• Broadway Actor to Teach Corvallis
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    kevin1Broadway actor and Crescent Valley Graduate Kevin Loomis is back in Corvallis to teach two theater workshops at Corvallis High School’s Black Box Theater on Sept. 29, featuring one free after-school edition for students and an evening workshop for adults. Loomis intends to tell students about his experiences over 35 years as a professional actor on Broadway and elsewhere, and put them through exercises to help develop the skills needed for success.

    Loomis’ workshop was originally billed as a “Spiderman(sic)” workshop, however his 3½ years spent in the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark won’t be the focal point. Loomis was a swing, or understudy in Spider-Man – he didn’t do any wirework in stage, although judging by his amazing performance as George M. Cohan in the 1976 CVHS/CHS production of the musical George M!, he probably could have.

    Kevin Loomis grew up in Corvallis, where he graduated in 1975. He was trained in theater by Crescent Valley’s Gary Christianson, a man whose talents put him far beyond the average high school drama teacher.  As a former classmate of Loomis’ and a former student of Christianson’s, I was very happy for the chance to interview him about the workshop and his memories of Corvallis.

    JB: What skills will you be teaching [in your workshop]?

    KL: We will be doing some warm-ups, looking at some prepared monologues and deconstructing what goes into them and how to approach them. It will mostly be basics on how to approach a role, what to consider, and the myriad of choices that affect one’s performance. There will also be a look at my time in Corvallis and how my career has been shaped during my 35 years as a professional, a Q and A session and maybe a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants….

    JB: Are there skills which you learned specifically for Spider-Man?

    KL: I was a swing/understudy on Spider-Man, covering three men, in three different tracks.  This was the first time I had done this. I covered one principal role – J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle – and two featured ensemble tracks – Peter’s Uncle Ben and a few other parts that actor played in that track. I also understudied the father of Spider-Man’s girlfriend Mary Jane, and about five other parts in that track.

    Note: On stage and especially in musicals, actors often play more than one role. An understudy will then have to train to perform in all of that actor’s “track” of roles.

    JB: Are there any stories you’d be willing to share about doing theater at CVHS?

    KL: CVHS Theatre, and especially Gary Christianson (my drama teacher and still close friend) laid the groundwork for my passion, my abilities, and most importantly my willingness to tackle any role. He helped make me fearless and not to put limits on my abilities.

    JB: Are there things you miss about 1970s Corvallis?

    KL: I miss Corvallis, period! Its beauty. Its calmness. Its closeness to the mountains and the ocean, and how you can get pretty much anywhere in ten minutes.

    Kevin Loomis’ Master workshop is free of charge to students, grades 6th through 12th, at the CHS Black Box Theater, September 29 and 30, from 3:30-5 p.m. The adult workshop will be $10 at the door and will take place from 7:30-9 p.m, also at the Black Box Theater on 1400 NW Buchanan Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330.

    By John M Burt

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  • College Town Run Down
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    osuIt’s no secret that we live in a college town that is consistently ranked with some of the top in the country – but how do things really stack up? Without the resources to give you that 40,000 page breakdown you crave, we’ve created a smaller criteria and made a list of a few public universities across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California. Fancy yourself an aficionado of unemployment rates, rents, and safety? How about something a bit more cultural? On the surface Corvallis seems to hover around the center of the pack, but there’s some room for dissent, isn’t there?

    Oregon State University
    Corvallis, OR

    • Population: 55,000

    • Enrollment: 29,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 3.8%

    • Median Rent: $1,785

    • Safer than 18% of U.S. cities

    Here’s the college town we’re all familiar with. As you may know, there is an abundance of football games, art fairs, farmer’s markets, and random traveling bands. Usually they collide on the same day, sucking up the not so abundant parking spots. Luckily though public transportation is free for the most part, and Corvallis is up there with the most bike-able places in the country. So if you’re smart, which most of you probably are because we have one of the highest rates of college degrees per capita, you’ll spare yourself the $500 campus parking pass, buy a bike, and save the planet in the process – which a lot of people here seem to like doing.

    Washington State University
    Pullman, WA

    • Population: 31,000

    • Enrollment: 28,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 4.5%

    • Median Rent: $1,500

    • Safer than 39% of U.S. cities

    Pullman, Washington is nestled way out on the East side of the state. So far East you can drive to Idaho in about 10 minutes tops. Washington State University makes up most of the town, with enrollment reaching 28,000 students and a town population of just 31,000. Similar to Corvallis, one does not simply fly into town. The nearest major airport is an hour and a half away in Spokane. Bloomberg rates Pullman the best town in Washington to raise a kid, based on number of schools, crime reports, and affordability. Out of the towns on this list, it ranks the safest. Every year they throw the National Lentil Festival to bring attention to the Palouse farmland region, where 18% of the country’s lentils are grown.

    Western Washington University
    Bellingham, WA

    • Population: 82,000

    • Enrollment: 15,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 6.3%

    • Median Rent: $1,685

    • Safer than 4% of U.S. cities

    Bellingham, Washington rests two hours north of Seattle and about half an hour from the Canadian border. It’s home to Western Washington University, which enrolls 15,000 students, roughly a fifth of Bellingham’s 55,000 citizens. And they like to drink – they’ve got the most drive through coffee stands per capita in the country, and nine breweries in town, though it’s easy to stay busy in the outdoors of Mount Baker and the Puget Sound. Easily overshadowed by Seattle, the music scene is also something worth checking out. Their unemployment rate rivals that of Chico, California’s, coming in at over 6%.

    Idaho State University
    Pocatello, ID

    • Population: 54,000

    • Enrollment: 15,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 3.5%

    • Median Rent: $875

    • Safer than 13% of U.S. cities

    Way out in Southeast Idaho sits “Poky” and Idaho State University where the students make up over a third of the town’s population. Out of every place on this list, Pocatello takes the cake for the cheapest median rent of $875 and the lowest unemployment rate of 2016 at 3.5%. The four-hour drive from Yellowstone makes for a solid weekend trip, and the winter months make for plenty of cross country skiing in the area. They’ve also got a 19th century frontier town replica, complete with a saloon that doesn’t serve alcohol. You’d better bring your smile though, because just forty years ago it was illegal to frown in Pocatello. Now it’s just the U.S. Smile Capital. So smile.

    California State University, Chico

    Chico, CA

    • Population: 88,000

    • Enrollment: 17,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 6.8%

    • Median Rent: $1,615

    • Safer than 9% of U.S. Cities

    Chico, California is located in Northern California, three hours south of the Oregon border. The town more closely mirrors the layout of Corvallis, though Big Chico Creek winding its way through downtown can’t really measure up to vastness of the Willamette. A 20-minute drive from the University campus is Bidwell Park, the 13th largest municipal park in the country, where you can do just about anything from organized disc golf to paragliding, though you might not want to take your car because auto theft in this town is one of the highest in the country. The chances of someone stealing your car are one in 206. Their breweries can’t compete with most towns in the Northwest, but Chico is home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

    University of Oregon
    Eugene, OR 

    • Population: 159,000

    • Enrollment: 24,000

    • Unemployment Rate (average 2016): 5.1%

    • Median Rent: $1,450

    • Safer than 9% of U.S. cities

    All right, we all know enough about Eugene, no need to run through the fun stuff. They have the largest population compared to their number of students from their main school. One thing you can pride yourself on is that the OSU and Oregon civil war game rivalry is 7th oldest in the nation. Out of all the students on this list, they get in the most trouble with alcohol. In 2014 there were almost 2,000 liquor violations handed out by campus security. You’re also pretty likely to see cops around, because 30% of all police reports are traffic stops, person stops, and patrol calls. We know Eugene is Nike town, but their school mascot is the only one from Disney – yes, that’s a real live Donald Duck.

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  • Runner’s Rundown: 2016 October Marathons
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    running-shoesWith the autumn chill in the air and all the leaves turning, do you feel a burning desire to curl up in a blanket and smell a book? Well don’t, because there are scenic, boozy adventures waiting for you around every bend.

    These regional October marathons are sure to bring out your inner child and competitive (or noncompetitive) nature – giving participants a range of fun including costume competitions, insane inflatables, prizes, and medals – all while keeping the belly at bay this holiday season. Not to worry, there will be plenty gluttonous offerings; some registration even comes with free beer. A word of advice – bring your IDs, and get creative with that witchy sh*t.

