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News In Brief

Second closed for railroad repairs

INDEPENDENCE — Second Street, from C to D Street, will be closed Wednesday (today) through Sept. 2 in Independence. The closure is due to railroad track repairs.

This includes the Monmouth Street/Second Street intersection.

If you are headed to or from downtown Independence headed east or west, you will be detoured. Monmouth Street eastbound will be detoured at Third Street. If you are traveling on North Main Street, you will be detoured at B Street. Those on Corvallis Road will be detoured at D Street.

Willamette & Pacific Railroad and the city of Independence are working together on the project, which consists of two blocks of track repairs and road repairs.

Polk Fire board hires new chief

INDEPENDENCE — The Polk County Fire District No. 1 board of directors hired a new fire chief, Albert Alcalde, who will start on the job on Sept. 8.

He was one of 18 candidates who applied in the second round of the search for a new fire chief.

Alcalde is coming from being the fire chief in Oakridge and has a background in training. He has worked for Clark County, Nevada, and for the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

His salary will be $96,000.

He replaces interim Fire Chief John Stein, who has worked for the district for two years.

Jobs, unemployment rate up slightly

POLK COUNTY — Oregon’s unemployment rate was up to 5.9 percent in July from 5.5 percent in June. The rate, which is based on data from the current population survey, can be volatile at times.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically in the early months of 2015 and has bumped back up in recent months.

Despite the increase, Oregon’s unemployment rate was significantly below its figure of 7.0 percent in July 2014. Oregon’s rate remained close to the U.S. rate of 3.5 percent in July.

Payroll employment in Oregon added 4,600 jobs in July, following a revised gain of 2,600 jobs in June.

In July, five major industries added 1,000 jobs or more, with construction (plus 2,300 jobs) and professional and business services (plus 1,700 jobs) adding the most. Only two major industries — government (3,200 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (1,900 jobs) declined substantially.

For more information: Oregon Employment Department, www.WorkSourceOregon.org.

Bomb squad responds to Grand Ronde

GRAND RONDE — A suspicious package was neutralized at 10 a.m. Friday after it was discovered in the Grand Ronde Tribal mailroom at about 7.

The discovery of the package prompted the closure of Grand Ronde Road. The Salem Police Department bomb squad assisted at the scene.

The black PVC package was left on the front deck of the mailroom with a Post-it note underneath it.

It was immediately reported to the Grand Ronde Police Department, who cordoned off the area and contacted Salem PD.

The tribe’s emergency operations team, which was meeting to deal with the Willamina Creek Fire, expanded the exclusion area to more than 1,000 feet and evacuated the Grand Ronde Food Bank, which was within the exclusion area and was scheduled to have a food distribution that morning.

Access to the tribe’s main campus entrance also was closed.

Two robots from the bomb squad were sent in to X-ray the device. Minor damage occurred to the mailroom’s wooden deck when the package was neutralized.

The incident is under investigation.

Extreme fire danger not letting up

POLK COUNTY — Northwest Oregon is experiencing fire danger not seen in recent memory, and weather forecasts don’t provide any relief, according to Shirl Fredenburg with the Oregon Department of Forestry West District.

ODF is engaged in fighting the Willamina Creek Fire, about 9 miles north of Willamina. Four cabins were evacuated as a result of the fire, and forest resources have been lost, Fredenburg stated in a press release.

The fire is under investigation, but believed to have been caused by human activity, possibly recreational activities. Firefighters from the West Oregon District of ODF also are responding to reports of smoke and fire throughout the district, stretching available resources very thin, Fredenburg said.

For more information on fire restrictions: Polk and southwest Yamhill counties ODF Dallas office: 503-934-8146.

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