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Regional News Archives for 2013-01


Washington Deputy Moves Ahead with Burger Lawsuit


A Clark County, Washington Sheriff Deputy's lawsuit against Burger King can go forward.  The Deputy is suing the chain because he was given a burger that had been spit on. The lawsuit is currently in the hands of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  They asked the Washington State Supreme Court whether the state's Product Liability Law covers someone who isn't physically injured by a product.  Deputy Edward Bylsma thought the workers at the restaurant were acting strange and when he inspected his burger found spit on the patty.  He has lingering effects that include food aversion, sleeplessness, vomiting and emotional distress.  This ruling doesn't resolve the case; but it's expected to allow the Court of Appeal to reach a decision.

 

 

DOE Working on Initiatives for More Grads


In Oregon, 68% of students graduate in four years; and that number improved only slightly last year.  Crystal Green, with the Department of Education, says they are working on several initiatives to meet the Governor's goal of a 100% completion rate by 2025.  That includes a reading program for third graders to make sure they're ready to continue in elementary school, special resources for teachers, programs to help students connect with higher education programs and counsel them on what education is available after high school.

Environmentalists Worried About Crater Lake


"Environment Oregon" is sending a lot of mail to Oregon’s two U-S Senators.  Charlie Fisher says they want to protect Crater Lake from damage if a timber sale is approved.  Fisher says the proposed Bybee Timber Sale would threaten Crater Lake, the headwaters of the Rogue River and resident wildlife.  For more information go to: www.EnvironmentOregon.org.

 

Three Youth Rescued in Creek


Three kids ages 8, 10 and 16 were thrown from a canoe into the fast flowing Salmon Creek near Vancouver, Washington Wednesday afternoon.  Two members of a work crew from the Larch Corrections Facility jumped into the river to help the kids.  Fire District 6 Chief Jerry Green says their swift water rescue team helped all five get to shore; they were all taken to hospitals for evaluation.  The kids were wearing life vests, but green says considering the volume of water in the river right now, only experienced boaters should be in the river.

 

Southwestern Washington All Shook Up


The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 3.7 earthquake centered near Amboy, Washington late Wednesday afternoon, about 30 miles north of Vancouver. A lot of people felt it -some as far south as Gresham.  No injuries or major damage to property was reported immediately after the small quake.  A 5.3 magnitude quake was recorded off the coast of Bandon in southern Oregon Tuesday.

OSU On Board with New Vessels


 

Oregon State University has been chosen to lead the development of a new fleet of U.S. Ocean Research Vessels.  The National Science Foundation grant will start at $3-three million  but is expected to grow to $290-million over ten years. Demian Bailey with the university' says this solidifies OSU as a national player in earth, ocean and atmosphere science. The three vessels will be designed to be more energy efficient, with cutting edge technology. They'll also be acoustically silent and that will help improve research of marine mammals.

Hazing on the Willamette River


 

For the 3rd year in a row, Oregon Fish and Wildlife plans to haze California sea lions at Willamette Falls again this year.  Rick Swart says it's an effort to protect Chinook and Steelhead runs.  They'll chase the sea lions with boats and when that doesn't work they'll use fireworks.  They will not use lethal methods of removal, which they have done in the Columbia River at the Bonneville Dam.

 

 

Oregon Biodiesel Growing in Demand


Sequential Pacific Biodiesel is making the most of its expanded Salem plant.  It now makes 6-million gallons a year and is headed for 10-million gallons.  Sales Director Gavin Carpenter says Oregon energy policies are one reason why.   Oregon requires 5% of biodiesel in our mixes. The U.S. saw a billion gallons of biodiesel production last year and carpenter expects to see greater growth in the future. 

Oregon University System Chancellor Resigns


After eight years in the job, George Pernsteiner is resigning as Chancellor of the Oregon University System. Matt Donegan, President of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education says Pernsteiner can celebrate many successes but it's time for a change.  Donegan credits Pernsteiner for his work to increase enrollment and improve the public system. He says the next Chancellor will have to take over the monumental task of operating a system that has suffered "years of disinvestment."

