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, March 4, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Today– A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 4pm. Snow level 1500 feet rising to 2500 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Patchy fog before 7am. Patchy frost before 7am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 52. Calm wind becoming north around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Monday– Patchy frost before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 56.
Tuesday– A slight chance of rain after 10am. Snow level 3000 feet rising to 3500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 56.
Sweet Home Business Saved by Owner’s Quick Actions
A fire broke out this evening at a motorcycle repair shop in Sweet Home. The fire was caused by a welding project that had not been sufficiently cooled before the owner stepped away from it briefly. Passersby called 911 to report smoke coming from the building.
The owner of the business smelled the smoke and located the fire. He was able to suppress the fire using extinguishers and a hose that he had on hand. The shop’s exhaust fan helped to remove smoke allowing him to enter the area and locate the fire without undue risk to his safety. His quick actions stopped the fire from spreading and limited the damage to a small area.
Sweet Home Fire responded with a ladder truck, engine, ambulance, and command vehicle, and a total of 11 firefighters. Those firefighters assisted with ventilating and overhauling the building to ensure that the fire was not still smoldering anywhere in the structure or its contents. There were no injuries reported. The fire damaged the contents of the structure but did not cause any direct damage to the structure itself.
Family Of Homeless Woman Killed By Driver Of Sanipac Truck Files Lawsuit
The family of a homeless woman who was run over and killed by a Sanipac garbage truck in Eugene two years ago is suing the company and the truck driver for reparations, in what plaintiffs say was a preventable tragedy.
Annette Montero, 57, was asleep in a sleeping bag the morning of Aug. 26, 2019, when a Sanipac garbage truck drove over her and crushed her skull, according to the wrongful death complaint filed Wednesday in Lane County Circuit Court.
The plaintiffs are seeking $800,000 for non-economic damages and human loss, and $50,000 for economic damages. There is no court date set yet. Montero’s family is represented in the suit by her daughter Lorraine Baldi, one of Montero’s two children.
“What happened to my mom was horrific and preventable,” Baldi said in a news release announcing the suit. “This case is not just about getting justice for her, it is also for the unhoused community that remains largely ignored. Our hope is that this lawsuit results in positive change benefiting the often overlooked people in our society.”
Shane Davis, one of the attorneys handling the case, said he thinks this is one of many instances where corporations and workers need to be more careful and aware of the unhoused community in Eugene.
“These are still people, and they still have rights to exist in our city,” Davis said in an interview Thursday. “And (the defendants) need to have some basic duty and an understanding that they need to be aware and watch out for people like that.”
The plaintiffs listed Sanipac; the truck’s driver, Todd Andrew Baker, and Sanipac’s parent company, Waste Connections, as the defendants.
The lawsuit complaint also describes in better detail what led to her death. The day before her death, Montero rode her bike to the food bank at First Christian Church but was told she couldn’t bring it inside, according to the complaint. After eating, she found her bike was stolen, so she slept in a red sleeping bag in the parking lot next to the food bank.
The next morning, Baker drove the truck into the parking lot at around 5:15 a.m. at 1203 Willamette St. where Montero was sleeping. After dumping some bins into the truck, Baker backed up, near where Montero was sleeping. The reverse driving lights also illuminated the area Montero was sleeping, the suit states. As he turned and drove out of the lot, the truck drove over Montero’s head, according to the complaint.
The truck lurched upward after hitting Montero, and hitting her triggered the truck’s on-board crash camera, according to the suit. Baker then drove away without checking what he drove over, it adds.
The plaintiffs are arguing that Baker should have noticed Montero prior to hitting her. “Ms. Montero wasn’t hidden, she was in a bright red sleeping bag contrasted with the ground,” Davis said.
The suit also accuses Sanipac of having “stonewalled” police from investigating the death, and making it hard to see the involved truck. “When Eugene police detectives tracked them down and asked to see the Sanipac truck that killed Ms. Montero, Sanipac said no and forced the police to get a search warrant,” attorney Scott Lucas said in a statement. “Sanipac has stonewalled long enough in this case, and it is time for a jury to hold them accountable.”
The case was investigated by Eugene police but no charges came for Baker following the evaluation by District Attorney Patricia Perlow’s office, calling it a “tragic accident.” In the findings, Perlow’s office wrote that the “carelessness may rise to the level of civil negligence, but it would not create a circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt” for criminal negligence.
Aside from allegations against Baker, the suit argues the waste management companies also were negligent for failing to adequately train and supervise garbage truck drivers to avoid injuring homeless people near shelters and food banks.
Montero lost her home in California during the 2008 recession, and after that she struggled to find stable housing, according to the release. She also struggled with mental illness, the release states.
Douglas County COVID-19 Emergency Grants Available for Small Businesses
ROSEBURG – Small Douglas County businesses including microenterprises may be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds through a $500,000 community development block grant program accepting applications this month.
