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Regional News Archives for 2011-02


Eek! Look at Those Gas Prices!


Gas prices are soaring.   Marie Dodds, at Triple-A, says it's all due to unrest in the Middle East, and specifically what's happening in Libya. Diesel prices in Oregon also increased 14-cents a gallon to $3.83. Hawaii has the highest average at $3.77 a gallon; California is second at $3.76. You'll pay an average of about $3.43 in Bend this week. 

 

 

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State Schools Admission Policy Could Change


The Oregon Board of Higher Education has approved a new admission plan to help students get into the seven State universities. Sona Andrews is Vice Chancellor for Academic Strategies: “A student now doesn’t have to go look at everybody’s admission criteria to understand that they’re actually going to be able to be admitted.” Students still have to apply to the different universities, but will be admitted to at least one with their qualifications.   She says students need a 3.4 or higher GPA and high proficiency in state levels of reading, writing and math to qualify.

 

 

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Grammy Winner Tutors PSU Students


Grammy Award winning Esperanza Spalding comes home. She visited her alma mater, Portland State University, where she worked with jazz students. The Opposite Sextet, all young women, played one of Esperanza Spalding's songs and waited for criticism. She gave it, saying they had a lot of work to do. But that's a good thing. Spalding says she learned to take criticism early in her career, because getting the criticism later on has heavier consequences. PSU student Elysia Strauss says it was interesting to get Spalding's perspective. 

 

 

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U of O Contributes More Than Brains to the State


A new study shows the University of Oregon is worth nearly $2-billion to the State's economy. U of O Economist Tim Duy says the State gets its money's worth: for every dollar the State spends in appropriations, we’re able to translate that into a little over $33.” The U of O brought in $135-million in out of State research money last year. 13,000 jobs in Oregon are indirectly affected by the University's business.

 

 

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New Bill Will Centralize Business Licensing on the Web


The Oregon Senate Business and Economic Development Committee heard testimony on a Bill that would set up a framework to centralize not just state business permitting and licensing services, but City and County services, too. Senator Diane Rosenbaum, a Portland Democrat, says the website would be designed to make it easier to start up a business. Secretary of State Kate Brown testified in support of the Bill, saying government should not stand in the way of small business development.

 

 

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Higher Blend of Biodiesel Will Be the Norm Soon


Something new is coming to the pumps for drivers using biodiesel fuel in Oregon.  Stephanie Page,with the State Department of Agriculture says beginning April 1st, most of the diesel sold in Oregon will be required to be a 5% biodiesel blend. A year ago the State required 2% blend which proved to be popular with drivers despite some early problems with gelling in cold weather.

 

 

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Kyron Horman Case Still Very Active


Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton says the Kyron Horman Task Force will reassess the investigation in June, a year after the boy disappeared from Skyline School in northwest Portland. In a briefing to County Commissioners, Mulnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton says he's talked with the leads on the Kyron Horman investigation and believe they have a strong investigation at this time. The FBI is dedicating up to six agents to the case. Staton says the additional help is welcome. The case has cost the Sheriff's office more than $1.4 million so far. They've investigated more than 4300 tips without naming a suspect.

 

 

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Medical Marijuana Law Could Get Some Tweaks


There’s a new battle over Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Law. A Bill in the State House would revoke the card of anyone with a past felony drug conviction. Opponent Robert Wolf says the proposed change would punish citizens who have been convicted of a past felony and have served their time but are now sick or perhaps dying. But supporters say Oregon voters never intended to allow convicted drug criminals to legally possess and use marijuana. Other Bills would cut down on the amount of pot a cardholder may possess, and narrow the health conditions for which a card can be issued.

 

 

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First Home Car Charger Installed


A Beaverton family is one of the first in the area to receive a high-speed electric vehicle charger in their garage. David Hopper has about 900 miles on his new Nissan Leaf and says he'll never go back to gas-powered cars. “Ecotality” is installing Blink Chargers; like the one in Hopper's garage, in 50 Beaverton-area homes, and more than 1100 throughout the Willamette Valley, Eugene and Corvallis. Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle says the next step is making charging more convenient. Hopper drives his Nissan Leaf around town. When more charging stations are available, his family will stop relying on a gas-fueled car for longer trips. The charger station roll-out is partially funded by funds from the federal government.

 

 

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Tri-Met Bus Driver Caught Speeding and More


A Tri-Met bus driver was caught speeding on Highway 30. William Haraldsen, 48, was also cited for driving erratically tailgating and not having a valid commercial license. Tri-Met's Mary Fetsch says they're normally notified when a license is expired or suspended. Fetsch says Haroldsen's license had a sticker over the expiration date, but it still wasn't valid. Haroldsen is off duty while an investigation is conducted. Videos from the bus are being reviewed and they're trying to figure out why DMV didn't notify them about the expired license.

 

 

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Kurt Schrader Predicts Government Shutdown


Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader makes a prediction: he expects Congress will fail to agree on a deal to continue funding the government past March 4. He says voters expect both parties to compromise, but he doesn't see it happening. He says he’s very concerned that the Republican leaderships’ being hijacked by the extreme right. But, Shrader says his fellow Democrats need to give a little, as well, saying the message of the November election is that voters want Congress to cut government spending.

