Regional News Archives for 2022-09

National Guard Training Facility Renamed

(Umatilla, OR) -- Part of the Umatilla Army Chemical Depot [[ DEH-poh ]] in northeast Oregon is being renamed to honor a former Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard. The depot opened in 1941 and in 1962 started storing chemical weapons. All of the weapons were disposed of by 2012 when the U.S. Army closed the installation. In 2017, the Oregon Military Department received 75-hundred acres of the site for the Oregon National Guard training facility. It has now been renamed the Raymond F. Rees Training Center in honor of Major General Raymond Rees, who retired from the guard after serving as its leader for 16 years.

Oregon DEQ Takes Comments On Rules To Ban Gas Powered Vehicles

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is planning to implement California's ban on gas powered cars and light-duty trucks by 2035. The agency is taking public comment through Friday October 21st. The rule requires vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero emission vehicles starting in 2026 and by 2035, all new cars and light trucks must be zero emission. The rule also requires manufacturers to meet minimum technology requirements for range, battery warranty, and charging. Comments can be made on the DEQ's website.

Oregon Receives First Medicaid Waiver Funding Food And Housing

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon has received a waiver from the federal government to launch a pilot program that's the first in the nation to address hunger, housing, and poor health for low-income families. Oregon will receive one-point-one billion dollars over five years to fund the program. It provides housing support, including rental assistance, for up to six months. It also expands the Oregon Health Plan to increase health coverage of young children.

New Bird Flu Infection Detected In Tillamook County

(Tillamook, OR) -- Officials say bird flu has been detected in two private flocks of 60 chickens and ducks in Tillamook County. The flock owners didn't sell eggs or other poultry products, so a quarantine isn't required. The birds were euthanized and won't enter the food system. These are the first cases of bird flu in Tillamook County. The virus was previously detected in Coos, Deschutes, Lane, Linn and Polk counties. Bird flu is highly contagious among birds, but it's not believed to be a major threat to people.

Oregon Sends Incident Management Teams To Florida

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon is sending Florida a helping hand to assist with the response following Hurricane Ian. The Oregon State Fire Marshal is sending 13 members from three incident management teams to work in Florida for up to two weeks. The Florida Division of Emergency Management requested the help. The teams specialize in safety, public information, operations, logistics and communication. Meanwhile, the Red Cross Cascades Region has trained disaster volunteers near Florida and ready to help out. Seven volunteers from Oregon are already there, and 14 volunteers from Oregon and Southwest Washington are on standby to leave if they're needed.

More Money To Support Measure 110 Programs

SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority is rolling out the next phase of Measure 110. Passed by voters in 2020, the measure decriminalized user-amounts of many drugs and is supposed to fund more treatment options around the state. 

 

Tera Hurst is with the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, the group working to implement 110.  She says the initial $30 million investment is already helping.  “More people are alive in Marion and Lane county today because the HIV Alliance used Measure 110 funds to directly reverse over 500 overdoses. Bridges to Change, who was about to close their doors in Wasco County due to the pandemic, was able to save their recovery house and expand their presence in The Dalles,” said Hurst.

 

The Oregon Health Authority admits options, right now, are inconsistent across the state but another $265 million is now going to providers in all 36 counties to help build treatment infrastructure like recovery houses and medical facilities. “This kind of money is about five times what we’ve spent previously on non-Medicaid services, so this will have a huge impact on our state. We have to give it time, and our providers time, to really set up this infrastructure; buy the houses and the furniture and everything else that needs to happen,” Hurst said.

Advocates Urge Oregonians To Register To Vote

PORTLAND, OR -- Advocates are working to get Oregonians registered to vote, ahead of the November midterms. Voters’ rights groups and Oregon's Secretary of State used National Voter Registration Day to talk to Oregonians about the importance of casting a ballot. 

Next Up Executive Director Elona Wilson says it’s easy for young people to get disenfranchised, but every vote matters. "Elected officials have the power to create and pass budgets and policies that directly affect our lives, from school boards to city councils, Congressional seats," she told reporters at a Tuesday press conference, "You have the opportunity to ensure that your voice is heard and who represents you."

CEO of Disability Rights Oregon Jake Cornett says, "There are 950,000 Oregonians with disabilities. Taken together, we are the largest voting bloc in the state of Oregon." He says accommodations are available at local elections offices so voters of all abilities can cast a ballot. 

His group puts out a free Easy Voting Guide, "This is a guide that’s nonpartisan in plain language, meant to be accessible to anybody with a disability and anybody in the general public who wants to understand where the candidates stand on the issues you care the most about and also, what do those complicated language in ballot initiatives mean in plain language; language that’s accessible to anybody who can read at the fourth grade level or above." Wednesday (Sept. 21) is the deadline to request that guide at Disability Rights Oregon's website.

