Willamette Valley News, Thursday 4/28 – Cottage Grove to Open New Homeless Shelter, Oakridge Man Killed In Head-On Crash With Semi-Truck On Hwy 58

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, April 28, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Cottage Grove to Open New Homeless Shelter

The Cottage Grove City Council voted four to three on Monday to move the temporary homeless sites the city has used over several months to a more established one.

The city manager says the site will be a big help, and can hold about 30 palette shelters in addition to the house. The expected number of people living there will be close to forty.

“One of the advantages of that location is that its already got a house on it and the city already owned it,” Jake Boone, Assistant to the city manager said.

The new location is right along Highway 99 and in order to reduce the number of people dangerously walking on it, the city plans to build a walking path just down R St.

“That will take them through the industrial parks on the sidewalks and another chunk of gravel paths that will take them to Sweet lane, from there it will be much easier to access the rest of town,” Boone said.”

The city says the two temporary sites at the community center and city hall will close when this one is ready.

“They have another site that is close to the hospital close to Safeway, closer to community sharing within walking distance of every service a homeless person might need,” Taddei said.

The city says the site on Highway 99 is expected to be ready by June.

Oakridge Man Killed In Head-On Crash With Semi-Truck On Hwy 58

An Oakridge man has died following a head-on crash with a semi-truck Tuesday afternoon on Highway 58 west of Oakridge. Traffic on Highway 58 was affected for around six hours.

The deceased driver was identified as Gary Elliot Jr., 27, according to Oregon State Police. OSP troopers and personnel responded a little before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to a two-vehicle crash near milepost 23 on the highway.

An investigation found that Elliot Jr., driving eastbound in a Ford F150 pickup truck, crossed over the center line and collided head-on with a westbound Peterbilt CMV semi-truck pulling a trailer, driven by a 53-year-old man from Central Point, according to OSP in a news release.

Elliot Jr. sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, while the semi-truck driver was uninjured. Dexter Fire & Rescue and the Oregon Department of Transportation assisted with the response.

Eugene Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison For Sex Crimes Against Four Children

A Eugene man who faced 29 criminal counts involving sex crimes with children and solicitation of murder was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and lifetime supervision as a registered sex offender, in Jackson County Circuit Court today by Judge Laura Cromwell.

Court records show 36-year-old Dennis Logan Wilson pleaded guilty Tuesday to four criminal counts including sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration and two rape charges for which the Court convicted him.

Case documents show one rape charge involves a girl younger than 12 years old from January 2015 through August 2018 while Wilson’s other rape conviction involves a child younger than 16 years old during a time frame from December 2010 through May 2011. Case records show Wilson’s sodomy conviction involved a third child victim younger than 12 years old during a period from September 2010 through May 2011 and the unlawful sexual
penetration conviction involves a fourth child victim younger than 12 years old from 2011 through 2013.

While the Court issued convictions for those four charges, 25 other criminal counts were dismissed;  seven of those dismissals were counts similar to Wilson’s convictions, besides three counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, four counts of sexual abuse, five counts of encouraging child sexual abuse, and six counts of solicitation of murder.  Court records show the solicitation charge was based on other jail inmates saying he’d offered them money to murder three people identified as “juvenile victims in a sex abuse case against Dennis Wilson.”

Jackson County Jail records show three lodging dates for Wilson in 2018 and 2019 with bond amounts of $500,000, $500,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Public input sought for Action Plan for $422 million in disaster recovery funding

Public hearings scheduled for May

As part of the public comment process, OHCS will hold a series of public hearings to provide information on the plan and obtain feedback and comments during a 30-day public comment period. The schedule is as follows:

Oregon CoastCC-North Campus Monday, May 16, 2022Door: 5 p.m.Public hearing: 6 p.m.Community Room (#108)3788 SE High School Drive, Lincoln CityGates Community Christ Church  Tuesday, May 17, 2022Door: 5 p.m.Public hearing: 6 p.m.40070 Gates School Road, GatesMcKenzie RiverCommunity School Wednesday, May 18, 2022Door: 5 p.m.Public hearing: 6 p.m.“New” Gym51187 Blue River Drive, Vida Talent Community Center Thursday, May 19, 2022Door: 5 p.m.Public hearing: 6 p.m.(Behind City Hall)104 E. Main St., Talent

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will publish on May 2 a draft Action Plan for a $422 million disaster recovery grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The effort, which will be known as “ReOregon,” will support individuals, households, and communities continue to recover from the 2020 Labor Day Fires. This will be accomplished primarily by providing new permanent housing in the areas most impacted by the disaster. 

In May, OHCS will seek public comment on the draft Action Plan for spending the funds, which will come in the form of a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). Members of the public will be invited to provide their input on the draft Action Plan in person at public hearings (see below), online, or via telephone.

“Feedback from the community plays a critical role in the development of the plan and recovery programs,” said Alex Campbell, chief external affairs officer for Disaster Recovery and Resiliency at Oregon Housing and Community Services. “That is why we want to make it easy for Oregonians to do so in whatever format works best for them. In particular, we are very interested to hear from fire survivors themselves and will be visiting four of the most-impacted counties to hold public hearings.” 

A short summary of the key elements of the plan and the entire draft Action Plan itself will be made available for review on OHCS’ website at:

https://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/housing-assistance/Pages/CDBG.aspx.

Printed copies of the plan will be available by request.

“The draft Action Plan lays out our initial plan for how we will use CDBG-DR funding,” said Ryan Flynn, assistant director of Disaster Recovery and Resiliency at OHCS. “These funds will replace hundreds of lost housing units, particularly for low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The Action Plan also includes funding to build new public infrastructure to support that new housing development and help make communities better prepared to withstand future disasters.”

The programs in the draft Action Plan will ensure that the housing needs of very low-, low- and moderate-income (LMI) households and vulnerable populations are addressed to the greatest extent feasible. The proposed programs will help survivors who were renters prior to the disaster or who lost a home that they owned. The draft plan also includes funds to assist with rent payments while homes are built or rebuilt and to provide recovery counseling and legal aid services to address a range of barriers that survivors might face.

Prior to the hearings, OHCS officials will be on hand to answer questions about the draft Action Plan. Partners will also be on hand to connect survivors with resources and programs that are already available to assist with recovery. The hearings will include a short presentation by OHCS officials, followed by acceptance of public comments. 

All of the information presented at the public hearings will be available on the ReOregon website at:

https://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/housing-assistance/Pages/CDBG.aspx. Spanish and ASL translation services will be available at all of the public hearings. OHCS will publish through a forthcoming press release how attendees can request any additional accommodations they may need. 

In addition to providing comment in person, the public will be able to do so by e-mail, web form, phone, or mail. Those details will be provided when the draft Action Plan is published. All comments must be submitted to OHCS no later than 11:59 p.m.June 1, 2022.

After the 30-day public comment period, feedback will be incorporated into the plan before OHCS submits it to HUD for review and approval. As required by HUD, OHCS will respond to all comments received. The state’s deadline to submit its Action Plan is June 8, 2022. The Oregon State Housing Stability Council, OHCS’ governing body, will review and approve the final Action Plan at its June 3 meeting.

To learn more about the Community Development Block Grant funding process, timeline, and upcoming presentations, visit the OHCS website or sign up to receive e-mail notifications.

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/qrO750ITUUq

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness, you may be able to get treatment medication quickly. One option is for your health care provider to prescribe you the antiviral medication Paxlovid or Molnupiravir, which must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.

If you don’t have a health care provider, the federal Test-to-Treat program offers a one-stop-shop for COVID-19 testing, a medical evaluation and receiving the medication. To learn more, visit http://ow.ly/jsuA50ITWWS.

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Oregon Department of Forestry Releases Video Series on Restoring Federal Forests

SALEM, Ore.— Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has released four new videos including one made in southern Oregon as part of its Federal Forest Restoration (FFR) Program. The series is called “Forward Together: Restoring Oregon’s Federal Forests.” These videos show how the FFR Program is helping mitigate climate change and address federal forest health challenges in Oregon, including risk of catastrophic wildfire, insect pests, and disease.

ODF’s Kyle Sullivan is lead on the agency’s Federal Forest Restoration Program, which encourages collaborative efforts to improve the health and fire resilience of federal forests in Oregon. He appears in a new video series being released this week by ODF

Oregonians in many walks of life interact with and value their federal forests. The FFR Program works to conserve and protect these forests, which are critical to maintaining clean water, fish and wildfire habitat, jobs, and recreational opportunities.

“The video series highlights the collaborative work the FFR Program has accomplished through strong partnerships and a commitment to increasing the pace, scale and quality of forest restoration work to create heathier forests and safter communities,” said Kyle Sullivan, Federal Forest Restoration Program Lead.

The four video titles are:

  • Restoring the Backyard Forest: Central Oregon
  • Forward Together: Restoring Oregon’s Federal Forests
  • Building Community: Oakridge and Westfir

Resilience in the Face of Change: Southern Oregon

Fostering strategic partnerships leads to more strategic treatments that protect communities, our firefighters, the water we drink, and the forests we recreate in. This video highlights the importance of the FFR Program’s investments in forest collaboratives. These collaboratives work to create a common language and common vision for how to solve federal forest health challenges.

Forward Together: Restoring Oregon’s Federal Forests

The videos showcase partners, stakeholders, and department representatives outlining the purpose and history of ODF’s Federal Forest Restoration Program and highlighting its goal of creating landscapes resilient to climate-driven disturbances.

