Regional News Archives for 2023-08

State Warns Of Call Center Delays

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon Department of Human Services will be upgrading the phone system used for the ONE Customer Service Center this weekend. It's used for providing support with medical, food, cash, and childcare benefits. Access to the call center isn't expected to be disrupted, but there could be longer wait times through August 25th. Instead of using the call center, they're asking people to go online to benefits-dot-Oregon-dot-gov or visit a local office.

Grand Jury Clears Officer In Fatal Shooting

(Portland, OR) -- A Multnomah County grand jury is declining to indict a Portland Police officer who shot and killed a man late last year. On November 19th, 2022, officers responded to an armed robbery on Southeast Powell Boulevard. Officers spotted the suspect's car and police say it was being driven in a reckless manner. It stopped in a parking lot at 29th and Southeast Steele Street where there was an officer involved shooting. 30-year-old Jaquez Clark-Johnson was wounded and died at a hospital. The grand jury determined Officer Chris Sathoff was justified in the shooting.

Boaters Should Avoid Power Loading

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon State Marine Board is asking boaters to avoid power loading during low water at reservoirs. Power loading is when the boat's motor is used to push the boat onto the trailer. The prop wash causes the dirt to wash out from under the end of the boat ramp. The concrete cracks and breaks apart. They want boaters to kill their motors and use a bow line and winch to get their boat on the trailer.

OLCC Dumps Plans For New Office In Canby

(Portland, OR) -- The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is dropping plans to build a new office in Canby and instead move its headquarters from Milwaukie to Salem. The plan won't affect construction of a large warehouse in Canby that'll replace the current warehouse in Milwaukie. The OLCC headquarters will be moved into existing state office space. The state's policy that allows part-time remote work means the space required for the headquarters won't need to be as large. The headquarters will move in the summer of 2025.

Third Heat-Related Death Investigated

(Portland, OR) -- A third heat-related death is being investigated in Multnomah County. The Medical Examiner says the person was found dead in Northeast Portland on Wednesday when the temperature was 102 degrees. The first heat-related death was Monday with another on Tuesday. Details of the deaths remain under investigation and more testing is required before the official determination can be made.

Legacy Health Merger With OHSU

(Portland, OR) -- OHSU and Legacy Health have started planning for a merger. They've signed a letter of intent that starts the process. Legacy would become part of OHSU. The combined system would have more than 32-thousand employees and over 100 locations, including 10 hospitals and three-million patients. A definitive agreement is expected in the next few months and the deal would close next year, pending regulatory review.

Children Severely Injured Falling From Hotel Window

(Seaside, OR) -- Two children suffered traumatic injuries when they fell from a three-story window at a hotel in Seaside on Tuesday. When Seaside Fire & Rescue arrived they found the children being held by their mother. They were on a bench in their room when they fell through the window screen. The children, ages five and three, were flown to a hospital in Portland for trauma care. The five-year-old suffered a fractured skull, a brain bleed and several other injuries. The three-year-old is in serious condition with a broken leg. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover medical expenses.

ODFW Launches New Anti-Poaching Campaign

PORTLAND, OR -- Last year, nearly 5,000 poached animals were found in Oregon, and experts say that’s only a fraction of what’s illegally taken around the state. The “Protect Oregon’s Wildlife - Turn In Poachers” campaign aims to reduce that number. "What we really want to do is educate and inform Oregonians on how to recognize and report poaching," says campaign manager Yvonne Shaw. It's part of a three-pronged approach approved by the 2019 legislature, which also includes increasing the number of State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers and assigning a special prosecutor within the Oregon Department of Justice. 

Shaw says the illegal killing of animals impacts quality of life in our state, "Part of that quality of life is being able to experience the natural wonders of our outdoors. And part of that experience, of course, includes being able to experience fish and wildlife." But poaching also has big environmental impacts. She says animals already face challenges from climate change, the loss of habitat and conflicts with vehicles, "This is just one more thing that impacts our wildlife populations across the landscape. But this is something that we can control."

Highway billboards are going up for the campaign and there are print and digital ads, even a series of YouTube videos. "For people who don’t understand what poaching is, we really want to raise their awareness that it exists and educate them on how they can identify it, or some things to watch for," Shaw tells KBND News, "And then, for people who are already in the outdoors a lot, they already are out there hunting and fishing, we want to let them know they can report anonymously." ODFW offers hunter preference points for tips that lead to an arrest or citation, and other groups provide cash rewards. 

She says a statewide survey revealed most Oregonians would report poachers but don’t know how, "Only about 30% of respondents knew to call the Oregon State Police tip line. Many people thought they should call the Department of Fish and Wildlife or local law enforcement."

Learn more about poaching and enforcement, or submit a tip at the new website ProtectOregonsWildlife.com

file photo: Officers pose with evidence from a La Pine poaching case.

Kotek Makes Appointment To Supreme Court

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has appointed Aruna Masih to the Oregon Supreme Court. Masih will be the first Punjabi, Indian American and South Asian Supreme Court justice. She's been a practicing attorney in Oregon for over 25 years. She specializes in employment, worker, and civil rights law. She's been a partner of the law firm Bennett Hartman. Masih will fill the remainder of the term left vacant when Justice Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Oregon.

Multnomah County Calls Residents At-Risk Of Heat

(Portland, OR) -- Multnomah County and the City of Portland made hundreds of calls prior to and during the heat wave to contact people who would be vulnerable in the heat. Starting last Friday, they called 570 unique property owners or managers in urban heat islands or with tenants who might be at risk of the heat. They sent over 600 emails with information about resources to vulnerable residents. On Monday and Tuesday, they called more than 800 households who receive long-term services and support to check on them and make sure they knew what resources were available. Many people were reluctant to use air conditioning, because of the expense, but they were told it's worth the cost during an emergency.

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Ties Record Low

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon's unemployment rate is back at a record low. The rate for July reached three-point-four percent statewide. This was the sixth consecutive monthly drop and down from a high of four-point-eight percent in January. The record was originally set in November of 2019. Sixty-eight-hundred jobs were added in July following a 57-hundred-job increase in June. The most jobs were added in health care and social assistance, government, professional and business services, and construction. Jobs were lost in financial activities, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and utilities. Over the last year, three industries have added nearly all of Oregon's new jobs -- they are health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Fraudulent Investor Sentenced To Federal Prison

(Eugene, OR) -- A Corvallis man has been sentenced to federal prison for running a fraudulent investment scheme. It claimed to support various Christian missionaries and organizations. Erik Hass got members of his church and workplace to invest retirement and other cash accounts. He promised returns of up to 30 percent. He used the funds for his salary and personal expenses. At least 20 investors lost nearly two-million dollars. Hass was ordered to pay restitution to his victims and serve two-and-a-half years in federal prison.

