FEMA has turned down requests for financial assistance to people who lost their homes in Oregon’s January floods. Jennifer Chamberlain with Oregon Emergency Management says hundreds were flooded out, but FEMA’s restrictions means many more homes must be impacted. She says the state will try to find out other sources of money to help private property owners.
A judged as cleared the records of the couple that made international news with their nude Valentine's Day game. It all began when a passerby saw a bound and naked woman in the back seat of a car. Officers tracked down 32-year-old Nikolas Harber and 26-year-old Morgan Pelzner, learning they were doing some naked role-playing to celebrate Valentine's Day. Charged with disorderly conduct, they did community service to clear their records.
Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski will start teaching at Portland State University in April. Kulongoski will join the Mark Hatfield School of Government and teach Political Science. He will co-teach a class in the spring and develop his own Political Science class for the fall. Kulongoski was Governor from 2003 to 2011.
First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address at Oregon State this June. Of course, her brother, Craig Robinson is the Coach of the OSU Basketball team. OSU's graduation will be June 17th. She says she was drawn to OSU because its student body has been recognized for promoting healthy communities by organizing large scale food drives. The First Lady is also scheduled to deliver graduation speeches at Virginia Tech and North Carolina AT& T.
Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is among the 26 AG's who are challenging the legality of expanding Medicaid as part of the new Health Care Law. McKenna says he does not oppose expanded Medicaid but does question whether it's legal for the federal government to order states to pay for some of the costs. Currently about half of the costs are split between the feds and states.
The Oregon Attorney General's Office has filed a brief in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to protect homeowners from wrongful foreclosures. Assistant AG Keith Dubanevich says loans are sold and swapped, and that's legal. He says, in this case, and many others in Oregon, that didn't happen. The AG's Office offers help for homeowners facing foreclosure; details on their website. http://www.doj.state.or.us.
A Christian boarding school files a discrimination lawsuit against a southern Oregon town. The suit claims that Canyonville charges tax-exempt organizations such as public schools and churches a premium for water and sewer service. The school claims the city charges twice the going rate for water and adds a surcharge for sewer service. Officials at Canyonville Christian academy say the overcharges amount to about $200,000 since 1988, which is as far back as its records go. City officials say they can't discuss the litigation.
The spring whale migration is underway and drawing visitors to the coast. State Park Ranger Linda Taylor say you can see “Gray Whales”; but be sure to bring binoculars, as they are out quiet a ways. Taylor is at the Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay, but there are 24 locations along the coast where visitors can meet volunteers who speak whale watching. For more go to: www.whalespoken.org.
Just in time for spring break, scientists have developed a Smartphone App that could help you survive a tsunami on the Oregon Coast. Dr. Jan Newton at the University of Washington says you simply punch in your location, and it shows if you're in a known hazard zone or not. You can get it at the I-Tunes store and the android market.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says there a lot of positives to the Affordable Health Act, including free preventative care and expanded coverage for children on their parent’s health plans. However, Merkley says the law hasn't controlled costs and says a public option would have done that. The law is now two years old. The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing challenges to the law today.
Fish and wildlife officials will be able to move forward with a plan to trap and kill California sea lions at Bonneville Dam. The Humane Society of the U.S. wanted to stop Fish and Wildlife Departments from Oregon and Washington from trapping and killing California sea lions that are eating salmon at Bonneville Dam. The Oregonian reports that a federal judge has denied a request for a temporary restraining order. The sea lions can only be killed if they've resisted previous hazing efforts and still won't leave the dam. The ruling allows the removal of up to 30 sea lions per year.
An Oregon congressman is calling on President Obama to accelerate the American pullout from Afghanistan. The President wants to stick with the current plan for a 2014 pullout, but Democrat Kurt Schrader say that's not soon enough. Schrader says the U.S. should exit Afghanistan by the end of this year.
Insurance appraisers have determined only ten of 159 water-damaged state motor fleet cars are worth repairing. Crews could not move fast enough to save the vehicles from the rising waters of Salem’s Mill Creek in January. Oregon COO Michael Jordan says motor fleet crews will be better prepared next time. 140 of the damaged cars will be auctioned later this month at Co-Part Inc. in Woodburn.
