Weekday Wrap: Digging into financial troubles at an Astoria transit district

By OPB staff (OPB)
July 25, 2023 9:42 p.m.

Stories you may have missed from staff reports and our news partners around the region

Review shows financial struggles at Astoria transit district

A state review of the transit district serving the Astoria area has revealed several red flags in its financial history.

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The Sunset Empire Transportation District suspended operations in April after its executive director, Jeff Hazen, suddenly announced the agency had run out of money to continue. The district restored some bus routes and other services with state help. Hazen resigned in May.

State officials then called for a review of the transit district’s finances. The resulting report describes a work environment where Hazen kept tight control over the budget and was abusive to staff. The review did not find specific instances of theft or misuse of funds, but noted areas that warrant further investigations. (Rebecca Norden-Bright / The Astorian)

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Battle against invasive water plant in Willamette Slough in Salem nears end

Weed abatement of an invasive water plant in the Willamette Slough in Salem is entering its fourth and final year.

Staff with the city and with Willamette Riverkeeper, a nonprofit, are applying a last round of herbicide next week. The application process began Monday and is expected to run through Friday.

The herbicide targets the invasive Uruguayan water primrose, also called Ludwigia. It’s a floating aquatic plant with dark green leaves and small yellow flowers. It took hold of the Willamette Slough in recent years, hurting recreational opportunities and wildlife alike.

Officials urge people to avoid the area until 24 hours after the last scheduled treatment day to limit potential exposure to the herbicides and to ensure maximum treatment effect.

Any new growth of Ludwigia will be hand-pulled, and native plants have been added to keep the invasive plants at bay. (Whitney Woodworth / Salem Statesman Journal)

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More than 15% of homeless people in Clark County report fleeing domestic violence

More than 15% of people experiencing homelessness in Clark County report they were fleeing domestic violence, according to data collected from local service providers.

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The Vancouver-based nonprofit Council for the Homeless, collects data from 39 homeless service providers. According to its data, about 300 people in 2019 reported losing their housing because of domestic violence. That number has more than doubled since then, to 808 people by 2022.

Those numbers mirror national trends. Advocates say the pandemic likely exacerbated some triggers linked to domestic violence, including unemployment, stress, financial insecurity and substance use.

Despite the increase, Clark County has only one shelter for domestic violence survivors. It has 10 rooms. (Alexis Weisend / The Columbian)

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Eugene passes renter protections for security deposits, applications, evictions

The Eugene City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to approve several new renter protection rules.

The rules prevent landlords from charging more than two months of rent for security deposits. They also require landlords to process applications in the order received. Landlords also have to pay to relocate tenants if they evict them without cause, or if they raise rents.

The rules go into effect Aug. 23. (Alan Torres / Eugene Register-Guard)

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Amazon distribution center planned for Southern Oregon

Amazon has purchased a $5.4 million parcel of land in Jackson County to build a new warehouse distribution center.

Executives with the company wouldn’t provide details on their plans for the Central Point location. But city staff say the company has submitted pre-construction paperwork and applied for building permits.

Plans call for the construction of an 85,000-square-foot warehouse.

Amazon also has shipping facilities in Portland, Hillsboro, Troutdale and Salem, and is building a major distribution center in Woodburn. The company has indefinitely shelved plans to build in Canby. (Buffy Pollock / Rogue Valley Times)

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