Here are updates from some notable stories from 2017.
The story: On Nov. 18, 2015, Jones 5 Auto Sales closed down as angry car owners scrambled to recover their vehicles from the Corvallis consignment lot before they could be hauled off by commercial creditors or seized as evidence by police. An investigation determined that owner Shannon Jones had fleeced dozens of victims out of almost $1.4 million through an elaborate, multiyear scheme. Among other scams, he sold cars to multiple buyers, kept the proceeds from consignment sales and used titles to vehicles he did not own as collateral for loans.
The latest: In a deal with federal prosecutors, Jones pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud on May 16 in U.S. District Court in Eugene. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and ordered to pay restitution. On July 26, the 46-year-old Jones reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan to begin serving his time.
The story: Local outdoors enthusiasts have been working since the 1970s to create the Corvallis to the Sea Trail, a pathway that would take hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders from the valley to the coast. Early efforts were stymied by the difficulties of working with multiple government agencies, timber companies and private landowners, and the project lay dormant until 2003, when the all-volunteer Corvallis to the Sea Trail Partnership was formed to revive the effort.
The latest: Last September, the C2C Trail’s eastern half — a 32-mile segment from downtown Corvallis to Big Elk Campground in the Coast Range near Harlan — officially opened. It will probably take another two years or more to complete the western half of the trail, a 30-mile segment that ends at Ona Beach State Park south of Newport. Some 25 miles of the route runs through the Siuslaw National Forest, and federal regulations require a formal environmental impact assessment before work can begin. C2C Trail backers are working with Siuslaw officials to accelerate the process.
OSU expansion plans
The story: While growing student numbers at Oregon State University’s main campus have caused friction with some Corvallis residents and led the university to cap enrollment at 28,000 locally, OSU has been pursuing plans to expand its operations in Bend and Newport.
The latest: Both satellite campuses got a boost in 2017. On Oct. 30, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners voted to sell a 72-acre former landfill to the university. The site is adjacent to OSU-Cascades, which opened on 10 acres in 2016. Along with a 46-acre former pumice mine previously acquired by OSU, the university now owns 128 acres in Bend, where it eventually hopes to enroll up to 5,000 students. On Nov. 15, OSU unveiled plans for a 72,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory building on Newport’s Yaquina Bay to support its Marine Studies Initiative. While critics object to the structure’s siting in a tsunami zone, university officials claim the building’s design will allow it to function as an evacuation center. By 2025, OSU expects to be educating 500 students a year at the Newport campus.