaker alongside John de Graaf of Take Back Your Time and Randall Burtz, a professor of recreation. 

Three new parking lots have opened in the Whiteaker neighborhood, courtesy of the political strategizing by the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC), which is leasing the properties with funds donated by a coalition of local businesses.

The fate of Kesey Square still hangs in the balance. Will Eugene City Council members vote to develop it or won’t they? Will they improve it for the public to use or leave it without management? Meanwhile, community members have expressed interest in hosting events at the city square also known as Broadway Plaza, which was deeded to the public “forever” by the Eugene Urban Renewal Agency in 1971. 

• Oregon Department of Transportation will soon be spraying roadsides. Call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 at 744-8080 or call 1-888-996-8080 for herbicide application information. 

• Giustina Resources, 726-3588, plans to hire Strata Forestry Inc, 726-0845, to spot spray a total of 287.5 acres at seven sites near Mount Zion and Lost Creek south of Dexter Lake and one site near Bear Creek, southeast of Cottage Grove with hexazinone, clopyralid, sulfometuron methyl and/or 2,4-D. See ODF notification 2016-771-02653, call Tim Meehan at 726-3588 with questions. 

• The NAACP of Lane County’s “Community Conversations: Building Unity in our Community” series of public meetings on race, privilege and equity continues from 5:30 to 8 pm Thursday, March 10, at the EWEB Community Room, North Building, 500 E. 4th Ave. The meeting begins with a light dinner at 5:30. Additional meetings in the series will be at the same time and place on the second Thursday of each month through May. Reservations are requested through naacplanecounty.org or the Facebook page. Call 682-5619.

Fracking is coming to Morocco. Americans might associate the North African country on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea with the black-and-white romance of Casablanca, but Morocco faces some of the same modern environmental issues as we do in the U.S. 

Samira Idllalène is visiting Eugene for 10 days via the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide to study how to make environmental laws in Morocco more effective and to give a presentation at this weekend’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

Late on a December night in 2014, Sen. John McCain attached a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act, swapping 2,400 acres of federally owned land for 5,300 acres of land owned by Resolution Copper Mining. San Carlos Apache Tribe Councilman Wendsler Nosie, Sr., and his granddaughter Naelyn Pike will be keynote speakers at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO this week talking about their efforts to regain the land that is sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Among the long list of speakers at the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference is president and founder of Eugene-based Grape Solar, Ocean Yuan, who’s proven there’s a market for consumer solar panels. 

The Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC), open to the public, runs March 3-6 at the UO School of Law and features a variety of green-oriented keynote speakers, panels and films.

• ODOT 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 near Creswell was recently sprayed. Hwy. 101 will soon be sprayed with Aquamix and Milestone for Scotch broom and gorse.

• ODOT sprays chemicals including Rodeo, Accord and Honcho Plus containing glyphosate, Milestone VM Plus containing aminopyralid and triclopyr, Esplanade 200 SC containing indazifam, Payload containing flumioxazin, Escort/Escort XP containing metsulfuron methyl and Dyne-Amic adjuvant. 

Fixing large class sizes in Eugene School District 4J can be like “moving around deck chairs on the Titanic,” 4J School Board Chair Anne Marie Levis said at a Feb. 25 meeting.

Parents, teachers and staff from across the district filled the library at Edison Elementary School last Thursday to discuss class sizes in the 30s at the elementary school level. No clear answers came out of the meeting, although school officials suggested that parents write letters to 4J’s Budget Committee and to the Oregon Legislature. 

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a civil penalty of $6,451 to Rexius Forest By-Products, Inc. on Feb. 17 for Clean Water Act violations at its Bailey Hill Road facility. Specifically, DEQ penalized Rexius for negligently failing to monitor for arsenic in its stormwater discharges. Rexius can appeal the penalty, pay it or offset it by implementing a “supplemental environmental project.” Examples of such projects include stream restoration and replacement of pavement with rain gardens to improve water quality.

It may come as a surprise to some landlords, renters and even attorneys in Oregon that pet fees have not been permitted by Oregon statutes for the past five or six years. But confusion about the law remains, most likely because Oregon Revised Statutes 90.302 does not actually declare that pet fees are prohibited; rather, the list of “Fees allowed for certain landlord expenses” no longer includes non-refundable pet fees.

• Lane County has a new Spanish language radio station, reportedly the first ever on the local FM dial. KEQB, La Que Buena, began broadcasting Feb. 17 on 97.7 FM. The station is owned by McKenzie River Broadcasting and will serve the “almost 30,000 Latinos in Lane County and more in the surrounding counties,” says Program Director Steve King. McKenzie River Broadcasting also operates KMGE-FM (Mix 94.5), KKNU-FM (New Country 93.3) and KEUG-FM (105.5 Bob FM).

• The 34th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference on the UO campus begins Thursday, March 3, and runs through Sunday with numerous local experts on panels and participating in discussions. For example, Beyond Toxics is involved in a panel on “Fighting Aerial Pesticide Sprays and Water Quality Violations on State and Private Lands” at 9 am Saturday, March 5, in LAW 184. Find a schedule at pielc.org. Last-minute changes in the schedule can be found listed in the lobby of the UO Law School. Free.

The annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) comes to the University of Oregon March 3-6. For the first time in its 43-year history, PIELC has organized a film festival to preview the conference at the Bijou Art Cinemas Feb. 25. Films will also play as part of the conference itself.

“Almost all the films have a panel accompaniment with people involved in the films,” says PIELC co-director, Emily Hajarizadeh. “We chose to incorporate film this year because every year we receive massive amounts of submissions for films, and we haven’t had a space to show them.”

The night of Monday, Feb. 22, was a moment many have been waiting for since October, when the city considered the private purchase of Kesey Square in a closed executive session: For the first time, the Eugene City Council publicly discussed Kesey Square, aka Broadway Plaza.

The work session, and public forum that followed, illustrated a lingering divide between some of the city councilors and mayor and the requests from citizens to keep the square public. 

• Seneca Jones Timber Company LLC, 689-1011, plans to hire JR Helicopters, (509) 452-3300, to aerially spray 56.9 acres near Douglas Creek with glyphosate, atrazine, 2,4-D, clopyralid, hexazinone and/or Crosshair. See ODF notification 2016-781-02102, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

When NPR education correspondent Claudio Sanchez visits a town to give a lecture or public talk, he likes to take something back home with him — a story.

“I try to report on something local every time I’m invited to one of these things, because I think it’s a great opportunity to get to understand the community better,” he says.

On March 2, Sanchez will speak at the University of Oregon about his experience as an education reporter. His visit is sponsored by KLCC and supported by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics.