The Portland City Council votes 5 - 0 to re-join the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Councilor Randy Leonard insisting the agreement protects civil liberties and disallows giving the feds control of local police officers assigned to the JTTF. He says it must confirm with Oregon law, which is more restrictive than Federal law. The City reconsidered joining the JTTF following an alleged holiday bomb threat last November.
Oregon lawmakers are considering an amendment to a bill that would require concealed weapon permit holders to leave their guns locked in their cars while in a school. Karen Twain, with the Tigard-Tualatin School District, says they have a zero tolerance policy for guns and should include everyone. Opponents say there's no evidence of problems with permit holders in schools, and that experienced gun carriers would provide extra security in schools in the event of an incident. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to continue a hearing on the proposal next week.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden says the federal budget cuts are devastating local police agencies already struggling to combat gang violence. Wyden says there have already been $434 million in cuts this year and says next's year’s proposal outlined by the U.S. House would cut funding by another 24%. Local law enforcement say gang violence could escalate because of the budget cuts eliminating gang prevention programs.
The Oregon Insurance Division reports new health insurance rate review laws have helped them reduce costs for a small group of consumers. Cheryl Martinis with the Division says they reviewed rate plans for small group and individual insurance companies, requiring lower-than-requested rates on about half of the cases. Martinis says the reviews have saved Oregonians about $25-million statewide over the past year, or about ten dollars per month per ratepayer on the effected plans.
An Oregon House Committee reviews a proposal that would allow more Oregon cities to install and enforce bike signals at busy intersections. Representative Jim Weidner is concerned too many signals may lead to more confusion by drivers, not less. But Paul Mather with the Portland Bureau of Transportation says the signals give cyclists better cues and reduce traffic congestion. The bike signals are timed with "no turn on red" lights that help drivers know how to navigate an intersection with heavy bike and car traffic.
The Oregon State Penitentiary was placed on full lockdown again following two additional inmate fights that took place Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. And, as a precautionary measure, an “Institution Emergency” has formally been declared which allows for an agency-coordinated response. These fights are in addition to two inmate fights that broke out Sunday, April 24, in the institution's Recreation Building and Recreation Yard, involving a total of 81 inmates. Authorities say, based on information that has been made available since Sunday, all four incidents appear to be connected with two inmate groups.
Christmas Break is still being called "Christmas break" in the Hillsboro School District. Board members voted, four-to-three, to keep the name for the two-week period of time off in December even though many other districts have switched the name to "Winter Break." One Board Member pushing for change says there's Spring Break and Summer Break. A Board Member against the switch says the name is part of tradition. A similar debate has been happening in Prineville recently. Earlier this week City Council members talked about whether they should expand a nativity scene display include different religions and beliefs, and to change the name from "Christmas" to "Holiday" display; but Councilors are evenly divided on the issue, so it hasn't been decided yet.
Oregon National Guard soldiers are headed to Afghanistan for a year long deployment in November. 170 soldiers with the 1176th Military Police Company based out of Salem received a mobilization order for duty in Afghanistan to support “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Captain Stephen Bomar says their primary mission will be to provide convoy and base security. The unit previously served at Guantanamo Bay and also in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The State Constitution has no provision allowing the Legislature to meet outside Salem, and with fewer members should catastrophe hit. A proposal passed by the Oregon House would ask voters to change that, allowing lawmakers to meet where they can. Representative Jean Cowan: “It would allow the assembly to operate with a quorum of 2/3’s of those members able to attend.” And members could participate by video or ham radio, depending on the circumstances. Representative Tim Freeman says the constitutional change is unnecessary. The proposal heads to the Senate.
Vancouver Washington police say it appears Tuan Dao, 37,set a fire to his home killing himself and five of his children: Nolan, Jacob, Noah, Samantha and Nathan Dao. Kapp says they're continuing to investigate Dao's activities in the days leading up to the fire to determine motive. His wife and oldest daughter were living somewhere else and are the only surviving family members. It is believed that Dao was depressed about financial matters and his crumbling marriage.
Attorneys for the Vancouver couple accused of caging their two autistic boys say there is much more to the story. Johnny McMullen represents John Eckhart: “What a parent would do with an individual child that does not have autism, is obviously significantly different than what a parent would have to do to protect a child from himself, who has autism.” Both Eckhart and Alayna Higdon pleaded not guilty to child imprisonment charges and face a September 26th trial.
More than 50 sites across Oregon will be accepting expired and unneeded medications for disposal this Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. Maggie Conley is with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which has environmental concerns about the drugs as many people flush them or throw them out. She says the drugs turned in Saturday will be destroyed at a plant near Salem. The nearest sites participating in the program is Black Butte Ranch Police Department, Prineville Police Department and Oakridge Police Department.
A follow up today on a fatal fire in Vancouver that took the lives of six people. The Oregonian quotes a "law enforcement source familiar with the investigation" as saying the homeowner set the fire that killed him and five of his children Sunday. The newspaper reports that Tuan Dao was very distraught over his bankruptcy and failed marriage. His wife, Lori, was living several miles away from the burned home with their 13-year-old daughter. The source is quoted as saying evidence at the scene of the blaze suggests an accelerant was distributed throughout the home.
Megan Gatlin, 28, kept it quiet for three weeks. Now, the Vancouver woman is talking about being the Oregon Lottery's seventh million dollar raffle winner. Her unemployment just ran out. When she checked the number, she couldn't believe her eyes. The raffle was on Saint Patrick's Day, but Megan waited until her 28th birthday, April 12th, to pick up her winnings. She says she'll use the money to buy a house and a new BMW and go back to school.
