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Portland mulls foreclosures for 1st time in 50 years

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — City officials in this booming Pacific Northwest metropolis have developed a plan to foreclose on so-called ‘zombie homes’ for first time in 50 years as Portland grapples with a swelling population and skyrocketing home costs that threaten to lock new homeowners out of the market.

The City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to foreclose on five nuisance properties so they can be restored with the goal of freeing up housing for buyers in an overheated market. There could be more than 400 similar homes in the Portland metro area that would qualify as vacant and abandoned.

Portland hasn’t foreclosed on a distressed property in more than 50 years and the plan marks a sharp policy shift that has some residents in poorer neighborhoods nervous about potential abuses of power.


Portland, Oregon, mayor urges governors to ban oil-by-train

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury urged the governors of Oregon and Washington to push Congress for a permanent ban on oil-by-train in the wake of a recent fiery oil train derailment.

Hales and Kafoury, along with other government and health officials, said Tuesday the June 3 incident in Mosier, Oregon, proves transporting oil by train through communities isn’t safe and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s call for a temporary moratorium on oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge isn’t enough.

They pressed the governors to also oppose all proposed projects, such as the Tesoro-Savage terminal in Vancouver, Washington.

Brown expressed concern about the Tesoro project in a statement. She said she’d press federal officials for tighter rail safety rules, which are in litigation or still being completed.


Man found guilty except for insanity of kidnapping, rape

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Clackamas County man has been found guilty expect for insanity on charges that he beat and raped a woman he held captive in his apartment in 2014.

The Oregonian reports that 59-year-old Brady Lee Hess was sentenced Tuesday to up to 40 years of supervision by the Psychiatric Security Review Board. He was committed to the Oregon State Hospital to continue treatment for bipolar disorder.

Hess had pleaded guilty except for insanity to charges of kidnapping, rape, unlawful sexual penetration and sexual abuse.

Prosecutors say Hess attacked the woman at his apartment and threatened to kill her if she left. The victim was able to escape days later.

A doctor determined in March that Hess’ actions had occurred while he was in a “significantly comprised mental state.”



Couples deny cutting protected trees to enhance views

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two Gresham couples have defended themselves against allegations brought in a $660,000 lawsuit that they cut down or damaged dozens of protected trees to improve the views from their homes.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that David and Alyce Hadeed El-Khal filed a response in court last week saying they only cut two or three trees that were “worthless, dead and decayed.” Their neighbors, Stephen and Judith Brugh, issued a response last month alleging they only had four trees de-limbed to prevent them from blowing down in a storm.

Oregon’s regional planning agency Metro filed the suit against the couples in March. It claims they cut down 44 trees in a protected nature area near their homes perched atop Gresham Butte to enhance their views of the city below.



Police: Alleged bank robber shot in officer altercation dies

(Information from: The Columbian,

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Police say a Portland, Oregon, man who was shot after allegedly robbing a Vancouver bank Monday has died.

Vancouver Police on Tuesday identified the man as 43-year-old Kenneth Allen Pointer.

Police say officers responded to an alarm call Monday at a US Bank branch and say they were told a man had robbed the bank and fled with cash in a vehicle. Police say they were able to track him through a device in the money. Police say a Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputy fired his gun after using a stop stick to halt the vehicle.

Police say the man also fired a weapon and it’s unclear whose bullet struck the man.

A regional major crimes team is investigating.

The Columbian reports the manner and cause of death will be released by the Clark County Medical Examiner.



Oregon jobless rate unchanged at 4.5 percent in May

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s unemployment rate has stayed the same for three consecutive months.

The state Employment Department said Tuesday the rate for May remained at 4.5 percent, slightly lower than the U.S. jobless rate of 4.7 percent. At this time last year, Oregon’s unemployment rate was nearly 6 percent.

Oregon’s payroll report increased by 1,200 jobs in May, a modest gain compared with the average monthly increase of more than 5,000 jobs during the past year.

Retail trade was a strong performer in May while the manufacturing sector cut 400 jobs.

Another unemployment measure, known as U-6, rose to 10.3 percent after it was below 10 percent in April. The figure includes discouraged workers who stopped looking as well as part-time workers who want but can’t get full-time jobs.


Change of plea hearing set for Oregon refuge occupier

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for a man arrested after the Ammon Bundy-led occupation of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

Jason Blomgen of Murphy, North Carolina, is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom in Portland on Thursday. After his arrest, he pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and possession of a firearm in a federal facility.

More than two dozen occupiers were arrested after the 41-day standoff that ended February 11. Two of them — Corey Lequieu and Eric Lee Flores — have already accepted deals in which they pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for the dismissal of the firearm charge.

Court records show a federal judge approved spending for Blomgren’s transportation from North Carolina ahead of Thursday’s hearing.


Deschutes County site in running for national geothermal lab

(Information from: The Bulletin,

BEND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is considering a site in Oregon’s Deschutes County for a national geothermal research lab.

The Bulletin reports that Seattle-based geothermal firm AltaRock Energy Inc. leases land near the Newberry Volcano. Spokesman David Stowe says the AltaRock feels pretty confident that its site could land the proposed Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy.

The DOE lab would serve as a research site for scientists and engineers to develop and test new technologies for energy-generating enhanced geothermal systems.

Supporters say of the Newberry site say the facility would bring temporary construction jobs, academic opportunities and an economic boost for local communities.

Stowe says competition for the lab is stiff, with locations in Idaho, Nevada, California and Utah still in the running.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.