Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 12/21 – Springfield Hazmat Incident Found to be a Suicide after Person Blew up Their Car with Sulphur Dioxide, Hwy 126 Closed, Eugene DMV Moves to Mall

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, December 21, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Rain, mainly after 5pm. Areas of dense fog before noon. High near 46. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Wednesday– Rain. High near 50. South wind 7 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Thursday– Rain. Snow level 2500 feet lowering to 2000 feet in the afternoon . High near 44. Southwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday– Rain. Snow level 2000 feet. High near 43. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Christmas Day– Rain. Snow level 1500 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 40.

Springfield Hazmat Incident Found to be a Suicide after Person Blew up Their Car with Sulphur Dioxide

A hazmat incident closed four blocks of Main Street in Springfield and asked residents to shelter in place for several hours Monday night, as police and firefighters respond to what officials say was hazardous gas released inside a vehicle in a suspected suicide.

Early investigation found that one victim was found dead in a vehicle, Eugene-Springfield Battalion Chief Mike Caven said.

“It sounds like we had somebody commit suicide with a hazardous gas in the vehicle,” Caven said Monday night. “They’re locking down the area, (asking people) shelter in place until they can make sure everything’s ventilated.”

The gas released was hydrogen sulfide , and the chemicals have been isolated to the one vehicle, said Battalion Chief Anthony Bucher, who responded initially.

“They’ve just been mitigating the hazard, which will probably take a couple more hours, that’s why the area is cordoned off,” Bucher said.

Also known as H2S, sewer gas, swamp gas, stink damp, and sour damp, it is a colorless gas known for its pungent “rotten egg” odor at low concentrations. It is extremely flammable and highly toxic, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

HWY 126 Closed between Eugene and Florence

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Highway 126 between Florence and Eugene remained closed overnight at milepost 9.4 east of Teirnan, near the boat launch, because of a landslide. An estimated 200 yards of material was across the road. The slide was continuing to grow Monday night with mud, rocks and trees falling, creating hazardous conditions. Oregon Department of Transportation crews plan to resume clean up Tuesday morning. There is no local detour in place. More information at tripcheck.com.

Eugene DMV Moves to Mall

Thursday is the last day to use the Eugene DMV on Tyinn and 10th Place. After that, the office is moving to the mall.

The Eugene DMV has been in the same location since 1985. Spokesman David House said they’ve outgrown the space, and the lease expires at the end of the year. He says the 24th is a holiday, and the Eugene office will be closed the week of December 27th.

“We’re going to reopen the Eugene DMV in Valley River Center near the food court,” House told KLCC. “We’re going to be there for a few months while we prepare a new building that’s just outside the Valley River Center. We like to move into a place that we can grow into a little bit, have a few extra counters that in the future we can add more staff as the community grows.”

House said the Springfield office will stay open, and appointments can be made online.

He also warned the extension on renewals ends soon. Beginning January 1st, anyone with an expired license or tags may be ticketed.

In addition to making appointments, Oregonians can also use the online tools at DMV2U for some license and permit renewals.

Oregon reports 1,941 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths

There are three new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,534. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,941 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 407,153.

The three new deaths and 1,941 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the three-day period between Dec. 17 and Dec. 19.

The omicron variant has arrived in Lane County. A person tested positive late last week for COVID-19 and a University of Oregon lab sequenced the sample and confirmed it as omicron. 

State health officials are hoping to get COVID-19 booster shots into the arms of one-million Oregonians by the end of January. The Oregon Health Authority announced the goal late last week as part of an effort to combat the new Omicron variant. The agency says it’s adding three high capacity vaccination sites to the current six locations to help
reach the goal. Oregon is also set to receive an additional 140-thousand doses of vaccine from the federal government.

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Grants available for main street building projects statewide

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is offering grants for up to $200,000 in matching funds for downtown revitalization efforts in communities participating in the Oregon Main Street Network. The Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant funds may be used to acquire, rehabilitate, and construct buildings on properties in designated downtown areas statewide.

Funded projects must facilitate community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, establishing or expanding viable businesses, or creating a stronger tax base. Projects may include façade improvement, accessibility enhancement, basic utilities, second floor renovations and more. Only organizations participating in the Oregon Main Street Network are eligible to apply. Projects must be within approved Main Street areas. Eligible organizations may collaborate with the local governments and private property owners to apply for projects that will have the biggest benefit to the downtown. The grant application deadline is March 15, 2022. 

In 2019, the second grant cycle, SHPO awarded 30 matching grants worth $5,244,261 to Oregon Main Street Network organizations across the state for building projects that encourage economic vitality. Projects ranged from façade improvement to housing and awards ranged from $56,731-$200,000. 63% of the requests were funded, with 93% going to rural communities.

“While all of the 2019 projects are not complete, we are thrilled to see the impact this grant program is having in communities that have worked hard to make downtowns a strong asset despite the pandemic,” notes Sheri Stuart, Oregon Main Street Network Coordinator. Adaptive reuse of a bank building brought apartments to downtown Coos Bay. And structural enhances stabilized a building for retail and event space in Baker City. “We are looking forward to proposals for the new cycle,” adds Stuart.

