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Regional News Archives for 2010-12


New Motorcycle Laws


The motorcycle crash rate has nearly doubled in the last five years in the State of Oregon. ODOT's Sally Ridenour says this year a new law requires people under the age of 30 that haven’t gotten a motorcycle in the past or have gotten one from another state will have to take a basic rider training course. The 15 hour training course; part riding and part classroom.  You can contact your DMV office for details or contact TEAM Oregon website which is the approved motorcycle provider in the State of Oregon.

New Gas Tax


Starting January 1st, 2011 it will cost more to buy gas in Oregon. Gas taxes increase six cents to 30 cents per gallon. ODOT's Dave Thompson says it's sorely needed because gas tax revenues don't go as far as they used to. Thompson says the gas tax is also much less than in neighboring Washington or California.

Wild Horse Management Studied


The Bureau of Land Management received more than 9000 comments from the public on the proposed Wild Horse and Burro Management Strategy, so the Bureau will wait to release a final draft of the plan. Many animal rights groups have protested the agency's method of rounding up horses to control the population. Tom Gorey, with the BLM says the groups want them to stop the round-ups. He says the round-up measures have been reviewed and are considered "humane and necessary." Research continues on new ways to control the horses' fertility. When the final draft of the proposed strategy is complete, it will be presented to Congress for further review.

Historic Geiser Grand Hotel Subject of TV Show


Wednesday, a Japanese TV show called "Unbelievable" went live from an Oregon hotel: The Geiser Grand in Baker City. Co-owner Barbara Sidway says the hotel is haunted and the show hopes to catch some ghosts doing the haunting - like party ghosts. “There are, perhaps two dozen people who party almost every night in the original dining room.  And you’ll hear the sounds of the laughter, the clinking of the ice cubes in the glass. Perhaps a little background music, and you go , find the source, open the door and it stops.” Sidway says they will post a copy of the show on the website: www.geisergrand.com by January first.

'Tis the Season for Goodwill


This is Goodwill's busiest time of the year for donations as people clean out their closets and look for last minute tax deductions. Dale Emanuel with Goodwill says they get four-times the usual amount of weekly donations between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. She suggests donors have a list of the items they're donating before pulling up to the drop site and they get a receipt.

Gresham Man Still Missing


The search continues today for a Gresham man missing in the Columbia Gorge. The only sign of David Mekvold, 42, is his truck that was found on a gravel road about 3 miles from north Bonneville . Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox says nearly three dozen searchers scoured the area near Mekvold's truck but found no trace of him.

Mt. Angel Priest Suing Abbey


A priest identified only as “Father X” is suing Mount Angel Abbey for abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of the late father Emmanuel Clark. Father X's attorney is Bill Barton.  He admits this is a first of its kind lawsuit but disagrees that the case is unique. Barton says the Abbey has settled other suits involving Father Clark that were filed by other seminarians. The Abbey is reviewing this new matter.

Oregon's Gas Tax Begins in January


Oregon’s gas tax increases by six cents as of January first. It's the first state gas tax bump since 1993. State Representative Jefferson Smith, a Democrat, voted against the increase in the gas tax two years ago but says the billion dollars raised over the years will provide hundreds of jobs. Smith says the tax will pay for 37 projects around the state, largely improvements to highway bypasses and interchanges. The tax increase is expected to cost the average driver $30 dollars a year.

Gas Prices Continue Upward


Gas prices are up 7¢ a gallon nationally to $3.05 and in Oregon, gas prices increased 3¢ last week at $3.08. Marie Dodds at Triple A says diesel is up across the country. This is the first time that gas prices have topped $3.00 a gallon during the holidays. Oregon's average is 21st highest in the country. Washington's average of $3.18 is 7th highest. Here in bend, you’ll pay just over $3.00 a gallon.

Check for New Health Plans for Seniors


As national health care policies change with the new year, AARP recommends seniors check their status and find the best plan. There may be a more affordable combination of benefits. Jerry Cohen with AARP Oregon says changes in policy can lead to confusion, but more information is available now than ever before to help seniors decide which plan is best. Children of seniors on Medicare are encouraged to talk over plans with their parents. Trained volunteers with SHIBA, Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance are available to help. The fall Medicare Open Enrollment period ends Friday.

Oregon Kids Get a Boost


Oregon gets a $15-million boost from the federal government for making sure more kids are enrolled in Medicaid. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is sending Oregon's Department of Human Services $15-million dollars for being one of the top ten states to get children enrolled in state and federal health insurance programs. The performance bonus was set in place by the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Legislation. More than 70,000 children are now enrolled in Oregon's Healthy Kids Plan.

Historical Business Destroyed in Seaside Fire


A longtime grocery store in Seaside is a total loss after an early Tuesday morning fire. The fire at the 12th Avenue grocery store broke out about three thirty. Seaside Fire Chief Dale Kamrath says some walls are standing, but the rest of the building is pretty much gutted. The store had been in business since the 1940's. Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.

Portland Shooting Leaves One Wounded


A 34-year-old man armed with a machete was shot by Portland Police. It happened in the 3400 of Southwest Dakota. A woman called 911 saying her son was suicidal and threatening suicide by cop. Sergeant Pete Simpson says they used bean bags rounds and a taser, but they had no effect; so an officer fired one round.

The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive. Police expect to release more information later today.

Auto Sales Predictably High This Week


2010 has been a tough year for auto dealers. Ed Tonkin, Vice President of the Tonkin dealerships and Chairman of the National Auto Dealers Association says Oregon business regulations aren't helping. He says Oregon’s is not a business friendly state, and that is not generating jobs. Tonkin says sales are up and projections for next year look better. He says this week is one of the best to buy a car, because auto companies offer great incentives and dealers are trying to make year-end sales numbers.

Former Coos Bay Woman Arrested for Embezzlement


Shawna Moore-Saia is facing several federal charges after surrendering to the FBI in Los Angeles. The FBI's Beth Ann Steele says Moore worked at the Coos Bay Wells Fargo for four years. Moore reportedly stole as much as $1.2 million by opening bogus bank accounts to pad her commissions. Now Moore Saia is facing I.D. theft, credit card fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering charges.  

This is the Week for Whale Watching


This week is prime viewing for whale watching at the Oregon coast . Whale watchers have many options to see the whales as they migrate south to Mexico. There are about 26 sites along the coast. There will be volunteers from 10am-1 pm everyday this week. You will need to bring your own binoculars.   Linda Taylor is a park ranger at Depoe Bay. She says viewers occasionally will see the whales jump completely out of the water.

Wind Power Proves To Be A Good Source


An increasing amount of power in the northwest is generated by wind. Michael Milstein, with the Bonneville Power Administration, says there are enough wind farms to power Portland and Seattle. He says “When all those are cranking out full power at full capacity, it’s roughly the equivalent of three nuclear plants.” That's 3000 megawatts of electricity and more wind farms are being built. Milstein says that when the wind isn't blowing, the hydropower system takes up the slack.

Holiday Drivers Safer This Year


Oregon State Police report fatalities during the 78-hour Christmas holiday period were down about 50% compared to last year's 102-hour period. Lieutenant Gregg Hastings says three crashes were fatal. Hastings says police do not know the reason for the decline; but hope drivers took more time to prepare for trips and designate sober drivers. Increased enforcement efforts continue through New Year’s Day.

Aumsville Not Eligible for Federal Help


Last week's tornado in Aumsville did $1.1-million in damage to the City's homes, business and public buildings. John Vanderzanden with Marion County Emergency Management says federal help will not be on its way. “Unfortunately because of the thresholds that are established by the federal government, we’re not anywhere near meeting those thresholds to be eligible for those recovery funds.” More than $600,000 of reported damage was to homes. Vanderzanden says home and business owners will have to rely on their own insurance or pocketbooks to cover fixes.

Oregon Farmers Give Food Gifts Again


For the second year in a row, Oregon farmers and ranchers will donate more than 2-million pounds of meat and produce to the Oregon Food Bank. Executive Director of the Food Bank, Rachel Bristol, says it took a lot of work, because they were only set up to handle non-perishable products. The group Farmers Ending Hunger donates potatoes, onions, vegetables and beef to the Food Bank. More than a million Oregonians a year get food boxes.

OSU To Test Barley for Beer Making


Growers sold millions of dollars worth of Oregon barley last year. But the product is mostly untested for use in beer. Oregon State University professor Pat Hayes is changing that with a mini-malter. He wants to bring in testers, making a sample run to show that Oregon barley has the same qualities as the Oregon grape does.” 

Currently, to test malt barley requires tons of the grain. When the mini-malter is online they'll only need about 250 pounds.

Oregon Economy is On the Mend


The Oregon economy is definitely on the mend. That’s the view of private economist Bill Conerly, who points to the past two months of job growth as a sign of a continuing turnaround in the new year: “If you can get two or three months of good news and only one or two months of bad news, then you’re on an upward trajectory. And that’s where we’ll be in 2011.” He says it'll be a slow recovery, and the unemployment rate will likely stay around 10% as people who'd given up, return to the job market.

Reaction to Turnidge Sentence


A Marion County jury is unanimous: Bruce and Joshua Turnidge sentenced to the death penalty. Janet Turnidge, the wife and mother of the men, says the entire Turnidge family will rely on their faith in God to sustain them through whatever happens next. She also said they are praying for the families and friends of the victims in the 2008 explosion.

Special Olympics Are Back


Special Olympics Oregon’s Summer Games will return in 2011 after a two-year hiatus due to the rough economy. Philanthropists and Newberg business owners Ken and Joan Austin supplied the funds to revive the games. He says giving is a family tradition that he enjoys. The games will be played July 15th through 17th at Newberg High, George Fox University, the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course and various Chehalem parks and recreation facilities.

Scammers Out in Force for the Holidays


Oregon’s consumer watchdogs say hackers are using the holidays to hijack computers. Justice Department Spokesman Tony Green says they're trying to sneak malicious software onto your hard drive. “They tell you when you open an attachment you can see where a package is. What that’ll do is allow them install some software that can harvest passwords and other sensitive financial information.”  Tony Green says there are currently lots of scams that aim to break into your computer, including offers of free I-Pads. 

More Police On the Roads Over Christmas


Police in Oregon will have more eyes on the road as holiday travelers start to leave for vacation. “Our plan, along with several other agencies at the County and City levels is to have extra officers out on the roadway at different parts over the Christmas holiday period.” State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings says they'll be watching for speeding, intoxicated and aggressive drivers. They're asking everyone to drive with their lights on for safety.

New Healthcare Law Not so Great for Oregonians


Under a new federal law, people under 27 could be covered by their parents’ health insurance. The benefit would not be taxed by the feds. But Michael Gay with Oregon Republicans says Oregon no longer allows similar breaks on State taxes. Oregon Parents and kids will be paying a tax surcharge on health benefits.

Republicans will push to change the state law.

Turnidges Receive Death Penalty


The jury has returned death sentences for Bruce and Josh Turnidge for their convictions in the Woodburn bank bombing.  Judge Thomas Hart read the answers to four questions regarding the deaths of William Hakim and Tom Tennent.  The fourth question is whether they should receive a death sentence and the answers were "yes." The jury deliberated less than a day. The Turnidges will return to the court January  24th to be sentenced by the judge. 

Final Witness for Josh Turnidge


The final witness in the penalty phase of Josh Turnidge's trial was his former fiancé, Jaime Lewis. The defense asked her what impact he had on her and her children. “It was like they had a sense of security. He was there for us. We set schedules with the kids. We had a family. We had things to look forward to.” The prosecution tried to show that Turnidge is racist and sent a threatening letter to Lewis' current boyfriend. She denied that the letter was a threat. The jury will consider whether he's a threat in deciding the death penalty. Turnidge and his father were convicted of aggravated murder in the Woodburn bank bombing.

Strong Earthquake Hits Japans' Coast


A strong 7.4 earthquake near Japan happened about 9:20 this morning; but experts do not expect the quake to trigger a tsunami on the west coast of the United States. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the location and historic records indicate that a big wave is not expected to hit the Oregon, California or Washington coast.

Turnidge Friends Testify "He's Really A Good Guy"


Joshua Turnidge's attorney hopes to sway the jury away from the death penalty. Turnidge's friends and family say he's nice guy and a hard worker. Dewey McGarva, an old friend, said he's heard Turnidge use terminology that some may consider racist but he's never considered him to be racist. The jury was also reminded of Turnidge's occasionally harsh childhood, when he lost his brother to a brain tumor. His aunt and other family members spoke about Turnidge's relationship with his 12 year old daughter.

Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde Stopped in Florida


They were driving around the country robbing banks, including one in Salem, until they were shot by police in Florida. On November 26th, they hit the U.S. Bank in the Safeway on Commercial Street. Before that, they'd robbed a bank in their home state of Massachusetts. They stopped in Pocatello, Idaho. But a stop in Stuart, Florida ended badly for this Bonnie and Clyde. Sarah Gauvin, 30, was shot to death by police, Kevin Cyr, 36, was injured in the shooting. Salem Lieutenant Steve Birr says his department assist the FBI in the ongoing investigation.

Wyden is Recovering Nicely


Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is recovering at a Baltimore hospital following successful prostate cancer surgery Monday. Wyden is expected to be discharged on Tuesday and plans to rest at his Washington, D.C. home. He was able to vote for "don't ask don't tell" this last weekend, but it's not clear whether he'll be able to vote on other issues later this week. Wyden caught his prostate cancer in its early stages through a routine screening.

Gas Prices Staying Steady


Not much change in gas prices over the last week. Marie Dodds, with the Triple-A, says prices are about 40¢ higher than a year ago. “Gas is going to cost you a lot more this holiday season than a year ago, when our national average was at $2.59 and in Oregon we were at $2.71.” Diesel in Oregon is running about 3-37 a gallon. This is normally the low point in prices, so if the economy continue to improve. It's possible that average prices could move about $4.00 a gallon next year.

Oregon Economic Index Shows a Small Increase


An increase in housing starts helped to push the University of Oregon Economic Index forward.  Tim Duy, Director of the Oregon Economic Forum, two up months in a row is a good sign.  Duy says it's not a huge increase, but it's growth. Duy says all signs appear to show that Oregon's economy will continue to grow in 2011 maybe a little better than expected.  But he cautions that the construction industry still has some significant challenges.

Kitzhaber's Health Plan


Governor-Elect John Kitzhaber says if the State's health services continue to operate at current levels and State revenue continues to decline, the health authority will potentially face a 40% drop in funds. Kitzhaber announced the Director of the Department of Human Services, Bruce Goldberg, and Mike Bonetto of St. Charles in Bend will lead a health budget transition team. Their first charge is to find service reductions to get the health authority through the next year. At the same time, the team will look for sweeping changes in how all health services are provided in Oregon to reduce costs and improve care.

Turnidge Penalty Trial


In the Woodburn bank bombing trial, the prosecution is trying to show Josh Turnidge would be a future threat. Jail Sergeant Megan Gonzalez testified Turnidge tried to send a postcard with a swastika written on the front over a picture of the jail; but that's not all. Above the Administration Office icon, he wrote “gas chamber” was written in pencil. Turnidge appealed and was told that if he removed the writing the card could be sent. He complied. When the jury decides his sentence, they'll consider whether he could be a future threat in determining whether he should face the death penalty, true life or life with the possibility of parole.

Put Oregon Products On Your Gift List


If you're stumped for a holiday gift, the Oregon Agriculture Department wants you to think Oregon. The Ag Department's Laura Barton says there are 250 Oregon grown products you can use to make gifts; including milled flour in bread, or legumes in a soup. Even Oregon seeds if you have a gardener on your list.