Nike co-founder Phil Knight was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show Tuesday. He told her running Nike, developing equipment to help athletes improve their sports has always been a happy passion. Oprah surprised the audience, giving them Nike's latest training watches. Knight went even further, giving them a special one of a kind running shoe.
A bill designed to help District Attorneys prosecute sexual assault victims' attackers has passed the Oregon Senate. Senator Chris Edwards says it requires counties to create Sexual Assault Response Teams. Opponents say the bill sets mandates on counties without providing funds to help form the teams. The bill moves to the House for further consideration.
Slowed by the earthquake, businesses in Japan are beginning to re-build. Josh Thomas with the Port of Portland says automakers who ship to Portland are finding ways to re-supply factories, but are slowed by a broken infrastructure. “Once some of those type of issues are resolved, they will be able to start looking at how to rebuild. But it is a mammoth effort; we’ve heard anything from $100 to $300-billion dollars.” He thinks some of the construction materials for that mammoth rebuilding will ship through the Port of Portland.
President Obama releases copy of his birth certificate. To view the certificate, view his press conference and read the Presidents remarks, click here.
The Oregon Senate is now considering a bill to remove faith healing as a defense. Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote helped write it. “This Bill will level the playing field so that all parents will run by the same rules. It’s not gong to fix the problem by itself, but it’s going to be another step.” The followers of Christ Church in Oregon City has three cases where children died, because their parents didn't seek medical care and instead used their faith in God to heal their children. There has been little opposition to the Bill.
House Bill 3543, cleared the Oregon House changes how Oregonians would get their kicker. “We do not screw around with the kicker, that simply changes the methodology from administratively incurring the cost to the taxpayer of a physical check and converting it, rather, to a credit on their tax return.” Hillsboro Representative Katie Brewer says the move would save the state over $700,000. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Everyone seems to agree that flying the U.S. flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance at Oregon public schools is a good idea. But Andrea Meyer with the ACLUu did point out: “We have felt concern that this law in vulnerable to a challenge because the pledge does evoke “God” and our Oregon constitution. It has a particular provision: no money shall be drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” She says the State should use the original pledge which did not include the word “God.” The issue is in Legislative committee.
Divers recovered the body of a man and a woman from the Necanicum River in downtown Seaside after reports that a car drove down a boat ramp and into the water. Seaside police Lt. David Ham said the out-of-town couple may have been lost and drove down the boat ramp by mistake about 10:15 p.m. A car matching the description of the one pulled from the river was seen driving the wrong-way on a one-way before the mishap, he said. A tavern owner near the boat ramp told police that he saw lights on the boat ramp and thought at first someone was trying to launch a boat. He went to ramp and saw lights in the water and called for help.
After a lot of cooperation between Hillsboro School District and the Ddepartment of Justice, a service dog to help an autistic fourth grader is introduced at Patterson Elementary. Wendy givens says her 10 year old son, Jordan, has some behavioral problems; and Madison, their big furry German Shepherd, soothes and keeps track of the child. Patterson Principal Jonathan Pahukula says during this trial, they'll monitor how the students react and if the dog improves Jordan's learning experience.
Officials now believe a deadly fire in Vancouver, Washington was set on purpose. Yesterday Vancouver Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were investigating a house fire early Sunday morning that took the lives of six people. On Monday, investigators said they believe the fire was arson, but did not elaborate on exactly what they believe ignited it or who may be behind it. Witnesses report hearing an explosion and seeing flames shoot 30 feet into the air from the home. Police said six bodies were found inside the burned rubble. No names or ages have been released. The Clark County Medical Examiner's Office was performing autopsies Monday to determine what caused the deaths.
A friend of the slain Eugene Police Officer calls him a one of a kind person who was very popular in the community. The Eugene radio talk show host is going to speak at Friday's memorial that is expected to draw as many as 15,000 people. Rob Holloway knew Officer Chris Kilcullen for several years as a friend and professionally on the radio. Holloway says Officer Kilcullen was heavily involved in several different important local causes: “The ironic thing about it is he was extremely involved in helping people with mental health issues and the fact that this woman obviously needed some help; I mean its entirely possible that he could've been helping her 3 days before and she ends up taking his life. It's a question I'll ask, probably for the rest of my life.” The 43 year old officer was shot and killed during a traffic pursuit on Friday. The suspect, Cheryl Kidd of Springfield was arrested a short time later on aggravated murder. Officer Kilcullen was a highly decorated and popular officer, and leaves behind a wife and two children.
Fed Chair, Ben Bernanke is set to speak about the economy on Wednesday. Marie Dodds at Triple A says, what he says may have an effect on gas prices. Oregon's average for a gallon of gas is $3.88 this week, two cents above the national average. Diesel is up a half a cent both nationally and here in Oregon where the average is now running at $4.29 a gallon. In Bend, you'll pay about $3.87 for a gallon of regular this week.
A new interstate bridge could break ground in 2013 announced Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber at a news conference in Portland. He says there will be new state oversight to secure the best funding package. He and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire support a deck truss design to secure federal funding and keep the project moving forward.
The Oregon Senate has passed a bill to set up a health care exchange. State Senator Alan Bates says it has bipartisan support. The exchange would provide 350,000 Oregonians access to information about a variety of health care insurance options. The bill doesn't change the way health insurance is provided and it works with the federal Health Care Act. If approved by the Legislature, it wouldn't take effect until 2014.
The Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem is still in lockdown. Prison officials investigating two fights that broke out Sunday afternoon. Michelle Whitney Dodson with the Department of Corrections says the first fight involving six inmates started in the recreation building. The Penitentiary will remain in lockdown until the investigation is complete. Some inmates and corrections officers received minor injuries and were treated for exposure to chemical spray used to stop the fighting.
A fatal house fire in the northwest killed several people; and officials are still investigating. Authorities say at least six people are dead following a house fire in Vancouver, Washington, early Sunday morning. Firefighters discovered the bodies after extinguishing the blaze that had engulfed the home on Northeast 13th Circle. Witnesses report hearing an explosion and seeing flames shoot 30 feet into the air from the home. Vancouver police say the cause of the fire hasn't yet been determined.
The Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem is on lockdown today and all inmate visiting hours have been canceled due to a Sunday afternoon fight involving approximately 75 inmates in the prison's recreation building. Prison Officials responded to a fight involving several inmates inside the building, and while breaking up that altercation, 75 other inmates went outside to the recreation yard and started another fight. Officers fire one warning shot and used chemical spray to get things back under control. Only minor injuries were reported.
A Eugene Police Officer was shot and killed late Friday afternoon while attempting to make a traffic stop on a woman on Interstate 105. Instead of stopping, the woman sped into Springfield to the intersection with 52nd Street where traffic forced her stop. The officer pulled up near the car and put his motorcycle on its kickstand. The woman produced a handgun and shot 12-year veteran police officer, Chris Kilcullen. He fell against the rear tire of a semi-trailer truck stopped at the intersection. The woman then lead a number of officers on a further pursuit through Lowell and to a rural forest service road, and stopped at a dead end. Officers arrested Cheryl D. Kidd, 53, of Springfield. Officer Kilcullen was a highly decorated and popular officer, and leaves behind a wife and two children. A candlelight vigil was held for the fallen officer at the Eugene City Hall Saturday night.
The Oregon Senate approves adding bereavement to Oregon's Family Leave Law. Gresham Democrat Laurie Monnes Anderson says workers could take up to two weeks for the death of a family member. It would apply to businesses with at least 25 employees. The bill moves to the House for consideration.
After two years of consideration, a wave energy test site is chose. It's off the coast of Newport. Put on your high powered binoculars and look due west three miles from Yaquina Head. “It had the depth that we needed; it has the bottom conditions that we needed, close to our research facilities.” Meleah Ashford with the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center says companies are developing new ways of capturing the power of movement of the ocean. “Wave energy is a source that provides power 24-hours a day.” If plans are approved, the Test Center is expected to be open to wave energy developers this fall.
Senator Ron Wyden applauds the U.S. Army's plan to improve treatment of National Guard and reserve troops when they return from the Middle East. Senator Wyden says he and Senator Kurt Schrader voiced their concerns about problems with the demobilization process long ago. Now there's an executive order to impose changes in healthcare: “They’ve announced some changes, particularly doubling the period of time for our soldiers is part of the demobilization program to get the kind of treatment they need. That’s a step in the right direction, to stay at it. Congressman Schrader and I will work at it until we get all the changes we proposed.”
Several years ago, the Knappa School District near Astoria decided to get its kids in touch with technology, literally. The District developed a program called "One to One" that would put a laptop or tablet PC in the hands of every incoming freshman. Jim Carlile is the Interim Superintendent, and he says the program is working. Carlile says many of the students would not have access to the technology if the district didn't provide it. Federal grant money pays for the PC's and tablets, which are on loan to the students for all four years of high school.
Washington lawmakers approve a bill to create licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Seattle Senator Jeane Kohl Welles says there are several protections to keep the system in check: “qualified patients will only receive the arrest protection if they are registered. Employers may establish drug-free workplaces.” Critics say it's another step towards legalizing pot . Governor Christine Gregoire has threatened to veto the bill.
The Oregon Supreme Court recently ruled that state law doesn't make viewing child porn illegal. The Legislature is taking action. In January, the Court ruled that viewing child porn on the Internet is not a crime if none of the images are purposefully downloaded, printed or paid-for. Senator Joanne Verger: “Further, the Oregon Supreme Court noted that the Oregon Legislatures has not banned viewing child pornography, unless it was paid for and that viewing does not equal possession.” But the Senate has approved a bill that closes the loophole. The bill also amends current law to add that video recordings of all kinds of child pornography is unlawful. The bill moves to the House.
The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center responds to all kinds of incidents all over the country. Geri Mills is with the center and says currently, they have a few people helping on the wildfires in Texas. Most of the people are working as aircraft managers and air support personnel. Mills adds that they still could send crews, if they're requested, as fire season is really just getting underway in the southwest.
Oregon lawmakers hear a pitch from Hollywood: “ It is my fervent belief that there is an incredible opportunity here in Oregon to develop a thriving entertainment industry.” Dean Devlin is executive producer for TNT's “Leverage.” He says he'd bring more and bigger projects to Oregon, and maybe even build a studio here; if the State extends the tax credits for film and video projects. Lawmakers are considering a bill to renew the incentives, which are now set to expire at the end of the year.
U.S. Senator for Washington, Maria Cantwell says high fuel prices are hurting American families. She is calling on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to crack down on oil speculation. Cantwell says corporations are using the process to make money. Cantwell says the CFTC should enforce position limits to restrict the size of investors' holdings and protect the markets from volatile price swipes.
The Washington Legislature has approved a bill canceling the State's 2012 Presidential Primary. Republican Representative Gary Alexander says it will save $10-million. Instead, nominees will be decided by Iowa-style caucuses. The measure passed the Senate earlier this month, and goes to Governor Chris Gregoire for her signature.
The City of Portland could vote as soon as April 28th to rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mayor Sam Adams says his plan is based on three ideas. “To prevent and investigate terrorism; to protect civil liberties and to keep Portland and open and inclusive community.” The JTTF issue became a hot button issue after the arrest of a teenager suspected of plotting to blow up Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Oregon State Police have identified bodies found on the Oregon coast near Yachats. They are Nathan Dix and his girlfriend Annie Welch, both of Eugene. Lieutenant Gregg Hastings says Dix was a fugitive who allegedly shot at police during a pursuit in 2008.
The spring Chinook season is starting to pick up at Bonneville Dam, and the number of sea lions is also increasing. The hungry animals snap up the fish as they try to go into the fish ladder. Charles Hudson with the Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission says they've just launched four underwater cameras to help keep track of the sea lions that eat the most fish. Hudson says the Sea Lion Removal Program they had in place was blocked, and they are currently in the process of working to get it back. The concern is that the sea lions are eating much more than estimates from opposition groups.
A new cigarette-rolling machine that's being marketed to liquor stores may soon be outlawed in Oregon. The machine uses pipe tobacco, which has a much lower tax rate than regular cigarettes. Critics fear it'll raise the number of teenage smokers. But machine owner Dan Miner says his customers aren't kids: ”So far I’ve met a couple that are in their 70’s and they ride the bus down to my story and they enjoy the cost savings.” A pack-a-day smoker could save more than $80 a month using the machine. Right now there's only one in Oregon, at the Hollywood Liquor Store.
Google is buying a piece of an Oregon windfarm. Google is investing $100-million in the Shepherds Flat Windfarm in Eastern Oregon. It’s billed as the largest wind farm project in the country and will be capable of generating 845 megawatts. Tyre Energy and Sumitomo Corporation are investing $500-million. The $2-billion project is backed by $1.3 billion in federal loan guarantees. 400 workers will build it. 35 jobs will be permanent for the operation. Power will be sold to Southern California Edison.
An Oregon State engineering professor has been studying the "liquefaction" that happened during the Japanese earthquake. Scott Ashford says if its supported on shallow foundations or a mat foundation, you can get significant settlement. He says that settlement can tear out power and gas lines and cause landslides.
He also says Portland has soils similar to those in the Japans' quake area and would see the same impact.
Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue crews are getting tips on the best ways to respond to incidents involving electric vehicles. National Fire Protection Association lead instructor Jason Emery says the cars are very safe but he wants to reduce any apprehensions firefighters might have when approaching the vehicles in an emergency. The TVF and R firefighters will get under an electric vehicle to learn about the battery and where power lines travel.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will challenge Congressman David Wu in the 2012 Democratic Primary. Avakian took a jab at Wu who has been holding tightly controlled town halls since his well publicized personal problems came to light. Avakian added he intends to focus on his accomplishments rather than Wu's problems during the campaign.
With prom season now under way, the anti-drug Oregon Partnership is teaming up with parents to keep kids safe. Spokesman Tom Parker says they've launched a helpful website: www.promperfect.org . Parker says it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your kids, via text, while they are out that night, some of them all night. The web site contains fun and safe ideas for after the prom, and a way for parents to send prom night texts to their kids.
A bill to give a special driver's license to illegal immigrants in Oregon goes before a Senate Committee today. The ID card would allow driving privileges but would prevent a person from getting a concealed weapon permit or register to vote. Lawmakers missed the deadline to schedule a vote so the measure will only stay within the Committee. Oregon's Immigrant's Rights Coalition will be rallying at the Capitol at 4:00 this afternoon in support of the bill.
The recession is forcing more school districts across the state to consider closing schools instead of cutting academic, club and sports programs. The Oregonian reports more than 30 schools could be shut down in the next two years. Districts say a loss in federal stimulus money; falling enrollment and rising costs of health care and the State Workers Retirement System have caused them to consider the closures.
A hungry six-year-old boy in Klamath Falls is in some big trouble. Police say he drove his mom's van into several mailboxes then hit another driver head on. The boy told police he wanted to go get some food so he grabbed a roll of pennies and took off. The boy was not hurt. The other driver suffered minor injuries.
A new law requires Oregon schools to create rules to stop bullying on campus and enforce those rules. But Senator Joanne Verger wants to take the law on step further, requiring teachers, staff and volunteers to report incidents of bullying. Verger says a keeping a record of the incidents will help school administrators tackle the problem. The bill is still in Committee.
Oregon car dealers stand behind a proposal that would require the state to track odometer readings for cars that are more than 10 years old. Mark Bouche with the Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association says "curbsiders," people, who sell cars without a license, are the ones rolling back odometers to entice buyers.
ODOT's Amy Joyce says the Agency’s not equipped to track odometer reading on cars older than ten years, and an upgrade would be expensive. $60,000 based on ODOT's work on similar technical changes.
Seven states now have gas at or above $4 a gallon. Oregon's average of $3.86 a gallon this week, ranks it 14th most expensive in the country. Marie Dodds at Triple A explains why we may be getting a little break from the overwhelming increase: “This is one of those few times when our geographic isolation, which normally results in high gas prices is actually shielding us a bit from some of the major increases we’re seeing in other states.” She adds that investors are worried that the high prices at the pump are going to make people buy less gas. Consequently, crude oil prices are coming down from a high a few weeks ago. That should help the price at the pump level off a little.
City officials say it may be too expensive, but townspeople in Seaside say there needs to be a highway bypass on high ground, so they can escape, if and when a tsunami hits. Seaside resident John Dunzer says elected leaders are allowing bureaucratic obstacles to get in the way. City officials say they'll explore the idea of a tsunami escape route, but can't make any promises.
The Portland Timber's home opener against Chicago was the first test of the parking plan around Jeld-Wen Field. The City of Portland created a Parking Meter District that includes 441 meters around the stadium. From 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on game nights the parking meters are active and the per-hour rate increases to $3.50. The meter stations have stickers listing the Timber's home games and the hours. Dan Anderson, with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, says all drivers paid something on Thursday night, but about two dozen drivers didn't pay for enough time. Anderson says drivers need to buy enough time to make it through
10 p.m. On Thursday night, violators were given warnings. The first game was a test, now tickets will be written.
Police believe they have the man in custody who is responsible for distributing heroin in Molalla; much of it sold to high school aged youth in the area. Detective Jim Strovink says members of the Clackamas County Inter-Agency Task Force witnessed one young man make a buy just Wednesday. The detective says Molalla Officer Scott Douglas has been working on the case for two years. Ulises Giron is being held in Clackamas County Jail.
Now that Gert Boyle's attacker and his two accomplices have been sentenced, police are releasing more details about the investigation. West Linn Sergeant Neil Hennelly says Nestor Caballero Gutierrez offered a gift basket from the Republican Party as a reason to enter her garage and brutally attacked her. Hennelly says Cabalerro's sister heard of the plot and told her Hillsboro pastor, who called police, helping firm up evidence against the ring leader and identify his two accomplices. Caballero hoped to get $300,000 ransom, $50,000 of it to be shared by his two co-conspirators.
Some say the Independent Party's name may confuse voters who want to register to vote without joining a political party. A bill in the legislature would make them change the name. The bill simply says a political party in Oregon cannot have the word “independent” in its title. Linda Williams was sponsor of the 2006 petition to form the Independent Party. She say: “We did everything within our limited means to inform people it’s a political party. You’re a member. Exercise your right to vote.” The Party has promised to take the issue to court if it moves in the Legislature. Party member Sal Peralta: “In fact this bill was clearly unconstitutional, that I wasn’t sure how seriously to take it.”
Gun sellers say they're losing business because the Oregon State Police are not acting fast enough on background checks. Doug Raff, owner of Guncrafters in Salem, says over the past several months, he experienced difficulty reaching the Oregon State Police to perform gun checks. A bill in the Oregon Senate would put background checks back in the hands of the feds. Opponents of the legislation say the State checks reduce the chances of guns getting in the hands of criminals.
It’s one of the highest water years in a long time on the Columbia River and power managers are trying to figure out what to do with the extra electricity being churned out by the hydro dams. There could be blackouts if the grid gets overloaded. Bonneville Power's Doug Johnson says one possibility is that wind farms may have to shut down temporarily. For now, the plan is on hold while officials review comments from wind producers, and from members of Congress who oppose taking wind power off the grid.
The mastermind of the Gert Boyle kidnapping plot was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison as part of a plea deal. Judge Robert Herndon said the scheme by Nestor Guttierez against the Columbia Sportswear Chair was desperate and lame-brained. His accomplices received lesser sentences for their role in the crime. Boyle got away when she hit the silent panic alarm in her West Linn home.
Governor John Kitzhaber stopped by the Future of Energy Conference at the Oregon Convention Center to introduce his 10-year energy plan for Oregon. The Governor asked the public to stand behind his "Cool Schools" Plan proposed to the legislature. He says it’s a great creator of family wage jobs that cannot be outsourced and it’s one of the best and most effective and least-cost ways to meet Oregon’s future energy needs. The Governor's plan borrows on bonds to pay local contractors to retrofit schools for energy savings. Those cost savings would be used to fund the program.
Governor John Kitzhaber says he will put his signature on the $5.7 billion K-12 Schools Budget approved by the House and Senate. But he hopes legislators will take a broader view on education spending, including early childhood education and college in their set list of priorities. Some House Democrats voted against the budget, arguing the State should send more rainy day funds to school districts.
The Oregon House has passed funding for schools, plus an additional $100-million from a rainy day fund. Budget co-author Peter Buckley says the Governor's original proposal was $5.4 billion for K-12. The Governor has said he'd sign the initial funding bill, but whether he signs the additional funding will depend on whether lawmakers also fund his proposals for early childhood education and higher education.
Vancouver, Washington Police find two young children being kept in a cage in an apartment. Their parents are now jailed. Kim Kapp say the children, ages five and seven, are possibly autistic. John Eckhart and Alayna Higdon say two of their kids weren't behaving, so they locked the five and seven year old in a cage inside their apartment. Two other children were in the home but not being kept in a cage. All four kids are now in state custody.
Statewide unemployment, rising operational costs and more needy people brought representatives of the Oregon Food Bank to face legislators and ask for more funding. Jon Stubenvoll, the Oregon Food Bank's Director of Advocacy says they'd like to see their allotment for the General Fund Food Program rise from nearly $2 million, to $2.2 million. He says that would allow them to maintain their current operations and buy an additional million pounds of food to be distributed throughout the network.
A Bill in the Oregon Legislature would allow some people who committed minor sex crimes at a young age to appeal for relief from inclusion on the State Sex Offender Registry. Attorney Gwen Griffith says many of her clients have completed treatment and rarely become repeat offenders but being on the list forces them to be dependent on their families well into adulthood. The Bill still requires work in Committee before a vote to move it to the Senate floor.
The Oregon Senate has approved a $5.7 billion budget for Oregon's K-12 schools. Education advocates say the amount, which is about the same schools received last year, is not enough. Lane County Democrat Chris Edwards says it's the first of many miserable budget decisions lawmakers will have to make with looming $3 billion deficit. In a bold statement of bipartisanship, the Senate voted unanimously to move the public schools budget now so districts have more time to prepare for the next school year. The budget now moves to the House.
The Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville was hoping to get one of the retired space shuttles, but NASA will locate only one shuttle on the west coast, at the California Science Center. Tim Walberg, at Evergreen, says they're disappointed, but they are getting $13-million worth of parts from the program. Those items should start to arrive this summer. The other shuttles will go to the Smithsonian Institution, Kennedy Space Center and the New York Sea, Air and Space Museum.
