Willamette Valley News, Thursday 10/14 – Bus Driver Shortage Leads to Eugene 4J Proposing Pay Hike And Bonuses, Lane County Has Blood Supply Shortage

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

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– A 50 percent chance of rain before 11am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 61. Southwest wind 3 to 6 mph.

Friday– Areas of fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Light and variable wind.

Saturday– Areas of fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 69. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday– Rain, mainly before 5pm. High near 57. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Monday– Partly sunny, with a high near 58.

Bus Driver Shortage Leads to Eugene 4J Proposing Pay Hike And Bonuses

Like many school districts that are facing a shortage of bus drivers, the Eugene 4J School District proposes raising driver wages by 25% and offering up to $1,500 in bonuses to attract drivers. The proposal was on the agenda for Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

“There is a nationwide and local shortage of individuals licensed and qualified to drive school buses, which is negatively impacting the district’s transportation services. The shortage of bus drivers is extreme and expanding, despite significant efforts to optimize efficiencies and recruit and retain staff,” according to a staff report.

The labor market for bus drivers has become unstable, and the district has determined that there is an immediate need to change its compensation strategy for transportation employees through the 2021-22 school year.

For these reasons, the district and OSEA have tentatively agreed to provide a 25% wage differential on the regular rate of pay applicable to transportation employees. The tentative agreement also provides that these employees will have the opportunity to earn up to three $500 bonuses. The proposed compensation changes are only for the 2021-22 school year based, and the proposed agreement would expire on June 30, 2022.

Lane County Has Blood Supply Shortage as PeaceHealth Requests Donations

Lane County has a serious blood supply shortage due to difficulties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading PeaceHealth officials to ask community members to donate blood “as soon as possible.”

Because of the pandemic, there have been fewer blood drives this year, according to a PeaceHealth news release, leading to the shortage. 

“We encourage anyone who is able to schedule an appointment and visit a blood donation site in this critical time,” said Lisa Corbett, a transfusion supervisor at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield.

There is an especially short supply of type O positive and type O negative blood. Donors with those blood types are being fast-tracked for appointments. All are welcome and encouraged to donate.

Donation appointments at the Bloodworks Northwest Eugene donation site, 2211 Willamette St., can be made by calling 541-484-9111 or by visiting bloodworksnw.org/donate.

OSU Researcher Arrested – Suspected Of Sex Crimes in Virginia

An Oregon State University faculty researcher has been arrested on suspicion of sex crimes allegedly committed in Virginia. 

Brett Tyler, 66, was booked into Benton County Jail on Thursday, Oct. 7, and he is reportedly a fugitive from the state of Virginia, according to court paperwork. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and Tyler allegedly fled from justice in Virginia before being found in Benton County.

Tyler is the director of the Center for Quantitative Life Sciences at OSU. He has worked at the university since January 2012. 

OSU spokesman Steve Clark said Tyler resigned Tuesday as director of Center for Quantitative Life Sciences. Tyler also resigned from the university effective Nov. 30. He will be working remotely until that date. 

The work of the center, described on its website as “the generation and applications of big data in all areas of life sciences research,” will continue after Tyler is gone, Clark said. 

According to court documents, Tyler is charged in Virginia with two counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of taking indecent liberties with children and one count of aggravated sexual battery.

Benton County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Donohue set Tyler’s bail at $200,000. Tyler was released on bail on Monday, Oct. 11. He was ordered not to have any contact with the victim or her family.

His next court appearance in the matter is set for Nov. 4 at 10:30 a.m., according to Oregon’s online court database.

“We’re aware of this arrest and we will cooperate fully with investigations into this matter,” Clark said. “As a policy and as a practice, OSU takes seriously all reported matters of misconduct involving our faculty, staff and students.

Junction City Teen Missing Home Safe

McKenzie Helena Xiarhos has been located safe and is back home.  We want to thank the community for their assistance and support. Junction City Police

Oregon reports 1,278 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 33 new deaths

There are 33 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,117. The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,278 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 346,480.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (25), Clackamas (106), Clatsop (3), Columbia (8), Coos (27), Crook (31), Curry (6), Deschutes (105), Douglas (50), Harney (5), Hood River (9), Jackson (66), Jefferson (20), Josephine (19), Klamath (33), Lake (8), Lane (130), Lincoln (20), Linn (73), Malheur (30), Marion (139), Morrow (3), Multnomah (113), Polk (30), Tillamook (3), Umatilla (58), Union (9), Wallowa (4), Wasco (15), Washington (101) and Yamhill (22).

COVID-19 weekly cases and hospitalizations decline, deaths rise

The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows decreases in daily cases and hospitalizations and an increase in deaths.

OHA reported 9,022 new cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 10. That represents an 13% decrease from the previous week and the sixth consecutive week of declining case counts.

The incidence of reported COVID-19 was higher in Oregon counties with population vaccination rates less than 50%.

There were 416 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, down from 462 last week, which marks a 10% reduction and the fifth consecutive week of declines.

There were 179 reported COVID-19 related deaths, up from 114 reported the previous week. This was the highest weekly death toll since the week of Jan. 11–17.

There were 141,863 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Oct. 3 through Oct. 9.  The percentage of positive tests was 8.1%, down from 8.8% the previous week.

Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 148 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.

The Conquer Covid in Klamath Campaign Announces its Winner for Week 7

Marco Morelos of Klamath Falls won a $1,000 gift certificate for new tires, a $500 stereo upgrade and $500 in gasoline. Marco was selected in a random drawing of all Klamath County residents that have entered at conquercovidinklamath.com

Each week the prize changes and this week it is a $2,500 Outdoor Gift Certificate. The drawing for this weeks prize will take place on Monday morning.

Other Weekly winners to date include: Elizabeth Gaxiola of Bonanza who won a Big Screen TV, Home Theater System and Pizza gift certificates -Gillian Bradford of Klamath Falls who won $6,000 in groceries from Grocery Outlet -Nolan Napier of Chiloquin who won a top of the line Traeger Grill and 12 bags of premium pellets -Patricia Merrill of Klamath Falls won $4,800 in gasoline for her vehicle -Terri Torres of Klamath Falls won $5,000 worth of furniture for her home.

There is a different prize each week along with the Grand Prize, which is the winners choice of a new Dodge RAM pickup or a new Dodge Durango SUV. There are numerous runner up prizes as well. To enter Klamath County residents can go to conquercovidinklamath.com — There is nothing to buy and no charge whatsoever to enter. The site also lists all prizes, rules and vaccination sites.

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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland Visits Oregon Today to Highlight Wildland Fire Response

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will be in Oregon this week to highlight investments the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (BID) would make to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen resilience, including funding for wildland fire preparedness and response.

The trip will also provide valuable opportunities for the Secretary to meet with Tribal leaders, local and elected officials, and federal firefighting personnel while visiting public lands managed by the Department.

On Thursday, Secretary Haaland and Senator Jeff Merkley will travel to Jackson County, Ore., to visit the site of the 2020 South Obenchain fire and highlight the Administration’s efforts to help better prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildland fire.

On Friday, Secretary Haaland and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley will travel to Warm Springs, Ore., to discuss how investments from the BID would help improve water infrastructure for local communities.

About the U.S. Department of the Interior –

The Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper. Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash.

Oregon Employment Department – Helping Oregonians Get Back to Work

WorkSource Oregon centers offer a variety of services to help Oregonians get back to work. The centers refer people to jobs, connect job seekers to resources that reduce barriers to returning to work, help people explore career options and training opportunities, assist with iMatchSkills® and work search requirements, and more. 

Last week’s Hiring Heroes for Healthcare statewide virtual job fair was a success, with more than 50 employers and 300 job seekers attending.

Here are just a few highlights of upcoming WorkSource Oregon events:

  • WorkSource Oregon – Newport is hosting a job fair 1:30 -3:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 20.
  • Drive-thru job fair hiring events are scheduled Oct. 20-21 for job seekers in Clatskanie, Rainier and Vernonia.
  • Walk’n’Talk in Hillsboro is focusing on manufacturing careers on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 at the Hillsboro Brookwood Library.
  • WorkSource Oregon is partnering with LinkedIn to host a profile workshop to help job seekers boost their online presence. From 9 – 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, LinkedIn expert Cecily Hastings will give job seekers tips and tricks to optimize their profile so employers come to them. Nearly 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and job seekers are hired two times faster on their site.

Economic Update

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. employers added 194,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in September. That would have been a typical number of jobs to add in a month prior to the pandemic. However, that 194,000 was a slowdown from the 366,000 jobs U.S. employers added in August, and significantly lower than the nearly 1.1 million jobs added in July. Employers still have five million fewer jobs than before the pandemic recession.

Leisure and hospitality – which includes jobs at hotels, restaurants, bars, and entertainment places – added the most jobs (74,000) in September. Public K-12 schools and universities fell 161,000 jobs short of their typical hiring as they struggled to find enough workers as the school year started. Health care lost 18,000 jobs in September.

There are three broad parts of the health care sector. They include ambulatory health care services (such as doctor’s and health practitioners’ offices); hospitals; and nursing and residential care facilities. Nationwide, ambulatory health care services has recovered 99.7% (all but 4,700) of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020. At the same time, hospitals are still down 93,000 jobs compared to February 2020, having only regained 28% of jobs lost in the recession. Nursing and residential care facilities have generally continued to lose jobs since the pandemic began. The industry has 426,000 fewer jobs than it did before the recession.

Oregon has seen some similar trends in the health care sector. As of August, ambulatory care jobs had increased by 3,100 during the past year. Meanwhile, hospitals saw small gains (300 jobs) during the past year, and employment at nursing and residential care facilities dropped by 1,300 jobs.

While the pace of job growth has slowed in the U.S., the number of job openings remains near record highs. There were 10.4 million unfilled jobs nationwide at the end of August. The number of people who quit their jobs hit a new record high at 4.3 million, or almost 3% of the workforce. At hotels, bars, restaurants, and entertainment places, almost 7% of the workforce quit in August.

The Employment Department will release information about Oregon’s unemployment rate and jobs numbers for September next Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. Next week, we also expect to have our quarterly job vacancy release, with new information about job openings in Oregon from July to September.

Listening Sessions on Temporary Availability Rule

The first Listening Session to receive feedback on changes to the “available to work” requirements for people claiming unemployment insurance (UI) benefits is 2:30 – 4 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 14. The department has scheduled six listening sessions for businesses, workers, community organizations, and others to give feedback on the new temporary rule before any permanent changes are made. All listening session dates and times are posted on the unemployment.oregon.gov webinar page. Visit our online Temporary Eligibility Rule FAQs for more information. 

Last week’s statistics

  • Last week, we paid about $28 million in benefits to 30,000 Oregonians.
  • $11 billion in benefits have been paid to more than 620,000 people from March 15, 2020 – October 9, 2021. 
  • From Monday, Oct. 4 – Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, the Employment Department answered nearly 93% of calls in 15 minutes or less, meeting its July 1 goal. Of these, 74.9% were answered in under five minutes. 
  • Nearly 97% of Contact Us inquiries were resolved in seven days or less. 

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: 971-673-6400. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. Oregon Employment Department 

Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation receives $18.2 million federal grant to help students with disabilities advance their careers

  • Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is awarded $18.2 million for a new project called Inclusive Career Advancement Program, or ICAP  
  • The program will serve 500 people with disabilities, with intentional outreach being made to marginalized communities  
  • Oregon’s 17 community colleges as well as workforce development partners across the state will participate 

The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is one of eight programs across the nation that has been awarded the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Program grant. VR received $18.2 million to plan, develop and implement the Inclusive Career Advancement Program (ICAP) project. 

“Thank you to our federal partners for seeing the potential in the ICAP project to increase access to career advancement for people with disabilities,” says Keith Ozols, VR Director. “We are excited to work with partners across the workforce development system to achieve equal economic opportunity for all.”  

ICAP will leverage Oregon’s current statewide network of career pathway services to advance educational and economic equity for people with disabilities, with intentional outreach and inclusion of marginalized communities. ICAP will braid the supports and services of VR, Self-Sufficiency Programs, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act workforce partners, and Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB) with the three interrelated and foundational initiatives of Oregon’s 17 community colleges. These three initiatives are:  

  • Career Pathways  
  • SNAP Training and Employment Program  
  • Pathways to Opportunities  

As a leader in these initiatives, Portland Community College (PCC) will serve as the intermediary between core partners and community colleges.  

This new project will serve 500 people with disabilities to help them get support and services needed to reach their career goals, advance in their career and ultimately reach their career potential. The project will be student-centered, evidence-based and reflect the latest research on workforce development. With equity at the forefront, VR will focus on doing intentional outreach to those who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color with disabilities about ICAP.  