BPA Good News


In an effort to ease the upward pressure on utility rates, the Bonneville Power Administration says it'll keep transmission rates flat for the next two years. BPA's Doug Johnson says they're doing what they can to help in a down economy. But higher rates could come in a couple of years, because of the costs of major new projects, and integrating wind power into the grid.

Oregon Humane Society Adopting Out Puppy Mill Dogs Quickly


Lonna Waters of Portland was one of the first to find her Christmas present at the Oregon Humane Society today. She's adopting a Cavalier King Charles and plans to call him Vinnie. He does have some health problems, but Waters says she can handle that.  More importantly, he’ll now have a good home.  A breeder voluntarily surrendered the dogs to comply with a new state law cracking down on puppy mills. It’s expected all forty one dogs will all be adopted by the end of the week.

Lights On Campaign Begins


The Oregon State Police is worried about what you'll do this holiday party season if you drive after too much partying. Lieutenant Gregg Hastings: “Everyday, people are being impacted by impaired drivers. Last year, over 10,000 people were killed on our nation’s roads in crashes that involved an impaired driver.” The OSP is asking all of us to drive with our lights on all the time this weekend as a way to remind us not to drive drunk.

Citizen Initiative Review Panel Successful


Before the November election, a group Oregon voters gathered to study two ballot measures. After in-depth review, the group wrote recommendations against the two measures and submitted their thoughts to voters. The Citizen Initiative Review was a pilot project studied by the University of Washington. They reported back to the Senate Rules Committee that voters who knew about the citizen reviews found them useful. Doctor John Gastil said Oregonians were surveyed on how they'd probably vote on the measures before and after they read the citizen reviews. There was a shift. Before reading the reviews, a majority of voters said they favored the measures. After reading the review, a majority was opposed.

Turnidge Penalty Phase Continues


During the penalty phase of the Woodburn bank bombing trial, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy asked Joshua Turnidge's ex-girlfriend to read a letter he wrote to her from prison. The State argues the letter demonstrates Turnidge's anger at the government and police over his arrest. Jamie Lewis was denied her request for someone else to read the letter. The State is asking the jury to sentence Turnidge to the death penalty for building the bomb that killed two police two years ago.

Kulongoski Issues Order for Aumsville


Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has issued an executive order to help the City of Aumsville recover from Tuesday’s damaging tornado. Anna Richter Taylor in the Governor's Office says the City has exhausted its resources. The County's available resources and still being determined. The damage assessment must be completed before the City and State can appeal for federal emergency assistance.

Josh Turnidge Penalty Phase Underway


The jury has decided the penalty for Bruce Turnidge. They now consider the sentence for his son, Joshua. Both convicted of aggravated murder in the Woodburn bank bombing. The State is asking for the death penalty. Marion County District Attorney Cortland Geyer telling the jury about Joshua Turnidge's behavior in prison; how he wrote threatening letters to his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. One letter expressed his anger towards authorities for his arrest. He quotes: “I pledge to you that not a day will go by, that will not be filled with retribution on my enemy.” The sentencing options are death, life in prison, or life with the opportunity for parole after 30 years. Both sentences will be read following Joshua Turnidge's penalty proceedings.

Baby Formula Theft Ring Arrests


Safeway theft investigators called on local police to help them catch the people stealing millions of dollars worth of baby formula. Dora Hernandez, 31 and Moises de Jesus Lopez, 35, allegedly moved from Los Angeles to Gresham to expand a baby formula theft ring that's cost Safeway stores about $2.5 million. Gresham Police Officer Malaka Kerbs says the store's investigators called her department and the Hillsboro Police for help. 486 cans of formula found during the search of the suspects' home The arrests mark the end of a four-year investigation.

Ban on Plastic Bags Probable Next Year


The first argument heard in support of a ban on plastic bags is about their impact on the environment.  During an informational hearing. Oregon Senator Mark Haas:  “They will ban plastic bags next year at most retailers and will replace them with recycled paper bags that will be available for a 5 cent charge.” Oregon Senators also pointed out that replacing plastic bags with recycled paper is good for jobs in Oregon. A bill will likely get quick passage when lawmakers meet next month.

Dannon Yogurt Settles With Oregon


The company that makes Dannon Yogurt has reached a $21-millionsettlement with 39 states. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney General's Office, says that includes the claim that Activia Yogurt makes your digestive track work better. Under the settlement, Dannon agrees to not make claims it can't back up with scientific evidence.

DIRECTV Tops List of Consumer Complaints


DIREC TV tops the list of consumer complaints at the Oregon Attorney General's Office. Direct TV will pay $21-million to settle lawsuits from several states including Oregon. Under the agreement, DIRECTV will make the terms and conditions of contracts clearer to consumers. They’re also working to settle specific complaints. Go the Oregon Attorney General's website for a form to file a complaint: http://www.doj.state.or.us/

Holiday Travel Predicted to Be Up This Year


Hitting the road to visit the relatives this holiday season? Estimates from Triple a say there will be a lot of company on the interstates. Marie Dodds with Triple A says it's not much better if you're flying. The average American is flying over a thousand miles. Flyers in the Pacific Northwest will go farther, she says, an average of 1200 miles to reach their destinations.

