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Day: September 21, 2010

Unemployment creeps up to 10.7 percent

The jobless rate for the Salem area increased to 10.7 percent in August, a slight bump from the July rate of 10.5 percent.
Some 20,652 Marion and Polk county residents are unemployed with a labor force of 204,635 for the month, according to Worksource Oregon. Total non-farm employment was 143,600 – a loss of 700 jobs since August 2009.
Statistics are for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Keizer.
The rate is slightly higher than the July rate, and is 0.1 percentage points higher than the statewide seasonally adjusted rate of 10.6 percent. It’s also 0.1 percent lower than the unemployment rate one year prior.
Seasonally adjusted employment fell by 600 jobs between July and August, which Regional Economist Patrick O’Connor partially attributes to 2010 U.S. Census jobs ending.
In addition, he stated, many of Salem’s seasonal jobs are in food manufacturing. With crops growing slowly, it could be that hiring is moved back several weeks, he said.
In key sectors
• Consturction was flat for the month.
• Manufacturing gained 300 jobs in August.
• Professional and business services was flat, but is showing positive over-the-year growth of 400 jobs.
• Retail added 100 jobs in August, but has lost 600 in the past year.
• Federal government shed 100 jobs, with the state adding 200 jobs and local governments adding 100 ositions.
“In recent months the Salem MSA’s unemployment rate has crept back up and is back up to the levels experienced in 2009,” O’Connor said. “A bright spot is that in September and October employment should grow as food processors hit their seasonal peak and the new school year starts up.”

Reclassifying park fines on agenda

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Fines for park violations may soon go down – way down, technically.

The most common violations committed in city parks are failure to wear a helmet at Chalmers-Jones Skate Park, typically drawing fines and surcharges totaling about $122.

But it turns out the city technically should have been charging much more. All parks violations were classified as Class A violations. The base fine for a Class A violation, set by the state, has risen to $720.

Upon making the discovery city staff decided this was simply too high, said Shannon Johnson, Keizer’s city attorney.

“They’ve gone up tremendously in the past few years based on the legislature,” Johnson said. “They’ve increased assessments, surcharges, minimum fine amounts, and the dollar amount is just way more than staff thought was appropriate.”

The Keizer City Council is set to discuss next week reclassifying parks violations, which would have the legal effect of lowering every fine. But in practice, Johnson said, rule-skirting members of the public won’t see much of a difference.

Johnson said the discrepancy was discovered when a Keizer police officer, looking into a helmet violation, researched the city’s ordinance rather than an informal sheet used internally and found the city was actually undercharging the mandated fine amount for the offense.

“We realized the ordinance had all these other violations” as a Class A violation, Johnson said.

New base fines, plus assessments will be as follows:

Class D ($90): Helmet violation, entering or remaining in closed park; illegal parking or driving within a park; violating the leash law or setting out food for animals; operating model planes, cars or rockets; playing golf; solicitation; littering or unauthorized boat use.

Class C ($180): Exclusive use without a permit; placing a booth, structure or other equipment without an event permit or permit holder’s permission; tampering with signage or gates; entertainment without a permit; abandoning, removing or hunting animals; illegal fires; and smoking on trails, in bathrooms and in fire-prone areas.

Class B ($360): Water pollution; possessing or discharging fireworks; possessing firearms without proper permits.

JUST ASK! When good license stickers go bad

Ask us a question about just about anything and we’ll find the answer.

Jason Cox, managing editor of the Keizertimes, writes of his recent experience traveling with an Oregon-issued driver’s license and a well-worn change of address sticker:

“I had wondered whether the change-of-address sticker on my driver’s license – which has worn to the point where you can’t see the address or read my name clearly – would be an issue passing through security at a pair of out-of-state airports.

“The answer was yes and no. If you look closely the expiration date and driver’s name are printed on the hard copy near the top. But Transportation Security Administration officials at one airport called my ID ‘tampered’ and officials at another airport were skeptical before noticing it ‘lights up’ like any other ID. And the doorman at a bar we visited in Washington, D.C. took a long look before finally accepting it.”

“The questions I had were twofold: How can one get a new sticker or ID, and why does the Oregon Department of Transportation do it that way in the first place?”

First of all, getting a new sticker is simple and free. Simply visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT and click on “Driver and ID info.” Under the “Driver Licenses and Permits” tab is a form to replace a damaged sticker. We filled it out and a new one can be expected within five to seven business days of the request.

As for why the state does it that way: “To save time and money,” according to David House, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

State law requires driver’s license photos to be updated every eight years, House said – the same length of time a license is valid here. In addition, an address change must be reported to the state within 30 days of the move.

To get a replacement license drivers must report in person to a local DMV office, he said. Getting a sticker is as simple as filling out an online form.

The state’s been doing it that way for “probably decades – before my time,” House said.

If you need a new sticker, just fill out the form.

“For some people who use their ID more than others, it can wear out,” House said.

If you’re out of state or otherwise can’t get a replacement in time for your trip, Jason reminds that your name is also listed in small type directly under the driver’s license number, and the expiration date is to the right of the license number. This, along with the reflective background type, was enough to satisfy officials.

There are so many ways to ask us whatever you like. Write us at [email protected], “Tweet” us on Twitter or leave a message on our Facebook page, write us or call us.

Suspicious blaze razes barn

Submitted by Keizer Fire District

A 5,000-square-foot barn at 7196 River Road N. was destroyed by a fire Sunday, Sept. 12.

Witnesses at the scene said they spotted juveniles in the vicinity of the structure shortly before first reports of fire, but those accounts have not yet been confirmed, said Fire Marshal Joel Stein, of Keizer Fire District.

The fire was reported at 4:22 p.m. and KFD crew arrived at the scene within five minutes to find heavy black smoke coming from both ends of the building. Two minutes later, before hoses could be deployed, the building was entirely engulfed in flames.

Water supplies to the area were limited and had to be brought in by tanker trucks. The building was deemed a loss nearly from the outset and fire crews turned their attention to protecting a nearby structure.

“From that point very little water was used on the [barn],” Stein said.

The barn was mostly vacant limiting losses to the structure itself, which was valued at $5,000, he added. The barn was built around 1925 and the nearby structure had formerly been used to dry wheat.

There were no reported injuries to the approximately 35 firefighters on the scene. Keizer Fire District was assisted by units from Marion County Fire District #1 and Salem Fire Department. In all, nine units were on scene and stood watch over the smoldering barn to ensure it was fully extinguished.