Your Weekend Reader for Oct. 22-23

by | Oct 22, 2022 | 2022 Elections, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

If you’ve been to a Beavers football game, you’re familiar with the chainsaw sound effect that rips through Reser Stadium every time the opposing team faces a third down. Nick Daschel, the enterprising reporter who covers the Beavers for The Oregonian/OregonLive, has an entertaining story about how the chainsaw noise became a Beavers staple — and it all started with someone you might know, Mike Corwin.

Speaking of the Beavers, a win tonight would make the team bowl-eligible for the second straight season — and in the middle of October, no less. Last season, the Beavers didn’t collect their sixth win until Nov. 13.

The proposed merger between grocery giants Kroger (which owns Fred Meyer) and Albertsons (which owns Safeway) isn’t a done deal — federal regulators already are taking a close look at the plan. Kristine de Leon of The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the companies have said they will divest hundreds of stores into a spinoff company that would be controlled by Albertsons shareholders. But it’s also not unusual for stores to close in the wake of a merger like this, and that could include stores in the mid-valley. The story comes complete with a nice map pinpointing the locations of the stores that could be affected in Oregon.

Lizzy Acker of The Oregonian/OregonLive has a new story about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and the company’s artistic director, Nataki Garrett. The story covers much the same ground as an NPR story mentioned a few weeks ago in the Weekend Reader, but it adds some fresh points and follows up a bit on the reprehensible death threats sent to Garrett that NPR reported.

With the Nov. 8 election now just a little more than two weeks away, Republican candidates seem to have a real shot at making headway in Oregon’s government. Alex Baumhardt of the Oregon Capital Chronicle reports that GOP candidates believe education issues such as pandemic closures and school vouchers may give them an edge in this year’s campaigns. The story quotes Christopher Stout, an associate professor at Oregon State University, and Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, a member of the Corvallis School Board.

Meanwhile, the governor’s race continues to be neck-and-neck between Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan. (Recent polling suggests that Betsy Johnson, the unaffiliated candidate, is running considerably behind Kotek and Drazan.) The race is tight enough that both Kotek and Drazan are rolling out big guns: President Joe Biden was in Portland last week stumping for Kotek, and now, former President Barack Obama has recorded an ad on her behalf. Not to be outdone, Drazan pulled in Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to lead a rally on Tuesday in Aurora. Youngkin, of course, was the Republican who pulled off an unexpected victory in Virginia in 2021. “Nobody thought that a Republican governor candidate could win in Virginia,” Youngkin said at the rally. “Sound familiar, Oregon?” The race may hinge on whether Kotek can lure back a sufficient number of voters who now might be leaning toward voting for Johnson.

This might be the oddest Oregon story of the week: Over in Grant County, the sheriff arrested a U.S. Forest Service employee on a charge of reckless burning after a planned burn in a national forest spread to a private ranch. You read that correctly: The sheriff took into custody and transported to the county jail Rick Snodgrass, the Forest Service’s “burn boss” on the blaze. Snodgrass was conditionally released, and the district attorney warned that Snodgrass’ federal employment will not protect him if an investigation shows he acted recklessly. If you’re thinking this is the latest example of continuing tensions between the federal government and Oregon rural counties, you would be correct. The Blue Mountain Eagle, the weekly paper now edited by former Gazette-Times ace Bennett Hall, broke the story. Hall’s paper had an excellent follow-up story about the incident.

You might have heard from friends that the bivalent booster shot for COVID also brought with it an array of temporary, but still unpleasant, side effects. Katherine Wu of The Atlantic has a new story on this topic, and she reports experts don’t expect the side effects from this shot to be any worse than the ones we’ve experienced from previous shots — but since only 15 million Americans have received the bivalent booster thus far, there’s not enough data to tell for sure. (Wu reports that the second booster shot appears to be the one that triggered the most side effects.) With that said, though, you might want to schedule a bit of time between your bivalent booster and your flu shot. (But do get both.)

Finally, this week, yet another sign of this increasingly bitterly divided country: The New York Times reports that the explosive growth of pickleball has enraged tennis enthusiasts as the two sports compete for court space. One recent (only partially satirical) screed urged tennis players to “oppose the gangrenous spread of pickleball at every turn.” The story is available only to Times subscribers, but pickleball or tennis enthusiasts who want me to send a “gift” link to it can drop a note to me in the message space below.

That’s it for this weekend. Remember: If you hear a lot of that chainsaw noise Saturday, you know it’s good news for the Beavers.

Looking for something to do in the mid-valley? Check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.

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