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, September 27, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Eugene Bans Fireworks
Eugene city councilors voted 6-2 to ban all fireworks within city limits. At 7:30 p.m. on September 26, Council members met and after a long meeting, the majority ruled. You won’t be able to sell, use, light, detonate or display any sort of firework anywhere in the city. This includes the Fourth of July and New Year’s.
The biggest argument for the ban was safety, but city councilor Mike Clark made another point, that the legal fireworks weren’t the problem. He said the real problem is the sale and use of illegal fireworks that are already banned, and arguably more dangerous.
“The fireworks that blow up, that cause a very loud noise, and that fly in the air are already illegal — they are the dangerous ones, they are the ones that generate most of the complaints,” Clark said.
Prior to the vote, fireworks were already banned South of 18th Avenue and east of Agate Street.
Cedar Creek Fire Holds Steady But only 20% Contained
As of 5:30 AM, there are currently 1818 firefighting personnel working to contain the #CedarCreekFire. The fire is now 114,999 acres and 20% contained. Resources assigned include: 42 Engines 34 Handcrews 7 Dozers 29 Masticators 10 Helicopters 3 Air Attack Platforms
Photo of the Day – Tuesday, September 27, 2022: The communication side of fire. Incident Communication Technicians show trainees the repeater on Wolf Mountain. The radio system that communications technicians maintain is a crucial component to the safety of all fire personnel. Photo Credit: Frank Yazzie, Jr.
Fire officials report that with moderated fire behavior, crews equipment, and helicopters were able to make progress on all divisions of the fire on Sunday.
They say that firing operations were marginally successful, helping to bring the fire closer to control lines in the north toward Forest Service Road 19, and in the south and southwest toward established containment lines. Officials say that firing operations will continue in these areas as conditions allow in the next few days.
Advantageous weather conditions continue to enable firefighting crews to make steady progress cleaning up fire breaks and creating defensible spaces. Fire crews have begun to remove firefighting equipment, such as pumps and hoses, from the Twin and Davis Lake areas, and sprinklers, hoses, pumps, and pumpkin tanks from the Odell Lake area. Officials say that this equipment will be transferred to other areas of the fire.
Drive-By Shooting in Cottage Grove
Cottage Grove police are investigating a drive-by shooting that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The shooting happened at 1:00 a.m. in the area of Anthony Avenue and Anthony Court. The City of Cottage Grove says multiple resources were directed to the investigation and police immediately began working the identify those involved.
No injuries were reported and the investigation is ongoing. Police do not believe the shooting was random.
From the City of Cottage Grove:
The Cottage Grove Police Department takes the safety of their community very seriously. These types of incidents are not common in our community and in response to the shooting the Cottage Grove Police Department will be taking additional steps to ensure community safety. Community members can expect to see additional police resources out and about in the community, with a focus on neighborhoods and schools.
Valley River Center Hosting Hiring Fair on Saturday For Seasonal Retail Work
The Valley River Center is hosting a hiring fair Saturday for those interested in seasonal retail work.
The on-site holiday hiring fair will be conducted at the mall’s Center Court from noon to 2 p.m., according to a news release.
There are open positions across all retailers at Valley River Center, including Bath & Body Works, Champs, Cotton On, JCPenney and Forever 21.
Those interested in season work at Valley River Center stores should bring their resumes, if they have them. Valley River Center is at 293 Valley River Center.
Attention OHP members: If you got a bill in the mail, keep the bill and figure out if you need to pay. OHP members should NOT pay for services that OHP should cover. Find out more at bit.ly/ohpbills.
Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Warns Of Armed-And-Dangerous Suspect
The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is warning people that an abduction suspect who’s on the loose could be a risk to them. KCSO says Koon is armed and dangerous as a kidnap and burglary suspect with a felony warrant for assault.
It says 19-year-old Eric Koon could have changed his appearance. The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) also says people who help him could be at risk.
The photos below show Koon in January (facial photo) and another image came from KCSO today showing him in a yellow hoodie.
It says Koon is the estranged boyfriend of 20-year-old Molly Swedensky (in photo) whom he tried to take from her home September 18 when, “He bound her wrists with zip ties, taped her mouth and fled only after she escaped and alerted help,” before she was missing two days later.