Teenage Soccer Player Dies Following Practice

(Newport, OR) -- A teenage student in Newport died Monday night following soccer practice. The Lincoln County School District says 15-year-old Yael Felix-Trejo became ill at soccer practice and died at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport. He would have been a sophomore this fall at Newport High School. In a Facebook post, the Central Coast Soccer Association wrote Felix-Trejo played soccer with their organization for several years and his enthusiasm and dedication to soccer and his teams will be greatly missed."

Two Heat Deaths Under Investigation

(Portland, OR) -- A second heat-related death is under investigation in Portland. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner reports the death happened Tuesday when the outside temperature was around 102 degrees. The death was reported by a Portland hospital. No details are being released. This follows a suspicious death on Monday in Southeast Portland. Both deaths are suspected of being heat related. Additional tests and investigations are needed before the official cause is determined.

Governor Calls On Oregonians To Serve

(Salem, OR) -- If you've ever wanted to help the state now is your chance. Governor Tina Kotek is urging Oregonians to apply for over 130 open positions on 12 new boards and commissions that were created by the Legislature. They include hospital discharge challenges, juvenile justice, cybersecurity, universal health and more. Kotek says true progress requires each and every one to be engaged. Applicants should apply on the state's website.

PGE Reports Drop In Power Use

(Portland, OR) -- Customers of Portland General Electric are doing their part to reduce energy consumption during the heat wave. PGE says customers reduced demand by 90 megawatts on Monday. The utility made the request to reduce the risk of power outages. They're asking customers to use less air conditioning and to delay dish washing and laundry to off-peak times. PGE crews are adding extra cooling systems to power equipment, commercial and industrial customers are being asked to reduce their power use, and more crews are on standby in the event of an outage.

Multnomah County Investigates Suspect Heat Death

(Portland, OR) -- Authorities believe yesterday's excessive heat may have claimed a life. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner reports a person was found dead in Southeast Portland when the temperature was approximately 106 degrees. The Medical Examiner says the death is considered suspicious and remains under investigation as potentially heat-related. Further tests will determine whether heat will be the official cause of death.

Officials Urge Use Of Life Jackets

(Portland, OR) -- Officials are reminding residents of the importance of wearing a life jacket while enjoying local waterways. The Army Corp of Engineers tells KATU-2 that everyone should wear a life jacket while boating, fishing and swimming, even if they consider themselves a strong swimmer. Army Corp of Engineers public affairs specialist Tom Conning says people often overestimate their swimming ability in open water and that "men are especially arrogant about their swimming abilities and strength." Conning says grown men make up about 88-percent of drowning victims and that 89-percent of all drowning victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of their death.

Heat Could Cause Bleeding Roads

(Hillsboro, OR) -- Officials are reminding residents that extreme heat can cause roads to bleed. The Washington County Department of Transportation says drivers need to use caution, because the oils can make the roads slick. The hot temperatures and heavy traffic can cause oil from the asphalt to move to the surface. The roads will appear oily or sound tacky when this happens. Drivers should especially use caution stopping or going around corners.

Gas Prices Reach Highest Level Since Last October

(Portland, OR) -- Gas prices have hit their highest levels since last October. Triple-A reports rising crude oil prices are causing gas prices to rise. Crude oil is up nine percent over the last month into the upper 70s and low 80s per barrel. The national average gained four cents to three-86. Oregon's average is up three cents at four-69. Medford has the highest prices at four-80 a gallon and Pendleton has the least expensive gas at four-51. Diesel in Oregon jumped 15 cents to four-76. The national average for diesel increased 12 cents to four-33.

Kotek Marks Signing Health Care Bills

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Governor Tina Kotek held a ceremony in Salem on Tuesday to mark signing two health care bills. HB 2002 was controversial and led to Senate Republicans walking out. It protects patients from lawsuits by other states that have banned abortions and it requires Medicaid and insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care. HB 2697 creates a minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratio and establishes committees for hospital care providers to improve staffing.

Multnomah County Jail Returns To Open Booking

(Portland, OR) -- The Multnomah County Jail is returning to an "open booking" policy. That means any person arrested in Multnomah County for any felony or misdemeanor offense can be booked into jail. In 2020, the Sheriff's Office narrowed the booking policy to manage the jail population and COVID-19 cases. Since then, the Sheriff's Office has reviewed how adults in custody are housed, how space in the jail is used, and how services are provided. The policy takes into account new laws that allow suspects with more than a gram of fentanyl to be booked into jail, along with people caught with so-called ghost guns.

Donations Welcome In Maui, Vacationers Urged To Reschedule

MAUI, HI -- As rescue and recovery efforts continue in Hawaii, scammers are also at work, taking advantage of the generosity of others. But the Better Business Bureau says there are ways to safely give.

"The outpour that we have had here in Hawaii has been amazing," says Roseann Freitas, with the BBB in Hawaii. She says people looking for ways to donate need to make sure the charity is reputable, "The best way to give is to make sure you kind of check those emotions, which is so hard to do, before you donate. Make sure you’re giving to an organization that can make that impact." She recommends nonprofits that are part of the Wise Giving Alliance, like Maui United Way, American Red Cross or Salvation Army. 

She lives on Oahu, and tells KBND News the recovery effort in Maui is in crisis mode, right now, "They are still searching through the rubble to find remains of people. People on West Maui are isolated. They have limited electricity, if they have it. Water - they’re being told not to drink the water. So, right now, it’s those organizations that can get in there [and] get in there fast." 

There’s no need to rush into a donation; there will be plenty of need long into the future. "Once we get through this initial crisis: you get the fires out and you find the remains of those who didn’t survive, that can take weeks, right now. This is a painstaking process of going building to building. But then, everybody’s been displaced. Not only have people maybe lost their homes, they’ve lost their jobs," says Freitas, "So, it will take a long time for the Lahaina area to rebuild; maybe even a decade." 

Freitas says now is not the time to come to Maui, "If you have a vacation scheduled, please cancel. The resources on the island are strained; even those who live there are not getting things. You will not have an enjoyable experience if you go now." She says the Red Cross is taking sign-ups for people willing to volunteer in Maui later, to help with the future recovery effort. 