Oregon voters must be registered by October 18th to vote in the November 8th election.
 

 

Video Training Could Help Reduce Veteran Suicide Rates

PORTLAND, OR -- New research conducted in Oregon suggests a YouTube video could be a useful suicide prevention tool for the veteran community. Dr. Alan Teo, an OHSU psychiatry professor and a researcher at the Portland VA, says the short video helped friends and family have difficult conversations with veterans about suicide. 

"This is not the hallelujah moment, yet. This is a spark," says Dr. Teo. "Suicide is a complex problem, a complex behavior. And so, training the public and training loved ones is part of that. Does it solve it all? No. But there is no one thing that’s going to solve suicide. It requires mental health resources, it requires training - like we studied, it requires novel therapeutics or medication or other types of treatment to help reduce risk."

Researchers used social media to recruit people close to military vets to watch the "VA S.A.V.E." training on YouTube. Dr. Teo says it worked for two reasons, "It was specifically tailored and designed to the veteran community - Training that doesn’t resonate with a person is a training that’s not going to work. And then, number two, it was brief. And by brief, I mean, it was 24 minutes total."

Success was measured by participants’ willingness to talk about suicide with an at-risk vet, their comfort level and desire to share the video. "We’re not ready to sort of unveil it to the whole world and say this is a solution," Teo tells KBND News, "However, we are ready to scale up and test this on a wider scale." VA S.A.V.E. is already being used to train non-clinical VA staff. 

Suicide rates among veterans consistently exceed the civilian population.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

 

OSAA Targets Harassment At High School Athletic Competitions

PORTLAND, OR -- The organization that oversees public school athletics has a new policy aimed at ending harassment and bullying at competitions. Oregon’s School Activities Association Executive Director Peter Weber says OSAA started working on addressing the issue in 2019. This summer, they created the Interrupting and Preventing Discriminatory Acts training, which is now required.

"The board approved it for all high school Athletic Directors, all high school coaches- paid or volunteer, and all officials that are registered with the state," Weber tells KBND News, "To date, we’ve had more than 7,000 people take the course since it was rolled out in August."

Weber says the issue goes beyond old-school trash talking, "There’s unsportsmanlike behavior and then there’s discriminatory behavior, and there is a distinction there. We don’t want either of them; but, certainly, the discriminatory and harassing-type behavior is at another level and that absolutely has to be curtailed." He adds, "They need to interrupt that behavior. So, whether that’s something they witness firsthand or something that’s reported to them." Weber says that interruption could mean stopping the event until the issue is dealt with. 

Also continuing this year, OSAA’s STAR Initiative, encouraging Safety, Tolerance, Acceptance and Respect in high school sports. 

 

OSU Study: Trees Less Resistant To Climate Change Than Once Thought

CORVALLIS, OR -- A new Oregon State University study found warming temperatures may have a bigger impact on our forests than initially thought. Scientists once thought canopy leaves maintain their own temperature for photosynthesis, despite the air around them. Not anymore. "If leaves get cooked by high temperatures, they’re essentially non-functional," says OSU Prof. Christopher Still. 

His team mounted thermal cameras atop forests around the U.S. and Panama. He says they found the leaves took a long time to cool down to an effective temperature when the weather warmed signficantly. Still admits there are no easy solutions, "Where you can actually irrigate them, like orchards, that is certainly very helpful. But for most natural forests, it’s tricky to figure out what it is that we can do in the face of these heatwaves."

Thinning was once thought to help reduce trees' competition for water. But, he says, "Depending on the kind of forest, and all that, that opens up the canopies a lot more and, in some cases, they may heat up more than they were before."

He says foliage die-offs recorded after Oregon’s 2021 "heat dome" are a prime example of how quickly trees can be impacted by extreme heat. He wants to see more done to protect the trees we rely on to clean the air we breathe. Still tells KBND News, "A long-term answer is to cut emissions as much as we can to mitigate climate change in the present. And I think the use [for this study] will be adding this into our understanding, trying to project what happens in the future to forests, using these more complicated models to project what may happen 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the line as the climate changes and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes." 

 

OR Employment Dept. To Lose 200 Temp Workers

SALEM, OR -- After processing a record number of unemployment claims in 2020 and 2021, a large number of workers at Oregon’s Employment Department will soon be out of a job. In 2020, The Employment Department handled a 1,400% increase in benefits compared to the previous year. Complaints of slow processing and confusing requirements prompted the agency to shift some staff and hire short-term contractors to help with the immense workload. 

OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld says the agency commonly hires temporary workers, "But, because we hired so many people during the COVID-19 pandemic to help meet the unprecedented needs of Oregonians at the time, and because of our current funding situation, we have a large number of positions ending at once. Unfortunately, our federal funding levels are not sufficient and have significantly declined."

