Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 10/5 – Eugene Drug Bust Largest in Oregon History, Healthcare Workers at McKenzie-Willamette Officially On Strike

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Rain, mainly after 9am. High near 57. Southeast wind around 6 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Wednesday– A 20 percent chance of showers after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. South wind around 5 mph becoming light and variable in the afternoon.

Thursday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 59. Calm wind becoming north 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Friday– A 20 percent chance of rain after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 60.

Saturday– Mostly cloudy, with a high near 62.

Takedown of Lane County Drug Trafficking Cell Leads to Largest Seizure of Methamphetamine in Oregon State History

EUGENE, OR.—On September 15, 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation targeting the leader and several associates of a Lane County drug trafficking cell led to the seizure of 384 pounds of methamphetamine, the largest single methamphetamine seizure in Oregon State history and valued at over a million dollars.

The operation, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department, and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (LINE) came after the cell’s leader, Martin Manzo-Negrete aka Javier Cardenas-Manzo, a 47-year-old Eugene resident, was charged by federal criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Manzo-Negrete has a long history of drug trafficking and previously served 14 years in federal prison.

Manzo-Negrete was arrested during the operation and made his first appearance in federal court on September 16, 2021. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

Four of Manzo-Negrete’s associates were also arrested and are facing federal drug charges. They include Eugene residents Gustavo Manzo-Mares, 45; Candice L. Barrett, 52; John C. Willis, 59; and Nathan Lee Daniels, 46. A fifth associate, Frank Buehler, 52, also of Eugene, has been charged, but remains at large.

As part of the operation, law enforcement executed federal search warrants at multiple locations in Lane County. In addition to methamphetamine, they seized 14 firearms—some of which were stolen—and more than $76,000 in cash.

DEA and the Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit began investigating the Manzo-Mares cell in October 2020 for its role in trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine from California to Oregon for resale in and around Lane County. The drug trafficking organization transported large quantities of methamphetamine by car from Southern California to Oregon. Once in Oregon, the drugs were stored, divided, and then distributed into the community.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement. This case was investigated by the DEA with assistance from Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit, and LINE. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Huynh is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

Healthcare Workers at McKenzie-Willamette Officially On Strike

More than 400 unionized frontline healthcare workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center officially went on strike at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning after failing to reach a deal after months of negotiations.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 said the workers will be on strike from now until 7 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7. Members will be on the strike line outside the hospital from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The union includes hundreds of frontline healthcare workers including housekeepers, certified nursing assistants, MRI technicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacy technicians and more.

McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center said Friday it will implement its contingency operations plan that will limit some services during the strike.

Eugene’s First ‘Safe Sleep Site’ Opens

Eugene’s first ‘Safe Sleep Site’ opened Monday morning at 2nd and Garfield.

It’s transitional housing for some of the homeless who were previously camping in west Eugene, and it’s not the only site of its kind.

The site will house 55 vehicles, and be run by St. Vincent De Paul, with the city paying $585,000 a year to operate it.

“They’ll be assigned a spot and of course, be able to have the necessary support services for them,” said Terry McDonald, the director of St. Vincent De Paul.

Other services include restrooms, heated common structures, and a mobile kitchen.

“Really it’s intended to provide some stability for them and connections to services that will help them increase their stability and access stable housing,” said Regan Watjus, a policy analyst with the City of Eugene.

It’s transitional housing, as residents connect with long-term solutions. But McDonald says for now there’s no time limit on how long individuals can stay.

“The idea is to help people move along not to just warehouse them and keep them here,” McDonald said. “I have a feeling however this camp’s gonna be here for a while.”

St. Vinny’s filled this site’s 55 spots through outreach at congregate sites.

We asked about the concerns of businesses in the area, and Watjus says the city has done outreach and keeps those neighbors in mind.

“The city works hard to mitigate unsanctioned camping around sites like these,” Watjus said. “That’s really important for the success both for the people who are staying here and for the neighborhood.”

McDonald says homelessness won’t be solved overnight and hopes the sleep site will become a “small village” and provide a sense of community as residents find solutions.

In total, the 5 safe sleep sites will house around 235 people. Some will house vehicles, others tents, and others will have Conestoga huts.

In addition to the site that opened on Monday, another is expected to open on Garfield, as well as ones on Dani Street, Roosevelt Boulevard, and Chase Commons Park.

While vehicle sites prioritize those camping in west Eugene, tent sites will prioritize those living in Washington Jefferson park and at 13th and Chambers.

Oregon Missing Persons

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Oregon reports 3,286 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 8 new deaths

There are eight new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,823. The Oregon Health Authority reported 3,286 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 334,971.

The eight new deaths and 3,286 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 3.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (10), Benton (78), Clackamas (258), Clatsop (24), Columbia (50), Coos (48), Crook (27), Curry (3), Deschutes (324), Douglas (60), Gilliam (1), Grant (10), Harney (11), Hood River (48), Jackson (153), Jefferson (44), Josephine (49), Klamath (54), Lake (4), Lane (275), Lincoln (28), Linn (236), Malheur (34), Marion (333), Morrow (8), Multnomah (477), Polk (41), Sherman (2), Tillamook (7), Umatilla (80), Union (46), Wallowa (20), Wasco (39), Washington (320), Wheeler (3) and Yamhill (81).

