Rachael McDonald

Reporter / Interim News Director

As of 7/1/17 Rachael is KLCC's interim News Director.  A search for a new News Director will begin soon.

Rachael McDonald started her career at KLCC as a volunteer in the newsroom in 2000.  Rachael was hired by the Northwest News Network to establish their Richland bureau in 2004. She returned to KLCC in 2007. She reports on city and county government, politics, the environment, homelessness  and a variety of other local and regional stories. Rachael has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Oregon. Rachael has won numerous awards for her reporting including first place from PRNDI for her story "Garden Brings Community Together" and for her interview with Naseem Rhaka, author of "The Crying Tree".  Rachael enjoys reading, hiking, biking and cooking.

Ways to Connect

City of Eugene

Eugene's Sheldon Branch Library has been spared from closure. The Budget Committee Wednesday night agreed to keep both branch libraries open and cut back Sunday hours at the main downtown building.

Rachael McDonald

Homeless advocates say a grassy area between a busy highway and the main line railroad in north Eugene is not a good place for the residents of Whoville. The City Council last week voted to approve a 3rd pilot "rest stop" for the people who've been at a camp near downtown for months.

It's a narrow piece along Northwest Expressway, near its intersection with River Road. No sidewalks. As vehicles whiz by, Ken Lainy sits in his wheelchair on a gravel driveway.

Eugene agogo

The public has the chance this week to comment on the latest ideas for shoring up Eugene's $2.5 million deficit. The budget committee will have a public hearing Wednesday.

Rachael McDonald

The northwest is famous for political activism-- WTO protests, tree-sits, Occupy… When activists get arrested, there's a law firm in Eugene that might represent them for no little or no money. Lauren Regan's Civil Liberties Defense Center celebrates its tenth year at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference this weekend.

uo lawblog

Thousands of Environmental activists, lawyers and students will be at the University of Oregon in Eugene this weekend for the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. The 3 day event begins Thursday afternoon.

The theme of the law conference this year is "Running into Running Out"

Brinson: "With the 6th largest mass extinction currently happening, we've got to do something. So hopefully, this conference can be an opportunity for people to figure some of this stuff out."

City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council is considering an ordinance that would require employers to provide sick leave to their workers.

The proposal was brought forward Monday night by Councilors Alan Zelenka and Claire Syrett. Eugene would follow Portland and Seattle, which have sick leave ordinances in place. Syrett said 25-thousand workers in Eugene don't have sick leave.

City of Eugene.

The Eugene City Council plans to extend its sunset date for a program that allows homeless people to camp in designated 'rest-stops'. This means Whoville residents have more time at their camp near downtown.

Rachael McDonald

Eugene's First Friday Art Walk was postponed to this Friday, Valentine's Day, because of the snow last week. Downtown will be graced with new light for folks who come to the Art Walk.  

A brand new light display will be turned on at dusk Friday.
Sarah Bennett is President of Downtown Eugene Incorporated, or DEI. She says the lighting treatment is a permanent year-round installation.

Rachael McDonald

It will take time to determine the long-term economic impacts of the extreme weather that hit the region this past week. But there are some immediate effects we can observe.

Monday was the first day many area residents were able to emerge from their homes after two snowstorms and freezing rain caused downed trees, power outages and treacherous road conditions. Dave Hauser, President of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, says a lot of people waited out the storm and businesses and events lost revenue.

Two local manufacturing plants have announced they're closing. Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. closed its plant at the former Monaco site in Harrisburg Monday. The plant employed 120 people.

Springfield based Sierra-Pine told the Register Guard it will close its particle board plant in April. That company has 87 employees. Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hauser says the closures are a blow to the local economy.

ODOT

A rising Yaquina River has eaten away the foundation of U.S. 20 through the Coast Range in a narrow, twisty section that for years has made trouble for drivers and highway workers alike.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says travel at a curve about four miles west of Eddyville in Lincoln County will be down to a single lane while crews bring in rock to rebuild the foundation. ODOT Spokesman Rick Little says the area was hit hard by the recent snowstorm.

The Springfield City Council is considering a measure to pay its members. Monday they asked a committee to look into crafting a proposal that could go before voters in November.

The measure would require changing the city charter, which forbids such compensation.  Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati says councilors do get expenses reimbursed. But they're doing up to 35 hours a week of work. Laudati says the proposal is not meant to be a living wage.

EWEB Facebook page

Thousands of Oregonians were still without power Monday morning after Saturday's ice storm. Crews from local utilities have been working long hours to restore it but for a few people the wait may go into tomorrow.

As of Monday morning about 14 hundred Eugene Water & Electric customers were without power.  EWEB's Joe Harwood estimates Saturday morning about 6 thousand had their power out. Harwood says Saturday's ice storm was unprecedented:

Updated 8:15  a.m. Monday

Transportation

• Lane Transit District - 24 will not serve Pearl St. and 34th-it will stay on Donald
28 will not serve Martin, service will end at Snell.
41 & 43 will not run on 8th-using 6th or 7th instead.
EmX using alternative stop at Hilyard Station only. Posted: Mon. 10th, 06:31 AM

  • Tonight's (Sat. 2/8) UO Opera Ensemble presentation "A Tale of Two Women" has been cancelled or postponed. As of this writing (9:40 a.m. on 2/8), the Sun. 2/9 presentation is still planned, though this may change.
  • The Eugene Folklore Event for Saturday, Feb.. 8th has been cancelled.

