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
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Today– Rain likely, mainly before 11am. Snow level 3500 feet lowering to 3000 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49. North northwest wind 7 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Friday– A 40 percent chance of showers, mainly after 11am. Patchy fog before 11am. Snow level 2000 feet. Otherwise, cloudy, with a high near 47. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– A 20 percent chance of showers. Snow level 2000 feet rising to 2500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. Light and variable wind.
Sunday– Partly sunny, with a high near 52.
Monday– Sunny, with a high near 56.
Property Of Multiple Moving Company Scam Victims Found At A Warehouse In Sutherlin
A release from the Eugene Police Department said on Tuesday, members of the EPD Property/Financial Crimes Unit, the Crime Analysis Unit and an EPD K9 unit served a search warrant at an undisclosed location with the assistance of the Sutherlin Police Department. An EPD detective authored the search warrant after receiving a case where a Eugene resident hired a moving company to move the family’s possessions to their new residence on the east coast and then never received their property.
The release said another victim, who had hired the same company, also had the same experience and set out to track down their property. They eventually determined that it was likely in the warehouse. This victim staked the warehouse out and waited for someone to arrive, at which point they were able to locate their property and took numerous photos of other stacks of property belonging to other victims, including the Eugene victim.
The EPD PCU detective coordinated with the Eugene victim who flew back from the east coast to make preparations for the recovery of their belongings. Upon serving the search warrant, detectives located the Eugene victim’s property and assisted her with filling a 26-foot U-Haul with the family’s possessions. Detectives and the Crime Analysis Unit worked throughout the day to identify 4 additional victims and then worked with the victims to get U-Hauls rented. Detectives loaded all of the victim’s property into additional U-Hauls so it could be safety stored until the victims arrive to take possession of them.
In all, detectives loaded and nearly filled 3 26-foot U-Hauls. One of the victims had moved from Arizona to Veneta. In this case, their property made it all the way to Sutherlin, where it was dropped off in the warehouse. Detectives were able to deliver the property to this victim’s residence in Veneta. She had been without her property for nearly 5 months.
The release said no arrests are expected as with other frequent scams, the involved companies and individuals are likely to be out of state or possibly out of the country.
Former Child Care Worker Sentenced To Prison For Sex Abuse
A former child care worker was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse on Tuesday — Christian Galindo, 26, pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree sexual abuse. A prosecutor in the Lane County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that there were four victims under the age of 10.
While the State sought 20 years in prison, the judge sentenced Galindo to 15 years and three months in prison. Galindo will also serve three years and nine months of post-prison supervision. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.
Galindo worked at the Eugene YMCA from September 2019 to March 2020. He later worked there from September 9 to 25 that year, up until the day he was taken into custody. Court documents say Galindo had been working in the YMCA’s after-school care program at Holt Elementary. Following his arrest, YMCA officials confirmed he was no longer employed by them.
The DA’s office reports that Galindo was employed by the YMCA during at least one incident and was employed at Head Start during a different one.
A prosecutor memorandum in the case indicates that Galindo displayed a number of “red-flag behaviors” over his many years working in child care roles. Prior to being hired by the YMCA, Galindo had been fired from Head Start and the City of Eugene recreational program due to inappropriate touching, according to the court document.
When the pandemic began, Galindo was placed on a work plan at the YMCA and was required to complete a child abuse prevention course, which he claimed he forgot to do, the document adds. He was first investigated for child abuse in 2018 at Head Start, and the case was suspended by law enforcement. When a new victim came forward in 2020, a new case was opened, and the 2018 case was reopened, according to the memorandum.
The Eugene YMCA issued the following statement:
“The Eugene Family YMCA conducts detailed background checks, requires robust training and does its due diligence in regards to hiring for all of its employees. In the case of Christian Galindo, his application was vetted, he completed a background check and he provided proof of required training. We prevent abuse by implementing protocols that do not allow child care workers to be alone one-on-one with a youth in Y programs.”
Scammers Posing as Assessor Employees
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has become aware of a new scam in which scammers are posing as employees from the Assessor’s Office.
It has been reported that an individual contacted a resident at their home indicating the supposed employee was there to collecting past due taxes. This is a scam and Douglas County will not send anyone to your home to collect taxes.
It is the practice of the Assessor’s Office for employees to provide residents with a business card and present their employee identification card. True Douglas County Assessor employees will only arrive at your property during business hours Monday – Thursday. If you ever question the validity of the person’s affiliation, you can call the Assessor’s Office at (541) 440-4222.
Oregon reports 696 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 4 new deaths
PORTLAND, Ore. — There are four new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,652, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
OHA reported 696 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 695,323.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (25), Clackamas (54), Clatsop (3), Columbia (10), Coos (10), Crook (10), Curry (2), Deschutes (25), Douglas (19), Gilliam (1), Harney (1), Hood River (12), Jackson (59), Jefferson (2), Josephine (26), Klamath (12), Lake (1), Lane (77), Lincoln (5), Linn (44), Marion (40), Morrow (2), Multnomah (121), Polk (8), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (18), Union (1), Wasco (4), Washington (89) and Yamhill (10).