At a press conference this week, he told reporters, "At the end of September, about 200 limited-duration contracted staff will be leaving the Employment Department because their assignments and contracts are coming to an end."

He says the people leaving helped with everything from processing claims to client outreach, "These team members, along with our regular permanent staff in Unemployment Insurance and other parts of the agency, were instrumental in providing much-needed unemployment insurance benefits and other services to record-setting numbers of people during the COVID-19 pandemic."

The agency says it's helping them find new jobs. 

Oregon Unemployment Rate Rises In August

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon's unemployment rate in August increased from three-point-five to three-point-seven percent. It's the state's first increase in unemployment since April 2020. Oregon's rate is the same as the national rate. Ninety-three-hundred jobs were added in August, mainly reflecting teachers heading back to school. Leisure and hospitality and construction also had gains. Oregon's unemployment rate remains near record lows. As of August, the state regained all jobs that were lost during the pandemic recession.

Environmental Officials Find Source Turning Fanno Creek White

(Portland, OR) -- The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services says it's found the source of material that was turning Fanno Creek white. Residents started reporting the discolored water prior to Labor Day near the pedestrian bridge at Southwest Bertha Boulevard. City crews determined the source of the problem was a pollution remediation project at a dry cleaner on Capitol Highway. They were using a material called BAC-9, which is a non-toxic material that's used to clean certain pollutants underground. City code prevents any discharge into storm drains. Once the company was notified, they stopped. The city is investigating and there could be an enforcement action.

Oregon Asks For Federal Wildfire Help

(Salem, OR) -- Governor Kate Brown is asking President Biden to approve a federal Emergency Declaration for Wildfires. If granted, Oregon would be the first state to receive direct assistance under a Presidential declaration for wildfires. Brown says similar to states that prepare for a hurricane, Oregon got ready for increased and worsening fires during last weekend's windstorm and extreme fire danger. Power was turned off, firefighters were brought in from out-of-state and positioned to respond to any fires that started, along with other proactive measures. The declaration would bring additional resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

OSP Warns Of Armed And Dangerous Man

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon State Police are warning of an armed and dangerous man who might be in the southeastern part of the state. The suspect is wanted for multiple violent felonies where he committed home invasions and car-jackings from Salt Lake City to Elko, Nevada. Police pursued the vehicle into the state on Highway 140 and lost it near Plush, Oregon. He was driving a burnt orange and silver 2001 Dodge Dakota four-door with a Nevada license plate of 436 NTR. The suspect is white, six-feet tall with a thin build and a beard. He was wearing a black jacket, brown pants and a baseball cap. If you think you've seen him call 911.

Federal Government Approves Oregon's Plan For EV Chargers

(Washington, DC) -- Oregon's plan to build electric vehicle charging stations along highways has been approved by the federal government. The first priority of the plan is to install high powered chargers along 24-hundred miles of Designated EV Corridors in the state. Oregon will receive nearly 19-million dollars over the next two years from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Approval of the plan means Oregon will be ready for additional funding in the future.

Health Officials Worry About Upcoming Flu Season

PORTLAND, OR -- Health officials worry an uptick in COVID-19 could come right as flu season hits. It’s a concern we’ve heard before. But with more people traveling and getting together, some say it could actually happen this winter.

Dr. Katie Sharff, Chief of Infectious Disease for Kaiser Permanente Northwest, says we can typically predict our flu season by looking to the Southern Hemisphere. "They had their worst flu season that they’ve had in the last five years," she tells KBND News, "It was earlier than normal; on average, two months earlier and a lot of impact to school-aged children, which make sense because those are the kiddos who have either been home or have been wearing masks and just haven’t had any sort of exposure to flu virus, so they don’t have that innate immunity."

After two years of virtually no influenza in Oregon, Dr. Sharff says we’re due for a bad season, which could be trouble for an already stressed hospital system, "We just have such severe staffing shortages, we have so much chronic illness and disease and untreated illness." She’s also concerned “vaccine fatigue” will lead to fewer people getting a flu shot. It could all converge with COVID, which she says is still a very real threat. 

She recommends anyone at high risk of serious respiratory complications have a winter action plan, "I think anyone who has underlying health conditions should talk to their doctor about having a plan of what to do when they get that respiratory virus so that they can increase their medications or increase their inhalers to keep them out of the hospital."

As for the new Bivalent COVID booster, Dr. Sharff suggests you talk to your doctor. She doesn’t think healthy people under the age of 65 need to rush out for a new booster. Although, she recommends everyone get a flu shot. 

 

Massive Moves Underway At PDX

(Portland, OR) -- A massive moving project is underway at Portland International Airport. Huge 600-thousand-pound pieces of the new wooden roof are being moved into place. The work is done at night when flight operations have ended for the day. A remote-controlled self-propelled transporter moves the pieces across the airfield from the location where they're being built and then lifts them into place. There are 20 sections being moved. They were made using sustainable mass timber from the Northwest.

