Make the McKenzie Connection!

Diesel class

News Briefs

Lane Community College is excited to host dynamic summer camps for high school students, including those providing hands-on experiences in diesel mechanics. The camps offer unique opportunities for students to explore new skills and potential career paths in a fun and engaging environment. High school students will get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes diesel-powered freight trucks and hydraulic excavators operate. Highlights include Hands-On Experience: Operate highway trucks and heavy equipment, Engine Disassembly: Learn by taking apart a diesel engine, and Field Trips: Visit local diesel repair shops for real-world insights. Dates: July 8-11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Main Campus, Lane Community College, 4000 E. 30th Ave. in Eugene. For more information, visit or contact Early College Advisor Brenda Williams at [email protected].

Hwy. 242

The Old McKenzie Pass is scheduled to remain closed on the east side until the morning of July 4th. Only the east side of the pass is under construction, but the west side will also remain closed at the gate just beyond Linton Lake. According to the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, limited turnaround space on the west side makes it unsafe to open the route any closer to the summit.

When the pass opens above the gate, there will still be some work to do, like striping, putting up signage, and clean-up that may cause minor delays. Paving on the east side section of the highway below the gate will continue through July and could also cause some delays. Unlike the upper highway, that section is wide enough to accommodate traffic and construction equipment with single-lane closures and flaggers.

Entering the work zone is dangerous and can cause delays that may slow down the project. Since crews will be working in a closed area, they may work any day of the week and heavy equipment will remain on the road until it is open.

Funding from a Federal Lands Access Program grant is repaving OR 242 from the junction with U.S. 20 in Sisters to the summit at Dee Wright Observatory. There is always the possibility that extreme weather or other unforeseen circumstances could delay the opening past July 4th.

Whooping cough

A sharp increase in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, is concerning Oregon health officials who are encouraging people to get vaccinated against the disease. As of May 29th, 178 pertussis cases have been reported to Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division - a 770% increase from the 20 cases reported in 2023.

Reported pertussis cases so far this year were highest in Lane County - with 64, followed by Multnomah 41, Clackamas 33, Deschutes 15, Washington 13, and Jefferson 8. School-aged children and adolescents account for 92 (52%) of cases.

Infants are at highest risk of pertussis-related complications and death, and they have the highest reported incidence rate.

EWEB’s McKenzie River dinner

The Eugene Water & Electric Board hosted a customer appreciation dinner at the Walterville Community Center on May 23rd in place of its yearly upriver board meeting. Instead of the typical format, where people are limited to three minutes of speaking time, the utility tested a new format that included an open house combined with facilitated discussions during dinner, and more time afterward to follow up with specific people. An EWEB spokesman said changes to the meeting structure were meant to support this year’s theme of “improving communications with the community.”

EWEB Communications Specialist Adam Spencer, who used to live in the McKenzie Valley, introduced topics of conversation ranging from threats to the River to EWEB’s ice storm response as well as ways to share and receive updates during power outages, or learning more about decommissioning the Leaburg Hydroelectric Project.

Despite some serious topics, laughter could be heard. Notetakers at each table jotted down key points, which they then reported to the entire group at the end of the dinner and will be brought back to EWEB for further consideration.

Rainbow Water District Superintendent Jamie Porter, an EWEB customer in the McKenzie Valley, described what it was like to attend the event.

“Responding to and recovering from the January winter storm was a huge challenge for EWEB. Choosing to decommission the Leaburg Dam was a difficult and controversial decision for EWEB. I respect the amount of work that EWEB put into hosting the upriver meeting,” Porter said. “They created a new format that allowed EWEB representatives to meet with upriver customers on a more personal level to better understand how people have been and will be impacted by these big events.”

“I walked away from the meeting appreciating the opportunity I had to learn new information, to share my own concerns, and to hear the perspective of others in my community,” Porter added.

EWEB Commissioners and staff have also responded positively to the new format.

“I appreciated getting to talk with people one-on-one in a way that I couldn’t at some of our regular meetings,” EWEB Commissioner Mindy Schlossberg said at the utiity’s June board meeting. “It was nice to be able to sit down with them and listen to what they had to say. Overall, it felt much more respectful.”


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