Note: Due to delayed reporting, approximately 1,500 backlogged negative test results were received for Deschutes County on March 1, 2022. Results were from December 15, 2021, to March 1, 2022. As a result, test counts are higher than anticipated and percent positivity is lower than anticipated for March 1.
OHA and ODE hold media briefing on new COVID-19 guidance
Dean Sidelinger, M.D., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA, and Colt Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education, spoke to the media today about changes to COVID-19 guidance and the Ready School Safe Learners Resiliency Framework, starting March 12.
A link to the media availability is here.
DMV Drops Mask Requirement For Customers Starting March 14th
Oregon’s mask mandates for indoor public places ends after March 11. When DMV offices open the following Monday, March 14, customers can leave their masks at home if they choose; masks will be optional inside DMV offices and during driving tests.
The DMV issued the following information today:
“As a reminder, masks are still required for both DMV employees and customers inside DMV offices and on drive tests through Friday, March 11,” DMV Administrator Amy Joyce said. “Even after the mask requirement ends, you will still see customers and employees wearing masks by their own choice in DMV offices.”
At a meeting on Wednesday, the 4J school board unanimously approved a change to their COVID protocols, making masks for staffs and students optional beginning March 14th.
Final Week of the 2022 Legislative Session
Broken tail lights, Russian vodka, the Great Resignation, overtime pay, and a machine speed-reading a 193-page budget bill were pieces of a hyperactive Tuesday as the Legislature hit the final week of the 2022 session.
In the main event of the day, the Senate and House swapped political hot potatoes. The House voted 37-23 along party lines to approve a contentious farmworker overtime bill, sending it to the Senate.
The Senate voted 16-11 for what’s been dubbed “the broken tail light law” that would limit police vehicle stops. It now goes to the House.
Signs the Legislature was coming into the final days of its 35-day sprint of a “short session” could be seen in the committee calendar. In the first weeks after the session began Feb. 1, the 37 legislative committees held up to 30 meetings a day, five days a week.
By Tuesday, the trickle was down to two committees, with no meetings scheduled for Wednesday. Legislation cannot be amended on the floor of the House and Senate, so the final committee hearings were sometimes dramatic showdowns over which bills would make the jump to the floor and which would remain in the legislative graveyard at the end of the session.
Governor Brown Responds After Judge Blocks Clemency Commutation Orders
After a judge blocked Gov. Kate Brown’s order which would let the parole board review commutations, her office says they will be evaluating their legal options going forward.
The order would have allowed dozens of juvenile convicts the chance for an early release from prison.
A circuit court judge decided that by allowing the parole board to make release decisions, Brown could hand off her responsibility. The move would have expanded the parole board’s authority through executive action, which isn’t allowed.
Kevin Mannix, the president of Common Sense for Oregon and one of the attorneys behind the lawsuit, said there were “up to 250 cases that could be considered here.”
Despite this decision, the governor’s office said Brown will continue to use her clemency authority and thinks executive clemency “can be used to address systemic failures in our criminal justice system while we work to make lasting change.”
In the same lawsuit, the judge upheld some other commutations the governor recently made.
“The Governor is pleased the court’s letter opinion has affirmed that her use of clemency powers was within her authority and upheld every single commutation granted to date, impacting almost 1,200 individuals,” according to Gov. Brown’s office.
Bureau Of Land Management Plan Protects Oregon Forests Through Integrated Vegetation Management
The Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington Medford District Manager has approved a plan to promote resilient forests across southwestern Oregon. The Decision Record for the Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Environmental Assessment (IVM EA) was signed Wednesday. The plan aims to protect forests from fire, drought, insects, and disease. It is also designed to improve habitat for wildlife and plants.
The forests of southwest Oregon are fire-adapted ecosystems. Reducing competition among trees allows them to grow larger in diameter becoming more resilient to impacts of fire, drought, insects, and disease. The plan will preserve large trees and reduce the risk of large-scale, high severity fires.
“This plan supports the Rogue Valley Fire Integrated Community Wildfire Protection Plan,” said Jen Smith, acting Medford District Manager. “The IVM plan is critical in helping us reduce the threat and severity of fire across a very large wildland urban interface area.”
By analyzing similar actions across the Medford District, the IVM EA creates a framework to increase the pace and scale of critical resiliency treatments. While developing the IVM EA, BLM officials consulted with local Tribes, worked with other government agencies, and provided multiple opportunities for public engagement. The BLM will provide additional public engagement opportunities for future projects involving commercial harvest treatments under the IVM EA.
Learn more about the IVM EA by visiting the project website at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123406/510.
Pacific Power files 2023 Oregon Rate Proposals
General rate request supports new investments for system hardening and renewable energy
PORTLAND, Ore., (March 1, 2022) — Today Pacific Power filed a general rate case, along with its annual power cost forecast, with the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The general rate case, which proposes a 6.6 percent rate adjustment, or $82.2 million, supports continued investments in wildfire mitigation strategies, vegetation management and clean energy resources, while also responding to inflationary impacts. If approved, this would be Pacific Power’s first general rate increase in nearly a decade.
