Oregon Residents, Mainstream Media Protest High-Pitched (Cell Tower?) Sonic Attacks

Listen to the mysterious nocturnal noise baffling experts and terrifying an Oregon community
katu

By Peter Holley February 21 at 1:42 PM
An Oregon neighborhood is baffled by a mysterious sound that has been appearing for weeks. Local authorities have not been able to explain the shrill noise. (Photo courtesy of KOIN 6)
To some, it sounds like a giant flute played off pitch. To others, faulty car brakes or a steam whistle echoing in the distance.

Descriptions of the shrill noise piercing quiet nights in Forest Grove, Ore., run the gamut, but those who’ve actually heard it seem to agree on one thing — it’s awful.

“It’s definitely a horrendous noise,” Dave Nemeyer, fire marshal of Forest Grove Fire and Rescue told ABC News. “I have no idea what the noise is. [The resident] described to us that it was coming from the middle of the street. To me, it sounds like the sound of train tracks, that metal screeching sound, but there are no train tracks near her home … so that’s obviously ruled out.”

[Severed feet — still inside shoes — keep mysteriously washing up on Pacific Northwest shores]

Residents began hearing the strange noise, which lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, several weeks ago, according to ABC affiliate KATU. It is loud enough, residents say, that it rouses them from sleep and drives pets crazy.

Paula Lynch told NBC affiliate KGW that she managed to record the sound on her cellphone earlier this month. She said it was the third time she’d heard the noise that week.

“My first instinct was that it was a gas line issue and there might be an explosion,” she said.
Worried about an impending disaster, Lynch reported the sound to police, who told the station that they’re also baffled.

“There would be a city ordinance violation if somebody was creating a noise like this, that late at night, on purpose to annoy people,” said Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herbs. “At this point, we don’t have information that would lead us to believe that’s the case.”

“It sounds to me like some kind of release valve or some kind of pipe that’s under pressure,” he added. “We’ve had different suggestions from folks that it’s an alien mother ship or a warning sign of something to come.”

Police aren’t the only ones at a loss to explain the noise. Both Northwest Natural, a gas company, and Forest Grove Public Works claim their agencies aren’t responsible for the sound, according to KGW.
After investigating, the fire department determined the sound was not coming from a commercial fire or smoke alarm, the station reported. The department, KGW noted, does not believe the noise poses a public health risk.

Authorities told KATU that the nearest train track dead-ends across town and is rarely used.

Some residents wondered whether the sound could be coming from the brakes of a logging truck, but its duration and intensity are different, according to the station. There’s also the fact, KATU noted, that nearby roads are flat.

Although some have speculated that the sound is coming from a ruptured natural gas line, KATU reported that the lines are buried underground, making them an unlikely possible source. An unnamed spokesperson for Northwest Natural told KATU that a leaking gas line would sound like a tea kettle and that residents would smell gas.

Another possible culprit, residents have speculated, is the Department of Forestry. The sound appears to originate in the agency’s vicinity, but after crews there tested their equipment on Tuesday, they concluded it wasn’t originating on their property, KATU reported.

KATU asked Tobin Cooley, an audio expert, to weigh in. After measuring the noise with a sound meter, he told the station that it was a highly unusual case.

“It sounds like some sort of pressurized gas or air through a fitting or valve or something,” he said. “It’s not steady state, and you can’t predict when it’s going to happen. Those are all interesting sound features.”

Cooley noted that high-pitched tones don’t travel far, suggesting the sound is originating near the residents who are hearing it.

“The best instrument by far is the human ear,” he added. “If you can track it down and experience it, with measurements and your ears, you can find the source.”

Peter Holley is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post. He can be reached at peter.holley@washpost.com.

