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VIRUS OUTBREAK-OREGON

Delta variant has become dominant in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As daily COVID-19 cases doubled in the past week, Oregon health officials report the highly transmissible delta variant has now become the dominant coronavirus variant in the state. But even as cases steeply rise, around 29% of adults in Oregon have yet to be vaccinated. Health experts warn this is becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Officials presented evidence on Thursday which showed that counties with low-vaccination rates directly correlate with high-infection rates. In places like rural Umatilla County 43% of the population is partially or fully vaccinated. On Thursday, health officials reported that the county’s coronavirus-test positivity rate surpassed 14%. 

WESTERN WILDFIRES

Western wildfires grow, but better weather helps crews

BLY, Ore. (AP) — Lower winds and better weather helped crews using bulldozers and helicopters battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon. But gusty winds have pushed a Northern California wildfire into Nevada, prompting evacuations as blazes burn across the West. Oregon’s Bootleg Fire grew to 624 square miles, which is over half the size of Rhode Island. However, authorities said higher humidity overnight and better conditions allowed crews to improve fire lines. The fire also was approaching an area burned by a previous fire on its active southeastern flank, raising hopes that a lack of fuel could reduce its spread. The forecast was for favorable firefighting weather again on Thursday.

POLICE CERTIFICATIONS STRIPPED

State strips police certifications over wrongful arrest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A state board has stripped ex-West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus and fired West Linn Sgt. Tony Reeves of their police certifications over the wrongful arrest of Michael Fesser of Portland. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the state Board on Public Safety Standards & Training voted unanimously to OK the lifetime revocations for dishonesty and discriminatory behavior. Timeus started a theft investigation of Fesser as a favor for a friend. Reeves led the investigation at the behest of Timeus. Timeus’ friend was Eric Benson, Fesser’s boss at A&B Towing in Portland. Benson feared Fesser, who is Black, was going to bring a discrimination complaint against him. The public safety board found Timeus’ actions “discredited the policing profession.”

OREGON LAWMAKER DEATH

Oregon State Rep. Gary Leif dies

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Rep. Gary Leif has died. He was 64. House Republican Leader Christine Drazan confirmed his death Thurdsay in a statement. A cause of death wasn’t immediately available. Leif was seven months into his third term as a Republican state representative. His House District 2 includes parts of Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties. Previously, the representative had been a Douglas County Commissioner. Colleagues of Leif, a Republican, described the lawmaker as patient, humble, hardworking and a mentor. 

OFFICER SHOOTS MAN-SETTLEMENT

Portland approves $600K to settle cop’s fatal shooting

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland’s City Council has approved a $600,000 payment to the family of a man police shot to death after a foot chase that consultants later criticized as a police policy violation. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the payment settles a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Terrell Johnson’s mother, Alicia Johnson, who said her son was undergoing a mental health crisis when he was killed and had previously been suffering from mental health issues. The lawsuit says he had sought help from medical professionals, but received none. A Multnomah County grand jury found that Officer Samson Ajir acted lawfully.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-SMALL-BUSINESS-TOURISM

Small businesses lifted by return of summer tourists

Small businesses in the U.S. that depend on tourism and vacationers say business is bouncing back, as Americans rebook postponed trips and spend freely on food, entertainment and souvenirs. U.S. states and cities have loosened many of their restrictions on crowd size and mask-wearing, a positive sign for businesses that struggled for more than a year  Still, the return to a pre-pandemic “normal” is a way off. For one thing, there are few business travelers and international tourists. And if a surge of the more contagious variant of the coronavirus forces states to reenact restrictions or lockdowns, the progress might be lost.  

GUILTY PLEA-EMBEZZLING

Washington man pleads guilty to wire fraud

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A Vancouver, Washington man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to wire fraud after embezzling more than $400,000 from his San Diego, California-based employer. That’s according to federal prosecutors. Derick Jonathan Cameron worked as the financial controller for RAL Investment Corp. He admitted to abusing his access to the company’s accounting software to issue more than 200 unauthorized checks to himself. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California says Cameron is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

RIVER SURVEY-FEDERAL FUNDS

Federal money slated to monitor sediment in Cowlitz River

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — The Cowlitz River sediment monitoring survey will be federally funded again this year, putting the project back on track after years when the federal government did not allocate the money. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler says an appropriations bill included two Southwest Washington projects: sediment monitoring of the lower Cowlitz River and a navigation improvement project on the Columbia River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been monitoring how much sediment still is sluicing off Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption and into local waterways, as it presents a flooding danger to downstream communities.

The Associated Press

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