ODFW Monitoring New Wolf Pack In Northern Oregon Cascades

(Portland, OR) -- A new wolf family is making itself at home in the northern Oregon Cascades. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Monday it has designated a new area in the region as an "area of known wolf activity." The department says a trail camera captured video of new wolf pups in the area last month. The footage comes after biologists with the Confederated Tribe of the Warm Springs found two adult wolves in Jefferson and Waco counties last December. The fish and wildlife department says that if there are still at least four wolves in the group by the end of this year, it will be named the Warm Springs Pack.

Climate Change Impacts On Communities Of Color

(Salem, OR) -- Communities of color and rural areas need to be at the center of climate change action. That was the message from Oregon Governor Kate Brown to the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference. Brown says communities of color and rural areas are affected the most by impacts of climate change, including weather issues like the heat dome, ice storms, and wildfires. She says governments need to take action to assist those groups and also help them reduce their carbon footprint. Oregon is making EV rebates specifically available to low-income residents. Also attending the conference were the governors of California and Washington along with British Columbia's Premier.

Rent Could Increase 14.6% In 2023

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon renters could face sticker shock in January. That's when rent could go up 14-point-6 percent. Under Oregon law, rent can increase seven-percent plus the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The total for both is 14-point-6 percent. The State of Oregon is required to publish the rate by September 30th each year. Landlords aren't required to increase rent, but many tenants are expecting that to happen. Rent for an apartment costing 15-hundred dollars a month could go up nearly 220 dollars.

Explosive Devices Found Near Dead Camper

(Chelatchie Prairie, WA) -- The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investigating the death of a camper who was found with explosive devices in a rural part of the county. The man's girlfriend flagged down help, because he was unresponsive in their tent. Deputies found explosive devices around the tent. The Bomb Squad sent a robot that confirmed the man was dead inside of the tent. The explosive devices were cleared and the Medical Examiner recovered the man's body. The cause of death hasn't been released. Deputies checked a wide area for any other explosive devices.

Evacuation Levels Reduced For Vitae Springs Fire

(Salem, OR) -- All evacuation levels for the Vitae Springs Fire south of Salem have been reduced to Level 1: Be Ready. The fire started Friday afternoon and burned 165 acres. A total of 60 firefighters remain on the scene putting out hot spots and mopping up. The cooler weather will help. Fire officials expect to see the fire continue to smolder and produce smoke until heavy rains arrive this fall. No one was hurt and no structures were lost. The Salem Fire Department is developing a plan to patrol the area for flare-ups.

OR Receiving Over $2.5M In Federal Grants For Firefighters

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon is set to receive over two-and-a-half-million dollars in federal grants to aid the state's firefighting efforts. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced yesterday that the state will get two-point-58-million dollars in Assistance to Firefighters Grants. The money will be split among ten different fire districts in the state, including Clackamas County Fire District Number One. The grants are aimed at helping firefighters and first responders obtain essential resources to improve their capacity to respond to emergency situations.

Portland Considers Apartment EV Charging Requirements

(Portland, OR) -- The City of Portland is considering new requirements for electric vehicle charging stations at apartment buildings. Proposed new zoning amendments would require half of parking spaces in new multi-dwelling buildings be EV ready. For buildings with six or fewer spaces, they would all be required to have EV charging. Starting in March of 2023, the State of Oregon is requiring 40-percent of parking spaces at multi-dwelling buildings be EV ready. The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission will hold a hearing on the proposal Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Highway 58 Reopens East Of Oakridge

(Oakridge, OR) -- Highway 58 has reopened between Oakridge and Willamette Pass following the weekend closure that was caused by the Cedar Creek Fire. Firefighters continue to use the highway. There is a work zone between mileposts 56 and 62, east of the Salt Creek Tunnel. Traffic is controlled by flaggers and a pilot car. Drivers should expect 20 minute delays. The Cedar Creek Fire has burned over 86-thousand acres. It's zero-percent contained.

Oregon Gets Federal Funds For Mobile Health Crisis Teams

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon is the first state to get approval to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for mobile mental health crisis teams. They're based off the CAHOOTS teams that started in Eugene. 20 Medicaid agencies will split 15-million dollars in planning grants. The Oregon Health Authority will work with local groups to develop teams that can respond around the clock to help people suffering from a mental health crisis.

PGE Restores All Power

(Portland, OR) -- Portland General Electric has restored all power to customers who had their electricity cut, because of the windstorm and fire danger. More than 37-thousand customers lost power over the weekend. Nearly 500 PGE employees, plus 112 contractors and personnel from other utilities checked the lines and made repairs before restoring power. PGE had community resource centers to help customers who lost power. More than 24-hundred people used the centers.

