Local News: Oregon’s Billion $ Problem; One Voice; Perpetua Volunteers; and Viking Softball Needs Money

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Local News

Aftershocks of March 2011 Japanese Disaster Being Felt in US Planning

Scott Ashford says Oregon has a billion dollar problem, but doesn’t have the billion dollars to fix it.  That problem is how to preserve critical lifelines like key roads, airports, port facilities and utility networks in the event of a subduction zone earthquake and tsunami like the one that struck Japan last March.

Ashford knows what he’s talking about.  He’s a professor and the interim Dean of the Oregon State University College of Engineering.  In that role he’s spent a considerable amount of time studying the impacts of that quake nearly a year ago.  He’s visited the quake area and observed the damage first hand.  Nearly 30-thousand people died, many of them in the days after the disaster, because nobody could reach them.  Ashford says there has been action to prepare for a large quake in Oregon, but there is still much that remains to be done.

The state legislature has established the Oregon Resilience Plan that will study things like emergency transportation and identifying which buildings need seismic upgrades.  Already the Oregon Department of Transportation has concluded that more than 900 of Oregon’s 11-hundred highway bridges are at risk of collapse following a giant quake.  Ashford says studying the disaster in Japan clarifies what needs to be done but it’s going to take plenty of time… and money… to make it happen.

Oregon Delegation Speaks With One Voice

All seven members of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation joined together this week to speak in one voice in support of Governor Kitzhaber’s request for a federal disaster declaration.  Severe storms that began January 17th inflicted damage throughout western Oregon because of wind, heavy rains and flooding.  The preliminary estimates place the cost of repairs in excess of $4-million.  February 16th John Kitzhaber made a formal request for federal aid, but so far there’s been no response from the White House.

Voter Registration Scam

Voters in Lane County may recall receiving new Voter Registration Cards in the mail recently.  They were sent out last week as required by state law to confirm information on file.  Residents were asked to respond only if the information was out of date or incorrect.  Unfortunately, says Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart, shortly after the mailing, it appears that someone was using the opportunity for personal gain.

Betschart says her office has received reports that a possible scammer was calling residents to ask if they received the card.  They confirmed the recipient’s address and phone number… then asked for bank information.  That’s not something anyone in the Elections Department would do… and she says no one should release banking information to an unidentified caller.

Volunteers Sought

The Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, just south of Yachats can be a beautiful place to visit, and a beautiful place to volunteer.  Hundreds of people visit each day during the peak season, drawn to the hiking trails, an incredible view, and tidepools.  Center Director Lori Robertson says without volunteers they wouldn’t be able to offer many of their programs.  Right now, she says, they need volunteers to staff the front desk at the center and at the Devil’s Churn Information Booth.  For information you can call the center at 541-547-3289

College Baseball

College Baseball has been in full swing for a week now.  Oregon will open up a Nashville area road trip this afternoon against Belmont before taking on Vanderbilt tomorrow and Saturday.  Oregon State is in Southern California through Sunday for the San Diego State Aztec Tournament.

Viking Softball Short on Fundraising

Viking Softball is gearing up.  Official practices begin Monday, but head coach Sean O’Mara and players are still in the process of raising money for the 2012 season.  They currently have two fund-raising programs going on… athletes are selling cases of Sunkist Oranges and Rio Star Ruby Red Grapefruit for $24 each.

They’ve also created a softball sponsorship poster with a team photo and a schedule.  The team is operated without any school district funding at all.  Calls can be directed to him at the high school for information on either program.