Spanning the State: Ringing in 2014 in style, Edition

Carla Axtman

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'm pretty jazzed about the fact that Portland is the site for the 2014 World Beard & Moustache Championships. The genesis of this event is apparently a matter of some debate, but it's been going for sure since 1990. Hosted by beard clubs from all over the world, winners have been chosen from entry categories such as "verdi" and "musketeer". The Championships will arrive in Portland in September and are hosted by Beard Team USA®.

Also, the portraits on the website of past winners are....epic. Click through on the links and check it out.

And now, let's Span the State!


Before we leave Portland entirely, there's a new accolade bestowed on the Rose City: Best City in America. The real estate company Movoto ranked Portland at the top based on a mashup of previous rankings they'd compiled throughout 2013. Portland's love of movies and it's nerdliness were key factors as well as being a great place for food lovers and.....steampunk. More at Movoto's blog.

Speaking of lists, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek was rated last week by Governing Magazine (guess there's a periodical even for people who are nerdy about governing) as one of the 12 state legislators to watch in 2014. The magazine took note of Kotek's rise to the Speaker seat and a slate of successful policy initiatives as well as her status as the first openly lesbian House speaker.

Springfield City Councilor Dave Ralston is once again in trouble with the law. Nine years ago, Ralston pled no contest to shooting a black tail deer out of season and then using someone else's tag on the deer. In June, Ralston pled guilty to an intoxicated-driving charge. Then in October, he was involved in a traffic stop in Deschutes County in which the officer found an illegally taken buck deer inside a vehicle. Ralston is scheduled to appear on January 13 to enter a plea on a misdemeanor charge. But the problems for Ralston don't end there. Last week, the Quality Research Associates of Eugene notified Lane County Circuit Judge Curtis Conover notified a Lane County judge that Ralston had violated the terms of a a court-ordered diversion program as part of the guilty plea from the June court appearance.

All along the West coast, colonies of starfish are dying off in massive numbers, including the beautiful orange and purple pisaster species often scene along the coast in our state. Except starfish in Oregon seem to be mostly spared from the malady so far. The mysterious problem has been labeled "sea star wasting disease" and has scientists scratching their heads. It's unknown whether the die-off is caused by a toxin or some sort of bacteria and it's also not known why Oregon's starfish are holding their own. Previous large starfish die-offs have shown that it's very difficult for the species to recover, so if Oregon starfish continue to remain isolated from the outbreak, scientists may be looking to our coastline as a stronghold for recovery.

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