It says on September 20, 2022 KCSO deputies found Swedensky at a Pilot Travel Center in Chemult, starting pursuit of Koon south on Highway 97 at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
KCSO says its deputies’ spike strips and Oregon State Police (OSP) help caused Koon’s pickup (in photo) to stop near milepost 222 where he went into a wooded area armed with a handgun.
Since then, KCSO deputies, OSP, Klamath Falls Police Department and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement have searched the area, unable to locate Eric Patrick Koon.
KCSO says people might have helped Koon in the last few days, and with Koon armed and dangerous the “public should know they are putting themselves at risk if they attempt to help him. . . If you see Eric Patrick Koon do not approach please call 911 immediately.”
It welcomes any related information at the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 541-850-5380.
Death investigation-Deschutes County
On Sunday, Septeber25, 2022 at 8:28 AM, the Oregon State Police and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office responded to 5677 SW Young Avenue in Redmond and located an adult male, identified as Trevit C. Law (45) of Redmond, who had been shot. Responding officers provided immediate first aid but Law was pronounced deceased.
During the subsequent investigation, Skyler R. Myers (32) of Redmond was developed as the suspect in the shooting. A multi-agency effort tracked Myers approximately 7 hours, eventually locating him near Gift Road and the Deschutes Canal. Myers sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was transported to St. Charles Medical Center where he later was pronounced deceased.
OSP was assisted in the ground search by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Bend Police Department and Redmond Police Department.
The investigation is active and no further information will be released at this time. Oregon State Police
Oregon Housing Shortage Due To Many Things Including Lack Of Construction Workers
Oregon’s housing shortage is worse today than it was before the start of the Covid pandemic, a state economist told lawmakers last week during a hearing to discuss ways of easing the statewide crunch. One of the issues is Oregon needs thousands of construction workers to bridge the gap.
The shortage of affordable housing has a big impact: Oregon has one of the highest homeless rates in the U.S., with more than 14,600 people needing stable housing in 2020, a rate of 2.5%. Only Washington state, California, Texas, Florida and New York had higher rates, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homeless.
Josh Lehner, from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, told members of the House Interim Committee on Housing on Wednesday that the increased gap isn’t so much because of a big boom in population; in fact, he said, Oregon’s population has stayed relatively steady during the pandemic.
But the number of households in Oregon increased between 2019 and 2021, Lehner said.
“People broke out on their own, they dropped roommates, they wanted a little more space, they didn’t want to be around more people when there’s a deadly contagious virus going around,” he said. Household size dropped during the pandemic, but the number of households boomed – and the number of new housing units did not meet the increased demand.
Lehrer listed items that he said would help close the gap – increasing land availability, turning that land into buildable lots more quickly, allowing more units to be built, and decreasing or stabilizing development costs.
But he focused on another issue: increasing the construction workforce, in both the private and public sectors.
“If we want to build more units, we have to have more workers,” he said.
In fact, he said, Oregon needs 13,000 more construction workers per year to help close the housing gap. Finding those workers in a tight labor market will be challenging, he said.
But city and county planning departments also will need 400-500 additional public sector workers per year to approve, permit and inspect these additional housing units, he said.
And Tamra Mabbott, the planning director of eastern Oregon’s Morrow County – with a population of about 12,000 – urged lawmakers to help smaller communities with their planning efforts.
Other speakers at Wednesday’s hearing touched on different areas of the housing crunch, such as barriers to developing housing, the importance of preserving existing affordable housing, and programs meant to aid people who are unsheltered.
Deb Flagan of private builder Hayden Homes and Emily Reiman of DevNW, an Oregon nonprofit that develops affordable housing and rentals, noted how housing is unaffordable for many Oregon residents.
Flagan said Hayden’s business model is to build houses that can be purchased by households making 100% to 120% of average median income. In Oregon, the median household income is $91,800, and a household making that amount can afford a $402,933 house, she said. But the median house price in Oregon is $512,100 – a gap of about $110,000. Increases in interest rates only widen the gap.
