Ranch owners are trying to convince lawmakers to give them more ways to stop the Canadian grey wolf from attacking their livestock; a problem they think will grow over the next decade. Bill Hoyt with the Oregon Cattlemen Association says the problem isn't huge in Oregon, not yet. Several bills in the House Agriculture Committee are related to Oregon’s Wolf Management Plan. More hearings will be held before the bills move to the House floor.
Getting help with problem gambling is the focus of a new ad campaign from the Oregon Lottery. Chuck Baumann says it's mainly targeted at women. He says the numbers of women who seek treatment are pretty low, and it's actually pretty easy to get help. The Problem Gambling Treatment folks have a number of ways they can talk to a problem gambler. There’s online chant, there’s the toll-free 1-877-my limit number. For more go to: www.oregonlottery.org
Oregon’s 40-year old Bottle Bill may get a makeover from lawmakers in Salem. Representative Ben Cannon wants to raise the deposit to a dime, because a nickel isn't what it was when the Bottle Bill took effect. Cannon and Republican Vickie Berger are co-sponsoring a bill. In addition to the deposit hike, the bill would also extend deposits to sports drinks, and teas.
All that clucking in the Oregon State Senate Tuesday was on a serious issue: the living conditions of egg laying hens in Oregon. Doctor Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society says keeping hens in typically small cages is unhealthy, often for humans. He says caged operations for laying hens have higher rates of salmonella and other problems, than do cage-free operations. Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill to enlarge hen cages. But the law would not take effect until 2026. More public testimony is scheduled.
Oregon Education Association President Gail Rasmussen encourages lawmakers to find new ways to increase funding for schools, including limits to tax breaks for corporations. Under the latest version of the State Schools Budget, the Portland Public School District projects a $29-million shortfall next year. They say that's the equivalent of 320 teaching positions across the District.
The Oregon Senate approves a bill that would give some Oregon students access to in-state tuition rates at public universities, even if those students are not legal residents of the State. Senate President Peter Courtney was one of 18 Senators who voted yes. Some opponents say the mandate to provide education for undocumented children should end with high school. The students must qualify meet the same academic standards as other students who apply for admission to the state schools and prove their English proficiency. The bill heads to the House for further consideration.
The latest version of the State budget keeps education funding the same, asking teachers and administrators to hold the line for another two years. Republican Representative Dennis Richardson says Oregon lawmakers hope to finalize the budget fast enough for school districts to plan. The budget includes big cuts to health care programs. Senator Richard Devlin, a Democrat, says it's necessary to avoid crippling cuts to a variety of other state services.
School Officials React to Decision
Oregon Education Association President Gail Rasmussen encourage lawmakers to find new ways to increase funding for schools, including limits to tax breaks for corporations. Under the latest version of the State Schools Budget, the Portland Public School District projects a $29-million shortfall next year. They say that's the equivalent of 320 teaching positions across the District.
Gert Boyle hopes to avoid a trial but the man accused of organizing a plan to kidnap the Columbia Sportswear founder in November refuses to take a plea deal; even though one of his accomplices pleaded guilty to several charges last week. Boyle's attorney Steven Unger says he doesn’t have any prediction. He’s hopeful Gert will be able to get through this without having to testify and that it will be resolved without a trial. Nestor Caballero Gutierrez, the accused ring leader, was animated and appeared angry during a closed-door settlement conference at Clackamas County. Jose Luis Arevalo will be sentenced after the other two suspects finalize their pleas.
Members of the Portland State University community gather at Smith Memorial Union for a vigil for Japan. Consul General of Japan, Takamichi Okabe, says the people of Japan know the road to recovery will be long. The Portland State University Foundation is accepting donations for recovery efforts in Japan.
A resolution to ask the federal government to fund a new I-5 Bridge shows how hard it is to bridge the pros and cons of the issue. Bernie Bottomley with the Portland Business Alliance says the bridge will be an economic boon. But economist Joe Cortwright has studied the bridge and doesn't think it is affordable. A second hearing on the resolution will be held today.
Northern California has been slammed by storms recently, causing thousands of power outages. Steve Courson with Portland General Electric says they're sending five crews to help restore outages. They're prepared for tough conditions and deep snow in some of the areas where the outages have occurred. PG&E pays for the crews. Crews are both on standby and engaged in helping the situation.
The Oregon Department of Education is urging lawmakers to approve Senate Bill 800. Cindy Hunt with the O.D.E. says the bill would remove 28 mandates, saving more money for the classroom where it's needed. The bill received it's first hearing in a Senate Committee.
The rules governing Oregon’s 16-million acres of national forests are being updated. Tom Knappenberger of the U.S. Forest Service they need to be able to adapt to the unexpected: “To make it more flexible and responsive to changing climates and conditions and other conditions on the ground; such as forest fires or volcanic eruptions.” Environmentalists say the proposed new rules don't do enough to protect wildlife habitat from development and logging.
Burlington Northern is mourning a death in the family; two deaths actually. Engineer Tom Kenny, 58, Conductor Trainee Christopher Loehr, 28, died when the van they were in was hit by a grain train outside Kelso. Gus Melonas with Burlington says They can’t begin to describe how difficult it is for everyone; they are like family. The third fatality was a driver; Steven Sebastian, 60. He worked for the company that transports Burlington employees. A 4th man is in critical condition at OHSU. The accident apparently happened when the van driver failed to see the oncoming train as he was crossing tracks outside the south Kelso yard ; why he might not have seen it is yet to be determined.