If you are looking to give now, she says monetary donations are best because getting items to the island is logistically difficult, "We are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so we have a limited way of getting things. We can’t just drive two hours down the road and find these supplies, so everything is being brought to us." And, if you want the tax deduction, be sure the donation is to a group with 501c3 status.

 

 

Power Companies Request Conservation During Heat Wave

PORTLAND, OR -- Power companies are asking Oregonians to do their part to reduce strain on the electric grid during this heatwave. 

"If the heat is too much, you could see outages," says PGE’s John Farmer. But everyone can do a little to help relieve pressure on the grid and keep the power on, like relying less on your air conditioner - within reason, "As safe and healthy as it is for you to do so, bump it up a few degrees. Maybe you’ll be a little less comfortable, but reducing the amount of AC that you use is a big help." Also, try to run major appliances during off-peak hours. Peak electricity usage is typically 5-10 p.m. "Everybody is using their AC and other things, people are home from work, they’re cooking dinner," says Farmer, "So, if you can run the dishwasher right before you go to bed or prep your laundry the night before and then run it first thing in the morning, those are simple ways to shift your energy usage outside that peak demand window." Electric vehicle owners can also help, "Maybe put a sticky note on the mirror to, right before you go to bed, go plug in your car so that it charges overnight, not right when you get home from work."

Despite the extremely hot and dry conditions Farmer doesn’t think Public Safety Power Shut-offs - to prevent lines from sparking a wildfire - will be necessary, "Based on current forecasts and current conditions, we do not anticipate calling a PSPS over the next several days."

And, have a plan so if there is an outage, you're prepared. "If your power goes out and it’s really hot, where are you going to go? Do you have friends or family? Do you know where the local county-sponsored cooling shelters are? Things like that." He also suggests making sure your power company has your contact information, so you're notified of a current or impending outage. And, pack an emergency kit with basic necessities like non-perishable food and medications. 

California Sends Firefighters To Oregon

(Salem, OR) -- California is sending five strike teams of firefighters to be on standby during the heat wave and high fire danger in Oregon this week. The Oregon State Fire Marshal requested the teams through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact between the two states. The teams will be pre-positioned in the Willamette Valley, so they're available to respond if new fires start. There are currently 11 Oregon based task forces mobilized on two fires in Lane County.

Oregon Elections Division Pushes Campaign Finance Campaign

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon Elections Division is launching a new program to help candidates follow campaign finance laws. It's called the CLEAR Initiative. The website oregon votes dot gov now directs users to ORESTAR that has information on candidates and committees. The Elections Division will start publishing an online database of campaign finance violations and penalties. The Division is also putting out a series of training videos, live training and compliance information to help campaigns know what they need to do to comply with the laws.

Fire Marshal Sends Local Crews To Bedrock Fire

(Salem, OR) -- The 19-thousand acre Bedrock Fire in Lane County could spread faster in the hot weather this week. The Oregon State Fire Marshal is sending local firefighters to help protect structures. Four task forces from Multnomah, Douglas, Polk, and Washington counties will focus on protecting homes, businesses and other buildings. Level 2 and Level 3 evacuation warnings have been expanded for the fire. The Fire Marshal is also in contact with California to bring extra help through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, if it's needed. The Bedrock Fire is 20 percent contained.

Community Helps Recover Stolen Vehicles

(Portland, OR) -- Portland Police say they used community sourced information through a Facebook page to conduct their latest stolen vehicle mission. On Saturday, Portland Police worked with officers from Gresham, the Port of Portland, and Multnomah County Parole and Probation to locate several vehicles. 11 stolen vehicles were recovered, 12 vehicles were towed and 14 people were arrested. One gun, two replica guns, and a taser were also seized. Police worked with the Facebook page PDX Stolen Vehicles to conduct the mission.

Air Quality Advisory For Willamette Valley And Medford

(Portland, OR) -- An Air Quality Advisory is in effect from the Portland-Vancouver area to Medford. It's being caused by elevated levels of ozone pollution, or smog. The advisory is in effect through Wednesday night. Residents can help reduce the pollution by limiting driving, postpone yard work with gas powered equipment and delay painting and aerosol projects. Smog can irritate your eyes, nose and lungs. It can also contribute to breathing problems.

Salem Residents To Vote On Payroll Tax

(Salem, OR) -- Salem voters will get to decide a payroll tax to fund emergency services. Nearly 13-thousand signatures were gathered on petitions sending the issue to the November ballot. City Council passed the tax on a 5 to 4 vote in early June. It would raise around 28-million-dollars a year. Supporters of the tax say in Salem there are so many state buildings that are exempt from property taxes it limits their ability to raise revenue for city services.

Northwest Prepares To Bake In The Heat

(Portland, OR) -- Millions living in the Pacific Northwest are bracing for excessive heat. Western Oregon could set temperature records on Monday and Tuesday with highs over 100 degrees. It'll also be unseasonably hot in Seattle with highs in the 90s. The hot weather is leading to Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches, because of winds and low humidity raising the risk of wildfires.

Real Kosher Ice Cream Recalled In 19 States

(Brooklyn, NY) -- A New York-based ice cream company is recalling some product being sold in Oregon because of possible Listeria contamination. Real Kosher Ice Cream says they're recalling its soft serve ice cream cups in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Officials say two people in New York and Pennsylvania fell ill after eating a soft serve cup. The CDC says the bacteria can lead to an infection that causes roughly 260 deaths annually.

Brush Fire Burns Six Acres In West Linn

(Portland, OR) -- No injuries are reported after a fast-moving brush fire burned six acres in West Linn. Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue says the blaze broke out Saturday evening while someone was bailing hay. The fire quickly spread to six acres and was threatening local homes before crews managed to get it under control. Fire officials say the incident serves as a reminder of how quickly a small fire can grow out of control in hot, dry conditions.

Unsafe Field Closed

(Portland, OR) -- Grant High School will need to find another field than Portland Parks & Rec's Grant Bowl for athletic events. Portland Parks says the field is no longer safe and it's being closed. The artificial turf was installed in 2013 with an eight to ten year lifespan. Several maintenance projects have been performed, but the field still doesn't pass safety tests. Portland Parks will work with Portland Public Schools to find alternate sights. Portland Parks has a 600-million-dollar maintenance backlog.

Counties Open Cooling Centers

(Portland, OR) -- Multnomah County has three cooling centers open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the heat wave. The City and County declared an emergency to allow government agencies to respond faster. Portland also has splash pads, misting stations, and libraries available as places to cool off. Washington County has two cooling centers and several locations including libraries. Clackamas County has libraries and several community centers where people can go to cool off.

