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Here is a look at updates on stories we have been pursuing:

Research vessel

The story: In 2017, Oregon State University was awarded $122 million by the National Science Foundation to build the first of a new class of marine science research ships for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet. Another grant, for $88 million, followed to build the second ship in the fleet.

The latest: Construction on the first ship officially began on Wednesday with a keel-laying ceremony at Gulf Island Shipyards in Houma, Louisiana. John Byrne, former OSU president and a former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and his wife, Shirley, were the ship’s ceremonial sponsors, and their initials were inscribed in the keel. The 199-foot research vessel will be called the Taani, a Siletz word meaning “offshore.”

Bennett Hall

NuScale Power

The story: NuScale Power, a Fluor Corp. subsidiary that employs several hundred people in Corvallis, is developing a new kind of nuclear reactor design based on technology originated at Oregon State University. The company submitted its design certification application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late 2016 and is hoping to be first to market with an NRC-approved design for a small modular reactor. The NRC is scheduled to complete its review of NuScale’s design certification application in September 2020.

The latest: Last month, NuScale announced a deal with BWX Technologies of Virginia to begin engineering work for manufacturing of the company’s reactor modules. Last week, NuScale announced a memorandum of understanding with Ontario Power Generation to shepherd NuScale’s application through a review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a first step toward marketing the new reactors in Canada.

Bennett Hall

Bike path

The story: The city of Corvallis is planning to construct a new multiuse path that will divert bicycle and pedestrian traffic from just past the Marys River Bridge to Crystal Lake Drive. The city received an ODOT grant of more than $700,000 in May 2016 to pay to reroute the bike path away from Highway 99W to Crystal Lake. At that time, completion of the project was scheduled for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Now, construction is not expected to begin until the summer of 2020. Bicycle and pedestrian activists raised concerns about delays in the project after cyclist Eric Austin was struck and killed in the nearby pedestrian crosswalk. Also an issue are plans for a drive-through coffee franchise on Highway 99W between Southeast Chapman Drive and Crystal Lake. Until the new path is built the sidewalk that passes in front of the coffee outlet serves as the multiuse path.

The latest: The city’s Public Works Department has released a new timeline for the project. It shows that the project is heading into its environment review phase. Right of way acquisition, design and contract bidding and awarding are scheduled to follow. Construction is tentatively set to start June 22, 2020, with completion set for Oct. 30. 2020.

James Day

 

AFSCME contract

The story: The city of Corvallis early in the morning on Oct. 16 reached a tentative new five-year contract with its largest union, Local 2975 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The negotiations were a challenge to bring to fruition. The union declared an impasse on Sept. 27, and  four mediation sessions were held, with the final one lasting 16 hours. Negotiations began in February, and the contract expired June 30. Union members ratified the deal on a 119-31 vote on Oct. 17. The new deal calls for approximately $8 million in additional wages and benefits for the 226 employees in the bargaining unit, which comprises more than half of the city workforce. Key aspects of the deal include wage increases of 3 percent in the first year and 2 percent the other four years, a  48 cents per hour “base wage adjustment” in January, 2021 and a $250 ratification bonus for each employee.

The latest: The Corvallis City Council approved the deal on a 9-0 vote at its Nov. 5 meeting. The city also has labor units that represent emergency dispatch workers, fire fighters and police officers. The next contract to be negotiated will be with the International Association of Fire Fighters. The contract expires June 30, 2021, with negotiations expected to begin a few months before that date. The contracts for the Corvallis Regional Communications Association contract and that of the Corvallis Police Officers Association expire June 30, 2022.

James Day

Transportation plan

The story: The city of Corvallis has been working on a transportation system plan update. The work is mandated by the state and paid for by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The update considers all modes of travel and provides guidance on how to invest in the transportation system through a combination of projects, policies and programs to meet travel needs as the city grows. The city’s current TSP was adopted in 1996.

The latest: The plan is in the final draft stage, with the Corvallis Planning Commission scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday at the downtown fire station. Public testimony will be taking. The City Council has scheduled final adoption for its Dec. 3 meeting.

James Day

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