Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 2/16 – Investigation into Spencer Butte Tree Vandalism Seeking Information, More than 5000 Downed Power Lines/Still Thousands Without Power in Oregon and Lots of Damage

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 

Willamette Valley Weather

Today- Scattered showers. Snow level 2500 feet rising to 3000 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. West wind 7 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Wednesday- Partly sunny, with a high near 48. Calm wind.

Thursday- Rain. High near 48. South southeast wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Friday- Rain. Snow level 3500 feet lowering to 3000 feet. High near 48. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Saturday- Rain likely, mainly before 10am. Snow level 2500 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coronavirus-update-1-4.jpg

Oregon reports 184 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 0 new deaths

There are zero COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, and the state’s death toll remains at 2,137, the Oregon Health Authority reported 184 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 150,464.

Note: Case and electronic laboratory result counts are lower than anticipated today. This is likely related to the winter weather event and hazardous travel conditions. Oregon Health Authority

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (7), Clackamas (7), Columbia (1), Crook (1), Curry (3), Deschutes (24), Douglas (13), Harney (4), Jackson (6), Jefferson (4), Josephine (4), Klamath (1), Lake (5), Lane (26), Linn (1), Malheur (1), Marion (6), Multnomah (23), Polk (3), Umatilla (3), Union (5), Washington (30), Yamhill (6).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 6,693 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 3,650 doses were administered on Feb.14 and 3,043 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 14. 

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 683,887 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 885,250 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. 

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’ s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today. Note: The reduced number of administrations is likely the result of inclement weather.

Four People In Oregon Who Received Both Doses Of Vaccine Test Positive For Coronavirus

These cases of COVID are what are known as ‘breakthrough cases’: infections contracted at least 14 days after both doses of the vaccine have been administered. Clinical trials for the vaccine anticipated breakthrough cases, though, and showed that illness in patients who had received the vaccine was less severe than in unvaccinated patients.

Make sure your mask fits snugly: Choose a mask with a nose wire, Check for gaps, Use a mask fitter or a cloth mask over a disposable mask, knot or tuck ear loops, Make sure you can see and breathe easily

Oregon Office of Emergency Management Issues Warning: Beware of carbon monoxide when using alternate heat sources

Loss of power and freezing temperatures have some Oregonians using alternate heating sources, many of which come with the added risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas produced when anything is burned. Gas and oil furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces as well as wood burning and gas stoves are common sources in the home.

The only way to know if you are being exposed to carbon monoxide is by using a detector. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness and death. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, seek fresh air and consult a health care professional right away.

If used inappropriately, items that emit heat can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Follow these important steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Use caution with kerosene or gas space heaters; use vented space heaters whenever possible and make sure they are clean and inspected.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
  • Check exterior exhaust vents to be sure they are clear of snow, ice and fallen debris.
  • Do not use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors.
  • Never run a portable generator or any gas-powered engine in a basement, garage or other enclosed r area, even if doors and windows are open.

For more information on carbon monoxide safety, visit the Oregon Health Authority website.

Fact sheets on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning after an emergency are available in multiple languages. Visit OHA – Recognizing and preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigation into Spencer Butte Tree Vandalism Seeking Information

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is trying to find out why a tree was cut down in the Willamette Summit area of Spencer Butte. Right now, they’re trying to get to the bottom of what appears to be an act of vandalism.

“Well, it’s a tragedy when a tree goes down. Especially if it’s by a human,” said Cliff Meneken, hiker at Spencer Butte Park trailhead. In the wind and rain Monday, Meneken and a companion climbed over 2,000 feet to the top of spencer butte for the view. He saw the tree cut down when he reached the top. He says people are always cutting down trees in Oregon.

The Sheriff’s Office says this particular tree was cut down Friday. They say that’s all they know so far, while the investigation remains ongoing.

It was a lonely tree that sat at the base of rocks. It’s unclear how old or how tall it was. But it was personal to many people, some even left flowers. The City of Eugene says they don’t have plans to replace it, because of the fear of repeated vandalism.

“One of the reasons this tree is so special is because it’s part of a number of trees up there that is growing up the rocky outcrop, which is its own unique habitat,” said Kelly Shadwick of the Parks and Recreation Department with the City. She says her department is working on a way to remove the tree from the summit.

If you have information that may lead to answers on who and why this tree was cut down, call the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 and dial 1.

