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Ron TompkinsWALTERVILLE: Like many of his generation, Ron Tompkins answered the call to arms for the armed services in World War II. Age for him wasn’t an issue, getting his mother to sign off on his enlistment papers when he was nine months shy of his 18th birthday.
Time, however, did have an effect. Coming into the Navy in 1945 he sailed out of San Francisco and arrived for duty in the Philippines. In the Marshall Islands his ship, the USS Petrof Bay, a 7,800 ton aircraft carrier, was part of a fleet being put together for the invasion of Japan. Those plans came to a halt soon after the sailors saw a strange bomber fly over their ship escorted by two fighters.
Ron says that at the time, they had no idea of the significance of what they’d seen, only remembering that the heavy bomber had what looked like a “big torpedo” slung underneath. Another clue that made sense later was chatter on the radio at the time telling people to expect some weird weather.

Vida Cafe reopenBy Walter Wilson
VIDA: It’s been almost a year since the Vida Cafe went up in flames in the early morning hours on October 24th in 2015. The valley had lost another icon. But owner Sue Nelson said, “We’ll rebuild and hopefully we’ll be back in business real soon.”
And so the process began. It was an uphill battle, but after just over a year the reopening announcement spread through the community like wild fire. People were calling each other, emails, Facebook, and social media were all buzzing with the news, the Vida Cafe would reopen on Monday, November 7th at 7 a.m.

SchaefersVIDA: Efforts to create a new McKenzie River Interpretive Center moved forward last week during two workshops held at the Wayfarer Resort. The two-day planning sessions were part of a process dating back to 2007 when members of the McKenzie River Guides Association presented a proposal for a “Museum of the McKenzie River” to the Lane County Parks Advisory Committee.
Details of the concept called for the creation of a facility on the grounds of the Old McKenzie Fish Hatchery that would present the history behind  the development of the McKenzie River drift boat, as well as unique aspects of the area’s geology and fisheries.
Recent  developments have  included the completion of a feasibility  and  marketing  study  conducted  by the  University of Oregon’s Community Planning Workshop that supported the Interpretive Center plan by comparing it to six other similar sites in the Pacific Northwest.

 

HeroesRAINBOW: The Not Ready for Retirement Players, a Eugene theater company, will soon present “Heroes,” on a stage in Rainbow, The play, a French comedy by Gerald Sibleyras, is coming to  the Upper McKenzie Community Center direct from performances at the Hult Center.
The play features three World War I heroes plotting an escape from an old soldiers’ home run by nuns in a small village. The trio spends their days sitting on a terrace hoping for some sort of diversion.
The three  friends don’t talk about the war but they have plenty of other memories.

SkateboarderMCKENZIE BRIDGE: After starting out in Newport, Oregon, on September 14th, the First Electric Skateboard Crossing of America headed up the Old McKenzie Pass last Friday. During the “Big Climb,” Jack Smith went from 1,700 to 5,200 feet in elevation over an 18-mile stretch.
Smith’s journey is designed  to draw attention to, and raise funds for Board Rescue, a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing skateboards and safety equipment to organizations that work with underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children. It  is sponsored by Evolve Skateboards, the leading manufacturer of electric skateboards in the U.S.
Over the McKenzie area stretch, Smith said the boards, “Performed great, ascending and descending.” On flatter ground he reports traveling as far as 27 miles on a single charge. For more information on the charity, go to: boardrescue.org

Happy mtn bikersTrail crews on the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest have completed a five-year project to improve the O’Leary Loop into a world class mountain biking trail. Already a “hidden gem” for both hiking and mountain biking, the enhanced trail is a 22-mile, single-track loop with an intense backcountry feel. Local partners and the McKenzie River Ranger District hope that increasing the mountain biking opportunities in the area will encourage visitors to stay and explore the area for multiple days.

The project started in 2011 when the Recreation and Trails sub-committee of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce identified a need for additional bike trails to better serve the mountain biking community. The McKenzie River Trail, which draws visitors locally, nationally and internationally, was the only substantial opportunity for mountain biking in the area. The Disciples of Dirt, a mountain bike advocacy group, worked with the Willamette National Forest to identify the O’Leary Loop, which had been infrequently used for hiking or biking, as an opportunity to expand mountain biking opportunities.

McKenzie logoEditor's note: On 9/21/16 The McKenzie School board voted unanimously to approve creation of a charter school. This report covers a community meeting prior to that vote:

FINN ROCK: “We are McKenzie so we study the McKenzie as a textbook, as a source of knowledge.” That sentiment from Science teacher Nate Day was part the rationale supporters of a proposed charter school presented at a meeting last Wednesday. He went on to note that charter schools have a “place based” emphasis that is, “Not all about sitting down in a classroom. With all the natural resources we have - from waterfalls, Clear Lake, mountains and the amazing river - every single classroom can have a direct connection to the world.”
For Corey Culp, the charter school concept wasn’t appealing when he first heard about it. “As a teacher I had to think about how would I start implement it and how would I have to start changing my classroom to make it fit,” he wondered.

Blue Pool diversMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The location of a bowl where spring-fed waters form a crystal clear pond is no longer privy to just locals. In recent years increasing numbers of hikers, bikers and cliff jumpers have all been going to the Blue Pool on the McKenzie River National Scenic Trail. Their numbers, and the impacts of their visits, have become issues for the McKenzie River Ranger District, which manages the site.
District Ranger Terry Baker said about five years ago those numbers ran a range of about 20 to 30 per day. In the last two to three  years another zero could be added at times, like one recent weekend when a Forest Service video recording showed 200 cars crammed into the parking lot at the Trail Bridge Reservoir.
Baker credits a variety of online social media outlets, websites and news articles for contributing to Blue Pool’s popularity. “It just becomes more and more of an attraction,” Baker said, “so we have increased visitation.”

McK EagleBy Jim Thomas
Superintendent
FINN ROCK: The McKenzie School Board will be holding a public hearing at 6:30pm on September 14th in the high school library to receive input on the proposed conversion of the district’s K-12 program into the McKenzie River Community School.
An application for the Community School was submitted by a group made up of community members, educators and parents who are interested in increasing opportunities for our students to receive the highest quality education possible with the resources that are available. The focus of the proposed school, if approved, will be natural resources and career technical education. The core curriculum will remain pretty much the same.
The board encourages all of you who have questions or concerns, to attend the meeting and to give your input.

Pony girlWALTERVILLE: The 66th annual “Walterville Community Fair – the Other Country Fair” is just around the corner. The event will showcase prime cookies, pies, cakes, and breads from area kitchens as well as the best canning of the year. Between now and the September 10th fair day, gardeners can encourage their favorite flowers to bloom, and gather  vegetables to enter, while other folks finish up their handiwork or arts and crafts, develop their photography, and dust the antiques to enter into the fair’s many display categories.
Entries for the fair should be delivered between 7:30 and 9 a.m., with judging starting at 9 a.m. There will be Best of Show prizes and all-around winners. People can pick up their entries Friday night between 3 and 4 p.m.
The Walterville Grange will also be hosting the “Walterville Waddle” - a 5K run/walk. Sign ins are scheduled between 7 and 7:45 a.m. and the  Waddle will begin at 8 a.m.  Participants can preregister at https://secure.getmeregistered.com through September 9th.

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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.