News Roundup

Eugene’s “Top Leaf,” electric car driver saving big money months down the road

One of the first people to drive a mass produced electric car in Eugene, Kirk Gebb is hoping to get the word out about how it’s going a few months…

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Foster youth celebrate as Oregon Senate passes tuition waiver

Work at least two jobs. Go to class if possible. Stay up late studying, if studying is even a priority. This is the life of a foster child in college.

“Studying is the last thing you’re going to do when trying to pay rent and tuition,” current University senior and former foster child Jamie Hinsz said. “If you have any balances, you can’t register for classes. If you don’t register, you drop out. It’s like a chain reaction.”

It’s because of this that Hinsz teamed up with Children First for Oregon to write House Bill 3471, a tuition waiver for foster youth who age out of the system and want to earn a college degree. It would affect all Oregon public institutions of higher learning, including community colleges and the Oregon Health and Science University.

The foster youth of Oregon won a tough battle when on June 21, 2011, Senate passed the waiver 25-4. It currently waits a final decision from Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The requirements state that the one must either be a current foster child or have been in foster care for at least 12 months between the ages of 16-21.

“That targets the age group that basically have zero support from anyone else once they leave the system,” Hinsz said. “It will give (foster youth) incentive to think about college after high school.”

To receive the waiver, all applicants must apply and acknowledge any financial aid, scholarships, grants and loan money, and the waiver will cover the remaining balance in tuition.

Nicole Stapp, a foster child who just graduated high school, is taking a year off of school so that she can go to Portland State University with help from the waiver.

“I’m waiving myself about $10,000 in loans,” Stapp said. “I applied to many scholarship programs, but I didn’t get the ones that I thought would help me the most.”

Because of this, she is waiting for the waiver to come into effect so she doesn’t bury herself in debt.

Pamela Butler, spokesperson for Children First for Oregon, helped set up all the meetings and helped the youth prepare for those meetings.

“I aged out of the system myself,” said Butler, who graduated from the University in 2007. “So many youth have no motivation to even try.”

Still, they faced plenty of opposition from both legislature and the public.

“It really came down to three things. One, how can we choose one population over the other? Two, college is expensive for everyone; we should be working on lowering tuition overall. And three, personal experience,” Butler said.

“One representative talked to us about how he had three to five jobs throughout college, and he didn’t want us to to just take hand outs,” Stapp said.

Through social media, other have made comments about how unfair it was to others.

“They were saying nasty comments like, ‘I should put my kids in foster care so they can get free tuition,’ ” Hinsz said. “They don’t want to see their tax dollars paying for other kids’ tuition.”

However, it isn’t that simple. In fact, tax money isn’t even going into the funding of the waiver. For the most part, universities are taking the money out of their endowments and other private funds for the waiver.

“You can invest a little in their future or you can let them fail,” Butler said. The waiver is the investment, and lawmakers hope it will be successful for foster youth all over Oregon.

1st woman appointed to Ore. Supreme Court has died

A trailblazer among the state’s female politicians and the first woman appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court has died. Betty Roberts was 88.

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Sports Shorts

Sports Shorts
By Haaretz Sports Staff Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix pipped Justin Gatlin by a hundredth of a second in the 100 meters at the US world trials in Eugene, Oregon, Friday, following Tyson Gay's shock withdrawal due to injury.

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Regulators Take Over OUR Federal Credit Union

Regulators Take Over OUR Federal Credit Union
Credit Unions Online
by STAFF WRITER ShareThis NCUA took control of service and operations at OUR Federal Credit Union of Eugene, Oregon on June 24, 2011. While continuing normal member services, NCUA will work to resolve issues affecting the institution's safety and

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Construction to begin in Eugene’s West University area

Construction in the west university area will close Alder completely and remove parking until at least mid-September.

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Corvallis burglaries up 50 percent

Corvallis burglaries up 50 percent
Corvallis Gazette Times
Corvallis police report that burglaries in the city are up nearly 50 percent over last year, and a police spokesman said the struggling economy likely is part of the reason why. In the first five months of this year, police responded to 78 burglary

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Scenic highway opens to cyclists, pedestrians

McKENZIE BRIDGE — Miss winter yet? If so, the state Department of Transportation has a deal for you. The Old McKenzie Highway is now open, not to cars but to hikers and bicyclists interested in traversing the scenic route while the roadside snowdrifts are still melting. Highway crews have punched …

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Bill revising PERS questioned

SALEM — Some lawmakers are questioning whether there’s much value to a piece of legislation that’s billed as the most significant cost-saving reform to the Public Employees Retirement System that has gained serious momentum in the Capitol this session. House Bill 2456, which was voted to the House floor at …

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Mental hospital still alive

SALEM — Legislators are close to unveiling a proposal that would allocate $5 million for infrastructure costs over the next two years for the state psych­iatric hospital proposed for Junction City. That’s down from the $83 million Gov. John Kitzhaber recommended for the project in his February budget — which …

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