Officials offer new avenue to pick up volunteer hours | The state Department of Transportation asks for help with pulling weeds along Oregon’s highways
By David Steves
Appeared in print: Thursday, Aug 12, 2010
SALEM — Perhaps scouring highway shoulders for the detritus of discarded fast-food meals, half-full soda bottles or the remnants of blown-out tires isn’t your thing.
Or maybe it’s just not enough to give you that sense of fulfillment you wanted as a volunteer.
If that’s the case, the state Department of Transportation may have just the news you’ve been waiting for:
You can now pitch in by removing weeds along a section of Oregon highway.
The state this week began recruiting volunteers for this latest endeavor in volunteerism.
The expansion of the Adopt-a-Highway program comes at the direction of state legislation passed last year. In Lane County, 36 groups volunteer to pick up litter at least four times a year on various sections of state highways.
Karen Morrison, maintenance services coordinator for the department, said new and current volunteers will have flexibility when it comes to weeding and litter patrol. They can choose to stick with the litter patrol, opt for weeding, or do both.
Up until now, the mowing and spot-spraying with herbicides of noxious weeds on road shoulders has been handled by the department through its regular maintenance activities, Morrison said.
Asked what her sales pitch might be to groups considering signing up for a twice-a-year stint pulling up gorse, Canada thistle, Scotch broom and other noxious weeds, Morrison paused and chuckled.
Then she offered this: “It’s an opportunity for folks who care about the environment to be able to participate and help control the spread of noxious weeds while they are enhancing the beauty of Oregon’s roadways.”
For more information, go online to oregon.gov/odot.
Clackamas County to scrutinize sheriff's employment practices
Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010, 9:03 AM Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010, 9:13 AM
Steve Mayes, The Oregonian Steve Mayes, The Oregonian
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craig-roberts.JPGView full sizeClackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts
OREGON CITY – Clackamas County commissioners, troubled by a string of crimes committed by deputies in recent years, announced Wednesday they would appoint a special committee to review the Sheriff's Office employment practices.
Deputies have been arrested for crimes including robbery, official misconduct and sexual improprieties. The county also faces a million-dollar lawsuit filed by victims of Sgt. Jeffrey Grahn, who murdered his wife and two others before committing suicide this year.
The incidents raise questions about the effectiveness of current polices and pose financial risks for the county, Board Chairwoman Lynn Peterson said.
"We have authority for the overall well-being of the county," Peterson said. "The board has fiduciary responsibilities ... a lot these issues have litigation and have impacts on the general fund."
Critics say the Sheriff's Office failed to intervene when Grahn was accused assaulting his wife and exhibited signs of an emotional breakdown months before the murder-suicide.
Last month the husband of a woman killed by Grahn notified the county he intended to sue. Another victim's family is also considering a lawsuit.
Last year a woman who claims she was fondled by a deputy who supervised her electronic home detention sued the Sheriff's Office and the deputy for $400,000.
Commissioners want to see that the policies for hiring and dealing with personnel issues set a "high bar," Peterson said. "We want to make sure the investigations that follow and the discipline that happens continues to raise that bar."
The board will appoint five to seven members to the committee, which will start work in the next several weeks and deliver its report by year's end.
"We want this to be very targeted," Peterson said. "It's not a backward look, it's a forward look."
Roberts was in a meeting Wednesday afternoon and not available for comment. He told his employees about the committee via e-mail.
"The idea for this committee was brought forward by two members of the board of county commissioners: Lynn Peterson and Ann Lininger. Owing to recent events, they wanted to make sure that both organizations are using the best and most up-to-date practices, a goal that I support," Roberts wrote.
-- Steve Mayes
Toilet Seats, 4 Vacuums Among Items Police Chief May Have Bought In Spree
Posted: 6:39 pm PDT August 11, 2010Updated: 6:56 pm PDT August 11, 2010
MONTESANO, Wash. -- A former police chief who may have a penchant for cleaning supplies is under investigation and suspected of shopping at taxpayer expense, reported KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.
Former Montesano Police Chief Ray Sowers is accused of using city money to buy things for himself and using a city gas card to fill up his personal vehicles.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Toynbee is reviewing a Washington State Patrol investigation into Sowers’ purchases which may total more than $10,000 in 18 months.
“I believe there were four vacuum cleaners, toilet seats, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, cameras, computers, things like that,” said Toynbee. “Things that were never used for the city Police Department.”
KIRO 7 reporter Richard Thompson was unsuccessful in contacting the former chief, who was reduced in rank to sergeant and is currently on unpaid leave waiting to learn if he will face felony criminal charges.
“Being a taxpayer, where’s my money going? You know, for somebody to be doing that – what? That’s extra fringe benefits? I don’t think so,” said Montesano resident Gary Webb.
Officials with the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office said they hope to make a decision on whether to file criminal charges against the former chief by the beginning of next week.
local female mini Madoff gets 6.5 yrs
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