Category: Newspaper Columns

Newspaper columns that I have written for the Fern Ridge Review in Veneta, Oregon and the Creswell Chronicle in Creswell, Oregon. I began writing them for the Fern Ridge Review on August 4, 2010; on December 6, 2012, the Creswell Chronicle began printing them, as well. I am still the Lorane columnist for both papers.

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 20, 2019 – The Creswell Chronicle

Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 13, 2019
By Pat Edwards

I have been following the story of the closing of the little Latham Elementary School by the Cottage Grove School District this past week. It brings back memories and the heartache that the people of Lorane felt when our own, wonderful Lorane Elementary School was closed in 2013.

At that time, on October 18, 2012, I poured my heart and emotions into an essay that I wrote for my friends and neighbors in Lorane, and as a tribute to the Latham parents and students, I would like to share it with you here…

Respecting the Past; Accepting the Present; Looking to the Future
By Pat Edwards

Although no one has ever told me directly that I need to quit living in the past, I’m sure that the thought has occurred to some… especially with the recent issues that we, in Lorane, are facing regarding the closing of our school. Much of the emotional turmoil that has bubbled up around that reality comes from the fond memories that the school has evoked in those of us whose lives have intertwined with our small rural community, however briefly. The past has impacted our lives in ways that those from other, more urban, communities can’t fathom. In the past, when life revolved around home and a single bread-winner, we knew our neighbors and shared our lives with them. Social activities were centered in the church, the Grange, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs… but especially in the school. There were potlucks and dances and smelt feeds and 4th of July celebrations and baseball games. We had Christmas programs in our school where we watched our children perform and we would all join them in singing Christmas carols. Even as recently as a few years ago, large funerals have been held in the gymnasium because no other venue in the community would hold the hundreds who gathered to pay their respects. Our neighbors were many times our best friends and, we generally respected each others’ differing political views and could good-naturedly discuss them without fear of making them an enemy.

In the 1960s, we mothers usually went to town once a week to buy groceries and we frequently scheduled doctor’s appointments on the same day. Lunch at a hamburger stand with the kids on that one day was a big event. When we were lucky enough to lunch with another adult, we actually talked and listened to each other. Unlike today, conversation did not have to be woven around phone calls or while the other person was reading her text messages or playing a game on her phone.

Kids spent their summers building forts and taking hikes in the woods, bucking hay, gardening and playing outside in the sunshine and fresh air all day long. Usually, if they didn’t, they found themselves cleaning their rooms or practicing the piano, instead. During the school year, after school and on weekends, they raised livestock or learned to sew or cook in 4-H clubs. Some older boys helped their dads in the woods, learning not only to cut timber, but to build a strong work ethic, as well… and there were always daily chores in addition to homework.

No, it was not an idyllic life. Money was usually tight. Kids usually wore hand-sewn “hand-me-downs” from older siblings or cousins. There were no designer shoes or clothing that separated the “haves” from the “have-nots,” but respect was taught. Usually it was done with love, but, like today, for some, it was taught with a hard hand.

Yes, it is easy to live in the past, but even though I am now a septuagenarian, I am still able to look to the future as well as live and function in the present… and I do that every day. As far as the school closing is concerned, I am a realist. In light of our poor economy and the school funding situation, it’s apparent that the school board had few other choices in order to make the school district run as efficiently as possible. Lorane is about 25 miles from Eugene; Crow is about 15. Most parents now work in Eugene, so placing all of the district’s elementary-age children in Lorane was not feasible when you consider the burden that would be placed on parents who needed to pick them up mid-day for doctor’s appointments, etc. I know this with my mind, but my heart wishes it wasn’t so.

I am a realist. Life, as I described it above, no longer exists in Lorane and I realize that we will never get it back. Modern technology is here to stay. Most women have taken their rightful place in the work force… not only as a matter of financial necessity, but because that’s where most of them would rather be. Designer clothes, computers and X-boxes, cell phones and texting have taken over our lives so completely that there is no turning back.

I know this, but it still hurts, deeply. The closing of the school is threatening to put a final stamp on our past and move us into a future over which we have no control. Our rural way of life, not only in Lorane, but all over the state and nation, is at risk with the closing down of our local schools and post offices.

cropped-lorane-elementary-school-1280-pix11.jpgWe look for solutions that no longer seem to be there. There is evidence that the numbers of those willing to work towards finding those solutions, however, are swelling.

A group of dedicated community members in Lorane are working diligently to form a charter school. If that does not happen, many of us envision the school building turned into a community center, but the financial obstacles seem almost insurmountable… especially in this economy. If we could fiscally figure out how to obtain, upgrade and maintain the building, how much use would it really get? These things need to be explored. They are concerns and questions that may never find answers because our time is running out.

Regardless of the outcome, in the time that we have remaining to search for these answers, we want our past—our history—embodied within the Lorane Elementary School… to be treated with respect. Only by understanding and respecting the successes and failures of our past, can we move confidently into the future knowing that we have done everything possible to control our own destiny.

