Karen Richards

Reporter

Karen Richards has been a KLCC reporter since the fall of 2012.

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Karen Richards

Oregon communities struggling to create jobs will soon have access to tens of millions of dollars in state tourism funds. July 1st, a new lodging tax goes into effect. The city of Oakridge embraced mountain biking as its road to economic recovery. Residents there may consider several ways to further attract visitors.

Karen Richards

An evolving new industry in Oregon is having—and causing-- growing pains. Until recently, many commercial and industrial spaces in Eugene and Springfield were vacant and property owners were bleeding money. Now, in large part because of the cannabis industry, warehouse space is hard to find.

A 16-thousand square foot industrial building in west Eugene has been under contract for sale to a marijuana grower for more than six months. There's a carpeted suite of offices up front.

[Door opening]

and behind that:

[Door closing]

Karen Richards

Eugene and Springfield have long been losing skilled technical workers to bigger West Coast cities. Now, several start-ups are finding ways to retain the brains.

Karen Richards

The Oregon lottery was established in 1984 by popular vote. Over time, citizens have elected to add video poker and direct portions of the revenue to state parks and watersheds. The lottery has become a crucial source of funds for many. 

 

Karen Richards

One hundred eighteen college students spent last weekend holed up in the Lillis Business Complex, intensively writing computer code and strategizing. They were participants in the first gaming “hack-a-thon” at the University of Oregon.

Karen Richards

International student populations at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College have ballooned in the last five years. Both schools have long-term goals to further increase the numbers. However certain costs and risks could jeopardize their efforts.

 

UPDATE: All lanes have re-opened on northbound I-5 near highway 58.

Drivers should expect heavy traffic on northbound I-5 south of highway 58 near Eugene. A fatal multi-vehicle crash near milepost 188 has been cleared. However, a subsequent multi-vehicle accident two miles south of the original is causing delays. Rick Little is with the Oregon Department of Transportation:

LaneTitans.net

Next fall, Eugene area sports fans will have two new teams to follow. Lane Community College is adding men’s soccer and women’s volleyball to its roster.

LCC last had men’s soccer in 1986 and women’s volleyball in 2003. Lane Athletic Director Greg Sheley says bringing back the two sports is part of the school’s plan to increase enrollment, which has been down:

oregon.gov

Incidents of elder abuse are increasing in Oregon. A report from the Office of Adult Abuse Prevention last week documents a 10 percent jump in allegations and investigations.

The most common types of adult abuse are financial, for those living at home, and neglect, for those living in care facilities. Rebecca Fetters of Oregon’s Department of Human Services says the reason for the increase is partially demographic:

Fetters: “We might anticipate continuing to see an increase in those numbers going forward, in part because of the rapid aging of the 65 and older population.”

Karen Richards

At 10:15 today (Thursday), millions of people around the world stopped, dropped and held on as part of the Great Shakeout. Instructors and students at Lane Community College's downtown campus took part in the earthquake drill.

Karen Richards

Both of Oregon's U.S. Senators were on the University of Oregon campus today (Monday) to hear from college students about how to deal with the rising cost of school. They called it a "listening session."

www.corvallisoregon.gov

September’s National Preparedness Month has sparked renewed interest in earthquakes and other natural disasters in Oregon. Corvallis will host a readiness forum tonight (Thursday).

http://defazio.house.gov/

Today (Monday), trade ministers from the United States and 11 other countries reached agreement on the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership. Oregon’s Congressman Peter DeFazio, however, continues to oppose it.

DeFazio issued a statement calling the TPP “the biggest, worst trade deal in history.” He’s been speaking against the TPP for years. If passed, it would phase out tariffs and other barriers to trade between the United States, Japan, Vietnam and others. In June, DeFazio said the TPP has the same problems as earlier policies, like the North American Free Trade Agreement:

willametteriverkeeper.org

Hundreds of Lane County volunteers will take to the water and the shore this weekend to freshen up the Willamette River.

Karen Richards

This year, for the first time, all Oregon schools have the funding to offer full-day kindergarten. In Eugene's 4J district, teachers and parents have embraced the change.

oregonstate.edu

September is National Preparedness Month and a series of emergency response events has been taking place across the state. Tomorrow (Tuesday) congressman Peter DeFazio will host an earthquake early warning roundtable at the U of O.

As the ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Congressman DeFazio introduced a federal bill to fund an earthquake early warning system for the west coast. The roundtable is an official committee hearing. Scott Ashford, Dean of Engineering at OSU, studies the effects to utilities and services in an emergency:

www.eugene-or.gov

Eugene residents love their parks. Yet a lack of funding has caused maintenance cuts and kept new parks from opening. Yesterday (Wednesday) the City Council approved having a public hearing on a proposal to collect a fee for parks operations.