In 2015, legislation established a permanent fund for the grant and provided an initial $2.5 million of funding as part of a larger lottery bond package. In the 2017 legislative session, an additional $5 million was approved and was funded through the sale of the 2019 lottery bond package. The 2021 bond sale was canceled due to the economic impact of COVID-19, but the Oregon legislature included Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant in the bond packages slated for 2022 and 2023. 

Preservation office staff is happy to talk with applicants about potential grant projects and review applications. A free online workshop specific to the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant will be January 14, 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Registration is required. 

Other resources available include:

To learn more about the grant and workshop, visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at i.Gill@oprd.oregon.gov“>Kuri.Gill@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-6085. To learn more about the Oregon Main Street Network contact Sheri Stuart at i.Stuart@oprd.oregon.gov“>Sheri.Stuart@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-0679. Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Grocery workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are back on the job following a one-day strike over failed contract negotiations

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 says it reached a settlement agreement with Fred Meyer and QFC over the weekend. The union says the agreement includes significant wage increases as well as added workplace protections, a secure retirement program and quality healthcare benefits.

Union members still need to ratify the settlement agreement through a vote. Employees at nearly 40 stores formed picket lines on Friday, accusing the grocery chains of disregarding federal labor law, engaging in unfair labor practices and failing to negotiate in good faith with the union.

Oregon Jobs Since Start of Pandemic

Oregon shed more than 250,000 jobs almost overnight at the start of the pandemic, and the jobs that remained changed dramatically — and indefinitely. A year and a half later, the vast majority of the lost jobs have returned, but many of the workers who filled those roles have moved on. And the shock of the intervening months has
spurred many others to reassess their priorities, often starting with their work.

A historic number of job openings – 107,000 across the state as of the summer – paired with rising wages and the rapid normalization of remote work have made it easier than ever for employees to switch jobs. While it’s clear more workers are leaving their jobs,, it’s less obvious where they are going next. Some could be leaving the workforce
entirely; most are probably going to new jobs, but it’s not clear whether they’re staying in the same industry or moving into a whole new one.

In September alone, an estimated 67,000 Oregon workers — or about 3.6% of the state’s workforce — quit their jobs, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That number appears unmatched going back at least a decade. That follows trends observed nationally. About 4.2 million workers across the country quit their jobs in October, according to the federal data, part of a sweeping phenomenon that’s been called the “Great Resignation.”

In a sense, it’s a return to normal. The number of Oregonians quitting their jobs was near an all-time high before the pandemic, too, when the economy was strong and unemployment in the state was at an all-time low. About 61,000 Oregon workers quit their jobs in October 2019, according to the federal data.

But what’s noteworthy about the rising number of people leaving their jobs now, said Gail Krumenauer, an economist at the Oregon Employment Department, is how quickly those numbers have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Before the pandemic, she said it took years of economic growth to create an environment where workers were quitting at higher rates because they knew they had strong job prospects elsewhere.

Oregon State Police Detectives make arrest in 2018 murder of Jack Hasbrouck- Klamath County

On December 16, 2021, arrests were made in the 2018 murder of Jack Hasbrouck.

On March 21, 2018, Jack Hasbrouck’s body was discovered in a wooded area north of Beatty, OR, in Klamath County.  It was apparent Mr. Hasbrouck had died as the result of homicidal violence.  The Klamath County Major Crime Team was activated to investigate the murder of Mr. Hasbrouck.

Investigators followed up on multiple leads until they developed suspects in the murder of Mr. Hasbrouck.  In late November of 2021, a Klamath County Grand Jury indicted Jeremy Milton Lacy (43) and Eileen Gay Lacy (51), a married couple, for the murder of Mr. Hasbrouck. 

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Klamath County Major Crime Team with determining Jeremy and Eileen Lacy were living near Willow Creek, CA, in Humboldt County.

On December 16, 2021, a California Highway Patrol officer located Jeremy Lacy driving on Highway 299, east of Eureka.  Jeremy Lacy was taken into custody without incident. Eileen Lacy was located a short time later and taken into custody without incident.  The Lacy’s were transported to the Humboldt County Jail where they were lodged on the warrants.

The Klamath County Major Crime Team consists of the Oregon State Police, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, the Klamath Falls City Police Department, Klamath County Community Corrections, and the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office.

The Klamath County Major Crime Team would like to express their gratitude to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol for their assistance in this long and difficult investigation.

One man is dead after his boat capsized off the Oregon coast near Newport.

The U.S. Coast Guard says two men and one woman were onboard the 22-foot boat when it flipped about a mile form the Yaquina Bay’s north jetty Friday morning. Coast Guard crews rescued one of the men and a woman, who showed signs of hypothermia. The second man was pronounced dead after being found unresponsive.

No Threat of Tsunami after 6.2 Earthquake off Coast near Eureka

Officials at the National Weather Service say that there is no threat of tsunami after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Petrolia, just southwest of Eureka, California. According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake epicenter was 24 miles west of Petrolia, relatively close to the coastline, and at a depth of four miles.

It occurred shortly after noon. The quake triggered the ShakeAlert system, sending out alerts to cell phones of people in the area. USGS indicated that it might have been felt weakly as far north as Brookings or Gold Beach, or Redding in the Northern California interior. Stronger readings would have been limited to the immediate coastline, which is not a highly populated area.

There were no immediate reports of damage, though the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services said that Caltrans and public works had deployed crews throughout the county to check for impacts to roadways. There were
several road closures in effect for rockslides.

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