Archive for the ‘Pat Farr’ Category

Veterans’ Housing Project places another veteran and his family in a new house. by Pat Farr

Friday, June 26th, 2015

 

The Veterans’ Housing Project has placed another veteran and his family in a home.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Seneca House, the 7th Veterans' Housing Project home

At the ribbon cutting with Lieutenant Colonel San Miguel at the ceremony for the Seneca House, the 7th Veterans’ Housing Project home

Samson Smith, an Army Veteran, and his family moved into their new home on May 26 2015.

The home is a product of a broad coalition of allies who teamed together to make it possible.  The house is called the Seneca House in honor of the Seneca Jones Company which contributed the money for the project.

St Vincent DePaul of Lane County coordinated the project and was joined by Lane County, the City of Eugene and other volunteer groups and organizations.

“While we’re proud this house bears the Seneca name, its not about us,” Todd Payne, General Manager of Seneca Sawmill said.  “It’s about Samson Smith and his family and letting them know how much we value their sacrifice and their service.”

This house and the Veterans’ Housing Project are a part of Operation 365 Veterans, which is dedicated to ensuring that there will be no homeless veterans in Lane County by October 31 2015.  We are more than half way to the goal, having placed more than 180 formerly homeless veterans in homes since the Operation began in November 2014.

 

Starry Night at Kalapuya High School in Bethel. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

 

I joined the Bethel School Board at the graduation ceremony at Kalapuya High School on Terry Street in the Bethel School District.

Graduating Students at Kalapuya High School "flip their tassel" at their graduation on June 16, 2015

Graduating Students at Kalapuya High School “flip their tassel” at their graduation on June 16, 2015

Kalapuya is Bethel’s highly successful alternate high school which offers a means for kids to graduate who otherwise very likely would never have earned a diploma.  The success rate is high:  the forty graduates represent a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT GRADUATION RATE!

With 40 graduates, Kalapuya is larger than many Lane County and Oregon high schools.

Most of the graduates have bested overwhelming obstacles in earning their graduation.  As I watched the graduates with their hopeful faces capping their major success it was very difficult to hold back tears.  Young faces with a strong future stepping boldy forward.

Superintendent Colt Gill, Principal Stephan Aumack and the strong cadre of teachers and aides at the school have every reason to be proud and excited about the accomplishments of these graduating young men and women.

Veterans will receive a broader and deeper level of care. by Pat Farr

Monday, June 15th, 2015

 

Men and Women who have served the United States in our Armed Forces will soon have shorter waits and drive times to receive medical services.  The Lane County (Eugene) Veterans Clinic is due to open on Chad Drive in January 2016.

An artist's rendering of the soon-to-open Eugene Veterans' Hospital and Clinic

An artist’s rendering of the soon-to-open Eugene Veterans’ Hospital and Clinic

This clinic will give more local area veterans an opportunity to receive medical services at Veterans’ Administration facilities close to home.  Currently many of our men and women who have served overseas travel to the Veterans’ Hospital in Roseburg or in the Portland Metropolitan Area to receive basic care and more advanced medical treatment.  The addition of this new clinic will deliver shorter wait times and broader ranges of services immediately upon opening.

The clinic was originally scheduled to open in March 2015 but was delayed due to a procedural complaint that had been filed against the proposed site.  Such a delay was unfortunate but necessary in order to perform due diligence on demonstrating the correct choice of location for the clinic.

Positions are being filled currently to boost the employment of the Eugene area clinics from current 75 staff members to approximately 120 by the time the clinic opens.  The number of staff members may increase to as many as 235 once all equipment has been added and positions have been filled.

Funding for this project is already secured.  Unlike other facilities around the country, Lane County’s clinic should be completed within the cost range of $60 and $80 million.  The United States Congress has approved funding for the entire project.

The clinic is expected to receive 93,000 patient visits a year with close to 16,000 veterans being served in the new facility. The existing River Ave. location serves close to 10,000 Lane County veterans, but in addition to veterans needing more complex procedures any of those 10,000 patients that require surgery are referred to hospitals in Roseburg or Portland.

The current Roseburg Veterans' Health Care Hospital originally built in 1933

The current Roseburg Veterans’ Health Care Hospital originally built in 1933

While wait times for Oregon veterans seeking medical care have been slow to improve, the new clinic will help wait times and improve service in our immediate area. This will help to avoid long drive and additional wait times for men and women who live in or nearby the upper Willamette Valley.

New services planned for this clinic, that were not previously available, include:

  • Ambulatory Surgery
  • Audiology and Speech Pathology
  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Dental
  • Gastroenterology
  • Optometry
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedics
  • Podiatry
  • Urology
  • Laboratory
  • Imaging
  • Prosthetics
  • Dispensing Pharmacy

Strategizing to house homeless veterans in Lane County. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

 

On June 1 I hosted a workshop, along with Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, to strategize effective ways to complete our goal of housing all homeless veterans in Lane County by November 1 2015.

Speaking to the workshop of over 60 participants

Speaking to the workshop of over 60 participants

More than 60 participants engaged in an afternoon-long deep discussion to develop an action plan of strategies to meet the goal.