 

 

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Church Sued for Sex Abuse


A $5.25-millionsex abuse lawsuit has been filed in Portland against the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Attorney Steve Crew says the church failed to remove youth program leader Leslie Bovee after their client reported the first incident of abuse in the 1970's. They say their client was again abused and that Bovee was later convicted of abusing other boys.

 

 

 

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Salem-Keizer Schools to Cut Positions


The Salem-Keizer School District may have to cut 400 positions. The Statesman Journal reports that Superintendent Sandy Husk says that'll include teachers. Some schools may have to close; and sports programs are in question. Salem-Keizer's General Fund is expected to shrink $23-million, federal stimulus money is ending and retirement costs are expected to soar.

 

 

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Kitzhaber Taps Portland Official for Post


A Chief Operating Officer for Metro, a regional government agency overseeing land-use in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties will soon do the same job on the state level. Michael Jordan has been working with the Metro Council to improve efficiency at Metro for eight years. Now, Governor John Kitzhaber has chosen him to help find savings and streamline state agencies and services. He says he can see overlap without digging very deep. Jordan reports for duty in late March.

 

 

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Cold Case Finally Solved


Justice is sweet...no matter how long it takes. Portland’s Cold Case Squad finally cracked the case of the 1963 murder of Mary Reid. She was just 22 years old and working as a nurse when she was killed. Her brother, Joe says that he felt a burden had been lifted when he got the news. Joe says he always suspected Johnny Lawrence of the murder. It’s unknown if the suspect is even still alive. There are unconfirmed reports he died in a bar fight in Missouri.

 

 

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Gas Prices Affected by Libyan Unrest


Unrest in the Middle East is now affecting our gas prices. Marie Dodds, with the Triple-A says the average price for gas is up significantly, with an average of $3.35. Diesel prices are up too. In Oregon, the average for diesel is up 6-cents a gallon to $3.69. Dodds says that if crude oil prices don't drop, you'll continue to see gas prices rise. Bend's average is about $3.32 this week.

 

 

 

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Wu Admits Problems on Good Morning America This Morning


Speaking for the first time about the allegations of bizarre behavior that left to over a half dozen staff members resigning, Oregon Congressman David Wu confirms he did e-mail pictures of himself to campaign staffers last fall in the run-up to the November election. Wu tells Good Morning America he is now receiving counseling and medication. He says he is up to the job of representing the First Congressional District. Wu is now his own treasurer after Lesley Bennet left. Over a half dozen staffers have resigned because of concerns about his behavior.

 

 

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Kicker Bill Getting Plenty of Support


Governor Kitzhaber’s Chief of Staff, Curtis Robinhold, was among those testifying before a special committee considering revamping the Income Tax Kicker Law. He told the 4 member panel the money is needed to balance a wobbly budget. He says its bad to be dependent on one source of revenue that creates volatility and jeopardized long term stable funding of key services. In tough economic times, State revenues fluctuate wildly an Oregon schools and health care systems suffer. The money would be put into a Rainy Day Fund. Kicker reform seems to have broad-based support among lawmakers, state employee unions and business groups.

 

 

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New Laws Will Affect Faith Healers


State Representative Carolyn Tomei, along with several others, gave testimony in support of House Bill 2721 Monday afternoon. Tomei authored the Bill, which will change Oregon law and no longer allow religious exemptions for parents whose children die in faith healing cases. Oregon is currently the only state in the country that allows those exemptions in cases of murder by neglect and first degree manslaughter. The Bill was heard without opposition, and should move next to the House for a vote.

 

 

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Victims of Domestic Abuse Looking for Help


In the struggle over scarce dollars in the Oregon Legislature, victims of domestic violence are urging lawmakers not to forget about them. Anastasia Papadapolous says she endured years of abuse. For example, her husband would lock her in a room, where no one could hear her, and beat her with a board having nails in it. She says her abuser was jailed, and her life was saved by Oregon’s system of victim advocates. She’s lobbying lawmakers to preserve the funding for shelters and other services.

 

 

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Debate Over the Columbia River Crossing


Debate over the Columbia River Crossing dominated a field Congressional hearing in Vancouver Monday.   David Madore, with Notolls.com, says a replacement bridge should be voted on. Outside the hearing, a large group calling themselves build the bridge says a new crossing is vital to the future. Heather Stuart is with the group. The House Committee that allocates transportation funding has two northwest members, Jamie Herrerra Beutler of Camas, and Springfield's Peter DeFazio.

 

 

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Snowboarder Says He Didn't Panic


Brantley Acree, 27 of Virginia is reported in good condition after being rescued off of Mount Hood. Acree, who was airlifted by a National Guard Helicopter had summited the mountain before getting lost in a snowstorm on the way down. He knew he'd have to spend the night. Acree was airlifted to the parking lot at Timberline Lodge. He was checked out by medical personnel and was in good condition.

 

 

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A Day to Honor Vietnam Vets


By a unanimous vote, the Oregon Senate approves March 30th as welcome home Vietnam Veterans Day in Oregon. “SB 74 recognized Oregon’s Vietnam Veterans, finally establishes a annual day for serving them. We’re finally say welcome home Vietnam Veterans.” Dallas Republican Brian Boquist says the honor is long overdue. Over 118,000 Oregonians served in Vietnam.

