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Posts published in “Day: July 22, 2007”

Lane’s future

Lane County population
Five times between here and mid-September, the Lane County Commission will hold meetings around the county to discuss what should become of Lane County government.

It's a more practical question than you might think. With funding (especially federal) diminished, the county is in a budget squeeze, and the commissioners are divided over how to deal with it - even over such basic matters as whether employment or compensation should be trimmed first. So each commissioner will be hosting, starting on Wednesday and evening September 12, a public meeting on what priorities ought to be. All of that will precede the commission's first round of talks (earlier than usual, in October) on next year's budget.

Voters here have recently, and a couple of times, rejected income tax increases - so that option appears to be out. But what's in?

The Eugene Register-Guard has a useful overview out today on the commission's split viewpoints (though two commissioners weren't talking) and the options before it. It's a good look at the kind of discussions many of the federally-reliant counties will be having in the months ahead.

The soul of Federal Way

99 and Federal Way Somewhere there exists - we've seen it but can't find the name - a book on the part of Highway 99 that runs through the Northwest. You can find on two books covering the road's mileage in California; writing on the northern stretch remains elusive. More is merited: There's a lot of history here, and a lot of connection with the present.

Wikipedia says the road was built roughly out of the ages-old Siskiyou Trail, connecting Native Americans from the Puget Sound south into central and southern California. Settlers from the east dug the path more thoroughly, and in the car age it became the Pacific Highway, linking the borders at Mexico and Canada with everything between. It expanded, grew, was designated U.S. 99, and eventually in the mid-60s was superseded by Interstate 5. U.S. 99 was turned into state highways, California 99 and Oregon 99 and Washington 99 (and a bunch of county and city roads, in many places), and split in some areas (most of the route in Oregon's Willamette Valley is divided between 99W and 99E).

When practical (often when time is not tight), we prefer taking 99 over the freeway alternative. You can see a lot more of what's really there from 99. In many places, the beauty of the Northwest is much more evidence from 99 than from the interstate. (Some of the controversy too: Alaskan Way in Seattle is on 99.) The highway runs smack through the center of many communities, not skirting them. 99 is educational.

And more, as writer John Moe explains today in the Seattle Times.