We have a closet full of Boots and Slippers this week.
SLIPPER: Heisman: The University of Oregon QB Marcus Mariota could have gone pro last year. He didn't. Instead, he returned to the University of Oregon—and, in the process, has led the Ducks toward a national title. On Saturday, he won the Heisman trophy—and did so by winning the second-highest percentage of possible points in Heisman history. And on Sunday, the Oregon State Beavers football team took out a full-page ad in the Oregonian congratulating Mariota on his win. Well played, Beavers! It has been 52 years since an Oregon college football player won a Heisman trophy.
SLIPPER: New coach: After less than impressive seasons in recent years, Oregon State scored a big post-season victory by hiring Gary Andersen away from the 16th-ranked University of Wisconsin program. It was an entirely surprising announcement. OSU's own coach, Mike Riley, had built up a strong program, but in recent years the program was seeming to sag—and Riley departed two weeks ago to the struggling Nebraska football team. Wooing away the coach from a much-better funded program, OSU scores an impressive victory, and is promising for what capacity it brings for the Beavers for redemption in upcoming years.
BOOT: Federal timber sales: Although logging has largely dried up in rural Oregon, much of the economy in those counties, including Deschutes, still relies on timber sales—or, at least the memory of that revenue. For decades, counties received a portion of federal timber harvest sales—money from the sales of lumber harvested from BLM and National Forest lands, and money which paid for services such as roads, jails and schools. But since the mid-90s, the quantity of those sales has been curtailed and, as such, funding to counties has also been smaller.
To replace some of this dwindling funding, in 2000 Congress passed an initiative to maintain some of that funding. But the window on the program has been closing; in 2006, more than $250 million flowed to rural counties, while last year only brought $107 million.
Last week, however, it all ended for good when Congress did not reauthorize timber payments from federal lands to rural counties—and the amount goes immediately to zero, unless a new deal is quickly brokered. Deschutes County is slated to lose roughly $1 million in federal funding. Neighboring Klamath County could lose $5 million, and Lane County more than $10 million.
Yes, we recognize that these are subsidies and subsidies are not sustainable—and, moreover, that this is money that was derived from sometimes ecologically questionable means. Even so, turning off the spigot so suddenly and at a time when most sheriff departments and school districts are already woefully underfunded seems drastic.
Oregon senators and congressional representatives will need to hustle this spring to secure federal funding to rural counties to supplement this lost revenue.
SLIPPER: Knute Buehler: After a campaign as a moderate Republican and strong victory as House representative, Buehler picked up fans on both sides of the aisle—and, last week, he was awarded with three plum appointments for the upcoming legislative session, as vice-chair for the House Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness Committee, and on the Health Care and Human Services, and Housing committees. All told, Buehler has been handed opportunities to shine—and, to address rural healthcare and to bring support for affordable housing.
Sale of Troy Field: For sale signs popped up on Troy Field this week. For decades, Troy Field has been a downtown gathering ground, for everyone from junior soccer players, to semi-pro baseball players to casual Frisbee players. Although a favorite de facto park space, the field is actually owned by the Bend-La Pine School District, who declared the green space "surplus property" in late autumn. It is anticipated the sale could fetch $2 million, money likely to be directed toward the construction of a new elementary school.