    October 2, Condor 25K Trail Run
    This year marks the 5th annual Condor 25K Trail Run, in memory of Dave “Condor” Bateman, local ultrarunner who passed away in 2011 due to complications after heart surgery. This 15-and-a-half mile run reaches a 2600’ vertical climb and equal descent along the beautiful logging roads and trails of the McDonald Forest. Racers take flight bright and early, at 9 a.m. from the Peavy Arboretum, and there will be three aid stations along the way with complimentary GU Energy Gels, GU mixed hydration drinks, and refreshing H2O.

    Race-day registration is possible, however early birds can register online for $45. Proceeds go to the Oregon State University Research Forest Fund for trail maintenance and construction, and a portion goes to Bateman’s immediate family.

    To learn more about Bateman and his legacy, or to find directions and registry info, visit http://condor25k.org/.

    October 9, The Great Pumpkin Run
    Prepare your costumes for this year’s 26th Annual Great Pumpkin Run, featuring food, beer, music, friendly competitions, and raffle drawings. Sponsored by the Calapooia Brewing Company and Home Life Inc – a residential facility for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults – proceeds benefit said residents, and the event includes a 1K obstacle course, one 5K and one 10K marathon.

    Participants 21 and older with valid IDs will receive a free beer upon registry. $15 t-shirts will be available for purchase, and a costume contest will award the top male and female competitors in each age group as well as the best team costume. Online registration prices range from $17 for the 1K Obstacle Fun Run and $40 for the 10K.

    Registration and Packet Pickup begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St., Corvallis, where runners take flight at 9 a.m. Strollers are allowed, but please no dogs, roller skates, blades, boards, or bicycles. For more information, go to http://homelifegreatpumpkinrun.org/

    October 16, Beaver Feaver Triathlon and Duathlon
    Embody that school spirit and register now for OSU’s upcoming annual Beaver Feaver Triathlon and Duathlon, beginning Sunday, Oct. 16, at 9 a.m. Launched in 2003 as a fundraiser for the Beavers team, the event now encompasses a triathlon of running, swimming, and cycling and a duathlon of just running and cycling.

    The bike course involves a scenic 20-mile ride with a two-mile hill climb, while runners loop twice around the Philomath High School cross country course, and swimmers race 500 yards in the Philomath community pool, before transitioning to a .21 mile run.

    Pre-race briefing, packet pickup, and registration will open the day before the race, Oct. 15, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Philomath Middle School. Prices vary between scheduled events -— the duathlon costs $60 for individuals, $85 for duos, and $105 for trios upon pre-registry, with a deadline of Oct. 12, while race-day registrations costs an extra $5 in each category. Pricing increases for participants in the triathlon. Register before Oct. 1 if you wish to purchase a $10 t-shirt, available in men’s sizes S-XXL in neon pink, neon orange, or black.

    Day of race registration — for the Duathlon only — open Sunday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 a.m. Duathlon and 1st wave triathlon participants kick off at 9 a.m. An award ceremony will commence at noon and 1 p.m., for duathlon and triathlon participants, respectively, after nine waves of competitors finish up.

    For further details, visit http://www.osubeaverfever.com/, or email beaverfeavrdu@gmail.com with any inquiries.

    October 22, Hell of the Northwest 25K/10K Trail Run
    Hell of the Northwest is unique in that it offers lush waterfall views through the trails of Alsea Falls in Alsea, Oregon. The race includes a Half Marathon reaching 2100 vertical feet and a 10K, with a 1000 foot elevation gain. With Halloween around the corner, participants are encouraged to adorn their costumes and will even receive a $5 discount upon registry. The best dressed woman, man, and junior (under 18) will be awarded.

    A BBQ will be available to participants, with extra meals costing $5 each. Gray long-sleeve tees will also be available for purchase before the Half Marathon begins at 9:30 a.m from Alsea Falls Recreation Center. The 10K kicks off at 10 a.m.

    Prices for the Half Marathon begin at $45, or $50 after Sept. 30. The 10K costs $35 or $40 after the 30th. Registration closes Friday, Oct. 21 at 6:59 p.m. No refunds are allowed, but transfers to future calendar years will be granted given medical emergencies. Register at  https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=36953

    October 22, The Insane Inflatable 5K
    The Insane Inflatable 5K is worth traveling to Salem’s Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center, Saturday, Oct. 22. Boasting itself as the world’s largest and most extreme inflatable obstacle course, this 5K guarantees those who register custom-made tees, medals, and runners bibs, as well as access to their Insane Midway, full of games, music, and food.

    There’s no minimum age to register, though participants must meet a height requirement of 42”.

    Registration costs $65 by Oct. 7, $65 by Oct. 21, or $75 on race day. A $5 military discount is offered, and participants can pay $100 for an All Access pass, which includes $20 worth of merchandise credit, a special colored wristband, and grants buyers the freedom of running in any of the six waves of races – even at capacity. Spectators are free and all parties are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

    The first wave begins at 8:30 a.m. and the event ends at 11 a.m. Suggested arrival time for participants is one hour prior to designated wave. The Insane Inflatable 5K is sponsored by Runtastic, and is a proud supporter of the American Cancer Society. For details, visit http://insaneinflatable5k.com/salem-or/.

    By Stevie Beisswanger

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  • Farm Home Staff Returned to Work, Lead DHS Investigator Resigns
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    dsc_3362Employees at The Children’s Farm Home began returning to work recently, following controversy over whether Senate Bill 1515 was to blame for the suspension of 18 employees. Farm Home staff held a meeting with State Senator Sarah Gelser and representatives from the Department of Human Services (DHS) to voice concerns about the affect the staff absences were having on their ability to properly do their job and maintain healthy relationships with their clients. The director of DHS’ investigative unit has since resigned and suspensions are continuously being lifted.

    According to Senator Gelser, SB 1515 “Ensuring Children Are Safe,” did not call for employees to be put on unpaid leave. She stated, “That is not something that is required or even suggested by the law.”

    How This Started
    In fact, the unpaid staff suspensions at the Farm Home began with an action from the Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations (OAAPI), an investigative entity within DHS.

    The unit conducted an investigation of The Farm Home’s employees and practices following a suicide on the campus after which Trillium Services, the company that operates the Farm Home, and their CEO Kim Scott received a statement of violation of Oregon Administrative Rules and their licensing rules for Child Caring Agencies.

    This happened on Aug. 25, and OAAPI cited that Trillium’s violations included, but were not limited to: standard procedures for room checks, risk assessments for children with suicidal tendencies, and proper action plans following a suicide.

    DHS then placed six conditions on Trillium’s license to operate a Child Caring Facility, which were mandatory actions to be carried out immediately. Among the conditions was, “Any staff, employee, manager or contractor of Trillium who is the subject of a pending or substantiated abuse or neglect investigation by DHS must be removed from all contact with youth at all times, and must not supervise or manage staff who are responsible for direct contact with youth…”

    Changes to Trillium’s license are continuously being made, and at press time, there are a total of four amendments to their agreement. Trillium CEO Kim Scott says, “The interpretation and implementation of [SB 1515] departmentally has been very disruptive, not just to Trillium Family Services, but to the entire sector.”

    Gene Evans, the DHS Public Affairs Director, says DHS’ actions do not feel like an overreaction. “…Protection of children and youth always comes first, and safety planning is essential to that. As with Trillium, conditions can be amended as things change.”

    The Effect of OAAPI Overreach
    In short, regardless of the credibility of the initial complaint from an at-risk teen, a staffer subject to any investigation would be suspended, and OAAPI sent a list of employees under investigation to Trillium, who were then placed on unpaid leave. The impacts at the Farm Home were striking.

    With all the other campus facilities absorbing clients from the hall that was closed after the suicide, the campus was now also shorthanded because of the suspensions, so remaining caregivers were then asked to work longer hours if they could. Trusting relationships between clients and caregivers were severely impacted as staffers were sent home without explanation to anyone.

    Adding to the uncertainty, unlike other healthcare workers, caregivers at the Farm Home are not unionized, and with their administrative leaves unpaid, staffers resorted to starting a closed Facebook group that gathered people for daycare during job interviews and even to buy groceries for those who couldn’t afford any. Many staff members were searching for jobs with better security.

    What SB 1515 Actually Says
    SB 1515 does not require the suspension of employees, though it does outline some licensing investigation procedures for DHS. For instance, “If the Department of Human Services becomes aware that any suspected or founded abuses, deficiencies, violations or failures to comply with the full compliance requirements… the department shall immediately investigate and take appropriate action, with primary concern given to the health, safety and welfare of the children for whom the child-caring agency is responsible.”

