Oregon

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SALEM, Ore. - Oregon legislative budget writers are targeting middle managers in an effort to bring the state's spending plan back into balance. They also announced Wednesday a proposal to close a 440-bed minimum security prison.

Emily Taylor / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND -- A fast-paced five months of campaigning has come to an end in Northwest Oregon. Democrat Suzanne Bonamici was elected last night the next representative for the First Congressional District. Unofficial results last night showed Bonamici prevailing with a sixteen point lead over Republican Rob Cornilles. She'll replace another Democrat, David Wu. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer reports.

As a standing-room-only crowd of volunteers and donors clapped and filled a downtown conference room with their shouts, Suzanne Bonamici raised her arms to thank them.

Emily Taylor / Northwest News Network

PORTLAND – Oregon has a new representative in Congress. Democrat Suzanne Bonamici beat Republican Rob Cornilles Tuesday night for the right to fill the seat vacated by Democrat David Wu, who resigned last summer. Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

University of Oregon faculty members are collecting signatures in an effort to establish a union. It would be comprised of all full and part time professors and instructors -- about 2,000 members. KLCC's Rachael McDonald has more.

The group United Academics of the University of Oregon has been gathering support for the union effort this month. But it's a process that began in the fall according to Michael Dreiling, an Associate Professor of Sociology.

Wikimedia User Eunix / Wikimedia Commons

Oregonians who want to report a possible environmental problem to the state can now do so through a website and hotline.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has always fielded citizen complaints, but it was an antiquated system that was not centralized. Now, they have an online database for staff to better track cases. The public can use the new online form or hotline to report perceived environmental violations. Dave Belyea with the DEQ in Eugene says they will respond to the person with an update on how the situation is being handled.

Another Believer / Wikimedia Commons

University of Oregon faculty members are collecting signatures in an effort to establish a union. It would be comprised of all full and part time professors and instructors -- about 2,000 members. KLCC's Rachael McDonald has more.

The group United Academics of the University of Oregon has been gathering support for the union effort this month. But it's a process that began in the fall according to Michael Dreiling, an Associate Professor of Sociology.

Owen / Wikimedia Commons

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers return to Salem on Wednesday with a fiscal challenge on their hands. Expected revenues have fallen sharply since the legislature created the current spending plan last summer. As Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, Lawmakers expect to hear more bad news soon after they arrive back in town.

Oregon lawmakers plan to be at the capitol for about a month. One of the first things they'll do is get the latest predictions about the state's revenue picture.

Oregon's high school graduation rates inched up slightly last year. But as Rob Manning reports, thousands of young people who endure four years of high school don’t have a regular diploma to show for it.

67 percent of freshmen who entered high school in 2007, earned diplomas last spring, after four years in school. The other thirty-three percent are not all dropouts. Many of them got alternative diplomas, or GED's. But education experts say the goal should be to have as many students as possible earning the more rigorous, standard diploma.

Jason McArthur / Wikimedia Commons

GRANT'S PASS, Ore. – Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden appeared together in Grants Pass Thursday. They were pushing their proposal to open up some public forests to logging. Amelia Templeton reports they were tight lipped about the details.

Online Guide to House Members and Senators / Wikimedia Commons

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is hoping he'll soon be able to introduce legislation that will help fund rural counties who are bracing for the loss of federal timber payments.

Some counties face insolvency if the Secure Rural Schools Act is not renewed. Congressman DeFazio says he's working with fellow Democratic Representative Curt Schrader and Republican Representative Greg Walden for a temporary extension. They're also helping him with a long term plan.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Iberdrola Renewables, one of the Northwest's biggest wind and solar power companies, let go about 50 workers out of a nationwide staff of more than 900. The cuts affect 25 workers based at its North American headquarters in Portland. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Energy company Iberdrola Renewables cited multiple factors for a decision to scale back on new projects. That led directly to layoffs in engineering, construction and development.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Rising flood waters have led to evacuations and road closures in the Willamette Valley. In the town of Turner, city officials have encouraged all residents to evacuate. Shelters are open in Salem for those displaced by flood waters. Salem residents Mark and Andi Bean were eyeing the rising waters. They were filling up sandbags at a city of Salem maintenance facility.

Gus Van Vliet / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EUGENE, OREGON - Three environmental groups intend to take Oregon's Department of Forestry to court over the effect logging has on a threatened seabird.