Added Reiman: “We have a very fundamental disconnect between what it costs to build even a modest new unit of housing, be it a single-family or an apartment, and what the majority of Oregon residents actually can afford.”
She said DevNW can build a modest 1,000- to 1,200-square foot for about $400,000. But in Lane County, for example, a family with a median income only can afford a $240,000 mortgage.
She urged state efforts to create realistic estimates of the housing need for potential homeowners in different income brackets.
“Once we know the need across income levels, how do we realistically increase the supply of homes that actually meet the affordability needs of Oregon families? And how (can) we be honest about the level of subsidy that’s going to be needed to produce the right number of homes at the right income levels so that families in their communities can afford their rent or mortgage? … This is going to be a critical conversation for years to come.”
—– A common theme throughout Wednesday’s hearing involved the importance of creating partnerships among state and local governments, nonprofit agencies and private builders. Speakers at the hearing said these partnerships could help lower barriers to affordable housing.
But, noted Rebecca Lewis of the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement at the University of Oregon, private builders and government officials have different opinions about which barriers are most important.
She pointed to a survey suggesting, for example, that 82% of private builders believe the time required to get necessary permits is a major barrier, while only 15% of government officials thought the same.
Other speakers, such as Sean Edging of Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, urged increased coordination between state agencies working on the issue and local governments. A set of draft recommendations from the department calls for greater partnership between governments and developing “creative, flexible investment sources” to help develop housing projects that the market will not create on its own.
He said the current system, in which communities take stock of buildable land inside their urban growth boundaries and then determine the housing capacity on that land, has led to “decades of underinvestment and a lack of comprehensive response to housing production.” What’s required, he said, is a shift in focus to start thinking “about the full scope of barriers to housing development.”
The committee also heard about programs to serve the estimated 16,000 people in Oregon who are unsheltered. Kenny LaPointe, the executive director of the Mid-Columbia Community Action Center, said efforts are underway to create a facility in The Dalles that would combine 36 beds of noncongregate shelter with a multi-agency service center for houseless and low-income community members. The project, which could serve as a model for other communities, has earned support from state and local governments and private parties, he said.
—– Megan Loeb of the Portland-based Oregon Community Foundation talked about Project Turnkey, which has provided funding to turn underused hotels and motels throughout the state into shelter for the homelessless. The project has added 867 units of shelter statewide. A second round of funding for the project has attracted “an extraordinarily high number of high-quality applications,” Loeb said. “We are not going to be able to fund all the applications.”
The committee also heard about the importance of preserving existing affordable housing, such as mobile home parks or apartment complexes with rental guarantees. It’s a challenge, said Bill Van Vliet of the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing for unsheltered people: “We can’t make progress on affordable housing if we’re losing units as fast as we’re building them.”
The committee’s final witness on Wednesday, Heidi Johnstone, lives in an apartment complex in Tigard that legally is transitioning to market-rate rents – a transition she said will force her and many of her neighbors to move out of the complex and possibly become houseless. “Who would imagine that housing would become so unaffordable in our lives?” she asked.
Meanwhile... A Portland landlord raises rent almost 50 percent on low-income tenants.
Tenants in a North Portland apartment complex recently received notice that their rent was increasing upward of 50 percent. This is well above the state’s maximum allowed rent increase of 9.9 percent for 2022.
What the tenants didn’t realize was there are exceptions to the rent cap increase that allow certain landlords to increase rent above the state’s maximum.
According to Oregon’s Senate Bill 608, which addresses rent control in the state, landlords of new construction buildings where the certificate of occupancy was issued less than 15 years ago may increase rents annually above the state’s maximum. This helps encourage developers to build new housing at a time when there is a statewide shortage of housing.
Initially, the landlord of the property did provide lower rent because they were part of a Portland program that gave them tax breaks in return for providing a set amount of affordable housing with lower rents in their complex. The nearly 50 percent rent increase is allowed, however, because the city’s tax break program follows the state rules that says owners of buildings that are less than 15 years old are exempt from the rent cap increase laws.
