Armed community watch — A Southern Oregon timber county now has a second armed group filling the gap left by cuts to sheriff’s patrols. The Grants Pass Daily Courier reports that a laid-off deputy is training a team of seven people from the Hugo area in northern Josephine County on how to respond to burglaries and other crimes. The North Valley Community Watch said in a statement that some of its members will be armed. Sheriff’s patrols in Josephine County have been cut to the bone since voters last year refused to raise their taxes to plug the gap left by the expiration of a longstanding federal subsidy for timber counties. A similar group formed last year in O’Brien to conduct armed neighborhood patrols on the southern end of the county.

Invasive mussels — Researchers from Portland State University say the Columbia River has suitable conditions for invasive freshwater mussels to grow if they get a toehold. The researchers told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Thursday that the water chemistry and temperatures are suitable for quagga and zebra mussels to grow if they get introduced. The Willamette River is marginal due to lower calcium levels. The researchers are also experimenting with paints that would make it tougher for the mussels to form thick, crusty mats on submerged surfaces. The mussels have wreaked havoc on docks, dams and freshwater ecosystems from the Great Lakes to the Southwest, but so far have not invaded the Northwest. Oregon and other states inspect boats crossing their borders to prevent an invasion.

Standoff ends without violence — Thirteen youngsters got a ride in an armored SWAT truck when a mentally ill man with access to six firearms was holed up inside his house across the street from a Medford day care center. Nearby houses and the center were evacuated Wednesday while officers tried to persuade the man to come out. After about four hours, officers went into the house and took him out, the Medford Mail Tribune reported. “This was a difficult situation at first,” Lt. Mike Budreau said. “The kids were given a ride to safety until we got the situation under control,” he said. The man was described as a 63-year-old war veteran with a long history of mental issues. He was not immediately identified. Police said he was taken to the hospital to be seen by mental health specialists, and no charges had been filed. Police tried to coax the man out and then enlisted the help of a mental health caseworker. When the man refused to leave the house, a robot with a mounted camera was sent inside. After the robot got in, the man began communicating with police.

No charges in party bus death — Prosecutors say the death of an 11-year-old girl who fell from a Portland party bus in September was an accident, and the driver won’t face criminal charges. The Oregonian reports the Multnomah County district attorney’s office released findings Thursday. It said driver Martin Brouwer Jr. was obeying the law as he turned the bus. Police say Angie Hernandez was sitting atop a backrest, leaned against the window and fell out. The rear wheels rolled over her. Prosecutors say the window could have been left unlatched on a previous trip, by a cleaner or by a child on the bus. They say Hernandez herself might have grabbed the latch. The bus was full of young people going to a quinceañera party for a girl’s 15th birthday.

— From wire reports