Three ODF districts in western Oregon are ending their fire season on Tuesday, Oct. 5

Three Oregon Department of Forestry districts in western Oregon are declaring an end to their local fire season and dropping industrial fire precaution restrictions starting Tuesday, Oct. 5. The three are West Oregon, Western Lane and South Cascade districts. They serve Lane, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, and the southern part of Linn and Yamhill counties.

Recent rains in the district have reduced fire danger to low as have shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures. District officials caution that people should still exercise care when planning any outdoor burning as fires can escape control even outside of fire season.

Although fire danger levels have dropped around most of Oregon, fire season remains in effect in all other ODF districts pending further improvement in their local fire-risk conditions.

Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee meets October 8 via Zoom

The Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee will meet virtually via Zoom at 9:30 a.m. Friday, October 8. Items on the committee’s agenda include reviewing draft goals for the draft Western Oregon State Forest Management Plan.

This meeting is open to the public, and public comment is scheduled for the beginning of the meeting. The Zoom log-in is at https://odf.zoom.us/j/99106506089. The meeting agenda and materials will be posted on the department’s web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/FTLAC.aspx.

The Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee is comprised of seven county commissioners representing 15 Oregon counties where state forestlands are located. The FTLAC is a statutorily established committee that advises the Board of Forestry on matters related to forestland managed by ODF.

Questions about accessibility or special accommodations can be directed to the Oregon Department of Forestry at least 48 hours prior to the meeting at 503-945-7200.

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The State of Oregon received approval from the federal government to expand the Pandemic EBT program and provide an additional $167 million in food assistance to approximately 430,000 children in Oregon.

A release from the Oregon Department of Human Services said P-EBT provides food benefits to families whose children were eligible to receive free or reduced priced meals at school or daycare, but did not have access to those free meals due to COVID-19 closures.

Last Friday, all P-EBT recipients received $129 in food benefits. Between October 22nd and October 30th, recipients will receive an additional $260 in food benefits.

Go to https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/P-EBT.aspx for more information about the P-EBT program.

Serial Killer Dies in Oregon Prison

A serial killer who murdered at least three people during the 1990s has died in prison, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections. 53-year-old Sebastian Shaw, who was serving three life sentences at the state penitentiary, died on the morning of October 3.

Police in California first arrested Shaw in 1994 on suspicion of burglary, but he was released in spite of investigators’ discovery of a “murder kit” and several weapons in the stolen vehicle. It wasn’t until 1998 that DNA evidence linked Shaw to the 1992 killings of 18-year-old Donna Ferguson and 29-year-old Todd Rudiger.

He was eventually convicted of those two murders, the attempted murder of 18-year-old Amanda Carpova, and a third, the 1991 killing 40-year-old Jay Rickbeil. All three murders occurred in the Portland area, all of them killed in the same way.

While in prison, Shaw allegedly told another inmate that he was responsible for more murders, as many as a dozen, but follow-up from detectives did not result in any further convictions.

Couple Found Dead After Boat Washes Ashore  Near Nedonna Beach

Authorities say two bodies were found in the water after a sailboat washed up south of Manzanita on the Oregon coast.

Calls came in about a sailboat tossing around in the surf at Nedonna Beach around 6:50 p.m. Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter to the scene and found two bodies in the water.

The Coast Guard says one of the bodies was found near a dinghy and the other was found under the boat.

The Coast Guard identified one of the bodies as that of a woman. The 42-foot sailboat washed up at Nedonna Beach, just north of Rockaway Beach, on Sunday night. The name of the sailboat was Bagheera.

USDA Buys Oregon Seafood

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy more than 16-million dollars of Pacific seafood, giving Oregon’s seafood industry a boost. The purchase includes nine-million dollars of Pacific whiting fillets, four-million dollars of Pacific rockfish fillets, and four-million dollars in Pacific salad shrimp. This follows a 46-million dollar Pacific seafood purchase in May.

Oregon Wolf Travels to Ventura County California

Wildlife officials confirm a gray wolf has traveled all the way from Oregon to Northern Ventura County, California marking the farthest south in the Golden State one of the animals has made it in 99 years.

The last time it happened, a gray wolf was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife received reports of wolf sightings in Ventura County three times between September 20th and 26th. Officials went to investigate, and confirmed there were wolf tracks in areas where the sightings took place. The wolf has traveled nearly one-thousand-miles through California.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in California, so the wolf in question is believed to be OR-93, who was born in 2019 fitted with a purple tracking collar by Oregon’s Fish & Wildlife officials in June 2020. OR-93’s collar stopped transmitting in April of this year, but while it was working, authorities tracked him entering Modoc County, at the northern border of California, and making his way into Fresno County by late March. His last collar transmission was from San Luis Obispo County on April 5.

The collar transmission indicates that OR-93 traveled at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 air miles per day, according to Fish & Wildlife officials.

Wolves pose very little safety risk to humans, but can be confused with coyotes. Fish & Wildlife officials say gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, and it is against the law to harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, or capture one. Sightings of a gray wolf can be reported online to the CDFW.

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