Karen Richards

Reporter

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

Ways to Connect

https://www.facebook.com/DouglasForestProtectiveAssociation

A fire burning west of Roseburg jumped its lines last (Wednesday) night, and has expanded to an estimated 600 acres. Here is an update on the Cable Crossing Fire.

The fire off highway 138 near Glide started Tuesday afternoon. Kyle Reed, with the Douglas Forest Protection Association, says it’s grown beyond their capacity:

Reed: “Our district covers 1.6 million acres. So with this fire growing in complexity and size we went ahead and brought in a team from the Oregon Department of Forestry. And basically they’re coming in to relieve our guys working on that fire.”

eugene-or.gov

Springfield’s City Council voted unanimously last week to add a fire renewal measure to the fall ballot. The property tax levy would give a five-year extension to one expiring in June.

City spokesman Neil Laudati says merging Eugene and Springfield’s fire departments has saved money by consolidating the Fire Chief and Fire Marshals office:

Laudati: “But when you talk about the renewal of the levy, it’s specific to Springfield, it’s specific to having five stations in Springfield. So this levy is for the cost of the operation of a fifth station in Springfield.”

Joe Chung

Oregon has enjoyed cooler days over the past week, thanks to low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska. By Wednesday, extremely hot weather is expected to return.

Andy Bryant is with the National Weather Service. He says people should be prepared for above average temperatures later this week:

Bryant: “In the south Willamette Valley, we have a forecast high on Thursday of 100 for Eugene. It looks like it’s going to be hot all throughout western Oregon.”

plannedparenthood.org

Last week, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Oregon received a federal grant for its teen pregnancy prevention programs.

The Office of Adolescent Health awarded nearly 19 million dollars, spread over multiple programs in the Northwest. Eugene-based Planned Parenthood Vice President Mary Gossart says their portion—150- to 180 thousand dollars--will fund a five-year program:

www.envirodec.com

Wood product manufacturers in Springfield and Eugene now have preferential access to federal development funds. Local leaders head to Washington, D.C. tomorrow [Tuesday] to help advance their goals.

US Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers sent inspectors to 13 Willamette Valley dams following Saturday’s magnitude 4.2 earthquake. All of them were judged to be safe.

Protocol requires dams within 75 miles of a magnitude 4.0 or greater earthquake be inspected within 24 hours.

Karen Richards

A busy season's wrapping up at Hayward Field Thursday through Sunday in Eugene. The USA Track and Field Championships will decide the team for the World Championships in Beijing. The USA Junior Championships determine the athletes under 20 for the Pan Am Games in Toronto. The dual events are poised to provide drama.

 Temperatures are forecast in the high 90's for the weekend, unusual for Hayward Field. As Track Town USA's Vin Lananna says, in 10 years in Eugene he has yet to apologize for the weather:

Karen Richards

At just about a year since its formation, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network or “RAIN” in Eugene is thriving.

RAIN Eugene is a collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce, the Cities of Eugene and Springfield and the University of Oregon. It strives to help startups launch and generate local jobs and growth. Sixteen companies have completed the program. Only a couple of those have closed. Most are looking for partners, funding or to hire employees. Chief Startup Officer Joe Maruschak (MARUSE-CHECK) says momentum is building.

ODFW: Philip Milburn

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has been studying kit foxes since 2012. Recently, they captured rare video of two adults and their five playful pups.

Kit foxes are a diminutive desert animal, just four to six pounds. They’re listed as a sensitive species in Oregon, with a small or declining population. Meghan Dugan with ODFW says Malheur and Harney Counties are as far north as the species has been found:

Kari Greer / U.S. Forest Service

The federal government is one step closer to changing the way it pays to fight wildfires. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said the preliminary legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Wildfires are not treated the same as other natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes. This forces the U.S. Forest Service to take money intended for fire prevention efforts, like thinning, and use it to fight fires. Under the new system, Senator Merkley explains the wildfire budget would be based on the 10-year average cost.

www.blacksheepgathering.org

You won’t see many white sheep at this weekend’s  Black Sheep Gathering at the Lane County Fairgrounds. The show was founded 41 years ago to preserve the genetics of black, brown and grey animals.

The event began in the mid-1970s with gatherings held at people’s homes. It’s grown every year and this year will take over the convention space as well as the expo barns at the fairgrounds. Wayne Thompson has been involved for 35 years:

OR Department of Forestry

It’s officially wildfire season in Oregon. As of Tuesday, every district in the state is subject to fire restrictions.

Most years, it’s around July 4th before the northwest part of the state declares fire restrictions. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Rod Nichols says low snowpack and dry weather have accelerated the season. He says the rules apply mostly to industrial work:

Nichols: “Logging operations for example need to have a fire watch present after they finish logging for the day and they also have to have fire suppression equipment positioned on site.”

Karen Richards

Photos were taken Friday evening, June 12. 

Karen Richards

The blimp flying over Eugene the past few days is on a summer farewell tour. Goodyear’s 13-year old “Spirit of America,” is being decommissioned in August.

The blimp is being replaced by a zeppelin, a more maneuverable craft with some internal structure. Eddie Ogden is a historian for Goodyear. He says Eugene is a great location for customer appreciation flights:

Ogden: “We came in to Eugene, because first of all we haven’t been here since 2007, and it was a good stop on the way up to Washington where the U.S. Open is being held.”

Karen Richards

The NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship is halfway done. The last two days feature nothing but finals. Both the University of Oregon’s men and women finished their first day in the lead.