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Medford City Council Lunatics Sue Man for “Being in Possession of Water”

oregoninsanitymemeOregon man in possession of 13 million gallons of illicit rainwater sentenced to jail
An Oregon resident with 3 massive man-made ponds on his property is sentenced to 30 days in jail after being found guilty (again) of collecting rainwater without a permit.

http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/oregon-man-in-possession-of-13-million-gallons-of-illicit-rainwater

MATT HICKMAN
August 14, 2012, 9 a.m.
54.7K 51
HarringtonReservoir
Gary Harrington has built three massive reservoirs on his property. (Photo: EmpowertheJury.com)
I’ve taken a look at some mighty impressive rainwater collection systems in the past, but it appears that Gary Harrington, 64, takes the proverbial cake when it comes to hoarder-esque rainwater collection activities: over the years, the Oregon resident has built three massive reservoirs — in actuality, they’re more like proper man-made ponds — on his 170-acre property on Crowfoot Road in rural Eagle Point that hold roughly 13 million gallons of rainwater and snow runoff. That’s enough agua to fill about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Of course, it boggles the mind as to what a single man needs that much rainwater for. One would assume that Harrington is reusing it both for irrigation purposes and for non-potable indoor use as well, which, unlike in many states, is permitted in Oregon. But 13 million gallons?

Apparently Harrington, who has stocked at least one of the reservoirs with largemouth bass and built docks around it, believes that his watery stash is a much-needed necessity when wildfires pop up in the area.

“The fish and the docks are icing on the cake,” Harrington tells the Medford Mail Tribune. “It’s totally committed to fire suppression.”

The bigger story here is that rainwater collection is indeed kosher in Oregon, provided that you’re capturing it from an artificial, impervious surface such as a rooftop with the assistance of rainwater barrels. But an extensive reservoir set-up complete with 10- and 20-foot-tall dams is verboten without the proper, state-issued water-right permits — after all, Oregon law dictates that water is a publicly owned resource — and Harrington did not possess said permits.

And so, after a protracted battle with Oregon’s Water Resources Department, Harrington was convicted of nine misdemeanors and sentenced to 30 days in jail, slapped with a $1,500 fine, and ordered to breach his dams and drain his ponds. After the sentencing in late July, Harrington surrendered himself to authorities late last week and began his stint at the Jackson County Jail.

HarringtonReservoir2
David Harrington believes his water stash is much needed when wildfires pop up in the area. (Photo: EmpowertheJury.com)
Apparently, once upon a time, the state did indeed allow Harrington — code name: “Rain Man” — to collect water in his reservoirs. However, officials reversed their decision the same year, 2003, that the three permits were issued, citing a 1925 law that states the city of Medford holds all exclusive rights to “core sources of water” in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.

Despite withdrawal of the permits, Harrington kept on defiantly collectin’ under the belief that the laws did not apply to his situation, adamant that the water was coming strictly from rain and snow melt and not from tributaries flowing into the Big Butte River as officials had claimed. Harrington tells CNSNews.com: “They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said, ‘No, you can’t have them.’ So I’ve been fighting it ever since.”

It gets even more messy with accusations of water diversion and a three-year bench probation issued against Harringon in 2007. In that case, Harrington plead guilty and agreed to open up the gates of his reservoirs only to close them back up again shortly thereafter.

Oregon Water Resources Department Deputy Director Tom Paul tells the Medford Mail Tribune: “Mr. Harrington has operated these three reservoirs in flagrant violation of Oregon law for more than a decade. What we’re after is compliance with Oregon water law, regardless of what the public thinks of Mr. Harrington.”

Paul elaborates to CNSNews.com:

A very short period of time following the expiration of his probation, he once again closed the gates and re-filled the reservoirs. So, this has been going on for some time and I think frankly the court felt that Mr. Harrington was not getting the message and decided that they’d already given him probation once and required him to open the gates and he refilled his reservoirs and it was business as usual for him, so I think the court wanted — it felt it needed — to give a stiffer penalty to get Mr. Harrington’s attention.
Lots more on this unusual and dramatic, err, rainstorm of a case — a case that’s morphed into a battle not so much over rainwater and reservoirs, but over property rights and government bullying — at the Medford Mail Tribune and CNSNews.

The alleged wet bandit tells CNSNews.com: “When something is wrong, you just, as an American citizen, you have to put your foot down and say, ‘This is wrong; you just can’t take away anymore of my rights and from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”

Is Harrington deserved of his folk hero status? Or is he a straight-out theft? Lots of opinions on this one … what’s yours?

Via [Medford Mail Tribune], [CNSNews.com] via [AOL Real Estate]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) reports on design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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