Willamette Valley News, Friday 10/15 – Water Rescue Team Rescues Man Under Autzen Footbridge, The Search for Michael Bryson Kept Active by Family and Friends

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

Friday, October 15, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Areas of dense 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. Light and variable wind.

Sunday– Rain. High near 55. Light south wind becoming southwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Monday– A 20 percent chance of showers before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 57.

Tuesday– Partly sunny, with a high near 61.

Water Rescue Team Rescues Man Under Autzen Footbridge

The Eugene Springfield Fire Department responded Thursday night to a report of a man stranded underneath the Frohnmayer Footbridge, also known as the Autzen Footbridge. The middle aged male was stuck up against a bridge pier.  

First responding fire crews were able to lower the patient a life jacket and hot pack from a lowering rope. Water rescue team members responded with an inflatable rescue boat and able to access and rescue the patient.  The man was evaluated and treated on scene by medics and transported for further care at Riverbend Hospital. 

The Search for Michael Bryson Kept Active by Family and Friends

It has been more than a year now since Michael Bryson went missing in the Umpqua National Forest, but his parents, Tina and Parrish Bryson, are no less determined to find him.

They described the past 14 months as an emotional roller coaster, with highs when they get new information and lows when the tips fizzle out. “There are days where we are on top of the world because things are going really well and then all of a sudden you plummet down to the bottom,” Parrish Bryson, Michael’s father, said while sitting at a table in his home near Junction City.

Michael Bryson was 27 when he went missing Aug. 5, 2020, during a party at Hobo Campground, which his parents described as a rave.

He was last seen by his parents on Aug. 3, 2020, when he stopped by their house before riding up with a friend for a weeklong birthday party and camping trip at the campground, according to Parrish Bryson.

Bryson wandered away from the campsite at around 4:30 a.m., Lane County Sheriff’s Office reported at the time. 

The sheriff’s office still has a detective assigned full-time to the case and has been working it on a “near-daily basis,” but there hasn’t been any major progress, Sgt. Thomas Speldrich said. 

“At this point, it’s still pretty static, there’s not a whole lot of new developments,” Speldrich said. “Any leads as they come in have been worked. Unfortunately, none of them have provided the information that we need to locate him.”

Bryson left his camping gear at the campground and his phone had been powered off for several days, the sheriff’s office said the week he went missing. 

Asked if investigators think there was foul play involved, Speldrich said they aren’t ruling it out. 

“We’re certainly open to the possibility that there was criminal action, and we haven’t had anything that has led us one way or the other at this point,” he said.

In December 2020, following up on a tip, the sheriff’s office found multiple items of clothing in the woods Bryson was last seen wearing, according to Parrish Bryson. He was skeptical about the tip and said he thinks the items were planted by someone.

One source of support and motivation that has uplifted Bryson’s family is the Facebook page “Let’s Find Michael Bryson,” which has gained more than 21,000 members. Of those, thousands of have helped by printing out search flyers to post all around Oregon and the world. 

People offer words of support for finding Bryson on the site, reach out with tips they might have learned and offer stories of how Bryson positively impacted their lives. In one post, a woman said she was at a party contemplating suicide, before talking to Michael made her change her mind. 

The group also became a site to support others around the U.S. dealing with missing friends or family, and has regularly posted notices alerting others to keep an eye out for individuals.

Michael’s parents also are setting up a nonprofit called the Michael Bryson Foundation, aimed at helping families solve missing person cases and to help advocate for those with mental illness. 

Tina Bryson requested that anyone who was in the area of Hobo Campground around Aug. 3 to 5 to reach out to them or the sheriff’s office at 541-682-4150, option 1, and reference case number 20-5286.

Bryson is described as 6 feet 2 inches tall and about 180 pounds, with short brown hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing rainbow crocs, black athletic shorts and possibly wearing a brown corduroy baseball cap, the sheriff’s office said.

Injured Owl Rescued By Springfield Animal Control Taken To Cascades Raptor Center

What at first appeared to be a large rock in the travel lanes of an area highway this week turned out to be an injured great horned owl, Springfield Animal Control says.

“One of our amazingly eagle-eyed patrol officers spotted what they believed was a large rock in the lanes of travel of I-105/126. They pulled over to remove the hazard and discovered that it was actually an injured Great Horned Owl,” animal control posted on Facebook.

“The owl was carefully transported to our station, where it then stayed the night at another patrol officer’s residence awaiting staff from the Cascades Raptor Center to come and pick it up. The prognosis is looking good and this amazing creature is in phenomenally capable hands at our local rehab center.”