Settlement in Fat Dog Case


Obie is the obese Dachshund that weighed 77 pounds.  Nora Vanatta became a foster caretaker for the dog when asked by Oregon Dachshund Rescue.  She put the dog on a diet, which got national attention.  But, Oregon Dachshund Rescue said the dog was being exploited and they wanted it back.  Both sides have now reached a settlement...which keeps the dog in Vanatta's custody.  They aren't releasing additional details.  The Oregonian reports that a recent Facebook post shows Obie has lost 28 pounds.

Might Be A Good Idea to Test for Radon Gas


If you haven't tested your home for radon gas...you should buy a test kit at a hardware store.   They cost between $10-$30.  Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer.  Brett Sherry, with the Oregon Health Authority, says it's important for all homeowners to run the test, because radon levels vary from house to house.  New test results show the Portland area can have levels double the national average.  That's because floods that occurred thousands of years ago pushed soil with granite into the area and that soil can contain higher levels of radon gas.

"Mango" Is One Lucky Dog


Icy conditions in sandy caused several car accidents Thursday morning. After Sandy Fire crews finished responding to those, they were sent to Hope Lake. That's where a black lab named "Mango" was stuck - his back legs deep in mud and ice about 30 feet from shore. Fire Chief Gary McQueen says they could hear the dogs howls when they arrived. They borrowed an aluminum boat and using firefighting tools loaded him in. after wrapping him in blankets padded with hot pack and some vigorous petting, Mango up jumped up, ready for a game of stick.

House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill


The House has easily passed a bill extending the federal debt limit, but it's headed to the Senate with conditions.  Oregon Congressman Greg Walden says it will withhold Congressional paychecks unless the Senate approves a federal budget, something it has not done in three years.  Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader agrees that the Senate needs to find a way to end its gridlock.  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the chamber would immediately move to advance the legislation to the White House, which has announced that Obama would sign it.

Wanted Salem Man Shot


A 29-year-old Salem man who was on the police department's most wanted list for nearly a year was shot after a 13-mile pursuit and confrontation with officers. Salem Lt. Dave Okada says there were warrants out for Gabriel Diaz's arrest for sex crimes. When police tried to stop him near Cordon Road Northeast, he took off toward the town of Brooks.  Officers finally blocked-in the car near Inland Shores Way and Lockhaven Drive in Keizer. Witnesses say Diaz had something in his hand when he got out of the car and refused to obey officers' demands. He was shot by a 21-year vet of the Salem Police Department, Bruce Fineran,  who is on paid leave as the investigation continues.  Diaz's condition has not been released.

Nicotine Bill Gets Attention


State Representative Mitch Greenlick doesn't think his proposed law - which would require you to have a prescription to buy a pack of cigarettes, will make it through the Legislature;  but he's trying to make a point about the harm tobacco use does to public health.  House Bill 20-77 would make nicotine a Schedule 3 Controlled Substance, and illegal possession and distribution could lead to a year in prison and a $6200 fine.  Greenlick tells Willamette Week quote: "Having a substance that addictive for sale over the counter just seems wrong." If it doesn't pass, he hopes it will help improve the chances of another tobacco tax increase.

Kitzhaber Focuses on Child Welfare


There are any number of reasons a family can get into the kind of trouble that results in child abuse and children being put into foster care.  Oregon Governor Kitzhaber says the Department of Human Services is now helping families learn better parenting, which kids in their own homes.  He is putting $23-million in his proposed budget to keep that program going.

Energy Drinks Under the Microscope


Those energy drinks you use to jump-start your day are causing health problems for some people.  A new government report says in the last five years, the number of people visiting the nation's emergency rooms because of energy drinks has doubled.  OHSU Toxicologist Doctor Robert Hendricksen says each drink is loaded with as caffeine as 2-5 cups of coffee.  Doctors are seeing more patients with anxiety, headaches, rapid heart rates and irregular heart rates. Those symptoms can be life-threatening if you have an underlying health problem.  With 18 deaths possible linked to the drinks, two U.S. Senators are pushing the FDA to investigate safety concerns.  In the meantime, doctors advise using the drinks in moderation.

