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February 15: Eugene-Springfield Fire

A decade ago, the Eugene and Springfield Fire Departments entered into a functional merger. While each City continues to budget and set policy for fire services, the department functions as a single unit.

Now the cities and the Department are considering what the future nature of the relationship will be. Chief Michael Caven will discuss the prospects.

March 7: Tribal One

Tribal One was incorporated in 2011 as the Mith-ih-Kwuh Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act. This federally-chartered corporation and its subsidiaries are 100% owned by the Coquille Indian Tribe of Southwestern Oregon.

While our values and approach to service are deeply tied to our Tribal roots, our impact can be found in a wide range of commercial architectural, engineering, and construction projects and professional services across the United States.

The organization is committed to creating a positive, lasting impact upon the communities in which we operate. To this end, the family of companies provides a comprehensive range of services dedicated to supporting client success.

Judy Farm, Chief Executive Officer, and David Hill, Director of Economic Development for Tribal One’s Lane County Operations will provide an overview of Tribal One’s business portfolio (including Construction, Economic Development, Communications Technology, and Professional Services), and how the work they do translates into benefits for both the Coquille Indian Tribe and the communities in which we do business.

Since 2014, Judy Farm has served as Tribal One CEO, directing the work of the company’s businesses and economic development team for the Coquille Indian Tribe. From 2014-2019, Judy also served as CEO of the Coquille Economic Development Corporation where she presided over the Tribe’s core gaming and hospitality business. Judy also served as a project manager and executive director of special projects for CEDCO and has held positions with Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield and Nike, Inc. She serves as a member of Board of Directors for the Nasomah Health Group, Colville Tribal Federation Corporation, Kids Unlimited Academy and Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc., and is a member of the Bay Area Hospital Community Foundation Committee.

David Hill is a native Oregonian and an enrolled member of the Coquille Indian Tribe. David graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in Family & Human Services and is an active volunteer serving on the Steering Committee for Leadership Eugene/Springfield, as well as Board of Directors for Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Community Lending Works in Springfield, OR. David serves as Director of Economic Development for Tribal One’s Lane County Operations, and is passionate about community engagement as a catalyst for economic development and growth. This passion comes from years of involvement in the hospitality and service industry, as well as his experience in working with vulnerable populations. David spent several years in the Portland Metro area working as a Field Sales Executive for FedEx Services, and in 2021, returned to the Willamette Valley working as Senior Sales Manager for Mereté Hotel Management, an award-winning hotel management company based in Springfield, OR. David lives with his husband Joe and their two bulldogs – Reggie and Brittany. They enjoy road trips, spending time with friends and family, and adventuring outdoors to explore Oregon’s abundance of forests, lakes, and rivers.

February 1 — Measure 110: The Providers Speak

Measure 110, which made significant changes in how Oregon deals with substance abuse and its impact on the community, has been a topic of animated discussion in the run up to the 2024 Legislative Assembly session which begins in February. Previously, Springfield City Club has sponsored programs which feature a panel, including Chief Deputy Lane County District Attorney Chris Parisa who supported either legislative change to the measure or potentially another ballot initiative. More recently, we hosted Dr. Camille Cioffi, who took no position on the measure and its scheme but discussed the data available to analyze the impact of the measure. This third program on the topic will feature a panel of providers who can describe the impact which the changes has had on the services they provide. Our guests will include Stephanie Cameron CRM II, CADC II, Founder/ Executive Director, Restored Connections Peer Center and Brittiny Raine, E.D. of Community Engagement) at Community Outreach through Radical Empowerment (CORE).

Services to deal with substance abuse are, under Measure 110, fund by grants of marijuana tax money to participants in Behavioral Health Resource Networks. Recent audits have raised questions about the distribution of these grants and the extent to which they have actually funded substance abuse recovery activities.

January 4 Program — Measure 110 continued

Continuing our series on Measure 110, On January 4 we heard from Dr. Camille Cioffi. Dr. Cioffi is a Research Assistant Professor at the Prevention Science Institute at UO. Her research focuses on improving health, mental health, and substance use outcomes among people with substance use disorders who are pregnant and parenting with a particular focus on highly stigmatized populations including people experiencing homelessness and people who inject drugs. Dr. Cioffi presented an overview of what research data show about the methods of dealing with substance abuse and treatment for substance abuse disorders.

She said there is clear evidence of what does works and results in three of the four adults experiencing substance abuse disorders report being in recovery, a condition that affects about 1 in every 10 adults.