Building Community: Oakridge and Westfir

Forest restoration and stewardship are important throughout the state. The restoration activities that ODF performs are of particular importance to rural, forest-dependent communities and provide benefits of improved fish and wildlife habitat, wildfire risk reduction, improved watershed conditions, and enhanced recreation for both rural and urban communities. 

Restoring the Backyard Forest: Central Oregon

Historically, low-intensity wildfire was a frequent event in many of Oregon’s forests, which had adapted to such fires. The absence of frequent fire creates unnaturally dense forest weakened by drought, and attacks by insects and diseases. This puts them at high risk for a stand-replacing wildfire. This video shows that by mimicking historical low-intensity fire disturbance through mechanical thinning or other means, followed by the reintroduction of fire, we can restore natural ecological processes and make forests healthier.  — Oregon Dept. of Forestry

The Oregon Court of Appeals Overturned a $1.1 billion Verdict Against the State Over Forest Management Practices

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned a $1.1 billion verdict against the state over its forest management practices, the latest development in a decades-long dispute over the best use of vast tracts of forestland that cover much of the state’s rural areas.

A Linn County jury found in 2019 that Oregon breached its contract with 13 rural counties and 151 local taxing districts by failing to maximize timber harvests on state forests over the last two decades. The counties have said Oregon must manage more than 700,000 acres (28,327 hectares) of state forestland for maximum timber revenue, while the state Department of Forestry believes it has the discretion to manage the land for wildlife and recreation.

Gov. Brown applauded the reversal and said in a statement that Oregon manages its forests sustainably “not only for the benefit and prosperity of this generation but those to come.”

“Today’s decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals is a validation of the fact that a balanced, science-based approach to public forest management will produce the greatest long-term outcomes for all Oregonians, including the counties and taxing districts that receive revenue from state forests,” she said.

Roger Nyquist, chair of Linn County’s Board of Commissioners, one of the counties that sued the state, said plaintiffs will appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.

At the heart of the dispute is an 80-year-old Forest Acquisition Act, which governed the transfer of county lands that now make up Oregon’s state forests.

The counties which stand to gain from timber revenue on those lands say the act represents a contract between the parties, and point to language in it that requires Oregon to manage the forest for their “greatest permanent value.” The state has maintained that the act was not a contractual agreement and that the counties don’t have standing to sue the state.

The appeals court, in its decision, wrote that the language and intent of that act in its history and context — and without any “useful” legislative action on the issue — “does not clearly and unmistakably create a contractual obligation.”

The law was originally enacted when hundreds of thousands of acres of Oregon forests were logged or burned by wildfire and the counties turned them over to the state in exchange for a share of revenue generated by the land. But the forests have now recovered and comprise some of the best timber stands in the state.

In 1998, the state board that oversees forest management policy adopted a rule stating that although timber harvest could be a valuable use of the forest, the term “greatest permanent value” also includes other beneficial uses that provide social and economic benefits.

Wednesday’s decision threatens to create further divisions between rural and urban Oregon that have arisen over clashes over logging. Timber harvests have declined steeply in rural areas of the state in recent decades due to environmental protections and both environmentalists and the timber industry have been closely watching the case.

The decision also comes after President Joe Biden issued an executive order during his visit to the Pacific Northwest last week that directed the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture to create an inventory of mature and old-growth forests across the country and protect those forests from wildfire and climate change.

As of early April, more than a third of Oregon voters were registered as Nonaffiliated. With the voter registration deadline now passed, Nonaffiliated voters will be left out of partisan decisions in the May Primary.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan says they will still get a ballot, “There are a lot of nonpartisan races on the ballot this May. But we like to emphasize that so people are not confused when they receive their ballots and maybe it looks different than their spouse’s ballot or somebody living with them in their house. That they may be because they’re registered to different political parties or not registered to any political party at all.”

Fagan acknowledges not everyone wants to be registered as a Democrat or Republican, “They only have to be registered to a party for 21 days before the election. After the election, they can go right back on Oregonvotes.gov and change back to being a Nonaffiliated voter or whatever their preference is.” Democrat and Republican parties in Oregon have closed primaries, and Fagan says only the parties can change that system, “What we can do at the Secretary of State’s office is to make sure that it’s as accessible and easy as possible for people to change.”

Ballots are mailed to voters Wednesday. They must be dropped at an official drop site by 8 p.m. on May 17, or postmarked by that day and received by the county within seven days of Election Day.

Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in May

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive temporarily increased emergency food benefits in May
  • Approximately 406,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $66 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in May.

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

Because the federal government approved these emergency benefits for May, Oregon will also be able to issue them in June. However, the emergency benefits are expected to end when the federal public health emergency ends.

