What's New

Cafe rebuildVIDA: Rebuilding of the fire damaged Vida Cafe is now underway. For owner Sue Nelson, though, that doesn’t mean the doors will be opening for customers soon. “I just heard from the contractor,” she said on Tuesday. “He said the work should be complete towards the end of August and we should open around September first.”
Part of the challenges are fire-related, she noted. Each time damage is discovered and repaired it has to be inspected before workers can cover it up. An 8 foot by 8 foot new addition now sits on a portion of the cafe’s driveway to the east. It replaces the back portion of the building that had to be removed.

McKenzie SchoolsFINN ROCK: Discussions on the “Oregon Rising” survey supported by state educators generated some local talk last week. At the June 15th McKenzie School Board meeting superintendent Jim Thomas suggested people approach the questionnaire as if it was a clean slate.
“Think about what our schools should look like,” Thomas suggested. “What should they look like if we had all the resources available to us to provide the best education for all our kids?”
One item on his own wish list would be to find a way to create a high quality technical career education program. “We offer two periods of shop for our kids,” Thomas said. “That’s it (excluding the business courses we offer). That’s almost criminal.”

Hwy 242 debrisMCKENZIE BRIDGE: At 8 a.m. on June 20th, highway crews opened the snowgate for motorized traffic to cross the Old McKenzie Pass.  

EWEB drinking waterEUGENE: EWEB commissioners took another look at ways to implement and maintain a comprehensive drinking water source protection program last week. At the June 7th meeting of the Eugene Water & Electric Board, staffers Karl Morgenstern & Steve Newcomb gave a presentation covering the McKenzie watershed plans and budget, including an expansion to the Coast & South Forks of the Willamette to cover  Alternative Water Supply drainage areas.
Currently, the utility draws its drinking water from a single source - the McKenzie River. Under study are plans to, “Measure the balance between watershed health and human use over time and to implement actions that maintain a healthy balance for production of exceptional water quality,” according to the report. EWEB is also exploring options that would include a water intake from the North Fork of the Willamette River.
A primary goal of the program will focus on measuring “The balance between watershed health and human use over time and to implement actions that maintain a healthy balance for production of exceptional water quality.”

Top of the PassEarly  in  the  winter,  most  of  Oregon’s  mountains  were  on  track  to  have  a  near  normal  snow   season, according to the June Water Supply Outlook Report released by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, an unusually warm springtime temperatures abbreviated the winter and started an early and rapid snowmelt.
While about half of monitoring sites in the state recorded near normal peak amounts of snow, most of those peaks occurred between one to four weeks earlier than normal. “The early snowmelt has resulted in streamflows peaking sooner and beginning to recede to mid-summer levels up to four weeks early,” said NRCS Snow Survey Supervisor Scott Oviatt.

MNC wreeckOn June 1, 2016 at 3:55 PM the Oregon State Police- Springfield Troopers were dispatched to motorcycle versus pickup crash. While en route to the crash, troopers learned the operator of the motorcycle was pronounced deceased at the scene. The preliminary investigation revealed 2015 Yamaha was being driven by Mr. Brady A. Williams (age 18 from Eugene). Mr. Williams was traveling eastbound on McKenzie Highway (HWY 242) near milepost 56).

Cafe porchVIDA: Work to repair the fire damaged Vida Cafe was expected to begin this week, after long awaited building permits have been finalized. A big part of the delay, according to cafe owner Sue Nelson, was Lane County’s concerns with prior violations dating back more than 30 years - things Nelson says she and more than one previous owners never knew existed.
Starting with removal of asbestos flooring, McKenzie Taylor Construction will be doing more than a simple rebuild. Part of the approval process called for a reconfiguration of the building. “I’m going to lose the whole back half of the cafe,” Nelson said. The new addition will extend another 8 feet by 8 feet, sitting on a portion of the driveway and extending toward her adjacent house.

Oregon's BountyStrawberries, squash, asparagus,  and salad greens — not to mention a vast array of bedding plants, flowering baskets, and fresh-cut flowers — are just a few favorites of the agricultural bounty of spring. But if people want to buy directly from the source, where do you go?  
“Everyone knows where their local farmers market is. But what about farm stands, u-pick fields, and on-farm festivals out in rural areas? That’s where Oregon’s Bounty comes in,” said the Oregon Farm Bureaus Communications Director Anne Marie Moss.  
Oregon’s Bounty website at oregonfb.org is a searchable directory of over 300 family farms and ranches that sell food and foliage directly to the public.

DumpMCKENZIE BRIDGE: A $1.5 million shortage between operating costs and revenue generated is facing Lane County’s Waste Management Division. County dumps receive no property tax funding to operate.
The Board of County Commissioners is tentatively scheduled to receive a presentation regarding a consultant’s report in August and begin public discussion of the options. “We chose August in order to allow ample time for public feedback in July,” according to Devon Ashbridge, Lane County’s Public Information Officer. “The timeline also allows for in-depth board discussion outside of the larger budget process, which will conclude by the end of June. Commissioners will make the ultimate decision on which, if any, of the identified options to pursue.”
The report  includes the option of closing some of the smaller, rural transfer stations and has identified McKenzie Bridge as a possible site. Other possible changers could mean an end to discounts for senior citizens and for people who recycle their offcasts.

Charter school busFINN ROCK: A “horrendous $459,000 budget deficit” and the loss of 6.91 positions is the harsh image officials see when they look toward the future, people learned at the April meeting of the McKenzie School Board. An alternate opportunity, based on the possible creation of a public charter school, was also up for review.
A sixteen member charter school steering committee is currently exploring what impacts the changeover might bring about. Some of their talking points range from maintaining current offerings to reviving dormant programming lost during budget and enrollment declines. Some of the latter include classes in Home Economics, shop or health occupations.
Offering insights on legalities as well as tips from programs developed at other schools was Kate Pattison from the Oregon Dept. of Education. “In your case you would have a K-12 charter school that would be governed by a separate board potentially responsible for the curriculum and what programs look like,” she noted.

Pages

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.