A one-year renewal of County Timber Payments passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as part of the major transportation bill. The senate voted 74-22 in favor of the bill, sending it to the House, where prospects for renewal of County Timber Payments remain uncertain. Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden says restoration of the payments is urgently needed as struggling rural counties try to make ends meet. He says it would take years for comparable money to be generated by house proposals to replace the subsidies with mandates to increase logging on federal lands. Representative Greg Walden says he has commitments from the house leadership to fund a short-term extension of county payments.
A health alert is out for anyone who's been to Skamania Lodge recently. Public Health officials say you may have been exposed to measles. A person was diagnosed with the disease after attending a conference there from March 6th to the 9th. Health officials say getting treated by today could lower the chances for serious illness.
A man was wounded in a shooting with police in north Portland Tuesday night. Sergeant Pete Simpson says the Washington County SWAT team was helping the Gang Enforcement Team serve a warrant when an armed man from another house confronted deputies. They don't know why. The man was hospitalized in serious condition with gunshot wounds. No officers were wounded. Simpson says it doesn't appear the man knew the people they were there to arrest. They did make those arrests after securing the scene of the shooting.
Klamath County Commissioners have decided not to ask voters if they want to raise their property taxes to pay for the jail. A published report says the Board voted Tuesday to remove a three-year jail levy from the May 15th ballot. The Legislature enacted a bill this year allowing Klamath and other counties to use money normally restricted to road maintenance to fund sheriff's offices. The $1.6 million levy would have cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $80 a year.
High gas prices are affecting our habits. Triple-A's Marie Dodds says they asked drivers whether they're driving differently to save gas. Half of the respondents have reduced shopping trips. 16% say they'll consider buying a more fuel efficient vehicle and that number doubles if gas prices remain high.
GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he will not attend next week’s scheduled Republican Debate in Portland. The nationally televised, round-table debate is scheduled to take place on March 19th. Romney's campaign says the former Massachusetts Governor won't be able to make the debate because he'll be in Illinois for the March 20th primary. There's no word yet on whether the debate will proceed without Romney.
Fire rips through and destroys a branch of Umpqua Bank in Newport. Officials say the blaze broke out around 9 o'clock Monday morning and all employees were able to get out of the building safely. The State Fire Marshal says winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour fed the flames and fire crews were forced to leave the building after being on the scene for about an hour. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.
One out of every five Oregonians relied on food stamps to feed their families in January. A recent report from the State Department of Human Services says over 800,000 people received help with food, and that’s the highest number ever. About 6% more Oregonians received food stamps this January compared to last January.
Police say a Banks man faces charges after an altercation at a fast-food restaurant in Forest Grove. Officials say Lawrence Staley became belligerent after a mix-up in his order at a Jack-in-the-Box on Pacific Avenue. Police say Staley began throwing food from his bag at employees and hit one employee on the back of the head with a "Breakfast Jack" sandwich. Staley was later arrested at his home on charges of second-degree disorderly conduct and harassment.
Governor Kitzhaber signs Oregon’s Health Insurance Exchange into law. Rocky King is Executive Director of the Exchange and says it gives consumers more choices. The law takes effect in 2014 and is heavily subsidized by federal tax credits. King says it will help insure more Oregonians, noting there are 650,000 uninsured in the state.
International money transfer scams remain a big problem in Oregon. Tony Green, in the Attorney General’s Office, says the scams operate outside of the U.S. and are difficult to shut down. Telemarketing scams are also big business. A group called "card services" uses illegal recorded messages to offer reduced credit card interest rates. The Attorney Generals office now has a new website to help consumers.
Thursday the State Board of Education will hear testimony on state funded schools use of Native American mascots. Se-Ah-Dom Edmo is the Vice President of the Oregon Indian Education Association. She says she'll be presenting as an educator and to represent her history. Edmo says the fight against the objectification of Native Americans has been getting national attention through other cases with college and professional teams. After the testimony, the State Board of Education will open the subject to public comment. They hope to have a decision sometime this summer.