The marbled murrelet spends much of its time over the ocean – but it nests in older forests. The Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon Society of Portland, and Cascadia Wildlands argue that logging plans for three state forests would harm the bird's nesting habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. 

A congressional rescue looks like it will put plans to repurpose the Umatilla Chemical Depot back on track. All the chemical weapons at the 20,000 acre Army post in northeast Oregon have been destroyed.

Neighbors to the base have been planning for the Umatilla Chemical Depot’s closure for 20 years under a formal Army process. But that plan was set aside by the Pentagon when the depot missed a deadline.

To get control back into the hands of locals, Northwest Congressional members have added language to a must-pass defense budget bill.

Eugene, Ore.- Representatives from the US Department of Agriculture will visit two Eugene, Oregon school districts next week. Bethel and 4J were chosen along with a dozen other districts across the nation as models for their farm to school programs.

Farm to School teaches students about local food. Megan Kemple is Farm to School Coordinator with the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. She says many children don't know where their food comes from.

Washington employers added 58-hundred new jobs in April, lowering the state's unemployment rate for the first time in more than three years. The Oregon jobless rate held steady at 10-point-six percent, the same as in March, making it six straight months without any significant change. But that was still nearly a point less than April 2009, when the rate was 11.5 percent.

The Oregon employment department released job data for April today/ yesterday [Tuesday]. As Amelia Templeton of OPB reports, unemployment in the state is still stuck at 10 and a half percent. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Idaho and Oregon are out. Washington is likely in. We're talking about the competition for the next round of federal Race to the Top education grants. Monday is the deadline for school districts in Washington to say whether they're on board.

The federal government has designated southern Oregon's Klamath Basin as a disaster area due to drought conditions. The declaration makes farmers there eligible for low-interest loans.

Lower than average snow pack this winter means less water is available for farmers in the Klamath Basin. The disaster declaration applies to six counties in southern Oregon and two in northern California. Democratic US Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon says the new loans will help alleviate conditions that are some of the worst on record.

The federal government has designated southern Oregon's Klamath Basin as a disaster area due to drought conditions. The declaration makes farmers there eligible for low-interest loans.

Lower than average snow pack this winter means less water is available for farmers in the Klamath Basin. The disaster declaration applies to six counties in southern Oregon and two in northern California. Democratic US Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon says the new loans will help alleviate conditions that are some of the worst on record.

SALEM, Ore. – In February, Oregon lawmakers voted to reign in a renewable energy tax credit program. The incentives had turned out to be far more generous than anyone intended. One of the new rules in place curbs the ability of companies to receive multiple tax credits by simply breaking up a larger project into several smaller ones. But that hasn't stopped at least one major player in the renewable energy industry from making the case for multiple versions of Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.

Tom Banse

A new nuclear power plant proposed near the Idaho-Oregon border cleared its first hurdle Monday. But, groundbreaking is still years away because many more local and federal approvals are needed.

LA GRANDE, Ore. – In an age of hyper-partisan politics, alienating the party base can be political suicide for a lawmaker. Oregon Republicans predicted a voter backlash from a pair of budget-balancing tax hikes last year. But the first to feel the heat aren't Democratic state lawmakers. Instead, two eastern Oregon Republicans face challengers from within their own party after voting in favor of raising taxes. 

Oregon Republican Party Chair Bob Tiernan isn't known for mincing words.

The US Department of Energy is planning how and to what extent to clean up Hanford's leaking storage tanks, treat radioactive waste and deal with a contaminated reactor. The current preferred alternatives don't call for a full clean up of the site.

Twenty community members testified. Many, like Marilyn Cohen, also spoke out against having any further waste shipped to Hanford for storage and processing.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's major transportation corridors would be impassable if a major earthquake hit. That's the upshot of a study released today by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

ODOT engineers used a new computer simulation program to subject Oregon bridges to hypothetical major earthquakes. The result? Many bridges along the state's biggest highways would be out of commission for months, if not longer, if a huge quake hit. That includes Interstate 5, according to ODOT's Dave Thompson:

Oregon is pushing its coastal counties to standardize the sound of tsunami warning sirens. Washington state has already done so. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Oregon's Emergency Management Office uses the words “mish mash” to describe the current array of tsunami warning sounds. Seaside, Oregon for example has used a steady siren wail during evacuation drills.

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