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Cafe porchVIDA: Work to repair the fire damaged Vida Cafe was expected to begin this week, after long awaited building permits have been finalized. A big part of the delay, according to cafe owner Sue Nelson, was Lane County’s concerns with prior violations dating back more than 30 years - things Nelson says she and more than one previous owners never knew existed.
Starting with removal of asbestos flooring, McKenzie Taylor Construction will be doing more than a simple rebuild. Part of the approval process called for a reconfiguration of the building. “I’m going to lose the whole back half of the cafe,” Nelson said. The new addition will extend another 8 feet by 8 feet, sitting on a portion of the driveway and extending toward her adjacent house.

DumpMCKENZIE BRIDGE: A $1.5 million shortage between operating costs and revenue generated is facing Lane County’s Waste Management Division. County dumps receive no property tax funding to operate.
The Board of County Commissioners is tentatively scheduled to receive a presentation regarding a consultant’s report in August and begin public discussion of the options. “We chose August in order to allow ample time for public feedback in July,” according to Devon Ashbridge, Lane County’s Public Information Officer. “The timeline also allows for in-depth board discussion outside of the larger budget process, which will conclude by the end of June. Commissioners will make the ultimate decision on which, if any, of the identified options to pursue.”
The report  includes the option of closing some of the smaller, rural transfer stations and has identified McKenzie Bridge as a possible site. Other possible changers could mean an end to discounts for senior citizens and for people who recycle their offcasts.

BLM mapBy Eric Tegethoff
Oregon News Service

Conservation groups filed a protest yesterday against the Bureau of Land Management’s latest proposal to change forest management in western Oregon.

April 28: 6:24 am: Subject Down – 35000 block, Camp Creek Rd. Report of a subject covered with multi colored blanket lying down in the parking lot. Caller does not feel comfortable approaching subject, honked her horn & no movement. 06:25: Fire Dept. advised. 06:39: Subject was just sleeping & has moved on.

Charter school busFINN ROCK: A “horrendous $459,000 budget deficit” and the loss of 6.91 positions is the harsh image officials see when they look toward the future, people learned at the April meeting of the McKenzie School Board. An alternate opportunity, based on the possible creation of a public charter school, was also up for review.
A sixteen member charter school steering committee is currently exploring what impacts the changeover might bring about. Some of their talking points range from maintaining current offerings to reviving dormant programming lost during budget and enrollment declines. Some of the latter include classes in Home Economics, shop or health occupations.
Offering insights on legalities as well as tips from programs developed at other schools was Kate Pattison from the Oregon Dept. of Education. “In your case you would have a K-12 charter school that would be governed by a separate board potentially responsible for the curriculum and what programs look like,” she noted.

The Sheriff’s Office has learned that community members are again receiving calls saying they have warrants out for their arrest for missing a court date.  The callers are demanding to have money sent to clear the warrant.
These calls are a scam, and community members should hang up immediately and not engage with the caller.

Jason JohannesenLEABURG: “The first work we’re doing with the Connect America program is in this area,” were welcome words heard by a packed audience last Thursday night. They came from Karen Stewart, CenturyLink’s director of local government affairs, who was talking about a federally backed program to upgrade McKenzie area broadband service that is already underway. Asked for a completion date she said, “September, unless we run into construction problems.”
Under the wing of the Federal Communications Commission, the Connect America project is designed to accelerate infrastructure construction to reach some of the 23 million people who currently can’t connect at speeds of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second of data transfer) downloading and 1 Mbps to upload. CenturyLink accepted those funds for Oregon, committing to complete the project in the state within six years.

 

Aerial of schoolFINN ROCK: Some McKenzie Schools staffers may have re-routed their vacation plans in order to spend this week in Portland. “We let the whole staff know where we are in terms of our budget,” superintendent Jim Thomas told the school board last Wednesday. “We’re in the process of notifying people that would be directly impacted by it and chose to do that before Spring Break because Portland had their job fair coming up. It wouldn’t be fair to teachers who may have to be leaving to miss the opportunity to go to a job fair.”
Specifics on who might be affected will remain confidential until they’re discussed at a future executive board session. Thomas said staff cuts are tied to declining enrollment and state support. They would hinge on factors including seniority and certifications. At the time of the meeting, estimates were that next year’s budget will decline close to $370,000, resulting in the loss of about one and a half teaching positions. Since then another adjustment from the state raised that shortage to $459,000.

Maia HardyNIMROD: Business owners and people planning start-ups heard some interesting news this month from Maia Hardy. Speaking at a meeting of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce, Hardy outlined loan programs targeting rural businesses that are available through Community LendingWorks (CLW).
“We are a community development financial institution,” Hardy said, adding, “We’re a non-governmental lending institution that does affordable ‘mission lending’ for folks who have had a hard time accessing loans through a traditional bank.”
Community LendingWorks was established in 2012 under the wing of the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, which, for 35 years, has worked primarily in the Eugene/Springfield metro area. It has offices both in Marion and Clackamas County as well.. NEDCO’s programs have ranged from home ownership loans to supporting business incubators.

The business model for CLW includes a revolving loan fund, according to Hardy. “A credit score is not a determining factor for getting a loan. We take a holistic look at the business and work with them if they need more of a financial education.” That additional assistance can involve one-on-one counseling or small business classes and helping them with marketing.

 

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.