Karen Richards

Reporter

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

Ways To Connect

Caregivers at a non-profit that runs group homes around the state began mediation today (Monday). The Lane County union is concerned about job cuts, while administrators say their numbers are sufficient. The employees held a rally this (Monday) morning in Eugene.

Albertina Kerr is based in Portland. It serves youth and adults with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. The Eugene office employs about 65 care givers. With the Raging Grannies singing in the background, union president Linda Peterson says staffing issues are more important than salary:

Karen Richards

The new Oregon State Hospital in Junction City hosted public tours today (Thursday). Approved by the State Legislature in 2007, the campus is nearly ready to accept patients.

The state-run psychiatric hospital has the capacity to house 174 people. It will offer treatment to adults who are civilly or criminally committed.

Greg Roberts is Superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital. He says philosophies have changed since he started working in mental health in the 1970s. Then, people often remained in the institutions for life:

Willamettepass.com

In preparation for heavy snow on the East Coast, airlines have canceled flights and officials have declared states of emergency. At the same time, Oregon ski resorts are facing a winter with little snow.

Willamette Pass resort’s homepage says simply: “Keep praying for snow.” Both it and Hoodoo opened for a handful of days early this season, but have been closed since. Still, there are some bright spots in Oregon:

:Berg: “We’re so lucky to have Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline where they have three, four, five feet of snow. It really makes a difference.”

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:

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