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TRANSPORTATION

TriMet bumps up fares

New services and a nickel fare increase were all included in the 2004 budget approved by the TriMet Board of Directors this week.

The $318 million capital and operations budget calls for:

• A 5-cent fare increase for most cash fares and a $2 bump on most monthly passes.

• Extending the MAX Red Line to the Beaverton Transit Center, giving Washington County nonstop light-rail service to Portland International Airport.

• A 10 percent increase in door-to-door service for the elderly and disabled.

• 25 new air-conditioned, low-floor buses.

• 35 new transit tracker display screens that count down the time to bus arrival.

• 8 new members of the security staff and cameras for three more MAX stations.

• A new park and ride lot at the former Southgate Theater.

TriMet also included money to open the Interstate MAX line in May instead of September 2004. Construction efficiencies could allow the project to be completed ahead of schedule and under budget, the agency said. The decision will be made by mid-September.

POLICE

Two report being molested

Tualatin police are investigating accusations by two women who say they were sexually molested while under sedation by a medical worker at Legacy Meridian Park Hospital.

'I can confirm that an investigation is under way,' said a police spokesman, Sgt. Jeff Groth, who declined further comment until the probe is completed.

The investigation was first reported Wednesday by KGW (8), which interviewed one of the alleged victims. She said the employee fondled her while she was hospitalized for a herniated disc.

Hospital officials confirmed the investigation in a written statement that also said, 'We take this very seriously, and we will take action if appropriate.'

SCHOOLS

Board names co-chairs

The Portland school board will have a new leadership structure beginning next month with informal co-chairpeople, one overseeing the financial accountability of the district and the other overseeing student achievement issues.

Board member Julia Brim-Edwards will oversee financial accountability; board member Lolenzo Poe will oversee student achievement issues.

'We feel this structure plays to both Lolenzo's and my strengths,' Brim-Edwards said Thursday. 'We both have different skills. Dividing up the work and leading together as a team, we'll be able to accomplish a lot more as a board.'

Traditionally, Portland school board members have elected a chairperson and vice chairperson from among their members, who most often serve for a year's term. The new board will formally keep that arrangement, with Brim-Edwards serving as chairwoman beginning next month and Poe serving as chairman beginning in January.

GOVERNMENT

Sewer work continues

Work on Portland's $1 billion overhaul of the city's outdated sewer system is now visible along Southwest Naito Parkway.

A large access shaft is being dug at the intersection of the parkway and the entrance to the RiverPlace development, just east of the Portland Marriott Downtown.

The project is required under a federal court order to prevent sewage from flowing into the Willamette River when it rains.

Tribune staff