Oregon reports 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 24 new deaths

There are 24 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,141, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority reported 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 347,616.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (11), Benton (26), Clackamas (87), Clatsop (7), Columbia (8), Coos (27), Crook (37), Curry (3), Deschutes (136), Douglas (39), Grant (10), Harney (13), Hood River (10), Jackson (56), Jefferson (21), Josephine (16), Klamath (48), Lake (6), Lane (93), Lincoln (11), Linn (22), Malheur (33), Marion (98), Morrow (4), Multnomah (132), Polk (37), Tillamook (6), Umatilla (75), Union (11), Wallowa (7), Wasco (25), Washington (88), Wheeler (5) and Yamhill (29).

Officials said on Wednesday that around 50% of the roughly 4,500 employees at the Oregon Department of Corrections are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The DOC has approved exemptions for nearly 16% of its workforce, or 713 employees, which corrections officials said were mostly for religions reasons. The reported vaccination rate comes just before an executive order signed by Gov. Kate Brown goes into place Oct. 18, which requires some state
employees to either be fully vaccinated, request an exemption, or risk losing employment. Correctional officers were among the earliest groups in the state to get access to COVID-19 vaccines because they work in settings where the coronavirus can spread easily.

New dashboard displays case and vaccination information by age group 

Today, OHA published a new weekly dashboard, titled Oregon’s COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Stories. The agency developed this dashboard to highlight COVID-19 case trends as vaccination rates increase.

The dashboard displays COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates, COVID-19 related deaths and the percentage of Oregonians who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine over time.

Specifically, OHA compared the fall 2020 and spring 2021 surges at their peaks for those under 65 years old and those 65 and older. Data indicate the peak case rate per 100,000 for people ages 65 and older was 66% lower during the spring 2021 surge than during the fall 2020 surge. Among people under 65, a group where broad vaccination efforts took place later, the peak case rate was 38% lower during the spring 2021 surge than the fall 2020 surge.

The dashboard presents similar comparisons of hospitalizations and deaths by age group during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 surges. It is important to note that this is apopulation-level analysis, not an assessment of individual risk. Observing a trend, such as low hospitalization rates in a specific age group, does not mean all individuals in that group will avoid hospitalization or death after contracting COVID-19.

Because the summer 2021 surge is ongoing, a full analysis of its impacts is not yet possible. This analysis will be updated as more data become available.

For additional insights, please visit the Oregon’s COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Stories dashboard, where you can use an “Explore the Data” feature to create your own charts for COVID-19 cases, severe cases and the percentage of Oregonians vaccinated over time.

How are vaccine recommendations implemented in Oregon?
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City of John Day Disbands Police Department After Funding Measure Fails

John Day in Grant County with a population of just over 2,000 will be suspending operations for its police department at the end of the month.

John Day City Council voted unanimously on a resolution during a Tuesday meeting to shutter the local police department after a five-year levy failed to pass in August.

According to the city council, the town’s 2021-2022 fiscal year budget that was approved in late June included funding for police department operations in anticipation of the measure passing to provide the financial resources needed.

Without the funds, operations at the police department will be suspended on October 31. Currently, the department has no police chief and is composed of two full-time officers, which the city said is “insufficient staff to safely meet the City’s needs and ensure officer safety.”

Once police operations are suspended, those officers will be transferred to work in the Public Works Department, according to the city.

Starting Nov. 1, all calls for service will be sent to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

The city said it is pursuing funding through the Department of Homeland Security, but they don’t yet know if they will receive the grant award.

Woman Sentenced for Burglaries During Last Year’s Wildfires

A woman has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for stealing from multiple Clackamas County homes that had been evacuated due to last year’s wildfires.

On Sept. 11, 2020, deputies were patrolling evacuated neighborhoods to watch for any potential burglaries when they got a call about two suspicious people walking onto a property on Ringo Road near Mulino.

Deputies found the pair had stolen two gas-powered generators, a box of hand tools, two leaf blowers and at least one gas can from a nearby property, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Sandy Faye Lenox and James Dean Shotwell, both 34 at the time with no fixed addresses, were arrested.

Investigators recovered “a trove of additional stolen items” after searching Lenox’s car a few days later, the sheriff’s office said. These items included jewelry, precious metals and gems, clothing, tools, a laptop, antique and collectible coins, purses, a sewing machine and a toaster oven.

Deputies said the items, which were tied to other local burglaries, were returned to their owners, many of whom had evacuated their homes during the wildfires.

Shotwell was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft and burglary charges in November 2020.

Lenox pleaded guilty on Sept. 21, 2021 to two counts of 1st-degree burglary, four counts of 2nd-degree burglary, four counts of 1st-degree theft, and one count of 2nd-degree attempted burglary. She was sentenced to 90 months in prison.

Sen. Betsy Johnson Is Running for Oregon Governor as an Independent

Oregon state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) has told supporters she’s running for governor as an independent.

“Oregonians deserve better than the excesses and nonsense of the extreme left and the radical right,” she wrote in an email..Oregonians are ready to move to the middle where sensible solutions are found.