Lane County Deputy Accused of Sexual Misconduct

A now-former Lane County Sheriff’s deputy is under criminal investigation after reports of sexual misconduct.

The sheriff’s office said they initially received a complaint regarding Stacy Fenley on Oct. 7, 2020. The report indicated he was exchanging sexual texts with a community member while on duty.

Fenley was placed on paid administrative leave the following day and an investigation began. However, that same day, the internal investigation was put on hold when authorities found indicators of potential criminal conduct.

The Eugene Police Department was given the reins to conduct a criminal investigation into Fenley’s conduct.

“We have a responsibility to the community to investigate, without bias, allegations of misconduct and remove those who are no longer serving their community professionally,” Sheriff Cliff Harrold said. “While it is extremely disheartening that a member of our agency may have engaged in the alleged behavior, we are thankful to the community members who bravely reported their concerns.”

Investigators have completed their work and referred the case to the Lane County District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Patty Perlow responded to the case: “I can confirm the matter was referred to my office for prosecution and is under investigation.”

KEZI 9 News reached out to Fenley through social media for a comment, but he took down his social media accounts shortly after.

Fenley is no longer employed by the sheriff’s office as of Jan. 26 this year.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Even though the worst of the storm over — more than 200,000 Oregonians remain without power as crews work around-the-clock to restore electricity. Portland General Electric said they have more than 2,500 people dedicated to the problem that nearly 5,000 downed power lines caused. —— Eastern Oregon Snowstorms Set Records. More than 70% of the Continental United States Has Snow!

Portland General Electric said they have more than 2,500 people dedicated to the problem that nearly 5,000 downed power lines caused.

As of 5 a.m. February 16, 2021:

PGE
Nearly 200,000 customers
Pacific Power
More than 18,000 customers
Clark County PUD
797 customers
Salem Electric
108 customers

“Utilities in our region have never experienced such widespread outages, including during the September 2020 wildfires,” Gov. Kate Brown said Monday. “The state of emergency I declared on Saturday will ensure that all necessary state resources are available on the ground to help Oregonians impacted by this winter storm.  

PGE outages map
Pacific Power outages map
Clark County PUD outages
Salem Electric outages

“I want to thank all the local and state workers, first responders, and utility crews who continue to work around the clock in incredibly difficult conditions to clear roads, restore power, and aid families in need. I am also incredibly grateful for work crews who have stepped in from other states to assist.Emergency resources for severe winter weather 

Brown reminded people to not call 911 unless it is for a life-safety emergency. Instead, call 211 or you local non-emergency line for assistance or information.

Gov. Brown also advised Oregonians to remain at home unless necessary.

Pacific Power restored service to 18,000 customers in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas

Restoration work continues aided by additional crews coming from sister and neighboring utilities. The company cautions that some outages could extend into Wednesday and Thursday.

Nearly 360 Pacific Power employees and contractors continued to assess and repair damage caused by a series of storms that brought heavy ice and snow to the region.
Joining Pacific Power crews on Tuesday morning are 75 additional personnel from Rocky Mountain Power, MidAmerican Energy and Nevada Energy and other regional utilities.

At times during the past few days upwards of 80,000 customers from across the Willamette Valley up to Portland and along the North Coast experienced service disruption due to the destructive ice storms. As of 7 p.m. today, that total has dropped to 28,000 customers.

“Crews made good progress today given how widespread the damage is,” said Allen Berreth, vice president of operations. “Removing large tree limbs and fixing broken crossarms and replacing poles is our focus as crews work safely and as swiftly as possible to get service back online for customers. We’re grateful for the additional help coming in from other utilities and we will continue to apply every resource we have until all customers have power.”

The company released a new interactive map where customers can view estimated times of restoration in the Willamette Valley by entering an address. The map is available at pacificpower.net/outages-safety/restoration-status.html. 

Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797Text STAT to 722797 to check the status of your outage.

To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:

  • Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines.
  • Maintain safe distances from workers. Repair work is being done under our COVID-19 safety protocols. Waves and acknowledgement are welcome, but please allow crews to do their work at an appropriate distance both for operational and COVID-19 safety.
  • If there is damage to your service mast or weather head, where the powerline connects to your home or business, you will need to contact a licensed electrician for repairs before service can be restored. Our crews can only work on company-owned equipment.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
  • If you have power at this time, keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Pacific Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Remember your pets! Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.
  • If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
  • If you are using a generator, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the generator is outside and not near any household air intakes. Do not connect the generator directly to your breaker box as this can create a dangerous situation for crews working on the powerlines. Instead, plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

Safeway in Troutdale and Old Navy Store in Gresham have Roofs Collapse During the Snow and Ice Storm

The roof of the Safeway store in Troutdale collapsed on Monday likely from the weight of ice and snow, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said.

