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Regional News Archives for 2012-04


Hybrid Cars Starting to Show Wear 'n Tear


The first wave of hybrid cars was about ten years ago, now some parts on those Toyota Priuses are wearing out, along with the car warranties.  The trouble is,  a lot of independent mechanics don't know how to fix them.  Russ Jones, with Portland Community College, says they're providing education for new and experienced mechanics on how to fix the complex vehicles.  The battery packs are extremely expensive to replace; that's why PCC instructors and students are researching part repairs that could lead to more affordable fixes.

 

 

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Primary Ballots Going Out


Oregon’s primary election is coming up. Ballots will be sent to voters on Friday. Andrea Cantu-Schomus with the Secretary of State's Office wants new voters to know there are a couple kinds of ballots out there. “And registered Democrats will get ballots specific to their party.  Republicans opened their primary to voters who aren't affiliated with a party.” Those who requested the special ballots in time should receive them by May 2nd.  Any voter who doesn't get their ballot by that date should contact the County Clerk's Office to troubleshoot.

 

 

 
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OLCC Comments on High Oregon Liquor Taxes


 

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is responding to recent reports that the state has some of the highest liquor taxes in the country. Christie Scott says it relates to the price put on a bottle by the maker. Scott insists that in some cases Oregon has better prices on some liquors than either Washington or California.
 
 
 
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Native Names as Mascots Under Fire


Members of northwest tribes tell the Oregon Board of Education it's time to outlaw the use of stereotypical images of Native Americans as mascots of public schools. Neva Link works for the Indian Education Project in Portland.  She says Oregon students do not receive enough education about Native American tribes.

The Board is accepting public testimony on the proposal that would requires schools with Indians, braves, chiefs and chieftans as mascots to make changes by July 2017.   

 

 

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River Warnings


River patrol is ready for a lot of boaters, with temperatures finally warming into the 70’s for the first time this year. Travis Gullberg with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says there's still debris in the rivers washed down from winter runoff. Water temperature is in the mid 40’s, which means hypothermia will set in fast if you fall in to a river.  All children are required to wear life jackets on boats; but Gullberg says kids should also wear them if they're on docks, or even on the banks of a river.

 

 

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Mass Tagging Planned for Friday


 

A large rally is planned Friday in Pioneer Courthouse Square to raise awareness about Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony. Police Sergeant Pete Simpson says they're seeing messages on Facebook and you tube calling for a mass tagging event, and they are not happy about it.  Police will be enforcing tagging laws. They’re also asking citizens to report incidents of tagging on the police bureau's website.

 

 

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Defazio Wants a 2 Year Bill extension


Congress keeps passing 90 day extensions to the Transportation Bill, and Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio says that's costing jobs, because states can't start larger projects. He says a two year bill would create more jobs. The Senate has passed a two year extension, but it's being held up by leadership in the House.  DeFazio is trying to convince members of the Rules Committee to send it to the full House for a vote.

 

 

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Medical Technicial Dies While Helping Patient


A 36-year-old man dies at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem. Matthew Barron, 36,  had worked as a mental health security technician for three years at the state run hospital.  He was working with a patient who was having a behavioral issue Wednesday night when Barron suffered a medical problem.  Staff started performing CPR, but he was pronounced dead at Salem hospital.  The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.  Police say there's no evidence of criminal activity that caused his death. 

 

 

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Infant Remains Found in Salem


Residents of northeast Salem called police Wednesday night after finding the remains of a newborn baby near their house on Carolina Avenue, just east of Brown Road.  Don Thomson with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says deputies are now trying to track down the mother to find out what happened.  They’re asking for your help in finding the woman.  They say it’s too early to determine if the woman would face criminal charges.

 

 

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SWAP Meet Central in Portland This Weekend


If you use I-5 through north Portland for your morning commute, expect delays Thursday and Friday. This is the week for the Auto Swap meets at Portland International Raceway and the Expo Center. Mark Wiggington, at P.I.R. says if you need a specialty part for a car, you can probably find it at one of the hundreds of booths. The P.I.R. Swap Meet runs Thursday through Saturday and the Expo Center Portland Swap Meet runs Friday through Sunday. 

 

 

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New Drug Investigation Tactics Help OSP


Oregon State Police credit improved drug investigation tactics and the use of drug-sniffing dogs for their success seizing a record-breaking amount of illicit drugs in 2011. Lt. Gregg Hastings says the number of arrests that met high intensity drug trafficking area standards was also up 15%. Hastings says the amount of drugs seized that also met the high-intensity drug trafficking standards was up 30% over last year, up 150% compared to 2008.