“Through careful stewardship on behalf of our customers, we have delivered safe, reliable, affordable service at prices that are 12 percent below the national average,” said Matt McVee, vice president of regulatory policy and operations. “While our essential operating costs continue to stay low, new factors – including extreme weather events and changing economic conditions impacting all households and businesses – are raising the costs of providing our essential services.”
The company’s annual power cost forecast (Transition Adjustment Mechanism or TAM) is being filed concurrently with the rate case. The initial forecast shows power costs increasing for the first time in five years, if approved. The proposed 5.6 percent increase for rates effective in 2023 is primarily due to inflationary pressures related to increases in wholesale electricity and natural gas commodity prices. The final approved 2023 TAM rate will be updated in November with the most current forecasted prices for wholesale energy and natural gas.
The proposed TAM increase is well below the U.S. Consumer Price Index for the energy sector and energy services, which increased 27 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, over the last 12 months. The TAM increase is lower in part due to Pacific Power’s expansion of low-cost, zero-carbon renewable resources and its participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). The EIM enables access to even more low-cost, zero-carbon energy across the entire Western U.S. market while reducing emissions and increasing reliability. Since Pacific Power helped form the EIM in 2014, it has provided its Oregon customers with $102 million in savings through year-end 2021 and $24 million of expected benefits in the 2023 TAM.
“We are in a period of significant change. We are investing in the safety, adaptability and resilience of our energy grid and building to a net zero emissions energy future,” said McVee. “While we do this, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our customers and our communities and will continue to seek new ways to reduce impacts to customer bills along the way.”
Pacific Power Plans New Rate Discount for Low Income Customers
Later this year, Pacific Power plans to work with the commission to develop an on-bill rate discount to support customers who are experiencing income restraints. This will be separate from the current rate process to allow for faster adoption of the proposed rate discount, enabling us to mitigate the impact of the proposed rate increase for our most vulnerable community members.
The public review process for a general rate case can take up to 10 months. During that time, the public can provide input on the filing. The commission has the authority to set final rates that may be lower or higher than the company’s request, depending on the outcome of its examination. The public is also invited to take part in public meetings. To learn more, visit: oregon.gov/puc/utilities/Pages/Rates-Tariffs.aspx.
Pacific Power’s most vulnerable customers can access a variety of bill support programs through local community action agencies, including the Oregon Energy Fund, Oregon Energy Assistance Program, COVID Energy Assistance Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In 2020, more than 30,000 of Pacific Power’s customers in Oregon received $13.8 million in support toward their bill payments.
Pacific Power also offers a variety of ways to budget for energy expenses, including time of use and equal pay billing options, and energy use tracking offered online and through the company’s app. In partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power customers can tap into information and rebates to help improve their energy efficiency and lower their bills. Customers can call 1-888-221-7070 to discuss options.
About Pacific Power
Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 770,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. It is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, providing 1.9 million customers with value for their energy dollar through safe, reliable electricity. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.
Large Clackamas County Drug Seizure Leads to Federal Indictment of Local Drug Traffickers
PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment today charging two local men for trafficking and selling large quantities of methamphetamine and counterfeit prescription pills across the Portland Metropolitan Area.
Juan Manuel Angulo, 50, of Gresham, Oregon, and Enrique Ocegueda, 31, of Beaverton, Oregon, have been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.
According to court documents, on February 2, 2022, Angulo and Ocegueda were arrested when they showed up to a drug deal with an undercover law enforcement informant in Clackamas County, Oregon.
Investigators found and seized a combined 50 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 10,000 counterfeit pills suspected to contain fentanyl from Angulo and Ocegueda’s vehicles. Later that same evening, agents executed federal search warrants on both men’s residences and a storage locker belonging to Ocegueda. They seized several thousand additional counterfeit prescription pills, 15 additional pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of heroin, and approximately $50,000 in cash.
Both defendants will be arraigned on March 4, 2022. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of life in prison with ten-year mandatory minimum sentences.
U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Police Ask for Public’s Help in Search For Victim’s Roommate In Albany Homicide
A 42-year-old woman, the roommate of a 75-year-old man whose death was ruled a homicide, is wanted for questioning in the case, Albany police officials said.
Elvin “Al” Pierce was found dead by officers around 9:10 p.m. Friday after a 911 caller reported a man was unconscious and not breathing. Investigators at that time said the circumstances surrounding his death were suspicious.
APD said Pierce’s roommate, 42-year-old Elizabeth Nicole Tyler Jimenez, wasn’t there at the home when officers found Pierce dead and they don’t know where she is. Authorities did not specifically state whether Jimenez is a suspect or if there are any charges against her.
Pierce’s car, a tan 2004 Buick Park Avenue with Oregon license plate 081FAX, is also missing.
Jimenez, who investigators believe is currently without a job, is described as often visiting local soup kitchens. She also has skills as a masseuse and a seamstress, officials said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact APD at 541-917-7680 or APD Lt. Buck Pearce at 541-917-3209.
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.