 

 

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"Davy Crockett" to be Dismantled


The Coast Guard's response to the derelict ship "Davy Crockett," stuck on the Columbia River is moving forward. They've gotten approval to tap into federal money under the oil spill liability fund. Lt. Charles Taylor with the Coast Guard says it's money that the Federal Government and the Coast Guard can tap into to use in the event that responsible parities are wither unwilling or unable to provide services to clean up on their own. He says a contracted salvage company will dismantle the ship over the next few weeks. Meanwhile a federal investigation into what led to the ship's sinking is underway.

 

 

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Sports Agents Under Scrutiny


Oregon lawmakers consider legislation designed to crack down on slick sports agents. Jeff Hawkins with the University of Oregon's Football Administration says a bill in the legislature would require an agent to notify a school if they meet with an athlete. It would also cement rules stating an athlete can't accept benefits or make an oral or written agreement for future representation. Bill Clever, also with U of O says, it would also allow the Department of Justice to enforce the rules, adding Senate Bill 5 would clearly prevent agents from giving athletes gift benefits and allows the schools to better educate students on the rules related to athletic representation. Senate President Peter Courtney supports the Bill, saying there are too many agents that prey on student athletes, forcing them into unfair agreements and setting the schools up for possible NCAA rule violations.

 

 

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More Women To Get Help With Cancer


More women would be treated for cancer under a bill in the Oregon Legislature.  The measure expands the eligibility of women for lifesaving breast and cervical cancer treatment. Chris McDonald of Susan G Komen for the Cure says the Bill would help about 150 more women a year. They’re currently excluded from coverage if their doctor isn't part of the state's official cancer program.

 

 

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Golden Gloves Winner Is Here in Bend


Jeremy Cham, 26, won his 4th in a row Oregon Golden Gloves Boxing Championship Saturday night. Cham fights in the 201-pound class for the Deschutes County Rocks Boxing Team here in Bend. He defeated Charles Manigo of Portland. The tournament was held at the Midtown Friday and Saturday night. Cham now advances to the Regional Golden Gloves Championships in Las Vegas.

 

 

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Obama Visits Oregon


President Barack Obama was expected to arrive in Oregon just after 10 a.m. this morning to tour Intel and advocate for National Investment in Education. Obama wants to spend more on education despite his call for a five-year freeze on other government spending. He says an educated work force will attract jobs and help the U.S. compete with the rest of the world. The budget proposal he unveiled this week seeks $13 billion more for education. Political analysts say his visit to politically friendly areas on the West Coast is partly designed to spotlight his focus on education and prod Republicans to support the higher spending. Republicans are pursuing steep spending cuts instead.

 

 

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Oregon Gets Funds for New Online Health Service


Oregon will get more than $48 million in federal funds to build a new Online Healthcare Exchange. It will allow people to compare, purchase and enroll in private health insurance plans. Oregon Senators Merkley and Wyden say these exchanges are the result of the 2010 Healthcare Act that allows individuals and small business owners to pool their purchasing power to negotiate lower rates. These funds will help the State build the technological infrastructure they need to provide the Online Healthcare Exchanges in 2014.

 

 

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State Employees Could Pay More to Medical


State employees might soon be paying larger co-pays for emergency room visits and non-life threatening surgeries, such as knee replacements and low-back surgeries. Public Employees Benefits Board Administrator Joan Kapowich says their health plans are facing a $10-million deficit. The Board will consider $100 co-pays for emergency room visits and $500 co-pays for those non-life threatening, expensive medical procedures. They’ll also look at increasing the co-pay schedule for prescription medications.

 

 

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DeFazio Still Critical of Obama's Budget Pan


When President Obama arrives in Oregon today, he'll be in the home state of a leading critic within the Democratic Party. Congressman Peter DeFazio says the President's too shy about taxes, saying “We are going to collect 15% of our gross domestic product in taxes this year, which is the lowest level since Dwight D. Eisenhower.” DeFazio says that both Obama and Congress are failing to realize that solving the deficit requires that everything be on the table, including higher taxes, entitlements, and the Pentagon.

 

 

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Death With Dignity Topic of Award Winning Film


Oregon’s Death with Dignity law is the focus of the new HBO documentary, "How to Die in Oregon." Director Peter Richardson was determined to get the film made., saying he felt it was an issue that was dormant for too many years and it was time to revisit it in more in-depth way. The film won the Grand Jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It screens at the Portland International Film Festival this weekend. It can also be seen on HBO May 26th at 8 pm.

 

 

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Four Indicted for Medicaid Fraud


Four people have been indicted for a Medicaid fraud scam. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney Generals Office, says a Newberg woman acted as the patient. Then three home healthcare workers helped her defraud the Medicaid Program. All four people face multiple counts of theft and making a false claim for health care payments. The seven-month investigation is part of an ongoing effort by the Oregon Attorney General to stop health care fraud.

