Local News Digest – County Redistricting Approved – Tsunami Trash – Halloween Hazards

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Commissioners approve new district boundaries

On a split 3-2 vote the Lane County Commissioners approved new boundary lines yesterday for the districts they represent.  The three voting in favor, Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken, and Faye Stewart agreed it was logical, but the two opposed, Rob Handy and Peter Sorenson, decried it as “gerrymandering”.  Bozievich, who developed the plan, said the current dividing lines split up neighborhoods in North Eugene, Glenwood and East Springfield.

The new plan, which takes effect next year, redraws lines around those areas so they will be represented by one commissioner, rather than having neighbors served by two.

Handy and Sorenson opposed the plan, partly because it relocates the downtown Eugene Whiteaker neighborhood from Handy’s North Eugene district to Sorenson’s South Eugene region and replaces it with more residents in the northwest area of Eugene. Both say the changes were made to weaken political support for Handy who faces reelection next year.

Several political veterans, including former West Lane Commissioner Ellie Dumdi and current Springfield mayor Christine Lundberg, supported the new plan.

Tsunami Trash

The massive trail of debris from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March is expected to arrive on the West Coast of the U.S. right on schedule… in about two or three years.  Scientists are tracking thousand mile long trail weighing millions of tons as it moves along Pacific Currents.  Much of it may not make it this far however, according to Oregon State University oceanographer Jack Barth.  He says some of it will likely end up in the “Garbage Patch” a huge accumulation of flotsam and jetsam in the center of the Pacific, while still more will likely become waterlogged and sink.

But, Barth adds, some of the lighter materials, or things that are higher in the water… such as small boats… may arrive sooner than expected as they are pushed along by winds that blow straight across the pacific.  He says the bulk of the debris is moving along at about ten miles per day… putting it on schedule to arrive in late 2013 or early 2014.

Halloween Hazards I

In the four day period surrounding Halloween over the past five years there have been 622 structure fires in Oregon resulting in 17 injuries, two deaths and nearly $5.5 million in property damage.  That’s according to Oregon State Fire Marshall Mark Wallace who says there are many fire hazards associated with Halloween, including candles, decorations and costumes.  Wallace urges residents to “keep fire safety at the forefront” when participating in Halloween festivities.

Halloween Hazards II

Engaging in Halloween festivities can present special perils for adults as well.  Police agencies in Oregon will be targeting hazardous activities such as drunk driving over the next four days.  Oregon State Police Captain Mike Dingeman says there isn’t a Halloween costume clever enough to hide a drunk driver who has made the dangerous decision to get behind the wheel.  Dingeman says night time driving is dangerous enough, but when you add alcohol to the mix that also includes children on the street, it makes Halloween night one of the deadliest of the year for crashes.