In May, approximately 406,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $66 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on May 11. Emergency allotments will be issued May 28 or June 2 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Emergency-Allotments.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If your household receives SNAP and your income or the number of people in your household has changed, it could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure ODHS has the most up-to-date information. 

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/benefits/Pages/index.aspx . For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

Deputy In Critical Condition After Beaverton Crash That Killed Two Southridge HS Students and Injured Three other Students

The deputy critically injured in an early morning Beaverton crash Wednesday was identified during a press conference held by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett identified the injured deputy as Michael Trotter. Sheriff Garrett said Trotter began his career with WCSO as a reserve deputy in 2013 before becoming a full-time patrol deputy in 2015.

“He remains critical but stable condition,” Sheriff Garrett said at the press conference. “Deputy Trotter sustained life threatening injuries and has a long road to recovery.”

In total, two people died and four others, including Deputy Trotter, are in critical condition.

“This morning’s events are not only difficult for the sheriff’s office but also the Washington County community, especially members, family, friends of the Beaverton School District,” Sheriff Garrett said. “My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of 17-year-old Matthew Amaya and 16-year-old Juan Pacheco Aguilera who tragically lost their lives.”

The accident happened just before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, when Beaverton police officers responded to a crash at the intersection of Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway and Southwest Murray Boulevard. Officers arrived and found a Washington County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle and a silver Nissan Altima had been involved in a crash.

Police said an investigation revealed the Nissan, which was occupied by five people, was traveling southbound on SW Murray when the driver ran a red light at SW TV Hwy and struck the WCSO patrol vehicle.

Both 16-year-old Juan Pacheco Aguilera and 17-year-old Matthew Amaya were pronounced dead at the scene. Three other people inside the car, including the driver, were taken to area hospitals and are in critical condition.

The Beaverton School District said the five people in the Nissan are students at Southridge High School. According to the school district, Amaya and Aguilera were juniors at Southridge.

“We are devastated to learn of these deaths. Our hearts go out to their families and friends, and our thoughts are with those who are currently hospitalized. We also want to extend our condolences and support to the Southridge community. We have extra counselors at school today to support all those in need,” Southridge Superintendent Don Grotting said in a statement.

The investigation is ongoing, and no additional details have been released at this time. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call 503-629-0111.

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Missing At-Risk 14 Year Old Oregon Girl

ODHS asks the public for help in the effort to find the missing teen and to contact 911, local law enforcement or the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline with any information. 

Aaronaja is suspected to be in the Gresham or Portland area. 

Name: Aaronaja (pronounced “Aaron-Asia”) Ziye Akerion Gray. She sometimes uses the last name Wells.
Pronouns: She/her
Date of birth: Dec. 19, 2007
Height: 5-foot-3
Weight: 122 pounds
Hair: Brown
Eye color: Brown
Other identifying information:
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Case #22-007370

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Alert Issued for Missing Teen

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help find Payton Brazell Smith, age 16, a child in foster care who went missing from Junction City on April 9. She is believed to be in danger.

ODHS asks the public for help in the effort to find her and to contact 911 or local law enforcement if they believe they see her. 

Payton is suspected to be in Portland, Junction City, The Dalles or Tillamook. 

Name: Payton Brazell Smith
Pronouns: She/her
Date of birth: Dec. 27, 2005
Height: 5-foot-6
Weight: 145 pounds
Eye color: Green
Hair: Black, with blue and other colors
Other identifying information: Payton has two nose piercings, a tattoo on her right inner arm that says “Hati,” and a tattoo of a heart on her left upper arm. Payton may be wearing a small black backpack, black Vans shoes with a blue butterfly on them and a grey hoodie sweatshirt that says “Junction City.”
Junction City Police Department Case #J202200295
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1447670

Anyone who suspects they have information about Payton’s location should call 911 or local law enforcement. 

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. 

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Grants Pass Missing Person

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The Grants Pass Police Department is seeking assistance from the public in locating 30 year old Noah Baker.  Baker was despondent after an argument and left his residence in Grants Pass driving a silver Ford Fiesta with Oregon Plate 671MUR.  

Baker is described as a white male adult, 5’09”, 170 lbs, brown hair and blue eyes and was last seen wearing black sweats, black shirt, black shoes and a black hat.  

If anyone knows of his whereabouts or sees Baker, please call your local law enforcement agency or the Grants Pass Police at 541-450-6260. Reference case #2022-14203 Grants Pass Police Department 

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Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Asks for Public’s Help in Search For Trucker Suspect

The first real clue to come in on all the missing person cases in the area. Help Klamath Falls Oregon Sheriff Office ID this trucker. He was the last to see this woman alive and could be the key to not only solving this woman’s disappearance but a number of the hundred other women missing in PNW. IF you have any information, please call (541) 883-5130

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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