 

 

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House Bill Will Help Farmer's Market Vendors


Local growers will be able to keep selling their fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets without State inspection if House Bill 23-36 continues to move through the Oregon Legislature. The Bill's designed to clarify rules related to food safety. Hood River Republican Mark Johnson opposes it; asking why farmers that produce a little shouldn't be required to follow the same rules as farmers who produce a lot. Supporters say the products on the list, including nuts, seeds and honey, do not pose much risk of causing food related illness and the growers are easy to find if there is a problem.

 

 

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Kitzhaber Has A Plan to Make Oregon More Biz Friendly


Governor John Kitzhaber meets with local leaders in manufacturing on Swan Island today to discuss ways to make Oregon more business-friendly to spur job growth. The Governor says he's pitching legislation that would protect high-density industrial land from low-density sprawl. The Governor is also telling business leaders about his capital gains rollover proposal designed to provide another incentive for Oregonians to reinvest in job-creating ventures.

 

 

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Oregon Food Bank Starts Healthy Program


Bank of America President Roger Binshaw announces a $50,000 donation to the Oregon Food Bank to help kick off their new Healthy Food Program. The money is being used to purchase fresh produce and canned and boxed items with less salt and fat. Those items will go into food boxes for needy families across the region.

 

 

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Bill Would Allow Cities to Close Bars for Violence


Cities in Oregon may get the power to immediately shut down bars for 72 hours when violence occurs. That’s the goal of a bill co-sponsored by Portland State Representative Tina Kotek: “This is a Bill that tries and will, if passed, connect public safety with liquor licenses in the State of Oregon in a way that’s going to keep out community safe.” Two Democrats and two Republicans are sponsoring the Bill, which follows the New Years’ shooting of a bouncer at a bar in downtown Portland.

 

 

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Too Much Perfume Raises A Stink


The City of Portland is implementing a policy that asks employees not to wear perfume and colognes. Gerry Jenkins is a 20-year City employee and has a severe allergic sensitivity to multiple chemicals. She experiences extreme fatigue, chronic dizziness, chronic, sorta brain fog; burning in her eyes, burning in her nose and headaches. Her fellow employees all agreed to stop wearing scents and her problems went away. The policy will set up a way employees can go to managers to discuss issues with other employees. It’s not a ban and there is no discipline for employees who don't follow the guidelines.

 

 

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Hospital Death Explained


The man who died in the parking lot of Adventist Medical Center last week was alone in his car for 22 minutes before anybody noticed. Hospital CEO Tom Russell says they have security cameras in place, but it was still hard to spot. Russell says a police car also drove by the victim's car without noticing. An AMR paramedic who responded to the parking lot says the 61 year old victim already was dying. Police officers were attempting CPR. The hospital defended its response but said communication with police officers on the scene could have been better.

 

 

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Another Lawsuit Against the Scouts


Another lawsuit has been filed against the Cascade Chapter of the Boy Scouts. Portland attorneys Kelly Clark and Paul Mones say their client was sexually abused by Scout Leader James Hogan in the 80's. They allege the Scouts knew about Hogan's history of bad behavior that dated back to the 60's. Clark says, when the case goes to trial, they'll refer to a huge file of abuse reports maintained by the Scouts that Clark calls "the perversion files."   The attorneys are waiting to hear from the Supreme Court about whether those files will be released to the public. Their client seeks $5.2-million in damages related to the abuse.

 

 

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Oregon AG Sues Charities Targeting Military Members


The founder of two Oregon based charities is being sued by the Oregon Attorney General. Gregory Warnock is accused of keeping nearly $700,000. Tony Green, in the Attorney General's Office, says Warnock is also accused of making the false claim that "military family support" had been granted charitable status by the IRS, and that the group Oregon War Veterans Association made unreported political contributions.

 

 

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Bill Could Tighten Restraints on Students


A bill in the Oregon Legislature would tighten restrictions on when schools can put students in restraints.  Michael German says when his son Connor acted out and needed to be restrained, it was difficult getting answers from the District. He says first they didn’t respond to them and then they didn’t want to help them. The group "Disability Rights Oregon" says not all states keep track of schools that use restraints on students.  But of those that do, Oregon ranks near the top. Oregon tightened laws in 2007. This bill would limit the type of restraints and require better notification for parents.

 

 

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Closing the Gap on Election Laws


Oregon lawmakers are doing more work to close loopholes in State Election Law.  Elana Guinea, an investigator for the Secretary of State's Office, says one bill up for consideration would create a hotline, allowing anonymous complaints about the referendum and initiative process. Right now, only signed complaints may be issued. It would also allow the Bureau of Labor and Industries to provide investigators with more payroll information on initiative gatherers, so investigators can make sure they are getting paid properly.

 

 

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Immunization Deadline is Tuesday


It’s time for children to get their shots. Oregon parents have until Wednesday to bring their immunization records up to date; otherwise their kids will be kept out of school or day care. There are exceptions, according to Stacy Daya-Seese Matthews of Oregon Public Health: “Parents with a strongly held belief against immunization can sign a religious exemption, but they need to understand that there is a risk that their child could be excluded from school in case of a disease outbreak.” About 5000 kids were barred from school or day care a year ago because they didn't meet the deadline. Tune in to KBND Tuesday for Take Five at 7:20, 12:20 and 5:20, as the topic will be the controversy about immunizations.