Thousands Gather In Portland For World Naked Bike Ride

(Portland, OR) -- The 2023 World Naked Bike Ride is in the books. Thousands of people gathered in northeast Portland's Irving Park on Saturday to bike in the buff around the city. The annual event is aimed at highlighting the vulnerability of bicyclists on city streets and roadways while protesting pollution-based transportation.

Corvallis Woman's 1992 Disappearance Still Active Investigation

CORVALLIS, OR -- A Corvallis woman disappeared 31 years ago under suspicious circumstances and police have never given up on the case. Patricia Lynn Swanberg was reported missing when she didn’t show up for work on August 12, 1992. Her on-again, off-again boyfriend reported last seeing her August 10 and her unlocked car was found abandoned in downtown Corvallis with her purse still inside. While the trail has gone cold, detectives say it's still an active case. 

"The majority of the leads ran out within the first year," Corvallis PD Lt. Ben Harvey tells KBND News. "She was pretty young when she disappeared - only 34 years old. And so, it’s been a long time."

Her siblings and two children believe she’s no longer alive, but her body was never found. Over the years, investigators used new technology to try to track her down, without any sign of her. They don’t think she just went off the grid, "It’s really difficult in the modern day to exist without engaging with society in some way, where you can be seen."

There was never an official suspect, but Lt. Harvey says they looked into a man, "The person of interest who we thought would be a suspect has since deceased." He says he died five years ago, taking with him any possible connected leads. 

Harvey believes someone has the missing link, even if they don't realize it, "[They] Heard a story in passing, perhaps, or even directly from someone who knew Patricia. Or maybe the significant time jogs their memory and they remember her directly by having encounters with her. We’re looking for any information that would help us understand where she might’ve been."

She was known by several names, including Patricia Wilson, Patricia Lynn Brinkley, Patricia Pursifull and Tequila Robinson. "Ultimately, if someone had heard what happened to her; maybe even third or fourth hand information that at the time might not have seemed credible to them," says Harvey, "Or maybe seemed like a rumor they didn’t want to spread - that kind of information could be helpful for us, at this point."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Corvallis Police. You can remain anonymous. Tips can be submitted online HERE, or emailed to Detective Christy Molina HERE





 

Seven Arrested For Property Destruction

(Portland, OR) -- Portland Police have arrested seven people for allegedly barging into businesses and destroying property. On Tuesday, a group entered a corporate office at Northeast 20th and Glisan. Employees locked themselves in an office and the group tried to kick their way in. They left before police arrived. Later in the afternoon, there was a similar incident at a shopping mall near Southwest 3rd and Morrison. Police arrested four people. Three other people were arrested on Wednesday. Most of them were from out-of-state.

Local Fire Fighters Sent To Wiley Fire

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon State Fire Marshal is sending two structural task forces to help fight the Wiley Fire burning near Sweet Home. The fire is burning in extremely steep terrain near Buck Mountain. It's burned 165 acres and there's no containment. The Linn County Sheriff's Office has issued Level 1 Be Ready and Level 2 Get Set evacuation warnings for residents. The structural task forces from Multnomah and Polk counties will work to protect homes and other buildings near the fire. The heat wave expected next week could help the fire spread.

Second Trial To Be Held For Former Police Officer

(Oregon City, OR) -- A second trial will be held for a former Gladstone Police officer in his wife's killing after the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed his overturned murder conviction. The court upheld last year's Court of Appeals ruling that found prosecutors improperly relied on a jail house informant to convict Lynn Benton. Prosecutors say Benton paid two people to kill his wife Debbie Higbee in 2011. The Clackamas County District Attorney's Office confirmed they will meet with the court and Benton's lawyer to schedule another trial date.

Public Invited To Reser Stadium Open House

(Corvallis, OR) -- The 160-million-dollar renovation of Reser Stadium on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis is complete, and the public is invited to an open house. Hoffman Construction rebuilt the older half of the stadium. The open house will be held August 19th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Under the stadium seating is a 30-thousand-square-foot Health Center and a student Welcome Center. Donors contributed 90-million dollars toward the project.

OSP Plans Enhanced Clatsop County Patrols

(Seaside, OR) -- Clatsop County will be busy this weekend with several events, and Oregon State Police will have extra troopers on duty. The Seaside Volleyball Tournament, Astoria Regatta Celebration, and the Buoy 10 salmon fishery will draw extra people to the area. Troopers will be watching for speeders, tailgaters, impaired and distracted driving.

BLM Prohibits Campfires In Northwest Oregon

(Eugene, OR) -- The Bureau of Land Management is banning campfires in their Northwest Oregon developed campgrounds starting Friday because of the hot weather being forecast. Portable cook stoves and fire pits that use propane or liquefied fuel that can be turned off are allowed. There are some restrictions on motorcycle and off-highway vehicles. Smoking is only allowed in vehicles on improved roads. Chainsaws, fireworks, and exploding targets are prohibited.

Interstate Kidnapping Suspect Arrives In Oregon

(Portland, OR) -- The man accused of kidnapping a woman in Seattle and holding her in a cinder block cell in Klamath Falls is now in the Multnomah County jail. Negasi Zuberi was extradited to Oregon from Nevada. He's facing federal charges and will appear in federal court either in Eugene or Medford. If he's convicted of interstate kidnapping, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The victim escaped and waved down a passing driver to get help.

Paid Leave Oregon Prepares For Applications

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon's state-run paid leave program starts taking applications on Monday. The first leave can start September 3rd with payments going out through direct deposit or prepaid cards two weeks later. Paid Leave Oregon will cover time off for family members, illness, and safe leave. Around 41-thousand claims are expected at the start and then 12-thousand a month as the program moves forward. Grants are available for small businesses to help cover for employees while they're on leave. Eleven states have similar programs. Details at paidleave-dot-oregon-dot-gov.

Audit Critical Of Oregon Racing Commission

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon needs to tighten its gambling laws, according to an audit by the Secretary of State's Office. It found ambiguous laws have led to mixed interpretations of what is and is not allowed. It says the Oregon Racing Commission needs better oversight and replacing commission members when their terms expire needs to be a priority. The audit also recommends the Legislature increase oversight and transparency of pari-mutuel wagers, also known as pool betting.

Governor Creates Portland Economic Task Force

(Portland, OR) -- Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has formed a task force to analyze Portland's economic future and develop ideas for change. Kotek will co-chair the committee with Dan McMillan, CEO of The Standard. They'll examine crime, vandalism, homelessness, and tax competitiveness. Kotek says Portland's problems are a statewide issue. They'll start meeting this month and present recommendations in December.

