A brief wrap up on the U.S. investment markets – How are we doing?

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Jan 012011
 

Wall Streeters ended 2010 with money in their pockets and a mostly optimistic view for the year ahead. 2010 was another year that confirmed the long trend of American investment houses regarding the U.S. economy as just one of many they invest in. High-tech, computer-fast trading on global markets is now the norm, producing returns on stocks, bonds, commodities, and other financial dealings that reveals investing in the U.S. makes sense only if there isn’t more money to be made elsewhere. America’s former three sector economy has added a fourth to the mix, Financial. And it’s doing very well.

A more detailed view comes from this morning’s Eugene Register Guarrd. Click here.

Cold tonight. Warming shelter to be re-established at Church of Nazarene tonight. They need help!

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Dec 312010
 

The Church of the Nazarene is conducting another warming shelter tonight starting at 5pm. They need help mainly with desserts. If you can make desserts or just buy some and bring them to the church at NE 12th and Nye, that would be a great help.

They also need volunteers to just watch over things. If you can donate some time, call Leah at 541-270-7876.

Domestic violence victims get quicker notification when court ordered protection orders served

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Dec 302010
 

Domestic violence is a not-so-silent killer here in Oregon. Sixty-six Oregon women were murdered by their intimate partners over the last two years. Eighteen were killed just in the month of November last year according to the Oregon Department of Justice.

Some of the victims were killed soon after their attackers were served with a protection or anti-stalking order. The victims had no idea their killers here headed over. But had they known, they might have been able to get out of harm’s way long enough to allow their attackers to “cool off.”

That’s exactly why Oregon law enforcement has started a new program to more quickly notify victims that their perpetrators have been formally served with court papers. And that the protection order is in full effect and enforceable.

Previously victims were notified only by U.S. Mail that the papers have been served. But of course, that can take a day or two, more than enough time for an enraged former husband or boyfriend to act on his rage.

Under the new Protection Order Notification Project, as soon as a police officer or deputy sheriff serves the court papers, the victim receives an e-mail or text message that the person she’s seeking protection from has been ordered to stay away from her. But critics say although that’s a big improvement, there still can be a large time gap between the court papers being served and an officer finishing his rounds and getting back to the station to activate the e-mail or text message. They say it would be better if the actual serving of the papers triggered the notification by the police officer or deputy sheriff immediately telling 9-1-1 dispatchers to trigger the notification. They also say notifying victims prior to the serving of papers would be even better because it would give them more time to take evasive action. Even knowing what period of days during which attempts will be made to serve the papers, would be critically important information for victims.

Hear more from Lori. Click Here

Landslides and homeowner angst: Not just for Newport anymore…

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Dec 302010
 

Now that Newport has put geologic hazards and approved ways of dealing with them behind us, it appears that the Portland area is just beginning to grapple with the issue. The same folks that told the Newport City Council that there is no such thing as “geo-investigations-lite” are now conducting airplane survey overflights of Portland and are coming up with some rather scary information on certain parts of town.

The story is in the Oregonian. Click Here.

Newport crews still working on busted sewer main on 101

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Dec 302010
 

Work continues on a section of sewer pipe that failed underneath Highway 101 in Newport and spilled up to 12,000 gallons of raw sewage that made it into Sam Moore Creek which flows down into the Nye Beach area. State DEQ officials report that the pipe failed at around 8am Wednesday morning and that it took them about 2.5 hours to install an above-ground by-pass pipe to capture the flow while they replace the failed section of pipe.

Crews were digging their way along the bad section, replacing old pipe with new and getting it all packed in. Crews say they’re also looking at pipe sections above and below the break for any additional leaks. They said it may take them a couple more days to finish the repair.

DEQ officials say 12,000 gallons is a relatively minor amount of leakage but that raw sewage does pose a health hazard to the public. And for that, they’ve confirmed that the city has posted warning signs at Nye Beach that there has been a sewage spill and to avoid contact with the water coming out of the pipes at the Nye Beach turn-around. The leak itself was stopped by 10:30 am Wednesday.

DEQ said they will review the city’s response and any information related to the break (like maintenance records) to help them ascertain whether any further state action would be appropriate. The City of Newport declared a state of emergency due to the immediate threat to public health posed by the spill, and in so doing expedited the selection of a construction company to respond immediately to the break.

The outer southbound lane of 101 from 13th to 12th is closed until repairs are complete. State DEQ officials say western Oregon gets a tremendous amount of rain some of which finds its way into city and county sewer systems, overloading them. They say breaks are common and that there is an ongoing effort to fix the infiltration problem. However, they say, it is expensive and is usually performed on an as-needed basis.

Rocky Creek Coho Salmon get friendly lift from Lincoln City residents

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Dec 302010
 

Photos courtesy my friend’s Facebook page

Local flooding over the past few days put Rocky Creek in Lincoln City over its banks, and some of its waters over the top of the pavement on East Devil’s Lake Road. A continuous line of coho were disoriented by the higher water, got disoriented in the weeds, and wound up flippity-flopping across the buy roadway on Wednesday.

A number of residents pulled over and started helping. At one point there were calls into local 9-1-1 that “there are people out there blocking traffic, and they wanted the police to DO something about it!” When officers got there they found residents guiding the fish with their feet and some actually picking the fish up and re-depositing them on the upstream side of the bridge.

It’s the Oregon Way!

Rocky Creek is back inside its banks today.

New Year brings Oregon minimum wage hike of 10-cents an hour – to $8.50/hour

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Dec 302010
 

Oregon’s lowest-paid workers will get a small boost with the start of the New Year, when the state’s minimum hourly wage rises by 10 cents to $8.50.

The increase means that a full-time worker earning the minimum wage will earn $208 more a year starting January 1, 2011.

The minimum wage increase taking effect on January 1 is the result of Measure 25, enacted in 2002. With that measure, Oregonians voted to increase the state’s minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.90 per hour starting in 2003 and to raise it annually thereafter to keep up with inflation, as defined by the Consumer Price Index. Minimum wage workers went without an increase in 2010 under the formula.

Health Reform Act Rings in New Year with Good News for Seniors

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Dec 302010
 

Courtesy Oregon Center for Public Policy

As a result of the federal Affordable Care Act, the New Year will usher in changes to Medicare that will help seniors stay healthy and lower their health care costs.

“The benefits to seniors that take effect in 2011 demonstrate one of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is improving health care for Americans,” said Janet Bauer, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

Starting January 1, seniors enrolled in Medicare will be able to receive free screening and preventive services for many life-threatening and chronic conditions including many types of cancer, heart diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

“Prevention and early detection are key to bringing health care costs under control, something that the new federal law recognizes,” Bauer said.

The changes will also make the cost of prescription medications more affordable for many seniors, according to Bauer. She said the current Medicare prescription drug benefit program helps seniors with drug costs, but cuts them off once their annual costs exceed a certain level — $2,840 in 2011. Then seniors must pay the full cost of their drugs until their expenses reach $6,448, the point when the program again provides assistance. Continue reading »