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Deer poacher gets prison term

Deer poacher gets prison term
The Register-Guard
A 26-year-old Springfield man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of probation for his role in what Oregon State Police have called the largest deer poaching case in state history.

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The Cost of Higher Ed.

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The Cost of Higher Ed.
by Grant Madden, EDN

The cost of higher education has become more expensive, and Eugene’s University of Oregon is leading the way seeking an increase of tuition fees by 9% for undergraduate courses. In the past five years, tuition fees in Oregon have risen by more than 50%, the largest rise of all the continental US.

University of Oregon

The rise in fees will make the University of Oregon the highest fee University in the state, with annual fees and tuition for an undergraduate course rising to almost $9000 a year. Combined with rooms, board and text books, the costing of studying will raise to almost $21000 annually for state residents. The annual cost for out of state residents and international students rises as well, forecast to an average cost of $40000. This rise in fees puts a years worth of tertiary study almost equal to the 2010 Census Bureau’s calculation of the median Oregon household income of $48000.

The proposed increase would bring in an additional $60 million worth of income to the University system, bringing the total of state tuition fees to $803 million.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education claims it is looking to maintain the state universities accessible and affordable, while the state  government aims to ensure that 40% of Oregonians have a Bachelor’s degree by 2025.

Student bodies across the state have voiced opposition to the fees increase, with claims that the long term cost of student loans to cover the fees outweigh the financial gain of a tertiary education. Further complicating that financial strain is the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act, which in 2005 added student loans to the lists of debts that cannot be forgiven in a bankruptcy action.

The rise in tuition fees subsequently creates an ad hoc “auction” for a college education, with positions available to the highest bidder. As the cost of education outstrips financial means, many Oregonians will forgo the opportunity to attend University, leaving multiple open positions for out of state residents. These positions can then be offered at a higher level of fees, providing more income for the Universities. The long term effect of this is that “foreign” students will arrive, obtain their education, and return to their home communities, leaving Oregon without access to the skills developed within the state.

George McPherson’s Civic Stadium

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George McPherson’s Civic Stadium
by Nate Gartrell, EDN

George McPherson during his days as a Eugene Emerald. Photo courtesy of George McPherson

When George McPherson played at Civic Stadium, no one in their right mind would have suggested tearing the ballpark down and turning it into anything else. Attendance at Civic was good, and its team, the Eugene Emeralds, was red hot—the hottest in the league, as a matter of fact.

McPherson played center field for the Ems in 1974, and 1975, when they won consecutive league championships and set a league record for most wins in a season. McPherson helped them do it; he led the team in stolen bases in ’74, and batted .309 with 89 hits in 75 games in ‘75. That year, the Ems became an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds who, coincidentally, were enjoying two consecutive championship seasons of their own, in ’75 and ’76.  “That was when [the Reds] were called ‘The Big Red Machine,’” said McPherson. “And we were called ‘The Little Red Wagon.’”

They had a nickname for Civic back then too; it was known as “The Castle,” and McPherson said he and his teammates felt invincible when they played there.  “That place could be almost as loud as Autzen Stadium,” said McPherson of Civic. “It was an atmosphere where it didn’t matter whether we were winning or losing. The fans still cheered, and you could hear them from South Eugene High School at times.”

Civic Stadium in 2004, during an Emeralds game.

Of course, there isn’t much cheering going on at Civic nowadays, and hardly anyone still calls it “The Castle.” Since McPherson’s time as a ballplayer, the Ems left Civic for the University of Oregon’s PK Park, citing limited locker room space and other conditions at Civic that weren’t up to Minor League Baseball standards. The Eugene 4J School Board recently rejected three proposals that would have turned the ballpark into either a soccer stadium, a YMCA facility, or a Fred Meyer store, leaving Civic’s future up for grabs.  “There were people who had been coming to Civic for 30, 40 years, and a lot of them were kicked to the wayside,” said McPherson, when asked about the move. “It would have been better if everyone in the community had been able to work together and maybe put a little bit into restoring Civic.”

George McPherson coaching during an Emeralds' away game in 2009

What may have been the Ems’ two best years at Civic were certainly the best in McPherson’s baseball career, who, after ’75, played for various minor league teams, making it as far as Triple-A Indianapolis, before a recurring leg injury ended his playing career in 1977. “If it hadn’t been for my knee, I definitely would’ve made it to ‘The Show,’” said McPherson, referring to the major leagues. “Because the Triple-A owner in Indianapolis had invited me back for a second season.”

After McPherson’s pro days were over, he decided against returning to his hometown, San Diego, and instead came back to Eugene, where he’s been living ever since. He worked in the lumber business for a while, and then owned Strike City Lanes, a local bowling alley, for several years. People here still recognize him on occasion. He likely wouldn’t be living in Eugene if not for baseball, but he’s grown to love the community. “The people here are incredible,” McPherson said of Eugene. “And the trees, and the climate too.”

McPherson has done his best to keep baseball in his life. He still gives lessons to local kids, and in the early 2000s, he worked as a coach with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He’s also the official scorer for the Eugene Emeralds, and stayed with the club through the move from Civic to PK, despite the fact that he misses the days when the Ems called Civic home. “Baseball has been the love of my whole life,” said McPherson, who smirked, hesitated, then added, “In fact, I was given a choice between marriage and baseball, and I chose baseball.”

Civic Stadium in its current state.

When asked how he’d feel if Civic was torn down, McPherson said he’d obviously be sad, but added that he “understands progress,” and said that when the Ems’ left Civic, he knew it was going to be the “end of an era.” Of course, McPherson himself is a living reminder of that era, which encapsulates some of the best years in Oregon baseball history.

If McPherson had his way, though, Civic would remain a historical ballpark for years to come.  “I get two lottery tickets a week, and if I ever win, I’m gonna buy it,” said McPherson, referring to Civic. “That would be my goal. It’s one of the best baseball venues that I’ve ever been involved with, and I’d like to see it preserved.”

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