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Mayor’s annual speech set for Tuesday

Gresham’s State of the City Address is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at Mt. Hood Community College’s Main State Theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St. A reception starts at 6 p.m.

The annual speech by Gresham Mayor Shane T. Bemis is a chance to highlight the year’s victories as well as the city’s challenges. For example, last month, Gresham began to charge every resident a monthly utility fee to prevent more cuts to public safety and parks.

Increasingly scarce tax dollars coupled with demand for more city-funded services is expected to be another theme expressed this spring while the city drafts its 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.

Carnegie Library Centennial Celebration

The Gresham Historical Society will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Carnegie Library building starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at the Gresham History Museum, 410 N. Main Ave., Gresham. The Carnegie Library building served as Gresham’s library from 1913-1989 and is now home of the History Museum.

The celebration will begin with an open house, oral presentation and a 1913 exhibit viewing. Light fare will be served.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, contact the Gresham Historical Society at 503-661-0347 or visit greshamhistoricalsociety.org.

Demand high for details on in-home services

The Oregon Department of Human Services reported that nearly 50,000 Oregonians called its new toll-free resource line in 2012, most of whom wanted information about in-home health services.

Calls to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) show that more aging Oregonians with physical disabilities are looking for options to stay in their own homes,

The statewide free hotline — which can be reached at 1-855-673-2372 — was launched earlier this year to make it easier for people anywhere in Oregon to get accurate, unbiased information on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a physical disability. The phone number is funded by the Oregon Department of Human Services Aging and People with Disabilities program through federal grants.

In 2012, Oregonians called the hotline 49,864 times and searched its website more than 91,000 times. While callers consisted of family members, friends, neighbors and agencies needing information, referral or assistance, the majority of callers were the consumers themselves.

Most callers asked for referrals to local resources; the most requested topic was in-home care options.

“Oregon has long been a leader in helping people who are aging or have a physical disability remain at home,” said Mike McCormick, deputy director of the Aging and People with Disabilities Program at the Oregon Department of Human Services. “People are looking for stability and independence at home and in their local communities.”

McCormick also said a new Oregon initiative, Long Term Care 3.0, is designed to continue the state’s excellence in long-term care and in helping people be safe and independent at home.

“As Oregonians age and baby boomers turn 65 in greater numbers, the ADRC will be even more vital to answer questions and help families make decisions and locate services,” McCormick said.

Oregon’s hotline is a “one-stop shop” for older adults, people with physical disabilities, their caregivers and families to get the information and services needed as their health and long-term care needs change.

Trained options counselors are available to discuss resources in local communities that may help people live independently — resources such as adult foster care, residential care facilities, home-delivered meals, long-term-care living options, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, Medicare counseling and transportation.

For more information, go the website at adrcoforegon.org.

Senior center hosts dance, other events

The Gresham Senior Center is hosting a St. Patrick’s Dance starting with a 6 p.m. potluck dinner and live music at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24, the Northwestern Music Jamboree brings a free performance of lively guitar and fiddle music to the center, located in the Multnomah County East Building, 600 N.E. Eighth St. in Gresham.

The center’s sewing room is sponsoring a spring fundraiser featuring lots of fabrics, fresh-baked brownies, and craft and garden books for sale Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, April 2-4. Also, a Spirit Mountain Casino bus departs from the center early Tuesday, April 9.

For more information, call 503-988-4870.

Sequester will impact Oregon programs

The automatic sequester of federal funds will have an effect on unemployment benefits and job search services in Oregon. Individuals receiving Federal Emergency Unemployment compensation, or EUC, will see a 10.7 percent reduction in their weekly benefits.

This reduction will begin the week of March 31 and be reflected in checks mailed the week of April 7 to claimants. More than 28,000 individuals receive EUC benefits. The Oregon Employment Department will notify each claimant by email in early April regarding this reductions.

EUC claimants are encouraged to visit workinginoregon.org where they can find more information and an online calculator to estimate their payment reduction. The website will be updated regularly as more information becomes available. Those on EUC who have questions not addressed by the website should call 503-947-1342 or 800-237-3710 Ext. 71342.

Individuals receiving regular unemployment benefits will not be affected. In addition, federal cuts to employment service state grants could result in the reduction of job search assistance and employer recruitment activities. Those impacts will be assessed as more details become available.