There are other exceptions to Oregon’s rent control laws, which you can find in Senate Bill 608 and in Oregon Association of Realtors’ Rent Control Summary✎ EditSign. (source: https://original.newsbreak.com/@beth-torres-1592455/2762038309386-portland-landlord-raises-rent-almost-50-percent-on-low-income-tenants )
Oregon Governor Candidates Will Hold Live Televised Debate Tuesday 9/27 In Bend
Oregon’s candidates for governor will participate in a televised debate from the Oregon State University-Cascades campus on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The debate among Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson will be the second time the three candidates take the stage together, following a July forum in front of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. More debates are expected, although not yet announced.
The debate won’t be open to the public, just OSU-Cascades students and invited leaders from the area. It will be broadcast on KTVZ for central Oregon audiences and live-streamed on ktvz.com.
Oregon’s race is historically close this year, in large part because Johnson is running. She was a conservative Democratic legislator for two decades before launching her campaign and has the potential to draw votes from either party.
Polls showing outgoing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is deeply unpopular with voters also led national forecasters, including the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and the Cook Political Report, to downgrade the likelihood of a Kotek win. The Center for Politics considers it a tossup and the Cook Report rates the race as “leaning” Democratic, down from “likely.”
With less than two months to go until Election Day and more money coming in daily, the three candidates have raised nearly $30 million combined and spent most of it since beginning their campaigns. Johnson leads the field with more than $11.3 million raised to date, thanks to large contributions from business leaders including Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
Drazan has raised more than $9 million and Kotek nearly $8.7 million. National Democratic and Republican groups are boosting their campaigns, with the Democratic Governors Association giving Kotek almost $1.9 million and the Republican Governors Association sending $2.6 million to Drazan’s campaign.
Gas Prices Rise Again In Oregon Averaging Above $5
The average price for a gallon of gas in Oregon is above $5 a gallon for the first time since early August. After weeks of steady decline in prices they are now heading in the opposite direction across the West Coast.
In Eugene and Springfield, prices have risen nearly 41 cents in the last week, gas prices averaging $4.89 per gallon.
AAA says the West Coast has a tight gas market, meaning we consume as much gas as produced.
Oregon relies on gas from other states, and recent refinery issues are behind the increase.
“We have several refineries in California and one in Washington state that are at reduced or having no outcome this week. As these refiners had to go either planned or unplanned maintenance,” says Marie Dodds, Director of Government and Public Affairs with AAA.
Despite these issues crude prices are down, and gas prices should fall after the issue is resolved. But, given the circumstances, it is unsure when that will be.
USDA Oregon Farm Service Agency Is Hiring Additional Loss Adjusters
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is currently accepting offers from individuals interested in providing contracted crop adjusting services throughout Oregon for the 2023 crop year. Loss Adjuster applications for the 2023 crop year are due November 1, 2022, to the Oregon FSA State Office.
Loss Adjusters perform crop loss and related program services as assigned by FSA. Duties associated with these services include: 1) visiting farms to inspect damaged or destroyed crops; 2) appraising potential crop production; 3) determining and verifying the cause and time of loss; 4) determining farm-stored production; 5) visiting FSA offices and/or farms to perform inspections, reviews or other loss services.
Starting pay for new adjusters is $20.22 per hour. A pay raise to $22.55 per hour is contingent on satisfactory completion of a full certification on at least one crop. Training pay is $15.00 per hour. Most equipment necessary to perform loss-adjusting activities is provided by FSA. Mileage and per diem will be paid by FSA; however, contracted adjusters are expected to provide their own mode of transportation.
Applications should be sent to the Oregon Farm Service Agency State Office, Attention: Sarah Hanlon, 7620 SW Mohawk St., Tualatin, Oregon, 97062. All applications postmarked by November 1, 2022, will be reviewed and selections made based on work experience, agriculture background, availability, and the need for loss adjusters in the area. As part of the contract process, Loss Adjusters must pass a required fingerprint background check.
Click here to obtain a copy of the Oregon FSA Loss Adjuster Application Form.✎ EditSign✎ EditSign The application form can also be obtained by contacting the Farm Service Agency State Office at 503-692-3688. For further assistance or information please contact Sarah Hanlon at 503-404-1116.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
This is just a small compilation of missing women and their pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten.