A great big spotlight will shine on Portland Wednesday night as the American Idol season 11 auditions will air on Fox TV. The open casting call in July drew 7000 people to the Rose Garden. They practiced in the parking lot. Good singers, and the not so good will be on at 8 pm Wednesday on Fox.
Republican Rob Cornilles says he feels confident heading into Tuesday's Special Election. His message to voters in the First Congressional District is that it will be close, very close, but he is confident. Cornilles says polls show the race is very close. A Republican has not held the seat since 1975.
Jennifer Chamberlin in the State Office of Emergency Management says they're rapidly tallying up the damage from recent flooding. The State will qualify for federal assistance if that total meets state criteria. Chamberlin says their totals are pointing toward the state being able to ask for assistance from FEMA for damage to the State's infrastructure. The Governor may be able to apply by next week.
Damage estimates are rolling in from the storm two weeks ago that hit much of western Oregon. Lincoln County Emergency Manager Jenny Demaris pegs the cost at nearly $6-million, and says many residents are dealing with an extreme amount of financial hardship. She says the winds, rains, melting snowpack, and high tides all combined to create a perfect storm, and recovery will take a long time.
Gas prices are on the rise faster nationally than they are in Oregon. Marie Dodds with AAA, says diesel in Oregon declined a penny to $3.94. High crude prices and some refinery shut downs on the east coast have helped drive prices up in other parts of the country.
A homeowner in north Portland fired rubber bullets at a burglar. The man ran and was arrested trying to hide behind a church. Police Sergeant Pete Simpson says it's uncommon for the public to have rubber bullets. The suspect was hospitalized with a non-life threatening injury from at least one of the bullets. He’ll be arrested after being released from the hospital. The homeowner is cooperating with police.
The spring Chinook salmon run in the Columbia River is expected to have nearly 100,000 more fish than last year's run. Jessica Sall, with Oregon Fish and Wildlife, says they expect 314,000 fish will return to the river. The season runs from March 1st through April 6th between Buoy 10 and Beacon Rock near Bonneville Dam.
Bankrupt video rental company Hollywood Video has debt collectors calling former customers about unpaid late fees and unreturned movies. Kyle Cavas with the Better Business Bureau suggests getting a statement from the collection agency to try and verify the charges. Customers can also file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the State Attorney General's Office.
City officials say yesterday's test of Portland’s Community Emergency Notification System failed. The plan was for as many Portland residents as possible to receive a test message, via landline phone, cell phone, and text, in the shortest amount of time. The Bureau of Emergency Management says less than one-percent of the residents who were supposed to receive the message actually did. PBEM Director Carmen Merlo says the software vendor; Louisiana-based First Call, is being called upon to immediately solve the problem.
New figures released by state education officials show only two in every three high school students in Oregon earns a diploma in four years. The on-time graduation rate for the class of 2011 was 67%, compared to 66% for the two previous classes. Governor John Kitzhaber calls the 67% on-time graduation rate "unacceptable." The Redmond School District responded to the report explaining that they received some positive news and saw a decrease in their drop-out rate. The report shows more than 11,000 students in Oregon's high school class of 2011 dropped out.
Police arrest a suspect in connection with a fatal shooting outside a supermarket in Aloha. Washington County Sheriff's spokesman Dave Thompson says the suspect, Jeffrey Brian Johnson, is the father of the victim's ex-girlfriend. Thompson says Johnson was apprehended yesterday, a short time after fleeing the scene of the shooting, the Bales Thriftway on Farmington Road. Officials say the 25-year-old victim was shot several times and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Eugene police say a woman was hospitalized with serious injuries after her car ran a red light and collided with a school bus in a downtown intersection. No children were inside the bus and the bus driver was unhurt. The Register-Guard reports that the 68-year-old car driver was cited for careless driving.
A man accused of robbing a convenience store and killing the cashier 32 years ago is now in police custody. A grand jury has indicted Antonio Wabol, 52, on a charge of aggravated murder with a firearm. Myong Su Cho, 29, was working behind the counter at a Plaid Pantry near Portland State University on January 18th, 1980. Police say, after the cold case was reopened last year, evidence sent to the state crime lab led to the identification of Wabol as the suspect. Wabol is scheduled to be arraigned today.
Gas prices didn't change much over the last week. Marie Dodds with the Triple-A says diesel in Oregon increase a penny to $3.95. The lack of severely cold winter weather across the country, and falling crude oil prices, will help keep the price of gas from increasing until later in the spring. Checking Bend's weekly price; it's holding at $3.45 a gallon.
The search continues for two groups of four climbers missing on Mt. Rainier, including a man from Springfield, Oregon. Patty Wold with the Mt. Rainier National Forest says conditions are bad. They are getting a slight break in the weather today that's allowing searches by helicopter and plane. The climbers have been missing for a week when the area was hit by a strong snow storm. They are prepared for the conditions, so rescue teams are hoping they've dug snow caves for protection.
Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler says the State's economic development model is outdated. He's calling on lawmakers to approve the Oregon Investment Act. The Act would create a new seven member board with broad powers to give out loans and other financial support to startups. Wheeler says the proposal has business and bipartisan support.
It's a green year for Oregon vehicle manufacturers. Two Oregon companies hope to bring a mass-produced electric car to the market this year. The Portland Tribune reports Eugene-based Acrimoto will put out a 15-car pilot fleet of its three-wheeled electric car, of which nine have already sold. Aashland-based Brammo will put out two race bikes that run on an electrical charge. The company received a $28-million investment from jet-ski maker Polaris last fall.
The "Oregonian" reports that an inspector with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has resigned. Harry Hyun was accused of misuse of public funds and having sex with his wife and a girlfriend in an office at a Hillsboro Police Department precinct. The report says Hyun has signed an agreement to immediately repay the commission $345 he used to buy gas for his personal vehicle. He’s also agreed never to seek employment with the state government again. Hyun worked for the Liquor Control Commission for 15 years prior to his December 21st resignation.
State agencies are looking for special permission to fill over a thousand positions, even though the Governor has ordered a government hiring freeze. The Oregonian reports a committee approved 1031 special requests citing protecting health and safety as a number one priority. The report says half of the approved requests are season workers, mostly from Department of Forestry.
A Republican plan finds ways to create thousands of jobs in Oregon. It's the brain child of Representative Kevin Cameron and in some cases would take advantage of the region's natural resources. Cameron's plan would include tax breaks for job creators and tax credits for each child in a low income family. The plan does not appear to have bipartisan support.
Nike says its new wristband fitness device will measure time, calories and steps, just by moving your wrist. The Digital Nike+ Fuelband was launched yesterday. It costs $149. Users can also download their information on social media sites and share their workouts with others. The Fuelband joins a number of other digital fitness products made by Garmin and Adidas.
Police say an Oregon City man shot and killed his terminally ill wife Tuesday before committing suicide. Authorities say James Michael Hamel, 56, shot his wife, Rhonda Hamel, 66, then turned the gun on himself. Officials say Rhonda Hamel had been battling cancer for years and had exhausted all conventional treatments before turning to more "extreme lengths" in an effort to beat the disease, to no avail. The couple moved to Oregon City from Texas in 1990.
Several Oregon and Washington counties are under flood alert because of all the melting snow and heavy rain. Multnomah, Columbia, Clackamas and Washington counties are under flood watch until Friday morning. Forecasters say landslides and minor flooding of rivers and creeks are possible. Some rivers could crest today and Friday.
You'll have to put some muscle into it but a winery in Happy Valley, Oregon says you can make your own vino and put your name on the bottle. Vintner's Cellar says many brides come in to make some for their wedding reception. Realtors give them as gifts to clients. Other customers make birthday or anniversary presents.
Each batch costs about $300 for about two dozen bottles of wine.
An historic win for the Department of Justice and for Oregon. The State Attorney General's Office says Philip Morris will pay what's left of a punitive damage award plus interest. Money from the cigarette maker will be used to fund crime victims programs and help the Legislature deal with the budget deficit.
Authorities say a woman is hospitalized after she became trapped under a school bus. Officials say the woman was driving the bus along Highway 35 near Hood River yesterday when she pulled over to inspect a broken tire chain. Police say the Hood River County School District bus either rolled or slid onto the driver, and she was trapped for about 50 minutes before help arrived. The driver is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.
Police say a man was wounded in what appears to have been a gang-related shooting in Northeast Portland. Officials say Billy Deshawn Nelson, 19, was taken to a hospital by a friend following the shooting, which took place in the parking lot of the Candlelight Lounge on Northeast Glisan. Nelson's injuries are not considered life-threatening. Police say the gunfire came from a white sedan with a black scuff on the front bumper.
A proposed change in Washington state law would allow teens to register to vote at age 16 such as when they get their drivers license at the DMV. Spokane representative Andy Billig supports it saying letting younger people register will build life-long voters. But critics say the bill is confusing because teens would still have to wait until they're 18 to vote. Auditors also say their cash strapped offices would have trouble keeping up with the additional registrations.
Officials with Portland General Electric say more than 4100 customers across Multnomah County lost power last night because of high winds sweeping through the area. The largest area of power loss happened in southeast Gresham, where 3500 customers were affected. PGE says downed trees and branches accounted for the majority of outages across the county.
The Oregon Humane Society has a new tool to help it save more animals. The state-of-the-art rescue vehicle has 40 kennels and is used to go to smaller shelters in Oregon, Washington and California where they're overloaded with pets. The OHS estimates 30% more pets will be rescued over the next four years.
An Oregon woman and others can now have both their pistols and their pot. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from an Oregon sheriff who denied a concealed handgun license to a medical marijuana user. The 54-year-old Gold Hill woman, Cynthia Willis, was originally denied a concealed weapon permit by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Mike Winter argued that federal gun laws prohibited him from issuing a permit to Willis in 2008 because she also carried a medical marijuana card. Willis was later issued the weapon permit after winning in state appeals court. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld that decision last year.
Drinking and driving and getting caught is going to cost more. A new state law says all DUII convicts will have to install an ignition interlock device in their car and pay the device rental fee. The device prevents the car from starting if the driver's blood alcohol content is above .025. An auto shop in Beaverton says it expects to install four-times more devices a week.
New rules for Oregon beachcombers: pet owners will have to keep positive control of their animals when visiting Oregon beaches, under a new rule proposed by the State Parks Department. But that doesn't necessarily mean they have to be on leash. Chris Havel of the Parks Department says if the pet can be controlled by voice, that's good enough, under the proposed new rules. Also, finding items worth more than $100 must be turned into authorities. Chris Havel at the Parks Department says beachcombers can keep anything they find that's worth under a hundred. The new rules are part of a long list of proposed changes.
Public hearings will be held later this month.
The Republican in Oregon's First District Special Election is not happy about negative ads taken out slamming his business record. Rob Cornilles defends his record saying nothing like the “shady” ads has ever happened. Cornilles says the ads are paid for by out-of-state interests and show how desperate Democrats are to block his election. According to the latest polls, Cornilles trails Democrat Suzanne Bonamici in the special election.
A new survey by the Oregon Employment Department says one third of Oregon's employers plan to do some hiring in the next six months. Most of the companies that don't plan any hiring blame the ongoing slow economy, while a much lower number point at the government. Senior Analyst Charlie Johnson says the most common openings will be in office-related occupations, followed by food and sales.
Oregon high school teachers now have access to a locally-grown 10-lesson toolkit for teaching State civics. Secretary of State Kate Brown says the State was looking for ways to better educate juniors and seniors as they approach voting age. The State received funds from the "Help America Vote Act" to create the toolkit.
Police have a warrant out for a dangerous predatory sex offender who hasn't checked in with his parole officer. They say Michael Mendibles, 47, has a long rap sheet. He’s been in and out of prison since the mid-80s, for rape and an attack on an elderly couple. Since then he has done time for various crimes, most recently for car theft. They says he vanished after his release in November. Mendibles is known to frequent inner southeast Portland. He is white, 5’8”, 195 pounds with black hair, hazel eyes and multiple tattoos.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is at the forefront of a battle to reform Medicare. Wyden's bipartisan proposal co-sponsored by Republican Representative Paul Ryan involves inviting private competition to lower costs. Seniors would choose between the traditional program or a private option. The plan is so far garnering more Republican support than from his own party.
A trio of baby monkeys at the Oregon primate center in Hillsboro is making noise in the world of science. Researchers grew these monkeys from the stem cells of six different embryos. The goal is to advance stem cell therapy that could someday benefit human beings. Dr. Shoukrat Mitalipov says not all stem cells are equal. They’re trying to improve techniques to help people with stem cell therapy in the future.
It wasn't the most technical of rescues, but Portland firefighters knew they needed to act quickly when they found a bicyclist trapped under a PT Cruiser. So several on them lifted up the car soothers could recue the unidentified man. Firefighter Tommy Schroeder says the man is hospitalized with life threatening injuries. Witnesses say the victim was hit by two different vehicles on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard.
The Portland Police Bureau changes how it investigates officers' use of force. Starting January 15th, a new policy requires an officer's supervising sergeant to respond to the scene where use of force causes an injury, or when there is a complaint that the officer used excessive force that results in an injury. The new policy is in response to an ongoing Department of Justice investigation, launched in June, to determine if Portland Police have a pattern of using excessive force.
After a bit of break at the end of 2011, crude oil prices are reacting to a positive market and climbing into the new year. Marie Dodds at Triple A says that means the price at the pump is inching up again. Even though Oregon is out of the top five most expensive in the country this week, Dodds says the state's position probably won't last long. Forecasts are calling for higher gas prices overall in 2012. Bend's average this week is $3.39.
Forest Grove police say a five-year-old boy was shot on New Year's Eve while watching television. Police Captain Mike Herb says the boy is recovering after he was struck around midnight Saturday by an errant bullet that came from outside his home. Herb says the boy was hit in the abdomen and was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital. Authorities say officers were already responding to reports of shots fired, possibly from the area east of the Cornelius City limits.
Oregon drivers, take note: the loophole is closing. State Representative Vicki Berger says the argument that you’re on your cell phone for work won't help you get out of that texting or talking while driving ticket. As of January first, the edited version of the law took effect. Volunteer firefighters and emergency responders will have the OK. Berger suggests everyone else invest in a hands-free device.
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