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 25, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
- Air Stagnation Advisory until January 26, 04:00 PM PST
- Dense Fog Advisory in effect from January 24, 06:17 PM PST until January 25, 12:00 PM PST
Today– Areas of dense fog before 11am. Otherwise, cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 46. North northwest wind 3 to 7 mph.
Wednesday– Areas of fog before noon. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday– Areas of fog before noon. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 51. North northwest wind 3 to 5 mph.
Friday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 52.
Saturday– Partly sunny, with a high near 54.
The National Weather Service has issued an Air Stagnation Advisory for much of western Oregon and southwestern Washington. Poor air quality can cause issues for people with respiratory problems. State air quality agencies have asked people to postpone outdoor burning and limit woodstove fires until conditions improve.
Eugene City Council Approves Housing Implementation Plan
The Eugene city council voted unanimously on Monday evening to approve the Housing Implementation Pipeline (HIP) to address the housing crisis.
The plan, which has been in discussion since 2019, will be in effect until 2027. It introduces two year and five year goals focused on temporary shelter, permanent supportive housing, moderate income housing and market rate housing. Over the next two years, the city is planning to add 250 new safe sleep sites, 75 low-barrier shelter beds, and 310 new income qualified units.
This is in addition to a few of their other logistic-based changes such as an anti-displacement plan to help those who are at risk of being displaced from their neighborhoods due to changes in rent, market values or other things beyond their control.
As for the five year goals, those include but are not limited to 835 new affordable housing units, 129 units of mixed income housing units, as well as issuing the permits for the construction of 6000 housing units.
Amanda Flannery, the city’s community development co-director said she believes the HIP plan lays down solid ground work to combat the crisis.
“We recognize that the path charted in the HIP is based on what we know today as well as the resources the city has available,” Flannery said. “It certainly won’t solve all the issues we will confront and we will need to do more as we learn more.”
According to the city website, the HIP work plan period begins July 1st of this year, and ends in 2027. The council decided they will have updates in year 3, which is 2025 and in year 5, in 2027.
Lane County Sheriff’s Office Issues Scam Alert
— We have received recent reports of a telephone scam in our community. In this case, the scammers are identifying themselves either verbally, by text or by email as employees of the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.
Often times the scammers commonly identify themselves using the names of real Sheriff’s Office employees and provide a fraudulent number for the victim to call back. When the victim calls the provided number they are directed into a phone tree system that is designed to sound like an official Lane County phone tree. The scammers will then commonly make claims that there are warrants, missed jury duty, or unsettled legal business that involve the victim or someone the victim knows and ask for personal or financial information.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office will never ask for money, awards, or compensation of any type over the telephone. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a Lane County Sheriff’s Office employee and you think you are being scammed, please contact our dispatch center at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
Eugene Adult Book Store Robbed
Officers responded to an adult book store early Tuesday morning in Eugene. As of 7 a.m., the building at 6th Avenue and Madison Street was encircled in yellow tape that reads “Police Line Do Not Cross.”
Eugene Police say an employee was injured chasing a suspect in a robbery at an adult book store in Eugene.
The injuries are not life-threatening, police said. The incident is being investigated as a robbery and assault.
Officers responded early Tuesday morning to B&B Distributors Adult Store at 710 W. 6th Ave. Units combed a 4 1/2 block area and put up yellow police line tape around the building. The forensic investigation unit was on the scene.
Oregon reports 19,400 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 17 new deaths Over the Weekend
PORTLAND, Ore. — There are 17 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,953, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
OHA reported 19,400 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 590,270.