Oregon Humane Society Dogs Going to Foster Homes


Many of the 110 dogs seized this week from the Willamette Valley Animal Rescue near Salem are going to foster families who work with the Oregon Humane Society.  David Lytle, with O-H-S, says they can't be put up for adoption until the court gives the okay.  Most of the dogs are emaciated and need to be fed slowly to nurse them back to health.  The woman who ran the shelter, Alicia Inglish, faces misdemeanor charges of animal neglect.

Trapped Woman Won't Be Charged


The woman who was rescued between the walls of two buildings in Portland won't face charges.  Police Sergeant Pete Simpson says they found no evidence of a crime and they checked Anita Mann's background.  They still don't know why she fell between the walls.  She was vague with the firefighters who rescued her. It's possible she could face a civil lawsuit from the building's owner or insurance company if they want to recover damages.

You'll Have to Wait to File Oregon Taxes


Oregon has to wait to start processing tax returns, because the IRS is delaying the start of the tax season by eight days.  Dennis Thompson, with the Oregon Department of Revenue, says that's because the debate to avoid the fiscal cliff caused last minute changes for the IRS.  Normally, processing starts on January 22nd, but this year they won't start processing returns until January 30th.  Thompson says you should make sure you include the W-2 forms with your return; because if they're missing it can delay processing of the return.

Bad Air Over Oregon


A temperature inversion will cause pollution levels to rise and an air stagnation advisory is in effect for much of Oregon through Sunday.  William Knight, with the Department of Environmental Quality, says that if you exercise outside, you should workout indoors.  And cyclists need to be careful.  You can reduce the level of pollution by limiting your driving and if you normally use a wood stove for heating; use electric or natural gas heat, if it's available, until the pollution levels drop.

Feds Send Oregon "Cover Oregon" Funding


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending Oregon a $226-million grant.  Lisa Morawski says it is seed money for "Cover Oregon" the State's Health Insurance Exchange and you can find out more by going to its website. There is a calculator there to put in basic information and it’ll give you an estimate of what financial assistance you could be eligible for.  The website is:  ww.CoverOregon.com.

 

More Smoking Bans


Smoking in Oregon’s State Parks could soon be limited to your car or RV.   It's one of several proposals that will go before a public commission that decides when rules can be changed.  Chris Havel with State Parks and Recreation says an executive order by the Governor requires the department set news rules for all parks and campgrounds by the end of 2014.  The Governor is aiming to improve public health by requiring new limitations on tobacco use, banning smoking on most state properties.

Immigrants Can Get Driver's Licenses


Delayed- deportation immigrants can now get driver licenses in Oregon.  They are young people brought to this country illegally as children, who have been issued valid immigration documents under the Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program .   DMV’s David House says not many Oregon residents will qualify.  Applicants must present valid immigration forms obtained from the DACA program to the DMV, and meet all other legal requirements for a driver license.  Governor John Kitzhaber says people have to get to work and this program provides certainty for employers as well. But illegal immigration opponent Jim Ludwick says DACA does not give these people legal status,  and they should not be granted driving privileges.

Some Oregon Sheriffs Oppose Gun Legislation


Two Oregon sheriffs are taking a stand against the white house over gun control.  President Obama wants the assault weapons ban reinstated along with a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines. Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller says that violates the Constitution.  Mueller and Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley have sent the same letter to the White House saying they will not enforce federal directives that violate the constitutional right to bear arms.

Woman Rescued From Precarious Place


It took Portland firefighters nearly four hours to rescue a woman who was trapped between the walls of two buildings Wednesday morning. She apparently fell from a two story rooftop.  She was wedged in an 18-inch space.  Fire Bureau Lt. Rich Chapman says she couldn't move, and they had to use concrete cutting saws to open holes in a cinderblock wall.  With temperatures near freezing, heaters were used to blow warm air into the space.  The woman was covered with lubricant to help her slide free.  She was taken to a hospital for evaluation. 