A big merger will affect an estimated 900,000 households in Oregon. Qwest is about to become Centrylink. Bob Valdez with the Oregon Public Utility commission says Oregon became the latest state to agree to the merger. As part of the agreement, merger costs cannot be passed onto customers.
A proposed law in the Oregon Legislature would limit the release of 911 call audio recordings to the media. Laura Wolf with Portland's Bureau of Emergency Communications says it is designed to protect victims from embarrassment. The calls often emotional and containing personal information. The ALCU and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters oppose the bill, arguing the change could limit public access to important information. There is an exception in the bill, allowing release without consent if it is in the public's best interest.
A former inmate at the northern Oregon Correctional Facility in the Dalles is suing the jail, alleging excessive force by a deputy. Chadwick Yancey says he was complaining about jail conditions to a Sergeant when a deputy slammed him against a wall. He says he had trouble bleeding and was afraid his teeth were gone. He says he remembers having a mouth full of blood and feeling shards of teeth in his mouth. The suit is calling for changes at the jail and is also asking for undetermined damages from a jury.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has just ruled that teeth cannot be called a dangerous weapon. The ruling stems from a 2008 Marion County case where a man bit off a portion of his neighbor's ear in a drunken brawl. His first-degree assault conviction no longer stands. Tony Green in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says the Attorney General is still considering whether to appeal the ruling. The man in this case still faces a second-degree assault charge.
A bill in the Oregon house rules committee would make it illegal for state legislators to take jobs in state government within a year of finishing their work as representatives or senators. Republican Bruce Hanna says “The Bill 3446 is important, so that Oregonians will be assured that legislators aren’t using their positions to obtain higher paying jobs in State government.” A similar bill that makes it illegal for legislators to work as lobbyists within a year passed during the 2010 special session.
Del Monte is recalling about 5000 cartons of cantaloupes for possible salmonella contamination. The cantaloupes were distributed in warehouse clubs in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. About a dozen cases of salmonella have been reported.
Flicking a cigarette butt on the ground could cost you $90-bucks if lawmakers pass a new proposal. A Senate Committee approved the measure yesterday. Opponents say they don't see why a new penalty should be created for different types of litter.
You’ll have to wait until Saturday for TurboTax to update its programs for Oregon. Lawmakers extended a bunch of tax breaks for college tuition and out-of-pocket teacher costs on March 8th, meaning, if you've already filed taxes, you'll need to do an amended return to get the deductions. Some customers are frustrated with TurboTax and have said they may not use them again next year. H & R Block at Home updated its programs on March 17th.
Oregon lawmakers voted in favor of extending state and federal unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their benefits. Republican Bill Gerrard says there are too many people in his District who are unemployed and voted yes. But he's worried about what happens with the unemployment insurance fund dries up. State benefits are extended by six weeks with this vote; federal benefits by about 20 weeks.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian visited the House Labor Committee to advocate for two bills designed to expand the State's "Equal Pay for Equal Work" wage-per-hour laws to all protected classes. Currently, the law prohibits wage discrimination based on gender. If passed, one bill would make it illegal to pay workers less for comparable work based on sexual orientation, color, race, religion or marital status. Another bill would add interns and unpaid employees to the list. The bill is backed by the Oregon Council on Civil Rights.
Oregon lawmakers are discussing a proposal that would allow the State to continue using noise to scare away sea lions that feed on loads of salmon on the Willamette River. Trey Karscadden with the Northwest Sport Fishing Industry Association says the sea lions aren't just a threat to fish, but a threat to fishermen. If approved in the Legislature, a House memorial would urge the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to allow the State to remove sea lions in any way necessary to protect fish in freshwater during salmon runs. Another public hearing will be scheduled.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is asking the President to declare a “State of Emergency” in Curry County. Rough waters caused by Japan's monstrous earthquake damaged boats and docks and put some business operations on hold at the Port of Brookings Harbor on Oregon’s south coast. Officials have estimated damages at $6.7 million and the Governor is requesting federal assistance for the area. The Governor's recovery cabinet, created last week, has already secured some assistance of the County, including $500,000 for to be used with FEMA funds to repair damage to the Port's docks. The State has also suspended the Port's debt payments and the Oregon Marine Board is working with the Port to identify equipment it needs to survey water depth.
The State of Oregon is making it easier for you to get inside information. The State's Lonn Hocklin says there's data from more than 60 sources. From contracts the state lets, to salaries of State employees. You can also comment on the data and ask for more. You can create charts, graphs and maps. The software, that's free to the State, allows you to share the information with others in a variety of ways. Data that not allowed under public records rules will not be made available. The website is: www.data.oregon.gov.
Despite a call by a group of Congressional leaders, a local Poli-Sci Professor doesn't think the President will be impeached over his decision for the U.S. to join military efforts in Libya. Portland State's Gary Malecha says this group, which includes Democrat Dennis Kucinich, is concerned the President acted outside the Constitution, approving action without Congressional support. But, he says there are many in Congress to who support the work that is being done in Libya, and not enough opposition to make an impeachment happen.
Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader supports the allied bombing campaign in Libya. He also says President Obama did not need Congressional approval, although he says that would change if ground forces were involved. Schrader hopes the bombing will help remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.
About 120,000 Oregonians who are customers of Health Net are receiving letters about a data breach that may put their personal information at risk. Cheryl Martinis at the Oregon Insurance Division says they first heard about it in February, but the breech occurred in January. Health Net is working to help customers protect their personal information. Martinis says in addition to the credit monitoring service the letter outlines other steps customers can take to protect their information. Martinis says they don’t believe Health Net is in violation of any law.
Oregon State University researchers say they're perfecting the next generation of nuclear reactors. Dr. Jose Reyes says they cool down naturally even if the power's knocked out, like it was in the Japanese earthquake. Dr. Reyes says that America needs a safe nuclear power supply system. They've tested a design at OSU that's now being built in China, and may be built soon in the U.S.
Oregon’s long term unemployed will get help under a bill passed by the Oregon Senate. Democratic Senator Joanne Verger says thousands of Oregonians have not been able to find work and have run out of unemployment benefits. Republican Senator Brian Boquist says the lifeline will help 50,000 Oregonians. But, he says simply extending benefits is not the answer. He says Oregon workers need to be re-trained, because in many cases the jobs they held before the recession no longer exist. The bill now moves to the House.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden says he supports the military action in Libya, noting the international coalition and U.N. support. However he has no interest in a prolonged war with ground troops. Wyden says he's been told by the President that the U.S. involvement is only expected to last a matter of days.
A proposal in the Oregon Legislature would send a question to voters: should communities be able to zone neighborhoods to block strip clubs and adult businesses? Greg Chaimov is President of the Milwaukie City Council, but testified in his capacity as a lawyer for the ACLU. He says laws to protect neighborhoods from bad business practices already exist; but this is a first amendment issue. Supporters of the proposal say land use laws already exist to protect neighborhoods from retail and industrial growth, and this would be a limited expansion of those laws. More public hearings will be held.
The average price for gas in Oregon increased last week nearly 4¢ a gallon to $3.68. The Triple-A's Marie Dodds says we could be paying $4 a gallon this summer. The unrest in the Middle East is the main reason prices are continuing to increase. Diesel increase 2¢ a gallon to $4.10. We have an average of about $3.65 in Bend right now.
Over a hundred University of Oregon students are experiencing a week of community service and learning as far away as New Orleans and the Dominican Republic. It's part of the U of O's Alternative Spring Break Program. Coordinator Morgan St. Jean says other groups are building trails in the Columbia Gorge and serving in a San Francisco soup kitchen. She says the program attracts more students every year.
A bill in the Oregon House is designed to reduce the market for shark fins. Shark fins are considered a delicacy in some cultures but animal activists say the way fins are collected is inhumane. Sharon Harmon with the Oregon Humane Society says her organization does not disagree with fishing or hunting. The bill would make it illegal to sell or trade shark fins in Oregon. A $120 fine is being considered, but some lawmakers wonder if the fee is enough to slow the practice of shark finning which, reportedly, can be quite lucrative. Opponents are concerned the ban could cause complications for researchers and fishers who accidentally catch shark. Another hearing will be held.
Oregon Senators are considering a bill that would require doctors to receive the latest information and training on breast health exams with an aim to improve early detection of cancer. A doctor missed a cancerous mass during Diane Palser's breast exam. A year later, a different doctor told the Portland resident she was right; it was a lump and almost immediately Palser had a mastectomy. She says her case is just one example of how a lack of training can impact a patient's life.
This is the time of year we're buying fertilizers and pesticides for yard work. Roland Maynard with the Oregon Department of Agriculture warns against storing chemicals in food or drink containers. He also says that many people buy too much product and then have trouble finding a safe place to dispose of it. And be careful about using more of the product than recommended, because it can end up doing more damage to your yard.
As engineers struggle to control the crippled nuclear reactors in Japan, an Oregon expert believes the odds are heavily against a catastrophic meltdown and massive radiation release: “At this point in time, I think that’s extraordinarily unlikely. Because they’ve managed to keep these things covered. It appears that the bulk of the containment structures are intact.” Kathry Higley is the head of OSU's Department of Nuclear Engineering. She says that if anybody can solve the problem, the Japanese can.
The State House has approved a bill that would prohibit public bodies from releasing information identifying those who are licensed to carry concealed handguns. The measure is sponsored by the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, whose president, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Burgin, says keeping gun ownership information private is "common decency." The measure would allow disclosure only by court order; consent of the permit holder, or for the purposes of criminal justice. The House favored the bill by a 42-18 vote, and the measure now moves to the Senate.
A controversial bill that would allow Oregon students brought to the U.S. illegally to pay in-state tuition is advanced by the Senate Education Committee. Under the measure, undocumented high school seniors who have lived in the state for the last three years would be able to pay in-state tuition at Oregon's seven public universities, rather than out-of-state tuition, which is three times higher. Opponents say Oregon should not have to bear the burden of giving a tuition break to students who are in the country illegally. The measure now goes to the full Senate.
A multi-agency investigation breaks up an illegal and lucrative prescription drug ring. The indictment names 15 suspects in a multi-state Oxycontin trafficking ring operating in Oregon, Florida, Nevada and New York. Gerri Badden with the U.S. Department of Justice says the indictment further alledges that the organization laundered an excess of $1.7 million.” Aand used that money to buy seven luxury cars, including four Bentleys. The investigation is ongoing but the indictment claims the ring has been active since 2008, and now they have 12 of the 15 suspects in custody. The FBI, Portland Police and other law enforcement agencies working the case.
A bill designed to continue privacy protections for Oregon Health and Sciences researchers passes the Oregon Senate with unanimous consent. The bill extends an exemption from State Public Record Laws for the researchers whose work is often protested by animal rights activists. Portland Democrat Ginny Burdick says researchers are responsible. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.
Oregon House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna is urging fellow lawmakers to pass House Bill 2504. It would allow people who buy their own health insurance to deduct the cost from their taxable income. Hanna says it would provide much needed tax relief for those paying as much as $1300 per month for family coverage.
The Oregon Attorney Generals Office has shut down a Eugene law firm that focused on debt collection. A Eugene law firm has been shut down for unlawful debt collection practices. Tony Green, in the Attorney General’s Office says the firm McGavick and Finney drew more than 90 complaints. Including not providing proper identification and harassing calls. They caused delays, which cost consumers higher interest and more fees. As part of the agreement; Derrick McGavic lost his license and was ordered to pay $70,000 for the cost of the investigation.
Oregon lawmakers consider a proposal to charge drivers of electric cars a per-mile fee so they contribute to the State Highway Fund. Gas driven cars contribute through a gas tax. Kurt Geb from Lane County proposes contributing to the fund when registering a vehicle. Supporters of the tax say a flat fee isn't fair because some vehicle owners drive a lot, causing more wear and tear on state highways than people who drive a little.
Local emergency responders and public health officials say air and water samples gathered show no evidence that radiation leaks in Japan have made their way to the northwest. Gail Shibley with Oregon Public Health says the federal government is installing additional radiation sampling sites in Oregon as a precaution and State and Federal Disaster relief agencies are prepared should any hazardous material be detected in the air or water.
Charter school advocates are asking Oregon lawmakers to approve a proposal to increase the amount of money a district must give the charters according to the State's per-student funding formula. Stephanie Hausman of southeast Portland sends her children to the Emerson Charter School in downtown Portland. She says she likes the inventive teaching methods but there are some drawbacks because charters do not receive the same level of funding as the regular public schools. The Bill in the House revenue committee would bring the required per-student funding amount up to 95% of what the District receives for that student. That's 5% higher than the current level. Districts argue the funding method is not that simple and the proposal could increase big budget deficits.
Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio says the last week's tsunami revealed some gaps in the State's preparedness for an emergency. DeFazio says nobody seemed to know who was in charge. He adds that some of the tsunami sirens are old and can't be heard very far, and that the state should consider supplying coastal residents with emergency radios for tsunami warnings.
Students studying in Japan through the Oregon university system are being called home. Paul Primak is Director of International Programs and says it's difficult to get a flight, but they have local help. He says there are concerns power outages, transportation interruptions, possible food shortages and other problems would put pressure on the students and families they stay with, so they're suspending the program. The students will reintegrate into the Oregon university system when they return.
Oregon business leaders testify in support of a bill that would create a new incentive for established businesses in the State to grow. The Governor's budget includes $5 million dedicated to a fund from which large companies could borrow to pay new high-wage employees. Tim McCabe with Oregon’s Business Development Department says it will be recapitalized with the money that comes back in through personal income taxes paid by the company. Business leaders say, right now, the State does not offer any incentives for these businesses to stay here and grow.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a State of Emergency in the Port of Brookings, which was destroyed by last week's tsunami. The Governor pointing out the Port of Brookings is a major employer, a center for commercial fishing and the busiest recreational port on the Oregon coast. Teams will now review the situation there and prepare a request for a federal disaster declaration.
Legislation in the Oregon House would create a new statewide honor for soldiers who are killed of fatally wounded in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Jim Willis, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs: “House Bill 2848 is just one more way that we can wrap our collective arms around these families during their time of loss.” The Bill would create a new medal. The name of the honor is still being debated to avoid confusion with other national honors. Right now, the medal is being called the “Oregon Legion of Merit Award.” It would be given to a soldier's next of kin.
Oregon’s unemployment rate is edging downward, dropping two-tenths to 10.2 per cent for February. Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says the state gained a strong 9800 jobs, almost entirely in the private sector. Still, nearly 217,000 Oregonians remain unemployed, as the jobless rate remained in double digits for the 25th month in a row.
Fred Meyer wants to make sure all military employees who were deployed since 2004 get the pay increases and changes to their benefits that they deserve. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney Generals Office, says employees started raising questions about whether the company was following the proper rules. Fred Meyer is contacting all military employees back who returned to work 90 days after their deployment and are eligible for the increases.
The Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill that would allow police to issue $90 tickets to people caught throwing cigarettes or cigars on public lands, whether they're burning or not. Sarah Fritch organized a "Butt Hunt" on Earth Day a couple years ago. She said 25,000 cigarette butts were picked up off streets in downtown Portland in one day. This kind of littering is already illegal but some argue police hesitate to enforce it because the penalty is too steep. Littering laws and laws that make it illegal to throw burning material from vehicles could still be enforced.
It appears the soaring gas prices are cooling off. Marie Dodds, at the Triple-A, says the average price for gas in Oregon is up a nickel to $3.64. Diesel is also up about a nickel to $4.08 a gallon. The price of crude oil dropped several dollars a barrel Tuesday, because of the crisis in Japan and concerns about the economic recovery. The average price in Bend for a gallon of gas now is $3.61.
When Oregon lawmakers made a law to prevent bullying in schools, the intent was to protect kids, but they left out adults. “The harassment law does not address harassment, intimidation, or bullying or cyber bullying by or against school employees” says Representative Brad Witt. He has written an update of the law which is now in committee. The new bill is meant to create a more positive environment in schools for kids and adults.
A Multnomah County grand jury issues a 23-count indictment against Ralph Turner, 61, who's accused of shooting and wounding three Portland police officers near his home earlier this month. Officers were checking on Turner after his fiancee phoned in a report of her husband being despondent and suicidal. That's when Turner allegedly fired a handgun through the door of his home, causing shrapnel to hit one officer in his bulletproof vest and another officer in the hand. Authorities say Turner then fired a shotgun, which hit Officer Patrick Singh in the abdomen. Singh was critically wounded but is expected to make a full recovery.
An Oregon City boy who shot his friend with a shotgun is charged in Clackamas County juvenile court with second-degree assault. Police say the teen accidentally fired the weapon, but prosecutors elected to bring charges after reviewing the investigation. Thirteen-year-old Jeremiah Riley is slated to appear in court for a preliminary hearing. The victim, 12-year-old Austin Stokes, also of Oregon City, remains hospitalized.
State workers will have Friday off as Oregon State government marks another furlough Friday. Most State offices will be closed and more than 26,000 State employees will have an unpaid day off in order to save the state about $2-million in personnel costs. Those remaining on the job Friday will include police, state hospital employees and corrections officers. Parks will also remain open as will state liquor stores.
PGE Park now has a new name: Jeld-Wen Field. The window and door company, based in Klamath Falls, has taken over the naming rights to the facility, which is being renovated in time for the upcoming Major League Soccer season. The Portland Timbers will play their home games there as a new member of the league. The first game will be held April 14th when the Timbers host the Chicago Fire.
We have all seen it; you look at the car next to you on the freeway and it looks like the dog is driving. A newly introduced Oregon Bill would define that as distracted driving. Senate Bill 160 creates an offense of driver operation when riding with an animal on an operators lap. Supporters of the bill say that is a danger to humans and pets. The violation would carry a $90 fine.
A woman voted Miss Clackamas County in 2006 is sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the death of a five-year-old girl. Guadalupe Quintero, 24, of Gresham pleaded guilty yesterday to manslaughter for aiding and abetting her boyfriend's torture of his young daughter over a period of several years, leading to her death. The girl, who weighed 28 pounds when police arrived at the couple's residence last April, had numerous broken bones and was malnourished, and was pronounced dead after she was taken to a Portland hospital. Quintero's boyfriend, Christopher Rosillo, 24, is scheduled to plead guilty later this week to murder by torture and abuse.
A Republican-backed plan to make it easier to open charters schools has failed in the Oregon House. The bill would allow charter school proponents to go to the State Board of Education if they believe a school board is not allowing fair negotiation of a proposal for a new charter school. Opponents say the bill would reduce local control and remove a requirement for community approval of a proposed school.
When there's a disaster, like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, scammers get to work. Tony Green is in the Oregon Attorney General's Office. If you're going to give money; give it to a known charity, such as Mercy Corps or Medical Teams International. The Attorney General's website has a list of legitimate charities that will accept donations.
An Ashland company has found a new use for duckweed; it can light your home. Pacific Domes of Ashland, a company that makes geodesic domes, has teamed up with an east coast engineer who has figured out how to generate cheap, clean electricity from duckweed, which grows on ponds and other still or slow-moving bodies of water. They say their patented system is capable of producing a megawatt of electricity for the same price as coal or nuclear energy and significantly cheaper than wind or solar. The systems can power a single home or be expanded for a municipal utility.
Portland-based Mercy Corps is assisting a Japan-based aid organization “Peace Winds” to provide tsunami and earthquake relief. Joy Portella with Mercy Corps says they will send some of their aid workers to help Peace Winds. They are also offering peace winds educational materials from their "Comfort for Kids" program.
"Comfort for Kids" helps parents and guardians address trauma. Mercy Corps is also filtering cash donations they receive to Peace Winds, which they say is a trusted relief organization they have worked with for years.
Some Oregon lawmakers say when it comes to financial stability, knowing is most of the battle. That's why Portland Democrat Susanne Bonamici and Central Oregon Republican Gene Whisnant are supporting two resolutions that urge school districts to require high schoolers complete a credit of financial education and a credit of civics before they graduate. The resolutions do not mandate the classes. Efforts to do that failed in past legislative sessions.
Coastal communities as far north as Depoe Bay experienced damage because of larger-than-normal waves caused by the Japan earthquake. Pery Murray, Depoe Bay City Recorder, says a large surge of water pushed up a boat and the dock. When the boat came down, it settled on top of the dock. Murray guesses the dock is a total loss and possibly a big financial hit on the small fishing community. Crews worked quickly to secure other boats and what was left of the dock. No injuries have been reported in the Central Oregon coast area.
Four beach campers who say they didn't know about the tsunami warnings were swept into the ocean by a sneaker wave around 10 o'clock Friday morning. It happened in the pistol river area of Curry County where some waves hit three to five feet in height. County Emergency Services Coordinator Don Kendall says it may not sound like much, but there's a lot of power in that water. The four campers were rescued by volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders. One woman was taken to a local hospital.
Albany Police say a youth pastor took advantage of his authority. Sean Feltman, 24, is charged with a felony count of luring a minor for allegedly “sexting” a 14 year old girl in his youth group. Captain Eric Carter says Feltman could have more victims. He was a youth pastor at the Willamette Community Church.
Oregon’s Attorney General outlines the top consumer complaints of 2010. No surprise, says Attorney General John Kroger, the most common consumer complaints in Oregon are related to telecommunications services. International money transfer schemes led to a reported $1.9 million by Oregon consumers. Home ownership problems, such as loan modification and foreclosure programs, came in third. The Department of Justice's Consumer Protection website includes a searchable database of complaints against companies. Consumers may research by business name, type or zip code. We have a link on our “Links” page here.
At least three abortion-related bills are making the rounds within State Legislative committees. House Bill 3512 is scheduled for committee action next week. The measure would make abortions illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Another House Bill would require centers to post notices about whether they provide abortions.
A bill in the Senate calls for more state regulation of clinics that provide abortions.
Thousands of Oregon State employees could go to a four-day work week under a bill in the Oregon House. Democratic Representative Paul Holvey of Eugene says it could save the state a lot of money. The Bill originally mandated a Monday through Thursday schedule, but lawmakers may tinker with that. There’d be exceptions, of course, for police, corrections, and other services that are needed seven days a week.
Earlier we brought you the story about a would be burgler, Timothy Chapek calling 911 after he broke into a Portland home, and the owner caught him in the bathroom. He was arrested but he didn't stay out of trouble long. He skipped a court appearance, stole a car from Kuni BMW, and then was arrested in Chehalis, Washington after trying to steal from Wal-Mart. Chehalis Detective Sergeant Rich McNamara says Chapek will appear in Lewis County Court this afternoon on several charges.
Some juvenile justice advocates say Measure 73 shouldn't apply to teens under age 18. The Measure sets a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for repeat offenders of major felony sex crimes. Doug Harcleroad with Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance says the law rarely applies to teens because teens are rarely repeat offenders. A bill in the Senate would change the law to require the mandatory minimum only for offenders who are 18 or older. Supporters say over-sentencing can increase chances for repeat offenses later in life.
Micalea Dutson, 48, and husband Tony, 53, won't be seeing each other for some time to come. Dan Wardlaw, an IRS Special Agent tells us who the Dutsons are: “The Dutson’s are a married couple who used to live in Tigard. Now they live in Mesa, Arizona and they cheated on their taxes for 10 years and taught about 100 people around the country to do the same thing.” He says the Dutsons have been sentenced to 10 years in prison and will have to pay restitution.
The Oregon laws for drunk driving have a "get out of jail free" card for first time offenders. They can go through diversion. Ann Pratt with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD): “In Oregon there are approximately 25,000 DUII arrests. It’s estimated that there are 11,000 that result in diversion, creating a loophole where an offender is free of an interlock requirement.” A new bill would close that loophole and require all those convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle.
Two people were stuck in an elevator on the outside of a huge crane at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6. 40 mile an hour winds caused the elevator to get stuck. Paul Corah, with the Fire Bureau, says they used one of their ladder trucks to rescue to the pair. The winds made the rescue interesting, the high winds made the ladder bounce around a little bit, but Corah says those ladders were made to stand up to some high winds. The elevator was stuck at 80-feet, so the 100 foot ladder was extended all of the way to reach them. If the elevator got stuck any higher, they would have been lowered down by the rope rescue team.
A Shelton, Washington man says he should be allowed to bring his snake to restaurants and grocery stores. He says he keeps it in a carrier and it's a service animal designed to help him with seizures. Washington lawmakers are considering allowing only dogs and miniature horses as service animals to comply with new federal standards. The bill is backed by the food industry.
A drug crimes strike force was very busy Tuesday in the Willamette Valley. At the Marion County Sheriff's Office Don Thomson says they were running Operation Frogger. Over 200 officers and deputies were working in Clackamas County, Marion County and Polk County to serve 10 search warrants and execute a number of arrest warrants for people involved in drug trafficking of heroin. The raids netted heroin, meth, marijuana, weapons and cash. He says more arrests are expected.
A light in the sky that triggered several calls to 911 last month in Clark County, Washington has now been identified. Agent Mulder himself may have thought it was a UFO, with all the bright lights and flowing colors. But it turns out it was an electronic Chinese kite, complete with nearly 500 LED lights powered by an onboard lithium ion battery and computer that sequences many flashing light patterns. The Colombian reports a man calling himself “Mike,” took some reporters along for a demonstration of his kite in the Fishers Landing Area. As the news spread, it disappointed many UFO buffs hoping it was an actual sighting.
A swarm of earthquakes off the Oregon coast the past couple of days has caught the attention of seismologists. Bill Steele with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network says they're not where we typically see quakes. They’re not where quakes typically occur, closer to shore. It is out where the Juan de Fuca Plate is grinding along side the Pacific Plate, out at sea. The area is known as the Blanco Fracture Zone and Steele says the pressure it's creating will eventually lead to a major earthquake. Seismologists locally and nationally continually monitor the location.
Timothy Chapek, 24, broke into a house in southwest Portland, but got caught by the homeowner. He called 911 for help fearing the homeowner had a weapon. The homeowner was just as scared; she left the house and also called 911, also she let her 2 German Shepherds into the house while she waited for police to arrive. Police arrived and sent in a K-9 and took Chapek into custody without incident. He’ll be charged with criminal trespass.
Less than one percent of Oregon school kids are enrolled in Virtual School programs. The Oregon Virtual Public Schools Alliance wants that to change. Cindy McGraw is the group's President and says they are educating legislators at a daylong visit to the Capitol. McGraw says the group would like to see equality for virtual schools, including funding and program acceptance.
The latest jobless numbers for the entire state of Oregon have been released for February. The Oregon Employment Department shows the state jobless rate for February was 10.5%. Unchanged from January. State officials also just released January numbers for Central Oregon and it shows month to month improvement in all three Central Oregon counties.
Near Salem; sheriff's deputies have arrested a 13 year old boy accused of brining a handgun to school yesterday. Authorities say the teen brought the weapon to Jefferson Middle School and the principal found it during a search of the student's locker. Officials say the gun was unloaded, but some 9 millimeter rounds were found along with the weapon. Deputies say the student told authorities he broker into this father's gun cabinet and brought the weapon to school because he felt threatened.
The official portrait of former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt will be removed from the State Capitol Building in Salem and placed in storage. Legislative leaderships issued a memo saying the portait is being removed out of respect for Goldschmidt's victim who recently died. Goldschmidt admitted in 2004 to having sex with a 14 year old girl when he was 35 years old. The Oregon statute of limitations prohibited the Governor from being prosecuted for the crime but there is a proposal in the Oregon Legislature to remove the statue for sexual crimes against children.
It’s a tough week on the wallet at the gas pump. Triple A's Marie Dodds says gas prices are seeing a big jump because of the fighting in Libya. Dodds says right now California is closest to $4 a gallon at 3.90. We could see $4 a gallon in our area if the unrest continues or if it spreads to other oil producing countries. Speculation about that is currently keeping crude prices high.
Oregon-grown hazelnuts are suspected in a series of food poisonings in the upper Midwest. Even people in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan developed E-coli after eating hazelnuts, prompting a California distributor to issue a voluntary recall. Industry leader Polly Owen says investigators haven't determined if hazelnuts are the problem. Two people in Canada came down with the same strain of E-coli, but they hadn't consumed hazelnuts. Almost all hazelnuts in the U.S. come from Oregon.
Two Portland Police officers were shot while performing a welfare check in southeast Portland Sunday morning. The house is located in the 3300 block of Southeast 10th. Police Chief Mike Reese says the suspect fired through a door injuring one officer, and then used a rifle with a scope to shoot another officer. That officer is in critical condition. He was shot in the abdomen. The other officer received less serious shrapnel injuries. A negotiator talked the suspect into giving up and he's been taken into custody.
A bill in the Oregon House would remove the criminal statute of limitations on sex crimes against children, allowing prosecution regardless of how much time has passed since the attack. Randy Ellison of Ashland, a victim of sex abuse, hints at circumstances surrounding former Governor Neil Goldschmidt who was accused of abusing his a teen-aged baby-sitter back when Goldschmidt was Portland Mayor. Ellison says his attacker, a Boy Scout leader, abused other boys in his troop and also went unpunished. A similar bill just passed the Washington House without opposition. More public hearings will be held.
The Federal government didn't move the idea, but a single payer healthcare program isn't out of the question in Oregon. Portland Representative Michael Dembrow says the Obama Admistration is allowing states to be the labs for innovation. A bill in the State House Healthcare Committee Friday would create a plan that opens up Medicare to all Oregonians. The co-pays included in taxes on a sliding scale based on income. A rally in support begins at noon Friday.
The owner of the Fox Burrow Kennels in Canby will be the first to be prosecuted under Oregon's new Puppy Protection Law. David Lytle with the Humane Society says the law requires better record keeping on such things as the animal's health and breeding. “The first time a breeder is charged with violating that. So it really shows this law is going to be a useful tool for cracking down on breeders that are not giving the best of care for their animals.” In the Canby case, the 32 rescued dogs were all malnourished and suffering from intestinal parasites. Once they are cured they will be adopted out.
They’ll be gone more than four months, serving in the Middle East. They were honored Friday at a mobilization ceremony for Oregon Air National Guard's 116th Air Squadron at the Portland Air Base.Bob Birman is Operations Superintendent for 116th Air Squadron. He says this is the first time in recent years so many airmen and women from the 116th Air Control Squadron have been deployed at once. “Make sure that we know who’s flying; we make sure that any of our weapons systems out there can employ their weapons. That’s’ what we’re to do.” Steve Ladoo is Radar Maintainer with 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron out of Klamath Falls. He's one of three people from his unit to join 116th, the Longracks: “I’m more anxious at this moment. I’ve never left my family for this type of duration.” The group will work in the Persian Gulf but other details about their location are being kept confidential.
The Grand Jury transcripts in the Gresham police shooting of an Iraq war veteran have been released. The family of Anthony McDowell lobbied to keep the transcripts private because of medical information. However, a judge ruled it's in the public interest to explain why the jury decided to clear the officers involved. Officers told the jury they were afraid McDowell was going to shoot when they confronted him. His family says he was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
It took three years, but the Hillsboro School District will allow an autistic boy to bring his service animal to school. Wendy Givens says Madison, a German shepherd, helps calm her son scooter and can also find him if he runs off. The District was concerned about other students allergies but givens says those concerns have been addressed.
If a new Senate bill passes, Oregon drivers could soon have a new specialty license plate featuring Oregon’s wine country. “It’s a initiative through “Cultivating Communities” and the work it will do is to support product development, education and outreach initiatives, marketing, workforce development grants, scholarships and things like that.” Angie Morris with Travel Salem says they are hopeful the bill will pass as it will establish a permanent source of funding for the promotion of Oregon tourism.
The owner of the Fox Burrow Kennels in Canby will be the first to be prosecuted under Oregon’s new Puppy Protection Law. David Lytle with the Humane Society says the law requires better record keeping on such things as the animal's health and breeding. In the Canby case, the 32 rescued dogs were all malnourished and suffering from intestinal parasites. Once they are cured they will be adopted out.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has spent a year collecting public opinion on what the term "sustainable forest" means. Now, Forestry's David Morman says they are having the first roundtable on the topic. Today's roundtable in Salem will begin to address merging environmental, economic and social issues surrounding forests. Morman expects it will take more than one meeting to reach agreement on how to meet all the forest issues.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is using increasing gas prices to promote the need to eliminate America’s dependence on foreign oil. His bill introduced last year would eliminate dependence on overseas oil by 2030. He says he's getting a positive reaction from Oregonians. “It has been universally positive. I think folks are finally realizing that we're sending our funds to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, makes no sense. It impoverishes Americans and that means we don't have the dollars circulating here.” Oil has been trading at more than $100 a barrel for the last couple days. The average cost for gas in the country is $3.34 a gallon.
