Willamette Valley News, Friday 5/13 – Sheldon High School Students Walk Out Over Roe v Wade Rights, Eugene Continues Finding Funding For Safe Sleep Sites

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, May 13, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Sheldon High School Students Walk Out Over Roe v Wade Rights

Hundreds of students at Sheldon High School participated in a walkout Thursday morning over the Supreme Court leak that suggests the justices will overturn Roe v. Wade.

The walkout started Thursday morning at about 11:30 a.m. and lasted a little over an hour. The students marched in a loop from the Sheldon Pool area, along Coburg Road, down Cal Young Road and then back to the school along Willakenzie Drive.

Eugene Continues Finding Funding For Safe Sleep Sites

The City of Eugene is planning to continue funding for safe sleep sites through 2024. Currently, there are five approved sleep sites.

Safe Sleep Sites | Eugene, OR Website

The City Council held a virtual budget committee meeting Wednesday evening to carefully consider and discuss where the money is coming from and where it will go. Funding will be used for staff, sanitation, expansion and more.

Everyone Village plans to expand to accommodate 100 homeless individuals this summer while the upcoming Rosa site plans to be evaluated for potential affordable housing.

Eugene Public Works explains where the funding is coming from for the next two fiscal year budgets.

“This FY23 proposed budget does fund all of the existing safe sleep sites and the microsites and rest stops through FY24,” said Public Works Director Matt Rodriguez. “The way that is done – not only with the one-time allocation of ARPA dollars, but with the $5 million that we got in general funds from the state.”

Rodriguez says the state funds will help expand the safe sleep sites along with another $750,000 for sanitation costs in the community. He says altogether this funding should support sleep sites through 2024.

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/X3xH50J6zBk

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

Flags To Be Lowered To Half-Staff Over the Weekend In Memory Of 1 Million Who Have Died From COVID-19

Gov. Brown ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Monday, May 16th, in memory of the nearly 1 million Americans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This includes 7,548 Oregonians.

“Every life lost to COVID-19 is a tragedy,” said Brown. “With about 1,000,000 Americans who have died from this virus, there are too many families who are now without a friend, family member, or other loved one. Dan and I are keeping all those who have lost someone to this disease in our hearts. I hope that, as we remember all those we have lost, we collectively continue to help protect each other from this disease.”

The full Presidential Proclamation is available on the White House’s website.

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Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Education release ‘Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit’ for schools

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) are releasing a Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit for Schools to support educators, administrators, school nurses, students and families. The toolkit is in response to a public health crisis related to rising youth and adult opioid overdoses and deaths in Oregon. 

This toolkit provides information about how schools can create an emergency protocol to administer naloxone, also known as Narcan. The toolkit includes information on how to access, administer and store this life-saving opioid overdose prevention medication. In addition, the toolkit has resources to support staff training, prevention education and other resources essential to developing and implementing school emergency response procedures.

“The resources in this toolkit can save lives,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “We strongly encourage schools to adopt policies and practices for safe and effective management and prevention of opioid-related overdoses in schools. When drug-related emergencies occur in or around schools, proper response is critical to save lives.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from May 2020 to April 2021, deaths due to accidental overdose surpassed 100,000 for the first time on record. Sixty-four percent of those deaths were attributed to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which often comes in the form of pills that closely resemble prescription oxycodone or benzodiazepines such as Xanax.

In Oregon, fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 74% from 2019 to 2020, for a total of 298 fentanyl-related deaths in 2020.

“Rising opioid overdose deaths are a public health crisis, and schools are the heart of Oregon communities. Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue, as Oregon has continued to see an increase in accidental overdose deaths due to fentanyl,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen.

An amount of fentanyl the size of two grains of sand can cause deadly overdose. Overdose signs: Unresponsiveness (clearest sign), slow, shallow or no breathing, pinpoint pupils, heavy gurgling or snoring sounds, cold or clammy skin, difficult to wake or can't wake, blue or gray skin, lips or nails. Overdose is medical emergency. Call 911. Give Narcan if available. Good Samaritan Law protects witnesses and victims.

Counterfeit pills laced with illegally manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, are flooding the Pacific Northwest. In just one year (2019-2020), Oregon saw a 74% increase in fentanyl-related deaths. Nationally, the CDC reported that from May 2020 to April 2021, deaths due to accidental opioid overdose surpassed 100,000 for the first time on record. 64% of those deaths were attributed to illegally manufactured fentanyl.

Fentanyl-laced pills look a lot like those prescribed by doctors. In Oregon, fentanyl is most commonly seen in blue, greenish, or pale colored counterfeit pills. There may be other colors. These pills may be marked as “M30.” Unsuspecting teens may get fake pills containing deadly fentanyl through social media, the internet or a friend. Unless a pharmacist directly hands you a prescription pill, assume it is counterfeit and contains fentanyl.

There is no such thing as a “safe” source: pills are often laced with fentanyl long before they reach a direct supplier, and amounts often vary in counterfeit pills, making no dose safe. To get the facts about fentanyl, visit the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/index.html.

Oregon Employment Department sets contribution rate for Paid Leave Oregon

SALEM – Paid Leave Oregon is setting the contribution rate for employers and workers at 1 percent when it launches in 2023. 

Paid Leave Oregon will allow workers to take paid time off for some of life’s most important moments. It covers leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for serious illness or injury, for taking care of a seriously ill family member, and for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment.

Starting Jan. 1, 2023, workers will pay 60 percent and employers will pay 40 percent of the contribution rate. For example, if an employee made $1,000 in wages, the employee would pay $6 and the employer would pay $4 for this paycheck. Employers may choose to pay the employee portion as a benefit for their employees. 

