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Here are updates on stories that we have been tracking:

Gateway Walk

The story: The Madison Avenue Task Force is working on a plan to complete the “gateway” from the Willamette River to Oregon State University. The final piece of the Gateway Walk project features changes to the area between Northwest Ninth Street and Northwest 11th Street. The improvements include new plazas, benches and landscaping as well as historical signs.

The latest: Bids on the project were received in May, with Brown Contracting of Eugene set to start work in August, said Dave Livingston, task force secretary. The budget is set at $385,000, with all funding raised and secure. Key fundraising assistance came from friends of the task force, Oregon State University and OSU’s Class of 1966. The task force has set May 16, 2018 as the date for its dedication ceremony, which is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the university.

James Day

Water quality

The story: The city of Corvallis consistently rates high among water entities with regard to the quality of the water and the strength of its water infrastructure.

The latest: The city has received an “outstanding performer” award from the Oregon Health Authority, which surveyed the city’s system in December 2016. The Health Authority described the Corvallis system as “well-operated and maintained by knowledgeable and competent staff.” The high rating means the Corvallis water system will not be inspected again for five years. A lower rating would have led to an inspection in three years. More than 250 state water agencies received “outstanding performer” ratings, although most of them are small entities that serve very few customers. The only Oregon cities comparable to Corvallis in size that received the top rating were Hillsboro and Beaverton.

James Day

Starker Arts Park

The story: The city of Corvallis has been working on a series of upgrades to Bruce Starker Arts Park on Southwest Country Club Drive. Using $300,000 in pledges from the Starker family, Corvallis Parks and Recreation is replacing the playground and upgrading the pond and stage.

The latest: Parks and Recreation is hosting a 1:30 p.m. ceremony next Friday to celebrate the completion of the $100,000 playground portion of the project. Changes include the addition of swings, a climbing rock, an elevated playhouse, a slide and improved fall protection. Karen Emery, Parks and Recreation director, said that the city has received the second $100,000 installment from the Starker family, which will allow work to go forward on the pond.

James Day

Advocate writers

The story: A number of former writers and editors for the Corvallis Advocate, the alternative newsweekly, went public early this year with claims that publisher Steve Schultz owed them hundreds or even thousands of dollars for work they performed but were never paid for. Schultz began a program of making partial payments to bring down the debts, but some ex-employees called the $5 monthly checks insulting and refused to cash them.

The latest: Ygal Kaufman, who wrote and edited for the Advocate for several years, filed a small claims suit against Schultz demanding $2,500 in back wages. The case is scheduled to go to trial at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Benton County Circuit Court.

Bennett Hall

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