Willamette River Algae Warning

(Portland, OR) -- The Oregon Health Authority has issued a warning for the Willamette River at the Ross Island Lagoon. The heat and reduced current have caused toxic algae to form. They're advising people to not swim in the lagoon and don't drink the water, even if it's boiled. Keep pets out of the water. The algae can cause serious illness.

Governor Orders Flags Half-Staff For Firefighter

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has ordered flags on public buildings to be flown at half-staff on Thursday to honor fallen firefighter Benjamin Sapper. He was a Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Firefighter and died August 4th in a vehicle crash. He graduated from Boulder High School and the University of Colorado with a degree in Applied Mathematics. He was planning to attend the University of British Columbia for a graduate degree in Earth Sciences.

OHCS Awards $38 Million To 6 Projects

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon Housing and Community Services is awarding nearly 39-million dollars to six permanent supportive housing projects across the state. It will provide 227 homes for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The projects are in Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Astoria, and Tigard. The housing includes on-site services for food resources, transportation, employment, and behavioral health support. Rental assistance is also provided.

Disqualified Legislators Can't File To Run In 2024

(Salem, OR) -- Oregon legislators with 10 or more unexcused absences during the 2023 session won't be allow to run in the 2024 election. Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade directed the Oregon Elections Division to implement an administrative rule to clarify the law passed by voters last November. The decision was made with legal advice from the Oregon Department of Justice. Griffin-Valade says the rule follows voters' intent. There have been some interpretations that Senators disqualified by their walkout would be able to run in 2024, but not in 2028.

Homeless Service Providers Low Pay

(Portland, OR) -- Many employees of organizations helping Portland's homeless population aren't making enough money to cover their basic living expenses. A study analyzed wages, employee satisfaction, and workforce stability at 20 community-based service providers. It found 31-percent don't make enough money to cover basic needs. It also found low wages result in high turnover rates as employees seek higher paying jobs. It recommends a tailored approach to solve the problems based on specific jobs and the organizations.

Green Peter Reservoir Closed To Boaters

(Sweet Home, OR) -- The Oregon State Marine Board has temporarily closed Green Peter Reservoir near Sweet Home to boaters due to the Wiley Fire burning nearby. U.S. Forest Service Scooper planes need to use the lake to refill water tanks so they can help ground crews battling the fire. The fire has burned 10 to 20 acres in extremely steep terrain and the aircraft are providing major support. The Linn County Sheriff's Office has issued 'Level 1 - Be Ready' evacuation warnings for residents in the area.

Gas Prices In Oregon Increase

(Portland, OR) -- Gas prices in Oregon are up four cents a gallon over the last week to four-66. Triple-A reports the national average is also up four cents to three-82. Medford has the highest prices in the state at four-77 while Pendleton has the least expensive gas at four-49 a gallon. The increase is mainly due to high crude oil prices and heat in the southern U.S. that's reducing production at refineries. Oregon's move to some self-service pumps is not expected to affect prices, because it's the same for full-serve and self-serve. Diesel in Oregon increased 11 cents to four-61 a gallon.

HHS Secretary Discusses Organ Transplant System In Oregon

PORTLAND, OR -- The Biden Administration is working to modernize the nation’s organ transplantation system, and an Oregon U.S. Senator is pushing for the work to happen faster and more efficiently.

Senator Ron Wyden hosted a meeting Monday with the Health and Human Services Secretary in Portland. They heard from Oregon doctors who say they see too many patients die while waiting for an organ. Sen. Wyden told Sec. Xavier Becerra, "100,000 people on the waiting list to receive a transplant. That is the equivalent, Mr. Secretary, of filling every seat in our basketball arena Moda five times over. And on average, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant."

One doctor said one of her hardest jobs is asking a family to allow a loved one’s organs to be donated. The group also included a donor and recipient. "I sat next to someone who donated an organ," said Sen. Wyden, "And the person next to them said, ‘my life was changed for the better.’ That’s what this is all about."

Sec. Becerra acknowledges there's frustration, "Lack of trust in the system, the need to be fair and not leave people out because of their zip code or their circumstance." He says the modernization effort began in March, and the transition is a delicate process, "We have organs that are right now in the process of getting to that transplantee, and so we have to make sure we continue with those who are in the pipeline, but make the changes so that we can do this far more transparently, far more efficiently. We need to get to the point where we don’t let one organ go to waste."

HHS is renegotiating contracts for the board overseeing the system, in an effort to make it more independent and improve accountability. Sec. Becerra says restoring trust in the system is a top priority. 

Learn more about organ donation at DonateLifeNW.org.

 

Tire Pile Burns In North Portland

(Portland, OR) -- A large pile of shredded tires caused a large fire Monday morning in North Portland. Portland Fire & Rescue crews responded to North Lombard and Harborgate Street where the fire was sending a column of dark smoke over the area. The pile of shredded rubber is located next to Union Pacific railroad tracks. Firefighters worked to keep the flames from spreading to nearby buildings. A bulldozer from the business helped to separate the material, so water could put out the fire. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Surveillance video is being reviewed for potential suspicious activity.

Suspect Admits To Dismembering Woman's Body

(Oregon City, OR) -- The suspect in the murder of an Oregon City woman has admitted to dismembering her body. Forty-seven-year-old Jamon Fritsch is accused of killing 49-year-old Kara Taylor. The FBI says it found blood in his bathroom, bathtub, the walls of his bedroom and a saw. Prosecutors say Fritsch went to Home Depot to buy zip ties, tarps, and contractor bags. He admitted to scattering her body parts in several areas so they couldn't be found. Taylor leaves behind a 22-year-old special needs daughter. Fritsch is charged with murder and abuse of a corpse.

Parking Structure Partially Collapses

(Portland, OR) -- No injuries are reported after a parking garage in Portland's Old Town partially collapsed Monday morning. The garage is located at Northwest 4th and Flanders. The roof fell onto vehicles parked below. The garage is used by an auto repair shop to park fleet vehicles and vehicles that are under repair. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Record High Traffic Deaths

(Portland, OR) -- A new report recommends taking a different approach to reducing traffic fatalities. In the Portland area, traffic fatalities increased 42-percent in 2021 with 170 deaths. Twenty-four-percent of the fatalities involved people who were homeless. Alcohol and drugs were factors in nearly all crashes. A new approach would move away from individual responsibility and toward transportation policy and roadway design. It calls for adopting policy, system and environmental changes to increase safety.