    There is no language requiring unpaid leaves and it is important to remember that at-risk teens may make retaliatory complaints against caregivers. What the bill does do is provide the department discretion.

    OAAPI Director Resigns, Next Steps
    The Director of OAAPI, Marie Cervantes, resigned on Sept. 7. The interim Director of OAAPI is now John S. Thompson, while Cervantes will work as an Adult Protective Service Manager in the Aging and People with Disabilities (ADP) program. According to Senator Gelser, Richardson began addressing the issues from the meeting the next day by screening out suspended employees on a case-by-case basis, returning them back to work.

    DHS issued Scott another amendment to Trillium’s licensing agreement on Sept. 8. The removal of the condition that employees needed to be removed from contact with the youth pending investigation was among the changes.

    Senator Gelser is hoping to work on addressing some of the other concerns brought up at the meeting with Trillium, such as the ambiguity around filing incident reports and inefficient communication in a large entity like DHS. “That is a really important issue that needs to be looked at so they can be focused on doing their work,” she says.

    Scott is hoping that in the future DHS will take a more nuanced approach to problems such as this one. “I think that what we’re trying to do in collaboration with the State is to look at a process moving forward that is more sensitive to the needs of the traumatized populations that we work with.”

    For the moment, Trillium has provided a plan acceptable to DHS for how they will determine if a caregiver should continue working should a complaint from a client be received.

    By Gina Pieracci

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  • Albany’s Charitable High Roller
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    albanypotguy“Excuse me,” Tony Greenhand said when he answered the phone. “I just took a dab.” After coughing for a few moments he was able to proceed with the interview.

    At just 26 years old, Greenhand is living his dream: He gets paid at least $50.00 per hour to roll some of the most incredible joints in the world. His creations have a wide range: ice cream cones, chains made with 24k gold rolling papers, Pokémon, and even a record–breaking 4.2 pound watermelon — all of which are fully smokeable. Greenhand is also working on a Harambe joint — looks like the poor guy’s getting smoked again.

    When asked about his favorite part of the job, Greenhand simply said: “I get to make people’s day.” After a few laughs, he continued: “They tell me it’s one of the most exciting moments of their lives. I go places, and I smoke a giant joint with people and I see the joy in their faces, as if they’re celebrating 10 birthdays at once… It’s worth doing for the rest of my life.”

    Greenhand is an artist, but his form of art is inherently different than most; it isn’t meant to be permanent, it’s meant to be enjoyed and destroyed. Although his work lives on through social media, the temporary nature of his trade is something that draws him to it. “Each experience is unique and can’t be replicated. Making it, and even the different elements [of each piece], are always going to be different. It makes the experience something that is genuinely cherished.”

    Greenhand can get paid thousands of dollars to roll his masterpieces, but he isn’t the type to keep those gains to himself. He frequently auctions off his joints and gives the proceeds to charity. “When I donate to charity, I always find a family in need that needs money for medical debts or cannabis-related crimes, for instance.” One family that he helped now has a stake in his company and receives money annually for their son’s medical expenses. The son’s condition, like many others in the country, is alleviated with cannabis. However, due to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (alongside heroin and LSD), research into medical applications is often hindered.

    Greenhand, like many of us, looks forward to a future where marijuana is legal and decriminalized. “Being able to have a relaxed enough feeling about cannabis is what my joints represent. You don’t have to be afraid. It can be a joint and it can be a Pikachu, and it’s fine. It’s not hurting anyone.”

    By Robert Figura

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  • A Walk in the Pot at Cascade Valley Cannabis
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    imgp1404Logan Osenga is the proud owner of 600 pot plants. Well okay, technically they belong to his mother/business partner Theresa Stephens, seeing that her name is on the license. For Stephens, investing in a recreational pot farm seemed like a logical retirement option, and Osenga ultimately opted to split the cost instead of further pursuing a career in nursing, his second passion. Being the go-getters they are, Osenga and Stephens obtained the first recreational producer license in Benton County, along with an 11-acre plot of land they now call Half Moon Bend Farm.

    Half Moon Bend Farm is home to three greenhouses and 600 bona fide, organic cannabis plants, divided amongst 25 strains. Currently, Osenga and Stephens are in possession of a Tier I license, which allows them to grow within 20,000 square feet of canopy. Growing on the entire property would require a Tier II license, but for now, Osenga dedicates some spare space to a garden of organic fruits and veggies.

    Investing Big in Pot and Knowledge
    Breaking into the weed biz was a logical next step for Osenga, who prior to going recreational, grew medical marijuana on and off for 10 years. Since Osenga and Stephens, only a handful of other recreational pot producers have cropped up in Benton County, which sounds surprising, considering the rising cultural acceptance and lucrative nature of the marijuana industry. However, owning a pot farm requires not just a pretty penny – Osenga and Stephens’ initial investment totaled to about 200 grand – but a wealth of obscure knowledge.

    Osenga admits to spending at least an hour a day doing research, noting a scarcity in online resources. There’s no ‘How to Grow a Pot Farm’ user manual, presumably because, like Osenga, those putting in the work are pulling 16-plus hour days, seven days a week.

    Oddly enough, Osenga gleans most of his information from major tomato producers, since marijuana and tomato plants share many similarities. “From a growing perspective, [marijuana] reacts in all the same ways and needs all the same nutrients [as tomatoes],” he says.

    More than money and research, a recreational producer license requires a hefty pile of paperwork. At the end of 2015, Osenga and Stephens began the 30-plus page application process. Obtaining a license meant manual requirements too, the most extensive and expensive of which Osenga says was security, having had to “fit the farm with full cameras, sensors and locks everywhere.”

    Regarding hurdles or difficulties in the application process, Osenga acknowledges there were flaws a’plenty, but that the Oregon Liquor and Control Commission, responsible for processing applications and distributing recreational licenses, was flexible and forgiving. “The OLCC was very honest and happy to work with us,” he says.

    Clone Your Buds, Watch Them Grow
    Osenga tracks his plants with state-contracted software, which compiles the data he enters and pumps out statistics. “I can go in there and look up how many [plants are] in each strain, how many are in each building, how many that I’ve planted on this day, how many got harvested on this day…” Presently, all of Osenga’s plants are grown via cloning, though he hopes to start from seed next season.

    Using clippings generously bestowed by some friends, Osenga spawned his 600 plants by giving each clipping a hormone, sticking it in a special sponge, then watching as the clippings shoot off roots and grow into new plants. Osenga could then transplant them from his multipurpose cloning/drying room to one of his three greenhouses – which he built from scratch, by the way.

    For enhanced quality, Osenga uses the common tactic of light deprivation, tricking his plants into thinking it’s later in the season by covering the greenhouses with black plastic each night, then removing the plastic come morning. “If you cover them and make them think that it’s later in the year, they’ll start budding sooner,” he explains.

    The plants are grouped together by strain, all in different stages of growth. “I purposely have it spread out as much as possible so I don’t have too much to deal with at once.” To avoid spending an inhuman amount of time trimming and clipping all 600 plants at once, Osenga’s planned their growth cycles in succession – though some have matured quicker than expected, specifically his lavender strain, which began to bud in early August.

    A Walk in the Pot
    Most of us have a very basic image of marijuana engraved in our brains – that classic five leaf shape – which is why I am enchanted to discover how each strain varies. One is stout, with thick leaves; another grows tall and long. The leaves are also weirdly itchy, and Osenga tells me allergic reactions are common to the marijuana plant.

    The greenhouse fans waft a surprisingly subtle, heady scent as we walk toward the water reservoir Osenga built in March – busy mixing all the nutrients needed to balance the plants’ pH. With clipping season just days ahead, Osenga’s most mature buds are ready for harvest.

    “Things are starting to look pretty sticky around here,” he writes to me. Up close you can see the buds’ wispy pistols like little white hairs, and clusters of trichomes – frosty droplets which, under a microscope, look like crystal mushrooms.

    Of all his strains, Osenga’s favorite is Sour Tangie, a mix between the well known Sour Diesel and citrusy Tangie. Osenga first encountered Sour Tangie while working on pot farms in California, where dispensaries were paying exorbitant amounts of money for it. “Because it’s so tangerine-y,” he chimes, “It’s like eating an orange while you smoke a joint.”