Permanent Fund for Student Aid?


The Oregon State Treasurer wants lawmakers to approve using state issued bonds to create a permanent fund for student aid.  Ted Wheeler admits bonds are most often used for infrastructure - such as roads and bridges.

 

The plan has the support of business leaders who see the need for a better educated work force.

Heroin Sentencing A First


For the first time, a heroin dealer has been convicted in Oregon for causing the death of a user.  In 2011,  Aleksey Dzyuba, 43, of Milwaukie sold heroin to Toviy Ainyayev, 17.  After using the heroin, Sinyayev went into a coma and died three days later.  Dzyuba was sentenced to life with a mandatory sentence of 20 years.  There are currently 25 other defendants facing the similar federal charge in Oregon.  U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall says this sends the message that anyone in the chain of supply of a drug that leads to death will be held responsible for that loss of life.

Steelhead "Experiment"


A 12 year experiment is getting started on Central Oregon's Deschutes River.  Brian Gorman with NOAA Fisheries explains they’ve declared  hatchery steelhead as “experimental.”  He says wild steelhead on that part of the Deschutes were endangered because dams at Pelton Round Butte were originally built without fish passages.  It has been 40 years since that stretch of the Deschutes has had wild steelhead.

Legislative Preview


Oregon lawmakers face a major challenge when they go into session on Monday: how to solve the funding issue for the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).  It lost $17-billion dollars during the recession and that money needs to be returned.  State Senator Rrichard Devlin says their other big challenge will be finding money to maintain school funding.  The slow recovery from recession means state revenues won't increase significantly.

Trial for Christmas Tree Ceremony Bomber Underway


The man known as the Portland holiday tree bomber says he was suckered into going along with a bomb plot.  Mohamed Mohamud goes on trial today - for allegedly wanting to set off a bomb during the 2010 holiday tree lighting in Portland.  Reportedly the 21-year-old Somali-American does not dispute trying to set a weapon of mass destruction. But he accuses undercover FBI agents of equipping him with a fake bomb - and goading him into the crime. the feds will have to prove he would have done it on his own - without their help or advice.

 

 

In the trial of Mohamed Mohamud for the 2010 attempted Christmas tree ceremony bombing in Portland, his attorneys will try to prove entrapment by the FBI.  John Henry Hingson is an attorney who is not working for the defense...he says that'll be difficult to prove, because Mohamud tried to set off the bomb.  The prosecution will also have to prove that Mohamud had plans prior to his contact with the FBI that he planned to do something against the U.S.  Jury selection is beginning in the trial.

Oregon's Economy Creeping Along


Oregon’s economy continues to slowly move out of recession.  Tim Duy, an Economist at the University of Oregon, says the home construction industry is one area where there will be growth, but, he expects the expansion will be broad based.  He has one note of caution that's caused by the debate over the fiscal cliff since Congress hasn't decided what to cut and what taxes to increase, that will likely have some effect on the economy.  The amount of cuts could reduce any economic growth.

Extortion Alert


Heads-up, if you've ever purchased prescriptions online.   Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Jodie Underwood says international criminals are posing as federal agents,  calling customers who have bought from rogue internet pharmacies.  Under the extortion scheme, the bad guys threaten them with arrest if they don't pay a fine, supposedly for violating federal law.  Underwood says if you are contacted by phone, hang up and report the calling number to the DEA.  Details at www.dea.gov.

When to File Your Taxes


With passage of big tax legislation on January first, you can expect some changes to the credits and deductions you file with your 1040.  The IRS announced today they will begin processing tax returns at the end of the month for most taxpayers.  Richard Panick with the IRS says some taxpayers who have more complex deductions or credits may have to wait until late February or March for a return. Specifics are posted on their website: www.irs.gov.

