Willamette Valley News, Friday 11/19 – Two Separate Death Investigations in Eugene, St. Vincent de Paul’s 53-unit Affordable Housing Complex Almost Complete

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, November 19, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Rain likely before 10am, then scattered showers between 10am and 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52. West northwest wind 7 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Saturday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. North wind 6 to 9 mph.

Sunday– Widespread frost, mainly before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 53. North wind around 5 mph.

Monday– A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after 4pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.

Tuesday– Rain likely, mainly before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52.

Two Separate Death Investigations in Eugene After Bodies Found

The Eugene Police Department Violent Crimes Unit is investigating a death near 24th Avenue and Monroe Street.

Police responded to the area shortly before 1 a.m. on Thursday. They say there is no ongoing threat to the neighborhood or community. This is a developing story and is under investigation.

A second death investigation is underway in Eugene Thursday morning after a body was found at Highway 99 and Royal Avenue.

Eugene police responded to the area at about 7:30 a.m on Thursday. The nature of the death is not yet known, but police said there’s no clear evidence that a crime took place.

St. Vincent de Paul’s 53-unit Affordable Housing Complex Almost Complete

St. Vincent de Paul is putting the finishing touches on a new affordable-housing property on River Road.

The development features 53 apartments, offering one, two or three bedrooms.

Rents will be “within reach for low-income residents — with actual rents of $510, $610 and $695 per month,” according to St. Vincent de Paul.

Residents will begin moving in around Thanksgiving as workers finish the landscaping and cleanup on the site.

“We’re happy for this project to wrap up after more than a year of construction, but more importantly, we’re excited for the new opportunities created by Iris Place for many of our low-income neighbors,” said SVdP Executive Director Terry McDonald. “There is a greater-than-ever need for affordable housing in this community and this state.”

St. Vincent de Paul is Eugene’s largest nonprofit human-services provider. The organization “has long recognized that affordable housing availability strongly impacts homelessness and poverty rates in its service areas. In fact, according to a 2021 National Low Income Housing Coalition report, only 25 affordable rentals are available, on average, for every 100 qualifying households in this state. That puts Oregon at No. 48 out of all 50 states in housing availability for extremely low-income renters.”

For more than 30 years, St. Vincent de Paul has developed property to help “build a way out” of the affordable housing crisis in Oregon.

Since 1988, St. Vincent has developed about 1,600 affordable housing units in Lane, Linn and Marion counties since 1988; its property-management department today manages some 1,500 units.

Units at Iris Place are for households with income at or below 50% of the median income, which is currently $35,600 for a four-person household.

Five of the units are for households at or below 30 percent of AMI, currently $14,700 for one person.

Another five units are set aside to provide safe, permanent housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence who are served by the Hope & Safety Alliance.

“We are excited about this partnership with SVdP to help survivors find safe homes and begin to move from surviving to thriving,” said Julie Weismann, executive director of Hope & Safety Alliance.

‘Iris Place’ is located on land acquired by the City of Eugene through the Land Acquisition for Affordable Housing program. The city worked with the River Road Community Organization throughout the process before awarding St. Vincent the job in January 2019.

Construction on the $14.3 million development started in August 2020. “The project was thoroughly vetted and included the support of the neighborhood association throughout,” McDonald said. “That’s healthy for the community; it’s a model that respects the neighbors, the neighborhood, and the process for rewarding this type of site for responsible development.”

UPDATE: Fatal head-on traffic crash on Franklin Blvd. – 11/16 LCSO Case #21-6476

The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash on Tuesday, 11/16/21, has died as a result of her injuries. 33 year old Sarah Rose Johnson of Creswell was driving a 2008 GMC Yukon southbound on Franklin Blvd. near Goshen on Tuesday evening when she was involved in a head-on crash with another vehicle.

The other vehicle, a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Daniel Eugene Jackson of Eugene, had been traveling northbound on Franklin Blvd. just prior to the crash. Jackson failed to negotiate a slight curve and drove into the oncoming southbound lane, causing the crash. Johnson suffered critical injuries and was transported to an area hospital. She died Wednesday evening 11/18. Jackson suffered minor injuries during the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or events leading up to it are asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.

Suspect Arrested in Shooting at Apartment Complex in Springfield

One suspect is in custody following a shooting of a man at Pacific Crest apartments on Thursday night.

The victim of the shooting was reportedly taken to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries. At this time, his condition is unknown.