    Sour Tangie has a 4.5 star review on Leafly and is a Sativa dominant hybrid, thus it’s effects are happy, energetic, euphoric, and creative.

    What’s at Stake
    Without missing a beat, Osenga answers my ‘what kinds of threats’ question with a hard-faced, “teenagers.” After breaking character he lists spider mites, brown mites, and especially thrips on the menu of marijuana pests. To combat the pesky insects, Osenga uses a cocktail of certified organic products, mainly neem oil, a naturally occurring pesticide pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree.

    Thrips are tiny winged insects that suck out a plant’s cell contents through the outer tissue. “They will suck the juice right out of the leaves, the larvae will go down and eat the roots and they will actually just eat the bud itself.” So far Osenga’s noticed millions of thrips crawling around the ground near his plants. Knowing the buds are thrips’ favorite munchies, Osenga hopes they won’t do too much damage as his plants further develop.

    Every marijuana farmer runs the risk of their crops being compromised, whether it be from natural sources or a poor choice in product, but none will know exactly or to what extent until it’s tested. When Osenga’s cannabis is all trimmed and clipped, he will send harvest samples to a lab of his choosing and await the results.

    Since the USDA is a federal branch, marijuana consumers and producers have to rely on outside sources to facilitate the testing. Osenga has the number-one national certifier Clean Green in mind for his lab review, esteemed for their sustainable, organic, and biodynamic practices.

    “Everything sold at a dispensary has to be tested, but not everything has to be Clean Green certified,” says Osenga.

    According to Osenga, despite the state issuing stricter testing regulations about using organic nutrients, testing laboratories have a reputation for being corrupt. “People say that if you can just pay off the laboratory you can buy yourself a clean result… I mean, there’s a huge amount of money at stake for really big growers.”

    Say a big Tier II producer sends in a sample from a 500 lb batch of weed and it comes back compromised. From a business standpoint, it may be more beneficial to bribe the lab instead of disposing of the product and losing out on major profit.

    As for the feds, Osenga shows little concern over getting caught. “No point in living in fear,” he says, “I’m already doing it, there’s no turning back now.”

    Osenga claims he’s no poster child for legalization, recounting fondly his days trimming on the farms of Cali, alongside foreigners and wayfaring vagabonds alike. The micro culture or ‘trim scene’ that popped up during his pastimes of no legalization conjures nostalgia for Osenga. “Those were some of the happiest times of my life,” he says, “making 600 dollars a day, sitting across the table from people from Brazil and Spain and Mexico just working [there] for three months so they can save up as much money as they can to just go travel for the rest of the year.”

    He continues, “Pot has always done that for people, let people focus on other things – doing things money limits people from doing.”

    Though Osenga hopes to preserve as much of that culture as possible, he admits to being “somewhat limited.” Trim scene in the world of legalization comes with restrictions. “The people I hire will have to get their marijuana handlers card – they have be citizens, they have to be 18, they have to pay 100 dollars to get it, they have to take a test,” he lists. Producers and others licensed under the OLCC may have to err more on the side of caution during hiring phases, and the trade might start taking a more commercial appearance.

    What Highs Ahead
    “I definitely have a big vision for next year,” says Osenga. Though he and Stephens are presently focused on making back their investment, he envisions a dispensary of their own someday, with hash oils and other trippy treats abound.

    “If you’re going to grow, you should really open up your own dispensary because your profit margin goes up 50%,” Osenga explains. From a business standpoint, owning their own dispensary seems practical for the mother-son duo, which would require them to apply for additional wholesale and processing licenses.

    Next growing season, Osenga plans to experiment with hybrids and genetic programming, as well as start from seed to produce a better quality product. He hopes to have a heavier crop load of CBD, or high cannabinoid strains as well – the pain-relieving, anxiety-reducing medical grade stuff, instead of the rabble-rousing psychoactive stuff.

    “There’s a huge demand for [CBD],” says Osenga, “and I unfortunately I don’t have that many CBD plants this year.”

    In the meantime, he and Stephens are reaching out to local dispensaries and circulating their decided name, Cascade Valley Cannabis, downtown. One thing Osenga hopes to inspire is a communal discussion amongst other recreational workers, those interested in spreading their knowledge and experience. Because as it happens, going full bore into pot farming leaves little time for chitchat. The man’s busy building an enterprise.

    If you have any expertise or experience to share, I encourage you to reach out to Osenga through his social media and contact information below – who knows, maybe you’ll see his name on a ‘How to Be a Marijuana Boss 101’ manual someday. And maybe Stephens’ too, without whose entrepreneurial spirit and financial support (and the very creation of Osenga), we would never get to know Benton County’s first recreational marijuana producers.

     

    For more information on Logan Osenga, Theresa Stephens and Half Moon Bend Farm, search ‘Half Moon Bend Farm’ on Facebook and follow them on Instagram @cascadevalleycannibis.

     

    By Lilly Silver

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  • Corvallis Pot Shop Comparo
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    marijuana-dispensaryIn Corvallis, the weed industry is in full bloom. Since legalization of recreational use, the state of the industry has advanced, allowing for improvements in every facet of the new economy. Dispensaries can use credit unions to store their money. Taxes on recreational cannabis are used to help law enforcement. And edibles, oils, and extracts are now legal for any adult to purchase.

    In light of recent strides made by lawmakers dedicated to improving the legal pot industry, the Advocate has decided to visit each dispensary in town. For those of you who are new to the area, are new to buying weed, or have just come of age to do so, our dispensary rundown is an invaluable guide.

    We toured the stores, checked out the menus and merchandise, studied the rules, and interviewed staff at each business to learn what life is like for both budtenders and customers in the area. This foolproof guide won’t let you try before you buy, but it will give you an idea of how each business is unique—and what to expect when you get there.

    1. The Agrestic
    Owned by Kayla Dunham, the Agrestic was originally founded as a medical dispensary in 2013, making it the oldest existing pot shop in Corvallis.

    Among the 15 total employees—including a manager, receptionist, and several budtenders—extensive cannabis knowledge is key. Staff and customers alike refer to the store as a “boutique”: an accurate description of this small and stylish venue, which focuses on quality rather than quantity.

    An OMMP (Oregon Medical Marijuana Program) card isn’t required for workers, but many have one, and all are very experienced with the product.

    Budtender Zach explains what it’s like to work at the Agrestic. “The owner’s obsessed with quality,” he says, adding that “everyone’s experience is equally important.” He describes how the experience of working— and shopping— at a pot “boutique” is different from other jobs in the service industry. “In other service jobs, customers can get impatient. Here, it’s a very pleasant experience. Our warm attitudes help to make it relaxing and enjoyable for customers.”

    The Agrestic sets a great deal of importance on following laws while allowing customers as much freedom as possible in their weed-buying experience. “We’ve been actively pursuing intelligent legislation and working to disperse accurate information,” states the Agrestic’s website. “We know the law, we know the people, and, most importantly, we know the plant.”

    Like many other dispensaries, the Agrestic uses the Leafly platform to display their menu to customers online every day. Weed is weighed out in front of customers, and is displayed in stylish containers at the counter and on a comprehensive paper menu, giving clients a hands-on experience. Just as many “cream-of-the-crop” strains of cannabis are available as budget versions.

    Recreational users can purchase up to seven grams of dried buds every day, in addition to four live clones. Medicinal users can buy up to 24 ounces in flowers, 16 ounces in solid edibles, and seven ounces in infused drinks.

    Beginning in June, all customers of legal age can now purchase one low-dose, 15-milligram-strength edible per day, one package of concentrate per day, and an unlimited amount of topically applied products.

    The Agrestic is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The store is located in Southtown at 1665 SE 3rd St., Corvallis, Oregon, 97333. Call 541-753-4182 or emailthemanagement@theagrestic.com to contact. Additional information can be found at http://www.theagrestic.com/home.html.

    2. High Quality Compassion
    High Quality Compassion, one of Corvallis’ most popular cannabis shops, was established in 2014. The business is described on its website as one that is “dedicated to improving health, happiness and wellbeing” to the public. High Quality’s staff are proud of their role in the community, and believe that their work isn’t just running a business, but is about providing a valuable service to the cannabis community.

    High Quality regularly hires a total of 14 employees—two packagers, three budtenders, two supervisors, two managers, and a few receptionists who also work as budtenders—and that’s because it’s the busiest dispensary in town. According to staff, at least 200 to 300 people come in every day, and about 25 to 50 of those are brand-new customers.

