Medford, OR -

Oregon counties could see checks early next year from a one-year extension of federal timber payments.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bill to maintain a federal helium reserve, a move aimed at avoiding a worldwide shortage of a gas used in industrial processes.

The extension of aid to timber-dependent counties was added in Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden's Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Rocky McVay, leader of the Association of O&C Counties, tells the Medford Mail Tribune checks are likely to go out in January and February. But he says that's tentative because of the uncertainty about the fate of the federal budget.

Thirty-three counties are expected to get a share of the $100 million coming to Oregon, out of a $329 million congressional appropriation.