The “gold standard,” she said, is medication treatment. As an example, she said, methadone treatment makes it more likely that individuals will stay in some other treatment regimen. She said that even without other treatment, medication treatment is effective. Contingency management –offering incentives to stop using drugs, is also effective, particularly when used in conjunction with medication. Even where there is no approved medication treatment, she said it can prove effective.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a common type of talk therapy (psychotherapy) involving work with a mental health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions, can be effective for cannabis and alcohol related disorders, but is less effective for so-called hard drugs unless paired with medication management.

Finally, motivational interviewing is effective as a way to motivate other treatment modalities, but less effective as a standalone treatment.

She said that research indicated that any of these treatment approaches needs to be sustained over a significant period. She said that anything less than 30 days did not appear to be particularly effective, especially since there are generally other issues to be addressed in an individual who is under treatment for a substance abuse disorder.

Other methods of treatment, she said, are not supported by clear evidence of success. Simply telling people drugs are bad doesn’t seem to work, nor do short residential stays, particularly when not coupled with some other therapeutic approach. Involuntary treatment also cannot be documented as being effective. While she said there can be short term benefits from involuntary treatment, the research shows no consistent result. In some studies, it seems to have some benefit, in others there are negative effects. The most recent study, she said, out of Massachusetts, appeared to show worse outcomes from involuntary treatment.

Peer support services, like 12 step programs seem to be effective because increased social support can increase confidence and self-esteem. On challenge is that often the ancillary support services are not available unless prescribed by a mental health professional and for many drug users there is no access to insurance so no way these services can be paid for.

She said that there is no evidence that harm reduction services (access to safe needles, safe syringe programs, etc.) are effective, although they can be a way to reach out to users and persuade them to voluntarily enter some form of treatment.

The critical issue with any of these therapies, she said, is that there be some form of coordinated care. Simple referrals alone don’t work. There are too many steps to get people engaged in services without external support. It is important that there be professional help to assess the variety of problems the user faces and find ways to address each of the problems, not just drug use. One positive benefit of Measure 110, she said, is that it has sparked an increase in opportunities for coordination of care.

During the question and answer period Dr. Cioffi was asked directly about the impact of Measure 110 on substance abuse disorders. She said that under Measure 110, more of the evince based treatments, like peer support and crime reduction services were now receiving funding rather than relying solely on private grants. While the measure was designed to increase capacity for treatment, she said, there is still a need for funding more efforts to reach out to users. She also said that very little of the Measure 110 funding was going toward prevention.

Dr. Cioffi described a situation where the drug user finds themselves in an inescapable loop. Users turn to crime as a financial issue since they can’t find employment. But one of the reasons they can’t is they have no access to personal care resources, cannot get housing because of their drug use and can’t get help even if they want because they have no support network to help them find services. Frankly, she said, most drug users don’t even know the Measure 110 exists and don’t know how to access any of the available services.

  1. Cioffi was critical of the suggestions for 48 to 72 hour “holds” to help reduce use by providing a “window of change.” Many users, she said, often go at least 72 hours between uses and, in addition, find jail a more comfortable place than being on the street, particularly in winter. She was also critical of “forcible detox” saying it more likely that someone would use after release from a situation where they were forcibly detoxed.

To view Dr. Cioffi’s presentation, please click this link: City Club Presentation.

To view the entire program on You Tube, click this link: Measure 110 continued.

 

 

November 16: Measure 110

The Oregon Drug Addiction and Treatment Act was passed by a voter referendum in November 2020. The Act (Ballot Measure 110), which became effective in January 2021 reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts of illegal drugs to a citation with a fine of up to $100. It provided that the fine could be avoided by completing a health assessment and created a system for getting services and support to drug users to get them to stop using drugs. The Legislature appropriated money from marijuana taxes to fund the assessment support and treatment programs.

In the two plus years since the measure was passed it has proved controversial. While advocates say it is functioning, many others question whether the decriminalization approach is working. Various proposals have surfaced seeking either to repeal or change the provisions of the Measure 1190 program.

Two groups seeking to make changes discussed their plans with the Springfield City Club on Thursday November 16.

Chief Deputy Lane County District Attorney Chris Parisa spoke on behalf of a group of district attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs, and the League of Oregon Cities about an eleven-step proposal to adopt legislation which, he said, would reverse some of the excesses and mistakes made in Measure 110.

Paige Richardson, owner of Springwater Partners, a consulting firm providing public affairs and political advice spoke of behalf of the Coalition To Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110, which is preparing one or more ballot initiatives to put before the voters in November of this year, if the Legislature does not take appropriate action.

Mr. Parosa and Ms. Richardson agreed that new ballot measures are not the preferred way to address the issues they see with the novel approach incorporated in Measure 110. But they noted that the upcoming session of the legislature is a “short” session, limited to 35 days, and they expressed concern that the legislature would succeed in efforts to adopt changes. Since ballot measures may only be adopted in even-numbered years, those they represent have concluded that the need is so urgent that they must be ready to get something on the 2024 ballot if the legislature does not act.

The goal of each effort is to “fulfill the promise of Measure 110 – deliver more treatment, more quickly, to more people.”

The 11 step proposal supported by Mr. Parosa, which Ms. Richardson says her group would support, includes the following elements:

  1. Reclassifying possession of controlled substances as a Class A misdemeanor. Formerly this was a Class C felony).
  2. A fix to a court decision which effectively gutted the statue which made delivery of a controlled substance a crime.
  3. Modify Senate Bill 48 which tried to end pretrial detention by developing a system which would allow sheriffs and the District Attorney to hold those accused of drug crimes pretrial.
  4. Provide funding to county probation services and allow probation officers to mandate those accessed of drug offenses into treatment.
  5. Create a new Class A Misdemeanor for use of a controlled substance in public. Establish a program to allow for diversion of those accused into a treatment program in lieu of prosecution.
  6. Create a new Class A Misdemeanor for use of a controlled substance in an enclosed space. (This is based on statistics which say that a large majority of transit vehicles test positive for evidence of drug use on their vehicles or in the air of the vehicles.
  7. Prioritize adequate e sustainable funding for specialty courts. (Mr. Parosa said that treatment courts had proven especially productive in dealing with specific sorts of crimes.)
  8. Allow for use of “welfare holds” up to 72 hours where a person may be placed in short term custody upon arrest if are intoxicated or demonstrate mental health problems. At the end of that time the person accused could be offered an opportunity to go into treatment or be released.
  9. Create adequate detox and stabilization capacity across the state.
  10. Support creation of an opioid overdose quick response system.
  11. Align requirements for siting of treatment facilities with the requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.

While both speakers said they supported the intent of those who voted for Measure 1210, they argued that the measure, which they said was funded by those outside of Oregon, failed to recognize the reality that Oregon is one of the highest addicted areas in the country while being dead last in the services provided. While voluntary treatment, they said, as contemplated by Measure 100, is well intended, the people who supported it are wrong about how drug addicted persons act.

When asked about the impact that recriminalization might have on the justice system, Mr. Parosa acknowledged that it might put an additional strain on the ability to prosecute offenders but, he argued, the thrust of the proposals is not to convict people, but to find ways to effectively get them to accept treatment and, thereby, be diverted from the criminal justice system. If they are successful, he said, the prosecutors and public defenders would be able to accommodate any increased burden.

Ms. Richardson said they are not attacking either the proponents of the supporters of Measure 110. She said that the measure was brought forward by the Drug Policy Alliance, a national group seeking the legalization of all drugs. The groups behind Mr. Parosa and Ms. Richardson’s efforts believe that the pillars of an effective drug policy include prevention, enforcement treatment, and harm reduction. While Measure 110 tries to accomplish the latter two goals, they believe that there are unintended consequence of the measure and that expectations for its success were far too high, particularly given that there was only a 90-day period to prepare for implementation, a time frame simply not adequate. They do not believe that the current problems are simply an implementation ”hiccup” but rather a failure to recognize what is needed to bring the current crisis under control.

To view the entire program on You Tube click Measure 110.

City Club is working to arrange programs offering alternative perspectives from supporters of the Measure 110 effort and service providers.

 

November 2: Managing Waste in Lane County

Lane County is seeking project funding to construct a state-of-the-art Integrated Material and Energy Recovery Facility (IMERF) in Lane County, Oregon. The IMERF would be the most technologically advanced waste processing facility in the country and would utilize technology and equipment built in the USA. The integrated facility would process municipal solid waste, single stream recycling, and organic waste to produce marketable recycling commodities and biogas for transportation. The facility would hopefully divert over 80,000 tons of material annually from the County’s landfill for processing, generate marketable natural gas, and would serve as a regional recycling hub for southwest Oregon.

