Regional News

Metro Area Pgm Aims To Reduce Catalytic Converter Theft

BEAVERTON, OR -- A new Portland-area program aims to reduce catalytic converter thefts and could soon expand statewide. Vehicle owners can now get their catalytic converter marked for free, without an appointment, at any of the 46 Jiffy Lube location in the Portland, Vancouver and Salem area. Click HERE for participating locations. Franchisee Justin Soha says the program started in Indiana, “We’re going to stripe the catalytic converter with high-temperature paint, so it’s very recognizable. And then, as soon as that paint dries, which is pretty much seconds, we’re going to engrave the complete vehicle identification number onto that catalytic converter, making it unique to that vehicle.” 

Washington County Deputy Brandon Toney believes it will make those valuable catalytic converters less appealing to thieves, “If you look at one that’s already got a VIN number already engraved on there, it’s got neon green paint, or whatever it’s going to be, on the catalytic converter, I would imagine that that person is going to take a look at that and then think about the ways they’re going to unload that.” 

Dep. Toney tells KBND News it's unusual to see a private company launch a free program to help law enforcement. Beaverton Police Officer Matt Henderson says, “Where there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply. So, when a company like Jiffy Lube steps up and helps us track down, or puts markings on these catalytic converters to help us find when they’ve been stolen, it helps us.” WCSO Commander Timothy Tannenbaum says catalytic converter thefts continue to be a major problem in the metro area. Reports to his agency skyrocketed from 28 in 2020, to 239 in 2021, "The cost of replacing a catalytic converter can be upwards of $1500, which is a large sum of money for those who live paycheck to paycheck."

Soha says he's talking with his corporate office, in an effort to bring the program to all Jiffy Lube locations. 


Suspected Shoplifter Killed In Crash

(Medford, OR) -- A man who was suspected of shoplifting from a Fred Meyer store in Medford is dead after being hit and killed while allegedly running away from the store. Oregon State Police say that 39-year-old Gabriel Escobar stole from a nearby Fred Meyer store on Tuesday night. He then allegedly tried to run across I-5 and was hit by a commercial truck and killed. Investigators closed one lane on I-5 for three hours while the investigation was conducted. Medford Police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and ODOT assisted with the investigation.

OSP Seeks Suspect In 2021 Homicide

(Drain, OR) -- Oregon State Police are asking for help identifying the suspect in a homicide that happened a year ago near Drain. 72-year-old Larry Mell was driving his truck westbound on Highway 38 near Putnam Valley Road when he was shot. He later died from his injury. Detectives believe the shooting was accidental. Mell had eight children, several grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. He was a Navy veteran who survived heart surgery, a brain injury, and cancer. OSP is asking for information about anyone who was shooting in the area of Highway 38 and Putnam Valley Road on November 30th, 2021 to contact them.

Viral Illnesses Overwhelming Medical Facilities

(Vancouver, WA) -- The Clark County Health Department is warning that COVID-19, flu and RSV infections are pushing hospital emergency departments and urgent care facilities to their limits. Clark County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick says getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 along with taking precautions to avoid getting a virus will help. You should only go to an E-R if you're having a health emergency, such as trouble breathing. Treat your symptoms at home or call your primary care doctor for advice. Flu cases are increasing, with a 25-percent test positivity rate in Clark County.

Repeat Offender Sentenced To Six Months In Prison For COVID Funds theft

(Portland, OR) -- A woman with a long history of convictions has been sentenced to six months in prison for making fraudulent applications for COVID-19 small business loans. Federal prosecutors in Portland say 35-year-old Tiarre Chaney was previously convicted twice for tax fraud. In 2021, she was on supervised release when she applied for two Economic Injury Disaster Loans for a sham company called Tncw Baked Goods. She claimed the company did 45-thousand dollars in business in 2020, when it had done no business. Chaney was sentenced to six months in federal prison and two years of supervised release.

Landslide Hits Semi

(Astoria, OR) -- A semitruck driver is OK after a landslide hit their vehicle Tuesday night on Highway 30 about 20 miles east of Astoria. ODOT says the highway is expected to remain closed through at least Thursday. Crews will need to clear the debris, stabilize the hillside, and repair damage to the road. Highway 26 is the best alternate. The driver of the semi wasn't injured.

Washington County Warns Of Delays Plowing Snow

(Hillsboro, OR) -- Washington County is warning drivers there could be delays in getting roads plowed when it snows. The Washington County Transportation Department is short about a quarter of its drivers. Crews will focus on plowing priority routes first which include major corridors and routes used by emergency services. New and current plow drivers have been traveling priority routes, so they're ready. The County is asking drivers to be patient and take precautions if they must drive in wintry conditions.

Drug Dealing Couple Sentenced To Federal Prison

(Eugene, OR) -- A drug-dealing husband and wife from southern Oregon are headed to federal prison after being linked to the overdose death of a customer. The U.S. Attorney for Oregon says 49-year-old Brian Ramos was sentenced to six years in prison and his 41-year-old wife Christine Ramos was sentenced to four years. According to court documents, the male customer died of fentanyl poisoning after visiting the Ramos' home in Yoncalla in 2018. Both defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring with one another to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.

Monkeypox Cases Rise In Oregon

(Portland, OR) -- Oregon health officials are concerned about an increase in mpox, or monkeypox, cases. They initially peaked in August and then declined into the fall, but the past two weeks the number of cases has increased to 19. Oregon now has 259 mpox cases, including two pediatric cases. The Oregon Health Authority says people who are at higher risk should get the vaccine. So far, 11-thousand first doses of the vaccine and six-thousand second doses have been given in Oregon. Health officials are working with the Oregon Pharmacy Board to get the vaccine into pharmacies.

Portland Settles With Demonstrators

(Portland, OR) -- The City of Portland has settled a lawsuit that was filed by Don't Shoot Portland over police response to demonstrations in 2020. The protests followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Under the settlement, the city agreed to a 14-month injunction on the Police Bureau's use of force. It includes limits on tear gas, rubber ball distraction devices, aerosol restraints, and Long Range Acoustical Devices. The plaintiffs received 250-thousand dollars.

Mattress Retailer Fined For Requiring Employees Drive Dangerous Truck

(Hillsboro, OR) -- Oregon OSHA has fined Mattress Megastore in Hillsboro more than 66-thousand dollars for multiple workplace safety violations. They include requiring employees to drive a delivery truck in the rain when the windshield wipers didn't work. The windshield had two large cracks that obscured the driver's line of sight. And, the driver's seatbelt didn't work. Employees were allegedly threatened with termination if they didn't use the truck. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is investigating whether that violated anti-retaliation provisions of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. Mattress Megastore has 30 days to appeal.

Grand Jury Clears Officers In Shooting

(Salem, OR) -- A Clackamas County grand jury has cleared a Sheriff's deputy and an Oregon State Police trooper in a shooting that killed Derrick Clark in June. The Oregon Attorney General prosecuted the case on a request from the Clackamas County District Attorney. Sheriff's Detective Daniel Ferguson and OSP Trooper Zachary Cole attempted to stop Clark in a vehicle. He fled and crashed in a ditch. When he got out of the car, he was armed with a gun, refused to drop it and ran. During the foot pursuit, he raised the gun and both officers fired killing Clark. The grand jury determined the officers' conduct didn't warrant criminal charges.

Gas Prices Continue Plunge

(Portland, OR) -- Gas prices continue to plunge in Oregon. Triple-A reports the national average dropped 12-cents over the last week to three-52 a gallon while Oregon's average fell 19-cents to four-42. It's the fifth largest weekly drop in the nation. Diesel in Oregon declined six-cents to five-46 a gallon.

Oregon To Auction College Opportunity Grant Tax Credits

(Salem, OR) -- Oregonians who need an extra tax credit can buy them during the College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit Auction. It's held from December 5th through December 9th. The money raised from the auction goes toward the College Opportunity Grant program. The Legislature approved up to 14-million dollars in tax credits to be sold each year. The minimum bid is 450 dollars. Each certificate is worth 500 dollars. The Oregon Department of Revenue has more details on its website.

OSU Researchers Develop Anti-Epilepsy Medication Sensor

(Corvallis, OR) -- Researchers at Oregon State University's College of Engineering say they've developed a sensor system for quickly testing saliva to see if epilepsy patients have the correct level of anti-epileptic medication in their system. The standard way of measuring that uses a time-consuming blood test. Scientists say with more refinement, the hand held device will allow patients to monitor medicine levels at home, reducing the chances of seizures from too little medication and toxic side effects from too much. Roughly three-and-a-half million Americans suffer from epilepsy.

