Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Willamette Queen is for sale

June 7, 2021 at 1:18pm

Oregon legislative panel convened to consider expulsion of state Rep. Mike Nearman

Far-right demonstrators kicked in a door to the Oregon State Capitol during a special legislative session Dec. 21, 2020. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, has appointed a special committee to consider expelling state Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, for his role in allowing violent demonstrators into the Capitol building last year. 

Kotek announced Monday that the Special Committee on December 21, 2020 would convene later this week. The committee is named for the date of a riot that occurred at the Oregon Capitol that saw assaults on police and journalists as demonstrators attempting to force their way into the building, which has been closed to the public because of the pandemic. 

Kotek convened the committee in response to a video that surfaced last week of Nearman telling demonstrators that he would let them into the building. 

“The severity of Representative Nearman’s actions and last week’s revelation that they were premeditated require a special committee to immediately consider expelling him from the House of Representatives,” said Kotek in a statement. “He knowingly put the physical safety of everyone in the Capitol – lawmakers, staff and law enforcement – in jeopardy.” 

In January, surveillance footage was released showing Nearman letting a group of demonstrators into the building who violently confronted police. Since then, he’s been stripped of his committee assignments and faces criminal charges as well as calls to resign. A report by an outside investigator hired by the Legislature released last week found that Nearman intentionally let demonstrators in, which staff described as "terrifying." 

The committee, evenly split along party lines, will consider House Resolution 3. If approved by the full House on a two-thirds vote, it would expel Nearman. 

Nearman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. 

-Jake Thomas 

June 7, 2021 at 10:49am

Masks and social distancing may soon no longer be required in Oregon workplaces

Tony Gubbels, left, and co-worker Kevin Wolff wear masks made by another co-worker's wife while working at Brim Tractor Company in Salem. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has indicated it will update its pandemic workplace safety rules once the state reaches the 70% vaccination target set by Gov. Kate Brown. 

Brown has said she’ll lift most Covid restrictions once that threshold has been met. As part of that plan, Brown has asked the agency to revise its rules that mandate masks, social distancing in work environments, as well as telecommuting and other measures.

Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said last week that the state could hit the vaccination target by June 21. In a press release, Oregon OSHA said it’ll convene stakeholders next week to begin discussions on which provisions should be repealed. 

The workplace safety agency extended its Covid-related workplace safety rules in May. Oregon OSHA gave no firm date to repeal the rules and instead indicated it would unwind them in consultation with advisory panels and other stakeholders. 

-Jake Thomas

June 7, 2021 at 10:43am

Willamette Queen is up for sale

The Willamette Queen Sternwheeler at sunset (Courtesy/Willamette Valley Hospice)

The Willamette Queen, an iconic sternwheeler boat that's hosted birthdays and other gatherings on the Willamette River, is for sale.

Barbara Chesbrough, owner of the Willamette Queen, said she and her husband have been trying to sell the boat, docked in Riverfront Park, over the past year with no success. She said people from Independence and Newberg have expressed interest in buying the boat, priced at $800,000.

“So far, nobody has given me a check," she said.

Chesbrough, 75, said she and her 80-year-old husband are getting too old to continue running the business. For 22 years, people dined on the boat as it glided along the Willamette River for weddings, birthday parties, or family reunions.

The Willamette Queen was built in Newport in 1990, designed as a scaled-down likeness of the former Mississippi and Yukon Territory Riverboats with paddles that propel the boat, according to the Willamette Queen website. 

-Saphara Harrell