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Here are updates on stories that we have been tracking:

Birding adventure told

The story: In 2015, Oregon State University graduate Noah Strycker set out to identify as many different birds as possible, a feat known among birding enthusiasts as a Big Year. In an epic round-the-world journey, the Creswell resident tallied sightings of 6,042 species – more than half of all the known birds on Earth – and set a new world record, eclipsing the previous mark by 1,701 species.

The latest: Strycker’s book about his experience was published last week by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World” sells for $18.25 in hardcover or $14.99 as an e-book for tablet readers.

Bennett Hall

OReGO program

The story: On July 15, 2015, Oregon launched a pilot program to test a new tax based on miles driven as a possible replacement for the pay-at-the-pump gas tax, which has failed to keep pace with the maintenance needs of the state’s surface transportation infrastructure. There are currently 1,404 vehicles registered in the program, which collects a 1.5 cent-per-mile charge offset by a credit against the gas tax.

The latest: Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the state a $2.3 million grant to enhance OReGO and an additional $2.6 million grant for a project to integrate the program with a similar system operating in California.

Bennett Hall

Municipal judge

The story: Chris Dunfield is the municipal judge for the city of Corvallis. The judge oversees less serious crimes such as traffic and parking citations that occur in the city limits. More serious crimes are handled by Benton County Circuit Court. Dunfield reports to the City Council. The municipal judge is one of three positions evaluated by the council. The other two are the city manager and the city attorney.

The latest: Dunfield, who works 49 hours per month, was given his annual evaluation by the council on Oct. 2. During the evaluation session Dunfield was praised for starting a Community Service Court" which works on channeling some defendants into community service options in lieu of fines or jail time. No compensation changes came with the evalution. Dunfield’s base pay heading is $78,600 per year. His contract expires Dec. 31, 2018.

James Day

Mental health campaign

The story: The Old Mill Center for Families and Children and the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis have been teaming up on providing mental health services at the club. However, grant money the two groups had been using to pay for part of the service ran out and they have been seeking to raise $35,000 to continue the program.

The latest: Old Mill Center officials have announced that they have reached their $35,000 goal and the program will continue. The service costs $62,000 per year, with a $25,000 grant from the PacificSource Foundation making up the difference. “We are grateful that the local community has stepped up to ensure that this important work can continue,” said Bettina Schempf, executive director of the Old Mill Center. The two organizations will continue to see long-term financial support for the program.

James Day

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald