- Central Oregon, you deserve a slow clap.
n regular weeks, this section of our publication is reserved for commentary and inquiry, and often, constructive criticism about the things going on in Central Oregon. It's an important facet of a vibrant newspaper that aims not only to report on the news and happenings of the region, but also to get people thinking about how we can do better.
This week, however, is no regular week. In addition to it being the week in which we introduce our Best Of Central Oregon winners for 2017, we're bringing you an Eclipse Survival Guide, destined to be seen by the throngs who will visit this week. In light of all that, we're reserving this week's Opinion page for a few nods. (Don't worry, dear readers, we'll be back with the constructive criticism next week!)
So let's break this down by the most salient issues plaguing Central Oregon, shall we?
Affordable Housing. Finding homes for the middle-income bracket—either for sale or for rent—is a tough endeavor in Central Oregon, as our ongoing Housing Crisis series attests. However, we're giving a nod this week to Bend 2030 and its many community partners, who have been diving deep into the barriers to building middle-market housing, and who have proposed 12 strategies that would tackle prohibitive housing codes and other barriers, if adopted. Like what they're doing? Make it known to your elected officials by attending a public city or county meeting soon.
Roads. Yes, there are still potholes. Yes, some roads remain unpaved, half-paved or otherwise. But you've apparently made your views on this issue known, and your public officials in the Oregon State legislature, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Bend have been listening. In July, the Oregon Legislature passed a $5.3 billion transportation package aimed at fixing the state's roads and bridges, expanding highways and improving public transportation. Meanwhile, the City of Bend and the Bend City Council reworked the city budget to ensure more roads were repaved or fixed this year, as opposed to waiting. As for the DOT/City of Bend efforts to make Third Street compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Keep on keepin' on. We need it.
Tourism and Public Safety. By now, the only way that you aren't aware of the presence of the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21 is if you actually live in a cave—though since the Source isn't delivered to any caves, chances are you know about it. While talking about the impact of tourism—good or bad—seems to be Central Oregonians' #1 hobby/gripe/social media go-to, we bring it up again this time to give a nod to the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network and its team of local, state and federal agency partners, some of whom have been working for YEARS to prepare for the eclipse. Whether concerned with staffing our public safety teams, sharing information with the public, or watching those traffic and weather reports, we're sending a big shout out to Sgt. Nathan Garibay, Ashley Volz and the entire team at the Deschutes County Sheriff's emergency services department—along with their counterparts in Crook and Jefferson counties. These are the people who are likely watching the eclipse on TV, after the fact, so that all of us can see it safely in real time. (And in case you need info, check them out at coemergencyinfo.blogspot.com)