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Man arrested after shots fired in north Corvallis

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A 33-year-old Corvallis man was arrested early Thursday morning after residents in north Corvallis hearing gunfire on the 3200 block of Northeast Lancaster Street and witnessed a man nearby in a dark hooded sweatshirt. 
Corvallis police found four .25-caliber casings in a parking lot when called to the scene at 3:36 a.m., but were unable to identify an intended target, according to an officer's probable-cause affidavit. They arrested the suspect roughly a half-mile from the scene on the 100 block of Northeast Conifer Boulevard.
Joseph Gomez reportedly showed signs of being under the influence of methamphetamine and had a .22-caliber, semi-automatic rifle with a shortened barrel and homemade suppressor hidden in his pants, along with a .25-caliber handgun and a bindle of methamphetamine.
Witnesses identified Gomez as the person they saw leaving the area of gunfire, according to the court document.
Gomez pleaded not guilty in Benton County Circuit Court on Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm and felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a prohibited silencer.

Nuclear power developers convene at OSU

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Some of the key players in the emerging field of small modular nuclear reactors gathered in Corvallis this week to talk shop and compare notes on everything from safety features to energy economics.
The three-day technical meeting at Oregon State University, which wraps up today, is not open to the public. But it attracted 20 attendees from around the world, including representatives of private and government-run nuclear power companies from Russia, China, India, South Korea, Jordan, Italy, France and the United States. Two officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Austria, also took part.
Co-sponsored by the IAEA and OSU’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, the event was billed as “A Roadmap for the Development of Small Modular Reactor Technology.” Touted as both cheaper and safer than conventional nukes, small modular reactors are designed to be built in a factory and then shipped to the generating site.
One of the American companies racing to be first to market with an SMR design is Corvallis-based NuScale Power, which is working to commercialize technology developed at OSU. The university has also developed expertise in high-temperature gas reactors, another developing technology.
“We’ve been around since the inception of this insurgence of SMRs and the development of advanced reactor technology,” said nuclear engineering professor Wade Marcum, one of the organizers of the meeting.
While seen as a promising new technology by both the utility industry and the federal government, U.S. regulatory approval is still years away, and some companies have scaled back their development programs for economic reasons, chiefly the availability of cheap natural gas to fuel large electric generating plants.
That was a hot topic at this week’s meeting, but at least some of the participants see that as a short-term obstacle to developing SMR technology.
“Natural gas historically has been so volatile; it just happens to be at a low state right now,” Marcum said. “We all know in reality that’s going to spike.”
Even Babcock & Wilcox — which along with NuScale is one of only two U.S. firms picked to receive up to $226 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy to speed commercialization of its design — drastically cut back its development funding this year after failing to attract investors for its SMR division, known as mPower.
But Jay Brister, mPower’s chief technology officer, insisted that the company’s long-range plans remain unchanged.
“Babcock & Wilcox is committed to the technology,” Brister said in an interview at OSU this week. “Concerted efforts on licensing and site certification, all of that will move forward, and the technology will continue to be developed.”
Safety concerns were another big topic at this week’s meeting, but participants continue to believe that SMRs offer major advantages over conventional nukes in a number of ways.
For one thing, they’re smaller than traditional 1,000-megwatt N-plants, meaning there’s less radioactive fuel involved. They’re also simpler, with smaller and less complicated process piping to worry about. And they tend to incorporate passive safety features, relying on natural convection currents to circulate cooling water around the reactor core rather than complex systems of pumps and valves that can fail in an emergency.
“This meeting in particular has been an eye-opener,” said Jose Reyes, the chief technology officer for NuScale and former head of OSU’s nuclear engineering program. “As we look at other designs, we also can see there is a unified, consistent desire to make plants safer.”
The meltdown and radiation releases at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 prompted a worldwide re-evaluation of safety protocols led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which drafted a plan for improving protective measures.
One of the reasons for meetings like the one in Corvallis this week, IAEA representative David Shropshire said, is to continue to refine that plan and improve safety measures for SMRs and other reactor types.
“It’s a huge international effort,” he said.
And even though many of the participants represent competing companies, Reyes said, they are also collaborators when it comes to making small modular reactor technology better for everyone.
“What’s exciting to me,” he said, “is that this is a very interactive, growing community of SMRs with a focus on making things safer.”
Contact reporter Bennett Hall at [email protected]gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9529.