    The staff at High Quality are dedicated to providing a recreational experience specifically tailored to each individual customer. Employees get to know their customers personally, especially their regulars. “When someone seems like they’re having a bad day, we can help them,” says receptionist Elise. The goal, explains staff, is to prescribe the “right kind of high.”

    At the store, the staff have implemented a unique form of collaboration to continue to improve each customer’s experience on an individual level. In the store’s back room, staff share their daily experiences with one another on a whiteboard. While each worker sticks to his or her specific specialty, everyone is cross-trained in different skill sets.

    “Downtime is knowledge time,” says employee Alex Ferrel. “We learn a little piece of education every day. We push to get rid of the ‘lazy stoner’ stigma of the cannabis user; we want to have intimacy with the customer. The main thing [we hope for] is that people will keep coming back here, based on their interactions with the employees.”

    Ferrel’s boss, Brock Binder, the owner of High Quality Compassion, is popular among his staff due to his conscientious manner and focus on accommodating the staff just as much as his customers. An OMMP license is not required for employees to sell pot at High Quality, but some of the staff have them.

    While medicinal cannabis is weighed at the store in front of customers, recreational pot is pre-packaged in amounts of 1/8, ¼, ½ and 1.1 grams, measured in order to fit into the seven-gram limit for recreational buds. The additional 0.1 gram is always added to account for seeds and stems. The smallest amount of pot you can buy as a recreational customer is a ½-gram, pre-rolled joint.

    High Quality Compassion is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The store is located on 9th St. near downtown Corvallis at 1300 NW 9th St. Call 541-286-4771 or email info@highquality.life to contact. Additional information can be found at http://highquality.life.

    3. The Green Room
    The Green Room was opened in 2014 by father-and-son duo Harold and Daniel Lareau, who own a few other smoke shops in Oregon, as well as the long-loved campus “head shop” Bad Habits –— which the Lareaus plan to expand into a dispensary sometime in the next year or two.

    The Green Room boasts a large and spacious lobby with plenty of room for customers to wait inside rather than having to queue up out in the rain. Glassware and paraphernalia are available for browsing and purchase right outside the main bud-bar.

    Only a few employees are present at the Green Room at a time, making it a calm and quiet environment to shop in. A medicinal marijuana license is required for all employees who work there, perhaps because the Green Room was originally a medical-only dispensary. “We try to always have a variety [of cannabis] available for different medical conditions,” says a budtender who prefers to remain unnamed, though “we love to make sure we find something that will work for everyone — recreational or medical.”

    All dried flowers and extracts are prepackaged in amounts of either 1 gram or 1/8 of an ounce, and nothing is weighed out at the store.

    The most unique advantage of shopping for cannabis at the Green Room is the availability of a near-infinite array of different concentrates, plus some high-tech recreational and medicinal gear including European-style Pyrex bongs, e-vape and e-cig batteries, and Synergy Skin Worx transdermal 24-hour time-release CBD patches.

    The Green Room is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The store is located on the corner of Walnut and 9th St., at 2521 NW 9th St, Corvallis, Oregon, 97330. To contact the Green Room, call 541-230-1096 or follow and send a direct message to @greenroomdispensary on Instagram.

    Additional information about the Green Room, including their full menu and list of products, can be found on Leafly at https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/green-room.

    4. Beaver Bowls
    Beaver Bowls opened last year. Owned and managed by Dan Cochraine, and co-owned by Brad Moss, the Beaver Bowls cannabis shop hosts nine extremely enthusiastic and upbeat employees. Six are budtenders, though according to staff, “everyone does a little bit of everything.”

    What makes Beaver Bowls unique, says weekend manager Mykayla, is “the one-on-one attention from knowledgeable staff— making an experience superior to just buying weed.” The staff greet every customer with a big smile, and that’s because they are happy to be a part of the new legal industry in Oregon.

    “We’re all excited to be a part of this movement that’s a long time coming,” adds Mykayla, who also works as a budtender, explaining that the real enthusiasm comes from the fact that the employees “are all tied together in the shared experience of starting a new frontier.”

    An OMMP card is not required for Beaver Bowls’ employees; though staff say it’s nice to be able to tell customers they have one, it’s not a qualification to work there. The majority of staff have plenty of experience with concentrates and edibles, both of which are now available to recreational customers at the store.

    Recreational clients can buy a limit of seven grams of pot per day, while medical users can buy up to 24 ounces. There is no tax put on the cannabis or cannabis products for medicinal patients, and no flowers— recreational or medical— come prepackaged. Instead, it’s all displayed “deli-style” and weighed out directly in front of customers, who are offered whiffs of coffee beans to cleanse the palette while sniffing out the right strain. Budtender Matt, who works in specialty sales, explains how Beaver Bowls handles their buds: “Here, we don’t let anyone touch it. They’ll hold it up and look at it with the magnifying glass.”

    “Anyone who wants to enjoy the use of marijuana is welcome here,” adds Matt. “It’s all about the atmosphere, and the customer service.” Beaver Bowls’ homey ambiance, combined with their location’s close proximity to the downtown police station— they’re on the same block— is bound to make any customer new to purchasing cannabis feel safe and at ease. Plus, there’s free candy at the front desk to eat while you’re shopping— or to save for a later case of munchies.

    Beaver Bowls is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The store is located downtown at 227 SW 6th St., Corvallis, OR, 97333. Call541-286-4657 or email info@beaverbowls.com to contact. Visit http://www.beaverbowls.com for additional information. 

    5. The Corvallis Cannabis Club
    After visiting the Corvallis Cannabis Club and being turned down for an in-person interview, the Advocate made repeated attempts to contact staff with the assurance that publicity would be nothing but advantageous for the business – the newest of all the dispensaries in Corvallis.

    Unfortunately, the Corvallis Cannabis Club failed to fulfill their promises of returning our calls and emails, and the paper was forced to abandon this particular venture. Let the lack of a review on this list serve as a warning to prospective customers that while the Cannabis Club may be a hot new venue in town, a combination of rude clerks and flaky staff may not guarantee the most satisfying experience for buyers.

    The Corvallis Cannabis Club is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located downtown at 220 NW 2nd St., Corvallis, OR, 97330. Cannabis users and patients still interested in seeing what the store has to offer can call them at 541-602-7278 or visit their Leafly profile at https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/california-s-cannabis-club.

    By Kiki Genoa

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  • LGBTQ+ Youth Group Seeks 501(c)(3)
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    outnaboutLocal LGBTQ+ Youth Group, Out  N’ About, are on the road towards becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and will hopefully achieve national status by the end of this year. Chelsea Whitlow, Addi Davidove, and Tristen Shay have been spearheading the campaign since the beginning of this year and are expecting to submit final paperwork next month.

    Out N’ About is a weekly support group serving primarily high school aged youth in both Linn and Benton Counties. It was founded in 1996 in Corvallis, but fizzled out after the leaders moved away after a few years. Tristen Shay, who had participated in the group in the 90’s, revived Out N’ About in 2005 with help from local group, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays).

    Since then, Shay and Whitlow “have developed rules/guidelines for the students and facilitators.”

    “We have added things like LGBTQ+ Sex Edu, Big Gay News, as well as other events and activities,” with the main goal of providing a safe space in the community for LGBTQ+ youth. During group nights they’ll host guest speakers, play games, and have a monthly movie night with a film typically relating to LGBTQ+ issues. Their Facebook page posts links to resources for the community, like useful books or recent policy updates. During the spring they host an Alternative Prom downtown, complete with a drag show.

    Shay, Whitlow, and Davidove hope to ignite more community inclusion across the country by making it easier for people to adopt a model for a group like Out N’ About. “…Tristen and I have gotten a lot of compliments on the group and have had people express that they wish they could start a group like ours where they live,” Whitlow says. “Our goal is to digitize our knowledge so that others don’t have to keep creating the wheel over and over.”

    Their framework includes guidelines on how to deal with cliques in the group and troublesome students, how to book a guest speaker, or host a sex education night. This year they have been working on a website, where they will have a “backdoor” for group facilitators to log in to. “This would contain things like where to find Big Gay News, pre-approved movies for movie nights, sex [education] info and resources, rules and guidelines, how to contact local school counselors and GSAs to let students know about your Out N’ About chapter, promotional materials, and more!”

    Whitlow says that she and Shay have learned how to run a group like this “through trial and error”. She, Shay, and other facilitators work full-time, while Davidove is a full-time graduate student. This spring, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that gained $3,500 worth of start up funds from community members. They are hoping to raise even more funds at this year’s Corvallis Fall Festival by partnering with Nearly Normals’ food truck.

    “This is a big project and we are taking it one step at a time,” Whitlow says. “We also want to see LGBTQ+ youth continue to be supported and valued in their communities.”

    Out N’ About meets Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The First United Methodist Church in room 219-C, though they are not a church group. For more information, visit their Facebook group, or email Chelsea Whitlow at cwhitlow7@gmail.com

    By Gina Pieracci

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  • New Murals Unveiled for September Arts Walk
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    corvallismuralprojectJust behind the downtown American Dream Pizza last week, two local artists performed an alleyway facelift, painting two murals, both part of the Downtown Corvallis Mural Project started by Jennifer Moreland.

    Some will know Moreland as a board member at the Corvallis Downtown Business Association. The canvas, or in this case a wall, was provided by building owner Hugh White. Apparently, all Moreland had to do was ask. White is enthusiastic about the project.

    The first mural is a set of wings inspired by a red-tailed hawk painted by Alice Marshall. Marshall received her BFA in Studio Art with emphasis on drawing and printmaking from Oregon State University. She now lives in Portland.

    The second mural, just feet away from the first, is a personified mountain person holding a sun painted by Sage Zahorodni. Zahorodni is a senior at Oregon State studying agriculture and sustainability.

    Moreland pursued this project because, “Street art is accessible to anyone. It’s not hidden away in a museum or gallery.” Though there are currently only two murals, Moreland dreams of filling the walls of Corvallis with even more murals from local artists.

    For more information about the artists and murals, how to donate, or if you are an artist who would like to paint a mural, contact Jennifer Moreland at jennifermoreland13@gmail.com or visit Facebook by searching “Downtown Corvallis Mural Project.” For more information about Alice Marshall, visit her Instagram by searching the handlebar “@_alice_jane_. For more information about Sage Zahorodni, search “Damp Earth Artworks” on Facebook.

    By Kara Beu

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  • Corvallis Arts Walk Change-Ups
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    holliemurphySure, we could go the easy dramatic route and just discuss the internal gallery news, there are studio personnel updates, gallery name changes and a few notable hiatus’ and one-off openings, but more importantly check out the shows. This month’s Arts Walk has more than its usual corner on new artists hitting town and exhibit series both starting and ending.

    In short, it’s like someone ought to list all that.

    (image source: painted work by Hollie Murphy)

    2nd Street

    AZURE • 341 SW 2nd St.
    4 – 9 p.m.

    Take a trip around the world with Susan Stogsdill’s dancing feet illustrating various cultures from different countries. While carving a hula dancer’s foot to turn it into a book, Susan explored illustrating the dancer’s feet, which inspired her to explore their cultures and countries known dance. You can tell by the shoes, or lack of shoes, the pose of the feet, the slight bit of costume, which country and what style of dance is depicted.

    PEGASUS GALLERY
    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    Nena Bement responds to Jeff Hess’ photography series of falling and flying organics for a shared exhibit of glass work and photography on metal.

    FRED AMOS & RACHEL URISTA STUDIO

    340 SW 2nd St. 4 – 8 p.m.
    Rachel and Fred have joined studios to create new and imaginative works. See Fred’s portraits and dynamic landscapes in oil, view Rachel’s mixed media work and guest photographer, Diana Inch’s collection of woodblock prints from Suzhou, China.

    ART IN THE VALLEY
    209 SW 2nd St. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    Janet Biles says of her show at this gallery, “I now paint exclusively with watercolor. I enjoy vivid colors and an impressionistic and whimsical style in my painting – no wimpy watercolors for me. I paint from photos, often multiple photos come together to create the composition I want. I am commissioned to paint many animals as gifts, memorials and simply for fun.”

    4th Street 

    UGLY ART ROOM at Corvallis Brewing Supply • 119 SW 4th St.
    5 – 8 p.m.

    Ugly Art Room and Corvallis Brewing Supply have teamed up for a beer and art extravaganza. Joel Rea, owner of Corvallis Brewing Supply guest curates this month’s Mail Art Challenge theme: Bottle Cap artwork mailed in from all over the United States will be on display.

    ArtWorks GALLERY (CEI)
    408 SW Monroe St., Suite 110 4 – 8 p.m.

    Land Poem. Patrick Collier works in a variety of media, often incorporating writing and marks suggestive of text into his visual art. Collier states, “A sentence in its expressiveness is not all that much different than a horizon in its expansiveness.” Most recently, he has explored this theme in his photographic work. For Artworks, a CEI Project. Collier writes art criticism for Oregon ArtsWatch.

    Madison

    BISON BISON! • 354 Madison Ave. 5 – 9 p.m.
    Local artist, Chris Adams, will be available for discussion about his ongoing project, Psychedelic Saints. This work explores a future world (pre-dystopian by a hair) where shaman, wizards, priests and charismatic philosophers compete publicly for followers and acolytes. His newest additions to this project will be on display in the new Bison bison! gallery.

    STUDIO262 • 425 SW Madison Ave., Suite H-1 • 4 – 8 p.m.
    Evergreen Artists is a small group brought together by the love of working with their hands and exploring the depths of their creativity. Inspired by the landscape and local wildlife, they strive to build a bridge of sensibility that will help sustain us as creatures of the earth. They also incorporate drumming, chanting, drawing, and copious amounts of laughter into their work together. Work by Gary House, Dianne Cassidy, Will Ashton, and Leslie Green.

    LIVING ROOM GALLERY
    425 SW Madison Ave. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    Al Kapuler, AKA Mushroom: 20th Annual Show. As regular readers know, Kapular is also a quite talented scientist that has been instrumental in Advocate coverage of genetically engineered organisms.

    Voices Gallery
    425 SW Madison Ave., Suite J-1 4 – 8 p.m.

    The final exhibit in this venue’s color wheel series – Don’t miss what the seven member artists of Voices Gallery have to say with black and white.

    KAREN WYSOPAL • 425 SW Madison Ave., Suite J-5 • 4 – 8 p.m.
    Artist turned business launcher Karen Wysopal gives visitors an inside look at what goes into starting a greeting card line with her original artwork. Dozens of small original alcohol ink paintings to see – prints and large originals on display too.

    JEFF HESS STUDIO • 460 SW Madison Ave, Suite 16 • 4 – 8 p.m.
    Then & Now. A group show of favorite Corvallis artists displaying a piece of their current work along with a work from their childhood.

    THE ART CENTER
    700 SW Madison Ave. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    A showing of contemporary tapestry, curated by the Tapestry Artist of Pugent Sound, and juror Layne Goldsmith. Tapestry is a very old weaving technique. It was developed to be able to create large wall hanging with imagery in varying degrees of realism.

    Library Area

    STUDIO BEATRICE • 230 NW 6th St. 4 – 7 p.m.
    Kathy Jederlinich has been making and teaching art for over 30 years. A community minded artist, she has created public installations with the local community. Kathy invites you to join her in the process in creating her art. Creative play is encouraged. Kathy is in the process of creating a children’s book about diversity. Move the linoleum characters to create your own version of the story.

    Campus Area

    CORVALLIS MULTICULTURAL LITERACY CENTER • 128 SW 9th St.
    4 – 8 p.m.

    Everyday Heroes: A Latin American Mosaic, Dick Keis exhibit. The people in these photographs are everyday working heroes. They spend countless hours at their jobs to provide a living for their families and to make a positive contribution to their communities. Many of them barely scrape by and others succeed quite well. All have chosen to stay at home near family and friends in a culture they love rather than migrate northward in search of the elusive “American Dream.” They share an admirable work ethic and take much pride in the work they do. They are full of determination, creativity and perseverance, and exemplify what it means to “work with dignity.”

    FAIRBANKS GALLERY • Fairbanks Hall, 220 SW 26th St. • 4 – 8 p.m.
    This summer-long exhibit apparently continues into fall, highlighting unique work of OSU artists Evan Baden, Michael Boonstra, Julia Bradshaw, Kay Campbell, Anna Fidler, Julie Green, Stephen Hayes, Yuji Hiratsuka, Shelley Jordon, Andy Myers, Kerry Skarbakka, and John Whitten. A broad array of styles and approaches to creating art are featured including work in photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, and video.

