Willamette Valley News, Monday, 5/4 – State Capitol Protesters Want Oregon To Re-Open, as Tensions Mounting Across the State

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of Eugene-Springfield, WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Monday, May 4, 2020

Willamette Valley Weather

Today A 30% chance of rain this afternoon, with a high near 66. Calm winds. Showers expected overnight with a low around 45.

Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 70. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday A 30% chance of showers before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 64. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming light and variable in the afternoon.

Thursday Sunny, with a high near 72.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 81.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 85.

TODAY’s HEADLINES

For the state of Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority says the death toll stands at 109 with 2680 cases in the state. There were 45 new cases reported over the weekend.

The new COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (1), Coos (4), Hood River (2), Josephine (1), Malheur (1), Marion (21), Multnomah (5), Umatilla (3), Washington (7).

The current state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic that was set to expire on May 7th, will be in place for an additional 60 days.

On Friday afternoon Governor Brown signed executive order No. 20-24 on Friday that extends the original declaration made back on March 8th, through July 6th.

Brown issued the original order at the time Oregon had 14 positive cases of the coronavirus.

“I find that the novel infections coronavirus continues to threaten public health and safety,” Governor Brown wrote as part of the order.

The declaration additionally allows the current Stay Home, Save Lives, executive order, and the moratorium on residential/commercial evictions to remain in effect. However, like the order on delaying non-emergency medical procedures, they can be lifted at any time depending on the situation.

Demonstrators flocked to the state Capitol on Saturday, the latest in a series of national protests demanding governors ease social distancing restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A few hundred folks gathered in front of the Oregon State Capitol, rain alternately pounding and drizzling as many attendees waved signs with slogans like “Reopen Oregon,” “Open schools” and “no more masks.”

Other demonstrators waved the U.S. flags or “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, while others waved banners reading “Trump 2020.”

Organizers say they view the social distancing mandates issued by Gov. Kate Brown as government overreach.

Since mid-March, Brown’s orders have shuttered many businesses, put some parks and campgrounds off limits and required public schools to adopt distance learning programs. The reserved parking lot in front of the building was packed for much of the three-hour event. A sizable crowd formed across the street between the Department of Education headquarters and state library building as country and hard rock music blasted from tents and horns blared from a non-stop parade of vehicles circling the block.

The highest rate of coronavirus cases in Washington state is in Yakima County, an agricultural giant that has more than double the state average of cases.

In fact, the county of 250,000 people has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases of any county on the West Coast. Health experts point to a large number of essential workers, a large number of cases in long-term care facilities and a large agricultural workforce living and working in close quarters as the causes.

The new Department of Labor and Industry rules require growers and operators to have procedures for a suspected or confirmed case of the virus, to educate workers on health recommendations, and to have employees stay home if they are sick. They are also required to ensure social distance and physical barriers between workers, to have hand-washing stations and to increase sanitation.

More information is being released on the criminal investigation of a deadly house fire on Tuesday in Sweet Home.

Police have identified the four victims found dead in the home as 63-year-old John Shobert, 41-year-old Tiffany Shobert, 15-year-old Johnathon Shobert, and two-year-old Charlotte Shobert. Investigators say autopsies have been concluded, but the causes of death are being withheld pending contact with family members and additional investigative work. Police said during the initial examination, there was evidence of gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month in Oregon, and federal, state and firefighting agencies are encouraging Oregonians to make sure their homes and property are protected from wildfire.

The Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal and Keep Oregon Green, in collaboration with Oregon forest protective associations, the Office of Emergency Management and federal wildland agencies, are taking this opportunity to promote defensible space around homes before fire strikes this summer. With many Oregonians spending more time at home because of statewide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, residents can use the coming weeks to reduce risks and make their homes and communities safer.

“The roof is one of the most critical parts of the house when it comes to wildfire protection,” says Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “Embers can collect and ignite on the roof, in gutters and enter unscreened openings around the house. Non-combustible roofing material is preferred. Regardless of the construction, please keep your roofs, gutters and eaves clear of all leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.”

To reduce the risk, fire officials suggest removing dead vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around homes and other structures. In most cases, trees and healthy plants do not need to be removed. However, trees should be pruned and grass kept short and green to keep fire on the ground and more manageable by fire crews. Maintain a five-foot fire-free area closest to the home using nonflammable landscaping material and fire resistant plants.

“Defensible space is a property’s first line of defense against wildfire,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “Creating and maintaining defensible space around homes can improve your property’s likelihood of surviving a wildfire. Having defensible space also makes it safer for firefighters who may have to defend someone’s home.”

Homeowners should also consider access issues for large fire trucks. Long driveways should be at least 12 feet wide, have 10 feet of vegetation clearance from the centerline out, and about 14 feet overhead. Large vehicle turnaround areas are critical for your safety as well as firefighter safety.

Should a fire occur near a community, Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps encourages residents to be prepared if an evacuation is necessary. “Wildfires can come without warning and move quickly, so residents need to prepare now in case they have to leave their home,” Phelps said. “Make sure to put together a ‘Go Kit,’ register for emergency notification systems in your community and make a plan where your family will go and how you will stay in contact if evacuated.”

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to protect their homes by building defensible space. For more information, visit the websites for the Office of State Fire Marshal, the Office of Emergency ManagementKeep Oregon Green and the Oregon Department of Forestry, or call your nearest ODF or forest protective association office.

Additional information on preparing for wildfires can be found on the Ready.gov website.

Near Lakeview, an Oregon State Police Trooper conducted a traffic stop on a  Dodge sedan, for traffic violations, on Hwy 140 near milepost 89 late last week.

A search of the vehicle revealed 31.8 grams of heroin, 32.9 grams of methamphetamine, $2,606.00 in U.S. currency, a .45 caliber handgun and ammunition were located.

The driver, Dennis Langahit (37) of Redding, California, was lodged in the Lake County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession of Heroin, Unlawful Delivery of Heroin, Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine, Unlawful Delivery of Methamphetamine, Laundering a Monetary Instrument, Tampering with Evidence, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Criminal Conspiracy.

The investigation led Troopers to a residence in the Lakeview area where they located additional items of evidence related to the distribution of methamphetamine.

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