The Council voted 5 to 3 to look at changing a city ordinance, allowing it to increase an existing stormwater fee. Public Works Spokesman Eric Jones says the small addition to the monthly utility bill would be an efficient solution:

Karen Richards

Officials broke ground on a new affordable housing complex in north Eugene today (Monday). Phase two of Bascom Village will be sure to fill up quickly.

Near County Farm Road and Coburg Road, earth movers clear the ground for the second half of the Bascom Village community, which will have 48 units.

Karen Richards

Elected officials and Chamber of Commerce leaders gathered in Eugene today (Thursday) to recognize a company that's hired 250 people in just four months. FirstSource Solution plans to more than double that number in its next phase.

The Mumbai-based company signed a 10-year lease on the Chad Drive property. FirstSource provides online chat support for a large telecommunications company. Chris Autrey is the Site Director. He says even though the Eugene area has several other customer support centers, his company hasn't had difficulty finding workers:

Karen Richards

As Eugene 4J schools prepare for students, several Roosevelt Middle School staff had a preview of the place they'll be working a year from now.

About two dozen teachers and staff donned hard hats to walk next door and tour the project, which began about four months ago. The new school is coming together quickly. Maintenance Coordinator Randy Williams is on the design committee:

Karen Richards

Dr. Gustavo Balderas, Eugene 4J's new superintendent, addressed teachers, staff and administrators from the district this [Thursday] morning. Most were meeting him for the first time.

The response to the new Superintendent was overwhelmingly positive. His speech received a standing ovation, unusual for a back to school presentation. Doug Doerfert directs the band at South Eugene High School:

Doerfert: "I felt it was very inspirational, just to see a different background from another superintendent."

http://www.fs.usda.gov/willamette/

Bow hunting season opened in Oregon over the weekend. Local land managers are welcoming visitors to the forests, but they have several cautions.

Recent rains and cooler temperatures have brought a taste of fall.

But Jude McHugh of the Willamette National Forest says the moisture hasn’t penetrated the tree canopy, and fire danger remains high:

http://www.co.benton.or.us

People in and around Sweet Home will soon have a new health care center, due to a $1.1 million dollar federal grant.

The two-year grant comes from Affordable Care Act funds, and will be used to expand an existing clinic. Sherlyn Dahl is Director of Community Health Centers for Benton and Linn Counties. She says it’s important for residents of rural areas to be able to easily find high-quality wrap-around services:

Northwest wildfires have had widespread effects on travel and air quality. Another unfortunate consequence is a critically low blood supply.

Several compounding factors have squeezed the blood supply. Mobile donation drivers can’t get to some rural sites, and university and high school drives aren’t yet running. There are other reasons, too, says Cynthia Vignos of the Lane Blood Center:

www.lanecountyfarmersmarket.org

Fresh, local produce has been a fixture in downtown Eugene since 1915. The Lane County Farmers Market celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend.

It used to be called the Eugene Producers’ Public Market, but it originally opened in the same space it occupies today: 8th Avenue and Oak Street. Today the Farmer’s Market includes more than 85 growers, and has incorporated the wintertime holiday market, and Tuesdays and Thursdays in the summer. Carrie Swarts is the Market Manager. She says the long-term dream is for an indoor-outdoor space at the Park Blocks:

www.lanearts.org

Arts and cultural organizations around the state will benefit from this year’s record-breaking Oregon Cultural Trust grants. The awards, totaling $2.6 million dollars, are up 30 percent over last year.

The Oregon Cultural Trust is funded by Oregon residents, who receive tax credits for their donations. This year’s record high giving, together with a legislative change to the distribution model, allowed the Trust to distribute more money than ever. The Lane Arts Council received over $21,000 for an “arts asset map.” Executive Director Liora Sponko explains:

kval.com

Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire sparked Wednesday afternoon near Eugene. The Chambers Mill fire, about three miles south of Lorane, has worsened local air quality. Firefighters worked through the night, bulldozing a line around most of the perimeter. Cynthia Orlando is with the Oregon Department of Forestry, which is fighting the fire:

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency

Air quality in the south Willamette Valley declined earlier this week due to smoke from wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California. A new fire south of Eugene has further increased risks. Residents may need to prepare for a long stretch of hazy conditions.

https://act.everytown.org

Oregon’s new gun background check law took effect yesterday [Sunday]. The legislation requires all gun sales, including private exchanges, to be vetted through a federally licensed dealer.

With the new law, Oregon becomes the 12th state to require universal background checks. Legislators hope criminal and mental health checks for private and online sales will reduce gun violence in the state. Amy Ruiz is with the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund:

Karen Richards

A recent article in the New Yorker and the July Fourth earthquake near Springfield have generated concern for the potential of a massive Cascadia event in the Northwest. Scientists at the U of O have been working to strengthen Oregon’s early warning systems.

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