The project is a public private partnership between Lane County, which holds the highest recycling rate of any county in Oregon, and Bulk Handling Systems. Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) is headquartered and has its main manufacturing facility in Eugene, Oregon. BHS is a worldwide leader in the innovative design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of sorting systems and components for solid waste management, recycling, waste-to-energy, and construction and demolition industries.

Dan Hurley, The Lane County Public Works Director, said that the County was motivated to explore this proposal because burying waste is not the most effective way to handle trash. Landfills compress waste which eliminates oxygen from the material in the landfill. That leads to deterioration which produces methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Maintaining a landfill is also expensive and requires a constant supply of additional land. Each 8-12 years a new “cell” must be added to the landfill at a cost of about $18 million. The current landfill at Short Mountain has a remaining useful life of about 20 years. Creating this facility would extend that life for another 20 to 30 years and avoid even more expensive solutions like those employed by Portland, which trucks its waste to eastern Oregon and Washington.

Jeff Orlandini, County Waste Management Division Manager, added that the system would increase the County’s recycling ability. White Lane County has the best recycling rate in the state now, at 52 percent., this system would get the County over the 70 percent mark, he said. This system permits also could capture about 80 percent of the methane that could be generated from organic waste, and removing organic new organic waste from the landfill would also help to extend its life. When asked about whether or not this change would interfere with the relationship with EPUD, who now uses methane from the landfill, he said that existing organics already in the landfill would generate methane to fulfill the agreement with EPUD for the full term of that agreement.

Concerns that have been raised about the project relate to the fact that the funding mechanisms would require regular increases in garbage rates over the next several years. Thes would result from increases in the “tipping fee” which Lane County imposes on haulers. That fee, which makes up about 20 percent of the average garbage bill would go up significantly to fund the costs of the $135 million project, which would be funded by $35 million from the County and $100 million from BHS. BHS will recoup some of its spending by selling the methane generated at the plant. The County expects to recover fees from plastic producers who are obliged to support recycling under legislation passed in 2019. Current estimates suggest that residential rates would rise by about 10 to 14 percent over the next six years and commercial rates would rise by 14 to 20 percent over that time.

While there are number of other waste related infrastructure projects which the County is exploring (such as potential relocation of the Glenwood transfer station or the construction of infrastructure to provide sewer service to Goshen and move the leachate from the landfill to the Wastewater Treatment Plant), staff has recommend moving this one ahead because it can take advantage of significant federal funding under the American Recovery Act which remains available only for a limited period of time.

The facility would not be a replacement for the existing EcoSort facility and the Glenwood transfer station. It would be located in Goshen, a little over a mile north of the Short Mountain landfill. Its location would offer a benefit to haulers because of the reduced distance saving haulers about three miles for each round trip.

Steve Miller of Bulk Handling Systems said that they already have local relationships between companies that will provide the construction and the steel needed for the facility, generating more local economic activity. He said that the facility would be constructed in about 24 months from the time the County approves the agreement with Bulk Handling Systems. The facility would also reduce the cost of handling recyclables because they could be processed locally rather than, as now, being transported to Portland for handling.  The gas produced by the plant would be dedicated to transportation needs (to take advantage of federal tax credits thereby reducing the net cost of the project) and would provide enough fuel to operate 115 trucks or buses for a year. He said LTD is one entity considering the possibility of using that fuel.

For a brief overview of the project and its goals, click HERE.  To view the entire presentation click PowerPoint. To view the entire program on You Tube click Managing Waste

October 19: The State of Local News

To understand the challenges the local journalism faces, one must understand the impact of major changes to the public ecosystem and general culture, according to Tim Gleason, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon and a long time print journalist. Mr. Gleason, and Noel Nash, the owner of The Chronicle, a hyperlocal newspaper covering Springfield and surrounding small communities, discussed the future of local journalism at the October 19 Springfield City Club program. “While we follow the same professional standards based on fact-based reporting, people make their own inferences about what we write based on their own perception of the world,” he said.

“We live in a world of news of assertion,” Gleason said, as opposed to fact-based news. The line between journalism and social media is constantly blurred. Too often, he added, people immediately jump to conclusions:” if it is consistent with what I believe, it must be true.”