Cornell University will evaluate the project’s implementation and performance to determine efficacy of ICAP practices and strategies. These findings will be shared nationally to expand access and opportunities for people with disabilities to enter and be supported in their career goals.  

About Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation  

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a program within the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) that assists Oregonians with disabilities to achieve, maintain and advance in employment and independence. VR uses a client centered approach to provide counseling, guidance, training, transitional services, job coaching and other individualized services to assist students, employers and all Oregonians with disabilities. Visit the ODHS VR website to learn more.   —  Oregon Department of Human Services

Oregon Democrats In Congress Want Answers From Gov. Brown On Treatment Of National Guard

Oregon’s Democrats in Congress want answers from the governor about the alleged mistreatment of Oregon National Guard troops deployed to assist with the state’s COVID response.

In a letter to Gov. Brown and Major General Michael E. Stencel, the lawmakers “called attention to reports they’ve received from ORNG members regarding mismanagement, lack of organization, delay of benefits and pay, and failure to pay ORNG members what they are owed. These reports indicate a potentially disturbing pattern of mistreatment during this recent ORNG deployment.”

The letter was sent by senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici – all Democrats.

“ORNG Members are fellow Oregonians who give their time and sacrifice to serve our communities in times of need. Many ORNG Members have full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities that they willingly pause in order to serve their fellow Oregonians,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers have “requested a detailed response from the state on how it will address the issues and called on leaders to immediately rectify the reported accounts.”

“The 20-Dollar Art Show” Comes to the High Desert Museum

BEND, OR — In the fall of 2013, Bright Place Gallery in Bend debuted The 20-Dollar Art Show as a vehicle for artists to share their art with the public in a low-pressure setting where they could build confidence selling art. The Gallery did not take a commission. The artist kept 100 percent of sales and the art show was a success for all. 

Fast-forward to 2019. The annual show displayed more than 2,100 pieces of art from 120 local and regional artists, amateur and professional. On opening night, 900 pieces sold in three hours for $20 each. Like many beloved events, the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the thriving local art show. Now, The 20-Dollar Art Show is returning and moving to the spacious gallery walls of the High Desert Museum. 

“We are thrilled to move this event to the Museum,” said Bright Place Gallery owner Stuart Breidenstein. “The 20-Dollar Art Show had grown beyond the walls of the Bright Place Gallery, and the Museum allows us the opportunity to make it bigger and better.”

At this year’s opening event on Saturday, October 30 beginning at 5:00 pm, participants will enter the High Desert Museum through the large meadow. The snaking line will allow for physical distancing, and face coverings will be required both inside and outside of the Museum. A limited number of participants will be allowed inside the Museum at a time to provide for adequate spacing indoors.

Participants will be required to show upon arrival proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours and a photo ID. Those under 12 years of age are welcome without a vaccination card or negative test.

Art lovers may begin lining up at the Museum’s meadow entrance at 4:00 pm. While guests wait, local poet and artist MOsley WOtta will MC the event, with special guest Killy Holiday. The event takes place the day before Halloween and participants are encouraged to wear costumes. Participants should come prepared for the elements, rain or shine.

Local artist Monica Helms has shown her colorful, impressionistic work since the show’s inception. She witnessed the show go from a handful of artists and patrons to hundreds of fellow art lovers and buyers waiting in long lines for their chance to view and purchase artwork.

The 20-Dollar Art Show is pure inspiration and joy, the perfect catalyst for creativity and growth,” said Helms. “I’m so excited that the show is going to be at the High Desert Museum this year. It’s a perfect venue for an incredible community-inclusive art event. I couldn’t think of a more perfect combo.”

Other popular local artists creating work for The 20-Dollar Art Show include Abby Dubief, Amanda Toms, Evan Namkung and more than 100 other local and regional artists.

Art will become available to take home starting Monday, November 1. Buyers may pick up their purchases during Museum hours, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily, through the show’s closing on Wednesday, November 10. Artwork is for sale throughout the duration of the show and each $20 piece directly supports the artist.

Tickets for The 20-Dollar Art Show Opening Night Party are available for $5 from the High Desert Museum at highdesertmuseum.org/20-art-show-opening-night-partyThe 20-Dollar Art Show (highdesertmuseum.org/20-dollar-art-show) closes Wednesday, November 10.


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and is a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. — High Desert Museum


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