Aumsville Clean Up Underway


In Aumsville some houses are untouched while others next door took the brunt of the tornado. Mike Marr has some roof and window damage to his home on Church Street but feels fortunate. Several volunteers are helping clean up his yard. The extra blessing he says is the city is helping haul away fallen trees and brush for free.

Kulongoski Tours Tornado Damaged Aumsville


A tornado caused significant damage in Aumsville Tuesday. Governor Ted Kulongoski surveyed the damage in Aumsville and says: “There’s been some serious property damage in this community. But if there’s any good news, there been no personal injuries or loss of life.” He says the State is prepared to help the community recover, but he says Oregonians can respond as well: “It’s Christmas. That’s what I think is going to be difficult. I mean we’re 11 days away from the Christmas season. And I think what all Oregonians can do is reach out and actually try to see what they can do to help. “ Besides the Governor, State Police, emergency management and other officials are there to assess damage.

Aumsville Tornado Leave Path of Devastation


A tornado ripped through Aumsville just before noon today. Eyewitness "Jennifer" says the devastation is incredible. She says it sounded like a bomb went off, roofs collapsed, bricks and wires everywhere.  A plumbing store is reported destroyed.  The initial reports of a man having a bump to his head. there are no other reports of injuries at this point.

 
Assistant City Administrator Laura Hoffman says there is quite a bit of damage. City Hall and the police station were also hit.  There's also a report of a house torn off its foundation, and power lines across the roads. People are asked to avoid downtown so that emergency personnel can get where they need to go. The school was not hit. Hoffman says are reports of minor injuries. a shelter has been set up at the Bethel Baptist Church on Cleveland Street. 

Turnidges' Wife Pleads for Her Husband


The defense uses Bruce Turnidge's role as a loving grandfather to persuade the jury against giving him the death penalty. He and his son, Joshua, were convicted for aggravated murder in the Woodburn bank bombing last week. Bruce Turnidge's wife, Janet, says he and his granddaughter have a special bond: “Cheyenne loves her ‘Poppy’, as she calls him. He’s a stabilizer in her life. He is more of a father figure than a grandfather figure.”  Other family members say the 12-year-old will be devastated if she loses him to the death penalty. The jury could also penalize him with life in prison, or life with an opportunity for parole after 30 years. Joshua Turnidge's penalty proceedings are next. The jury's decisions will be read after the second penalty phase.

Craigslist Scam Active Again


It’s a common scam on Craigslist.  People say they have a job or will buy what you're selling. But they want to send you a check to cash it and then have you send some money back.  Tony Green in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says you should never send money back until the check clears. Otherwise, you'll be responsible for repaying the money.

Oregon Unemployment Numbers A Mixed Bag


Signs of hope for the Oregon economy. The State Employment Department says although the unemployment rate is up to 10.6%, the number of jobs has grown substantially. November was another month of strong jobs gains for Oregon.  The economy added 6300 jobs; 5900 of which were in the private in the private sector. Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says the unemployment rate is slightly higher because more people are starting to look for jobs; and that's a sign of a recovering economy.

Gas Prices Highest for a Holiday


Gas prices are up again 3-cents a gallon nationally and 2-cents in Oregon to an average of $3.05.   Marie Dodds, at Triple-A says this is the first time that prices have been this high during the holidays. This is normally the low point for prices. Some analysts say that prices could again move above four dollars a gallon next year. Diesel is also up; 3-cents and $3.37 a gallon in Oregon. Bend’s average right now is right at $3.00 a gallon.

Some Jobs Could Surface Over the Next Year


In spite of the struggling economy, one out of three private employers in Oregon expects to hire workers over the next six months. That’s according to a 'future hiring survey' by the Oregon Employment Department. But economist Nick Beleiciks says that doesn't mean they're expanding. More jobs are expected in job services and computer technology, but fewer in construction.

Wyden Says Biomass Could Turn Oregon's Economy Around


Oregon Senator Ron Wyden tells business leaders biomass could be an emerging industry to turn around the State's economy. But he says the Obama Administration is trying to regulate it like other fossil fuels. Wyden made his comments at the Oregon Business Summit at the Oregon Convention Center.

Merkley Can't Support Tax Package


Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says he cannot support the Obama - McConnell tax package before the Senate. Merkley says he has very strong concerns, including that it adds nearly a trillion dollars to the debt and adds bonus tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He does like the tax cuts for working families and the continuation of unemployment benefits. But he believes this legislation is the easiest compromise and far from the best.  Merkley says he cannot support legislation that will do so little to create jobs and help working families yet cost our nation so much.

Blumenaur Warming to Tax Cut Extension Bill


Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer says the Tax Cut Extension Bill is starting to look like something he could vote for: ”Since the package was first released, we have been able to make some changes that are very significant for Oregon.”    The Bill is expected to pass the Senate; but there's more opposition in the House. Blumenauer says it includes green energy provisions which benefit Oregon. He objects to the cost of the Bill at nearly $1-trillion.

Woodburn Bank Bombing Penalty Phase Continues


Family and friends of Bruce Turnidge told the jury about his personality as the penalty phase of the trial continues today in Marion County Court. The jury must decide if he should be sentenced to the death penalty, life in prison or parole after 30 years. Evelyn Knight is his mother. “Well, of my five children, Bruce was my leveler. I can never remember a time when he lost his temper. He was a happy kid and just never caused us any trouble.” It was two years ago yesterday that a bomb exploded at the West Coast Bank in Woodburn. Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua, convicted of aggravated murder for building and planting the device that killed two police officers. Josh Turnidge's penalty phase will be handled next.

