Visiting a Northwest Youth Corps work site
August 2013
Being at home in the summer is almost like being on vacation.  Homemade blueberry buckle, garden basil and parsley in salads, and a second pair of Stellar's jays visiting the birdbath.  The weather is wonderful. I enjoyed the Eugene Symphony's annual summer concert at Cuthbert Amphitheater, including a pre-concert by Eugene Symphonic Band; the musicians, the conductors, the program, and the venue made for a fun evening.

There's the serious side, too, working in three general areas this past month: responding to requests to meet or attend events, following up on my bills that passed to see that some progress is being made, and working on ideas for the next twelve months.  And a trip to Salem every week or two for meetings. Next month I'll be in Salem several days for committee hearings and more meetings.

My husband and I picked seven pounds of blackberries; I'm off to make cobbler!



In This Issue
Whilamut crossing: I-5 Bridge
New Talgo trains
Energy efficiency
Around the area
Local resource: Aging and Disability connection
Affordable and transitional housing
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Whilamut Crossing: The new I-5 bridge and the park
Stream restoration
The new I-5 bridge across the Willamette River is ahead of schedule and under budget. Reducing the number of piers in the river from 10 to 4 cuts the environmental impact, and most of the materials from the old bridge are being re-used in other projects.  And we're leaving the park and natural areas better than when the project started.  I was proud to participate in two celebrations for this achievement: one recognizing those who played a key role in funding the project, and the other a community celebration to recognize community and local volunteers.  Bike paths and greenways are improved, and artist teams from around the state contributed significant "design enhancements." Here's what the Federal Highway Administrator has to say about our project. More info: Willamette River Bridge BlogSpot.


New Talgo trains
TalgoInEugene For the first time, Oregon will own its own trains to provide regular passenger service.  Each of the two 13-car train sets can carry 286 passengers, and includes bistro and dining cars, bicycle storage, Wi-Fi, and business class. They are accessible for people with disabilities and who use wheelchairs. And another first: Oregon is the first to put this new Talgo series 8 model into service. One of the trains stopped at Eugene Depot recently for a public celebration. After completing testing, we expect the trains to receive federal certification for service in August.

Background: As the deadline approached to increase passenger service in Washington State, Oregon was in a tenuous position for keeping trains to serve our needs in the southern part of the Cascadia corridor.   To ensure equipment is available for Portland-Eugene service, Oregon purchased trains using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or the "economic stimulus" bill). These trains increase the corridor's fleet to seven, adding to the three owned by Washington and two by Amtrak, all to be managed and scheduled cooperatively.  Increasing the fleet will add more options, and by owning our own trains, we have gained new influence and leverage.

More good news: travel will be faster as well.  When the Harrisburg Bridge project is complete, passenger trains can proceed at a speed up to 79 MPH instead of slowing down to 30.  ConnectOregon money is being matched with Union Pacific investment to upgrade the antiquated structure. Adding computer switching in Albany will speed things up a little bit too.
Energy efficiency: high marks
Kill-a-Watt measures
appliance energy use
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Oregon as the fourth-best state for energy efficiency policies.  ACEEE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing "energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors." This was their sixth edition of the "State Energy Efficiency Scorecard" which scores utility and public benefit programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power policies, state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency, and appliance and equipment standards.    

During the recent legislative session, we passed several bills to improve energy efficiency in Oregon, establishing minimum efficiency standards for televisions, large battery charger systems, halogen lamps, and others products, and providing utilities an incentive for helping with building updates and retrofit projects. I will continue to support efforts such as those, and to promote good energy efficiency habits.  The program that I initiated for public libraries continues: Eugene public library card holders can check out the Kill-A-Watt device - not much larger than a mobile phone - to check how much energy refrigerators, TVs, printers, and so forth are using, even when you think they're turned off! (These are also available at a number of other libraries in Oregon).
Around the area
A sampling of meetings and events since the Legislative session adjourned in July:  

Visited Northwest Youth Corps job site at Island Park, to talk with young people developing leadership and teambuilding skills as they work on conservation and restoration jobs.  NYC also operates the OutDoor School, which prepares youth for the workplace by emphasizing basic skills and career readiness, and a solid academic foundation for pursuing a college education.
Flying in their 90's!
Joined residents of two long-term care facilities to watch two men in their 90's go for a thrilling ride in a 1942 Boeing Stearman Bi-Plane, provided by Ageless Aviation Dreams, which helps seniors and veterans fulfill their dream of flying.

Spoke about Oregon's recent health-related legislation at a community conversation organized by Trillium Community Health Plans, the local Coordinated Care Organization.  

Visited Two Rivers Surgical Center, designed for outpatient spine procedures, where I learned about options and efficiencies in health care.
Local resources
The Aging and Disability Resource Connection is a program for Oregon families, caregivers, and consumers seeking information about long term support and services.   In Lane County, Senior and Disabled Services provides help to seniors (age 60 and over) and family caregivers.  They can provide information, make referrals to organizations for help, connect volunteers for you and your caregiver, and more.  You can get information online, visit them in person at 1015 Willamette Street in Eugene or in Cottage Grove or Florence, send an email to, or call (541) 682-4038.

Lane Senior and Disabled Services is also looking for volunteers.  If you're interested in providing elder help such as running errands, making friendly visits, being an escort driver, or participating in the family caregiver program, call (541) 682-4038.
More great housing projects
Stellar Apartments
In July, I attended the grand opening of the Stellar Apartment complex, a 54 unit affordable housing development operated by St. Vincent DePaul for low income families, National Guard families, and VetLIFT, a group that serves homeless veterans and families.  The project was funded with state money, state and federal housing tax credits, and other private and local resources. This project demonstrates the great effort it takes to put together many partners for planning, financing, design, and constructionWell done!

Transitional housing
.  I also attended the groundbreaking of a new project by Sponsors, an agency helping individuals make a successful transition from correctional facilities or jail to the community.  The 5-bedroom house will help mothers, recently released from incarceration, reunite with their children in a supportive environment.