Spanning the State: Potato, Potahtoe Edition

Carla Axtman

Football season has begun in earnest. My Facebook feed is littered throughout the weekend with commentary on various games, teams and sometimes even play by play descriptions. It's kind of like watching Farmville requests scroll by, only with team colors. That's not to say that I dislike football, I am a red-blooded American after all. But after the recent NFL settlement with players who've suffered head injuries, I find myself dubious about supporting things NFL-related.

I do support digging up news items from around Oregon that may have missed your radar, however. So let's Span the State!

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Last week, Washington County authorities announced that they'd raided a marijuana growing operation in 15 homes. Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff's Office is casting aspersions against the medical marijuana program, blaming people they consider abusers of the law for a rogue growing operation. The AG's office says not so fast, this was just a typical industrial growing operation. Either way, the taxpayers just foot the bill for six (yes, you read that right) different law enforcement agencies working on the raid and for an investigation that's been going since last December. The alleged pot growing and shipping operation is not accused of making or selling any other drugs.

Despite very hot temperatures and what is likely to be a lighter yield, Oregon's potato crop is still expected to be solid. Bill Brewer, CEO of the Oregon Potato Commission says that there's a quality crop and good, firm market. Oregon yields about 58,500 pounds of potatoes per acre, just behind Washington. Eastern Oregon growers lead the way, producing 61,000-62,000 pounds per acre. Hot days,cool nights and superb soil/irrigation account for the generally high yields.

Once again, the rhetorical fires have stoked some residents of Southern Oregon and Northern California toward creating their own new state of Jefferson. The Tea Party driven movement seeks a break away from Oregon and California advocates say, because government is standing in the way of them building vibrant ranching and logging economies. So far, Jackson County doesn't appear to be seeing a groundswell of support for the notion. Residents articulate a desire for more local control, but also wonder how counties can sustain themselves with such small tax bases due to little population and very little industry.

The area to be considered for endangered species review for the Morrow Pacific coal export terminal proposal has been reduced from 276 miles of the Columbia River channel to less than one mile. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the review and says that studying the impact of building the terminal at the site is all they can do inside the scope of their permitting process. Their response came after the National Marine Fisheries Service asked the corps to do a more comprehensive environmental review that includes information about impacts from ship traffic, coal dust blowing off train and the contributions to climate change from burning the exported coal in Asia.

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