Algae fine — Oregon environmental officials have fined a U.S. Forest Service nursery that grows trees for national forests $8,800 for allowing a mat of algae to escape from a reservoir and pollute a creek. The Medford Mail Tribune reported Wednesday that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality levied the fine against the J. Herbert Stone Nursery in Central Point. The state agency says the nursery’s seven-acre reservoir overflowed last July, and a bright turquoise mat of algae went downstream into Jackson Creek. Although the algae proved non-toxic, the DEQ says it still reduced oxygen levels for fish in the creek. The Forest Service had no immediate comment but told the agency it will appeal.
Back to prison — A Grants Pass man sent to prison a decade ago for stealing and crashing a pickup truck with a 2-year-old inside has been sent back to prison on theft charges. The Grants Pass Daily Courier reported Tuesday that 39-year-old Jayson Sauer was sentenced to eight years in prison for the 2003 kidnapping. Sauer said later he hadn’t realized the girl was in the idling pickup he stole. The girl was found traumatized but otherwise unhurt. During the kidnapping case, Sauer asked for treatment for methamphetamine abuse. Two years ago, just out of prison, he was convicted of meth possession. Last week, he pleaded guilty to a series of thefts, including 3,400 gallons of fuel, a truck and an ATV. Judge Lindi Baker sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Hair share — Five Clatsop County men made a pact a year-and-a-half ago to grow out their hair and donate it to an American Cancer Society program that makes wigs for cancer patients. If anyone cut their hair before the donation, he’d have to pay the others $50 apiece.The Daily Astorian reports that all five kept the pact. And on Saturday they had their long locks cut down to about half an inch. Four went to an Astoria salon, Salon Boheme, and one who now lives in Southern California was shorn in San Diego.
Tsunami debris? — The Parks and Recreation department says another piece of painted wood that may have religious significance in Japan has washed up on an Oregon beach. The latest object was found Monday near Florence. It’s similar to one found March 25 near Oceanside. The department says it appears to be a kasagi, the top, horizontal part of a torii, an arch marking the entrance to a sacred place. It’s described as black and red, 14 feet long and 3 feet wide. The agency says it moved the piece for safekeeping and notified Japanese officials. It hasn’t determined the origin of either piece and hasn’t called them tsunami debris.
Tree protest — About a dozen people carried signs Tuesday in downtown Salem to protest the decision to allow a U.S. bank branch to cut down five mature trees. One demonstrator, Mark Wigg, told the Statesman Journal that removing the trees would destroy what makes downtown Salem beautiful and unique. The city’s Shade Tree Advisory Committee approved a permit in January for the bank to remove the trees. The bank says they obscure sight lines of the building and their roots crack the sidewalk and clog storm water drains.
New police unit — About 50 Portland police officers have been selected for a new unit to respond to mental health crisis calls. Officers in the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team remain on patrol but will be trained as the go-to responders for calls involving the mentally ill. The Oregonian reports the new unit is one of the initiatives recommend by the Justice Department after it found last year that Portland officers used excessive force against people with mental illness.
Helping fish — Students at Southern Oregon University are donating money to put water back in a Klamath Basin creek to help fish. Student activist Shaun Franks said Tuesday that about $60,000 from student fees dedicated to special projects known as the Green Fund are going to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to lease water rights from ranchers on Seven Mile Creek. The idea is to offset the amount of water used on the Ashland campus by restoring an equal amount to the creek. The creek, which sometimes runs dry in summer from irrigation withdrawals, flows out of the Cascades into Agency Lake, and is home to redband trout.
Vigilance praised — Police are praising a citizen who thought the sight of people loading an airplane propeller into a pickup truck in a southeast Portland neighborhood was unusual enough to warrant a 911 call. Officers responding on Tuesday learned on their way that nearby Troutdale police had just taken a report of a stolen airplane propeller. Sgt. Pete Simpson says police stopped a Ford pickup, recovered two stolen propellers and took three people into custody for investigation of theft. The theft victim soon arrived and confirmed the propellers were his so officers returned them to him. — From wire reports