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After more than a year’s worth of layoffs at the Idaho National Laboratory people in Idaho Falls worry things could get worse for the region’s largest employer — that it could lose its “national laboratory” designation or be closed altogether.
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Beginning next month, Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) will be eliminating 50 positions from their flagship factory in Tillamook. The layoffs come as an attempt to reduce the high transportation costs associated with shipping cheese across the nation. Beyond saving money, TCCA hopes the cuts will improve overall efficiency as well. Starting February, only 40 percent of the cheese will be packaged at the factory, and the rest out of state, closer to its final destination. As a result up to half of the packaging department in Tillamook will lose their jobs. With a population of roughly 4,500 residents, and few family wage jobs available, a cut of 50 positions will have a large impact on the local community. Already the Tillamook Cheese Facebook page has been immersed with comments regarding the announcement, including strategies as to how Tillamook could avoid these reductions. TCCA has been active in defending their decision. The company is claiming that the cuts are necessary to remain competitive within the market place, and to deal with their growing customer base out with the Northwestern states. TCCA hopes that natural attrition within the workforce and retirements will account for some of the cuts, and states that Tillamook will always remain as the home and headquarters of the TCCA.
Washington state released their latest unemployment figures today. Oregon is expected to follow later this week and Oregon's news — much like Washington's — is not expected to be good. More and more people are losing their jobs as the economy continues to slide. What about people who are not being laid off, but whose employers are starting to feel the pinch? Some companies are cutting salaries by five or ten percent. (That may not sound like much, but if you're living paycheck to paycheck it may mean a present-less birthday party for your daughter or a missed mortgage payment.) Other companies are lapsing on their employees' medical insurance payments. How are you being chipped away at in this economy? How are those small changes changing your life?
Yesterday the president and publisher of The Oregonian, N. Christian Anderson III, broke some big news to the paper's staff. Beginning October 1 the paper will continue to publish seven days a week, but delivery will only happen on four days. There will be a new digital version of the paper called "My Digital O." The Oregonian will move offices. And there will be "significant layoffs." Staff are expected to find out by the end of the day today if they will have a job come October 1. We'll get Anderson's take on what is happening.
This fall a new digitally focused media group will launch, replacing The Oregonian as we know it. This Oregonian Media Group will print the paper seven days a week, but only make it available for home delivery on four days: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with the option of receiving the Saturday paper as well. You will still be able to purchase a paper at newsstands every day. Oregonian staff were told to expect significant layoffs. This model replicates what's happened already with the Plain Dealer in Cleveland (and similar, though not identical to the Times Picayune in New Orleans). We'll find out what this means for staff and readers of the paper.
Felony offenses including robbery, assault, rape, and theft have drastically increased in Medford over the past several years. Assault alone is up 52 percent, with 1,580 incidents last year. Drug offenses increased by 73 percent to 1,914 incidents in 2012. Law enforcement and other agencies are trying to figure out how to cope with the increase in crime, which is especially challenging due to tight budgets. The county sheriff's department was already considering layoffs during union negotiations earlier this year. Jackson County Mental Health, which also offers addiction services, laid off 10 people due to cuts during the last legislative session. The county jail has room for 230 inmates, but with 4,766 forced releases in Jackson County last year, Medford Deputy Chief Tim Doney says it's hard to keep people there. He says it's difficult to keep anyone in jail for long when they've been arrested for property crimes and drug crimes. Source: Medford Police Department
Portland Business Journal editor, Rob Smith, will be in studio for our regular business update. Here are some of the topics we'll be looking at:
Wednesday is the last day of school for kids in the Portland and Beaverton districts. In collaboration with the OPB News series, Learning with Less, we'll look back on how education fared during a tough economic year. It's been a tumultuous year for public schools across the state. Two of the biggest districts — Portland and Beaverton — both faced serious budget shortfalls. Over the past few months, we've talked about some of the heart-wrenching decisions school boards have had to make: closing Oregon's only public all-girls school, cutting funding for Outdoor School and eliminating 344 jobs in the Beaverton district. We've heard from parents who have been affected by all of these choices and some who've considered the private school option as a result. Earlier this month, the City of Portland put $7.1 million towards helping area schools make up their budget gaps. Portland Public Schools got the bulk of the money ($5 million) to save teaching jobs, but the district will still have to make significant cuts due to its $27 million budget shortfall.
The Polk County Commissioner's Office unanimously voted to add a public safety levy to the ballot in the November elections. The levy would collect 60 cents for every 1,000 dollars of property value. Recently, the Polk County Sheriff's was forced to switch to 20 hour patrol shifts, and were only spared layoffs when 4 deputies voluntarily left the department. If the levy fails, the Polk County District Attorney's Office said they would be forced to stop prosecuting Class B and C misdemeanors, such as shoplifting and tresspassing. The proposal comes on the heels of Josephine and Curry counties rejecting similar levies in the wake of major public safety concerns.
Earlier this year, the Beaverton School Board approved a budget that eliminated 344 of its 4,000 teaching positions. But the adjustments teachers had to make didn't end with the cuts. Now educators are adjusting to larger class sizes, and some are being transferred to different schools to teach new subjects. Starting Friday, they're also beginning to use new software — called "Synergy" — that will let teachers and administrators to keep track of grades and student information. For some teachers, learning to use the new program has been as much of a headache as coping with growing class sizes.
Governor Kitzhaber unveiled his budget proposal for the 2013-2015 biennium on Friday morning. One of the issues it is tackles is the controversy over how to deal with the rising costs of the Public Employees Retirement System. While that plan may be a hard sell with some state workers, his promise to eliminate furloughs will likely be a well-received change from the nearly two weeks of mandatory unpaid days in the current budget. The Oregon legislature convenes Jan. 14, 2013.