Lightning Causes 11 Fire In Umpqua National Forest

(Roseburg, OR) -- Firefighters are busy after 191 lightning strikes hit the Umpqua National Forest last Thursday and Friday and started eleven fires. Most of the lightning strikes hit near Diamond Lake. Firefighters were sent to all of the fires, and they have been contained or controlled. There are currently no closures in place because of the fires. Fire danger remains very high in the area and they're asking people using the forests to take all precautions to avoid starting human caused fires.

Suspect Arrested In Woman's Disappearance

(Oregon City, OR) -- A suspect has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of an Oregon City woman. Forty-nine-year-old Kara Taylor was last seen July 25th at a home in Oregon City. Two days later, 47-year-old Jamon Fritsch, who also lives at the house, reported her missing. On Saturday, police searched the house and found evidence that Taylor was killed. Her body hasn't been located. Fritsch was arrested and charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter, and Abuse of a Corpse. He's being held on one-million-dollars bail. The search continues for Taylor's remains.

Three Die In House Fire

(Scappoose, OR) -- An investigation is ongoing into a house fire that killed three people and a pet south of Scappoose [[ skah-POOS ]]. Firefighters arrived at the burning home early Sunday morning to learn there were three people inside. They couldn't use the doors to get in, so they broke a bedroom window and found two people and a pet dead. A third person was found dead inside of the home.

Fake Money Recovered In Gorge

(Multnomah Falls, OR) -- Police are warning residents about fake money being littered near Multnomah Falls. The U.S. Forest Service says there have been instances of hikers risking their lives going off-trail near the falls to recover what looked like 100-dollar bills on a dangerous hillside. On Saturday, Portland Mountain Rescue rappelled down the cliff to recover the cash that turned out to be money used as a prop in a movie. There were 15 bills about 30 feet over the edge of the falls. They don't know whether it's connected to social media posts where influencers stash money in dangerous outdoor places where people can find it.

Firefighter Killed In Accident

(Powers, OR) -- A 21-year-old firefighter from Gold Beach is dead following an accident while on duty last Friday. Benjamin Sapper was originally from Boulder, Colorado and was working as a hand crew member in the Gold Beach Ranger District. He was killed in a vehicle accident. Sapper graduated from Boulder High School and the University of Colorado with a degree in Applied Mathematics. He was going to be starting graduate school this fall at the University of British Columbia in Earth Sciences.

Missing Woman Search

(Oregon City, OR) -- The FBI has joined the Clackamas County Major Crimes Team to investigate the disappearance of an Oregon City woman. Police say 49-year-old Kara Taylor was last seen in Oregon City on July 25th. She was reported missing to Oregon City Police two days later. Police say circumstances surrounding her disappearance are suspicious. Taylor was last seen wearing a green and gray flannel top with green pants. She is approximately five-foot-three and 130 pounds. She has blond hair and green eyes.

HHS Secretary Visits Oregon

PORTLAND, OR -- Another member of President Biden’s cabinet was in Oregon Friday. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra talked about ways to stabilize the behavioral health workforce with Oregon doctors, educators and those working in the field. 

"I know we all have work to do; Oregon still has work to do. But, I travel throughout the country - you all get it. And thank you for trying to get ahead and do things a little bit better," He told the group gathered at a roundtable discussion in Tigard. "Nine in 10 Americans are crying out, saying that America is experiencing a mental health crisis. And so we have to do much, much more."

Attendees expressed concern about high burnout among those in the behavioral health sector, saying low pay and rising student debt are big issues. Sec. Becerra told them the National Health Service Corps is helping, while increasing the workforce in rural areas, "We actually boosted the number of people who qualify to receive the support - the loan forgiveness, the scholarship - to 20,000 people in America, who all are now committed to serve four or five years in an underserved community, because they’re getting their medical school or nursing school paid for."

The Secretary says many important programs are provided by the state, but insists the federal government is doing what it can, "We’re trying to make sure that we expand not just 988, but other hotline services. We provide, now, maternal health hotline services for women, especially in regards to mental health."

After the roudtable, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley told KBND News he’s pleased the Secretary is learning about the lack of staffing in mental and behavioral healthcare, "Right now, we’re about 36,000 people short, here in Oregon, and unless we find a way to facilitate the training of a lot more people, our population is going to be dramatically underserved in a very critical area of healthcare." Merkley says the Senate Appropriations bill includes funding for 19 Oregon healthcare projects, including for St. Charles to establish a Psychiatry Residency program in Central Oregon.

Sec. Becerra also met with students, teachers and advocates at a Portland-area middle school to talk about youth substance abuse. 

Photo: HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra speaks to healthcare experts during a roundtable discussion, alongside U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley on 08/04/23.

Wyden Launches "Oregon Bounty" Effort

PENDLETON, OR -- A new effort to promote Oregon-grown products launched in Eastern Oregon last week. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden tells KBND News he started his "Oregon Bounty" tour in Umatilla and Morrow counties, "I call them both Oregon signature agriculture bounty counties."

He talked with onion growers and other producers and processors about regulations that prevent their business from expanding. "These businesses are really feeding Oregon and, to fair measure, the country and the world," says Wyden, "People around the world always love buying Oregon products. Our first stop in Morrow County was Boardman Foods - a family-owned business - and that was a terrific way to start the program." 

Wyden says international trade was a central topic, "About one out of every four jobs revolves around international trades. Trade jobs often pay better. So we had growers, shippers and distributors, and all of them really want more flexibility in terms of the federal trade policy." He says tariffs imposed a few years ago might need to ease, "I’m of the view that tariffs ought to be part of a trade toolbox; they shouldn’t be the only response. And that’s what the small ag businesses were telling me - 'Ron, just get us some more flexibility so we can devise solutions that work for us,' and may not be necessarily what the Beltway in Washington, D.C. wants." They’re also concerned about inheritance taxes that make it difficult to pass down a family-owned small business to the next generation.

Wyden says he's working with the Oregon Business Council to focus on economic development in the rural ag sector, similar to efforts launched a few years ago to promote Oregon’s semiconductor industry. 

 

REI Opening New Location In Beaverton

(Beaverton, OR) -- Outdoor recreation company REI is set to open a new store in Beaverton. The company says the new location will open sometime next spring. The store will be located inside the old Bed, Bath & Beyond location at Walker Center and will feature a full-service bike shop as well as a snowboard and ski shop.