The Duck men are looking to repeat last year’s title win. They performed well, as they were expected to, on Wednesday. Senior Sam Crouser won the javelin for the second year in a row and has high hopes for the team:

University of Oregon

The NCAA track and field championships take place this week at Hayward Field. For the first time ever, the men's and women's teams will compete on different days.

The coaches and administrators decided early this year to separate the competitions. Shortly after, ESPN announced plans to expand its TV coverage of the event, including airing Friday's men's championship on ESPN and Saturday's women's championship on ESPN 2. Some athletes are less than enthusiastic.

City of Eugene

The City of Eugene has coordinated a pilot project to bring high-speed fiber optic cable to three buildings downtown. Two were connected last week.

Fiber optic lines already span much of Eugene. The schools, the city, and major medical facilities have it. But a lot of other fiber is “dark.” It hasn’t been taken from its source to people who would use it. The city spent 100-thousand dollars to help light some of the dark cable, hoping to attract and retain businesses downtown. Economic Development Planner Anne Fifield says it’s not just tech companies who can benefit:

Eugene Airport

This fall, Eugene air passengers will have a new nonstop flight option. Horizon Air announced today (Monday) they're adding daily direct flights to San Jose.

San Jose was identified over five years ago as an underserved market. A partnership between the Eugene Airport and several economic development groups secured a half-million dollar grant to help establish the new service. Dave Hauser is President of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce:

preclassic.runnerspace.com

Millions of people around the world will be watching Eugene this weekend. This year’s Prefontaine Classic track and field meet takes place Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field.

Friday night’s free program includes the men’s 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. Local favorite Galen Rupp will run the 5K and Olympic champion Mo Farah is entered in the 10K. Prefontaine spokesman Jeff Oliver says the entire meet will be outstanding:

portland2016.com

Track Town USA is hosting a big party in Portland Wednesday afternoon. Here are some details about the countdown to the 2016 World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Vin Lananna is used to working with stakeholders in Eugene and Springfield on big track and field events. Speaking from Portland, the TrackTown USA President says there’s been plenty of enthusiasm for track in the Rose City:

Lananna: “The city the mayor, the commissioners here, in this community, the local people, the businesses, have been just fantastic.”

eugene-or.gov

Eugene’s Parks and Open Space Department has been considering a smoking ban for years. They happened to present their idea to the City just as the City Council began debating a downtown smoking ban.

There’s plenty of precedent for these kinds of bans. All Oregon State Parks are smoke free. Craig Carnagey is with Eugene’s Parks Department. He says the ban is a logical step:

Lane County’s deadliest stretch of road will be getting some safety improvements soon, and officials hope for additional long-term changes. Work begins soon on the construction on Highway 126 West near Walton.

There were ten deaths in 12 months last year on Highway 126 between Eugene and the coast. In response, Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich organized a task force to study how to prevent more accidents.

Bozievich: “Most of the crashes were lane departures. And it was either due to excessive speed or driver distraction.”

lanecc.edu

The Lane Community College board voted four to two Wednesday night to eliminate the Auto Body and Electronic Technology programs. The controversial decision came just after dozens of people voiced their concerns in a public comment session.

The administration proposed the cuts as part of its plan to offset next year’s projected $4.7 million dollar deficit. LCC staff, former and past students and local business owners said the board had asked the wrong questions and not followed procedures. Jim Salt is President of the LCC Education Association:

Over the next few years, more trucks in Oregon may be running on the waste from yesterday’s burgers. Oregon-based SeQuential Biofuels has upgraded its equipment and added jobs, to prepare for a growing market.

In mid-March, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the Clean Fuels Program bill. It requires sellers and manufacturers of transportation fuel to implement the reduced emissions rules legislators developed over the past five years. SeQuential’s Rachel Shaver says they’re expecting increased demand because the new law looks at lifecycle emissions:

Karen Richards

Soccer has been growing in the United States for years, and the number of professional teams is exploding. Fans in Eugene and Springfield are beneficiaries of the expansion. The Lane United Football Club begins its second season Friday.

Lane United is a semi-professional team. Most of the athletes are current top-tier college players. This year, there’s also a group of club players from Spain. Spokesman Chris Burke says the mix makes for a quality game:

Karen Richards

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio led a rally today (Monday) in Eugene. He was raising awareness of President Obama’s push for “fast track” authority to implement a controversial trade agreement.

City of Eugene

A controversial tax exemption program for housing in downtown Eugene has been suspended since 2013. Yesterday (Wednesday), the City Council voted to let the public comment on its amended version of the multi-unit property tax exemption, or MUPTE, program.

Karen Richards

Construction trucks are at work on the site of the new Roosevelt Middle School in South Eugene. Current sixth graders should be able to start eighth grade on the new campus.

Bonds approved in 2013 funded the rebuilding of four aging Eugene schools. Superintendent Shelley Berman says the recent groundbreaking is an exciting moment:

Berman: “We’re moving ahead in a very rapid way around Roosevelt. We hope that we’ll get it open in fall of 2016. I know that they’re beginning to move dirt and will be setting the foundation fairly soon.”

Karen Richards

Federal Judge Michael McShane is “on the fence” whether to stay a lawsuit brought by the Newport Fishermen’s Wives against the Coast Guard, or dismiss it. The suit is over the agency’s threatened closure of the rescue helicopter station.

The Mayor of Newport along with several city and county officials attended the hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Eugene. Attorney Sean Duffy represents the Coast Guard. He asked the judge to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiff’s lawyer Mike Haglund was upbeat after the hearing:

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