DeFazio Vows to Fight the Tax Cuts


Democratic Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio says it doesn't make sense to go into debt to pay for the extension of tax cuts to the wealthy that President Obama and Republicans want. DeFazio says the other expenses being added to the Bill for the sake of adding jobs aren't worth the return. The President predicts the Bill will pass. If it doesn't, the tax cuts will run out for all tax payers at the end of December.

Wyden Honors Japanese-American Vets


Sixteen Japanese-American Veterans and their families joined Senator Ron Wyden Saturday at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. They were presented with The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor our country can bestow. Wyden said these men served with distinction in Europe and in the Pacific during World War II.

New Public Safety Commission Formed


Governor Kulongoski has signed an Executive Order, creating a new Public Safety Commission charged to find inefficiencies and excess spending within the State's Criminal Justice System. Members of the Commission, including Chief Justice Paul de Muniz will also make recommendations to the Legislature for comprehensive sentencing reform. The Governor has talked with Governor-elect Kitzhaber and he supports the new commission.  Kulongoski said the public will have to be part of the process because recommendations to change mandatory sentencing law are likely to be suggested. They require a vote by the public.

Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate


Senator Ron Wyden hopes the House acts fast, and pushes his Bill to reduce sex trafficking to the President before the close of the lame duck session.  The Bill passed the Senate Thursday. It authorizes six block grants of about $2-million to locations where sex trafficking crime is high. Wyden says: “If one underage girl is selling herself on the streets of our community; that’s one girl too many.” The designated locations would create model programs to help girls out of sex slavery, providing shelter, counseling, legal services, food and other essentials. Wyden says Portland,  a hub for human trafficking, would be an ideal candidate for a block grant.

Woodburn Penalty Phase


Marion County District Attorney Cortland Geyer is trying to convince the jury to put Bruce Turnidge on death row. Thursday, the jury found him and his son, jJshua, guilty of aggravated murder for building bomb that exploded, killing two police in 2008. In making their decision, the jury must consider whether or not the Turnidges acted deliberately to kill Bill Hakim and Tom Tennent.  The jury has two other penalties they could chose for the Turnidges: life in prison; or life in prison with an opportunity for parole after 30 years.  The jury will rule on Joshua Turnidge's penalty separately. The verdicts will be read together at the end of both proceedings.

DeFazio Furious With Obama


Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is furious at President Obama over the tax cut deal with Senate Republicans.  Democrat DeFazio calls the proposed estate tax threshold "unconscionable" DeFazio says tax cuts for the rich will squander money that could have been spent creating jobs by rebuilding America’s infrastructure. And he accused the White House of having a lack of backbone.

Oregon's Worst Charities List


The Oregon Attorney General's Office has just released its list of the 20 worst charities operating in the State. Tony Green says it's to highlight what they're really doing with the money. Green says the AG will also present legislation next session that would not grant a tax deduction to donors if the charity spends less than 30% of money raised on the people they claim to support. To see the complete list, click here

Merkley Unhappy that "DADT" is Blocked


Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is disappointed Republicans for a second time this year have been able to block a vote on "don't ask, don't tell." Merkley says Senate Republicans are disregarding the opinions of the nation's' top military leaders and voted to block the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Merkley believes the policy is a discriminatory and weakens our military readiness by eliminating qualified personnel.

Diane Downs Parole Hearing Friday


Convicted child killer Diane Downs goes parole the parole board once again Friday.  At her last hearing in 2008, she tearfully denied shooting her children. The Board took less than 30 minutes to deny parole at that hearing. Downs has threatened not to appear at the hearing, but she made the same threat two years ago. The hearing will go with or without her, according to the Parole Board Director.

Woodburn Bombing Verdict Reaction


People in Woodburn are hearing the news; many celebrating. Pam Veelle lives in Salem, but lived across the street at the time of the explosion” I think it’s awesome. I think that in this case justice has really prevailed on this. And it’s unfortunate for them, but you live with the consequences of your actions.” The Jury was unanimous in their decision, finding Bruce and Joshua Turnidge guilty on all counts brought against them by the state. The penalty phase begins this afternoon.

Woodburn Bank Bombing Verdict


The verdicts are in for the two men accused in the Woodburn bank bombing two years ago. Bruce and Joshua Turnidge both sat quietly at the defense table as Judge Tom Hart read the verdicts. Both of the Turnidges were found guilty on all 18 counts. That includes aggravated murder, which means both men could face the death penalty for the bombing that killed two police officers at the West Coast Bank. 

Suspect Arrested in Reser Stadium Burning


Oregon State arrest the man suspected of starting a fire at Reser Stadium after the Ducks big Civil War win. Oregon State Police Lieutenant Gregg Hastings says 20 year old Joshua Britton is facing several charges, including a felony charge of riot. OSP received over 50 tips about the suspect and messages including a “You Tube” video showing Britton in the act of burning the Beaver jersey. The initial estimate of cost is between $1500-$5000.  