While the Japanese nuclear plant crisis is now at level 7, the worst possible, Oregon State University Nuclear Power expert Dr. Katherine Higley says that doesn't mean the crisis is getting worse. Higley says they do not anticipate any more radiation in the northwest because the levels in Japan have already stabilized. She says it's too soon to tell what the effects will be for the people exposed to the radiation in Japan.
Oregon lawmakers are considering banning suicide kits. A California company sells helium hoods that helped Nick Klonoski commit suicide in Eugene. His brother Zach wants the Gladd Company put out of business. The law would make it illegal to sell or transfer anything with the Intent that it helps someone commit suicide. Health care professionals would be exempted to comply with the state's assisted suicide law.
A proposed Oregon law would require warning labels on cell phones to alert users about increased risks of brain cancer. But Dr. Howard Orrie says that would be a mistake because the studies aren't so clear. The bill got its first hearing in a Senate Committee but may have trouble reaching the full House or Senate.
An Oregon State Trooper helps deliver a baby in a car near Grants Pass. Senior Trooper Dan Stinnett plays it down, saying mom did the hard work. Stinnett at first thought it was simply a broken down car when he saw the flashing lights and another woman on a cell phone. Stinnett says mom and baby girl are doing just fine.
The Oregon unemployment rate continues its downward trend to an even 10% in March. This is the lowest rate since January of 2009. Still, Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says the State lost 2500 jobs in the month, as rainy weather put a crimp in home construction.
Preparations are underway for a big birthday celebration this week. Packy the elephant turns 49 at the Oregon Zoo. Visitors will get to share in some birthday cake, games and crafts. There will also be a drawing for kids to get a chance to deliver some cake to Packy. "Elephantastic" is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Packy is one of the oldest Asian elephants in the U.S.
The Lincoln City Police Officer shot during a traffic stop three months ago is back home after several surgeries and weeks of physical therapy. Steven Dodds says he looks forward to getting back to work. Suspected shooter David Durham is still on the loose. He is the most wanted person in Oregon.
The Oregon Senate has passed a bill that would crack down on charities that spend too much money on their own administration. Democrat Ginny Burdick says the bill should set the bar higher but, she says it's a good start. If the bill is approved by the Legislature, the Oregon Attorney General would also be allowed to post a list on the Internet of charities that don't meet the higher standard.
The Flight for Freedom will return to New York for the tenth anniversary of 911. New York native and co-organizer Jack McGowan recalls marching in the Columbus Day Parade just days after the attacks: “And New Yorkers time and time again absolutely saying ‘We love you Ore-gone’; and how can you correct someone with tears in their eyes, calling your state ‘Ore-gone’? All you can do is give them a hug; and that what we want to do again.” The flight departs for New York on September 8th. it will include a Peace and Unity Concert on September 11th.
The national average price for gas increased 11-cents last week to $3.77. Triple-A's Marie Dodds says it appears gas prices are near their peak, but will remain near this level through the summer. Diesel in Oregon increased 4-cents a gallon to $4.22. In Bend this week, the average is about $3.78.
An Oregon Congressman is calling on fellow Democrats to be willing to bend. Kurt Schrader says that putting a dent in the deficit is going to require compromise from all sides. Schrader says Republicans have to realize that Americans don't want to privatize social security by depending on a stock market that crashed recently.
She doused her face with acid and blamed a black woman. Now, Bethany Storro has changed her tune. In Clark County Court, Bethany Storro, 28, apologized for lying about the attack and said she hopes for the community's forgiveness. Her plea deal keeps her out of prison. Instead, she'll complete an 18-month diversion program, 240 hours of community service and pay back just under $4,000 in overtime by the Vancouver Police Department. Prosecutors say Storro must also comply with the terms of a mental health program and pay restitution for all money taken before she changed her plea to guilty.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Evergreen Wings and Waves Water Park in McMinnville. Rick Jenkins with Hoffman Construction says there are 10 slides and two pools. There’s a 90,000 wave pool that that will fire off waves in any succession you like. There’s also a leisure pool that has a vortex. The biggest challenge in construction was hoisting the 747 airplane onto the roof. Four of the slides come out of the plane and drop 56 feet back to the pool. Jenkins says they'll test the entire system, train staff and do final preps through May. Doors open to the public June 6th. For more go to: www.evergreenmuseum.org.
Oregon safety officials are trying to stop an increasing number of fatal motorcycle accidents involving mature adult riders. ODOT's Michele O’Leary says many empty nesters are buying motorcycles with a lot bigger engines that they had in their younger days, and a safety course could save their life. You can find out more by going to the Oregon Department of Transportation website.
A bill that would require Oregon students take two semesters of state history in middle school has won the approval of the Senate. Salem Republican Jackie Winters says it's important to learn about the people of our communities. Senator Fred Girod voted against the bill, saying schools do not need more mandates on curriculum. The bill moves to the House.
The devastation from an earthquake is so massive, the preparing for it can become overwhelming. Oregon State Geologist Vicki McConnell testified to a House Subcommittee that the federal government needs to help earthquake prone states reinforce critical bridges so they can survive an earthquake. Programs need to be set up to educate the public on how to prepare and what to do at the coast in the event of a tsunami.
The State of Oregon is banning a synthetic chemical that can produce a meth-like high. The are called names like “Ivory Wave” or Cloud Nine”. Gary Schnabel of the Oregon Pharmacy Board says Poison Control Centers have seen a big jump in the number of calls about the powder, which can cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and high blood pressure. It's been sold in head shops and online, but it's illegal as of today.