Philomath Market robbed at gunpoint

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PHILOMATH - The Philomath Market at 1401 Main Street was robbed at gunpoint late last night or early this morning.
The masked robber fired a gun during the exchange and left with cash, according to second-hand accounts. No one was hurt, and the store provided police with surveillance footage of the incident. 
The Philomath Police Department wasn't ready to release information about the incident as of this afternoon, according to the department's administrative assistant.
The store manager referred questions about the incident to the clerk who was working at the time. The clerk, however, won't be back on shift until 9:30 tonight. 

Sweet Home councilors reject dispensary moratorium

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SWEET HOME — The City Council gave a green light to medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday evening, rejecting a one-year moratorium ordinance 4-3.
The community joins the city of Albany in approving dispensaries. Lebanon, Brownsville and Linn County have put moratoriums in place.
Councilors voting for a moratorium were Greg Mahler, Dave Trask and Mayor Jim Gourley. Opposed were Scott McKee, Bruce Hobbs, Craig Fentiman and Marybeth Angulo.
“I don’t believe we have enough information,” Mahler said when proposing approval of the moratorium. “Already 104 cities in Oregon have enacted moratoriums. I’m not for having dispensaries.”
Trask said that although he has sympathy for people in pain, he doesn’t understand why the government should be allowing dispensaries.
“We already have pharmacies,” Trask said.
Before the vote, resident Michael O’Malley provided each of the councilors with a magazine about the values of cannabis.
He said the government has spent decades demeaning the plant that is a “natural cure-all.”
“I’m a patient, not a criminal,” said O’Malley, who has a medical marijuana card.
Mary Bond agreed, saying that prescription drugs caused her to “be in bed for 30 days” and her weight to drop to just 89 pounds.
“I ask the council to open your minds and read articles,” Boyd said.
But Zach Lincoln encouraged the councilors to let other communities be the “guinea pigs” when it comes to dispensaries, encouraging a moratorium.
Linn County reporter Alex Paul can be contacted by calling 541-812-6114 or by emailing [email protected]

Sweet Home woman suffers burns in house fire

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SWEET HOME — A 65-year-old rural Sweet Home woman, Georgia Sullivan, was taken by helicopter ambulance to Legacy Oregon Burn Center in Portland on Sunday afternoon, suffering from third-degree burns on her hands, arms and shoulders after a fire broke out at her house.
Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance answered the fire call at 3:17 p.m. at the Sullivan residence at 25360 Rice Road.
“When we got there, there was little to no fire, but the home was charged with smoke,” Fire Chief Mike Beaver said.
Sullivan’s husband, Dean, and another man helped to get her out of the house, Beaver said.
The fire was tentatively believed to have started in the vicinity of a wood stove.
The amount of damage to the 1,560-square-foot home, built in 1972, was unknown.

Downtown crackdown extended in Corvallis

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The Corvallis Police Department initiated a tactical action plan March 15 that targeted aggressive behavior in the downtown corridor and Central Park. The plan expired April 15.The department has extended the plan through Friday, said Capt. ...

Corvallis man arraigned on 39 counts identity theft

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A 23-year-old Corvallis man was arraigned Friday in Benton County Circuit Court on 39 felony counts of identity theft and one misdemeanor theft charge after Corvallis police reportedly found a stolen street sign and 39 driver’s licenses at his apartment.
Officers were dispatched to Douglas Thompson Von Euen’s apartment on Monday for a domestic disturbance involving his ex-girlfriend, according to Capt. Dave Henslee of the Corvallis Police Department. While executing a search warrant on Thursday in connection to the woman’s reported assault, officers found the driver’s licenses and a Corvallis city street sign.
The licenses are in different names and from states all over the country, Henslee said. Detectives are investigating whether they are real forms of documentation, where they came from and if they’ve been used illegally.
“They’re working right now to determine if they’re real or forged or used in a fraudulent manner,” Henslee said.
Von Euen pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released from jail Friday on his own recognizance.
Von Euen made the news last June when he and a friend were arrested in connection to an assault with a cane sword. Police alleged a good Samaritan came running outside with a sword to defend Von Euen’s girlfriend while Von Euen was allegedly assaulting her. Police further allege that Von Euen wrested the sword from the man and seriously injured him with it.
The Benton County District Attorney’s Office dismissed charges against Von Euen in anticipation of refiling charges if the grand jury indicts him.