Investigation Underway Into Increased Jail Deaths

(Portland, OR) -- There have been six inmate deaths this year in the Multnomah County Jail compared to three deaths last year and none in 2020 and 2021. Two deaths this year were from suicide. Four deaths remain under investigation. Jail officials are concerned drug overdose might be responsible. The Sheriff's Office is expanding the availability of Narcan to reverse a drug overdose, increasing searches for contraband, and conducting investigations to hold people accountable for bringing drugs into the jail

Clatsop County Animal Shelter Full

(Astoria, OR) -- If you're looking to adopt a cat or dog, the Clatsop County animal shelter in Astoria is at capacity and needs people to adopt animals. This is kitten season, plus they've taken animals from two recent hoarding situations. They say that if you're thinking about adopting a dog or a kitten, now is the time. There are 29 animals on a waiting list to enter the shelter and 35 animals in foster homes.

American Idol Audition At Oregon State Fair

(Salem, OR) -- If you have what it takes to be an American Idol you can showcase your talent at the Oregon State Fair. American Idol is bringing auditions to the Fair on Saturday, August 26th. Performers need to pre-register and submit their audition videos by August 15th. The top 40 performers will showcase their talents at the Oregon State Fair Idol competition. Fairgoers will choose the People's Choice Audition Award winner who will be submitted to American Idol for a virtual VIP Executive Producer Audition.

Non-college Young Adults Use More Legal Weed

(Corvallis, OR) -- New research out of Oregon State University shows that when states legalize marijuana, young adults not in college become frequent users more often than college students. A study by OSU found that after legalization, use by non-college people aged 18 to 23 increased five-percent, while use by college students increased only one-percent. Non-college students also had an increase in cannabis use disorder. That's where people continue to use the drug despite the problems it causes in their lives. College students didn't have an increase in cannabis use disorder. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Kidnapped Sexual Assault Victim Escapes Cinder Block Cell

(Portland, OR) -- A woman who was kidnapped in Seattle and held captive in a cinder block cell in Klamath Falls escaped and the FBI has the suspect in custody. Twenty-nine-year-old Negasi Zuberi is accused of kidnapping a prostitute in Seattle, handcuffing her, taking her to his home in Klamath Falls and putting her in a make-shift cinder block cell. The woman was sexually assaulted multiple times before she was able to escape the cell and get help. Zuberi was arrested in Reno. The FBI says Zuberi has lived in 10 states and they're investigating whether he's connected to other assaults.

UO Study Finds Workers Will Take Less Pay For Better Benefits

(Eugene, OR) -- A study out of Oregon has found American workers will take lower pay for more benefits. The University of Oregon worked with researchers at Harvard and the Rand Corporation to study worker opinions. They found 20-percent of participants wanted better conditions even if it offered a 40-percent lower wage. They say following the pandemic and the ability to work from home and have more flexibility in scheduling, the desire to have those benefits over more pay would likely be even stronger.

Brush Fire Poses Challenges

(Portland, OR) -- A hard-to-reach brush fire took five hours to put out in Portland early Wednesday morning. The fire was burning on Hayden Island, west of the Interstate Bridge. Several locked gates and sandy soil made it difficult for fire engines to reach the area. A fire boat used turret water guns to put out most of the fire. Crews in specially equipped four-wheel-drive vehicles and ATV's reached the fire. There were no hydrants nearby, so water had to be shuttled to the scene in tenders. 20 firefighters were used to put out the fire. The investigation into the cause is ongoing.

Wounded Deputy Continues Recovery

(Hillsboro, OR) -- A Washington County Sheriff's deputy who was wounded in a shooting while conducting an eviction was shot seven times. The Sheriff's Office says Deputy Charles Dozé [[ doe-ZAY' ]] had both of his arms broken by bullets, he lost an eye and several teeth. Three rounds hit his body armor. He faces multiple future surgeries. A GoFundMe account set up by the Washington County Police Officers Association has raised over 80-thousand dollars. Donations can also be made at any U.S. Bank branch. The suspect in the shooting was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment.

Kotek Signs Package Of Education Bills

(Salem, OR) -- Governor Tina Kotek has signed seven education-related bills ahead of Friday's deadline. Kotek says it's her goal to create a state where every child has a safe place to receive high-quality education. The bills fund schools with a record ten-point-two billion dollars. They provide additional support for teachers and staff working in special education. 50-million dollars will be spent to create new childcare facilities, which will help increase access to childcare across the state. There will be more funding for early literacy programs. And each school district will be required to have a civil rights coordinator to monitor compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Kidnapped Woman Taken From Seattle To Klamath Falls, FBI Seeks More Victims

PORTLAND, OR -- A Seattle woman says she was taken seven hours to Klamath Falls last month by a man now facing federal kidnapping charges, and the FBI believes there may be more victims.

Federal investigators say the suspect solicited a prostitute in Seattle on July 15. He then told her he was a police officer and forced her into his car, legs and arms bound. They believe she was sexually assaulted during the 450-mile drive to his southern Oregon house. 

At a Portland press conference Wednesday, Klamath Falls Police Captain Rob Reynolds said the victim was locked in a cinder block cell inside the man’s garage, "He had actually locked her in there for a couple of hours, at least, until she realized that she needed to get out of that residence because her life was in danger. She took some substantial steps to force her way out of that cell, and then she ran out into the public and flagged down the first vehicle she could find." He praised her bravery and will to survive for getting her through a steel screen door, "She punched it several times to break the welds, ripped the screen down and she crawled through a small space to get out of that place, because she knew something bad was going to happen to her."

With bloody hands, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Portland Field Office Stephanie Shark said the woman flagged down a passing car and was able to contact authorities, "When police responded to a 911 call in Klamath Falls, Oregon on July 15, they discovered a makeshift cinder block cell with a metal door and a singular lightbulb above for light, in a residential garage, and a woman who bravely escaped her terrifying circumstances." The following day, authorities tracked the suspect to a Reno, Nevada Walmart parking lot, where he was arrested after a brief standoff involving his wife and child. 

Shark worries the entire case points to an escalation of violence by the suspect, who is now believed connected to at least three other sexual assaults outside of Oregon, "The more we look into this case, the more we become concerned, as law enforcement, that there may be more that we’re missing. That’s why, right now, we’re still in the infancy stages of the investigation."

According to Shark, "29-year-old Negasi Zuberi is also known by several aliases. One is Sakima, another is Justin Hyche, and another is Justin Kouassi." Since his arrest, she says investigators have been digging into his past, discovering that since August of 2016 he's lived in Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Alabama and Florida, and had only lived in Oregon for a few months. 