Oregon Green Schools Visit Portland Lutheran

Portland Lutheran School recently hosted the 2013 Oregon Green Schools Summit on its campus. This is the second time the East County private school has hosted the summit, which gathers students from certified Green Schools around the state to demonstrate projects, learn and socialize. About 250 students participated in this year’s event.

Portland Lutheran’s own “Green Team,” a group of elementary students dedicated to sustainability, demonstrated the success of their paper and milk carton recycling program, while PLS high school students presented a workshop about their ongoing involvement in the revitalization of Beaver Creek in Troutdale.

The high school seminar was led by PLS freshmen Sonica Gupta and Melody Do, who taught others about techniques used to gather critical data regarding stream health. Portland Lutheran’s newly chartered Key Club also volunteered throughout the day to assist event organizers.

To learn more about Oregon Green Schools, visit oregongreenschools.org.

Sen. Monnes Anderson, Rep. Gorsek set town hall

State Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham) and Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) will hold a joint town hall from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the City Council Chambers at Fairview City Hall, 1300 N.E. Village St., Fairview.

The town hall will focus on K-12 education, including the proposed education budget that was recently released. Monnes Anderson and Gorsek will be joined by several other guests from within Oregon’s education system.

“I’m focused on East County schools as a top priority this session,” Monnes Anderson said. “I’ve heard from my constituents that we need to keep teachers in the classroom and reduce class sizes. I look forward to hearing more about how we can provide an excellent education for East County students.”

“I’ve been speaking with people throughout East Multnomah County, and education funding is at the top of their minds,” Gorsek said. “In these tough economic times, we need to make sure we have our priorities straight. I’m working with my colleagues in the House to make sure we are doing everything we can to reinvest in our students.”

ODJ releases annual top 10 consumer complaints

For the second year in a row, the Oregon Department of Justice received more consumer complaints about telemarketers last year than any other industry, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said.

The Department of Justice released its top 10 consumer complaint list, part of its National Consumer Protection Week activities. Joining telemarketers on the list were debt collectors, international money transfer scams and, for the first time, timeshare resellers.

In 2012 the department received more than 12,000 written complaints from consumers. The department received 1,828 written complaints about telemarketers in 2012, about 15 percent of the total.

Employees from the Department’s Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection section helped consumers recover $3.7 million in that time. It also recovered $15.8 million in settlements and judgements stemming from civil actions against mortgage companies, pharmaceutical providers and others.

Most of the telemarketing complaints came from consumers claiming they’d receive telemarketing calls despite the fact they were on the Federal Do Not Call list.

Most complaints stem from just two groups — Card Services and Pacific Telecom Communications Group. Card Services uses a prerecorded message claiming it can help reduce credit card interest rates. In addition to violating the law against prerecorded messages, Card Services neither displays the true number from which it is calling nor adheres to the national Do Not Call law.

Gresham honored for energy independence

The public-private wastewater partnership between the city of Gresham and Veolia Water, the world leader in water and wastewater services, recently was honored for its outstanding achievements in energy savings and finding energy alternatives. The award was given by the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) at the group’s 81st winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

In 2005, the city of Gresham made a progressive and ambitious move to commit to the pursuit of 100 percent sustainability for its municipal operations. As a significant first step, the city joined with Veolia Water to operate and maintain the wastewater treatment facility’s cogeneration and solar systems, purchase wind power and reduce its overall energy use.

“From the beginning, Veolia Water has understood Gresham’s energy conservation goals,” Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said. “They brought the technical expertise we needed to achieve our vision, and by so doing, enabled us to make the city’s wastewater plant, one that is operated with sustainable energy, a reality.”

The USCM noted the results that have come out of the partnership’s efforts:

•Today, 50 percent of Gresham’s wastewater plan energy comes from methane that occurs naturally in the wastewater process.

•The facility is now home to the Pacific Northwest’s largest solar array, and Veolia Water splits the costs of a wind energy surcharge 50/50 with the city.

•Veolia Water has worked closely with the city to reduce the facility’s average energy use by 20 percent and is using an asset management program to increase the life of the city’s assets and further reduce energy usage.

•The city is experimenting with other forms of energy production at its wastewater plant, including installation of additional renewable energy systems and generating energy from grease waste.

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