Fatal Highway 101 Crash

(Gleneden Beach, OR) -- Alcohol is being investigated as a factor in a fatal crash Friday night on Highway 101 near Gleneden Beach. Oregon State Police say 57-year-old Kendra Peracca crossed the center line and collided with 74-year-old Nancy Ann Vickstrom. They were both flown to Portland hospitals on Life Flight, but Vickstrom died at the hospital. Peracca suffered life-threatening injuries and remains hospitalized.

Wildfire Smoke Air Quality

(Salem, OR) -- Wildfire smoke is causing air quality advisories in southwest and northeast Oregon. The Oregon DEQ issued an advisory that continues through today for Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties. The advisory means should limit outdoor activity and stay indoors as much as possible. People with lung disease, older adults, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

Vitae Springs Fire Contained

(Salem, OR) -- A wildfire in South Salem that forced evacuations Friday night has been contained at 124 acres. The Vitae Springs Fire was burning in grass and timber. It threatened many homes. No one was hurt. Level 2 and Level 1 evacuation orders remain in place. Crews will remain on scene working to put out hot spots inside of the fire line.

Highway 217 Delays Could Continue This Week

(Tigard, OR) -- Construction on Highway 217 in Tigard caused long delays over the weekend and could continue to cause delays this week. On Highway 217 southbound, the right lane is closed between Hall Boulevard and Scholls Ferry Road. ODOT recommends using another route. The closure will remain in place through Monday September 19th.

Pacific Power Sets Up Customer Support Centers

(Portland, OR) -- Pacific Power is setting up customer support centers to help residents when power is turned off due to extreme fire danger and winds. The centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow in Linn County at Sankey Park, in Marion County at Bethel Baptist Church and in Douglas County at Glide High School. Customers will have air conditioning, water, snacks, restrooms, refrigeration and heating for medicine or baby formula, ice, charging stations, televisions and Wi-Fi.

ODF Moves To Extreme Fire Danger, New Restrictions

(Salem, OR) -- The hot and windy weather in the forecast today and Saturday has caused the Oregon Department of Forestry to move state lands into Extreme Fire Danger. The declaration took effect at 1 a.m. It closes off-highway vehicle trails, all campfires are banned, and some forest roads will close to vehicular traffic. This affects lands in Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Linn, Lincoln and Benton counties along with the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Santiam state forests. Officials are urging everyone to use extreme caution with anything that could spark a fire.

Oregonians Warned To Prepare For High Fire Danger

(Salem, OR) -- Weather conditions will cause fire danger to be extreme today and Saturday in Oregon. Travis Medema, chief deputy state fire marshal, says strong winds and low humidity will cause explosive growth of a fire. Officials are urging Oregonians to be careful with anything that might start a fire and to be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Portland General Electric and Pacific Power have announced plans to turn off electricity in high risk areas. Residents can register at ORALERT.GOV to get emergency updates.

Schools Cancel Classes Due To Possible Power Shutoffs

(Undated) -- Several school districts are canceling classes today because of the possible power shut offs due to the extreme fire danger. The districts are: Santiam Canyon, Sweet Home, Silver Falls, and the Oregon Trail School District.

Portland Fire's 9/11 Ceremony

(Portland, OR) -- The Portland Fire Bureau will hold a ceremony on Sunday, September 11th to commemorate the nearly three-thousand people who were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks. It'll be held in front of Portland Fire Station 1 on Southwest Ash Street at 10 a.m. Fire Chief Sara Boone and Portland Firefighters Association President Isaac McLennan will speak at the event. The Portland Firefighters Pipes & Drums Band will play and a fireboat will do a water display in the Willamette River.

Power Outages Planned Due To Anticipated High Winds

PORTLAND, OR -- State officials, fire managers and utilities are bracing for what could be a dangerous weekend. "The forecasted wind patterns, hot, dry weather and potential for lightning are making a challenging environment for increased fire danger in the coming days," Governor Kate Brown said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. She urged Oregonians to make an emergency plan now, in the event you have to evacuate or you lose power. 

Pacific Power issued Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) warnings to around 12,500 customers, "In parts of Lincoln, Tillamook, Douglas, Linn and Marion Counties." Some of those began as early as 3 a.m. Friday. PGE also warned of possible PSPS in the Portland area and Columbia River Gorge. 

Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps says the state is well prepared for what’s likely to come, "Knowing about the potential wildfire threat, the likelihood of power outages, limited resources, the fire already on the landscape, and the strain on our first responders, as well as the potential impacts to our critical infrastructure, we have chosen to activate the state’s emergency coordination center, to coordinate the needs and resources across the state."

John Hendricks, with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, tells KBND News 42 firefighters with three Washington task forces are now in Oregon, "One will be going down to Lane County to be prepositioned there. And then also we’ll be prepositioning one in Wasco County." The third is assigned to the Double Creek Fire in northeast Oregon, which is 15% contained at 137,179 acres, as of Friday morning. 