Gas Prices Beginning Annual Rise


Gas prices are holding steady at $3.38 a gallon.  Triple A's Marie Dodds says it's the same for diesel.  This is the time of year when prices start to climb, because of increased demand.  Then refineries will start making the more expensive summer blends of fuel and that also causes prices to rise.  Last year's average of $3.81 a gallon was the highest on record.  It was 14-cents higher than the previous average.

Columbia Helicopter Crashes in Peru


Aurora-based Columbia Helicopters has sent a team to investigate a crash in Peru that killed seven employees who were on board.  Michael Fahey, company President says it’s a very sad day for them, because although they are a global company, they are family.  Five of the victims were from the U.S. and two were from Peru.  The twin rotor helicopter was working on oil exploration operations.  It had just taken off when witnesses say smoke came from the helicopter and it crashed.

Warning About Drowsy Driving


One in 24 U.S. adults admits falling asleep while driving, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Of the 50 states, drowsy driving is highest in Texas, lowest in Oregon.  But Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings says it’s just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.  The federal government estimates that up to 33%t of fatal crashes may involve sleepy drivers.  In 2009, drowsy driving cost 730 people their lives on the nation's roads. 17 of those deaths were in Oregon.  Hastings recommends getting a good night's rest to prevent nodding off behind the wheel.  If you do get drowsy, change drivers.  if you're alone, stop for a rest, a walk, or a meal and a cup of coffee.

Four Oregon Officials Take their Oaths at One Time


It was the first time since 1947 that four statewide elected officials were sworn-in during one ceremony in Oregon. Former Governor Barbara Roberts emceed the ceremony in the House Chambers in Salem. All four are known to lean to the left of the political spectrum.   Back in 1947, the re-elected Governor, the Superintendent of Schools, the Labor Commissioner and Secretary of State were all sworn-in at the same day. All four positions were elected on a partisan basis, and three of the four were Republican.

Trucker Attacked


Oregon State Police are trying to identify two suspects involved in the stabbing of a truck driver early Friday morning on I-84 at the Corbett viewpoint.  Edwin Jones was putting his dog back into his truck when he was approached by two men.  State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings says Jones was treated and released from Mount Hood Medical Center.  The suspects are described as a white male in his mid-20s and a man of Hispanic or Indian descent.  They were driving a vehicle that looked like a lowered ford explorer.

Bank Vandals Send a Message


A rock was thrown through the front door window of a Wells Fargo Bank Branch  in northeast Portland Thursday morning.  The suspect didn't enter the bank.  Police Sergeant Pete Ssimpson says they're hoping to get photos of the suspect.  Media received a note claiming responsibility. They say the vandalism was in response to a federal investigation of people jailed in connection with the 2012 May Day riots in Seattle. 

No Rate Hike for Pacific Power


When Pacific Power asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission for a 3.5% rate hike some of that money was meant to cover the cost of pollution control improvements at coal-fired power plants in Utah and Wyoming. But Bob Valdez says the PUC rejected most of the request because the utility did not give good enough reasons for the hike – that would affect thousands of Oregonians.  The hike denial will save residents a lot - about $17-million the PUC is saving Pacific Power customers in Oregon.

Oregon Agriculture Forecast is Good for 2013


Oregon agriculture officials say 2013 should be a very successful year for farmers and ranchers. Katy Coba with the Oregon Department of Agriculture says some bright spots include grass seed prices and blueberries. She says the final statistics for 2012 are not out yet; but she's confident it will show a very strong year, and a great beginning for 2013. She's hoping the Congress will move swiftly on the farm bill- to keep the momentum going, especially in research and development.

 

Two Oregon Climbers Killed During Argentina Excursion


A climbing trip of a lifetime has turned to tragedy in Argentina for three Oregon men.  Twin brothers Greg and Eric Norse and David Reinhart were climbing Mount Aconcagua.  They were 800-feet from the 22,800 foot summit when David developed altitude sickness.  Greg and Eric went for help.  At the base camp, Eric died from cold and exhaustion. Craig Reinhart is David's brother: “They loved each other, and they loved their families. And this was all about that.”  David's body was spotted by a plane and a team is working to recover it.

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