Justice Department urged to pursue legal action against former governor

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Congressional panel releases critical Cover Oregon report

A U.S. House committee has found former Governor John Kitzhaber, his advisers and a federal agency mishandled the creation of Oregon’s health insurance enrollment website.

The committee is asking the Justice Department and state attorney general to conduct criminal investigations. It says in a report the Democratic governor’s political advisers made decisions regarding Cover Oregon with Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign in mind.

Oregon produced the country’s worst rollout of the new national health insurance program. While the crippled federal website eventually worked, Oregon’s failed to enroll a single person online. The state had to hire an additional 400 people to process paper applications.

The Republican-controlled House committee says the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ failed oversight of Cover Oregon resulted in millions of wasted taxpayer dollars.

An email seeking comment from Kitzhaber early Wednesday morning wasn’t immediately returned. Representatives from CMS also didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Miller Park closed briefly for death investigation

Miller Park was closed for a short time yesterday afternoon while police investigated the death of a Florence area man.

Police Chief Tom Turner said officers had contacted 74-year old John Allen McInnis Monday morning at the park.  The man, who had no permanent address, appeared to be camping there.  Officers summoned to the park around 2:30 yesterday afternoon found McInnis dead.

Turner said there was nothing suspicious and he believed the man died of natural causes, calling it a – quote – “sad deal”.

When officers notified the man’s daughter of the death, she confirmed that McInnis had been having some health problems.

Officers quickly reopened the park after the investigation.

Wyden to make two coastal stops

Since his election in 1996 Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has held 768 town hall meetings in the state.  That’s a fulfillment, he says, of his promise to meet in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year.

Heading into the Memorial Day weekend he’ll add four more to the list.  Friday he’ll be in North Bend at the high school for a 10 AM meeting.  Later that afternoon, at one, he’ll be at Pacific Auditorium at Reedsport Community Charter School.

Saturday, Wyden will hold a town hall in Gold Beach in the morning, followed by an afternoon meeting in Grants Pass.

Elementary Bike to School Day

Friday will be the annual “Bike to School” day for students at Siuslaw Elementary School.

Students through grade 5 are being encouraged to ride their bicycles that day.

Principal Mike Harkelode said safety is of great importance.  That’s why Florence Police officers, Siuslaw Valley Firefighters, and medics from Western Lane Ambulance will be standing by along Highway 101 at the major crossing points for the school.  Their goal is to make the crossing more visible and prompt drivers to slow down.

Students are expected to be on their bikes between 7:30 and 8:30 Friday morning… then again in the afternoon between 2:30 and 3:45.

Oregon Barbecue Championships at TRC

Fire it up baby… The competition is expected to be hot… and fierce June 4th and 5th during an official Oregon State Barbecue Championship event at Three Rivers Casino.

Judges from the Kansas City Barbecue Society will be looking for the region’s best chicken, pork, ribs and brisket.

In addition to walking away with bragging rights, winning teams can also win cash prizes.

Visitors can get in on the judging as well.  Three Rivers Entertainer and Events Manager Erin Knowlton said visitors to the competition can sample and vote on their favorites Saturday, June 4th.  KCBS judges will do their work the next day.

More travelers – higher gas prices

Pump prices are that their highest level so far for 2016, but drivers traveling over the Memorial Day Weekend will pay the lowest prices for the holiday since 2005.

The national average price for regular gasoline jumped six cents in the past week to $2.29.  Marie Dodds with Triple-A of Oregon said the average Oregon price went up two cents and is at $2.46.

Locally, the average cash price went up four cents, it’s at $2.42.

Dodds said Triple-A projects more than 38-million Americans will be traveling this weekend.  That’s up 1.9-percent from last year.