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  • Locals Brace for Impact of Student Influx
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    img_2797As the summer months draw to a close and the cloud cover makes its return, businesses around town are getting ready to buckle down for the up and coming school year. Corvallis’ summer silence will soon give way to the familiar hustle and bustle of more than 25,000 Oregon State University students. They’ve already started making their way back into town, as the first full day of classes isSeptember 21.

    Roughly a quarter of the students heading towards Corvallis this year are completely new. In the Fall of 2015, 7,447 of the 29,576 students enrolled at OSU were first time enrollers. This includes incoming freshmen, graduate students, as well as transfers. That’s 7,000 students trying to navigate their new hometown, whether it’s figuring out their favorite off-campus study spot, discovering the best place for a brew after class, or finding the right bus route around town.

    But for Mike Easter, owner of the 21-year-old Cycletopia, the real indicator of a newcomer is catching someone “going down a one-way road the wrong way.” Those who have been in Corvallis long enough are no stranger to snickering at an oncoming car, especially when school is back in session. Easter also describes the start of fall term as more intimidating than summer months due to the sheer volume of cars and people occupying the downtown area.

    Regarding Cycletopia’s activity though, business goes on as usual. Since most of their customer base are regular riders, the spike in used bike sales when the school year hits is simply an added perk.

    The same goes for Scott Givens over at Browser’s Books. As students are often on the prowl for alternative sources for textbooks, Givens is happy to step in. He says, “During the school year we definitely sell more of the classics like Steinbeck and Hemmingway,” and that “more students are coming in every year.” Givens mentioned this could have something to do with their increased presence on Instagram and Facebook in an effort to reach a larger portion of the population.

    Ruby Moon, owner of The Golden Crane, whose sales actually pick up in the summer due to visitors passing through, reports getting more graduate students stopping by than any other kind. “Students don’t affect us, they all shop online,” she explains. She continues, “Online is killing retail.” As a business owner since 1980, the come and go of students doesn’t phase her.

    Imagine Coffee is on the other end of the spectrum. Open since 2011, their five-year anniversary is up this month. Just last fall they “had one of the biggest months ever,” according to Marlene McDonald, co-owner. When school is back in session, students hunt for study spots, and despite being relatively far away from campus, Imagine Coffee provides a wealth of table space and barn-like ceilings to foster those big ideas. McDonald and co-owner Barb Langton usually notice a shift from cold to warm drink requests, and as customers move to spend more time inside than in the rain, table space vanishes quick.

    But of course, those businesses closer to campus get hit the hardest when it comes to the September influx. The foot traffic on Monroe grows exponentially, but that’s not to say it’s unexpected. Places like American Dream Pizza and Interzone employ a lot of students, so they not only see a jump in business activity, but they get their workers back too. During the summer, Interzone owner Bill McCanless was left working weekends, something he normally does not do, in order to cover the amount of labor needed to keep the place going.

    According to Henry Winowiecki, a bartender at the Handle Bar who makes a mean Bloody Mary, the summer months are a good time to get in extra training to prepare for the rush of the school year. When it comes to the summer experience, he loves getting a taste of both sides of Corvallis.

    “As much as we get to hear what the kids are talking about during the year, you get to hear the other side of the conversation through the summer… I love getting to know them because they’re the real regulars and they make up the core of the Dream,” he says.

    And as the time on Dream’s familiar countdown clock ticks closer to the next football game, so does the countdown to classes and new faces. “It’s always fun watching new people feel out a new bar,” Winowiecki continues. He also says that there will be a new addition to the Handle Bar this fall: a sign indicating the number of steps it takes to walk from the Handle Bar to any of the various campus stadiums.

    Brian Bovee of American Dream sums up the summer transitions pretty well. “In June we are ready for the students to leave and by August we are ready for the students to be back and bring that energy and life that makes college so much fun.” So as the locals get ready to retreat and make room for the flood of Oregon State students, businesses brace for impact.

    By Regina Pieracci

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  • BGCC Confronted over Sexist Program Descriptions
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    middle-school-kids-lockerA brochure for the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis (BGCC) advertising programs for our area’s school age youth has recently raised concerns amongst community members regarding the sexist nature of the programs’ descriptions. In an e-mail, one parent criticized the brochure, which outlined the Boys 2 Men program as focusing on building “character, leadership and positive behavior”, while SMART Girls would receive “guidance towards healthy attitudes and lifestyles, eating right, staying fit, and more.”

    The parent’s concerns boiled down to this: Don’t young men also need to learn to eat right, stay fit, and be healthy? Don’t young women also need to learn to lead with strong character? By suggesting that SMART Girls’ most important lessons, or at least the ones worth mentioning, are all about looking and feeling good, and that leadership and character building are better left to boys, sexist stereotypes are reinforced and our youth are sold short.

    Fortunately, the BGCC’s programs do not echo these specifications. Both SMART Girls and Boys 2 Men share the same topics and activities. Everyone learns leadership, eating right, and all things in between. “[The BGCC] is meant to help young men and women,” says Chief Operating Officer of the Boys and Girls Club Clay Higgins. “We’re not trying to be exclusionary at all.”

    According to Higgins, the main reason the programs are separated according to sex is to “create a safe environment for those hard conversations to happen.” Higgins describes a typical discussion between the two programs, where the girls discuss a topic among themselves while the boys do the same. Then, both programs combine to explore the subject together. Boys and girls are kept separate at first to encourage safety and comfort, as an audience of the opposite sex might make topics around growth and development difficult for some youth to discuss.

    Higgins disclosed that the BGCC has already created a new document with updated descriptions for the two programs that better reflects the programs’ similarities. The new brochures will be distributed as soon as they’re printed.

    “It’s good to get that feedback … to have someone bring these to our attention,” says Higgins.

    “We’re always learning.” The BGCC welcomes parent involvement, comments, and concerns, and prides itself on being part of the Corvallis community,  where communication and feedback support positive growth.

    By Kyle Bunnell

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  • Corvallis Private Schools Support Positive Growth
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    Corvallis public high schools are ranked relatively high in the state, with Crescent Valley High School at 13th place and Corvallis High School at 28th statewide, according to a US News and World Report ranking updated in 2016. Despite the ranks, we are all familiar with the problems afflicting public schools. Underfunding leads to low salaries for teachers and huge class sizes. Meanwhile, the federal standardized tests demanded by the No Child Left Behind Act turn classrooms into regulated factories; it is insisted that children learn the material required to benefit their school’s ranking and federal funding.

    A recent list published on the Public School Review website added obesity to the list of factors negatively influencing children’s ability to develop academically at public schools, due to lack of outdoor activities. Other factors included bullying and a lack of parental involvement. A 2015 Psychology Today article by Dr. Nemko points to the importance of a child’s ability to form encouraging and positive peer groups, and to have positive peer role models available.

    Private schools typically encourage such associations, as well as encourage students to develop the community values that contribute to healthy friendships. Private schools are also more often equipped to provide support for special-needs children, which Nemko pinpoints as one of the most important factors parents should consider when choosing a school for their child.

    Corvallis Private Schools: Rates and Principles
    Corvallis has a variety of options for parents who are seeking alternative education. The Corvallis Waldorf school offers excellent possibilities for more liberal-minded parents, seeking a curriculum that will engage their child physically, emotionally, and academically. Corvallis Montessori School offers a unique education that grants children the freedom to select their own intellectual paths. Or for those seeking an education steeped in a Christian religious background, Zion Lutheran offers an encouraging possibility.

    At first glance, the mere cost of these schools might seem prohibitive. Zion Lutheran runs approximately $5,500 per year, while the Waldorf school lingers between $3,320 and $9,950 depending on the age of the child and how many days per week they attend. At $7,200 to $12,000 per year depending on the child’s age and hours of attendance, the Montessori school is the most expensive. Each school, however, offers extensive financial aid packets.

    Moreover, the benefits seem to clearly outweigh the negatives. Instead of being subject to the whims of the School Board, every private school in Corvallis holds fast to specific principles outlined in the work of their founder. Montessori bases its nationwide program on the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, one of the first female physicians in Italy. She developed a classroom model based on her understanding of the four growth cycles individuals undergo in the process of becoming adults that her scientific research revealed to her.

    The Waldorf school is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who created the first Waldorf school in Germany following World War One. Opened in a city factory specifically for the children of the factory workers, the goal of this educational approach, says Corvallis Waldorf Director Peter Zaremba, was to “educate students in such a way that they could heal the country.”