Tre Arrow, one of 23 candidates running for Mayor of Portland, faces a charge of domestic violence-related fourth-degree assault. Police say Arrow, was taken into custody yesterday morning. He previously served time in prison after pleading guilty in 2008 to two counts of arson. Arrow is best known for sitting on a window ledge for eleven days at the Portland headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service in 2000.
Republicans will not field a candidate for two of the top slots on the Oregon ballot, further complicating the party's efforts to break into statewide offices they haven't held for nearly two decades. The candidate filing deadline came and went Tuesday without any Republicans signing up to run for an open seat for Attorney General or to challenge Treasurer Ted Wheeler, a Democrat. Oregon Republican Party Chairman Allen Alley says he couldn't find high-caliber candidates who could compete with well-funded Democrats.
One of Oregon’s favorite animals will celebrate a big birthday this year. Packy the elephant turns 50. That will make him the oldest Asian male elephant in the country. The Oregon Historical Society will host a big bash downtown. The event kicks off on March 17th at 11 am.
Two Oregon lawmakers hope to close loopholes in a visa program that allows forest companies to hire foreign workers while many in the U.S. could be hired for the jobs. Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio will introduce the legislation today in Washington D.C. They want to expand where companies are required to post job openings so possible employees will know to apply. The Labor Department says millions of federal stimulus dollars that were meant to put Oregonians back to work last year instead paid wages for more than 250 foreign employees.
Governor John Kitzhaber signs into law two bills aimed to improve the state's high school graduation rates and student performance. Democrat Co-Speaker of the House Arnie Roblan worked as a school administrator and teacher before serving in the Legislature. The bill signing comes just 13 hours after the final gavel dropped, closing the 2012 session; the first official annual session for the State.
The Oregon Legislature ends its first annual session after reaching agreements on various bills. Those bills include an Education Reform Bill pushed by Governor John Kitzhaber and one providing added protections against foreclosures. Lawmakers also passed a measure to re-balance the state budget, which maintains school funding, keeps all prisons open and avoids layoffs of Oregon State Police detectives. The session ended five days after it was originally scheduled to end, but a day short of its constitutionally-mandated deadline.
More fireworks restrictions could be coming to the City of Vancouver. The City is considering banning aerial fireworks, as the State of Oregon has done. City Councilor Jeannie Harris has mixed feelings about it. The City is also considering reducing the number of days they can be sold and used. Other ideas being floated are a surcharge on the fireworks to help pay for police and fire overtime used responding to complaints and fires.
A new tax scam is making the rounds. Richard Panick with the IRS says some victims lost $500 in the scheme. The scam targets low income people and he says you should be wary of anyone promising a refund without requiring any documents for tax returns.
The Oregon State Senate moved quickly to rebalance a state budget that is bleeding money. Oregon has lost $300-million in revenue since the close of the 2011 session. The rebalance protected school and public safety budgets. State Senator Richard Devlin says the ending budget also has some money left.
Work is heading for a June startup at a geothermal plant near Vale, Oregon, that the State Department of Energy says will be the first in Oregon to produce energy on an industrial scale. The developer, U.S. Geothermal Inc., of Boise, Idaho, plans to use heat from a 300-degree reservoir 2500 feet underground to generate power. Idaho Power Company will buy the electricity. A company spokesman says the 23-megawatt plant will supply enough power for about 700 homes. A Nevada Company is building a second generating plant in the southern Oregon town Adel, and that's expected to go on line in 2013.
Federal biologists forecast a big increase in salmon returns to two rivers that have returned stingy catches for Oregon and California fishermen in recent years. The biologists say more water for fish and an upturn in the cyclical supply of food in the Pacific Ocean is largely responsible for improved runs in the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers. The Pacific Fishery Management Council forecasts 1.65 million adult Chinook salmon for the Klamath River and almost 820,000 for the Sacramento. The Klamath expectations are more than four times higher than last year.
A bill that would prevent concealed handgun license holders from carrying guns on school campuses in Oregon has failed in the State Senate. Senator Doug Whitsett voted with the majority, saying the Second Amendment allows an individual to bear arms. Supporters of the legislation were looking for ways protect students and reduce opportunities for weapons to get into the wrong hands. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education will vote on a policy preventing guns on public college and university campuses during a meeting Friday.