 

 

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Warm Springs Casino Could Move


The Warm Springs Tribe wants to move its casino. Tribal spokesman Len Bergstein says it would be a temporary move to the town of Warm Springs. The Tribe eventually wants the casino to be built in the town of Cascade Locks. Putting the casino along Highway 26 could generate an additional $20-million a year. The State would need to approve the move before it could happen.

 

 

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Governor Kitzhaber Focusing on Education


Governor John Kitzhaber issues an executive order that calls for formation of Oregon Education Investment Board to create a seamless, performance-based grades zero to 20 education system. A team will develop a strategy to ensure accountability throughout the system, so no school district or student will be left behind regardless of location, age or size of school.   The team will be required to issue a report on their plan by the end of May.

 

 

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Importing Firewood Could be A Violation


A proposed Oregon law would fine violators up to $10,000 if you bring out of state firewood into Oregon without treating or labeling to prove where it came from. Dan Hilburn with the Oregon Agricultural Department points to the case of a Michigan man who camped in Oregon and was using firewood from his home state. The firewood was infested with the emerald ash borer a destructive beetle.

 

 

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Homebrew Laws Could Change


A re-examination of Oregon Liquor Laws put an end to home brewing and winemaking competitions and club meetings last year. But the Oregon Legislature is considering a bill that would change that. Jack and Sheryl Lynch of Polk County used to meet with friends at local vineyards to craft their own wine with the help of experts until the new interpretation of the law put them in a bind. The current law also forced an end to the long-standing tradition of homemade wine and beer competitions and tastings at the Oregon State Fair.

 

 

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Cat Found Near Death in Storage Unit


Oregon Humane Society investigators were called to a storage unit in Oregon City after the owners found a male orange tabby cat locked in the unit and tied to a grocery cart. The cat was nearly lifeless, and had not eaten in about a month. David Lytle with OHS says they're trying to find the owner, but they fear it is a homeless person. Lytle says the owner faces first and second degree animal neglect charges. The cat is making a slow recovery in their medical facility.

 

 

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Those Who Qualify of Mortgage Help Will Get Notified Today


It won't help everybody who's facing foreclosure, but the state announced Thursday that over 5000 homeowners will get a bailout from the new Mortgage Payment Assistance Program. Director Michael Kaplan say the money comes from the federal 'TARP' program. It'll pay a year's mortgage or $20,000, whichever comes first.  Applications closed in January.

 

 

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Ferroli Angers Wolf Supporters


A leader in the Oregon Legislature is taking heat for his response to foreigners who gave their opinion protecting wolves. State Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli says he doesn't need any advice from foreigners about protecting wolves. He sent a blunt reply to a South African singer living in Greece when she wrote him about keeping wolves on the endangered species list. Ferrioli says input from European union residents make no difference to him, and that he should be writing EU Ministers to stop bailing out Greece because he says it's a ``haven for morons.''  The Oregonian reports that wolf advocates from around the world are demanding an apology. Ferrioli says he's ignoring them.  But, as of this morning, Ferrioli has a – somewhat -change of heart and says “I offer my sincere apology to the citizens of Greek extraction wherever they may reside.”

 

 

 

 

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Oregon Legislature Considering Concealed Handgun Policy


The Oregon Legislature is considering whether the names of concealed handgun license holders should be public information. A bill in the House Judiciary Committee would exempt permit holders from public record laws. Penny Okomoto with Cease-Fire Oregon opposes the bill, saying Oregonians are safer knowing where the guns are. But sheriffs throughout the state say the opposite may be true; that more people will be put at risk if the personal information included in the permit applications is available to the public because people may try to steal the guns, or steal gun-holders' identities.

 

 

 

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Boot Ban Could Be Passed


The Oregon Invasive Species Council is hoping the Oregon Legislature will pass a ban felt-soled boots and waders. The felt is porous and can absorb and release algae and other organisms that threaten Oregon's marine environment. Representative Mike Schaufler says he supports the idea because invasive species is a big, big problem. Other states are considering similar bans and some manufacturers in the sporting industry are stopping production the boots in favor of other non-slip materials. If passed, the ban would go into effect in 2015.

 

 

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Fewer Oregonians Killed in Traffic Accidents in 2010


Good news and bad news when it comes to traffic safety. Fewer Oregonians died in traffic crashes in 2010 compared to the year before. But more pedestrians were killed on Oregon roads. In 2010, 62 pedestrians died, 39 the year before. Shelley Snow with ODOT says the increase does not correlate traffic growth. The good news: the number of people who died in car crashes is the lowest its been since 1945. 325 fatalities were documented by ODOT in 2010, a 13% reduction compared to 2009.

 

 

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Water Levels About Average


January rains washed away a lot of the low elevation snow in the mountains. That snow is part of the water supply for the state this summer. Jon Lea with the USDA tracks the future water supply and says: “With less snow up in the mountain to produce runoff later on when it melts, then the forecast a little bit.” From January 1st to February 1st, Lea says the water supply outlook went from "well above average" to "average" across the state. With more winter on the way, he says we still have time to build back what was lost.