Paid leave contributions will go into a trust fund, which in turn, will provide the revenue for the paid leave benefits for workers starting Sept. 3, 2023.  Oregon law says the Oregon Employment Department Director will set the paid leave contribution rate annually. The law also requires the trust fund to have enough funds to pay benefits for up six months. 

Paid Leave Oregon Director Karen Madden Humelbaugh said the contribution rate was set based on actuary data and forecasts at 1 percent to make sure the program will have enough funds to meet the legal requirement and pay benefits for Oregon workers. “Setting contributions at 1 percent means we will have enough money to support the program in the long term,” she said, adding that the program has set the rate early enough for employers to plan ahead.

“Setting the contribution rate at 1 percent means Paid Leave Oregon’s trust fund will have a solid foundation, making sure the benefits for Oregon workers will be there when they need it the most,” said Jessica Giannettino Villatoro, Political Director of Oregon American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). “We expect to see the rate decrease as the fund becomes solvent.”

“Paid family and medical leave is about more than the bottom line, it’s about giving Oregonians a chance to be with their loved ones when they need it most and not having the extra stress of worrying how to make ends meet,” said Eric C. Hunter, CareOregon CEO. “As the largest provider of Oregon Health Plan services in the state, my team sees the impact on our communities that lack of paid leave has on health outcomes, from limited time bonding with new babies to needing to add caregiving responsibilities for sick relatives on top of work schedules. I’m proud that the state is leading the way to take care of all Oregonians.”

A 1 percent contribution rate means Paid Leave Oregon can offer lower-wage workers up to a 100 percent reimbursement rate when they need to take leave. Madden Humelbaugh also noted that Paid Leave Oregon covers critical benefits that other states’ programs do not. This includes “safe leave,” which is paid leave for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, and stalking. “With this contributions rate, we will be able to provide paid leave for people at a critical moment in their life when it’s not safe for them to be at work.” 

More information about Paid Leave Oregon is online at oregon.gov/employ/PFMLI.

### The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is an equal opportunity agency. Everyone has a right to use OED programs and services. OED provides free help. Some examples are sign language and spoken language interpreters, written materials in other languages, braille, large print, audio and other formats. If you need help, please call 971-673-6400. TTY users call 711. You can also ask for help at OED_Communications@employ.oregon.gov.

Extra State Funding To Help Fire Agencies Prevent Late Season Layoffs – Shortage of Workers Another Problem

Oregon state fire agencies will have an additional $200 million dollars to fight this year’s wildfires with the passing of Oregon Senate Bill 792 in 2021.

“The state fire marshals will be able to issue grants to local communities so that fire agencies that are on the ground can hire additional help, especially at that time of season when the risk is highest,” said Pam Marsh, state representative for District 5.

According to Marsh, the state has been experiencing longer and more robust fire seasons over the last ten years, so the additional money will help the agencies have a more proactive approach this season.

“ODF will be able to hire more people on their team to make sure they are there for a longer period of time because what we’re finding is that fire season is creeping into months where we never saw fires before, especially on that back end of the year,” Marsh said.

According to Marsh, the bill also allows Oregon to partner with other states and help them combat fires as well.

“Right now we have personnel who are down in New Mexico where there has been some raging fires for a couple of weeks, providing them with some extra support at a time where we don’t have fire on the ground,” Marsh said. “What we hope is that when we do have fire on the ground we will see the same kind of mutual aid from other states.”

Oregon Department of Forestry’s goal is to have enough funds to prevent the typical September firefighter layoffs caused by the lack of money while fires can continue to rage through October.

A group representing 300 private wildland fire companies says contractors “face all the challenges of a tight labor market.” Staff at the Douglas Forest Protective Association say  the challenge predates the pandemic for their organization. In Idaho, experienced staff are in short supply. The shortage has attracted the attention of federal lawmakers like Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley.

The Oregon National Guard and the Oregon Department of Forestry have an annual agreement called Operation Plan Smokey that governs calling up citizen soldiers to fight fires. In recent years, the Guard has worked to have troops pre-trained so they are ready to deploy. Wildland firefighters must undergo required training before deploying to the fire lines. This week, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and other lawmakers called on the departments of Agriculture and Interior to take action.

Oregon Department of Revenue Hiring Event in Salem May 17th

The public is invited to learn about employment opportunities with the Oregon Department of Revenue at a one-day hiring event, May 17, in Salem. Job seekers can apply, interview and receive a conditional offer in the same day.

Interested persons can learn about the agency and the open Revenue Agent 1 positions, apply, interview, and potentially receive a conditional offer the same day. The event will take place 8am to 3pm May 17 at the Revenue Building, 955 Center Street NE in Salem. Potential applicants should bring their resume.

Positions are eligible for hybrid remote work. Revenue Agents bring taxpayers into compliance with state laws, collecting tax liabilities for all tax programs administered by the department. They explain the origins of liabilities, resolve account maintenance problems, and promote voluntary compliance by providing information and education to the public in a helpful, pleasant, and professional manner.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 85 percent of Revenue employees have transitioned to remote work and the department welcomes qualified staff from all regions of the state. Open positions have the potential for training and growth in the department and other state agencies.

Visit oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, see a list of approved tax preparation software products, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, call 800-356-4222 toll-free (English or Spanish) or 503- 378-4988 or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 1 800-886-7204. Due to the number of calls Revenue receives during tax season, you may experience extended wait times.

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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


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