 

Lawsuit Accuses Portland Of Violating ADA Over Homeless Camps On Sidewalks

(Portland, OR) -- The City of Portland is facing a lawsuit accusing it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to keep sidewalks clear of homeless camps. A group of ten Portlanders with disabilities filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. The group argues a significant number of city sidewalks do not currently comply with applicable federal statutes and regulations due to tent encampments and debris. The lawsuit seeks a federal court order for the city to keep all sidewalks clear and to build or buy emergency shelters for those who would be displaced by the clearing of sidewalks.

ODFW: Keep Dogs Away From Dead Salmon

(Portland, OR) -- Oregon wildlife officials are urging dog owners to keep their canine friends away from salmon carcasses this fall. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says dogs that eat dead salmon infected with the parasite Neorickettsia helminthoeca could come down with salmon poisoning, which is often fatal. Officials say salmon carcasses become more common around rivers and streams in the Willamette Valley from September through December as salmon gather to spawn and die. ODFW hatcheries also spawn salmon for future smolt during September and distribute the carcasses to rivers and streams in the valley for stream nutrient enrichment. Anyone whose dog comes into contact with a dead salmon is urged to visit a veterinarian immediately.

Annual Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Bike Ride Underway

(Portland, OR) -- Dozens of bicyclists are peddling their way to the east coast to raise money for cancer research. The annual Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer Ride kicked off yesterday morning at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. More than 100 employees of pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb are taking part in the cross-country bike ride. The company plans to match money raised up to 500-thousand dollars. This year's ride ends October 3rd in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Pacific Power Warns Of Possible Power Shutoffs

(Portland, OR) -- Strong east winds will cause extreme fire danger on Friday and Saturday. Pacific Power is warning 12-thousand customers their power might be turned off to reduce the risk of a fire. The areas include Stayton east through the Santiam Canyon, Lebanon, Sweet Home, Lincoln City, and Glide east along the Umpqua Highway. If power is shutoff, utility crews will have to inspect the lines after the storm to repair damage before the power can be restored.

Kotek Campaigns On Gun Violence Prevention

PORTLAND, OR -- Former House Speaker Tina Kotek says more can be done to keep what she calls “weapons of war” out of the hands of dangerous people. The Democratic candidate for Governor Tina Kotek took part in a gun violence prevention forum on Wednesday, hosted by the advocacy group Moms Demand Action.

Kotek was specifically asked about the deadly August 28th shooting in a Bend grocery store and how, if elected governor, she would get so-called “weapons of war” out of the hands of civilians, "I think it’s very important that a young person under the age of 21 should not have access to a weapon of war. We make it too easy, and we certainly see the situation, like in Bend, when the shooter had access to a gun that could do a lot of damage."

She told the group, "What we have to start with, is making sure we can raise the age for Oregonians to have access to assault rifles. I also think we have to make sure there are no longer any loopholes in our background check law; that you must have a background check to be able to purchase a gun. Right now, if it takes too long, you can still get one. And that has to change."

Unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson held an event with law enforcement last week, saying the state needs to fund more police. KBND News asked Kotek why law enforcement had not been mentioned in her plan to curb gun violence. Kotek responded, there is no “one” approach to community safety, "We must have law enforcement to be able to respond when someone has a gun and we feel unsafe. We currently have staffing issues, not only in Portland, but around the state. What the next Governor can do is make sure that the classes that we hold at the state level, for certification of new officers, that there are more classes, that they run faster, so we can get more people, who want to serve in law enforcement, to get through their training in a much more expedited fashion."

Both Johnson and Republican candidate Christine Drazan have received “A” ratings from the NRA in the past. Forum organizers say neither agreed to take part in Wednesday’s event. 

 

OHSU Expands Street Nursing Teams In Southern Oregon

(Ashland, OR) -- Oregon Health and Science University will expand its Street Nursing Team that's been working in Jackson County. A pilot project where nurses meet with people who are homeless to provide hygiene services and advice about how to use the anti-overdose drug naloxone has been successful. They plan to start offering services in Klamath County by the end of next year. The rising cost of living, the pandemic, and the 2020 wildfires contributed to more people being homeless. By the end of 2026 they hope to conduct more than one-thousand outreach visits.

Gresham Adds Overt Cameras

(Gresham, OR) -- The city of Gresham is adding more surveillance cameras to reduce crime. The city has 23 cameras recording in higher crime areas with another 10 cameras on order. The city doesn't monitor the cameras, but if a crime occurs in the area of the camera they can use the video as evidence. Cameras have reduced crime 20 to 50-percent. The cameras are part of Gresham's Safe Gresham program that includes recruiting more police officers, more safety patrols with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, and investing two-million dollars in a Youth Violence Prevention program.

