Karen Richards

Reporter

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

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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:

People text donations, they text votes to reality shows, now they can text a power outage. In time for winter weather, the Eugene Water and Electric Board has launched a new reporting service.

EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood says when their system was overloaded in February’s snowstorm, they started working on a solution. During that storm they also had to educate some younger customers who didn’t know they had to tell EWEB when their power was out:

The Eugene 4J School District has begun its search for a new superintendent. Dr. Sheldon Berman is leaving the job in June. As a first step, the school board wants to create a profile of the ideal candidate. Kerry Delf is the Communications Coordinator for the district:

Delf: “As with the last time we were seeking a new superintendent, the school board has hired an executive search firm to help conduct that process. This is a nationwide search. The school board will be looking at any local and regional candidates as well as anybody who applies from across the nation.”

Eugene 4J School District

The Eugene 4J School District and the YMCA appear to have found common ground this week in efforts to relocate the recreational facility. They’ve agreed to tentative terms for the “Y” to purchase land at 24th and Hilyard.

The proposal would give the Eugene Family YMCA the option to purchase the Roosevelt Middle School property for 2.85 million dollars. That’s nearly double the Y’s September offer of 1.5 million. Dave Perez, the YMCA’s Executive Director, says he’s confident the nonprofit will be able to raise the money:

www.newslincolncounty.com

Federal District Court Judge Michael McShane will hold a hearing Thursday in the Newport Fisherman’s Wives’ suit against the U.S. Coast Guard. As theCoast Guard air facility in Newport is scheduled to close Monday, the timing is tight.

Dungeness crab season has started in Oregon and more boats are heading into the Pacific from Newport’s Yaquina Bay. Kevin Greenwood is the Manager of the Port of Newport. He says many people are concerned about the increased response time if troubled vessels can’t get help from Newport’s rescue helicopter:

ratehospitals.com

Caregivers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center have agreed on a two-year contract. Over 300 members of  S-E-I-U Local 49 had been without a contract for the past year. Jesse Stemmler is with the Service Employees International Union. He feels the walkout in late October was key:

Stemmler: “Having the three-day strike, and just seeing the overwhelming support was really a big help for these workers. This is a process, and the contract has been settled. This is by no means an end to the important work they’re doing.”

toysrus.com

The holiday season often means shopping for toys and games for young people. One Oregon consumer advocacy group wants people to remember to avoid dangerous toys.

forestcamping.com

New camping rules for parts of the Umpqua National Forest near Cottage Grove go into effect today (Monday). Officials say long-term, homeless campers have created unsanitary conditions.

Camping along portions of Brice Creek and Sharps Creek will be limited to 14 days in a 45-day period. Melissa Swain is with the Cottage Grove Ranger District. She says the rule is changing because some campers have not kept clean sites:

www.newslincolncounty.com

Newport's search and rescue Coast Guard air facility is scheduled to cease operations December 15th. Tuesday morning, four groups filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Eugene to try to stop the closure.

In the lawsuit, the Newport Fishermen's Wives, along with the City of Newport, Lincoln County, and the Port of Newport allege the Coast Guard failed to follow the legal process required to decommission a facility. They claim the Coast Guard has not adequately assessed impacts to public and environmental safety. Ginny Goblirsch is with the Newport Fishermen's Wives.

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