Looking Back at 2022
The year 2022 is on its way out, and what a news-filled time it’s been. We endured two elections, wildfires, a recall election that rocked the Eugene City Council — and so much more.
One way we here at Eugene Weekly reflect on the year is by looking back at what was popular with online readers. Judging from what’s popular with you all, it’s a great snapshot of what happened this year.
Before we dive into what’s popular, here are some editorial staff picks, stories that were well read online but didn’t break into the top 10.
In January 2022, an underwater volcano eruption in Tonga resulted in a tsunami on some areas of the West Coast. Oregon and Lane County emergency preparedness managers told EW that it was a good reminder for Oregonians to be ready for a tsunami whenever they’re on the Oregon coast. A tsunami can occur within 10 minutes of an earthquake hitting, said Lane County Program Emergency Manager Patence Winningham-Melcher. And after the 6.4 earthquake that hit Northern California on Dec. 20, it’s good to remember that the Cascadia earthquake could happen in our lifetimes.
A family-friendly drag storytime at Old Nick’s Pub drew attention from right-wing trolls back in October. The organizer, Emily Chappell, who also owns the pub, said the event featuring 11-year-old Vanellope Macpherson Dupont was not a sexual event. But that didn’t stop right-wing online personalities from amplifying the event, claiming it was an event created with pedophile intent. The right-wing reaction prompted a large gathering of drag supporters there to counter protest, as EW later reported.
Days before the May primary election, EW obtained footage that David Loveall, who was then a candidate for Lane County commissioner, had stood in front of one of his Main Street properties during a Black Lives Matter-related protest in 2020. EW had asked Loveall to comment before obtaining the footage, but he declined. When EW had a video of him outside of the building with an AR-15-style rifle, he said it was “a way of him upholding the oath he took when he joined the U.S. Navy, to protect the country from domestic and foreign enemies.” Loveall ended up winning the seat on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners, beating incumbent Joe Berney by 98 votes.
OK, now onto what was popular this year:
The year began with a shooting at WOW Hall that injured six people, which WOW Hall called the event “unprecedented” in its history and Eugene Police Department Chief Chris Skinner said it was “highest profile shooting we’ve had in the city of Eugene.” Local rapper and activist Thomas Hiura told EW that promoters and people think that rap and hip-hop shows are inherently dangerous, but in his experience that hasn’t been the case. Since the shooting happened, EPD hasn’t announced any arrests of a shooter.
As the Cedar Creek Fire threatened the Oakridge area, most residents evacuated, following a Level 3 “Go Now” order. EW spoke with some residents who were leaving their homes.
Melissa Houston, a care provider in the area, did not fully know where she and her family were going, other than to head west. “We’re going to head to Eugene and we’re going to meet up by the fairgrounds,” Houston said. “I have seven kids, so we’re all just going to meet there.” Luree Ayers and Kyle Trapp, who were working at the Chevron in Oakridge at the time, left after grabbing clothes and sentimental items.
The fire began August 1 when a lightning storm ignited several fires in the Willamette National Forest. As of data last updated Nov. 2, the fire was 70 percent contained.
John Henry was a steel driving man, and the bar bearing the folk hero’s name opened in downtown Eugene, paying homage to its previous incarnation. During the ’90s, John Henry’s was a legendary spot for drinks and live music. The bar and venue moved locations and closed in 2013. The new John Henry’s, at 881 Willamette, has the blessing from the owners of the original bar. “We’re excited,” Josh Rodriguez told EW. “We’re happy to be in the downtown area to pay homage to the original John Henry’s.” Since opening in March, John Henry’s has hosted various shows, hosting metal and rock bands to burlesque and karaoke.
A lot of readers looked to see whom EW endorsed for the May primary election. We’re now one of the few newspapers in Oregon that still endorses, and our process involves interviewing candidates, reading news stories and paying attention to the campaign trail (such as fundraising, speeches and policy proposals).
Once again, readers looked to our endorsements for the state level races, which included the tense three-way governor’s race that nearly resulted in a Republican governor for the first time in decades because of the nonaffiliated Betsy Johnson. In what’s likely no surprise to our readers, we backed the candidates who weren’t taking big money from corporations that want to gut our environmental resources.
Constructing housing units that can meet the county’s growing demand requires many solutions. The C Street Co-Op in Springfield is one way that gives people partial ownership of the homes, allowing them to build equity and credit. The nonprofit Square One Villages partnered with architect firm Cultivate, Inc. to develop the housing project, building six housing units in a lot originally planned for two. Most homes in Eugene and Springfield are single-family homes, but the C-Street Co-Op is an example of providing people with more housing opportunities and combat sprawl. And for one of the residents of the co-op, it’s a way to build community with neighbors. “This opportunity to be a co-op, have these meetings and show others that this is a viable opportunity and option for people — it’s going to be a solution for so many people in the future,” says Melissa McReynolds. This story came out of EW’s partnership with the Catalyst Journalism Project.
When the Cedar Creek Fire grew to threaten the Oakridge area, it felt like reliving the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire: the area was filled with smoke and the sky was illuminated by a red sun. EW posted a story providing readers with up-to-date information about the fire, the evacuation notice updates and where to find resources.
Ah, Best of Eugene. It’s the best time of the year where we get to share the good things about our community, as well as remind people that it’s a reader-generated poll. This year’s contest saw some familiar faces (Brail’s for “Best Hangover food”) and new winners (Frog for “Best Visionary”). If your favorite restaurant, business or person didn’t win this year, remind them to campaign — and taking out ads in EW is effective for reaching voters!
The Portland-based Sizzle Pie’s downtown Eugene restaurant has been a staple for lunchtime and late night eaters. But the restaurant surprised workers and people in the community when it decided to abruptly shutter the downtown location. Speaking with one of the workers, who spoke anonymously to protect themselves from retaliation, there were some talks of unionizing and demands for more safety and higher wages. The pizza chain’s owner and co-founder Matt Jacobson said the decision was made for financial reasons, as the Eugene location had lost more than $100,000 in 2022 alone. The closure of the store was marked by the company’s opening of a new location in Hillsboro.
After being beaten by police in Cottage Grove on Sept. 1, Alexander Harrelson, 26 and schizophrenic, lost two teeth. Harrelson had been playing with a sword, dancing with it to music behind a building in downtown Cottage Grove in the afternoon.
Bookmine owner Gail Hoelzle told EW that she called police not because she was worried about Harrelson attacking anyone but because she was concerned that he could hurt himself. She recalled that the operator told her police would check on him. Instead she says she watched several officers, and a man who appears to be a civilian, hold Harrelson down as he was punched repeatedly.
The police response perplexed witness Duane Raley. She said Harrelson was calm and didn’t struggle, Raley says, “They could have just put the cuffs on him.”
Two weeks later, Harrelson entered a plea deal, though the terms were not immediately released by the Cottage Grove Municipal Court.
And on Dec. 22, Cottage Grove announced the results into the investigation into the police use of force.