Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 1/4 – Fern Ridge School District Cancels Classes At Two Schools After Threats Of Violence, Holiday Farm Fire Recovery Group Asks Survivors To Take Survey

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, January 4, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Showers before noon, then rain after noon. Snow level 2500 feet rising to 3500 feet. High near 45. South wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Wednesday– Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 49. Light southeast wind. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Thursday– Rain. High near 53. South southwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday– Rain. High near 49. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Saturday– A slight chance of rain before 10am. Snow level 2500 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 47.

On Monday morning, the Oregon Department of Transportation shut down I-84 from Troutdale to The Dalles after storms dumped powder on the interstate, and blizzard conditions severely reduced visibility in some areas. ODOT also closed I-84 to traffic between Pendleton and Baker City. A number of other highways were closed due to similarly dangerous conditions: Highways 245, 204, 11, 74, 331, 334, and 335. 

ODOT said that conditions were so extreme in some areas that plow drivers couldn’t see the roads well enough to effectively clear them. In at least one case, a plow truck became stuck on a snow drift along Highway 11. Plowing was postponed on some highways in Umatilla County, and ODOT said that closures could remain in place for several days on “lower priority routes” with more snow and wind in the forecast.

The agency urged drivers to not drive on closed roadways or through snow drifts, which could result in them becoming stuck “with little chance of rescue until conditions significantly improve — possibly days.”

Fern Ridge School District Cancels Classes At Two Schools After Threats Of Violence

Threats made on Monday led the Fern Ridge School District to take “the extraordinary step of cancelling classes at Elmira High School AND Fern Ridge Middle School on Tuesday, January 4th,” superintendent Gary Carpenter said.

“This is only because investigators are still trying to determine the viability of the threats. We were informed of the threats at approximately 2:15 and 6:30 p.m.,” the superintendent told families in a letter.

According to Carpenter:

Veneta Elementary and Elmira Elementary will remain open on their normal schedules Tuesday. In an abundance of caution law enforcement will be providing an enhanced presence at those sites although there were no threats directed at these schools.

I realize that cancelling classes will be a hardship for many, particularly with such late notice. While it is in my nature to confidently move forward with school, in this particular situation we believe some additional time for law enforcement and the district to investigate will be helpful. This has been an extremely difficult decision, but when it comes to student safety we must – and do – take threats seriously.

The law enforcement investigation could lead to serious disciplinary action including criminal charges regardless of whether the threats were intended to be taken seriously.

The safety and security of all students and staff is our first priority. We commend those who have reported these threats. This week, and always, if you hear or see anything that may indicate a safety issue, please report it right away.

I will provide more relevant information on the investigation if and when it becomes available. When students return to school, and I fully expect that to be on Wednesday, we will be reminding them that words do matter. If anyone has ANY information regarding where these threats may have generated, please contact the school. https://www.fernridge.k12.or.us/2022/01/03/ehs-and-frms-school-closed-on-tuesday-january-4th-due-to-threat/

Holiday Farm Fire Recovery Group Asks Survivors To Take Survey So They Can Help More

McKenzie Valley Long-Term Recovery Group

The McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group, a nonprofit organization formed in the wake of the 2020 wildfire, is asking residents affected by the fire to complete a survey to help service providers better understand the challenges facing those rebuilding their lives. The 15-minute survey could help Holiday Farm Fire survivors get the aid they still need.

The Holiday Farm Fire, one of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires, burned nearly 174,000 acres in the McKenzie River Valley, destroying about 400 homes and claiming one life.

The short survey gathers information such as where survivors were living before the fire, where they live now, the progress they have made and what they still need to recover.

“If we understand what people really need to help rebuild their homes and lives, we can advocate better for resources, materials and volunteers,” Devin Thompson, the recovery group’s executive director, said in a news release. “The community needs assessment is a very important step in the long-term recovery of our McKenzie Valley community.”

Holiday Farm Fire survivors can take the survey at McKenzieValleyLTRG.org before Jan. 31. In-person options for filling out the survey will become available this month.

Respondents should submit only one response per household. The first 500 households to submit a survey will receive a $10 Walmart gift card.

The McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group formed in 2021 as a nonprofit serving people and organizations in the rural and unincorporated Holiday Farm Fire area.

Its mission is to recognize needs, find resources and help people recover from the disaster. The group identified six key areas of focus: unmet needs, disaster case managers, individual needs assessment, repair and rebuild, spiritual care, and community outreach and advocacy.

Oregon reports 9,701 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths

There are 11 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,666, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

OHA reported 9,701 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 430,931.

The 11 new deaths and 9,701 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the four-day period between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.

Today’s update includes the largest single-day total of newly identified cases reported to public health, with 3,534 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Dec. 30.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (16), Benton (243), Clackamas (1057), Clatsop (50), Columbia (58), Coos (44), Crook (22), Curry (27), Deschutes (881), Douglas (119), Gilliam (5), Grant (3), Harney (7), Hood River (7), Jackson (572), Jefferson (71), Josephine (161), Klamath (27), Lane (696), Lincoln (96), Linn (280), Malheur (11), Marion (231), Morrow (16), Multnomah (2565), Polk (66), Tillamook (69), Umatilla (61), Union (41), Wallowa (6), Wasco (21), Washington (2079), Wheeler (2) and Yamhill (91)

Oregon reports 3,534 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Dec. 30, 2,246 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Dec. 31, 1,763 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Jan. 1, and 2,158 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Jan. 2.

“We already have seen the impacts of the highly transmissible Omicron variant across the country since late December,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy state health officer and epidemiologist. “Our data show the Omicron variant is here and now fueling the surge in cases. It will likely lead to a rise in hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths.”

Jeanne added that OHA urges everyone in Oregon to get vaccinated and, when they’re able, to get a booster shot to protect themselves against serious illness and death from COVID-19. It also encourages everyone to continue wearing masks and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Oregon kids could lose out on after-school activities this month if school districts follow new state guidance that extracurricular activities be cancelled to reduce the spread of the COVID- 19 omicron variant.

But the guidance, issued Monday by state health and education officials, is simply a recommendation — not a requirement. That means it’s unclear how many, if any, schools or districts will actually cancel extracurricular activities and when.

The recommendations were among a series of steps the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education want districts to take as the rapidly-spreading omicron variant threatens to force thousands of children to stay home due to an infection or exposure.

Schools and organizations that go forward with extracurricular activities “should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning,” the state wrote.

The state is giving school districts the freedom to “ensure” schools and other groups hosting activities are following the same safety protocols in after-school activities as they do during the school day.

Pacific Power Continues Service Restoration as Winter Weather Moves Across Oregon 

Scattered weather-related service interruptions began early Sunday afternoon along the coast and continued inland into late Monday 

Nearly 550 Pacific Power line crews, contractors and support personnel continued service restoration work after a series of storms brought high winds, mid-elevation snow and heavy rain to portions of the company’s service area. Working through stormy, sometimes freezing conditions, crews made good progress restoring service to more than 47,000 customers from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon with coastal communities including Astoria, Lincoln City and Coos Bay initially hit with the bulk of outages as the storm system moved inland. Additional crews were at the ready to respond and will continue restoration work into Tuesday as any new weather-related outages occur. 

As of 5 p.m. Monday, approximately 7,600 customers are currently without power and in the process of having service restored. Most customers are expected to have service restored by Midnight tonight with some small, isolated outages in the Coos Bay and Enterprise areas lingering into Tuesday. Visit pacificpower.net/outages for a map showing current restoration time estimates.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding as Pacific Power crews work around the clock to restore service,” said Curtis Mansfield, senior vice president of power delivery. “Our teams are as persistent as this weather system seems to be and we’ll keep working until everyone’s lights are back on.”

Pacific Power emergency managers and regional business managers are working with local emergency officials to prioritize power restoration to critical facilities in the communities affected by extended outages.

Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797. Customers can text STAT to 722797 to check the status of their outage.

To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:

  • Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines.
  • Maintain safe distances from workers. Repair work is being done under our COVID-19 safety protocols. Waves and acknowledgement are welcome, but please allow crews to do their work at an appropriate distance both for operational and COVID-19 safety.
  • If there is damage to your service mast or weatherhead, where the powerline connects to your home or business, you will need to contact a licensed electrician for repairs before service can be restored. Our crews can only work on company-owned equipment.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
  • If you have power at this time, keep mobile devices charged so that they may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Pacific Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. 
  • Remember your pets! Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.
  • Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation. 
  • If you are using a generator, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the generator is outside and not near any household air intakes. Do not connect the generator directly to your breaker box as this can create a dangerous situation for crews working on the powerlines. Instead, plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

Salem Grandfather Shoots Home Intruder

A Salem grandfather shot and killed an alleged home intruder Sunday while his adult daughter and two grandchildren were inside the house.

Marion County sheriff’s deputies were called to the home in an unincorporated area of east Salem just before 7 p.m. for a disturbance. When they arrived, they found the suspect dead at the scene. 

The suspect was identified as Peter Bishop, 42, of Salem. The resident reported to have shot Bishop is an unidentified 62-year-old Salem man, according to a press release. 

Investigators say a 911 caller reported an unknown male was trying to break into the home before a resident shot the intruder. No one in the home was injured during the incident.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Once complete, the case will be forwarded to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office for review.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to submit tips online or by texting TIPMCSO and their tip to 847411.

Oregon DMV Can Now Register Emergency Contacts To Alert Family Faster In Case of A Crash

If you are in a crash or other situation where you can’t communicate with emergency responders, a new service for Oregonians will help police contact your family faster.

With today’s speed of online information, especially with mobile phone video and pictures through social media, there is a risk your friends and family could learn you’re in an emergency before law enforcement can contact your family. That’s a traumatic way to get such critical information – and possibly misinformation.

That’s one reason many states, including Oregon, are setting up emergency contact registries through their DMVs.

The 2021 Oregon Legislature, under House Bill 3125, created an emergency contact service for Oregon residents. Starting Jan. 3, 2022, you can register up to two people, age 18 and older, as emergency contacts for situations where you can’t communicate.

Only Oregon law enforcement personnel will be able to access your emergency contact information. They are able to do so securely through their patrol cars so they can contact your loved ones quickly.

Your emergency contacts can be anyone you choose – family or friends. The only exception is if you are under age 18 – then you must include a parent or legal guardian as one of your contacts.

A parent or legal guardian can also register as an emergency contact for their children under 18 years old.

To register, go to DMV2U.Oregon.gov and sign in to “Access My DMV Profile.” You need to have an Oregon driver license, permit or identification card to register with the service.

Ask your family and friends to register their emergency contacts too!

The emergency contact registry is the newest among more than 20 services DMV has created on DMV2U in the past two years. These and other new DMV services are part of ODOT’s commitment to put new technology to use to make Oregon’s transportation system safer, more efficient and more user friendly.

Before you visit a DMV office, see if you can get the DMV service you need at DMV2U.Oregon.gov.

DMV has added over 20 new services to DMV2U, including driver license renewal, and you can make an appointment for services that must be done in person – such as applying for a new license or the Real ID option for air travel.

Oregon Secretary of State’s office raises Residency Questions on Oregon Governor Candidate Kristof

Former New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof has told Oregon’s top election official that his having voted in New York state in 2020 doesn’t disqualify him from being a candidate for governor in Oregon.

According to Oregon law, a candidate must have been a resident of the state for at least three years before an election.

His having voted in New York in November 2020 has raised questions in the Oregon Secretary of State’s office about his eligibility to run in the November 2022 election.

Kristof is running in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for governor and has raised some $2.5 million for his campaign war chest.

New High Desert Museum Exhibit Invites Visitors to Consider Concepts of Community

BEND, OR — The COVID-19 pandemic, which has shaped our lives in so many ways, has precipitated a moment of asking questions—about who we are and who we want to be as individuals and as a society. It has highlighted the importance of community, and perhaps prompted us to reflect on the communities we want to be a part of and create.

While these questions are relevant, they are not new.

In the new, original exhibit Imagine a World, opening Saturday, January 29, the High Desert Museum examines efforts over the decades to create ideal societies throughout the Western United States—and what we can learn from them. And through an interactive element, Imagine a World gives visitors the opportunity to articulate what kind of world we want to live in for the future.

For generations, people have journeyed to the High Desert and Western United States with visions of founding their own utopias, ranging from the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony in central California in the late 1800s to the artistic and back-to-the-land communes of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Drop City.

The exhibition looks at the ambitions, intentions and outcomes of utopian and intentional communities across the West, delving into approaches ranging from ecological to spiritual to political. Some groups focused on creating an ideal society, while others searched for an idyllic place already in existence to call home. 

“The intentional communities featured in the exhibit all pose interesting questions,” says Laura Ferguson, Ph.D., Museum senior curator of Western history and curator of Imagine a World. “By exploring the ideas that inspired each group, we’re able to consider what we might learn from each society and imagine more possibilities. Ultimately, we hope the exhibition sparks conversations about what kind of world we want today.” 

Imagine a World explores philosophies around community and how they’ve been put into practice. One is ecological laboratories, such as Biosphere 2 in Arizona. In that instance, eight people in 1991 sealed themselves for more than two years into a vast structure of glass pyramids and buildings. They were attempting to thrive as a closed ecosystem that could create its own oxygen and grow enough food to support the inhabitants. It didn’t fully succeed in those aims, but the facility continues to be a hub of scientific research today.

Ma Anand Sheela, spokesperson for the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who moved to Wasco County, Oregon in the early 1980s, shares her thoughts. The spiritual leaders attempted to found a new town, Rajneeshpuram, and drew hundreds of followers to the

The exhibit also explores spiritually oriented endeavors, such as Oregon’s most famous (or infamous) intentional community–Rajneeshpuram. In 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual teacher with an international following, left India for the United States. The Bhagwan and his chief lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, selected a site in Wasco County, Oregon, for their planned community, embracing narratives about an “empty” American West. Just a few years later, in 1985, the community collapsed. Objects in the exhibition, including a Rolls Royce from the same time period, will offer a closer look at the Rajneeshees and the community they sought to create.

The communes of the 1960s and 1970s are featured, as well. One such community is Drop City in Colorado, where residents lived minimally and communally, sharing money, clothing and food. They embraced geodesic domes, advanced by the architect Buckminster Fuller, as the building style that would make up the community. They constructed the domes from salvaged wood and scrap metal, taking pride in living off other people’s trash. While Drop City dissolved by 1973, ideas that germinated there continue to flourish today.

In addition to examining physical settlements, Imagine a World will feature several Native artists who envision alternative worlds and recognize the ways that cosmology, science and futurism have long been part of Indigenous worldviews and oral traditions. Called Indigenous futurisms, the artists imagine Native people well into the future, including in the realms of science fiction and outer space.

As the culmination of the exhibit, visitors will be invited to contribute what they believe should be included in an ideal society through an interactive, immersive experience. 

“The history of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon’s High Desert led us to explore broader questions of communities,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Imagine a World examines different groups that have come to the High Desert inspiring visitors to ask their own questions about what can community look like and how do we work to create it.”

Imagine a World (highdesertmuseum.org/imagine-a-world) will be on display through September 25, 2022.

The exhibit is made possible by Bend Cultural Tourism Fund and KTVZ/KFXO with support from Bend Magazine, The Bulletin, CHUBB and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and is a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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A 17-year-old was reported missing in Salem and detectives say the teen might be the victim of an online catfishing scheme.

Ezra Mayhugh, 17, was last seen on October 15, 2021 after being dropped off in downtown Salem by a friend, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. He was reported as a runaway the following day when he did not return home.

Investigators say he might be in Washington or California. They hope to reunite Ezra safely with family members.

He’s described as about 5-foot 11-inches tall, weighing 130 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.

If you have had contact with Mayhugh since October 15 or have other helpful information on his whereabouts, the sheriff’s office asks you to contact Detective M.J. Sphoon at 503-588-6808 or to submit a tip by texting TIPMCSO and your tip to 847411.


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