The 17 new deaths and 19,400 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the three-day period between Jan. 21 and Jan. 23.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (41), Benton (461), Clackamas (1,532), Clatsop (104), Columbia (165), Coos (204), Crook (200), Curry (64), Deschutes (1,402), Douglas (228), Gilliam (14), Grant (36), Harney (28), Hood River (64), Jackson (1,113), Jefferson (105), Josephine (343), Klamath (448), Lake (4), Lane (2,048), Lincoln (213), Linn (834), Malheur (188), Marion (1,940), Morrow (71), Multnomah (2,940), Polk (425), Sherman (37), Tillamook (66), Umatilla (541), Union (125), Wallowa (28), Wasco (209), Washington (2,722) and Yamhill (457).
Oregon reports 4,922 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Jan. 21, 10,862 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Jan. 22 and 3,616 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Jan. 23.
Weekly coronavirus cases in Oregon climbed 14% in the past seven days, state data released Monday shows, with infections hanging at record levels amid the omicron surge.
The Oregon Health Authority tallied 59,732 confirmed or presumed infections in the past week, including 19,400 announced Monday for the preceding three days.
The highly transmissible but less-virulent omicron variant has spurred unprecedented case counts but has yet to produce a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations. A recent forecast projects Oregon will set an all-time high for coronavirus hospitalizations in early February, and health care workers have already said they’re swamped.
Oregon still does not appear to have reached the omicron summit, with test positivity rates for the past three days reaching 22.9%.
More people have tested positive for coronavirus in the past three weeks than during the 17 weeks between Independence Day and Halloween. Since it began: Oregon has reported 590,270 confirmed or presumed infections and 5,953 deaths, among the lowest per capita numbers in the nation. To date, the state has reported 7,114,281 vaccine doses administered, fully vaccinating 2,814,741 people and partially vaccinating 297,951 people.
New Initiative To Get On Ballot Would Increase Corporate Taxes and Give Rebate Of $750 To Most Oregonians
A new initiative, called “Oregon People’s Rebate” is looking to make a $750 rebate a reality.
The money would come from an increase in taxes for corporations. Organizers with the initiative say companies that make more than $25 million a year in Oregon would have to pay 3% tax, instead of near 1% tax they currently pay.
“We’re talking Comcast, Nike, Apple, corporations like that will have their corporate tax rate increased on their profits over $25 million. Oregon has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation. This would put Oregon in the middle of the pack,” explained Anthony Johnson, Political Director for Oregon People’s Rebate.
According to Johnson, the tax increase would generate about $3 billion in revenue. With about 4 million people living in Oregon, that would equal out to around $750 per person.
“$750 dollars means a lot to a lot of people. For instance, my parents are on a fixed income. They make like $1000 a month in Social Security, $750 is a nice benefit to them, that is like getting an extra payment. For a lot of people, it’s an extra rent payment. For a family of four, that’s $3,000,” said Johnson.
But is there a catch? Johnson says no.
“Opponents will say jobs will leave the state, they will have to increase prices, but that is really just propaganda because they don’t wanna pay the tax,” Johnson said. “A lot of these prices are set nationally, so what you buy from Nike or Apple in Reno, Nevada isn’t jacked up because Nevada has a higher corporate tax rate than Oregon has. So really, it benefits every Oregonian. It puts money in your pocket and it benefits small businesses. Corporations like Starbucks–they will have to pay an increase in corporate taxes, but your local mom and pop, your local small business coffee shop, they won’t have to pay that tax.”
Economists don’t agree. While prices of some items from major corporations may not change, Robert Whelan, senior economist at ECONorthwest says prices of other items will go up.
“Prices aren’t uniform across the country, a half-gallon of milk, in a survey that we did last year, was $2.76 in Portland. In Columbus, Ohio it was $1.66. Up in Seattle, $2.26. The idea that it’s not going to be passed on to consumers is fantasy,” Whelan said.
Here’s his example of why:
“You as the retailer, if you are a typical supermarket in Oregon, your sales are already over $25 million a year. $25 million is not a large number in business today, so now you have to pay an additional 3%. You’re paying a tax on top of a tax, by the time the consumer gets it, you’re charging them a higher price for a product than they would otherwise pay.”
When asked if he thought jobs could leave the state, Whelan said yes.
“It’s not a could you, you will,” Whelan said. “Particularly for businesses who can relocate.”
Despite Whelan’s outlook, Johnson doesn’t see it that way. He says he’s heard similar arguments before from others.
“That’s really a propaganda talking point from corporations that just don’t want to pay the tax. They want to pay their CEO more money, they want to buy more stock for their company,” said Johnson.
Regardless of the differing outlooks, it’s up to Oregonians to decide if they want this on the ballot.
Oregon People’s Rebate is currently collecting signatures so that it can appear on the ballot. They have until the first week of July to get enough signatures. If they hit the goal of 112,500 signatures, Oregonians will be able to vote on the initiative in November 2022.
Job Training Plan Focus Of 2022 Oregon Legislative Session
What could be Govenor Brown’s last policy initiative as governor, a $200 million plan to boost training for future jobs in construction, health care and manufacturing, will be one of the top items for the new session of the Oregon Legislature.
Lawmakers will open the 35-day session on Monday, Feb. 1 as Oregon’s top political leadership undergoes major changes. It will be the final scheduled session for Brown, a Democrat who is barred by term limits from running again, and for Peter Courtney, the veteran Democrat from Salem who has led the Senate as its president for a record two decades. He is retiring after a record 38 years as a legislator.
This session will be new for Rep. Dan Rayfield, a Democrat from Corvallis who has been nominated to succeed Tina Kotek of Portland after her record nine years as House speaker. Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend and Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson of Prineville led minority Republicans for the first time during the Dec. 13 special session. For Democratic Rep. Julie Fahey of Eugene, it will be her first session as majority leader.
Brown previewed the plan at the annual Oregon Business Plan conference on Dec. 6. One of the conference sponsors is the Oregon Business Council, which a decade ago set a goal of a 10% statewide poverty rate by 2020. Oregon’s actual rate in 2021 was 12.44%, slightly less than the national average of 13.4%.
What the plan does
The plan will draw $200 million from the state’s tax-supported general fund and federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act, President Joe Biden’s pandemic recovery plan that Congress passed almost a year ago.
Major spending categories are:
• $92.5 million to expand existing programs. Among them: $35 million for local workforce programs; $20 million for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs; $17 million for Oregon’s 17 community colleges, and $10.5 million for youth training.
• $95 million for competitive grants to organizations.
• $10 million for navigation centers, which link workers with support services (emergency food, housing, child care, health care, transportation) to keep them employed.
• $1 million for coordination of the three specific economic sectors targeted in the plan: Construction, health care and manufacturing.
Though Oregon has regained many of the jobs lost during the onset of the pandemic in spring 2020, “these are aimed at ensuring that Oregon’s recovery is equitable,” said Jennifer Purcell, Brown’s workforce policy adviser.
“The disruption created by the pandemic has exacerbated the workforce crisis, as well as highlighted significant disparities in how our workforce system serves Oregon’s communities of color,” which Purcell said have been affected to a greater extent than Oregon as a whole. “Barriers to job readiness and career advancement persist, which is made more difficult by a workforce system that is often siloed, inefficient, and difficult to navigate.”
Unfilled job openings
Gail Krumenauer, economist for the Oregon Employment Department, spoke briefly to the House committee. In a Jan. 19 conference call with reporters, she touched on why there are shortages now.
The agency reported 103,000 job vacancies in the private sector in the final quarter of 2021 — down from a record 107,000 in the previous quarter — and that employers said 76% were considered hard to fill. (The previous record was 67,000 jobs in summer 2017.)
“We are seeing this extraordinary level of hiring across the United States,” Krumenauer said. “There are simply not enough available workers for this near-record level of job openings that employers are trying to fill.”
For every 10 jobs open, she said, seven workers are potentially available. Average starting pay in the last quarter of 2021 was $21 per hour, a 14% increase over the previous year, even taking inflation into account.
“There is not one thing that can magically be done to help all the workers find jobs with employers to supply all the workers they need,” David Gerstenfeld, the acting director of the Employment Department, told reporters.
“Some people do not recognize they have transferable skills,” he said. “We can help them fill a gap so they can move into some of those high-demand occupations.”
Plan targets sectors
Krumenauer said each of five sectors accounted for at least 10,000 job openings — and construction, health care and manufacturing were three of them, the very ones targeted by the plan. The others were retail trade, and leisure and hospitality, which covers hotels, restaurants and bars.
“Oregon’s health care sector has had the largest need for workers from at least 2013,” when the agency began its quarterly survey of job vacancies. “It has been a larger and growing sector, and the (aging) demographics of this state really show we are likely to need more health-care workers. What the pandemic has done is intensify and reveal labor shortages.”
She said such jobs as home health and personal care workers and nurse practitioners — the most in demand — are more likely than other jobs to require credentials or training beyond high school.
She said the continuing pandemic has also prompted many health-care workers to quit altogether or take less demanding jobs in other fields.
For workforces in construction and manufacturing, she said, they share one common issue: Retirees are not being replaced by younger workers with the necessary skills.
“We see a lot of replacement openings into the future,” she said, noting that Oregon will need 5,000 more workers in manufacturing by 2030.
As for construction, Krumenauer said the demand for housing — which failed to keep pace with population growth during the past decade — and other projects will keep that sector busy. She said Oregon construction employment is up 61% from a decade ago, and is at its peak.
“The difficulty there is similar to what we saw beforehand,” she said. “It’s difficult to find workers in construction simply because it’s more likely to require prior experience. That makes sense in some instances, such as operating heavy equipment.”
The Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries is offering grants for qualified historic cemeteries
The annual grants fund projects that preserve historic cemeteries. Projects funded in the past include marker repair workshops, fencing, signs, interpretive panels and brochures, security lighting, access improvements, records management and more.
Awards typically range between $1,000 and $8,000, but have been higher. Anyone may apply for a grant. Projects must be related to historic cemeteries listed with the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries. Last year’s awards included projects in in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Jackson, Klamath, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Umatilla, and Yamhill counties.
The online grant application is simple to use and includes plenty of support. A free, online workshop specific to this grant and how to use the online grant application system will be offered February 9, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Registration is required. Recorded trainings and tips are also online. https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/OH/pages/historic-cemeteries-program.aspx
Oregon Fish and Wildlife Announces 2023 Annual Wildlife Art Contest
Artists are invited to compete in one or all three of ODFW’s 2023 stamp art competitions.
The winning artist in each contest receives a $2,000 award and winning artwork is used to produce collector’s stamps and other promotional items with sale proceeds benefitting Oregon’s fish, wildlife and their habitats.
For more information on contest rules and to order stamps and art prints, visit: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/stamp_contest/index.asp
Art entries must feature an eligible species from the Oregon Conservation Strategy in its natural habitat. See contest rules and entry form for a list of eligible species.
Waterfowl Stamp Contest
Art entries must feature the greater scaup in its natural habitat setting: More information on the contest rules and entry form. Upland Game Bird Stamp Contest
All entries must feature the mountain quail in its natural habitat setting. See contest rules and entry form for more information.
Entries will be accepted between August 26 and up to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2022, at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife headquarters, 4034
Fairview Industrial Dr., SE, Salem, OR 97302.
Entries can be mailed or hand delivered. Artists, please see the final page on contest rules for packaging tips.
A panel will judge artwork based on artistic composition, anatomical accuracy of the species and general appeal.
Collector’s stamps, art prints and other promotional materials are produced from first-place artwork. Proceeds from product sales are used for habitat improvement, research surveys and conservation projects.
Interested artists are encouraged to visit ODFW’s stamp art competition webpage for more information on the contests and to view entries from previous years.
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
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.