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5 Oregon Stories To Watch: December 6-12

Snow in the mountains, a new GM for the Blazers, and cutbacks at TriMet

By Julia Silverman December 6, 2021

Opening day looms for Oregon's ski resorts.

Just when you think there might finally, finally be a lull in the Oregon news cycle, the Trail Blazers go ahead and announce they are canning their longtime general manager, a long-running battle over an energy pipeline that would have snaked its way across Oregon goes kaput, and a fixture of the Oregon Congressional delegation announces that he’s had enough. Will the week ahead bring fewer endings, and more beginnings? Read on to find out.

Snow Dance

Yes, that was December when it hit 60-ish degrees last week in Portland. Needless to say, the state’s ski resorts and the snow-bunnies who love them were not best pleased. But this week, the forecast looks more promising (if you like cold, rain, and snow in the mountains that is), so look for Mount Hood Meadows to hold a soft opening this coming Saturday, on December 11. That’s about two weeks later than the usual opening dates—but it doesn’t mean that the expected La Niña season ahead won’t bring plenty of the cold, wet stuff to Hood’s slopes. (No word yet on when Timberline and Mount Bachelor might be opening—we’ll update as soon as we hear more.)

Omicron, Again

No news is good news, right? Right? For now, last week slipped by without any COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant discovered in Oregon (New York, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Nebraska were not , alas, so lucky.) Meantime, COVID hospitalizations are still declining in the state, though not to as low levels as we might like. Forecasters for OHSU say that COVID-related hospitalizations are not projected to fall below 200 until early February of 2022—there were 384 people hospitalized statewide as of December 2, per the Oregon Health Authority. A sliver of hope: 82 percent of Oregonians are now either vaccinated or have been recently enough infected with the virus that they have natural immunity—researchers think that once we hit 85 percent, we’ll get close enough to herd immunity that the Delta variant, at least, won’t have many of us left to infect.

Olshey Out

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the news that the Trail Blazers have shown General Manager Neil Olshey the door, after a buttoned-down investigation apparently found enough evidence of workplace misconduct to support such a move. But who will slide into his spot at the organization’s helm? Twitter likes the idea of Dame Lillard taking over; The Oregonian seems to have its money on former Blazers player, Oregon native, and former Celtics GM Danny Ainge. We might find out more this week—and one of these days, some enterprising sports reporter is going to blow the true story of Olshey’s firing wide open.

TriMet Cuts Back

The Great Resignation rears its head again—the latest casualty is TriMet bus routes. Anyone who has ridden the bus recently knows that even frequent service routes seem like they are coming a little less frequently, thanks to reduced pandemic-era demand, due at least in part to hybrid work schedules. Now TriMet has announced that in the new year, some routes will see even further cutbacks—but not because of a lack of passenger demand. The reason is bus drivers, and the lack thereof. Despite signing bonuses and other inducements, the agency can’t find enough drivers for all of its routes. Is your bus line on the list of what will hopefully be temporary cutbacks? Find out here.

Art for Art’s Sake

Let’s end on an upbeat note this week: This Sunday, the Portland Art Museum is throwing open its doors for the first Miller Family Free Day since the before time. If you go, be sure to wish the museum a happy birthday—the building is 129 years young this week. Reserve tickets starting this Wednesday at the museum’s website, particularly if you’re hoping to attend the timed-entry exhibits currently on view: Queen Nefertari’s Egypt and Private Lives: Home and Family in the Art in the Nabis, Paris, 1889-1900.

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