The Oregon Lottery is still waiting for some high value prizes to be claimed. In fact, they have over $1.7 million in prize money from different games waiting to be claimed. Winner Awareness Coordinator, Ray Martin, says if you think you may have an unclaimed ticket, look everywhere for it. He says the largest prize they have right now is the million dollars from the St. Patrick's Day Raffle. The ticket was sold in Portland. You can check tickets by going to any lottery retailer, or go online for the winning numbers at: www.oregonlottery.org.
A bill in the State Senate would allow smoke shops operating before the most recent version of the Clean Air Act took effect to go back to allowing smoking in their shops. Outer southeast Portland Representative Mike Schaufler says only adults who visit the smoke shops would be effected by the change. The bill would allow cigar sampling in smoke shops in malls or business complexes that have their own ventilation systems. Oregon Public Health Director, Doctor Mel Kohn says he’s very concerned that the bill weaken the Clean Air Act.
Gert Boyle will not have to take the witness stand in the kidnapping plot that targeted the 87 year old chair of Columbia Sportswear. The getaway driver, Ramon Midence plead guilty to several charges and faces 9 and a half years in prison. His attorney, Leonard Kovac says Boyle's victim impact statement weighed heavily on him. In it, it’s evident that Boyle is still traumatized by the crime. All three defendants will be sentenced next Thursday. Boyle's attorney says it's uncertain whether Boyle will speak at the sentencing.
E-filers should get their tax refunds on time. But if you do your taxes by paper, it could be delayed by a government shutdown. But a shutdown does not impact the due date. Richard Panick with the IRS says there are much heavier penalties for filing late than for paying late.
Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer says Congress is being blackmailed into cutting into the bone of the federal budget: “Everything from transportation, health care, protections for food safety. They slashed money for tsunami warning and study just before Japan.” Blumenauer says there could be a federal government shutdown lasting days or even weeks.
Mount Hood Meadows and the other resorts on the mountain are celebrating a large amount of late season snow. Dave Tragethon at Meadows says even though they've just reached their season high, they'll still operate through May 1st. Tragethon says the conditions are great with fresh powder. They also had 4 feet of snow in the first week of April last year.
Oregon’s economy continues to grow, but University of Oregon Economist Tim Duy says rising food and gas prices are a concern. Higher commodity prices can put a damper on consumer confidence, and it's consumer demand that needs to be the driving force behind the recovery. There’s still no growth in home building and manufacturing.
The Oregon House Judiciary Committee invited speakers to talk to it about a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Teresa Collett is an attorney who has testified in a number of states. She says: “The Unites States Supreme Court determined that a woman’s health could be related to a substantial impairment of a physical bodily function. That is the definition incorporated in this bill.” She adds the Oregon Law would be defensible in court. There are about 250 late term abortions performed in Oregon; usually related to the health of the mother. The bill has yet to be voted out of committee.
The Oregon Senate approves a bill that would make the Governor the head of the State's Public Schools system. Senator Richard Devlin voted against the proposal. A bipartisan group of supporters say the bill allows the Governor to appoint a Deputy Superintendent who has the skills to promote an overhaul of the state education system. The bill moves to the House for further consideration.
Plans for a new interstate bridge are running into questions from Oregon lawmakers. 20 House members, both Republican and Democrat, have signed on to a letter of concern. “We need to make sure that the assumptions that we make for financing of the $4-billion project, that those assumptions are fundamentally correct. And I think that there’s enough question right now, that they’re just simply not.” Republican Katy Brewer says it's not clear to her whether it's a bridge project or a light rail project that happens to include a bridge.
Two Oregon lawmakers; a Republican and a Democrat, are pushing a proposal to set annual pay increases for teachers. Representative Mark Johnson says it requires the Legislature to tell school districts if they must provide raises up to five percent and no less than zero. Supporters say they want to end a bad cycle of heavy hiring when the economy is good and heavy lay-offs during recession. Teachers' Unions oppose the bill, arguing it sets limits on collective bargaining. Another public hearing will be held.
The data breach at Epsilon Interactive, an e-mail marketing firm, means you could receive e-mails from legitimate companies asking for your information. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney General's Office, says they expect phishing e-mails to be sent. Some of the companies that use Epsilon are Walgreens, American Express and U.S. Bank. Don't click links on the e-mail; it could download a virus on your computer. If in doubt, call the company that sent the e-mail.
The Oregon Senate has unanimously approved a bill designed to change public records law to protect victims of domestic violence. Senator Diane Rosenbaum says the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services stopped keeping detailed records of their clients' visits because abusers could use the information to track down victims. The bill closes records maintained by publicly-funded domestic violence programs. The proposal moves to the House for further consideration.
The Oregon House makes elder abuse a more serious crime, doubling the maximum fines and prison sentences. Klamath Falls Republican Bill Garrard says it's a growing problem. He says he was floored with the amount of abuse that occurs at the senior and elder level. The bill now moves to the Senate.
An apology from Horizon Air to a man who was kicked off a flight in Portland because his legs are too long. The man was removed from a Portland-to-Ontario, California flight March 18th after his long limbs tripped a flight attendant. The airline's Marianne Lindsey says he simply should have been moved to an exit row or a bulkhead. The unidentified doctor stands 6’9”, and normally flies in exit rows, but they were all booked up for Oregon’s spring break.
Geotechnical engineers are headed to a slide on Washington’s State Route 4. The major artery to the coast is completely blocked until further notice. Abbi Russell with Washington DOT has an alternative for drivers: you can drive through Longview cross the Lewis & Clark Bridge to Oregon, drive down to Westport and get across the Washington side there at Cathlamet. Wash-DOT is picking up the tab for drivers who want to use the Wahkiakum ferry, or drivers can continue on Highway 30 to the Astoria Megler Bridge to cross into Washington. There's no estimate on when the Highway will reopen.
Public school administrators and teachers are concerned the Legislature won't do enough to protect schools from big cuts over the next two years; but Governor John Kitzhaber is asking them to hold tight and support his efforts to overhaul the Public Schools Funding System. Kitzhaber's plan creates an Education Investment Board that would be charged with the task of developing a budget that spans the entire public school system, from early education to college. The State currently budgets separately for early education, K-through-12 and college.
Gas prices are up again this week, but not rising as much as the national average. It’s up 8 cents this week to $3.66 a gallon. Marie Dodds at Triple A says the metro areas along I-5 are up between 3 and 4 cents this week. Dodds says crude prices are still driving the price at the pump. Crude is up to around $108 a barrel, the highest it's been in 2 and half years. In bend, our average is about $3.75.
The Oregon House approves a law banning the feeding of bears wolves or cougars. Newport Democrat Jean Cowan is the chief sponsor: “In my District, we recently had a tragic case of a woman who fed dozens of bears in her backyard.” Cowan says the bears invaded neighbors homes. One got stuck in a doggy door and some of the bears had to be put down. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Oregon lawmakers consider bills designed to reduce public spending on capital punishment cases. It would limit District Attorneys' abilities to seek the death penalty in some circumstances. One bill would require prosecutors to file notice of intent to seek the death penalty within 180 days of an aggravated murder charge. District Attorneys say it could increase litigation. Don Rees with Multnomah County: “We now have in Oregon a death penalty system that works legally and constitutionally.” But Pat Ehlers, a Portland-based Public Defender says DA's don't want to lose any autonomy: “It simply says, make a decision about whether you’re going to charge a death penalty case in the first six months from the time you charge the case.”
Legislators are looking at ways to stop sex abuse against minors. One proposal could really make them stop and think before getting involved. Milwaukie Democrat Carolyn Tomei is sponsoring House Bill 2714, which fines “Johns” $20,000 for paying for sex with a minor. The bill unanimously passed the House and now moves to the Senate.
This is the time of year when harbor seals give birth to their pups on the Oregon coast. Jim Rice, with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, says don't approach a pup if you see it alone on the beach. Chances are, the mother is just out seeking food for the pup. Rice says you should stay at least 50-yards away. And if you have a dog, keep it on a leash. Violation of the law is a federal offense.
The City of Portland would like to have more women firefighters. So they're inviting females age 16 to 19 to a training camp in June. Spokesman Tommy Schroder says the three-day camp will include hands-on training in every aspect of firefighting.
Two replicas of historic Tall Ships will tour the Oregon coast and the Columbia River in April and May. The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain are in Coos Bay this week and Newport next week. Joe Fallensbe with the Grey Harbor Historical Seaport says visitors can watch a battle sail. He says: “Both boats go out and kind of pretend they are in the 18th century and at a naval actions, kind of a Napoleonic wars.” Ship tours and family sails are available. A detailed schedule and cost information available at: www.historicalseaport.org.
A bill headed to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire's desk will recognize out of state gay marriages. Rochester Republican Senator Dan Swecker supports it. Critics say gay couples already have protections because of a 2007 State law that recognizes Domestic Partnerships.
Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader says there's a 50-50 chance of government shutdown. The Clackamas County Democrat says moderate Democrats and Republicans should be able to reach a compromise, but it could be derailed by Tea Party members. If no agreement is reached, much of the government could shut down April 9 when the current budget expires.
Lots of people take Fido and Fluffy camping. And Oregon Parks is making it easier for your dogs and cats to camp in style. Richard Walkoski with Oregon State Parks says you're limited to two pets and will pay an additional $10 per night. For people with pet allergies, he says there are still plenty of pet free cabins and yurts.
Portland Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy for the murder of southeast Portland's Yashanee Vaughn. Detectives have Parrish Bennette, 16, in custody, but they're still looking for Yashanee Vaughn's body. She is 14 years old. Portland Police Chief Mike Reese: “Preliminary evidence suggests that Yashanee was killed on March 19th, two days prior to her being reported missing.” Her mother filed the missing persons report March 21st. Detectives were assigned to the case on the 23rd; and detectives received their first solid lead March 27th. Commander Ed Blumfield described Bennette and Vaughn as associates but wouldn't go into detail.
A proposed Oregon Bill to tell parents they can't have their little kids riding in trailers behind their bicycles has had a make over. State Senator Floyd Prozanski offers an amendment that would require trailers makers to put a sticker on the trailer indicating if that trailer meets the ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) specifications or not. The author of the original Bill approved the change. The Bill is still in committee.
The man who measures the Oregon snowpack is back from Mount Hood with good news. Jon Lea is the USDA's snow man says they measured 147 inches, there was 61.8 inches of water in that snow pack, and it was raining slightly where they were there. There is the snow measuring site on Mt. Hood; as important as the snow, is the amount of water in that snow. Next week, Lea will release his predictions on how much water that snow will drain into Oregon reservoirs, lakes and rivers this summer.
Six percent of Oregon’s bridges are considered structurally deficient. That’s according to a new study by Transportation 4 America. Chris Rall with the group says the study is meant to draw attention to bridges that carry a fairly large amount of traffic and are structurally deficient; which means they will need some major repair or replacement in the near term. Rall says locally those include the Sellwood and Marquam bridges. But he says overall, Oregon ranks as 7th best in the nation when it comes to the state of its bridges thanks to a "Fix It First Policy."
Starting today, police in Washington State will start writing tickets for drivers who don't follow the Emergency Zone Law. Bob Calkins, with the State Patrol, says if there's an emergency worker on the side of the road; you need to slow down. Police have been giving warnings since the first of the year. The citation is $248, but if you're also speeding when you go by, the ticket doubles to nearly $500. Oregon already has a similar law.
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