Many of the challenges associated with local journalism can be traced to the fundamental changes in information gathering with the growth of the internet.  Since the founding of the nation, the business model for journalism has been based on a balanced of funding from advertisers and from readers who paid for subscriptions. With the expansion of internet access, businesses have discovered they no longer need to advertise in print media to reach their customers. They can do that with less cost by direct outreach. This disconnect between advertising and content has led to the demise of much of local print media, to be replaced by large national chains which commoditize news. Both presenters pointed to the substantial changes in the Eugene Register Guard as a demonstration of the effects. USA Today, they said, can produce a generic story on a topic which is uniformly distributed to all media in the huge Gannett chain. Interesting, perhaps, but with little or no connection to the community in which the reader lives.

By contrast, Mr. Nash pointed out, a local or hyperlocal news outlet would talk to individuals in the community about the impact of the subject on their lives and produce reporting which focuses attention on the local community. Mr. Gleason pointed to a recent school board election in Eugene. “If the Eugene Weekly hadn’t taken on the story,” he said,” it is possible that no one in Eugene would have even known there was an election.”

The challenge of funding local journalism is exacerbated by the reality that there is so much information or perhaps misinformation, available online. People say, “information wants to be free,” but Mr. Gleason pointed out that journalists need to pay the rent. Mr. Nash added that there is value in access to a newspaper either in print or electronically. “What you get for your subscription is curated information,” he said. “Probably everything in the paper can ultimately be found on the internet, with enough time and diligence in searching. The Chronicle organizes what is most interesting and useful to the local communities it serves.”

The other value, both presenters added, is that the information presented is fact-based journalism. The Chronicle, Mr. Nash said, works hard to remain non-partisan, to write a story that is governed by the traditional ethics of journalism and free from the biases of the reporter. Those ethics haven’t changed. “We report has we always have — two sources off the record or one source on the record.” In some ways, he added, the task might be simpler for local news. “You have to remember that the people you write about are the same ones you will see in the grocery line, or the coffee shop the next morning.”

Both presenters recognized the additional challenge of the local press that results from frequently hiring staff fresh out of school with no experience. While Mr. Nash said the Chronicle would be happy to be known as a place where journalists got their start and then moved on to larger markets, it is still important to train staff to high ethical standards and keep them focused on transparency. “Transparency is a way to deal with a lack of trust,” Mr. Nash said. “Nobody is going to trust by default, so we have to be seen as living up to the ideals we espouse.” Mr. Gleason overserved that this is an important part of getting people to care about their community and to think it is important to care about their community.

In response to a question, Mr. Nash said The Chronicle has far more print subscribers than electronic subscribers. What he has seen is that the most rapid growth in subscribers is from those who live in Eugene. “The Chronicle does not cover Eugene, but apparently many in Eugene are interested in what is happening in surrounding communities.”

Both presenters expressed concern about the future of funding for local journalism. Mr. Gleason suggested that it might be appropriate to consider additional tax subsidies for newspapers, much like the long standing reduced postal rate for the press. Mr. Nash said that The Chronicle has moved to add opportunities for philanthropic support of the paper. While large local companies serving a national market may not need to reach local residents by advertising, their interest in having a strong local community where they operate could be a motivation for them to donate to help the paper.

An audience question asked how information can be provided to a whole community divided between have and have nots, who cannot afford the price of a subscription. Mr.  Gleason said that question raised a more fundamental issue – how do we build a healthy civic culture. That is not simply a newspaper problem, he said, suggesting that it raised the important question of whether access to information required that the internet be treated like a public utility, to which all residents should be assured access.

You may listen to the complete program on You Tube by clicking this link: The State of Local News.

October 5: Better Streets for People and Businesses

Only twenty percent of the effort to solve transportation challenges lies in technical issues, according to Rob Zako, Executive Director of Better Eugene-Springfield transportation, a small local non-profit advocate for transportation improvements. Eighty percent of the challenge is getting people to overcome their fear of change and come together on what solutions might be. Mr. Zako told the City Club, on October 5, that BEST is trying to support improving transportation issues in the area by reversing the traditional approach.

In most cases, as a member of the audience said, the government proposes a solution to a problem it sees, often one that won’t occur for five or ten years. This immediately divides the public into those who support the idea and those who oppose it. BEST takes the approach, according to Mr. Zako, of starting from the other end, by reaching out to the public to see what issues they see today, not in the future, and what they see as ways to solve the issues that now exist. It works with communities to find acceptable solutions and then tries to generate support for those solutions among the public, and civic institutions before approaching government.