Oregon reports 1,160 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 13 new deaths

There are 13 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,886, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

OHA reported 1,160 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 382,990.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (11), Benton (20), Clackamas (95), Clatsop (9), Columbia (12), Coos (15), Crook (13), Curry (6), Deschutes (127), Douglas (72), Grant (4), Harney (2), Hood River (3), Jackson (67), Jefferson (10), Josephine (29), Klamath (20), Lake (1), Lane (80), Lincoln (15), Linn (66), Malheur (11), Marion (116), Morrow (8), Multnomah (141), Polk (27), Sherman (3), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (16), Union (10), Wallowa (1), Wasco (10), Washington (110) and Yamhill (26).

The state of Oregon has reached an overall vaccination rate against Covid-19 of 70%, the Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday evening, citing CDC data.

Based on the CDC’s numbers, more than seven in 10 Oregonians of all age groups have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, accounting for more than 2.95 million people. The Oregon Health Authority’s own numbers lag behind somewhat, as they do not include shots administered through federal facilities, such as Veterans Administration facilities.

By those numbers, Oregon ranks 19th among US states and the District of Columbia for the percentage of its total population who are protected by at least one dose. It also ranks 19th in administration of booster doses, OHA said.

A large part of that growth comes due to the recent expansion of Pfizer vaccine authorization to include kids 5 to 11 years old. As of Wednesday, almost 40,000 kids in that age group had received at least one dose, accounting for 11% of all Oregon children ages 5 to 11.

OHA releases new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough report

OHA’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, found that 74.5% of the 5,924 reported COVID-19 cases between Nov. 7 and Nov. 13 occurred in unvaccinated people.

There were 1,508 breakthrough cases, accounting for 25.5% of all cases.

The average age of the breakthrough cases during that period was 45. Forty breakthrough cases involved residents of care facilities, senior living communities or other congregate care settings. There were 37 cases in people aged 12 to 17.

To date, there have been 41,257 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases in Oregon. The average age of all cases is 48. Breakthrough cases have been reported in all 36 counties.

Cases of COVID-19 are far more common in unvaccinated people. The report shows that the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is four and a half times higher than in vaccinated people.

To date, 4.5% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 1.1% have died. The average age of vaccinated people who died was 81.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The number of vaccine breakthrough cases identified in Oregon remains very small when compared to the 2.9 million Oregonians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The latest breakthrough report can be found here.

Pediatric weekly dashboard update

Today, OHA published its latest dashboard report of pediatric COVID-19 case data in Oregon.

This dashboard replaces the previous report and is published weekly on Thursdays with the most recent full week’s data.

Vaccine Voices: “It’s not every day you get your vaccine in a livestock barn.”

Demand for COVID-19 vaccination has been so high in many counties that local public health authorities have had to get creative in meeting the needs of their communities.

Union County community members line up in their cars to receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
Union County community members line up in their cars
to receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

“We were glad to have a very high turnout for the first vaccine clinic we offered after the Moderna boosters where approved,” said Carrie Brogoitti, Union County Public Health Administrator with the Center for Human Development (CHD) in La Grande, Oregon.

To better accommodate the expected volume for upcoming events, CHD partnered with OHA to stand up vaccine events where people could drive through barns at Union County Fairgrounds to get vaccinated. “Thankfully we were able to quickly shift our upcoming events to the Union County Fairgrounds,” said Carrie, “and the first event went great.”

So far this month, during just two days, more than 500 people have driven through the fairground barns to receive vaccinations. “The response from the community was very positive,” said Carrie. “People were able to move through the process quickly. And, it’s not every day you get your vaccine in a livestock barn.”

Find more information about CHD on its website or by calling 541-962-8800. Read more about this event at Oregon Vaccine News.

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Oregon Employment Department Media Statement – Helping Oregonians Get Back to Work

Even with Oregon experiencing record low unemployment, the Oregon Employment Department and its WorkSource Oregon partners continue helping workers find good jobs and employers find talented employees. WorkSource Oregon centers are offering job fairs and employer meet-and-greets across the state. 

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

  • “Meet the Employer” events are scheduled this month in Albany, Salem and Woodburn. 
  • Hiring Events in Salem and Corvallis have in-person interviews being conducted from 3 – 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18.
  • A virtual business spotlight event is scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23.
  • A Veterans Job Fair is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 in White City, Oregon.

More information on these events and more are at WorkSourceOregon.org.

Economic Update  — Yesterday the Employment Department released the unemployment rate and jobs numbers for Oregon in October. 