Ruptured gas line at OSU leads to evacuation at Gill

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A third-party contractor for Oregon State University hit an underground pressurized natural gas line outside of Gill Coliseum on Thursday around 11:15 a.m., causing a couple dozen athletes and staff to evacuate the facility, and the fire department to cut power to Gill and nearby buildings until the leak could be contained.
The pressurized 2-inch polycarbonate gasline could be heard from 50 feet away after it was damaged, according to Jim Patton, fire safety officer for Corvallis Fire Department.
“It was under pressure and made quite a howling sound when it was ruptured,” he said.
The couple dozen athletes and staff inside Gill Coliseum and the neighboring Sports Performance Center evacuated after they smelled gas, Patton said. Someone pulled the fire alarm within Gill.
OSU sent out a notice to students and staff at 11:40 a.m. to avoid the area of Gill and Ralph Miller Drive while the Corvallis Fire Department worked on scene. Firefighters shut off electricity to Gill and nearby buildings to remove potential ignition sources for the highly flammable gas, Patton said. Power also was cut to Bloss Hall, Finley Hall, Arnold Dining Center and Dixon Recreation Center.
Northwest Natural arrived on scene and crimped the line just before 1 p.m., allowing students and staff to resume their normal business, Patton said.

Woman hurt when cinder block dropped onto car on I-5

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Oregon State Police is seeking help to identify whoever dropped a cinder block from an Interstate 5 overpass early Sunday morning that broke through a passing vehicle’s windshield and injured a woman inside the car.
About 4:28 a.m. Sunday, a 2012 Toyota Camry driven by Michael Becker, 28, of Roy, Wash., was northbound on Interstate 5 in the right lane traveling under the East Oregon Avenue overpass in Creswell when a cinder block fell from the overpass and came through the windshield.
The block struck passenger Tiffany Becker, 30, in her face, causing non-life threatening injury, state police said. She was taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend for treatment. She was treated and released. The driver was not injured.
OSP troopers are continuing the investigation. Troopers received information that four unidentified persons, two on bicycles and two on skateboards, were in the area around the time of the incident but don’t know if they are connected with the investigation.
Anyone with information to help identify the four subjects or who saw suspicious activity in the vicinity of the overpass about 4:28 a.m. Sunday morning is asked to contact OSP Trooper Gerald Ellis at 541-726-2536 or [email protected]

Corvallis tea partiers protest government regulations

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About 30 protesters waved American flags and held up signs with slogans like, “Abolish IRS,” “Free enterprise,” “De-federalize Oregon lands” at a tea party rally in front of the Benton County Courthouse on Saturday.
Though the president of Benton County Republican Women, Stella Guenther, staffed a table at the event to sign up new voters, the rally wasn’t affiliated with any political party, organizer Carolyn Webb said.
“It’s really nonpartisan,” she said. “It’s a tea party rally — tea party means that we’re interested in limited government and less regulations, so anybody and everybody whose interested in those issues can be involved.”
Because the tea party encompasses a set of values and is not an official political party, it’s difficult to determine the number of locals who identify as a tea partier, Webb said.
The tea party favors tax reform, energy independence, lowering the state and national debt, a reduced federal government, and fewer regulations on business.
Webb purposefully planned the rally to loosely coincide with the IRS Tax filing deadline, which is Tuesday.
“It’s tax day next week,” she said. “I thought it was a good time for the people to think about all of the rules and regulations — what the federal government and state government is doing — because the people need to have a voice.”

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