Remembering my friend and fellow soldier Tom Egan. By Pat Farr

Sunday, December 18th, 2016
I took this photo of Tom Egan teaching soldiers on the grenade course at Camp Rilea, Oregon

I took this photo of Tom Egan teaching soldiers on the grenade course at Camp Rilea, Oregon

Tom Egan was a cavalry officer.

 

I served with Lieutenant Egan starting in 1977 in the 162nd Infantry Brigade, 2nd regiment, alpha company.  At the time, not too long after our troops had returned from Vietnam, strength in the unit was low and Tom and I were two of only three commissioned officers  in the company.  The third was Captain Tony O’Connor.  The three of us spent a great deal of time together, along with another commander, Captain Ray Byrne.  (This article was reprinted in the Register Guard on Christmas Day, 2016, titled:  Unforgotten Soldier, memory of Tom Egan moves community to act)

In November 2016 I traveled to Washington DC along with Mayor Kitty Piercy and our guests Terry McDonald and Jon Ruiz to receive recognition and celebrate Michelle Obama’s challenge to house homeless veterans.  Locally operation 365 housed 404 homeless veterans during 2015.

Ours was a great effort, but far too late to help my friend Tom Egan, who died a few feet from where I am standing, homeless, freezing cold–suffering from alcoholism and its accompanying despair.

After spending time in the White House being congratulated for Operation 365  in Lane County I spent the next day with retired Colonel Tony O’Connor.  We decided, and its true, that celebration of efforts is hollow—eggshell thin—as long as a single person, veteran or other, is on the street while the rest of us enjoy what every man woman and child should have—a warm and secure place to sleep.

That is why I am dedicating the next five years of my public service to funding, locating and building at least 600 new units of housing—permanent apartments, tiny houses, single room occupancy units—that are dedicated to people suffering from behavioral health disorders—substance abuse, mental illness, PTSD.  These supportive housing units will not only come with a safe, secure, sanitary place to live but with wrap-around case work and care.  It will be hard to do, and it will require a monumental coordinated effort of government, nonprofit and private citizens and organizations.

We will call it Operation 600 (see story here).  And it will be dedicated and designed to prevent tragic endings such as the one Tom Egan suffered right here in this place.

The idea came from a breakout session at the Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board’s annual retreat in October.  Kitty Piercy, Steve Manella, Jacob Fox, Michael Kinnison and I were brainstorming ideas for the board’s aggressive strategic plan which includes adding a large number of supportive housing units, and Kitty said, “Operation 365 rang a bell with a lot of people, how about Operation 600?”  We all grabbed the idea.

And Operation 600 has begun.  A project for 60 studios on Lane County property next to the Behavioral Health Center on MLK Blvd has received commissioners’ support and is in the artist conceptual stage…another project with up to 60 supportive housing units for single moms and their children is being discussed and supported, also on Lane County property.  The Oaks, a joint effort of Sponsors and the Housing and Community Services Agency (HACSA) in west Eugene, is nearing completion.  Last month we opened HACSA’s  second phase of Bascom Village which along with St. Vincent DePaul’s first phase now houses hundreds of  men, women and children.

Square One Villages, St. Vincent DePaul, HACSA, ShelterCare, are all in the process of adding permanent supportive housing.  Eugene Mission is a powerful partner in the efforts.

Lane County is engaged, Eugene is engaged, Springfield is engaged…Cottage Grove, Oakridge, Creswell, Junction City, Florence—we will all be engaged.  And it is happening.

Tom Egan was a brilliant man and will never know the impact he has had.  But his friends who are engaged in making sure he will be memorialized here will always remember.

As we reminisced about Tom Egan, Colonel O’Connor reminded me of Tom’s humor.  His engaging manner was popular with his soldiers and his friends alike.  While sitting around the tactical operation center during bivouac training Tom would lull us to sleep with laughter.

He had an amazing sense of humor and could deliver extemporaneous monologue on almost any topic.  His renditions of his role model, Teddy Roosevelt—who he was the spitting image of—left us all in stitches.

He taught soldiers at Fort Bliss Texas, and one of his favorite classes was in the use of the M67 fragmentation hand grenade.  He’d hold one up and say, “Meet Mr. hand grenade.”  Then he’d pull the pin.  “Without the pin, Mr. Hand Grenade is not your friend…”  He captured the class’s attention.

His puns were classic, such as, “If lawyers are disbarred for misconduct, are cowboys de-ranged?  Are librarians dis-carded?”

Captain Ray Byrne is now retired General Ray Byrne.  Ray shared a few words, “He was a good reliable friend and a good soldier.  He enjoyed being a soldier and a scholar and serving his country.  Alcohol can get the best of men and every day can be a struggle, which Tom unfortunately lost. Everyone who knew him misses his quick wit, jokes and toasts.  I remember him as never being down or discouraged.”

Now let us all remember Tom Egan’s life with a smile and his death with a promise.

Veteran phot

Lane County continues to exceed “promises” made on 2014 Sheriff’s Levy. by Pat Farr

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

 

THE SHERIFF’S LEVY PASSED IN 2013 IS MAKING LANE COUNTY A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE  (And a much worse place to commit a crime)

Sheriff Turner and I celebrate the passage of 20-213 on May 21 2013

Sheriff Turner and I celebrate the passage of 20-213 on May 21 2013

When Lane County Commissioners asked for passage of ballot measure 20-213, a levy to assure increased public safety in Lane County by opening more jail beds, 255 beds were promised.

20 more jail beds were reopened Saturday February 13, 2016, bringing the number of beds available for local offenders to the highest number in 13 years, 317. Again, a very big thank you to all of you involved in making this happen and accommodating the media this week to help share this important news with the community.

On February 13, a headline in the Register-Guard accurately stated:  “Lane County audit verifies spending of jail money “ and continued, stating “The audit, conducted by Moss Adams, a Eugene accounting firm, determined that the county kept at least 255 local adult beds and at least 16 youth detention and drug and alcohol treatment beds open, as promised to voters. The audit covers the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.”

For a full copy of the Moss Adams audit report, including the Board of Commissioners agenda item summary from January 26, 2015 click:  Moss Adams Report

 

Eugene and Springfield Turnout in Recent Special Elections

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Eugene and Springfield turnout in recent special elections can be seen here.

May 2013 Service Fee Polling Trend

Friday, March 28th, 2014

This post, which can be seen here, shows the 2013 Eugene service fee’s polling trend.

January 2013 Polling on Proposed Eugene Service Fee Increase

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Polling on the proposed 2013 Eugene service fee increase can be seen here.

Jail Beds Aren’t Coming Fast Enough

Friday, October 11th, 2013

How would you rate the job Lane County is doing adding more jail beds?

For complete poll results, click here.

Lane May 2013 Ballot Return Share by Vote Propensity & Date

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

This post, which can be seen here, shows the May 2013 Special Election ballot return share categorized by vote propensity and date.

Lane May 2013 Ballot Return Percentage by Vote Propensity & Date

Friday, September 27th, 2013

This post, which can be seen here, shows the May 2013 Special Election ballot return percentage categorized by vote propensity and date.

Lane May 2013 Ballot Return Share by Eugene Region & Date

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

This post, which can be seen here, shows the May 2013 Special Election ballot returns categorized by Eugene region and date.

Lane May 2013 Ballot Return Share by County Commissioner District & Date

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

This post, which can be seen here, shows the May 2013 Special Election ballot returns categorized by county commissioner district and date.