Oregon employers added 4,700 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in October. The private sector added 10,300 jobs, and those gains were widespread. Oregon’s hotels, restaurants, bars, and entertainment places added 3,100 jobs in October, the most of any sector. Professional and business services added 2,900 jobs over the month. We also saw big gains in construction (1,500), manufacturing (1,400), and wholesale trade (1,100). 

Government lost 5,600 jobs in October. Nearly all the government job losses occurred in local government. Public K-12 and public higher education make up about half of all jobs in local government in Oregon. As the school year got underway, schools were not hiring near as much as expected this time of year. That resulted in a seasonally adjusted decline of 5,400 jobs. Oregon is not unique in this experience; nationally, public K-12 and higher education fell 65,000 jobs short of typical hiring levels in October.

Leisure and hospitality has added more than 43,000 jobs in 2021. Yet the sector remains 30,000 jobs below its pre-recession employment level, and it represents the biggest gap in a full jobs recovery in the state.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in October from 4.7% in September. We’ve seen significant declines in the unemployment rate for five months in a row. While more people found work in October, Oregon’s labor force growth has leveled off in the past few of months after growing quite a bit between July 2020 and May 2021.

Employer Payroll Tax Update

As a reminder, the Employment Department has good news for employers next year. Oregon is lowering the payroll tax rate to an average rate of 1.97 percent (tax schedule three) for the 2022 calendar year. This is down from an average rate of 2.26 percent (tax schedule four) in 2021. House Bill 3389 allows Oregon to lower tax rates while other states are increasing UI tax rates and continuing to borrow funds.

Recognizing the hardships experienced by employers during the pandemic and the critical role they play in the state’s recovery, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3389, and the Governor signed it into law on July 27, 2021. The law expands ongoing efforts to help employers affected by the pandemic, and it is projected to save Oregon employers $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

The department has mailed individual 2022 tax rate notices to employers. Any employer who has not received their notice by November 22, 2021, should contact the Employment Department Tax Section at OED_Taxinfo_User@oregon.gov or call 503-947-1488. Due to the projected high call volume, employers may receive a quicker response by emailing the department. More information is on our employer taxes webpage.

Last week’s statistics

  • Last week, the Employment Department paid about $16.4 million in benefits to more than 25,600 Oregonians.
  • From Monday, Nov. 8 – Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, the Employment Department answered more than 97% of calls in 15 minutes or less, meeting its July 1 goal. Of all the calls, nearly 89% were answered in under five minutes. 
  • Nearly 97% of Contact Us inquiries were resolved in seven days or less. 

Upcoming Holiday Hours

All Oregon Employment Department offices will be closed Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, people may receive their unemployment benefits a couple of days later for the week ending Saturday, Nov. 27 —– 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

Justice Department Awards $177 Million to Assist Crime Victims and Improve Public Safety in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Oregon awardees include four tribes, one tribal commission, and a university

– On November 15, 2021, the Department of Justice announced that it will award more than $177 million to improve public safety and serve crime victims in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

More than $73 million will be awarded to 84 different Tribal communities and commissions under the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), a streamlined grant application program managed by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The CTAS program helps tribes apply for Tribal-specific grant programs seeking to enhance law enforcement and justice practices, expand victim services and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts.

Of this total, $3.5 million will be awarded to three Oregon tribes and one Oregon tribal commission: the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Klamath Tribes, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

The COPS Office also awarded $400,000 to Western Oregon University to develop a structured and Tribal-centered approach to enhancing the criminal justice system’s ability to address the tragic and ongoing trend of missing and murdered indigenous persons (MMIP).

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will award an additional $104 million to more 140 tribes and Tribal programs across the country—including two Oregon tribes—under the Crime Victims Fund Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program. The Cow Creek Bank of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and the Klamath Tribes will each receive $387,817 to fund culturally-appropriate victim services to meet the needs of their communities.

“American Indian and Alaska Native crime victims deserve the same access to services and the same level of support available to survivors in other communities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “This administration, and this Department of Justice, are committed to fully discharging our responsibilities to Indian nations, especially to those who have experienced the pain and loss that follow victimization. These funds will help establish, expand and enhance services that are vital to recovery and healing.”

“Supporting and enhancing public safety in Tribal communities is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon and has been for many years. We are very pleased to join the COPS Office, OJP, and OVC in announcing these important awards and congratulate all award recipients in Oregon,” said Scott Erik Asphaug, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. 

This announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to increasing engagement, coordination and action on public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

Justice Department Announces $139 Million for Law Enforcement Hiring to Advance Community Policing

$625,000 Awarded to Law Enforcement Agencies in the District of Oregon

The Department of Justice today announced more than $139 million in grant funding through the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP).  The awards provide direct funding to 183 law enforcement agencies across the nation, allowing those agencies to hire 1,066 additional full-time law enforcement professionals. In Oregon, three cities were awarded a total of $625,000. 

