Brown orders hiring freeze as Oregon budget crisis looms

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has signed an executive order freezing the hire of new state employees until the Oregon Legislature approves agency budgets for the upcoming biennium, which is currently facing a $1.6 billion shortfall.

The freeze announced Thursday begins May 1 and only applies to the current budget cycle ending June 30.

The potential savings are still being calculated, but any funds would be rolled into the 2017-2019 budget to help close the gap.

So far, government hiring and pay freezes haven’t been part of negotiations in Salem, although Brown’s office says any cost-saving moves will be considered.

In a report this week, proposed increases to government workers’ compensation for the next two years was reduced from $145 million to $50 million.

Buyer wanted: Tiny Oregon town for sale

TILLER, Ore. (AP) — A dot on a map in rural southwestern Oregon is generating a big-city buzz.

Almost the entire town of Tiller is up for sale.

A potential buyer has come forward but is remaining anonymous — and backup offers are still being accepted.

The asking price of $3.5 million brings with it six houses, the shuttered general store and gas station, the land under the post office, undeveloped parcels, water rights and infrastructure that includes sidewalks, fire hydrants and a working power station.

Tiller Elementary School is for sale separately for $350,000.

The mystery surrounding the town’s future is generating both excitement and anxiety for residents who still live near Tiller.

The town in the middle of the Umpqua National Forest has been dying since the timber industry crashed nearly 30 years ago.

Police make arrest in killing of woman found in Oregon woods

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 27-year-old man accused of killing a woman whose body was found in an Oregon forest this week.

The Benton County Undersheriff Greg Ridler said Thursday that William Hargrove of Corvallis was booked into jail on a murder charge.

The body of a woman believed to be in her 20s was discovered Monday night by someone from a timber company outside the small town of Alsea.

Ridler said the woman has been tentatively identified, but next of kin have not been notified.

Tillamook Bay reopens after manure spill from nearby dairy

(Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials say Tillamook Bay has reopened to commercial shellfish harvesting after it was closed because of a massive spill of liquid manure.

Wym Mathews of the Oregon Department of Agriculture tells The Statesman Journal the estimated 190,000 gallons of manure that went to the bay came from the Tony Silveira Dairy after the valve of an above-ground storage tank broke.

The manure pooled in a field near the dairy barns before traveling into a slough that connects to a drainage system that pumps water into the Tillamook River. It then entered the bay.

ODA received reports of the spill in the middle of last week.

Mathews says the dairy likely will be cited and possibly fined. It has operated in Tillamook County for about six years and has not had any previous enforcement actions.

Denny’s customer set ablaze at restaurant near Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a 69-year-old man was critically injured when a man set him on fire at a Denny’s restaurant near Portland, Oregon.

Sgt. Dan Kraus of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office says a man entered the Denny’s late Wednesday and sat in a booth adjacent to the victim. He says surveillance video showed the suspect dumping an unknown liquid onto the victim. He then tossed a lit item onto the victim, causing a large flash.

The suspect then ran from the restaurant. Police are searching for a man in his 20s. He wore a black, flat brim hat, black hooded jacket, gray sweatpants with a black stripe and black shoes.

The victim was taken to a Portland hospital. His name has not been released.

The Latest: Smoking caused Oregon blaze that killed 4

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a fire at a coastal Oregon motel that killed four people and injured three others last summer was caused by careless smoking.

The fire’s probable cause was released Thursday by the Newport Police Department.

Court records show 38-year-old Rebecca Sinclair of Toledo, Oregon, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless burning and recklessly endangering another person.

Sinclair is being held on $750,000 bail.

Her court-appointed attorney, Jonathan Cable, says he just got the case and is still investigating the allegations.

Authorities say the fire started in Sinclair’s room on the lower floor of the two-story City Center Motel on Aug. 5.

The blaze killed couples from Portland and Springfield who were staying in rooms on the top floor.

New Oregon eclipse campsites quickly sell out

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — State park officials opened 1,000 additional campsites for people coming to watch the summer solar eclipse from Oregon.

And it didn’t long for them to fill.

Parks Department spokesman Chris Havel says the campsites were made available for reservation at 8 a.m. Wednesday and it took just over an hour for them to be snapped up.

All state park sites available by reservation are now taken, though cancellations may return a few sites to the pool.

The highly anticipated eclipse will occur on the morning of August 21.