New Employment Department System Goes Online

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon Employment Department has launched a new website for employers as it works to update its old computer system. It's called Frances Online and allows employers to file payroll reports and submit equivalent plan applications for the new Paid Leave Oregon. The department's old computer system ran into major problems during the pandemic when the federal government created new unemployment programs and the system couldn't handle it without being reprogrammed.

Troutdale Voting Change

(Troutdale, OR) -- Voters in Troutdale will vote differently for city council positions in the November General Election. Instead of running for a specific position, all council members will run against each other, and the top three candidates will win seats on the council. There are four candidates: GianPaolo Mammone, Nick Moon, David Ripma, and Geoffrey Wunn. In 2020, voters approved the change.

Oregon Receives $18-Million From JUUL Agreement

(Salem, OR) -- JUUL Labs has reached a 438-million dollar agreement with 34 states over the e-cigarette maker's marketing and sales practices. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says JUUL targeted kids to get them hooked on their nicotine products. Oregon will receive at least 18-million dollars from the settlement. Oregon co-led the lawsuit with Connecticut and Texas. Under the agreement, JUUL will limit their marketing and sales practices. The money will be paid out over six to ten years.

Portland Firefighters Demand More Pay

(Portland, OR) -- The Portland Firefighters Union is demanding more pay over the city's demand for mandatory overtime to cover staffing shortages. The mandatory overtime has been required of firefighters for the last two years. The firefighters union is now asking the city to pay them double time instead of the time-and-a-half they've been paid. An independent study of the department has found it is severely understaffed and that this is affecting its response time.

Updated COVID-19 Booster Shots Expected to Arrive Later This Week

(Portland, OR) -- Local health officials say updated COVID-19 booster shots are expected to arrive in the Northwest later this week. The Oregon Health Authority says some vaccination sites will begin administering the shots as early as tomorrow. These shots are designed to help defend against the original strain of the virus as well as the latest Omicron subvariants.

Man Charged with Bias Crime for Attacking Women in Southwest Portland

(Portland, OR) -- Police say a man has been charged after he allegedly verbally assaulted several women in Southwest Portland because of what he perceived as their sexual orientation. Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Kelyn Jones. Police arrested Jones after he was identified from a photo one of the women took of him. He also allegedly tried to punch two women and knocked one to the ground in the Friday night incidents.

Concealed-Carry Ban Leads to Recall Effort Against Salem-Keizer Board Members

(Portland, OR) -- A mother from Salem has launched a petition drive to recall the three members of the Salem-Keizer School Board who voted to ban concealed weapons on school grounds last month. Salem resident Casity Troutt filed the petitions to recall directors Osvaldo Avila, Ashley Carson Cottingham and Karina Guzman Ortiz. A fourth director -- Maria Hinojos Pressey -- also voted for the ban but she was not named in the recall effort. ln her petition, Troutt cited the concealed carry ban as well as opposition to a book ban and support of transgender-friendly policies as reasons for the recall.

Hands Across the Bridge Event Celebrates National Recovery Month

(Portland, OR) -- People joined their hands and formed a line across both sides of the Interstate Bridge yesterday as part of the annual Hands Across the Bridge ceremony. The event kicked off National Recovery Month. The event is to draw attention to the cost of drug abuse. Organizers also shared mental health resources to help battle the stigma surrounding addiction.

OHSU Predicts New Wave Of Coronavirus In October

(Portland, OR) -- A new forecast from Oregon Health and Science University says another wave of coronavirus cases could hit Oregon by the end of next month. Cases and hospitalizations are projected to fall this month before spiking by the end of October due to waning immunity from current vaccinations. Cases are down throughout the state, with OHSU reporting a more than 40 percent drop in hospitalizations from its peak in July.

Federal Investigators Warn Of Dangerous "Rainbow Fentanyl"

PORTLAND, OR -- Federal drug investigators are joining local law enforcement to issue urgent warnings about rainbow fentanyl. "It’s a real crisis that we’re facing," says Steve Mygrant, Chief of the Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit for the US Attorney's Office in Oregon, "I would say an unprecedented one, when it comes to drug abuse." 

He’s concerned the new brightly colored “rainbow fentanyl” will lead to even more overdose deaths, especially in young people, under the age of 25, now heading back to high school and college. "Drug trafficking organizations are specifically marketing to a younger crowd who have lower tolerances and less experience with an incredibly powerful drug," he says.

Nationwide, there were around 107,000 fatal drug overdoses, last year; more than three quarters were caused by synthetic opioids - primarily fentanyl.

Mygrant says no community is immune, "This is an extremely addictive drug and extremely potent. We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of overdose deaths in the state of Oregon, but that doesn’t seem to deter. And the Fentanyl itself has become much less expensive over the last three years."

He says rainbow fentanyl comes in various forms and can look like sidewalk chalk or even candy. 