As an example of that approach, Mr. Zako pointed to a survey they recently released seeking input from the public on Springfield’s Main Street. They are, he said, asking the simple question: How safe, practical, and attractive is Main Street for everyone today? The public can respond to that survey by clicking on Main Street – Better Streets – BEST (best-oregon.org)

The Main Street survey is the most recent of the projects in which BEST is uivo9vkled. The organization was formed several years ago as a way to help evaluate the proposal to institute EmX service in West Eugene, a project which generated a great deal of controversy before it was actually constructed. More recently they have been involved in studies related to the Franklin boulevard corridor between Broadway and I-5, in Eugene, and the future of transportation efforts in River Road Santa Clara. In response to a question, Mr. Zako said that BEST probably would be taking a look at the current project affecting Frankling from then east side of I-5 to the Springfield bridges. “That project is already well underway, with Phase I being completed, and has already had a great deal of public involvement.”

BEST, Mr. Zako said, does not attempt to develop specific solutions. He pointed to a recent series of books by the University of Oregon Sustainable Cities Initiative which document a number of ways to address transportation issues. Those studies are available to the public at Rethinking Streets.

Rather BEST focuses on building community and consensus about transportation needs. Mr. Zako described the organization’s efforts to address the future of the segment of Franklin Boulevard between I-5 and Broadway in Eugene. He said they had hosted two walking tours of the area and conducted a survey which produced over 600 responses. They hope to produce a preliminary report next week on what people are saying about any transportation needs for that segment. He did note that as a result of the walking tours one businessman, who had focused on his opposition to roundabouts, had come to the conclusion that there were some needs to be addressed – specifically lowering the speed and providing longer times for pedestrians to cross the street. He said BEST had not fully digested the Eugene current plan but hoped to have questions and some recommendations by year end. He expects a similar process to go forward as BEST studies Main Street in Springfield.

Empowering Springfield’s Future: Insights from Connected Lane County

Ten years ago, there was a crisis in education in Oregon. The state ranked 49 out of 50 in student graduation rate with, by some measures, under 75 percent of students graduating within five years. The state, through the Department of Education, funded efforts to determine the cause and suggest a solution. Out of that effort came, among other initiatives, the formation of Connected Lane County. This year that organization will serve almost 4,000 youth in efforts to help them find success and a brighter future. Heidi Larwick, the Executive Director of Connected Lane County since 2016, updated City club on the organization’s success, particularly the opening of a new 11,000 square foot center at the Booth Kelly site in downtown Springfield.

Has the program succeeded? Because of the way that the state keeps statistics it is not easy to directly attribute improvements in the graduation rate to Connected Lane County programs, Ms. Larwick pointed to numerous successes which strongly suggest that there has been a positive impact as part of the increase of the graduation rate to 80 percent for the 2021-22 school year.

The first of the organization’s programs, the Elevate effort, seeks to help youth learn about the work environment. Many of the students, which connected Lane County identifies by reaching out to school counselors and teachers, but also to community groups and social service organizations, have no idea what it means to be in a work environment. The Elevate program places them in job shadows during the school year and a more intense program during the summer to help them understand what it is like to be in a work situation. A focus of this effort is to excite them about what they might want to do after graduation, whether it is to enter the work environment immediately or continue with further education.

That program, staff discovered, still missed a significant number of youths. As Ms. Larwick explained, if students don’t understand why they are expected to learn something in school they are more likely to check out. The organization created its Navigate program to address that issue, by identifying youth that had disengaged from the schools and help them to reengage and finish their education with a GED.

Most recently, in 2021 the organization added a third program, the Spark program, which builds upon the two earlier efforts by placing youth in work situations where they can develop some actual job experience in preparation for entering the workforce.

Each of these programs addresses not just the narrow range of skills needed to successfully be employed, but also the wrapround skills needed for broader social success, — how to get housing, how to get food, and other life skills.

Each of these programs tends to focus on the 14-18 age range. To address older youth, in the 18-24 year range, the organization has now developed its Excelerator program which combines the other efforts and focuses on that cohort. It is similar to a pre-apprenticeship program in that the first 150 hours of the 300-hour program provides the participants with skills and then they go to a work experience in a company for the balance of 150 hours.

An important feature of the programs is that participants have the opportunity to be paid. The organization spent over $800,000 last year to provide salaries, at $17 per hour (for participants involved in internships and other situations where youth would be unable to take advantage of the program in the absence of compensation. Ms. Larwick noted that about 10 percent of participants are unhoused.