“We are committed to providing police departments with the resources needed to help ensure community safety and build community trust,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “The grants we are announcing today will enable law enforcement agencies across the country to hire more than 1,000 additional officers to support vitally important community oriented policing programs.” 

“I am pleased to join Attorney General Garland today in making this important announcement. At a time when many police departments in Oregon and across the country are experiencing reduced or stagnant budgets, I am pleased to see three local agencies receive the funding they need to hire additional officers. Effective community oriented policing programs require, first and foremost, adequate staffing,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

The following cities in Oregon received awards:

–           City of Hermiston – $125,000

–           City of John Day – $375,000

–           City of Reedsport – $125,000

CHP is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing. CHP provides funds directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new or rehire additional career law enforcement officers, thereby increasing their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. Of the 183 agencies awarded grants today, approximately half will use the funding to focus on building legitimacy and trust between law enforcement and communities; 41 agencies will seek to address high rates of gun violence; 21 will focus on other areas of violence; and 19 will focus CHP resources on combating hate and domestic extremism or supporting police-based response to persons in crisis.  The complete list of awards can be found here

Since its creation in 1994, COPS has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers. CHP, COPS’ flagship program, continues to be in demand today: In FY21, COPS received 590 applications requesting nearly 3,000 law enforcement positions. For FY22, President Biden has requested $537 million for CHP, an increase of $300 million.

To learn more about CHP, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov/chp.  For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.

The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to organization for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

A wolf that left its pack in far northern California has been involved in the killing of at least six calves in the Bly region of eastern Klamath County in recent weeks.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released information on the wolf, known as LAS13. According to ODFW, LAS13 is a male that left the Lassen Pack in Lassen County, Calif., as a yearling in August 2020 and entered Oregon near Goose Lake Valley in Lake County in October 2020.

Because LAS13 has a functioning GPS radio-collar, ODFW receives information on a daily basis about his movements from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife if there is new location information.
That information shows LAS13 moving north into southern Deschutes and northern Lake counties, before moving into eastern Klamath County.

In March 2021, remote camera monitoring detected LAS13 was traveling with a female wolf. Through camera monitoring, the two wolves continue to be documented together. At this point, LAS13 is thought of as one wolf, or as the wolves traveling with him.

ODFW biologists investigated an incident of confirmed cattle depredation by LAS13 wolves on Oct. 31 in eastern Klamath County, which led to designating an Area of Depredating Wolves and “the preparation of an area-specific wolf conflict deterrence plan to assist producers and landowners manage potential conflict with wolves.” The ADW is intended to inform livestock owners where wolf-livestock conflicts are most likely to occur.

Oregon Prepares to Fund $230 million for Drug Treatment Centers

The new funding is part of Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of hard drugs and funded new behavioral health networks.

The state commission charged with funding behavioral health care — as part of a new drug decriminalization policy approved by voters — is one step closer to getting money out the door.

The Oversight and Accountability Council created as part of Measure 110 last year has announced plans to distribute $270 million to the organizations that will treat those addicted to drugs.

With the grant proposal period now open, the council will continue to establish rules for the new Behavioral Health Resource Networks, known as BHRNs.

“Our vision is that by funding BHRNs, there will be a collaboration of networks that include culturally and linguistically specific and responsive, trauma-informed and gender affirming care that will meet the needs of anyone seeking services who have been negatively affected by substance use and the war on drugs,” said Oversight & Accountability Tri-chair LaKeesha Dumas.

Measure 110 essentially decriminalized possession of user amounts of hard drugs — including heroin, cocaine and meth — by changing the relevant offense from a misdemeanor to a violation, similar to a parking citation, punishable by a $100 fine or completing a health assessment over the phone.

Around 200 people a month are still being arrested for drug-dealer levels of possession, The Oregonian reported recently, with most being cited for personal use ignoring their court dates or going through the motions during the health screen.

Officials with the Oregon Health Authority are confident the new treatment networks will provide a holistic solution that reduces harm and is “more helpful, caring and cost-effective than punishing and criminalizing people who need help,” according to a news release.

“The collaboration taking place across the state with addiction recovery providers, the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council, Oregon Health Authority and other key stakeholders signifies that we’re finally on track when it comes to supporting Oregonians struggling with substance use,” said Monta Knudson, executive director of the nonprofit Bridges to Change.

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