No one was hurt, and sheriff’s officials say everyone made it out of the store safely.

Reports came in at about 11:40 a.m. for a roof collapse at the store in the 2500 block of Southwest Cherry Park Road.

Another roof, this time at an Old Navy at Gresham Station, gave way at around 12:30 p.m. on Monday. The store in that event was evacuated, but luckily, no one was hurt. 

A weekend storm blanketed western Oregon and southwest Washington in snow and ice, prompting Governor Kate Brown to issue a state of emergency.

Road Work Closes Part of Hwy 101 Between Florence and Yachats

Image result for Hwy 101 Between Florence and Yachats closed

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced this week that a section U.S. 101 between Florence and Yachats will be closed for up to a week as crews build a retaining wall. The closure takes place at milepost 170.5, a little over two miles south of Cape Perpetua (about a half mile south of Bob’s Creek Wayside.)

ODOT said since the closure is between Sea Lion Caves and Cook’s Cavern, there are a few areas with enough space where larger vehicles can turn around.

Local traffic will have access beyond the closures on either side of the project, but there will be no through traffic at any time. This closes off access between Florence and Yachats for central Oregon coast visitors. The only way between the two towns is via I-5 and the coast range highways, such as Highway 20 near Newport and Highway 126 into Florence. 

The closure will begin later this week, depending on the weather. Until the closure begins, traffic will continue in one lane, controlled by flaggers. Travelers should expect closures or extended delays in the area for the next few weeks. Check TripCheck.com or call 5-1-1 for the current road status.

While the road is completely closed, crews will be building a new retaining wall to hold the road in place. After the closure there will be access through the project area on a single lane with flaggers controlling traffic, but travelers should expected extended delays for an additional week. Once the repair project is complete, the road will again be closed for several days for the drill rig to be recovered from the rocks below. A 200 ton crane will be used and will block the entire road.

A project to repair the section of road held in place by a historic retaining wall began last Monday, February 6.

A crack in the road was reported in January. Monitoring found that it was becoming larger because the containment wall was failing and an immediate repair was required.

The road cracked and sank because the containment wall was failing, and an immediate repair was required. The northern portion of the wall collapsed on Friday as crews were working between the road and the wall to place 150 feet of micro-piling. Micro-piling involves placing two-inch metal poles into the bedrock and then filling the surrounding hole with concrete. This will shore up the road, keeping it from shifting. Repairs to the retaining wall itself will then be done, and guardrail replaced.

On Friday, the northern half of the wall collapsed and an employee of GeoStabilization International and the drill rig he was operating fell about 150 feet to the rocks below. The person is recovering from injuries sustained in the accident.

Road status information boards will be placed on U.S. 101 at Newport, Waldport and Florence, and on OR 126 Florence-Eugene Highway in Florence and Veneta. http://oregon.gov/ODOT

Ice storm pummels Oregon’s Enchanted Forest

Already hurting from the pandemic and the fires last year, the Enchanted Forest faces big task to clean up after the damage from this historic snow and ice storm that hit the Pacific Northwest. It has caused extensive damage to the rides and buildings at the park just south of Salem.

"This weekend was brutal," Enchanted Forest posted on Facebook Monday. "We felt we were at least on the right track to open for Spring Break but the park was devastated by the ice storm." (Courtesy Enchanted Forest)

“This weekend was brutal,” Enchanted Forest posted on Facebook Monday. “We felt we were at least on the right track to open for Spring Break but the park was devastated by the ice storm.” (Courtesy Enchanted Forest)

“We felt we were at least on the right track to open for Spring Break but the park was devastated by the ice storm. We have a great deal of assessment, cleanup and repair to embark upon now. We have already begun this massive undertaking but it may be awhile before we know where we are at. We are as determined as ever to do everything we can to keep going and we hope all of you are doing okay. We will update you all as soon as we know more about our opening and plans.”

It marks yet another setback which was having a difficult year financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, there has been an outpouring of support for Enchanted Forest, which has become an iconic part of the state’s history.

To Help or for More Information visit the website: https://www.enchantedforest.com and the Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/enchanted-forest-family-owned-theme-park-survival

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