If you believe you have been a victim or have any information concerning Zuberi visit the website: fbi.gov/SakimaVictims or call 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can also contact the FBI Portland Field Office at (503) 224-4181, your local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or you can submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

 

Meat Inspection Program Helps Local Producers

(Salem, OR) -- More locally produced meat will be available because of a nine-million-dollar program approved by the Legislature. Oregon is the first state on the West Coast to have its own meat inspection program approved by the federal government. Ranchers were facing 18-month wait times to process livestock and the local inspection program reduces that delay. The Meating Place in Hillsboro is the state's first slaughter facility under Oregon's State Meat Inspection Program. It processes farm-to-fork meat within a 20-mile radius.

Cougar Continues To Prowl Near Coast

(Cannon Beach, OR) -- There have been more cougar sightings near Cannon Beach. Police say residents reported seeing a cougar west of Highway 101 between 2nd Street and Sunset Boulevard. Coyotes and a wounded elk were also seen near town. This follows an incident earlier this month where a cougar was trapped by high tide on Haystack Rock. Oregon State Parks closed part of the beach to give the cougar room to leave. Paw prints in the sand indicated the cougar had returned to shore.

Police Seek Spitting Suspect

(Woodburn, OR) -- Woodburn Police are trying to identify a woman who allegedly spit on an employee of the Coach store at Woodburn Premium Outlets. The incident happened Monday afternoon. Police say the suspect picked up several items and appeared like she was going to steal them, but she put them down and left. She returned a short time later and started spitting on the employee at the front door. The woman is described as Hispanic, 30- to 40-years-old, five feet tall with a rose tattoo on her left shoulder and a vertical line scar under her left eye.

Report Finds Climate Change Impacting Mental Health

(Portland, OR) -- Extreme weather and poor air quality are impacting mental health. A climate health report by Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties found that during the 2020 wildfires and 2021 heat dome people had difficulty reaching mental health services. They interviewed first responders to get the information. The lack of mental health providers in the first place was compounded by smoke from the wildfires affecting travel and hot temperatures from the heat dome causing people to seek cooling centers instead of mental health support. A lack of information in languages other than English was also a problem.

Possible Delay For Murder Trial

(Vancouver, WA) -- The trial for Kirkland Warren in Vancouver might be delayed. Warren is accused of killing Meshay Melendez and her seven-year-old daughter, Layla Stewart, in March. During a status hearing, the prosecutor told the judge they're waiting for DNA test results and analysis of other evidence. The trial is currently set to start September 11th. The bodies of Melendez and Stewart were found off a rural road north of Washougal. Melendez was Kirkland's former girlfriend. He's charged with first-degree murder.

Oregon Gas Stations Prepare For Self-Service

(Portland, OR) -- Oregon gas stations are preparing for customers to pump their own gas. A new law passed by the Legislature is expected to take effect sometime this week. The Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office is coordinating with gas station owners to help with the change. The website choice at the pump dot com has instructions for drivers who don't know how to use a gas pump along with a list of frequently asked questions. Most stations will have an attendant along with self-serve pumps. Each gas station will implement the change in their own way. The new law is expected to help gas station owners who haven't been able to find enough attendants to staff all of their pumps.

Multnomah County Adds Bias Crimes Prosecutor

(Portland, OR) -- The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office is adding a bias crimes prosecutor. Deputy District Attorney Charlie Weiss will meet with community members to address bias crime issues, help connect victims to advocates and services, and coordinate with law enforcement on cases. The position is partially funded through a grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance's Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Program.

Oregon State Fair Job Fair

(Salem, OR) -- The Oregon State Fair is holding a job fair on Saturday. They need people to work in admissions, parking, carnival, security and concessions. Applicants who are 16 and older can apply for jobs in carnival games and concessions, while carnival ride candidates need to be 18 or older. They will be hiring on-the-spot, so candidates should bring picture ID and either a social security card, birth certificate, or passport. The job fair will be at the Oregon State Fair & Expo Center. It opens at 9 o'clock Saturday morning and will continue until all positions are filled.

Naturalization Ceremony To Be Held Overlooking Crater Lake

(Crater Lake National Park, OR) -- Over two-dozen citizenship candidates will have a spectacular view for their naturalization ceremony this Thursday. It'll be held at the Watchman Overlook at Crater Lake National Park. The 26 soon-to-be U.S. citizens are from 13 counties including China, Russia, Australia, Bolivia and Mexico. These ceremonies are often held at museums, schools, and libraries. The National Parks Service also takes part, holding previous ceremonies at Yosemite National Park, Cesar Chavez National Monument and, of course, Ellis Island.

Agriculture Secretary Announces Wildfire Protection Grants

PORTLAND, OR -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Oregon Monday, meeting with state leaders, including Gov. Tina Kotek, Sen. Ron Wyden, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Andrea Salinas, and a number of members of the U.S. Forest Service. 

During the roundtable discussion, he announced another round of funding for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program. The first round sent $197 million to 99 projects, including 10 in Oregon, "To enable communities - small and mid-sized communities in these forested areas - to basically provide resources to those communities so they too can be resilient. So they can work with homeowners and business owners to make sure they’re doing what they need to do proactively, to reduce the risk of fire," Sec. Vilsack told reporters after the event. He said, "Folks have helped us to identify the priority firesheds that pose the greatest risk. And we’re focusing the resources that the Congresswoman [Suzanne Bonamici] and others have provided us under the Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to aggressively reduce the hazardous fuels build-up that’s occurred over many, many, many years." The Forest Service accepts applications and manages the program, in support of its 10-year strategy to treat 50-million acres over 10 years, to reduce wildfire risk, "And this, frankly, also frees up resources for us to be able to invest in the recreational opportunities, which is a critically important part of the economy, particularly in the Northwest."

Vilsack also praised Oregon’s collaborative efforts, specifically work between the state and Forest Service to manage forest health, "Everyone from small town mayors to governors, understanding and appreciating the significance of working together and leveraging resources."

He also took questions on the 2023 Farm Bill, noting an effort underway by some House members to redirect conservation and SNAP funds allocated in the Inflation Reduction Act, "I think that would be ill-advised. And I think, frankly, we’ve just begun to create some momentum in terms of sustainability, in terms of being able to put resources to improve soil health, water quality, as well as forest management. And now is not the time to take a step back. Now is the time to continue the aggressive work that’s being done."

Following the Forest Service event, Vilsack toured the mass timber project at the Portland Airport, calling Oregon a leader in the mass timber industry.

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