Nurses Want Investigation Into Providence Health Payroll System

(Portland, OR) -- Nurses who work for Providence Health & Services want the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office to launch an independent investigation into the company's payroll system. The Oregon Nurses Associations says that since July 2022, Providence has underpaid thousands of health care workers by using a faulty payroll system. It caused nurses to be underpaid for hours, overtime, and differential. In some cases, nurses and health care workers didn't receive a paycheck despite working over 40 hours in a week. Providence says most of the issues have been resolved. They added a "fast pay" program to have a check issued within 24 hours when a payment was missed. Providence says the new system will make it easier for caregivers to get information and manage changes.

Oregon Spends $20 Million To Reduce Wildfire Risk

(Salem, OR) -- The State of Oregon is spending 20-million dollars to reduce wildfire risk. The money is part of a 195-million dollar package approved by the 2021 Legislature. The money is going to several projects in Central, Southern and Eastern Oregon to thin forests and reduce fuels that cause wildfires to grow quickly. The work will be done on 200-thousand acres of land. It will be complete by next summer.

Bull Run Water Returns

(Portland, OR) -- The City of Portland is back to using water from the Bull Run reservoir. In early November, heavy rain storms caused the reservoir to get cloudy with organic material from heavy runoff. Seven-billion gallons of water flowed into the reservoir in a 24-hour period. The Water Bureau switched sources to the Columbia South Shore Well Field. Now that the turbidity in the reservoir is gone, the water is being switched back. It could take two weeks for Bull Run water to flow through the entire system. You might notice tea colored water, which is due to the reservoirs refilling. The discoloration is harmless and will eventually go away.

Two Hospitals Implement Crisis Pediatric Care

(Portland, OR) -- Portland's two children's hospitals are implementing crisis standards for pediatric care. Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Randal Children's Hospital both face urgent situations because of children with viral infections, including RSV. The crisis standard allows the hospitals to adjust staffing plans to staff all beds and coordinate with other hospitals across the region. Legacy Health has postponed some non-urgent pediatric procedures. OHSU's latest forecast indicates hospital admissions for RSV will peak next week.

False Active Shooter Call At School

(Vancouver, WA) -- Clark County Sheriff's deputies rushed to Heritage High School in Vancouver yesterday morning in response to a call about an active shooter that turned out to be false. The caller claimed to be a teacher at the school. The first deputy on the scene was the school's resource officer. Within 40 seconds, five more deputies were at the school. They quickly determined it was a prank call and there was no danger to students or staff. The investigation into who made the call continues. The Sheriff's Office says the caller had a similar accent to another call at Henrietta Lacks High School in Vancouver on September 16th.

King Tide Warning

(Newport, OR) -- King tides are expected at the Oregon Coast this week. They're some of the highest tides of the year. The waves will come further up the beach, there could be more sneaker waves and more rip currents. Beachgoers are advised to stay off jetties which will be hit especially hard by the stronger than normal waves. People should stay off logs which can quickly float in a wave and roll over. The King tides will last from Thanksgiving Day through Saturday.

Gas Prices Plunge, But Remain At Record Highs

(Portland, OR) -- Gas prices are dropping fast ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Triple-A reports the national average is down 12 cents over the last week to $3.64 a gallon. Oregon's average is down 17 cents to $4.60. It's the fifth-largest weekly drop among the states. Gas prices are still the most expensive ever for the holiday period.

Oregon Financial Officials Warn Of Cryptocurrency Investments

(Salem, OR) -- The bankruptcy of FTX has Oregon financial regulators warning about investments in the cryptocurrency market. FTX is the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation says investors should understand what they're purchasing and how the valuation is determined. They should also use a digital currency exchange that's licensed with the state and refrain from spending money that they can't afford to lose.

Lawsuit Filed Against Oregon Gun Control Measure

(Portland, OR) -- A federal lawsuit has been filed against Oregon's voter-approved measure to increase controls on gun purchases. The measure requires gun buyers to pass a background check, take an in-person training course, and get a permit. The measure also bans gun magazines with more than 10 rounds. The Oregon Firearms Federation and Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey filed the suit on Friday. It claims the measure violates the constitution. The new law is set to take effect on December 8th.

5.2 Magnitude Quake Off Oregon Coast

(Coos Bay, OR) -- Officials are confirming a five-point-two magnitude earthquake hit off the Oregon Coast yesterday morning. The quake happened at 7:42 a.m. and was 158 miles west of Coos Bay. The earthquake was not strong enough to cause a tsunami and no damage was reported on shore.


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