News Stories for Tues., Aug. 29, 2017

Oregon wildfires already have burned nearly 500 square miles this year. Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokesman Brian Ballou says the large fires in Oregon have cost taxpayers a combined $100 million to fight so far.

St. Charles Health System, Central Oregon’s largest employer, is looking to make $6 million in cuts, cost savings or additional revenue by year’s end, with layoffs not off the table, a top official said Monday. Chief Financial Officer Jenn Welander told KTVZ that St. Charles, which has more than 4,000 employees, is facing much the same financial struggles as other Oregon hospitals, all of which she said are looking at cutbacks in some form or fashion. Among the top reasons — drug and supply costs continue to rise, and legislative changes to health care around the state.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will visit Portland to promote her new book, “What Happened.” In the book to be released Sept. 12, Clinton discusses her losing presidential bid, her thoughts on being a woman in politics and what it was like to campaign against President Donald Trump. She will speak Dec. 12 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Tickets go on sale Sept. 18. Portland is her last stop on an eight-city book tour that starts in late October.

Firefighters are confronting extremely hot and dry weather on the fire lines of two large blazes burning in southwest and central Oregon. A fire about five miles from the coastal town of Brookings was 168 square miles (435 square kilometers) on Monday. There is no containment on the Chetco Bar fire burning in a wilderness area near the California border. Officials have set a containment date of mid-October. The weather forecast calls for gusty and erratic winds and extremely low humidity in the area and the smoke column from the fire could grow taller. Near Sisters, the Milli fire has grown to nearly 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) and is about one-third contained. Temperatures there are also warm, with low humidity and significant smoke and ash in the air.

Officials disagree with a federal report which says Oregon has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S. The Oregonian reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 83 percent of Oregon adolescents have received the Tdap booster. The CDC says Oregon has the seventh lowest vaccination rate in the country based on their findings gathered through random phone calls to families across the U.S. State officials say the report is misleading because it is based off a small sample. Oregon Public Health Epidemiologist Steve Robison says school data shows 95 percent of adolescents have received the Tdap booster. He also argues rates for vaccinations against four common strains of the meningococcal disease and human papillomavirus are slightly higher than the CDC’s report indicates.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees silently refused to move on placing the issue of legalized marijuana on the ballot in the next election, the Columbian newspaper reports. General Council Chairman Alan Crawford presented the Board with a motion that would have placed the referendum on the Nov. 14 ballot.  Director of Communications Chuck Sams stated “The motion failed to get a second from any other Board member” The Umatilla Tribes has outlawed all elements of marijuana from production to sale to consumption.

Gov. Kate Brown was in Bend yesterday as part of a statewide tour to highlight a transportation bill passed in July. Brown held a ceremonial signing of House Bill 2017, a transportation funding package that among other things will dedicate $50 million to revamping the intersection of Cooley Road and U.S. Highway 97, $20 million to road improvements in and around Terrebonne, and funnel roughly $2 million a year to the city of Bend for local street maintenance. Brown praised the bill as a bipartisan effort with input from communities around the state.