Religious Garb Rules for Schools in Place


New rules for Oregon teachers. Religious clothing will soon be allowed; within limits: school cannot appear that they endorse one religion over another. Bureau of Labor and Industries spokesman Bob Estabrook says a ban on teachers wearing religious clothing was repealed by the Legislature, to give people of all faiths an opportunity to become educators. The State recommends guidelines on how schools can follow the new law.

Online Christmas Trees


These days you can find just about everything on the Internet, including Christmas trees. Bryan Ostlund with the Oregon Christmas Tree Growers Association says most people still like the personal experience of choosing their own tree. Online retail business is growing, but most tree farmers are busy enough with wholesale businesses shipping to places like Dubai and Mexico.

Beware of BCS Bowl Ticket Scams


With reports of on-line scams already turning up, the Oregon Attorney General is warning Ducks fans not to get cheated into buying phony tickets for the BCS Championship game: “Watch our for Craig’s List or E-Bay. Be very cautious if you receive email solicitations; those sort of things.” Justice Department spokesman Tony Green says requests for payment through Western Union may be a tipoff that a ticket is bogus. He says it's best to get tickets from people you know and trust. 

Suspects Sought for Fire in Reser Stadium


The field at Reser Stadium in Corvallis was damaged by fire following the Civil War game. A Portland Tribune photographer captured the suspect with what appeared to be a burning jersey in the end zone . They’re hoping someone can identify the suspect or that witnesses who were nearby will come forward. Damage to the field is at least $1500 and if the entire end zone needs replacement, could go up to $5000.

Woodburn Bank Bombing Case Nearing End


Monday held closing arguments in the Woodburn bank bombing case. Father and son, Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, on trial for aggravated murder for building and planting a bomb that killed two police officers and critically injured a third. Matt Kemmy with the State reminded the jury of evidence seized in the case; showing graphic photos of the officers' mangled bodies. Defense attorneys argued the State refused to acknowledge Trooper Bill Hakim's fatal mistakes while examining the device. They also said the State exaggerated comments made decades ago to vilify Bruce Turnidge. Joshua Turnidge's attorneys maintain he did not know of any plot to bomb a bank, despite his purchase of items connected to the case.

Kitzhaber's Budget Plan


Incoming Governor John Kitzhaber says his budget's top priority is helping children.  Because kids who have an education are less likely to need state services when they grow up.  Kitzhaber says bridging the State's $3.5 billion budget gap will require pay and benefit cuts for state workers, collecting more unpaid taxes and implementing recommendations from state audits.

Oregon Homeowners Can Get Help


Help is on the way for 5000 Oregon homeowners having trouble paying their mortgages.  On December 10th, the Oregon Mortgage Assistance Program will start taking applications.  Administrator Mike Caplan says the program is funded with $100-million.  Homeowners don't need to be behind on payments, only show a loss of income.  The deadline to apply is January 14th.  For more information go to: www.Oregonhomeowner.org.

Ducks Ready for Their Close-Up


This year's BCS Championship game has two teams that you don't normally see play for the national title; Oregon and Auburn. University of Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford says football fans are in for a treat.  Williford says over the next month he expects to be hit with requests from media around the country to get access to the team and its coaches.

Gas Prices Beginning to Rise


Nationally, gas prices are up nearly a dime a gallon and in Oregon gas prices are up two-cents at $3.03 a gallon.  Triple-A's Marie Dodds says Oregon's average is 12th highest in the country.  Washington's average of $3.14 is sixth highest.  Hawaii has the most expensive gas at $3.52 a gallon.  Here in Bend, the average is about three dollars a gallon.

The "Broken Trust" Program Can Help Some Victims


Money lost to the recession caused a lot of people to look for investments that would re-fill bank accounts. But what many people fell victim to investment fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon Lance Caldwell says 140 people in Oregon were hit by such frauds. The Oregonians were amount 120,000 victims nationwide identified through a federal operation called "Broken Trust".

Senator Merkley on Childhood Nutrition


The Childhood Nutrition Bill has passed both houses of Congress and is on its way to President Obama's desk for his signature. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill Thursday, while the Senate passed it back in August. The Bill aims to reduce childhood obesity and strengthen programs dedicated to improving child nutrition. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says the Bill will help put healthier food in our school cafeterias and will help millions of families who are struggling to provide school lunches and after school snacks for their kids.

Food Safety Warning


The holidays are a great time for meals, but you have to be careful how you handle the food so you don’t get sick. Food borne illness always takes a jump in December. Food safety experts say food that’s left out for more than a couple of hours probably should be thrown out.

The Perfect Christmas Tree


The search is on for the perfect Christmas tree.  Chal Landgren, at Oregon State University, says they think they found it in Turkey. It's called a Trojan Fir. It's a tree with several benefits. “That means they use fewer pesticides; they also aren't prone to root rot like the Nobel Fir.”  They'll plant these new trees and watch their growth over several years to see whether they'd make a good replacement for the Noble Fir.

Cutting Spending Will Be the New Normal


If they want to add spending, they have to cut spending. That’s what Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, as Chair of the Republican House Transition Team, says will be one of the new House rules. There will also be major changes in commemorative resolutions, which take up much of the time in Congress and for the first time ever, the Republicans will publish their internal rules online and they're encouraging the Democratic Party to do the same.