IN response to a question, Ms. Larwick said that the organization is funded from a wide variety of sources. Originally, the funding came d=solely for the State and the program was housed at the Lane Education Services District. IN 2017 they separated from the ESD and opened a facility in Eugene. Now they have broad support from foundations and businesses and in some cases, contact with outside companies to provide services and products. She specifically noted how they provide laser cutting cervices to the Hult Center and \recently had an arrangement with Columbia Sportswear to repair jackets that had been returned by original purchasers because of failing zippers. At their existing facility in Eugene, they have equipment for laser engraving, desktop cutting equipment for small scale metal fabrication, vinyl cutters, tee shirt presses, sewing machines and sergers. The new Springfield facility will expand on these machines to offer more training experiences and product services and hopes to add equipment for training in welding. The Springfield facility will also have laundry and shower facilities to address the needs of housed participants.

 

To see the slide presentation offered at the program, click on the Connected Lane County presentation.

To watch the entire program on You Tube, Click Watch the Program.

 

September 21: Legislative Update

While pointing to some successes in the 2023 session of the Legislative Assembly, the three legislators who represent areas of Springfield each expressed some frustration that the legislature has become more polarized and that has led to less being accomplished. Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representatives Charlie Conrad and John Lively briefed Springfield City Club on September 21, and each pointed to areas where the political atmosphere seemed to have bogged down legislative work.

Rep. Lively noted that typically most legislative work is actually done in committees, and when bills emerge from the committees with a favorable recommendation they generally pass. That was not the case this session, he said, with more bills than usual failing on the floor. In part because of that he pointed to a number of issues which were not addressed, including attempts to address the adverse revenue impact that growth of the Oregon Lottery has had on tribal casino revenue. “It’s an issue of fairness,” he said, that will have to be dealt with in the coming short session. Similarly, he said bills to resolve several limitations on cannabis business activities failed because attention was diverted by the turmoil surrounding activities of the former Secretary of State.

Both Rep. Lively and Rep. Conrad also pointed to the need to address the state of the various county fair facilities around the state. Many are old and in need of major repair. The Legislature attempted to make an increase in the small amount of lottery funding that goes to the County fairgrounds, but so many amendments were put forward to the bill that the legislature ran out of time before it could act. As Rep. Conrad observed, many of these facilities are critical for emergency management in the event of fires, floods or other natural disasters as evacuation centers and their maintenance is critical to protect citizens.

Both Rep. Conrad and Sen. Prozanski addressed the concerns surrounding implementation of Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of certain drugs. Rep. Conrad said that it was important to create an incentive to persuade drug users to seek treatment. “It does not good to put them on a six or nine m month waiting list for treatment,” he said, and suggested that recriminalization might provide the right incentive.

Sen. Prozanski, while agreeing that there needs to be an effective vehicle to induce users to enter some form of treatment, added that his experience as a prosecutor persuaded him that mandatory treatment through the criminal justice system did not work, rather what is needed is incentive based systems. He added that although he was not supportive of Measure 110 when it was voted on, now as Chairman of the Senate Committee responsible for overseeing its implementation, he believes the conversation will be ongoing for some time and that the state might benefit from exploring approaches used in both Colorado and Arizona. He also said that the State might benefit from studying what has been done in Portugal, where drug possession was decriminalized in 2001.e also said the

All three legislators said that the influx of new members (there were 21 new legislators in the 2023 session), has had an impact on how the legislature does business. Rep. Conrad, noted that although he had spent much of his professional life in public serv ice, when he actually began to work as a legislator, he learned how much different the job was when seen from the inside.

Rep. Lively said that the legislature had been unable to successful address implementation of the Climate Friendly Equitable Communities requirements that grew out of a Governor’s Executive Order, and also had pushed off, for the sixth or seventh time, attempts to implement the Road User Fee which has been in place for several years.

Sen. Prozanski also noted issues which he said raised serious concerns putting democracy at risk. Specifically, he pointed to the walkout of Republican members of the State Senate, which prevented the Senate from doing business for 42 days, and the proliferation of use of the recall to remover l=public officials. He pointed to the pending vote on recall of one representative from Eugene, the successful recall of a Eugene City Councilor and the pending recall of three members of the Cottage Grove City Council and indicators of a growing polarization of political life by using tools that were mentioned to address criminality and malfeasance, not simply because one group or another felt they “did not get their way.”

To view the entire program on You Tube, please click here: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE PROGRAM

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