Karen Richards

Reporter

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

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Karen Richards

Governor John Kitzhaber visited Springfield today to tour the fire-devastated Swanson Mill and announced state help to rebuild it.

The plywood and veneer mill was destroyed last July in a massive fire, the cause of which is still unknown. The 33-acre site is now largely reduced to level concrete. Mayor Christine Lundberg says the blaze devastated the community:

Lundberg: “We lost not only an employer but we lost employees to the community so we’re enormously excited that Swanson has been able to see that this is the best site for them to rebuild.”

Karen Richards

Several hundred marchers gathered in Eugene today to honor Martin Luther King Junior.

 Speakers including Lane County NAACP president Eric Richardson and Congressman Peter DeFazio kicked off the event. Dr. King’s words “darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that,” had impact on the bright sunny morning. Several participants thought the race and equality issues of the past year brought energy to this year’s holiday. Eva Bertoglio is a student from Newberg:

uoregon.edu

Arnold Ismach, former Dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, died Wednesday.

Dean from 1985 to 1994, Ismach continued teaching until 2000. Duncan McDonald is Professor Emeritus at the school, and succeeded Ismach as Dean. He says Ismach took over the School of Journalism at a challenging time and with a limited budget:

Flu season usually peaks in the second or third week of January, but not this year. Flu cases are still increasing in Oregon, and at a steep rate.

The strain of the flu affecting most people in Oregon this year is called H-3-N-2. Jason Davis is with Lane County Health and Human Services. He says there's been misunderstanding about this year's flu vaccine.

"The vaccine will actually work against H3N2, it's just not working as well as we'd like it to, but it's still working. So, it's still a really good idea to get the vaccine, and it's far better than not getting it."

thenewsguard.com

Some scientists say the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake. In the past couple weeks, Business Oregon awarded grants to schools and emergency services for seismic upgrades. But, the Governor and others want to substantially increase that investment.

Karen Richards

The expanded U of O Student Recreation Center had its grand opening today. It includes 110,000 square feet of new space, including pools, studios, and gyms.

On day one, the shiny, new high tech spaces are already bustling with activity. Kevin Marbury is the Director of Physical Education at the U of O. He says the construction has been smooth, on budget and on time.

Anna King

For twenty years, Senator Ron Wyden has held a town hall meeting in each of Oregon's 36 counties. He starts 2015 with stops in Deschutes, Lane and Benton counties, among others.

Constituents communicate with elected officials many ways:  e-mail, Twitter, Facebook. Before the 114th Congress convenes, Senator Wyden will speak to people face to face in seven Oregon counties. Hank Stern is Senator Wyden's Press Secretary. He says the town hall meetings are conversational:

Oregon Department of Justice

Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has made a list of naughty and nice charities. During the last few days of giving for 2014, it's important to research non-profits, and know how their funds are spent.

Ellen Klem is with the Oregon Department of Justice. She says it's encouraging that no Oregon-based groups made the list of 20 worst charities this year:

Klem: "I think one of the tips we've been encouraging Oregonians to keep in mind this holiday season is to donate locally. It's a wonderful feeling to see your donation in action here in the state."

Oregon State Parks

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is peak whale-watching time at the Oregon Coast. The State Parks Department is ready with several programs for visitors.

(ambi: Dory from Finding Nemo)

People who don’t speak whale will find interpreters this week at the Oregon Coast. Hundreds of trained volunteers will staff 24 locations at just about every major lookout, helping people spot gray whales and learn about them. Brain Hoeh (HAY) is with the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. He says this week is ideal for whale watching:

Angela Kellner / KLCC

The Springfield School District is seeking input on the new Hamlin Middle School. It’s been 20 years since the district replaced a middle school, and its education specifications need to be updated before starting the design process. The new middle school is scheduled to open in fall, 2017. Public forums take place Tuesday and Wednesday at two times and locations. For details, visit the Springfield Public Schools website here.

The forums are scheduled:

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