 

 

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The Oregon Department of Energy Could Become Obsolete


A new bill in Salem would break up the Oregon Department of Energy; sending some responsibilities to the Public Utility Commission and others to the Oregon Business Development Department. Representative Jules Bailey says it would also set up an Office of Energy, Siting and Planning, with specific jobs. He says the idea for the bill came after talks with business about the current, confusing system for moving into Oregon. The current system slows licensing by having various agencies that duplicate each other.

 

 

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Schools May be Able to 'Opt-Out' of ESD


A proposed law would allow Oregon school districts to opt-out of Education Service Districts. Ozzie Rose with the Oregon Association of ESD’s says they oppose the legislation. Doug Dalton with the eastern Oregon's Pine Eagle School District has been working under the terms of the proposed legislation for a while. They say it allows them to hire local, private firms that can offer services for less. The proposal's part of the Governor’s plan to streamline education services.

 

 

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Oregon Teen Caught Filming in Girls Locker Room


Members of the St. Paul High School Girls Basketball Team and their parents have received some disturbing news. At the Marion County Sheriff's Office Don Thomson says an investigation was started when the principal called deputies saying they had caught a 14 year old male student after he hid a cell phone camera in the locker room that was used by the basket ball team. Deputies have identified the suspect and are now trying to determine who else may have seen the video. The boy could face a variety of charges.

 

 

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Plastic Bags Controversy Continues Today


Oregon legislators hear public testimony on a proposal to require shoppers to pay five cents per plastic bag at the checkout or bring their own bags. Proponents say the bags harm the environments and are too difficult to recycle. Senator Jason Atkinson, a Republican, supports the Bill for environmental and economic reasons.

Opponents of the Bill say reusable bags can be unsanitary and limit consumer choice.  The also claim many of the reusable bags being purchased by shoppers are made with toxic levels of lead that isn't found in the plastic bags used at grocery stores. At least one more public hearing will be held before the bill goes to a Senate floor vote.

 

 

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Many Oregon Business Owners Like Kitzhaber's Budget


Oregon business owners are starting to see a change in the economy.  Ryan Deckert, with the Oregon Business Association, says some businesses are starting to add jobs, and manufacturers are seeing more orders. He says they like the Governor's proposed budget. And he hopes lawmakers continue to make education funding a priority.

 

 

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DeFazio Critical of Obama's Timing for High Speed Rail


Harsh words for President Obama from fellow Democrat Peter DeFazio. The Oregon Congressman says he's angry that the Administration is only now proposing high speed rail. DeFazio says he was snubbed when he pushed the same idea a year ago and now, he says, it's too late. DeFazio says the Administration's rail proposal leaves out the billions of dollars needed to repair existing roads and bridges.

 

 

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Lottery Officials Looking at Janzen Beach Retailers


A Janzen Beach mini-casino of sorts has gotten the attention of Oregon Lottery officials. Chuck Bauman with Lottery says owners of the 12 establishments are following the rules, operating no more than six video poker machines in each business.  But a few of the businesses share the same owners and are practically identical to the ones next door. Some neighbors say the concentration of video poker machines violates the State's restrictions on private casinos and attracts crime.  The Commission will consider the proximity of the shops.

Much of the Jantzen Beach Lottery retailers' business comes from Washington where video poker is not offered outside of casinos.

 

 

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E-Cycling Program Continues to Grow


Oregon’s E-Cycling program is growing.  Lathy Kiwala is the Program Administrator for the Department of Environmental Quality and says they now have more than 250 collection sites around the state. When it started 2 years ago, it was very limited with just a few locations on the west side of the Cascades. 2010 saw a 27% increase in the amount of material turned in. Kiwala says the increase is due to several factors, including more awareness of the program.

 

 

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Gas Prices on the Rise – Again


The average price of gas in Oregon increased 3¢ last week to $3.24 a gallon.  But Marie Dodds, at the Triple-A, says prices are expected to level out, or even drop soon. There were concerns the unrest in Egypt could cause prices to rise but that doesn't appear to be happening. The price of diesel in Oregon did increase last week 8-cents a gallon to $3.57.  In Bend, the average is about $3.18 for regular gas.

 

 

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Disaster Training in Oregon


It’s great training for when real disaster hits. Over 100 people from various police fire and military agencies are participating in a week long drill at Camp Rilea. Captain Stephen Bomar with the Oregon Military Department says the scenarios include responses to chemical biological and nuclear attacks or even just reports of suspicious white powder. 

 

 

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Three Flags Seatbelt Enforcement Underway


It's an annual campaign, but Shelley Snow with the Oregon Department of Transportation says some people are still missing the message. Snow says they'll be focusing the most on children being properly restrained either in car seats, booster seats or with the regular car seat belt system. A third of the children injured or killed in crashes last year in Oregon were using adult seatbelts, and not the proper child safety seats. The campaign runs through the 20th with law enforcement looking for violations across the state.   For tips, go to: www.childsafetyseat.org

 

 

 

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Green River Charged with 49th Death


Green River killer Gary Ridgeway is charged with killing yet another woman in the Seattle area during the 1980's. Ridgeway was questioned about Becky Marrero’s disappearance in 2003 when he struck a plea deal. Marrero’s remains were recently discovered in the woods near Auburn, Washington. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says Ridgeway will not face the death penalty because of that plea deal. Ridgeway is expected to plead guilty to her murder next week.

