Merkley campaign — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has told supporters his campaign fund has hit $3 million. He said in an email Thursday he raised $1.3 million over the last three months of 2013, the best quarterly haul so far for his re-election campaign. Candidates are required to file detailed reports with the Federal Election Commission by Jan. 31. It’s common for candidates to report their fundraising totals early as a show of strength. None of the five Republicans running for their party’s nomination has announced fundraising totals for the last quarter. That includes the two who have attracted the most attention, Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby and state Rep. Jason Conger, of Bend. They kicked off their campaigns in the fall and are still cranking up fundraising.
Multnomah Falls bridge closed — A rock has fallen on the Benson footbridge over Multnomah Falls, and the bridge and the trails at either end have been closed. The rock crashed through the deck and damaged the handrail overnight or early Thursday. Nobody was hurt. The bridge arches across the falls between its two cascades. It was built in 1914 by Italian stone masons just above the Multnomah Falls Lodge. In 1995, a boulder the size of a school bus slid into the plunge pool. Rocks went flying over the bridge, reportedly injuring 20 people in a wedding party posing for photos on the bridge. The Forest Service says more than 2 million people a year visit the falls in the Columbia Gorge east of Portland.
Hempstalk Festival — The Portland City Council has upheld a city bureau’s decision to deny a permit for this year’s Hempstalk Festival — an annual event to advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana. The city parks bureau denied a permit request for the use of Waterfront Park, saying the organizers of the event have consistently failed to manage traffic, litter and drug use. An estimated 80,000 people attended last year’s festival in north Portland. Organizers said returning the event to downtown Portland — where it was held in 2005 and 2006— will reduce parking problems, because festivalgoers could use public transit. They also promised to boost security and cut down on drug use. Mayor Charlie Hales invited organizers to submit a new application that outlines how they will hold a drug-free event.
Fleeing driver — Police will tell you the “jump in the river” escape hardly ever works — and that proved true for a young woman driving an allegedly stolen car in Troutdale. Police spokesperson Carey Kaer said an officer who tried to stop a Ford Taurus on Wednesday for a minor traffic violation checked the car’s registration and found out it was stolen. The car reportedly didn’t stop but sped off with officers in pursuit. At the Stark Street Bridge over the Sandy River, the driver reportedly got out of the moving car and jumped into the water. Kaer said 26-year-old Rebecca Humphries was eventually pulled from the river and taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Heritage commission — The Oregon Heritage Commission serves as a catalyst and coordinator for more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations that gather the state’s heritage or makes it available to the public. Oregonians have until Wednesday to comment on a new Oregon Heritage Plan that sets many of the state’s historic preservation priorities for the next five years. Using several studies and recommendations, along with information from its own programs, the commission drafted goals for improving heritage organizations and cultural heritage resources. To view the draft plan, go to www.oregon.gov. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Oregon Heritage Commission, 725 Summer St. N.E., Suite C, Salem, OR 97301.
Second Heinz plant fire — A second fire in a few weeks at the Heinz Frozen Foods plant in Ontario was mostly contained by the sprinkler system. Fire Chief Al Higinbotham said no cause has been determined for the fire on Sunday night in a dry storage facility, and there’s no estimate of damage. He said the sprinkler system had the fire in check when firefighters arrived. Workers used forklifts to haul out cardboard in totes, so the flames could be extinguished. A fire on Dec. 21 in the packaging area of the plant caused extensive damage. Police have said no foul play was suspected. The company hasn’t said when the plant will resume normal operations.