I listed successes we have had in the first half of the plan that have resulted in finding  places to live for about half of the veterans identified as homeless last fall.

St. Vincent DePaul's Veterans' Homeless Project has resulted in seven houses being provided for veteran families, including the Seneca House, dedicated last month.

St. Vincent DePaul’s Veterans’ Homeless Project has resulted in seven houses being provided for veteran families, including the Seneca House, dedicated last month.

Breakout sessions including focusing on micro-housing and landlord participation helped create an action list of ways to draw community support and participation in meeting our goal

Participants travelled from around the state and included Margaret Salazar from HUD and Andy Smith from Association of Oregon Counties.

Over sixty participants with strong expertise and interest in housing veterans engaged in productive discussion.

Over sixty participants with strong expertise and interest in housing veterans engaged in productive discussion.

A challenge was issued for the participants to take action in specific areas within one week of the close of the action workshop.

I will be providing updated on the progress and details of actions that are being taken.

 

Emergency response in Lane County now has a plan. By Pat Farr

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Lane County logo blue

In mid-July, on a very hot night in 2014, Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner called me—at about 2:30 am—to alert me of an emergency.  Wild fires were burning out of control throughout south and east Lane County and spreading into Douglas, Deschutes and Klamath Counties.

State and Federal elite and emergency fire fighters were being airlifted into our area to risk their lives controlling the conflagration.  They needed a place to assemble.  The place had to be central to the lightning strikes that were causing the fires and had to be accessible to helicopters and large pieces of equipment.  Bunking and sanitation facilities were desired.

Such a place existed: it was the mothballed Lane County Forest Work Camp at Alta, located in the Coast Mountains 35 miles southeast of Eugene.  The Sheriff was asking for my authority to grant access to the county facility.

Of course I said, “Yes,” and the facility was opened and the suppression and control began.  The only problem was:  I did not have the authority statutorily to grant the authority to the Sheriff to open the facility.  I was in violation of law and potentially subject to penalty.

But under the circumstances, of course I had done the right thing.  And maximum resource use happened and the fires were controlled far more quickly than if the camp had remained closed.

Emergencies happen without a plan.  In this case all involved parties praised the decision, but I still acted without authority.

We are currently developing an emergency plan that would delineate absolutely the chain of command in authorizing use of county resources and facilities in case of emerging disasters.

Thanks for the spark, Jack Roberts. by Pat Farr

Monday, May 25th, 2015

 

I was watching the 1994 elections very closely.  A County Commissioner who had been instrumental in helping Jerry’s Home Improvement Center with a tiny urban growth boundary change that allowed us to build our first large store in West Eugene was running for State Labor Commissioner.

Jack Roberts, previously Lane County Commissioner and then Oregon Labor Commissioner  was an effective Director for Lane Metro Partnership

Jack Roberts, previously Lane County Commissioner and then Oregon Labor Commissioner was an effective Director for Lane Metro Partnership.  He now serves as head of the Oregon Lottery Commission

Jack Roberts had made the arguments, in a joint meeting with the Eugene City Council, that it was good for local business and the economy to make the adjustment.  It happened.

Not long after the newly approved Jerry’s Store was opened Debi Farr talked me into running for the Bethel School Board.  I won.  It was right after that victory that I watched Jack Robert’s great victory in his bid for Labor Commissioner.

When Roberts was elected, the balance of the County Commissioners selected my City Councilor, Bobby Green, to replace him on the Board of Commissioners.

Then came the phone calls to me.  Would I consider replacing Bobby Green on the Eugene City Council.  I said no, but many calls and discussions with many people convinced me to do so.  And I won.

Eight years later Majority Leader Karen Minnis, later Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, called me to ask if I would run for the House seat in District 14.  Once again I said no, but was worn down by many phone calls and discussions.  I won that, as well.

Today I sit in what was Jack Roberts’ and subsequently Bobby Green’s seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

So, thank you Jack Roberts for your initial spark.

Jack served admirably as Oregon Labor Commissioner for eight years, then led the Lane County Metro Partnership through many years of catalyzing the local economy.  Now he is serving, once again, admirably, as the Oregon Lottery Commission Director.

Drought in Lane County? by Pat Farr

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

 

Go here to view Lane County Board of Commissioners Agendas and accompanying materials provided for deliberation (dated from current back to 2003) .  (go here  for a guide on how to navigate)

The Lane County Board of Commissioners, after hearing testimony from staff and the State Water Authority has asked the Governor of Oregon to allow for certain provisions in the event of further deepening of the drought occurring currently in Lane County.

While the flow of the McKenzie River, while projecting historical lows, is not in jeopardy, the flow Willamette River (as clearly evident if you drive past Lookout Point Reservoir adjacent to Highway 58, The Willamette Highway) is in immediate danger of being inadequate to provide water to farms and other businesses down stream.

This order was passed on May 12.