“That’s why I have decided to run for governor as an independent leader unaffiliated with any party and loyal only to the people of Oregon.”

Johnson, 70, long the most conservative elected member of her party, will attempt to carve out a third lane in what’s already a crowded field of contenders for governor.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Treasurer Tobias Read have entered the Democratic primary, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof appears days away from making a formal announcement. Republican contenders include Salem oncologist Dr. Bud Pierce, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam and the political consultant Bridget Barton, with GOP power brokers trying to recruit House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby).

In the Oregon Senate, Johnson has long served as a brake on her party’s more progressive ambitions—playing a role similar to that of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on the national stage—until Democrats achieved a supermajority in 2020 and blunted her de facto veto on legislation. Since then, Johnson has aligned openly with Oregon voters who feel alienated from the Portland-controlled party, even appearing at rallies of the controversial logging and trucking group Timber Unity.

In her announcement email, Johnson said it was the Democratic Party that had changed, not her. “The decision to run independent of any party, by law, requires me to give up my Democratic Party registration by next spring,” she wrote. “Rest assured, my bedrock values will not change. I was raised in a moderate Republican family and became a Democrat because the Republican Party had moved too far to the right. For 20 years, I’ve been an independent-minded, pro-choice, pro-jobs Democrat proudly serving the people of Northwest Oregon. This is who I am.”

Mt. Bachelor New Ski Pass Causing Concerns

A new ski pass that allows people who pay more to bypass most chairlift lines at Mt. Bachelor in Bend is causing concern among skiers, snowboarders and Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden over equity issues.

The pass, called Fast Tracks, starts at $49 and allows buyers to use a dedicated lane at each chairlift. Mt. Bachelor calls the pass an “upgradable experience” — on top of buying a ski/snowboard ticket — that allows for more ski runs each day.

Leigh Capozzi, brand and communications director at Mt. Bachelor, said she anticipates the limited quantity sold will mean minimal impact on wait times. Skiers and snowboarders in the Facebook group, Mt. Bachelor Conditions, have said the new pass is unfair for people who can’t afford it and will make wait times longer in regular chairlift lines.

Oregon Still Falling Back to Standard Time

Come November, Oregon will fall back to standard time as always. Why, you might be wondering, are we doing this again? Didn’t we change the law so we don’t ever have to go back to standard time? Well, it turns out we haven’t quite gotten to the end of our twice-yearly-self-imposed-sleep-disruption just yet.

Oregon, like several other states, has signed permanent daylight saving time legislation, based on the opinion of many experts that time changes are actually dangerous, increasing rates of things like car accidents and heart attacks.

But we are all still waiting on the federal government to act before the states can make it official. In March, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, co-sponsored the Sunshine Protection Act, which was reintroduced by U.S, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who originally introduced it in 2019.

Klamath Falls Jeld-Wen Lumber Yard Fire

Fire gutted several large kilns on the Jeld-Wen campus north of Klamath Falls on Wednesday night, beginning a firefighter response that lasted into Thursday morning.

Crews responded just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday for reports of a structure fire at Jeld-Wen Manufacturing along Lakeport Boulevard in Klamath Falls. Klamath County Fire District 1 Chief Greg Davis said that firefighters arrived to find flames venting from the roof and eaves on two of the six large drying kilns on the property.

Each of the kilns are built to house 50 to 55,000 board feet of lumber, Davis said. Though the kilns were placed practically side by side, firefighters were able to keep the flames largely contained to the initial two buildings. Some of the other kilns received minor attic and roof damage in the process.

“When they arrived smoke and fire was already venting from the roof and the eaves and there was about 50,000 board feet in each kiln, there were 6 kilns in total involved. The fire impacted 3 of those kilns pretty significantly, the other 3 we are going to take a look at some of the damage today,” said Greg Davis, Fire Chief, Klamath County Fire District 1

The fire was extinguished by combined teams from Klamath Country Fire District 1, Klamath Country Fire District 4, and the Kingsley Field Fire Department. Crews stayed on scene for 14 hours. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and will begin by looking at some of the recent construction inside the kilns.

Davis said that damages to the Jeld-Wen complex likely amounted to more than $1 million, between the gutted kilns and the destroyed lumber inside. There were no reported injuries.

Jeld-Wen staff were cooperative and helpful throughout the response, Davis said — working to move the stacks of lumber away from the kilns so that firefighters could gain access.

KCFD1’s Fire Marshal was still at the scene as of Thursday afternoon, working to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Davis said that he was aware Jeld-Wen had been working on some routine upkeep for the kilns recently, installing new piping, but he deferred to the Fire Marshal for confirmation on how the fire started.

The Jeld-Wen campus on Lakeport includes a sawmill, lumber yard, a wood component manufacturing plant and a facility that makes wooden doors, as well as nearby offices and research facilities.

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