Updated 10:12 a.m. Saturday

Rachael McDonald

There will be a lot of beer to taste at the KLCC Microbrew Festival this Friday and Saturday. But only one of the ales will be poured out of a robot's nose. LagerBot which will be dispensing at the Ninkasi booth at the Brewfest.

Erikson: "I'm Erik Erikson. I'm a software engineer at 3Cinteractive. A company in downtown Eugene."

Davis: "My name's Mark Davis. I'm a managing member over at CodeChops co-working space in Eugene."

Updated at 12:25 p.m. Thursday

Oregon State Police report hazardous road and weather on I-5 between Salem and Eugene and urge caution.  Request people not drive unless they have to. 

All Lane Community College Campuses will close today (Thursday, February 6) at 1 p.m.

Counties
Benton County and City of Corvallis offices are closing due to snow and icy conditions across the county as of 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Oregon Department of Forestry has reached a settlement with conservation groups that had sued to prevent logging in forests that are home to a threatened seabird.   The agreement was filed Wednesday in U-S District Court in Eugene and still must be approved by a judge.

Rachael McDonald

A small minnow native to Oregon's Willamette Valley could be removed from the Federal Endangered Species List. The Oregon chub is the first fish to be de-listed because its population has been restored. The announcement came Tuesday near Eugene.

The Oregon Chub was listed as endangered 20 years ago. At that time there were only about 1000 of the tiny fish in the Willamette Basin. Three years ago it was moved to threatened status. Now, biologists say there are more than 100 thousand Oregon chub.

Bangs: "Bouncing around in my hand. But that's a little Oregon chub."

This Tuesday, February 4th  at 6:30 pm KLCC will be airing a special forum on the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Representative Peter DeFazio organized the public forum to air his concerns over the Fast Track trade agreement now being negotiated. The forum was recorded on January 22nd.Alternative Radio will take the night off.

Wikipedia

The northwest is in for another arctic blast this week. Snow is likely this weekend in the lower elevations, including the south Willamette Valley.

Andy Bryant is with the National Weather Service in Portland. He says it will be very cold this week in Oregon. In the Willamette Valley daytime highs will be in the low to mid 30s Wednesday and Thursday. He says overnight lows will be in the teens.

Jes Burns

This month, the Eugene 4J School Board is expected to make its decision about the fate of Civic Stadium.

4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman is expected to announce his recommendation at 4 p.m. Monday. Proposals from Fred Meyer, Eugene YMCA and The City of Eugene to purchase the property are each being considered. Eugene School district spokeswoman Kerry Delf says the School Board makes the ultimate decision February 19th.

Rachael McDonald

Whoville residents have a month before the City of Eugene will shut it down. Meanwhile the City Manager is tasked with finding somewhere else for the 30 to 40 homeless people to go. The City Council voted 6 to 2 Wednesday to set the deadline.

Counselor Claire Syrett made the proposal. The City Manager recently announced the Whoville camp at West Broadway and Hilyard would have to close. Police put up no trespassing signs, then a fence with openings around the lot. Syrett says the council heard from community members asking for the camp to stay.

Bethel School District

Students at Eugene's Bethel School District will get five days back in their academic calendar this spring.

That's a combination of make up days for last month's snowstorm and a better budget outlook. The district is adding the 5 days back the week following spring break. That week in April had been scheduled as Budget Reduction Days. Bethel Superintendent Colt Gill says the district surveyed students, parents and staff.

KLCC and OPB will collaborate on a Think Out Loud program focusing on homelessness in Eugene. Listen at noon Thursday on KLCC for a discussion of what works and what's possible as we address the crisis of homelessness.

http://defazio.house.gov/

4th District Congressman Peter DeFazio praised President Obama for his focus on the need for jobs in his state of the union address. The Springfield Democrat agrees these jobs can come from investments in transportation infrastructure. And, DeFazio says Oregonians who are unemployed need their extended benefits.

Peter DeFazio: "I agree that it’s time for Congress to renew unemployment insurance for Oregonians and Americans who want to work but can't find a job. There are 5 unemployed Oregonians chasing every job in our state."

Lane and Douglas County saw some improvement in their jobless rates last month.  In Lane unemployment dropped to 6.9 percent while Douglas County dropped to 10 percent.

Brian Rooney is a regional Labor Economist with the State Employment Department. He says December saw modest job growth, mainly in the service industry.

Desmond O'Boyle

Eugene City Councilors Monday proposed extending the sunset date on the rest-stop ordinance until October 31, 2014. This will require a public hearing.

Councilor Claire Syrett says she'd like the city to add a third rest-stop for homeless people at 8th and Mill or another location near downtown. Residents of Whoville, a homeless camp at West Broadway and Hilyard in Eugene have been told they'll have to leave that site. Last Friday, police erected a fence with openings around the lot. Michael Adams was among those who testified to council.

Rachael McDonald

College textbooks are too expensive and many students can't afford them. The Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group released a national survey Monday on textbook costs and alternatives.

Lane Community College Student Body President Paul Zito says he has only bought 4 textbooks in the 3 years he's been a student. He takes a normal course-load but he can't afford the books. Instead Zito looks for the information himself.

Several wildfires sparked overnight in the Oregon coast range and Cascade foothills. The National Weather service has issued a rare January Red Flag Warning for the region.

Trina Hartley is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.  She says strong easterly winds encouraged the small blazes. A few are in the Cascades in southern Oregon But there were also several fires in the coast range.

Hartley: "On the coast in particular it's hard to get a fire started in July so to have these fire starts in January is extremely rare."

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