 

 

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Bike Signals Could Become a Reality


The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill that will allow ODOT to use bike-only traffic signals throughout the State. Peter Kuntz with the Portland Bureau of Transportation says there are six locations where the signals are in use in the City, designed to provide a guarded opportunity to bikes to travel without competing with cars. Cyclists say the signals clear up confusion over who has the right-of-way in high-traffic areas.

 

 

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Two Teens Die in Ocean Mishap


Two Eugene-area teenagers died Saturday afternoon near the small coastal town of Yachats when they were swept off of a rocky outcropping into the ocean and drowned.   The bodies of Connor Gregory Ausland, 18,  and Jack Harnsongkram, 17, have been recovered. Both victims were students at South Eugene High School, and were visiting the area with several fellow students and adults.

 

 

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Teen Wrestler Dies After Match


A 17-year-old wrestler from Dallas High School died during a meet Thursday night at Silverton High School. Charley Engelfried won his match and was walking off the mat when he collapsed. Scott McCloud, interim Principal at Dallas High School says Charley was a great kid. Besides wrestling; Charley was an offensive lineman on the football team and a shot putter on the track team. Counselors were brought in to help students and staff. The cause of death determined by the medical examiner was an enlarged heart and arrhythmia.

 

 

 

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Texting Law Will Be Introduced


A Salem lawmaker says Oregon’s law preventing use of a mobile device while driving isn't specific enough.   Salem Republican Vicki Berger points to a recent fatal accident in Salem; a man allegedly texting while driving, hitting a pedestrian:  “Maybe we didn’t make it explicit enough, that this is unacceptable.” Current law makes use of a handheld mobile device while driving illegal, but provides exceptions for people who are on the job. But Berger says there are legitimate reasons for talking on a phone while driving.  But there's no reason to text. “Such terrible danger. We need to just say ‘Don’t do it- it’s against the law,’ says Berger. The proposal is being drafted now.

 

 

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Davey Crockett Leveled for Investigation


Since the Coast Guard was alerted to the sheen last week, little fuel has leaked from the Davy Crockett. Coast Guard Captain Doug Kaup says they've leveled the troubled ship on the river bed so divers can safely enter the craft and determine where fuel may be stored and what to do next. Jim Sachet with the Washington Department of Ecology says the oil sheen isn't the biggest problem because it will dissipate quickly. It the toxic poly-chlorinated biphenyl, PCBS. 

 

 

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The 'Kicker' Law Could Change in 2011


This may be the year Oregon lawmakers change the kicker law. State Economist Tom Potiowski says he's a big fan of keeping at least some extra revenue for hard times.  He wants the State to get in the habit of saving in the good times and then use that money in the bad times.   There are several bills in the Legislature that would modify the kicker, which has been part of the Oregon Constitution for the past twelve years.

 

 

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AG's Office Warns of Debt Scammers


Scammers posing as debt collectors are using clever tactics to sound more convincing to their victims. They frequently use fake phone numbers and official business names. The do research so they will know a social security number or a home email address.  Tony Green in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says they've received lots of calls lately about these types of scams.  To report one, or get more assistance call the State's Consumer Hotline: 877-877-9392.

 

 

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Economic Growth in Oregon


Oregon’s Economy continues to improve. University of Oregon Economist Tim Duy says growth in December erased all of the losses over the summer: “There was improvement in the labor market. There also was improvement in capital goods orders; core manufacturing orders, and that will certain filter through to Oregon manufacturers.” Duy says it appears the risk of a double dip recession has passed.

 

 

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Defazio Wants E-Verification for all Workers


Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is pushing a bill that would establish an E-verify system to make sure all workers are here legally. The bill would also fine employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. He says he expects a major fight from the agricultural industry as the industry has killed previous efforts.  The bill would be phased in over six years.

 

 

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Kitzhaber Defends Budget


With Oregon’s budget crisis, some are calling for more scrutiny of those receiving State benefits such as unemployment and food stamps. Governor John Kitzhaber doesn't agree because he says it’s just a product of a poor economy. School advocates say Kitzhaber's budget isn't nearly enough for schools. Kitzhaber says savings can be found in schools by finding efficiencies, such as combining services. He also wants to establish an Education Investment Board to oversee spending on education programs.  Kitzhaber unveiled his budget proposal earlier his week that would close a $3.5 billion budget deficit.

 

 

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Merkley Blasts Violence in Egypt


Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is disturbed by the escalating violence against the peaceful protestors in Egypt.  He told fellow Senators today the U.S. must send a stronger message: “But let it be noted, by all who would care to listen., that citizens of the United States of America are not going to stand by and support a government that is attacking peaceful demonstrators in a square in Cairo. So if we see a repeat of this violence, America must send a very strong message there will be no further aid to the Mubarak government.” Merkley says the U.S. should help ensure peaceful protests continue, so Egypt can move toward free and fair elections.

 

 

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An Early Spring?