According to Mygrant, federal agencies are ramping up fentanyl-related prosecutions, but they also need the public to be aware of its dangers. 


 

Oregon Health Authority Expands Advisory About Toxic Algae Blooms

(Portland, OR) - The Oregon Health Authority is expanding a health advisory issued last month. Officials are now warning people about toxic algae blooms not just in the Willamette River near Cathedral Park, but also in an area upstream to Willamette Cove. The agency says people should avoid swimming, boating, and fishing in the water where the blooms are present. They also advise everyone to keep their kids and pets away due to health risks.

Around 21% Of First-Year Students Cancel Deposits At University Of Portland

(Portland, OR) - Approximately 21-percent of first-year students who signed up to attend the University of Portland this fall have since backed out. The university's vice president for financial affairs sent an email to faculty and staff obtained by KGW8. It says deposits were received from almost 11-hundred students, but only 860 ended up starting classes this week. This has caused the school to be 8.9-million dollars behind expectations. School officials will now work on a plan to bring in more money.

City Of Portland Suing Louis Vuitton Over Alleged Unpaid Back Taxes

(Portland, OR) - The City of Portland is filing a lawsuit against Louis Vuitton. The suit accuses the fashion house of not paying 42-thousand dollars in back taxes. The lawsuit alleges Louis Vuitton didn't pay city or Multnomah County business income taxes in 2020. That was the same year the store's Pioneer Place location was damaged by looters during riots.

Change Of Plea Hearing Scheduled For Former Mayor Of Beaverton

(Beaverton, OR) - The former mayor of Beaverton may be changing his plea in a child pornography case. Dennis Doyle initially pleaded not guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. He is now set for a change of plea hearing on October 11th. If convicted, the former mayor faces up to two decades in federal prison.

Oregon Symphony's Waterfront Concert And Festival This Saturday

(Portland, OR) - The Oregon Symphony's 2022 to 2023 season kicks off this weekend. Their Waterfront Concert and Festival is happening at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Saturday. The concert begins at 1 p.m. and is free to the public. The Oregon Symphony takes the stage at 7 p.m.

Rum Creek Fire Jumps Eastern Line

(Merlin, OR) -- Firefighters remain on the scene of the Rum Creek Fire near Merlin in Southern Oregon. Fire officials say the blaze jumped the eastern line Tuesday night and burned several hundred acres. Additional firefighters were moved to the area to build new containment lines. The fire has burned nearly 14-thousand acres and remains one-percent contained. One house has been destroyed and over five-thousand homes are threatened along with 21 commercial buildings. 18-hundred firefighters are working to contain the fire that was caused by lightning.

Pedestrian Killed In I-5 Hit And Run

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon State Police are asking for help identifying a car that hit and killed a woman on I-5 south of the Highway 22 interchange. Police say 35-year-old Cassandra Sullivan of Salem was found dead on the shoulder of the southbound lanes by a crew picking up litter. Investigators believe she was killed sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. The vehicle that hit her could have been a Subaru Impreza, Cross Trek, or a Forrester that was crystal white pearl in color. It should have damage to the right front of the vehicle. Witnesses or anyone with information about the incident should contact Oregon State Police.

Street Takeover Leads To Homicide

(Portland, OR) -- An investigation is ongoing into a deadly shooting during an illegal street takeover event in Northeast Portland. The Portland Police Bureau says one person was killed and two others were injured in the shooting Sunday night on Marine Drive over I-5. Police say 20-year-old Cameron Taylor died from a gunshot wound. Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting suspect to contact them.

Oregon's Estimated Kicker Grows

(Salem, OR) -- The potential income tax kicker rebate for 2023 in Oregon has grown by 500-million dollars over the forecast three months ago. The Oregon Department of Revenue is forecasting a three-and-a-half billion dollar kicker which would be paid in 2024. The forecast depends on whether the Federal Reserve is successful in avoiding a recession. Oregon's kicker refund is triggered when tax revenue exceeds two-percent of the state's budget. A mild recession could reduce revenue by one-point-two billion dollars.

High Levels Of Smog Bring Air Quality Advisory

(Portland, OR) -- An Air Quality Advisory is in effect for Portland, Vancouver, Salem, Albany and Corvallis through this afternoon due to smoggy conditions. Authorities say smog levels will reach levels that could be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, pregnant women, older adults and people with heart disease or respiratory conditions. Those people should limit outdoor activity. You can help reduce smog by limiting driving, wait to use gas powered yard equipment and refuel vehicles when it's cooler.

Man Killed By Semi While Crossing MLK

(Portland, OR) -- A pedestrian was killed in a crash on North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Marine Drive in Portland. Police say a man was crossing MLK Tuesday night when he was hit by a semi. The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation. The name of the man who was killed hasn't been released.

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