 

 

 
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State Arbitrator Says Portland Schools Overstretched


A state arbitrator ruled this week that Portland Public Schools have overstretched the demands on teachers by requiring them to take on heavier student loads. The ruling says the City can't require any teacher to teach more than 180 students next year, and one third currently handle at least that much. That puts the school system in a bind as if figures out how to maintain course offerings while the education budget takes another hit and faces further staff reduction.

 

 

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OLCC Chief Safe


The Director of Oregon's Liquor Agency appears safe in his job, at least for now. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission cancelled plans to discuss firing the agency's director, Steve Pharo. The agency did not explain the change. OLCC spokeswoman Christie Scott said she didn't know why Pharo's employment status was dropped from the agenda for today’s meeting. Pharo said last month that an aide to Gov. John Kitzhaber asked him to step down but he has refused. The OLCC Director reports to a five-member Commission, not to the Governor.

 

 

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"Organic" Corn Supplier Sentenced for Fraud


A federal judge sentences a Springfield man to more than two years in prison for selling more than 4.2 million pounds of corn that was falsely labeled as organically grown.  Judge Ann Aiken told Harold Chase, 55, on Wednesday: "You made a big mistake to commit this crime in Lane County.” She noted the area's strong interest in pesticide-free foods. Chase pleaded guilty in December to a single count of wire fraud. Court documents say chase collected an extra $190,000 by passing the conventional grain off as organic corn.

 

 

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Salem-Keizer Schools Face Big Cuts


Budget cuts are about to hit the Salem Keizer schools.  Superintendent Sandy Husk, who's recommending $20 million in cuts, including eight million requested from employee groups, like teachers and principals.  Otherwise job cuts would be next.  At the same time, the budget adds about half a million for new computer equipment.  Almost one in five of Salem- Keizer’s computers are eight years old or older.

 

 

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Gas Continues Rising


Gasoline prices are up another nickel over the last week. Marie Dodds with AAA-a says diesel prices are also up a couple of cents; Oregon's average is $4.42 a gallon. Several factors are responsible for the rising prices including concerns about Iran, the European debt crisis and the slow economic recovery. The average price in Central Oregon this morning is $4.09 for a gallon of regular.

 

 

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Heavy Rains Could Be Bad for Crops


Heavy spring rains are creating headaches for Oregon agriculture. Willamette Valley farmers have delayed planting a number of crops, and that may cause problems down the road, making for a later harvest that puts more stress on the plants. Especially when there’s a lack of moisture in June and July. Tom Silberstine at the OSU Extension in Marion County says that could affect crop yields later in the year. He says the La Nina weather conditions have been sending rain over the northwest while creating a drought in Texas.

 

 

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Tax Season Can Be Scam Season


The tax season is also the tax scam season. Tony Green in the Oregon Attorney General's Office says watch for tax scams and tax scammers.  He says you could lose money to the tax preparer and still owe taxes to the government. For more information go to:   www.oregon.gov/otpb.

 

 

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Oregon Prison Population Predicted to Increase


Oregon’s prisons will get cozier over the next few years. The State of Oregon's prison population forecast shows the number of prisoners will increase from 14-thousand to nearly 16-thousand by the end of the decade. The report cites changes in laws by the legislature for property and drug crime offenders and earned time credit are the main factors in the increase. 

 

 

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Shilo Inns to Close Some Hotels


A California bank has sued Shilo Inns and owner Mark Hemstreet, saying he and three of his Inns defaulted on loans of $5-million. The hotels are in Seaside, Newberg and at the Rose Garden in Portland. The federal court suit says Mark Hemstreet also missed interest payments on a $5 million line of credit. The Oregonian reports that California Bank & Trust asks for a receiver to take possession of the properties. Shilo currently lists 43 locations in 10 western states.

 

 

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Water Survey Shows Good Numbers


Eventually, Oregon's soggy spring will go sunny and dry. But Jon Lea says we should have the water we need for the coming summer months. Lea measures snow pack for the Conservation Service. He says those areas will benefit from surplus water in reservoirs from last year. The snow-measuring season ends May first.

 

 

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Are You Ready for April 17th?


The tax deadline is approaching rapidly, are you ready? Richard Panick with the IRS says the due date is a couple days later than usual: April 17th, But urges you not to procrastinate because you could miss deductions that could add to your return.  He says there is a wealth of information on filing taxes on the agency's website: www.IRS.gov.

 

 

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