Congress heard from movie icon Mickey Rooney this week about his experience with elder abuse. His testimony is throwing a spotlight on the increasing incidence of neglect and abuse of our elderly. Ali Davidson is a senior advocate and has seen many seniors afraid to report abuse. “They were afraid of being alone and didn't know how they were going to manage, than they were that person stealing from them or verbally abusing them.” It's estimated that 14% of seniors experience some form of abuse.
Three person team from Portland based Mercy Corps has arrived in Libya to start relief operations. The group's Lindsay Murphy says they'll meet with community leaders. Murphy says they want to provide some basic needs like water and first aid. The group is in Benghazi, which has been under rebel control. But, it also has been the target of attacks by Libya's military. Murphy says security is a main concern. Mercy Corps has also sent a team to Tunisia where thousands of refugees from Libya are arriving.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden continues shopping around his bill allowing states to opt out of the federal health care law and design their own plan. The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts and favored by President Obama. Some Republican governors are reacting by saying they still can't afford it.
Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio has a plan to solve the social security crisis. The bill would stop government borrowing from the trust fund, and it would expand the tax beyond the first $106,0000 of income. DeFazio’s plan would also change the basis for inflation so it would include increases in health care and prescription costs. Actuaries that run Social Security say DeFazio’s plan would keep the system running for the foreseeable future.
A couple Portland lawmakers are backing a proposal to overturn the "proof of legal residency" requirement to get Oregon driver's licenses. They say it's about public safety. Some Portland lawmakers say the requirement to show a birth certificate or passport often makes it hard for low-income Oregonians and seniors to get licenses. But also it can make it difficult for seasonal farm workers to do their jobs. Alberto Moreno with Oregon Latino Agenda for Action says: “That group of workers alone contribute over $4.3 billion in annual agricultural economic activity.” Opponents says the driver's license is a valuable piece of I.D. that should not be handed out to people who cannot prove their right to reside in the state. Public hearings have not been scheduled.
Oregon lawmakers will consider a proposal to remove the University of Oregon from the State University System. University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere is driving the proposals to sever his school's ties with the Oregon University System to increase local autonomy, improve fundraising opportunities and use bonds to back the school during the transition. “These bills should not be the ceiling on our efforts in Oregon, but the floor by which we begin to drive meaningful reform throughout the entire university system.” Students say a new Board of Directors wouldn't include enough student representation; and others are worried the smaller state universities would be left in the dust by the plan.
Benton County Sheriff Diana Simpson testified at a hearing for a new Senate Bill that would bring offenders sentenced to two years or less back to the counties where they committed their crimes. “If we add these additional inmates to our jail, it’s going to have a devastating impact financially, not only for our jail costs, but also in maintaining our population in the jail as it is.” Simpson is concerned about the bill because Benton County has the smallest jail facility of any county in the State.
The City of Beaverton in coming months hopes to get 220 families to power their homes with solar energy. It’s part of their new tax incentive program to make solar panel installation more affordable and accessible to residents. Mayor Denny Doyle. Mayor Doyle says the Solar Beaverton program has contracted local businesses “Live Light Energy” and “Solar World”. They hope to make the program available to cities across Oregon. You can get additional details at: www.SolarBeaverton.com.
Ron Russell Middle School in northeast Portland was evacuated Tuesday morning after a bottle bomb went off in a restroom on the second floor. Police Sergeant Pete Simpson says bottle bombs contain dry ice and other chemicals. They can explode; but they can also melt. Three students and a janitor were treated for exposure to the chemicals. The second floor was evacuated while the fumes were cleared out. School police are investigating. There have been no arrests.
A new bill in the Oregon Senate would send offenders sentenced to two years or less back to the counties where their crimes were committed. Washington County Sheriff, Rob Gordon is concerned that not every county has the facilities or transitional programs to accommodate the inmates. Sheriff Gordon, and Benton County Sheriff Diana Simpson testified at the hearing not only about their concerns with meeting increased capacity, but about the cost burden that would become the county's if the bill passes.
The Oregon Legislature considers asking voters if sobriety checkpoints should be put back in use to reduce drunken driving. State Representative Andy Olson, a former State Trooper, says sobriety checkpoints deter driving under the influence and save lives. He says currently there are 39 states that allow checkpoints. Robert Holman with the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association is concerned the rules about checkpoints aren't clearly defined. He fears police will use the checkpoint to sniff out evidence of other crimes without probably cause. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled the random checkpoints unconstitutional in 1987.
Need questions answered but no wheels or no time to make it to the library? Library systems around Oregon are offering a text-the-librarian service. Caleb Tucker-Raymond with the Multnomah County Library says it's a 24/7 service. Multnomah County Library hosts the service; but they have 38 partner libraries around Oregon. So it goes to whoever in online in those 39 libraries. Tucker-Raymond says they've received all kinds of questions from city populations to library events. Here’s what you need to do: text the word ANSWERS to the number 66746. It’s free to use the service but standard text messaging rates apply.
The State of Oregon has a new website to help uninsured Oregonians navigate the maze of public and private health programs. It's called oregonhealthconnect.org. It’s particularly helpful for people who are uninsured or underinsured and want to know where they can get services that are close to them. Cheryl Martinis with the Oregon Insurance Division says the website also has links to help answer questions about Medicare or the Oregon Health Plan. There's also a toll free hotline. That number is 1-855-999-3210.