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 20, 2019 – Fern Ridge Review

Fern Ridge Review
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 20, 2019
By Pat Edwards

Last night, Jim and I, along with about 65 other people, attended the meeting at the Lorane Grange to go over the planned restructuring of Territorial Highway between Gillespie Corners and Lorane. As I mentioned last week, Lane County has received funding to take over from the State of Oregon the oversight of the portion of Territorial Highway that goes through the county. The Lorane project, which will use up much of that funding, has been divided into four segments. Along each segment, the road will be widened to two 11-foot lanes with a 6-foot shoulder suitable for bicycle travel on each side.

The first segment, Stage 1, will begin next summer, 2020, with the rerouting and stabilizing of the curvy portion of a hill known as Stony Point which has been a maintenance headache for decades with the sinking of the pavement that needs frequent repair.

Stage 2, slated for the summer of 2021, is the Gillespie Corners portion where two bridges will be rebuilt and raised to deal with the frequent flooding during heavy winter rains. There’s also on-going discussion about possibly straightening some of the curves between Gillespie Corners and Easy Acres Drive.

Stage 3, scheduled for the summer of 2022, will primarily widen the road and straighten some of the curves between Easy Acres Drive and Stony Point.
The last segment, Stage 4, will widen and improve the route from the top of Stony Point to the intersection of Territorial Highway and Cottage Grove-Lorane Road.

Following the short presentation last night, everyone was invited and encouraged to go to the various stations that were set up around the room to talk with and ask questions of the Lane County Department of Transportation staff who were manning them. Each station represented a segment of the overall project.

The actual presentation itself outlined the scheduled plan as it stands now, but there will still need to be further surveying and a lot of right-of-way discussion between the property owners before specific plans can be solidified, so many of the questions cannot yet be answered until the preliminary work is done. Property owners of the earlier segments, however, were told that they will soon be contacted by a Lane County right-of-way representative to go over how their properties will be impacted by the current plan.

It was a good, informative meeting and many of those local residents in attendance seemed to be excited to finally have our visions and wishes for a good, safe road to travel on finally beginning to happen.

Representatives from some of Lane County’s bicycle community were equally excited about the impact the project will have on their own safety as well.

Here’s more information on the very popular 16th Annual Crow Car Show. It will be held this year on July 13, 2019 at Crow High School. After a one-year hiatus, they are bringing back the free pancake breakfast that will be held from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. In addition, there will raffles beginning at 1:30 p.m., a fun Kid Zone that opens at 9:00 a.m. and concessions running from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. Add all this to the 50-plus cars and trucks that have been pre-registered, and you’re bound to have an amazing day.

Volunteers are being recruited to help with the various activities. If you’re interested, please contact Marissa McNutt-Cooper, 641-517-6608, for more information. The event is sponsored by the Crow Booster Club and all proceeds go to the Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District.

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 13, 2019 – The Creswell Chronicle

Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 13, 2019
By Pat Edwards

Noel Nash, the owner and publisher of the Creswell Chronicle, asked me to drop by the office the other day to discuss what new and exciting changes they are planning for the paper. Part of his plan involves my column, “Sweet Lorane Community News.” I welcome his suggestions because they will lift the onus of having to make upcoming events seem interesting each week.

Future issues will include an events calendar for the Lorane and Crow areas next to my column so I don’t have to include them unless they are something I wish to discuss in more detail. I am being encouraged to “write from the heart” for the actual content of my contributions. This is the form of writing that I have always loved to do and it is what seems to flow naturally once I get started. My most recent columns about Jim’s and my struggles and our trip to the East Coast have apparently been well-received and Noel is encouraging me to continue to write, not only about personal issues, but about life in general, current events, nostalgia and even local history.

I am excited to be able to explore what I can come up with. I am well aware that my best writing is that which comes naturally—that seems to flow from my fingers. The drawback to this is that there may be times when it just doesn’t happen. In this case, I’ve been assured that I can take off a week or so occasionally.

The column won’t necessarily be about Lorane each time, but much of it will be and I’m really looking forward to spreading my wings a bit on a regular basis.

With that said, I want to mention again a very important meeting for the Lorane area that is coming up on Thursday, June 20, at 8:00 p.m. Members of the Lane County Department of Transportation will be meeting with the public at the Lorane Grange to discuss the plans and ramifications of the realignment of the 7 miles of Territorial Highway between Gillespie Corners and the town of Lorane. As anyone knows who has driven that section, the road is narrow, curvy and has no shoulders. The fog-lines are right at the edge of the pavement which immediately slopes down into a ditch on both sides.

For years, the major uphill curves of Stony Point have been dropping—giving way under the weight of traffic heading south. That section of the formerly state-owned and maintained road has, for years, needed to be filled and repaved often to keep the low, sinking pavement level with the rest of the surface.

Lane County has taken over the ownership and maintenance of Territorial Highway and has received a large multi-million dollar grant that will pay for needed work on Territorial—much of it dedicated to the Lorane project.

Be sure and attend the meeting if you have any questions or concerns about what is being planned. A lot of us will be impacted by the process.