A slight overcast sky at the Oregon Zoo Tuesday, and Jabari the African Hedgehog did not see his shadow. Zoo Director, Kim Smith, helped the little guy make his prediction: he agrees with Punxsutawney Phil, he didn’t see his shadow so there will be an early spring. Smith says hedgehogs were traditionally used as weather predictors in Europe, so that's why it's Jabari's job to give his annual forecast.

 

 

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Reaction to the Governor's Budget


The budget that Governor Kitzhaber unveiled Tuesday calls for an 8% overall spending increase, but no new taxes. But many State programs and agencies slated for cuts show up in the fine print. For human services, the Governor is suggesting 40% less money than what agencies say they need. Janet Byrd, with Neighborhood Partnerships says with all the recent belt tightening, these cuts could be too much too soon. "Those are the kinds of things that, if we don't increase them to meet the surge in demand, I worry that so many people are just going to fall further behind before we have a chance for these structural changes to help people." Byrd adds that Kitzhaber also proposes spending more money on early childhood education, but less on education overall.

 

 

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Governor Kitzhaber Delivers His Budget


In his proposed budget, Governor John Kitzhaber says he wants to move forward with some early actions for short term job creation; developing flexible financing operations to retrofit schools for energy efficiency. His plan calls for aided the biomass industry and stepping up the workforce development efforts in reconnecting Oregonians with high-demand jobs. The Governor said the only area he has increased funding is early childhood programs; with the long-term goal of saving money by keeping Oregonians out of the Justice System.

 

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Reaction to Kitzhabers' Budget Generally Positive


With a huge budget deficit and an evenly divided Legislature, they're off to a friendly start in the Oregon Legislature. Representative Peter Buckely says both parties agreed finding new ways to fund education is key to the State's success.   Republican and Democratic leaders alike say they like what they see in Governor John Kitzhaber's proposed budget, which requires streamlining state services. The budget is posted on the Governor's website.

 

 

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Moving an Old Barge from the Columbia


1400 gallons of oil have been collected from the rusting hulk of a barge that's grounded east of Vancouver in the Columbia River. Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker says they're getting the oil from two places. The back end of the barge is being flooded to make it stable, so divers can inspect tanks inside the vessel. They don't know how much oil is inside.  The owners eventually want to cut it up for scrap.

 

 

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Electric Cars Could Be Charged a Fee


Electric cars in Oregon may be hit with a mileage charge, under a bill in the State Legislature.  The .006 cents a mile fee would take the place of the gas tax that electric car owners don't pay and be designated for road maintenance. Marie Dodds at the Oregon Triple A, which favors the concept of the fee says an electric car being driven 15,000 miles would rack up $90 a year in mileage fees.

 

 

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Several Bills on the Legislature Docket Already


The Oregon Legislature is back at it today.   Public hearings on bills begin this week as lawmakers return to Salem to get to work. Governor John Kitzhaber outlines his 2011-2013 budget which is expected to show just how harsh a $3-billion deficit can be on public schools and social services. On the committee agendas are hearings on bills that would increase the fine for driving under the influence, create a new statewide provision for bike-only traffic signals, shore up rules related to raising chickens at home. But the top priority is the State budget shortfall and job growth;  the unemployment rate hovering near 10.5% for more than a year.

 

 

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Big Storm Affects PDX


A snowstorm that stretches from New Mexico to New England is frustrating travelers at Portland International Airport (P-D-X). Chicago and Dallas- Fort Worth were the hardest hit.  Kim Wright of Salem had her flight to Dallas-Fort @Worth delayed by ten hours. Several flights to Chicago have also been canceled due to the snowstorm there. Travel officials recommend you check with your carrier before heading out to the airport to catch your flight. Even flights in the west coast could be slowed due to the eastern storm.

 

 

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Oregon State Hospital Unclaimed Cremains


The Oregon State Hospital has posted a list of 3500 unclaimed cremated remains. Rebeka Gipson-King says the State has made some efforts to contact family in an effort to return the cremains but experienced difficultly finding relatives. The cremains are of people who died between 1914 and the 1970's while residing at any of the state's hospitals including Dammasch, Mid-Columbia, the Fairview Training Center or the State Penitentiary. The list is on the State hospital's website: click here.

 

 

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Port of Portland Future Looks Bright


The Port of Portland says it means a bright future for future trade and jobs. Four different road and rail projects will greatly increase capacity.  Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer says it's over $50 million in investments. The Port says vital to the projects being finished was cooperation between competing railway companies Burlington Northern and Union Pacific.

 

 

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Salem Legislators Tackle Budget Problems First


Oregon lawmakers return to the Capitol today faced with the job of balancing a budget that's $3.5 billion short. Republican Senator Bruce Starr says everything's on the table, including the Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentences. Starr says the priority for Senate Republicans is to create private sector jobs to pull the state out of its stalled economy. Also, today Governor Kitzhaber will deliver his budget to the Legislature.

 

 

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Weekly Gas Price Check


The price of gas held almost steady last week. Triple-A's Marie Dodds says diesel in Oregon was unchanged at $3.49 a gallon.  The unrest in Egypt is causing some crude oil futures to trade higher, but it doesn't look like it'll have an immediate impact on gas prices in the U.S.  The average here in Bend is about $3.17 this week.

 

 

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