Bees just can't seem to stay out of the news lately, but for generally good reasons at the moment. 

The importance of bees and other pollinators to our food supply and planet is recognized frequently of late. 

Shoshanah Dubiner likes and respects bees, and makes artwork about them. 

Her bee-inspired artwork includes a piece to be unveiled at an Earth Day celebration on Friday at Southern Oregon University. 

Nicholas Blah/Flickr

For a brief time a few years ago, the greater Medford area enjoyed bus service well into weekday evenings, and on Saturday, too. 

Then the grant money to provide the extra service ran out, the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) put a tax levy before voters, and they rejected it. 

RVTD tries again with Jackson County ballot measure 15-141 on the May 17th ballot, a property tax increase of 13 cents per thousand dollars assessed value.  There's a mix of benefits the levy would provide or protect. 

Lawyers Square Off Over Josephine County GMO Ban

Apr 16, 2016
Jeff Barnard/AP

Farmers seeking to overturn the ban against genetically engineered crops in Oregon’s Josephine County have come under fire in court from proponents of the ordinance.

An April 14 court hearing over the validity of the county’s prohibition largely centered on whether the plaintiffs even have the right to challenge it.

Oregon Department of Transportation

This year, state lawmakers moved to get Oregon off of coal-fired electricity  by 2030.  That means replacing one-third of the state’s power supply in just 14 years. Renewable energy will likely benefit – and in particular, Oregon’s new laws are setting up solar as a potential big winner.  JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns about the emerging landscape for solar power. 

Shaundd via Wikimedia Commons

What looked like a ho-hum reelection in the Oregon Senate turned suddenly interesting the day AFTER the filing deadline in March. 

Republican Senator Doug Whitsett in district 28 announced his retirement and withdrawal from the race. 

Scant minutes before the filing deadline, former Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum had filed to run in the Republican primary.  He remains the only candidate officially on the ballot. 

The action ruffled feathers across the district, which includes parts of Jackson and Klamath Counties. 

Write-in campaigns quickly mounted for former Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith, Michael Stettler of Christmas Valley, and Klamath County Museum Director Todd Kepple


The same maneuver that appeared to clear the way to the Oregon legislature for a Republican in Senate District 28 also happened in House District 56. 

Gail Whitsett--whose husband represents the Senate district--announced her withdrawal from the race the day after the filing deadline. 

Fellow Republican Werner Reschke filed minutes before the deadline, sparking allegations of "insider trading." 

Two other candidates seek the seat, Jonah Hakanson as a general election non-affiliated candidate, and former Klamath County Commissioner Al Switzer as a Republican write-in. 

Merkley Explains His Endorsement Of Sanders

Apr 14, 2016
Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Oregon’s Jeff Merkley says a shared vision on key issues such as the nation’s economic future, global climate change and a campaign finance system gone awry led him to become the first U.S. senator to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.

How Signature-Gathering Draws Big Bucks In Election Season

Apr 14, 2016
Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

It’s signature-gathering season in California. Political campaigns are working to qualify about a dozen ballot measures, and each one requires hundreds of thousands of voter signatures. Collecting them has turned into a big business.


You can start a pretty heated discussion just by using the term "pesticides" in a small gathering. 

People do not like the side effects of pesticides, but see the need for SOMETHING to keep weeds and insects from crowding out important crops. 

The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, NCAP, does what its name implies: look for non-pesticide solutions to pests. 

NCAP is one of several organizations taking part in "Pesticides, People, Pollinators, and the Planet," Saturday April 16 at Southern Oregon University. 

Blackstone Publishing

Thomas Doty's storytelling ability can make his characters seem larger than life. 

And now the longtime teller of tales from Southern Oregon has put some of the best into a book, Doty Meets Coyote

It turns out the wilyness of the coyote was well noted long before the Road Runner cartoons.  The human half of the title visits with the animal half, sharing stories both ancient and new. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Asks Federal Officials To Halt Medford Casino

Apr 14, 2016
Office of the Oregon Governor

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent the Bureau of Indian Affairs a letter Wednesday opposing the efforts of the Coquille Indian Tribe to build a gaming facility in south Medford.

“I believe that the state should as a matter of policy resist the building of additional casinos because state support for even a single, modest additional casino is likely to lead to significant efforts to expand gaming across Oregon to the detriment of the public welfare,” Brown stated in an April 13 letter to Stan Speaks, northwest regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A Tale Of Two Tax Systems: Oregon vs. Washington

Apr 13, 2016
Kara McDermott/KUOW

Oregon and Washington are two of the oddest tax neighbors in the union. More than 40 states use a combination of sales and income taxes to pay for government. But not Oregon  and Washington.

Here in the Northwest, we like to do it all with one hand tied behind our back. Oregon: no sales tax. Washington: no income tax. So, how is this set-up is working for both states?


The herbicide glyphosate is better known by its commercial name, Roundup. 

By any name, it has many critics, including the organization Moms Across America

MAA recently tested ten California wines for evidence of glyphosate, and found it in all ten--even in a wine from an organic vineyard.   The wines came from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.


Industries and economic trends come and go, but everybody's got to eat.  So agriculture is always a major industry in a rural area like ours. 

And that industry is different from what it was just a generation ago.  Where the Rogue Valley was once the center of the pear industry, many orchards have been converted to vineyards, now producing grapes for wine. 

A number of projects track the region's agricultural heritage, including Oregon's Century Farm program and the Wine of Southern Oregon collection at Southern Oregon University's Library.

The Britt Festivals in Jacksonville just made a big splash with the announcement of this season's concerts.  But there's more to Britt than the summer concerts on the hill; there's also an ongoing education program that brings musical performers to schools. 

The duo Caballito Negro just completed a short residency through the program. 

The Southern Oregon swing completes with a public concert Thursday at Ashland's Schneider Museum of Art.


Ongoing forestry work in the hills above Ashland will lead to some of the trails and roads on the west side of the watershed could be closed as early as Wednesday April, 13th.

Work by crews on the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project is beginning to transition from the east (Four Corners side) to the west (Granite St and Horn Gap side). If weather is favorable, the helicopter will move to the Horn Gap area, necessitating trail and road closures.

John Kasich Campaign Makes Its Move In Oregon

Apr 12, 2016
Hans Pennink

Much of Oregon’s Republican establishment is now shifting to the long-shot campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

The Kasich campaign on Tuesday released a list of prominent Oregonians supporting him in Oregon’s May 17 primary.

What’s The Impact Of Local Gun Laws In California?

Apr 12, 2016

California voters could be asked this fall to approve new statewide gun restrictions if an initiative championed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom qualifies for the ballot. Some California cities aren’t waiting to enact a key provision of the law — a ban on possessing magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Eurico Zimbres/wikimedia

It was just another rainy spring day in 2014 when a landslide killed 43 people and destroyed dozens of homes near Oso, Washington. 

The event unleashed unimagined tragedy on a rural community, though the conditions that lead to such catastrophic landslides are commonplace throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Scott Burns is our guest, a landslide expert from Portland State University. 

Wikimedia/JPR News

You've heard the line: only two things in life are sure--death and taxes.  So those are the topics on this week's VENTSday.

Let's get your thoughts on death with dignity in this week's survey, and your observations as the income tax filing deadline arrives (April 18). 

Listeners take stage on our weekly VENTSday segment, a chance to vent on a couple of topics in the news--by phone, by email, or through our online survey.

We provide the topics, you provide the opinions. Your thoughts are front and center on VENTSday.

No expertise necessary; just opinions and the ability to express them in a radio-friendly way. We post our weekly survey on one or both of the topics in advance.