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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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OR Lawmakers Get Some Heartfelt Advice

February 14, 2011

SALEM, Ore. - More than 100 people from around the state converge on the State Capitol today to hand out valentines - and advice on helping Oregon families pull out of the recession. Oregon Thrives is a coalition made up of 10 groups working together for more stable families and communities. As its members thank lawmakers for their service to the state, they also plan to remind them that the safety net has frayed for many in Oregon.

For instance, Clackamas County Social Services Director Brenda Durbin says food stamp use in her area has doubled since 2008.

"We are delivering a message that talks about the interconnectedness; about how when you pull one string out of this interwoven cloth, the whole thing can fall apart. We're delivering that education, so they truly understand the impact of the decisions they're going to be making."

Rey Espana, director of community development with the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, says Oregon Thrives members are well aware there's too little state money to go around. They believe priority should be given to making sure that those who are still struggling do not fall farther behind, he adds.

"It's really very hard with limited resources. Often, communities get pitted against one another. But at this point, we've got to share in the redirection and prosperity that lies ahead, and maintain the hope we need to get us there, all together."

The Oregon Thrives agenda is wide-ranging, from affordable housing and health care to education and job creation. Janet Byrd, executive director of Neighborhood Partnerships, says this means they can answer lawmakers' questions about any of those topics.

"Some of the issues we want to talk about are how we hold families together at the same time we try to move our communities forward. We want to see legislators thinking about the linkages between issues, as well."

Valentines in hand, Byrd says the coalition members represent every corner of the state and are in Salem to launch the Oregon Thrives legislative agenda for 2011.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR