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Regional News Archives for 2011-05


Warming Weather Means to Review Boat Safety


Warmer weather will get more boaters out on the water, but Nate Thompson with the Clackamas County River Patrol says the deep snow pack means rivers will be running fast and cold. “As the weather warms up, the water may not warm up as quickly. And so remember that swimming the in springtime or being around rivers in the springtime may be dangerous because of the cold, fast moving water.” Drinking alcohol and swimming can also be very dangerous, because the alcohol makes your body more susceptible to the cold. And Thompson says boaters need to make sure they have a designated driver.

 

 

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Watch for Algae in Lakes


Here’s an alert for swimmers and boaters. The Oregon Health Department says the State's having a problem with algae on the waterways. The Health Department’s Jennifer Ketterman says if it looks like pea soup; beware. It can cause itchy skin rashes and digestive problems, and could be lethal to you pet.

 

 

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Gladstone Beautician Found Dead


The Clackamas County major crimes team is investigating the fatal shooting of a Gladstone beautician, who was found dead late Saturday. Debbie Lee Higbee Benton, 54, was found in her salon on Portland Avenue. Officials say Higbee Benton had a long-term relationship with Gladstone Police Sergeant Lynne Benton, who was on duty when the victim's body was found. No suspects have been arrested.

 

 

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Collision Near Kent Kills One


A Saturday afternoon collision killed one person and seriously injured two others. It happened around 2:30 p.m. on Highway 97, two miles south of Kent, Oregon. Oregon State Police say a car driven by Curtis Beasley, 79, from the Dalles, crossed a centerline and collided head-on with a semi-truck. That truck then crossed the centerline, and collided head-on with a pickup truck driven by Gary Keith, 49, from Richland, Washington.  Keith's wife, Kimberly Ann Keith, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene. Keith and Beasley were transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The truck driver was not injured.

 

 

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Police Keeping An Eye on Drivers This Weekend


Oregon drivers should remember there is a statewide selective traffic enforcement program underway this Memorial Day weekend that seeks to reduce the number of vehicle-related deaths and injuries.  Many Oregon law enforcement agencies have extra staffing on the road focusing on safety restraint use, speed, and impaired drivers. To stay safe, slow down, and use a designed driver if you are drinking, or using prescription or illegal drugs.

 

 

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Officials Warn About Equine Herpes Virus


Federal officials are recommending that horse owners avoid traveling with horses through parts of Oregon due to the recent outbreak of equine herpes. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service say the virus poses a hazard in wild horse management areas and territories in Eastern Oregon. It is primarily spread by direct physical contact between horses and can also spread short distances (20-50 feet) via aerosol such as coughing and whinnying. People cannot become infected with the virus.  However, equine herpes can be moved from horse to horse by clothing or hands, and by objects shared between horses or people such as buckets, bridles, halters, feed troughs, trailers, chutes, or vehicles, bridles, halters, feed troughs, trailers, chutes, or vehicles.

 

 

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Authorities Warn About BBQ Safety


As the summer grilling season gets underway, fire fighters are warning you to be careful how you dispose of charcoal ashes. Brian Barker, with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue says put the ashes in a metal container and pour water on top. When using your barbecue;. keep it at least three feet from your house and don't use it under an overhang.

 

 

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Deadly Crash Near Kent


A Saturday afternoon collision killed one person and seriously injured two others. It happened around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday on Hwy 97, two miles south of Kent, Oregon.  OSP says a car driven by Curtis Beasley, 78, from the Dalles, cross a centerline and collided head-on with a semi-truck. That truck then crossed the centerline, and collided head-on with a pickup truck driven by Gary Keith, 49, from Richland, Washington.Keith's wife, Kimberly Ann Keith, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene. Keith and Beasley were transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The truck driver was not injured.

 

 

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Flight of Friendship


Over 70 people from the Portland area are on the trip of a lifetime.  They're in the areas of Japan devastated by the quake and tsunami to meet with victims and do what they can to help. Amy Kohnstamm with Mercy Corps is traveling with the group to help coordinate volunteer efforts with their Japanese partner, Peace Winds.  The Flight of Friendship Japan will last a week.

 

 

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"On Demand" is On Demand


Our busy schedules are changing the way we watch TV. Diana Kerekas is VP and GM of Comcast's Xfinity on demand service and says appointment TV is still important. She says that's where the Xfinity service comes in, and people across the country are using it. Comcast has just announced 20 billion viewings since the service started in 2003.

 

 

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Stranded Woman Saved By Cell Phone


29-year-old woman falls into the Willamette River near Keizer and uses her cell phone to text for help. Goodman says a search was launched and Brandi Kindred was found along the Willamette River near Keizer Rapids Park. The Polk County River Patrol took her to Wallace Marine Park where she was treated for hypothermia. She didn't want to go to a hospital and was taken home by her friends.

 

 

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Child-Victims Rights


Oregon has won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney General's Office, says the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police and welfare workers need to get a parent's consent before interviewing a child abuse victim. The high court did not rule on the merits of the case; it only tossed the Appeal's court ruling because the child no longer lives in Oregon. Green says the high court did set the stage to rule on similar cases in the future.

 

 

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Gift Card Bill Helpful to Cardholders


A proposed law in the Oregon Legislature would require gift cards sold in Oregon to allow cash back on balances of five dollars or less.  Some lawmakers were concerned a mandatory cash-back policy would be trouble for Oregon retailers. But supporters of the bill say this is a bonus for consumers who cannot get the full value of the gift they've received because there's not enough of a balance on the card to make a purchase.

 

 

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Faith Healing Bill Passed by Both Oregon Houses


The Oregon House and Senate have passed a bill that strengthens state laws related to faith healing and children. Parents who choose to rely on the power of God to heal their children, instead of seeking professional medical care would no longer be protected by Oregon Law, if the bill is signed into law by the Governor. The bill is a reaction to cases related to the followers of Christ Church in Oregon City. Two children died and one child suffering facial disfigurement because parents refused medical care in favor of faith. In all three cases, the conditions could have been remedied with basic medical attention. The bills received bi-partisan support.

 

 

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Another Version of the Bottle Bill Heads to the Governor


Another revision of the Bottle Bill is headed to the Governor's desk for final approval. Nearly all beverage containers, except those that hold wine, liquor and milk would require a deposit. Senator Mark Hass says the change will help improve the recycling rates of all beverage containers, which varies, depending on whether or not a deposit is required.  Senator Alan Olsen says the bill is too broad and worries a deposit will be required on all kinds of containers. The Governor is expected to sign the bill.

 

 

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Large Insurance Company Could Raise Rates


June 2nd, the State of Oregon considers a request by Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield to raise some premiums by 22%. Lisa Stiller says that will put insurance further out of reach for part time workers like herself. She would like to see a single payer system to contain costs. Regence says the increase is needed to cover exploding costs to cover their sickest clients.

 

 

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Congressman Schrader Holds Virtual Town Hall


Going on-line for a virtual town hall meeting, Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader told constituents conservative Democrats are working on plans to cut spending and reduce the deficit. Schrader also talked about the difficult job of holding down Medicare and Social Security costs. Schrader says he found it a little unnerving, not being able to look his constituents in the eye. But, he says using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the public on their I-Pads and smart phones is the wave of the future, and he'll do it again.

 

 

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Cougar Kill Bill Dies in Legislature


A bill to again allow hunting of cougars in Oregon has died. The Oregon House passed the measure, but the Oregon Senate failed to vote on it. Oregon voters rejected the practice of cougar hunting with dogs in the mid 1990's. This is the farthest a bill has gotten since that ban.

 

 

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Kicker Bill Update


The Oregon Legislature has sent a bill to the Governor that turn the kicker check into a credit on your tax return. State Senator Ginny Burdick says that'll save a million dollars in printing costs and millions more in loan costs to borrow the money. Senator Jeff Kruse argued that Oregonians like getting a kicker check and the amount of savings is insignificant when compared to the overall state budget.

 

 

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Wyden Concerned with Patriot Act


Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is co-authoring amendments to the U.S. Patriot Act. Colorado Senator Mark Udall is the other co-author. He has three concerns with the Act: “The Business Records Provision” allows law enforcement to demand any records; the “Lone Wolf Provision” allows surveillance of individuals even if there’s no proof they’re connected to a terrorist organization or foreign government.  And the third allows roing wiretaps without specifying a target or location.” Both Senators claim the amendments would not affect anti-terrorism efforts. However, the Bill is opposed by the administration.

 

 

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Columbia River Levels Are Troubling


The Columbia River has reached flood stage, 16 feet. Tyree Wilde at the National Weather Service says the reservoirs upstream are releasing water because of heavy rain and rapid snowmelt. But the process can slow down with a change in the weather. Wilde says we are heading back into a cool, wet weather pattern through the weekend.  Still, they expect the river to remain high for the next 7 to 10 days.

 

 

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Fires Season Should Have A Slow Start


A soggy and cold spring has fire forecasters predicting a slow wildfire season: “Certainly we expect fire activity to be less than normal as we go through the bulk of the summer.” John Saltenberger with the Northwest Fire Coordination Center doesn't expect a risk of big wildfires until August.

 

 

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Oregon Homeless Numbers Climbing


The recession has caused Oregon’s homeless rate to increase. Tim Fitzgerald, with Oregon Housing and Community Services says homelessness increased 29% over last year, but about half of the increase is due to better reporting by counties.  22,000 people in Oregon are homeless.  That includes about 6600 children.

 

 

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State Road Projects Planned


The Oregon Department of Transportation has friendly reminder for spring and summer road trippers: highway projects are underway. Jason tell is ODOT Region One Manager: “40 projects that are underway in the Portland area this summer. That’s a lot. The good news is: when we are done, with constructions, we’re going to have an improved transportation system and it’s creating jobs along the way.” The bad news: delays are practically unavoidable on Oregon highways. The State will post construction updates on:   www.tripcheck.com.  Drivers may also call 511 for updates.

 

 

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Bonneville Dam Takes Heat From Wind Energy Assn


The Wind Energy Association is taking aim at the Bonneville Power Administration for pulling wind power off its grid last week. BPA says it had to accommodate an excess of hydro power. Rob Gramlich with the Wind Power Association says BPA broke a contract. Environmentalists also disagree with BPA's claim that using hydro power was needed to help salmon.

 

 

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Invader Kept at Bay – So Far


A new program aimed at protecting Oregon waterways has already earned its keep. Border inspectors discovered a potentially damaging invasive species hitching a ride on a boat being towed into the state: “a boat came through the inspection station with some Zebra Mussels attached to the outdrive motor.” Glen Dolphin of the Oregon State Marine Board says those Zebra Mussels could have attached themselves to the plumbing of dams and drinking water supplies, doing significant environmental and economic damage.

 

 

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Gas Prices Still Dropping!


Big drop in the national average price for a gallon of gas is down 11-cents to $3.84. Triple-A's Marie Dodds says prices should continue to fall over the summer as long as crude oil remains below $100 a barrel. Oregon's average for diesel declined 3-cents to $4.28 and in Bend regular gas dropped to $3.91.

 

 

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Click It- Or Ticket!


It’s a major safety campaign in Oregon, and it's working.  Oregon State Police Lieutenant Gregg Hastings says they'll be patrolling with some help for the next couple of weeks. Those increased patrols will be looking for people not wearing a seatbelt, or children not in a safety or booster seat. It is a primary offense and can cost an offender at least $97.

 

 

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Sea Lion Killing Protest


The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint in federal court, hoping to block plans to kill sea lions on the Columbia River to protect salmon. Sharon Young with the society says the public was not given an opportunity to respond to the decision made by the National Marine Fisheries Service last week to allows the killings. Young says new scientific studies indicate the sea lions are not the biggest threat to the salmon population; that stocking the river with non-native fish may be a bigger problem. Recent efforts to haze the sea lions on the Columbia and Willamette have not been effective. The Humane Society of the U.S. is not affiliated with the Oregon Humane Society.

 

 

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National Groups Protests Sea Lion Killings


The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint in federal court, hoping to block plans to kill sea lions on the Columbia River to protect salmon. Sharon Young with the Society says the public was not given an opportunity to respond to the decision made by the national marine fisheries service last week to allows the killings. Young says new scientific studies indicate the sea lions are not the biggest threat to the salmon population; that stocking the river with non-native fish may be a bigger problem.  Recent efforts to haze the sea lions on the Columbia and Willamette have not been effective. the humane society of the U.S. is not affiliated with the Oregon Humane Society.

 

 

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State Workers Protest


Over a thousand state workers used Friday's mandatory furlough day to protest proposed budget cuts in a rally on the steps of the State Capitol. Unions and other advocacy groups joined them in asking lawmakers for fair wages and health benefits. Many of the workers said they can't absorb any more salary cuts or unpaid furlough days.

 

 

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Americans On the Road Again


Triple-a says high gas prices won't keep Americans from traveling on this upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. Triple-A's Marie Dodds says after two years of economic hardship, the "staycation" has lost its appeal, and people are ready to travel. Triple-A predicts about 100,000 more Americans will head out this year, compared to last. Nearly 35-million Americans are expected travel 50 miles or more from home.

 

 

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Actors Allowed to Smoke in Stage


A bill that would allow actors who perform on state, in a motion picture, or a television show, to pretend to smoke, wins final legislative passage. The measure would create an exception in Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act to let actors smoke or carry a "lighted smoking instrument" while performing. However, the "instrument cannot contain tobacco. The bill now heads to Governor Kitzhaber's desk.

 

 

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Today is a State Furlough Day


Most State offices are closed today as part of the State's Furlough Program. It’s required state worked to take unpaid days off on 10 Fridays since October 2009, affecting about 26,000 state employees and saving the state around $2 million in payroll.  While most State offices are closed; many who work in police, corrections, substance abuse treatment, and the Oregon Department of Transportation are working today. If you have business to do with the DMV; some services are available on-line. Through the Oregon DMV website, you can process vehicle registration renewals, changes of address and notice of vehicle sales.

 

 

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Medical Pot Users Can Carry Concealed Guns


The Oregon Supreme Court rules sheriff's have to issue concealed weapons permits to medical marijuana cardholders who are qualified to carry a weapon.  Leland Berger represented the plaintiff: “In some ways there is this resistance on the part of law enforcement, to this change in the law. It’s really challenging to distinguish between a bag of pot and a bag of therapeutic medical cannabis.” He says some sheriffs began issuing conceal carry permits once the defense was successful in appellate court.

 

 

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Camping Tips


Want to go camping, but you've never been or you don't have the equipment? Oregon Parks and Recreation wants to help with its "Let's Go Camping" series. Jill Nishball coordinates the program and says it covers everything for beginners, from camp fire safety to Dutch oven cooking, hiking, fishing and so much more. Would be campers can sign up for the experience for one or two nights at 10 different parks through nine weekends this summer.

 

 

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Open Windows & Kids Don't Mix


Warmer weather means you'll be opening windows, and that's a hazard to children. Sandy Nipper works at Legacy Children's Hospital and says an open window is an invitation to a young child. Nearly 50-children in Oregon have fallen from second and third floor windows. They recommend that you teach children to stay two steps back from a window; use stops to keep windows from opening more than four inches and don't put furniture next to a window.

 

 

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Northwest At Full Power


The Pacific Northwest is in the odd position of having too much energy. That's because of the extremely high mountain runoff in the Columbia River. The Bonneville Power Administration's Michael Milsteen says they've been unplugging the windmills the last few nights. Too much power all at once can shut down transmission lines and cause blackouts.

 

 

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AAA Predicts Big Travel Numbers


Triple A Oregon is predicting an increase in the number of people driving this coming Memorial Day weekend. Marie Dodds with Triple A says the average driving trip will be longer than last year but she expects people to spend less than they did in 2010.

 

 

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"Jory Soil" Designation Nixed


The Oregon State Senate has voted against a proposal to make "Jory" the State Soil. It was sponsored by Senator Alan Olsen who said it got its name from a family that moved to the Willamette Valley, south of Salem, in 1847. But, the soil isn't very productive and that caused several State Senators to vote against it. They said it doesn't represent the best soil that Oregon has to offer. The movement to make Jory the State Soil started when the Smithsonian traveling exhibit unofficially named it the State soil.

 

 

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Death Row Inmate Get His Wish


A Marion County judge has granted a death row inmate's request to waive future appeals and be put to death. Gary Haugen says the judicial system doesn't work. Haugen, will die by lethal injection August 16th. He'll be the first Oregonian sentenced to death in 14 years.

 

 

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One Economist Not Hopeful About Economy


When it comes to business and the potential for new jobs, the picture still looks pretty bleak when you hear from Wells Fargo Economist Mark Vitner: “Sales are 20%-30% below where they were pre-recession and they’re not coming back, so folks don’t really want to hire. Their second biggest concern is: their taxes have increased and their regulatory burden has increased.”   He says companies are being highly selective when hiring and looking for people who can contribute directly to improving their situation quickly. Vitner is in Portland speaking to local businesses on the state of the national and local economies.

 

 

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Mt. St. Helens Erupted 31 Years Ago


31 years ago today, Mt. St. Helens roared to life with a massive eruption kill 57 people.  Seismologist Seth Moran at the Cascades Volcano Observatory says they continue to study the volcano and use what they've learned to predict other eruptions. The mountain is quiet today. The last eruption was July 10th of 2004.

 

 

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Portland Bond Fails


Some other money issues around the state weren't as successful. In Portland, although the school districts levy expected to save 200 positions did pass; a $548 million Bond Measure did not. And in Oregon City, voters opted not to pass a $6 million levy. District officials there say it forces them to cut two weeks off of the academic year.

 

 

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Body Found in Maine Not Kyron


The body of a young boy found in Maine caused the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office to be contacted about the Kyron Horman investigation. Lt. Mary Lindstrand says they compared the descriptions of both boys, and says they are definitely different people. Lindstrand says they frequently get contacted about missing persons cases. The Kyron Horman case has generated more than 6500 tips.

 

 

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Kitzhaber Works to Keep Jobs Bills Alive in Legislature


Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber calls reporters to his ceremonial office to help him remind legislative leadership of his jobs and economy agenda as the session winds down. The Governor hopes to keep bills in his jobs and economy agenda moving, but he also said re-vamps of the State education and health care systems are crucial. Labor Union leader Tom Chamberlain says bills that encourage job growth outside of the Willamette Valley are important. Many of Kitzhaber's proposals are still in committee with less than six weeks left in the session.

 

 

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Governor Kitzhaber Rates Fairly Well


Most Oregonians approve of the job Governor John Kitzhaber is doing. That's according to a new survey published by Portland-based Riley Research. Mike Riley says that regular voters and those more interested in politics seemed to give him a higher rating. People living in the metro areas also gave him a higher rating.

Riley says the reason may come down to party affiliation, because more Democrats live in the metro area than in Central and Eastern Oregon. Bottom line, he says the Governor seems to be doing fine.

 

 

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Circle K Vows to Curb Tobacco Sales to Kids


Something different is afoot at the Circle K. It's the result of a national plan to reduce sales of cigarettes to minors. Oregon is part of a multi-state effort to crack down on illegal sales of tobacco to young people. Tony Green in Attorney General John Kroger's Office says the company will have to work harder. Circle K is the only convenience store chain involved in this agreement. There are 55 Circle K stores in Oregon. About 4000 nationwide.

 

 

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Vets Bills in Oregon Legislature


A group of House Republicans are advocating for the advancement of eight bills designed to improve the lives of Oregon vets with limited financial impact on the State budget. Representative Mike McClain says Oregon soldiers are doing multiple tours of duty. One bill helps soldiers' families cover the costs of keeping in touch. Another bill would authorize a third veterans' home in Roseburg. The "Care Package for Oregon Veterans" would expand incentives for doctors to accept patients who have military health coverage called Tri-Care.

 

 

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Gas Prices Declining Ever So Slightly


Gas prices are down again. Marie Dodds, with Triple-A says diesel is down a fraction to an average of $4.31.  As long as crude oil prices remain below $100 a barrel, gas prices should continue to decline. We've got an average of $3.93 for a gallon of regular in the Bend area this week.

 

 

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How About A Visit to the Golden Pioneer?


It’s Historic Preservation Month. Tours of the Oregon State Capitol, including a hike up the spiral staircase to visit the Golden Pioneer are available for individuals and groups. Tour guide Missy Simpson says the tours are always free because it's a public-owned building. The Pioneer is nameless, she says,  because he represents all the people who traveled west to settle here. Tours may be scheduled in advance by calling Capitol Visitor Services. (503-986-1388)

 

 

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Coast Roads Closed


A popular route to the Oregon Coast is affected by road work.  ODOT's Rick Little says Highway 20 in the coast range has single-lane travel during the week, with a full shutdown this weekend. It's all part of a larger project to improve the safety of Highway 20 from the Willamette Valley to the Oregon Coast at Newport.

 

 

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Highway 20 Along the Coast to Close


A popular route to the Oregon coast is affected by road work.  ODOT's Rick Little says Highway 20 in the coast range has single-lane travel during the week, with a full shutdown this weekend. It's all part of a larger project to improve the safety of Highway 20 from the Willamette Valley to the Oregon coast at Newport.

 

 

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Meth Death Numbers Soar


Oregon has experienced a surge in the number of deaths related to methamphetamines. Tom Parker from the Anti-Addiction Oregon Partnership says 106 fatalities were tied to meth in 2010. The number of meth-related fatalities in Oregon was 22% more than the previous year. We should find out the number of prescription drug deaths in Oregon sometime next week.

 

 

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Sea Lions Back on the Munch


The States of Oregon and Washington can again target salmon munching sea lions. Fisheries Biologist Garth Griffin says the states can remove or kill up to 85 sea lions per year. Griffin says NOAA believes the latest kill permit will stand up in court. One issued in 2008 was recently struck down by a Federal Appeals Court.

 

 

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Highway 30 Could Be Renamed


A section of Highway 30 will be renamed “Ralph Painter Highway” under a bill headed to Governor John Kitzhaber's desk. The bill had unanimous support in both chambers. Painter was killed during a struggle with a suspect earlier this year.   Scappoose Senator Betsy Johnson says it's a fitting tribute to help a community still rocked by the Chief's murder.

 

 

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Spring is Wildfire Protection Time


Spring is the time to make your house safe if there's a wildfire. Alice Busch, with the Sandy Fire Department says that if you live on a hillside, the type of plants in your yard can provide protection. They also recommend putting small plants near your house and tall plants farther away. And keep your gutters clean to prevent an ember from starting a fire.

 

 

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Michael's Stores Hit By Cyber Thieves


Michael’s craft stores in 20 states have been the target of thieves stealing debit card and personal identification numbers. Security consultant Chris O'Ferrell says the thieves put devices on the store's card readers. Oregon stores include those in Beaverton, Tualatin, Springfield, Medford and Roseburg. Customers are advised to monitor their accounts for unusual activity; change your personal identification number and security settings.

 

 

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Commuter Relief Act Considered by Legislature


You’d have new transportation options under the "Commuter Relief Act" being co-sponsored by Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. The current $230 a month tax credit would be lowered to $200, so the money could include other options, such as cycling or mass transit. There's also an option for people who are self-employed as long as they use the money for work-related commuting.

 

 

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Oregon Legislators React to Economic Forecast


Oregon State Economists predict the state will see a revenue boost of about 128-million dollars in the next biennium. Ways and Means Co-Chair Peter Buckley, a Democrat, says it's a glimmer of hope, because there’s a broad agreement among economists that they’ve spoken to that Oregon’s economy will recover faster than the national economy.   Some Republicans argue economists might be putting too much weight in job growth, which may not be realized if the state doesn't reduce tax pressure on corporations.

 

 

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Wyden Takes on Big Oil On Tax Breaks


With soaring oil and gas prices, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden wants to know why oil companies continue to get generous tax breaks. He says thin the past, they didn’t need tax breaks when oil was $50 a barrel, why would they need them now that oil is $100 a barrel? Wyden says ending the tax breaks could save $1 to 2 billion per year.   But most Republicans and some Democrats in oil rich states oppose it.

 

 

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Stamp Out Hunger on Saturday


Letter carriers throughout the country will try to "Stamp Out Hunger" as they pick up donations at mailboxes this Saturday. Jean Kempe-Ware with the Oregon Food Bank says they want nonperishable items only, such as canned goods, including protein, rice, pasta, baby food and powdered drinks. She says letter carriers are leaving degradable plastic bags they want postal customers to fill.  Those bags must be left at your mailbox early Saturday; carriers will pick them up and get them to local food banks for distribution.

 

 

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One Dies From Gaston Blast


One man has died after a small explosion at the Stimson Lumber Mill in Gaston Wednesday afternoon. Two other male workers were injured in the blast. Ken Builderback with the Gaston Fire Department says the men thought a hydraulic accumulator they were working on was not pressurized, but it was. The workers' names have not been released.

 

 

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Anti-HIV Vaccine in Development


Researchers at OHSU's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute have been working to develop a vaccine against HIV.  Dr. Louis Picker leads the team that has just announced success in tests on macaque monkeys. Dr. Picker says his vaccine is different from most. The vaccine Dr. Picker and his team have developed is like "armed soldiers" that establish in the body for years and wait for the virus so they can combat it. He adds they're still refining the vaccine and are probably still a few years away from clinical trials.

 

 

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Toxic Cloud Injures Four in Clackamas County


Officials say four people were hospitalized yesterday as a result of a toxic cloud that was released from Precision Castparts in Milwaukie, Oregon. Officials urged residents within a half-mile of the facility to close all doors and windows and remain inside. Two Clackamas County firefighters and two employees of the business were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor respiratory problems. Fire and rescue officials say a hydrofluoric nitric acid cloud leaked from the building shortly before 6 p.m. after titanium in a vat of acid created a chemical reaction following an electrical failure.

 

 

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Portland Rapist Lures a Women With Promise of Baby Items


In the Portland area: a suspect rapist used an interesting line to lure a woman. Hillsboro police just arrested a man accused of raping and kidnapping a woman earlier this week.  Authorities say the alleged victim was approached Tuesday morning by the 46-year-old Hillsboro man, who offered her a baby car seat and stroller.  Police say after the woman refused, she was pulled into his vehicle, and then was driven to his home, where she was sexually assaulted.  Officials say the suspect was picked out of a photo lineup and was arrested Tuesday night at his place of employment in Forest Grove.

 

 

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Better Economic Forecast


The Oregon economy appears to be on a 'firmer footing,' according to an update from the State's Chief Economist. Tom Potiowsky says Oregon's job growth over the past year is seventh fastest in the United States.  He predicts that tax revenues will be down in the current year, but up $128-million next year, meaning lawmakers will have more to spend than they expected.

 

 

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College Saving Plan Needs Fixing


Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler is trying to fix a money-losing portfolio in the Oregon College Savings Plan. The money market portfolio has a negative rate of return because interest rates are low, and the plan's managers impose a fee. Wheeler hopes to get the company to waive that fee: “My hope is we’re going to come out with a plan that mitigates any losses in the money market mutual funds. And holds people at event at least, until the interested rate environment improves.” Wheeler says he'll recommend the college board drop its own fees as well, making the Oregon College Plan one of the most affordable in the nation.

 

 

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Men Rescued from Columbia River


Two men are lucky to be alive after their canoe capsized in the Columbia River near Rainer late Tuesday night. Apparently they were not wearing life jackets, a police report states. When rescue unit arrived, the pair had been in the chilly water for almost two hours. Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says the men wouldn't have survived much longer in the water. They were semi-conscious when they were found.

 

 

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OLCC Conspiracy?


The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is under fire for a series of emails between the agency and Beer and Wine Lobbyist Paul Romain.  Scappoose Senator Betsy Johnson says “stunning” e-mails appear to show the OLCC and lobbyists working together to defeat Senate Bill 438. The bill would allow grocery outlets to bypass distributors to sell wine at a discount.

 

 

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It's a 10 Year Birthday for a Special Drug


It’s been ten-years since the groundbreaking, life-saving, cancer-fighting drug Gleevec was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. OHSU Doctor Brian Druker, the lead researcher on the drug, says the drug attacks the cancer cells, without attacking the good cells. A celebration hosted by the OHSU knight cancer Institute at south waterfront celebration drew several cancer survivors who probably would have died long ago if not for the drug.

 

 

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Kitzhabers Budget Meeting Somewhat Successful


Governor Kitzhaber and some key state lawmakers reached agreement on a budget framework during a meeting Monday. Specifically, they were considering budgeting for key programs like education, healthcare, human services and public safety. They also agreed on the programs that would take priority if additional funding is found.

 

 

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Oregon Lawmakers Address Sex Trafficking


Oregon lawmakers are a step closer to passing a bill that cracks down on "Johns" involved in sex trafficking. State Senator Floyd Prozanski says a third time offense will bring a $20,000 fine and 30-days in jail. It also eliminates the "I didn't know her age" defense. The bill will also give minors the help they need to get out of the sex trade. The bill returns to the House.

 

 

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May is Lupus Month


It’s a disease that often goes undiagnosed lupus. Molly McCabe suffers from it and says it's really tough to live with. May is now "Lupus Awareness Month," in Oregon. McCabe is hoping the recognition will help get the word out on the autoimmune disease along with a move toward earlier diagnosis and research to find a cure.

 

 

 

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Kicker Bill Hits Snag


Bills that would divert half of "Kicker" tax rebates into a "Rainy Day" Fund and cut capital gains taxes hit a snag in the Oregon Legislature.  Both measures made it out of the Senate Finance Committee last week, but Senate President Peter Courtney has ordered the bills be detoured to the Senate Rules Committee. Many bills in the past have been diverted to that Committee, only to meet their demise. But Courtney spokesman Robin Maxey says the Bills were sent to the panel because those lawmakers would be the ones to write the ballot title for the Kicker Bill, which must be approved by voters in order to become law.

 

 

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Audit Reveals Possible Discrimination in Portland Housing


A new audit is revealing possible racial discrimination in the Portland housing market. The Fair Housing Council of Oregon conducted an audit to test whether black and Latino renters encounter barriers in the Portland housing market, and found discrimination practiced by 64% of 50 leasing agents tested.  The audit is part of an analysis Portland must conduct every five years to show it's attempting to prevent discrimination and to remain eligible for millions in yearly federal grants. Enforcement measures have not been taken against landlords found to be discriminatory, but City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau, tells "The Oregonian" stopping discrimination must include education and cooperation with landlords.  Fish says he's "outraged" by the audit results.

 

 

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Death Row Inmate Ready to Die


We could have an execution soon in Oregon. An Oregon death row inmate is expected to waive all future appeals at a hearing later this week, possibly clearing the way for the State's first execution since 1997.  Gary Haugen, 49, and another defendant were sentenced to death for the 2003 slaying of fellow inmate David Polin. Haugen has written a letter to the State Court Administrator, asking for all appeals be waived and the process for execution to begin immediately. A death-warrant hearing is scheduled for this Friday before a Marion County Circuit court Judge.

 

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PGE Customers Some of the Greenest in the Nation


Portland General Electric is the greenest utility in the U.S. according to the Feds.  78,000 customers used renewable energy in 2010. PGE's Elaina Medina says customers purchased renewable energy equivalent to a 250 megawatt wind farm.  Medina says they hold that honor for the second year in a row. One popular program allows customers to purchase 100% renewable energy for about $11 more per month.

 

 

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Gas Prices Could Decline Soon


Gas prices could start going down soon.  Marie Dodds, at Triple-A, says crude prices are about  $10 a barrel lower than their recent highs. Gas prices in Oregon increased 2-cents last week to $3.97 a gallon; but prices declined a fraction overnight. Diesel prices remained the same at $4.31 a gallon.

 

 

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Light Allergy Season So Far


Allergy sufferers may be getting a little bit of a break so far this season.  Dr. Anthony Montanaro with OHSU says they are still seeing patients, but the cool, wet spring is allowing for some relief from the typical tree allergies this time of year. But he says one or two dry days can kick up the pollen. Getting some medication, whether it be prescribed or over the counter is the easiest way to help control the symptoms. And he warns grass season, the worst in this part of the country, will start in the next couple of weeks.

 

 

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New Law Expands Those Needed in Report Child Porn


Governor John Kitzhaber is expected to sign into law a bill that would add computer technicians to the list of mandatory reporters of child pornography. Senator Diane Rosenbaum says the law will protect them from lawsuits by customers if the techs are reporting suspicious material in good faith. Both the House and Senate have approved the bill.

 

 

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Jobs for Teens A Tough Situation


Competition is fierce as the summer job hunt is under way for teenagers.  Oregon Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks says people of all ages are going after the same jobs.  With the unemployment rate at 10% for everybody and the unemployment rate at 25% for teenagers, there’s a lot of competition out there for available jobs.” But, he says teens may have a leg up in the high tech field, putting their social media skills to work.

 

 

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Governor Kitzhaber Holds Budget Summit at Mansion


Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is hosting a budget summit with legislative leaders today at the Governor’s mansion. He is hoping to see additional funding for safety net programs such as temporary assistance for needy families. He says he is trying to make the case that if we are lucky enough to have an increase in revenue forecasted, that would be the first priority. The revenue forecast is released on Thursday.

 

 

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It's Vacations, Not Staycations This Year


High gas prices don't seem to be affecting summer vacation plans like they did last time prices approached $4.00 a gallon. Doreen Loofburrow with Triple-A Travel says they're seeing an increase of 10% in travel orders; and it's not just short trips.  Many airlines are raising fares but it doesn't seem to matter. People are paying the higher prices. Loofburrow says Europe is one of the more popular destinations, but travelers are picking a wide range of locations.

 

 

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To the Bat Cave!...With Caution


With tourist season about to begin at the popular Oregon Caves National Monument, officials are worried about a fungus that's killing off bat populations in the eastern U.S. Visitors are asked not to wear clothing or shoes they've worn to any bat habitats east of the Rockies or in Europe. “This is a major event, we think, is very serious. Several State Parks, for example have already closed east in the United States to try to reduce the spread.” Staff member John Roth says otherwise, everybody’s welcome to the annual Open House at the Oregon Caves National Monument.

 

 

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Woman, Lost for Seven Weeks is Found


A Canadian woman missing since mid-March has been found alive along a remote road in Northeastern Nevada. Her husband is still missing. The couple left their home in British Columbia March 19th on a road trip in their van to Las Vegas. They had decided to travel on scenic back roads through Oregon and Nevada.  Once they were reported missing, a massive search of eastern Oregon and most of Nevada was launched, using SUV’s, airplanes, helicopters, and snowmobiles.  Friday, a group of hunters came across their van on a remote road in northeastern Nevada. They found Rita Chretien, who had survived on trail mix and melting snow for forty-seven days. She was flown by helicopter to a hospital where she's in fair condition. Her husband left on foot three days after they got stuck in the mud in March and hasn't been seen since.

 

 

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Sea Lions Scare Tactics to End


The sea lions on the Willamette near West Linn don't like the hazing and are forced away when fish and wildlife workers are firing noisemakers over their heads. But as soon as crews go home for the night, the sea lions return to the fish ladders. Tom Murtaugh, a biologist with the State, says they'll need more people next year. The State has just completed year two of a three-year pilot program, designed to find ways to stop the sea lions from feasting on shrinking salmon and steelhead populations.

 

 

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Higher Education Audit Reveals the Need for More Supervision


The Oregon Secretary of State audited faculty workload at state universities and found the schools don't do a very good job of setting priorities or tracking professor's time. Audits Director Gary Blackmer says the schools have agreed to make changes, so that the next time they're audited they can give them better feedback. Blackmer says it's important to make sure the State's and student's money is spent in the most efficient way possible.

 

 

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Mount St. Helens Set to Open for the Season


A new interactive exhibit, new photographs, and a remodeled HD theater greet visitors at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. But you may want to pack your boots. Monument Scientist Peter Frenzen says they open for the season on Sunday, May 15th. Admission is free on May 18th, the 31st Anniversary of the eruption.

 

 

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New Cabela's to Open in Springfield


Thousands of people are expected to rush to Cabela's this afternoon for it's grand opening at Gateway Mall in Springfield, Oregon. It's Cabela's first store in Oregon. The 58,000 square foot, next-generation Cabela's store will anchor the west side of Gateway Mall and the store features museum-quality wildlife displays, historic memorabilia and trophy animal mounts. The City of Springfield, Gateway Mall and the State Transportation Department have been working for weeks on a plan to handle the big crowds expected. Police will be directing traffic. The ribbon cutting ceremony starts at 4 p.m.

 

 

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Crews Working on Davy Crockett


Costs are mounting for salvaging the shipwrecked Davy Crockett on the Columbia River east of the Glenn Jackson Bridge. But Coast Guard Captain Daniel LeBlanc is optimistic with the stern section now afloat and stable, they can be finished by late June or early July. The derelict barge sank during high water earlier this year.

 

 

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Oregon's Economic Index Looking Better


The University of Oregon's Economic index shows the recovery from recession continues. Economist Tim Duy says first time claims for unemployment are down and the number of new jobs is up. There's also an increase in manufacturing.   High gas prices could slow the recovery, but they're not expected to create another recession.

 

 

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Cell Phone Law Could Expand


The Oregon House removes more exemptions for people who can legally use a handheld phone and drive at the same time. Gresham Representative Gregg Matthews argues even emergency workers should hang it up. Tow truck drivers, utility workers and agricultural workers are the only non-emergency employees that would be allowed to use phones. The bill now moves to the Senate.

 

 

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Train Fire Near Scappoose


A train collision and derailment stops traffic on highway near Scappoose for several hours. Two train cars containing ethanol caught fire but crews managed to put it out. Paul Corah with Portland Fire says it could have been much worse, especially if it happened in the city. He says one tanker was leaking fuel into a culvert that drains into the Multnomah Channel.  The EPA, the DEQ and the Coast Guard are on-site, working to determine the environmental impact of the incident.

 

 

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Farm Equipment Gas Tanks Are Thieves Targets


With gas and diesel prices soaring, thieves will start to target fuel tanks on farms. Don Thomson, with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says farmers often use red dye colored diesel, because it isn't taxed at the same rate as highway diesel, and farmers should post a notice on the tanks., because thieves will generally not steal red diesel. Thomson says a good lock will also deter thieves. Other tips include keeping gas cards in a safe place; don't write pin numbers on the cards, and motion sensing lights help keep thieves away from farm equipment.

 

 

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Schrader Wonders About Pakistan


Oregon Congressman Kurt Shrader says the killing of Osama Bin Laden near a Pakistani Military Academy makes him wonder whose side Pakistan is on. Schrader says the current government's better than anything that might replace it. But, Schrader says American aid to Pakistan should be cut off, if the country is failing to cooperate with the U.S. in the fight against Al Qaeda.

 

 

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Wal-Mart Expands


A nationwide retail giant is considering building 17 more stores in the Portland area. Wal-Mart conducted an economic study which found the retailer would pick up about 35% of the market share. The study also predicted Wal-Mart would bring about 4300 new full- and part-time jobs, as well as 2100 construction jobs.

Safeway currently leads the grocery market share in Oregon at 25%. Fred Meyer is number two at 23%. Wal-Mart currently has an 11% market share and Albertsons is at 10% in Oregon.

 

 

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Pure Bred Horse Shot


The Marion County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting of a pure-bred horse. It happened around 6 o'clock Monday night near Silverton. Don Thomson, with the Sheriff's Office, says they think the shooting was intentional. Neighbors say they heard a single rifle shot. The owner of the horse wasn't aware of the shooting until contacted by deputies. The horse was worth $5,000. The Sheriff's Office is asking for tips to help identify the suspect.

 

 

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Watch for Osama Scams


Cyber criminals are taking advantage of Osama Bin Laden's death.  They're putting photos, videos and links on the Internet that purport to show the assault on Bin Laden's compound. Tony Green, in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says they can download viruses or malware on your computer. They've seen postings on social media websites and also e-mails with links to videos, but the links compromise information you have on your computer. If a website asks you to download anything, you should close and delete those programs.

 

 

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Interlock Bill Passes the Senate


Oregonians who are convicted of driving drunk would have to install a "breathalyzer" in their vehicles before driving. Senator Jackie Dingfelder says the legislation has been in the works for a couple years. The car will not start if the driver fails the test.  One local provider charges $65 a month for the interlock device. The bill moves to the House.

 

 

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Veteran's Day Allowance Bill Passes Senate


Veterans would get Veterans Day off in Oregon under a bill approved by the Oregon Senate. Senator Andy Olson says it is not a mandate on businesses.  Employers also would have the option of making it a paid or unpaid day. The bill heads to the House.

 

 

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Gas Prices Fluctuate


Gas prices continue to rise. Triple A's Marie Dodds says the possibility to retaliation over Osama Bin Laden's death has oil prices higher, and there's no indication for when prices will fall. Other states are seeing price rise even faster than Oregon; so our prices now rank 21st highest in the country. Prices in bend this week are averaging around $3.91.

 

 

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Oregon House Honors Robert Duncan


The Oregon House held a moment of silence Friday to mark the death of former Oregon Congressman Robert Duncan. He was Speaker of the House for two terms, back in 1959 and 1961. While in Congress, Duncan represented Oregon’s 4th District from 1963 to 1967 and the 3rd District from 1975 to 1981. In 1966, he made an unsuccessful bid to run for U.S. Senate against Mark Hatfield. Duncan died in Portland Friday morning. He was 90 years old.

 

 

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Possible Changes in Requirements for a Diploma in Oregon


Oregon High School students would be required to apply to college, the military or a vocational school to get their diploma if a bill becomes law.  State School Superintendent Susan Castillo is leery of adding any more requirements. She says we need more time to vet them to see how they would work. The Bill passed the House and now heads to the Senate.

 

 

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Cold Weather Will Probably Yield Smaller Crops


If the wet and cold spring weather has you irritated, Jim Cramer, with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, says farmers are right there with you. The cold weather also delays applications of sprays and fertilizers. He says crop yield and produce size will probably be lower than normal. However, Mother Nature also has ways of turning things around, so they're not ready to give up on what could turn out to be an average year.

 

 

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