BEFORE THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF LANE COUNTY, OREGON

ORDER NO: 15-05-12-07

IN THE MATTER OF REQUESTING THE GOVERNOR TO DECLARE A DROUGHT EMERGENCY FOR LANE COUNTY

WHEREAS, annual streamflows on the mainstem Willamette from snow pack, rainfall and stored water releases are 55% of normal and therefore insufficient to fully support public uses in streams and lakes; and
WHEREAS, the definition of “public uses in streams and lakes” inculdes fish protection, pollution control and recreational use; and
WHEREAS, restricting water rights to natural streamflows for two businesses in the construction industry in order to retain minimum flows for public instream uses would cause irreversible economic harm to the two businesses and, create financial hardship for their
approximately 200 employees and their families through potential layoffs; and
WHEREAS, Lane County has activated its “Emergency Operations Plan, Section ESF 7.2 Legal Services, Mitigation Phase” which provides legal advice to the Policy Group of Lane County to “advise and recommend county ordinance or orders to reduce the effects of disaster”;
and
WHEREAS, the Oregon Water Resources Department may exercise emergency water
rights authority following a Governor’s drought declaration to help industry in Lane County cope with low streamflows; and
WHEREAS, we find that appropriate response is beyond the capability of Lane County
because Lane County does not have the same authority as the Oregon Water Resources Department for addressing water rights which is the only remedy for this drought emergency.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of County Commissioners of Lane County ORDERS as follows:
1. A local drought emergency is declared within Lane County.
2. Pursuant to ORS 401.165 we are declaring a state of emergency for the purpose of protecting .local economy through the Oregon Water Resources Department’s authority to mitigate the impact of low streamflows on the Willamette mainstem.
3. Pursuant to ORS 401.165 that the Governor declare an emergency so that state assistance may be immediately released. 
ADOPTED this 12th day of MAY, 2015.
LANE COUNTY

Navigating the Lane County Board of Commissioners Meetings website. by Pat Farr

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

 

Go here to view Lane County Board of Commissioners Agendas and accompanying materials provided for deliberation.  (go here for a guide on how to navigate)

This will open a page called:  Board of County Commissioners Meeting Agendas.

Click on the week of the agenda you are looking to review.  The date shown is the Monday that begins the week.  Regular meetings are typically held on Tuesday, but other meetings will be listed after you click on the week.  If the meeting week is in teal, meeting(s) were held that week.

Once you have the agenda for the meeting you wish to review, scroll down until you find the Agenda Item.  If there is accompanying material there will be a (view material) option.  Click there to review the material provided to the Board of Commissioners.

 

Go here to see signed board orders and adopted minutes reaching back by year to 1972, and select years beyond.

If you have questions, please contact me at 541-682-4023 or email me at: pat.farr@co.lane.or.us

Bethel School Board remains intact. by Pat Farr

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

 

Northwest Eugene and the adjacent unicorporated areas of Lane County stretching to Alvadore and beyond are blessed with their own School District: Bethel 52.  Bethel is centered on Willamette and Kalapuya High Schools and their feeder middle schools, elementary schools and kindergarten through eighth grade hybrid gems.

The people who live in the school district are always–ALWAYS supportive of schools at the polls, in the classrooms and buildings as volunteers and in parent-teacher organizations.

One very evident reason of the high marks and support for the district is its long-term and highly effective board of directors.

The recent election (May 19, 2015) kept the board intact.  The longest-term member, Ginger Poage, had a hearty challenge from a worthy newcomer, but won easily on election day.

The rest of the board consists of long-term members Paul Jorgenson, Greg Nelson, Alan Laisure, Debi Farr, Dawnya Johnson and Rich Cunningham.

If you visit the district this week you will see two new schools under construction, replacing the aging Malabon and Fairfield.  You will also see a high school, Kalapuya, which graduated 100% of its seniors last year.  Go by Willamette and see the new science and technology wing.  Stop by and see the shining and recently-built Prairie Mountain and Meadowview K-8 schools, which place teachers and students together in pods of learning that bring out the very best in both.

In short, after I served on the Bethel School Board from 1992-1995 it has rocketed the district to new heights of educational excellence, driven by Superintendent Colt Gill and his remarkable team of administrators and educators.

I’m proud to be a part of this district.

Housing Veterans. by Pat Farr

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

 

CONTINUING WITH THE GOAL OF “NO HOMELESS VETERANS IN LANE COUNTY BY OCTOBER 31 2015.”

At the beginning of the year there were between 350 and 400 veterans who were homeless in Lane County.  Some had returned from service to find themselves out of work and out of a home.  Others have money to pay rent but not enough for security deposits.  Many conditions surround the issue of our men and women who have served our nation not having a safe place to sleep at night.

We are addressing the conditions and so far we have surpassed the mid-point to our goal.

In early June I will be hosting a round table discussion (along with Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy) to identify and act on strategies to complete our goal.

Many of the more achievable ways to do so have already been addressed.  Invited guests at the discussion will include those who might have the greatest insights and provide the most powerful actions to help eliminate Veterans’ homelessness in our county.  Including landlords, employers, service providers, a few elected officials, educators and veterans.

I will provide more details as we begin to form strategies.