Security at OSU Campus Ready for Civil War


Oregon State University Security Director Jack Rogers says campus staff have met and talked about how to address potential problems related to a former student's allege involvement in the Portland bomb plot. He has seen no evidence of retaliation against Muslim students. He says officers are on duty 24/7 to address any security issues students might face - the campus safety phone number programmed on many students' cell phone. Right now, Rogers, his campus officers and state police assigned to the Corvallis campus are preparing for a massive influx of Ducks and Beavers football fans for Saturday’s Civil War Game.

Duck Fans Ready To Travel to Post Season Locations


Ducks fans are getting excited about the Civil War game, but beyond that is the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship. Triple A Travel is already prepared to get fans to the game in Glendale, Arizona. Travel Director, Doreen Loofburrow, says one package ready to book covers everything, including tickets if you need them. There are two other levels of travel packages available, including a same-day flight package. Booking now reserves a spot. Loofburrow adds if the Ducks don't make the BCS, they have a Rose Bowl package ready to go, too.

Unemployment Benefits Will End


Unemployment benefits will run out for millions of American workers now that Congress failed to pass an extension for another year. The Labor Department estimates that 635,000 people could lose all benefits by December 11th with more than 1.6 million losing them by Christmas. The Unemployment Bill, along with an extension of the Bush tax cuts, is among the hottest issues in the lame duck session of Congress that started on Monday. Extending unemployment benefits would have cost the country another $12 billion. The tax cut extension could cost $3.7 trillion over the next decade.

Kulongoski Recommends Cuts to PERs


Governor Kulongoski revises his recommendations to incoming state leadership on how to handle the State's budget crisis. It involves deeper cuts to Public Employees' Retirement Programs (PERs). Yes, Governor Ted Kulongoski says, they're recommending termination of a Public Employees Retirement Program that's similar to 401-K but the solution goes way beyond benefit reductions.  Kulongoski said the next legislature will have to act to stop deep rivers of debt that run well into 2015. And it includes significant reductions in state services. He said he expects incoming Governor Kitzhaber will use some of his reset cabinet's suggestion in planning the next budget.

Woodburn Bank Bombing Trial Fireworks


A fiery cross examination of a defense expert today at the Woodburn bank bombing trial. Prosecutors accuse Patrick Kennedy of exaggerating his credentials including his academic experience. Under cross, Kennedy stuck to his opinion that it was Trooper William Hakim's actions that caused the bomb to explode killing Hakim and another police officer. Closing arguments in the case are expected on Monday.

Eagle Point Boy Recovering from Kidnapping


A 17 year old boy in Jackson County is recovering after being kidnapped and at a remote home in Eagle Point. The home is a registered medical marijuana grow site. Andrea Carlson with the Jackson County Sheriffs Office says the boy was also beaten with a stick and ordered to dig a hole before being let go. Two men are now under arrest, charged with kidnapping and assault.

Army Corp of Engineers to Close Rivers


Three dams on the Columbia River system need something other than simple maintenance work. They will be replacing the downstream navigation lock gates starting in December. Scott Clemens with the Army Corps of Engineers says that is why the river will be closed. The work will cost more than $50-million. The Dalles and the John Day dams on the Columbia and the Monumental on the Snake River will be closed through next March for replacement of navigation locks. Usual river traffic will be put on trucks and trains.

Climate Change in Oregon


A new report shows how climate change will affect Oregon.  Phillip Mote, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, says we'll have fewer rainy summers. As temperatures rise, it'll affect the crops that can be grown in Oregon. It’ll also affect the types of animals and insects that can live in the state. Warmer temperatures might mean a lower snowpack, which could result in summer water shortages.

Oregon Pedestrian Deaths Rising


This is turning out to be a deadly year for Oregon pedestrians. We have the death toll from Julie Yip with the ODOT Safety Division: “Last year, w had 39 deaths. It was quite low last year. This year, as of 11/29/10, we were at 56 pedestrian deaths.”   That number changed again Tuesday morning when a Salem pedestrian was hit and killed. The death toll is now 57 with still a full month to go. Experts say poor visibility is often to blame in such accidents.

State GOP Wants a Recount in District Three


Oregon Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli wants a recount in District Three. Incumbent Alan Bates, a Democrat, has the lead in southern Oregon’s District three. He's ahead of Republican Dave Dotterrer by about 275 votes out of nearly 49,000 cast. Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli thinks it's a close enough race to call for a recount. If Dotterer managed to come out on top, power in the Senate could shift to Republican control. Senate Republican say they'll pay for the recount. Senate Democratic leader Ddiane Rosenbaum issued a statement saying Republicans are too hasty - the Secretary of State still not finalizing vote tallies. She also says bates is a clear winner in the race.

MADD's Red Ribbon Campaign Over the Holidays


Mothers Against Drunk Driving want you to be part of the tie one on for safety campaign. “It’s a red ribbon that we tie on antennas, tie on rear view mirrors as a notice to the public not to drink and drive.” MADD's Cathy Stromvig says it's a good reminder considering there is typically a lot more drinking around the holidays. Her brother was killed by a drunk driver 34 years ago.

Oregon Income Well Below Average


Oregon may be number one in a lot of things; like college football and quality of life. But when it comes to paychecks, the state is well below average. Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says Oregon's per capita personal income is $3500 a year less than the national average. Reasons include the high unemployment rate, and a much higher-than-average number of people working part time.

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