    Zion Lutheran Raises Good Humans
    Though based on a religious foundation rather than a scientific or philosophical understanding, Zion Lutheran attempts to instill similar community values and commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of all. Wendy Novet, parent of student Teagan, selected this school for its ability to accommodate Teagan’s learning difficulties, stemming from a diagnosed chromosomal disorder. Doctors told Novet that Teagan would be developmentally delayed as a result of this issue. Now, Teagan will be entering eighth grade alongside her peers, and last year she made the school’s Honor Roll for the third time.

    Novet credits Teagan’s success to everything from the small class sizes, with seventh and eighth grade combined last year to make a class size of 17 students, to teacher involvement. Novet mentions that one teacher’s response to a conflict between girls was to ask students to write down three things they found special and unique about every child in the middle school.

    Of the students, Novet, explains, “they come to the school and they’re taught to be good human beings – that’s part of the curriculum.”

    Person-to-Person Learning at Waldorf School
    Waldorf also offers a holistic education intended to encourage every child to reach their full potential. Parents drive their children to this school from as far away as Jefferson or Salem to take advantage of this unique education that incorporates art, play, outdoor activities, and significant student-led time to create.

    Zaremba states, “The entire curriculum is designed to support student development.”

    The average class size at Waldorf is 16 students, allowing each student to receive individualized attention. The school does not provide grades, only narrative reports. Concerned with the commercialization of youth, Waldorf makes an effort to avoid reliance on technology to keep children interested and motivated.

    Zaremba explains, “Teaching is all done person to person, and not from a machine…without the sticks and carrots, the inner motivation to learn remains intact.”

    The Corvallis Waldorf school will soon be expanding their agriculture program to include animals, an extensive garden, and even bee cultivation. At present, they grow things to supplement the curriculum and sometimes cook dishes that are significant to a specific culture or people they are studying.

    World Exploration at Montessori
    Montessori offers a limited gardening program as well as a check-in process between teachers and parents in lieu of grades. Montessori encourages students to experiment in growth involving creative artwork, construction, and outdoor play. Like the Waldorf school, Montessori offers a curriculum aimed at generating citizens capable of interacting in a healthy way with the world around them. However, while the Waldorf school focuses more on the child’s internal needs and drive to learn in order to develop their full potential as adults, the Montessori schools aim to encourage students to explore the world around them and develop skills relevant to adult life.

    Lynne Brown, interim Head of Montessori School, explains that “In a Montessori classroom children learn using real materials – preparing actual food with child sized cutlery and dishes rather than playing at a pretend plastic kitchen… In a Montessori environment children are allowed to be self-sufficient in all areas of capability and given the tools and space to practice those tasks they have not yet mastered.”

    Though of course many public school teachers and principals do their best, the state’s required testing combined with lack of funding renders much of this effort less than effective. Though the private schools available in Corvallis differ, each provides an education aimed at meeting the students’ needs and developing their long-term wellbeing, rather than meeting the needs of administrators or official requirements. The philosophies behind these schools respect and value children as future citizens and make every effort to encourage children to achieve their potential.

    For more information, visit http://www.corvallismontessori.org/, http://www.corvalliswaldorfschool.org/, or http://zioncorvallis.com/.

    By Ariadne Wolf

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  • Children’s Farm Home Staff Put on Leave
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    dsc_3372According to sources at Corvallis’ Children’s Farm Home, this last month brought substantial disruptions in care for residents pursuant to investigations into a youth’s suicide at the facility. According to one staffer, 18 caregivers had been put on leave without pay due to open investigations, thus far with no substantiated findings of wrongdoing.

    The Farm Home provides psychiatric services for teens and children, both inpatient and outpatient.

    Trillium Family Services operates the facility, and it turns out that they and their staff may have been innocent victims of some well-intentioned legislation that went into effect this July 1, known as SB 1515. According to Clyde Saiki, Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS), it wasn’t until things started going into practice that the negative repercussions of the bill were realized.

    What Happened
    To voice their concerns about the immediate effects that SB 1515 was having on their ability to do their job, Trillium CEO Kim Scott, along with numerous staff members held a meeting with Oregon officials, including: Saiki, State Senator Sara Gelser, and DHS Deputy Director Reginald C. Richardson.

    According to one Farm Home staffer at the meeting, the amount of people put on leave was equivalent to missing one fully staffed building on campus. Since the building where the suicide took place was closed, clients were relocated to other buildings, stretching both those building’s capacity and that of the increasingly stressed Skills Trainers who had opted to work longer hours to cover for absent staff.

    A number of caregivers DHS required to be placed on leave had no involvement with the teen that committed suicide. However, though the new law went into effect July 1, it was only after the suicide in mid August that DHS required Trillium to make the suspensions. In addition, staffers became concerned they could be suspended even if an allegation were leveled by an unstable client with a grudge towards a worker.

    According to the same staffer at the meeting, some of those who had allegations made against them were given no warning, with no information on what the allegation was, who made it, or how long they would be on leave for. Many would show up to work without knowing if they would still have a job by the end of the day.

    Another staffer at the meeting, a Skills Trainer (which is a caregiver position), summed up the situation as rendering them “incapacitated to serve the youth,” and said that the situation can easily perpetuate a client’s negative behavior and mental health.

    Impacts on All
    Staff were spread thin, putting them in dangerous situations given the nature of their work. The Trillium community relies on each other, and on the methods of treatment for their clients that have proven successful. When speaking on SB 1515’s impact, a skills trainer said that they “don’t know what the definition of neglect is,” and that it is “not letting us use the approaches that we know work.”

    The heightened requirements for reporting left staff members unsure as to how to proceed in routine situations. A Skills Trainer Supervisor explained that they were having fifteen minute conversations over whether or not to report that a client had picked a wound, and that they had to cancel a community basketball game for fear of a client twisting an ankle, as this could have been grounds for calling the child caring agency’s safety measures into question. It’s instances like these that could have placed them on a pending investigation list, which could have put them out of work for an indefinite period of time.

    Unpaid leaves like these do not just affect the staff’s livelihoods; staff members have strong connections with their clients that are built over time on trust. When that trust is broken, such as by the departure of a staff member, especially with no indication or reasoning, building the trust back can be extremely difficult and can damage their relationship in the long term.

    Fearing for their own ability to earn a livelihood, several staffers reported to The Advocate that they are seeking work in other fields. Also, a number of Farm Home staff formed a closed Facebook group to rally food and other contributions for caregivers put on unpaid leave.

    Unlike many other health care professionals, these workers are not affiliated with a union.

    What Was Supposed to Happen
    Senate Bill 1515 is a measure meant to strengthen “the Department of Human Services’ authority to license, regulate, inspect, investigate, and take immediate enforcement action against entities that risk a child’s health, safety or welfare.” The bill was pushed by Senator Sara Gelser, after it was revealed last year that DHS failed to fully investigate serious allegations of neglect and sexual abuse at a Portland foster care provider.

    Specifications in the bill include increasing the flow of information between care providers and state agencies, require the maintenance of a minimum staff to patient ratio, and protect those who report abuse from liabilities.

    But there has been another repercussion in the form of staffers with allegations made against them, regardless of veracity of the claim, being put on unpaid administrative leave until the matter is fully investigated.

    It is notable, though he may not have understood the repercussions at the time, that Scott supported the bill while it was being considered, stating: “It is clear to me the bill creates a much safer and more accountable provider system for children’s services in Oregon.”

    “All providers should be held to this level of accountability in the interest of the safety and welfare of children, as well as the effectiveness of the system of care that serves these youth,” he continued.

    What Now for Staff, Clients
    After the meeting last Thursday, Senator Gelser wrote on Facebook, “Nothing in SB 1515 requires (or even speaks about) the challenges that are cropping up, but the lived experience of these providers is real.” She has committed to making changes to the bill, along with DHS Director Saiki and Deputy Director Richardson.

    Saiki commented on the fact that the repercussions were unintentional and Trillium Family Services CEO Kim Scott was in agreement.

    As far as a timeline goes, Thursday night Saiki stated they, “will not have to wait until the next legislative session”, and that DHS would get working on the bill as soon as possible.

    At press time, there are reports that a number of staffers put on leave have now returned, though DHS did not respond to requests for comment this latest development, Trillium CEO Scott’s statement was, “It is Trillium’s policy never to speak publicly about employment or HR-related issues, or comment on open investigations of any sort.”

    By Regina Pieracci and Anthony Vitale

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