Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

Caregivers at a non-profit that runs group homes around the state began mediation today (Monday). The Lane County union is concerned about job cuts, while administrators say their numbers are sufficient. The employees held a rally this (Monday) morning in Eugene.

Albertina Kerr is based in Portland. It serves youth and adults with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. The Eugene office employs about 65 care givers. With the Raging Grannies singing in the background, union president Linda Peterson says staffing issues are more important than salary:

Millions of Americans will be participating in Super Bowl parties today. During the match between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, many viewers will be drinking their favorite craft beer, and there's a good chance it's from Oregon. The State has become known for its micro-brew around the world including markets such as Europe, Asia, and Australia. Oregon Department of Agriculture Trade Manager Amanda Welker says big name beers are on the decline.

Unemployment Rates Drop In Oregon Counties

Jan 26, 2015

Unemployment rates fell in the month of December for several Oregon counties. Recent numbers show Lane County's rate at six point seven percent, Deschutes at seven point six percent and Douglas at nine point three percent.

Deschutes and Douglas rates remain well above the statewide average. Regional Labor Economist Brian Rooney explains why:

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is recommending changes to water supply levels, access to markets, and more pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform. It's all in the ODA's recently completed biennial report for the governor. Steve Van Mouwerik is the Board of Agriculture Chair.

Karen Richards

Governor John Kitzhaber visited Springfield today to tour the fire-devastated Swanson Mill and announced state help to rebuild it.

The plywood and veneer mill was destroyed last July in a massive fire, the cause of which is still unknown. The 33-acre site is now largely reduced to level concrete. Mayor Christine Lundberg says the blaze devastated the community:

Lundberg: “We lost not only an employer but we lost employees to the community so we’re enormously excited that Swanson has been able to see that this is the best site for them to rebuild.”

Shanice Stringer

In the 25 years that Springfield Habitat for Humanity has helped build affordable homes for low-income families, only three have paid off their mortgages. The Ramirez family is one of them, and they did it early. KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert joined them to celebrate the achievement.

In a ceremonial act, Alfonso and Edith Ramirez lit a copy of their 20 year mortgage on fire (click) and let it burn.

(sound of burning paper)

Every month, they’ve sent in the payments on their zero-interest Habitat for Humanity loan. Now, three years early, they are owners free and clear.

Angela Kellner

Six months ago, a devastating fire completely destroyed a plywood mill in Springfield. Today (Thursday), Swanson Group announced their plans to rebuild.

Once the smoke cleared, investigators ruled a lot of things out but could find no definitive cause for the fire. In October, the insurance company wrote out a settlement check. Swanson Group President and CEO Steve Swanson says that’s when they began the process of deciding the best way to use the insurance money.   

Lane County Saw High Rate of Foreclosures In December

Jan 15, 2015

Foreclosures rose in several Oregon counties during the month of December. Eugene based real estate buyer Gorilla Capital reported there were 753 foreclosures in 2014.

Lane County saw 94 foreclosures in December 2014. Ally  Leavitt with Gorilla Capital says the fourth quarter is traditionally slow for foreclosures, but the change in Oregon’s process could be a factor.

Amanda Peacher / OPB

This week we’re talking to Oregonians across the state who struggle with hunger. Yesterday we checked in with Tyra Lynn. We interviewed her more than a decade ago about her experience with food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Today, we spend time with Lynn and her sister Constance Lee, who has a different take on accepting SNAP.

Tyra Lynn is rolling pie dough in her sister’s home in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Lynn: We’re going to need more flour. I’ve got barely enough flour and I’ve only made one pie crust.

Tara Lynn

In 2000 Oregon had the highest rate of hunger in the nation. Around that time, OPB’s Rob Manning spoke with Portlander Tyra Lynn, who struggled to feed her family and relied on food stamps. This fall, OPB found Lynn. We wanted to know whether her situation changed more than a decade later.

Life was hard for Tyra Lynn twelve years ago. Her husband had just lost his job, and the then 27-year-old mother of three had a hard time making ends meet.