The City of Roseburg, which was the lead applicant, and Douglas County applied for and received a $500,000 community development block grant to set up an Emergency Small Business and Microenterprise Grant Program.
The City is now partnering with Roseburg-based CCD Business Development Corporation — the regional Economic Development District for Douglas, Coos and Curry counties — to administer and process grants ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 that are available through the emergency program, according to CCD Business Development Corporation.
A total of $275,000 is available to be awarded as cash, while the rest can be used to provide professional services, workforce training or meet other needs of local eligible businesses that apply. Awards are based on demonstrated need rather than made on a first-come, first-served basis.
“This grant is targeted to those who need technical assistance and workforce training to ensure their business is resilient. Professional training for the workforce and employees means investing in them so they are educated and feel valued, thus enabling workforce retention,” said CCD Business Development Corporation Executive Director Theresa Haga.
The program’s goal is to help businesses remain solvent and retain or create low- and moderate-income jobs throughout the pandemic crisis. Funds may be used to offset expenses arising from the pandemic or to pay operating expenses incurred while a business’ revenue is compromised.
CCD will begin accepting online applications on Monday, March 21. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Thursday, March 31.
The program is open to any eligible business located in Douglas County. The grant funds are intended to be equally accessible to all businesses, including those owned by historically disadvantaged populations such as women and Native American, Black, Asian and Hispanic residents, according to CCD.
Eligible businesses include those:
• immediately impacted by public health restrictions;
• generally stable/strong prior to the crisis;
• either employing low-income to moderate-income people or microenterprises employing five or less employees and whose owner is low-moderate income;
• in business for at least one year (from the date of the application).
“It is really important to explain how your small business was impacted by the public health restrictions,” said CCD Technical Assistance Coordinator Kemberly Todd. “The more detail the better, as it’s not just income loss that is considered. It can be employee retention issues, supply chain problems, health-related problems and more that contribute to a business being impacted.”
The program can help provide:
• Short-term working capital assistance;
• Technical assistance in business redesign, new online marketing platforms or other assistance needed to remain in operation throughout the pandemic crisis;
• Technical assistance, grants and other financial assistance to establish, stabilize and expand
microenterprises impacted by the pandemic;
• Job training for low-to-moderate income (LMI) workers in communities affected by pandemic-related job loss since January 2020 to revitalize impacted labor force and business sector.
Funds are limited. Actual grant amounts will be determined by an application review process with CCD Business Development Corporation. Grants range from $2,500 to $25,000.
For microenterprises, the maximum grant amount is $10,000 (LMI is determined by total household income earned by the business owner and based on that person’s family size.) For small businesses, the maximum grant amount is $25,000 ($2,500 per LMI employee) and is based on a low-income limit of $21,900 or a moderate income limit of $35,000.
Applications must be submitted through an online portal at www.ccdbusiness.org starting at 8 a.m. March 21, 2022. The portal will close at 5 p.m. March 31, 2022. Paper applications will not be accepted.
Business owners who do not have access to a computer or need assistance with completing the grant application can schedule an appointment with a CCD technical assistance provider or other staff. To schedule technical assistance, contact Technical Assistance Coordinator, Kemberly Todd at 541-672-6728, extension 307.
Clients who best meet eligibility criteria will be contacted starting in May.
Roseburg Parking tickets start April 1
ROSEBURG – Drivers who visit downtown Roseburg and the Laurelwood area are getting a reprieve as parking tickets won’t start to be given out until Friday, April 1.
Drivers have one more month to adjust to a return to parking enforcement due to supply-chain issues affecting paper parking tickets. Work also continues by ACE Parking, the new parking services contractor, on their webpage at www.aceparking.com/roseburg, where drivers will be able to pay fines and start the process to contest a ticket online.
The online processing system should be completed by the time a supply of paper parking tickets using thermal paper can arrive, according to ACE Parking.
The City announced earlier this week that parking enforcement was expected to resume in March. A public education period began in December and kicked into high gear in February to educate drivers before parking tickets are given out.
The delay gives drivers more time to adjust to changes including free but time-limited parking on streets in the downtown core. While the same number of free, on-street customer parking spots remain, most spaces in the downtown core are now limited to two or three hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Metered parking will remain on outlying downtown streets. Free parking also is available at a parking lot at S.E. Cass Avenue and S.E. Rose Street, and on the first floor of the recently cleaned Downtown Parking Garage at S.E. Washington Avenue and S.E. Rose Street.
The changes were called for in the Downtown Parking Assessment and Plan developed by the City, a consultant and the Roseburg Parking Stakeholder Advisory Committee in 2020 and 2021. To develop that plan, a public outreach campaign including public hearings and a survey gathered input and priorities from residents and other stakeholders. The survey was filled out by more than 300 residents, including 55 downtown business owners or workers, said Roseburg Community Development Department Director Stuart Cowie.
For more information, contact ACE Program Administrator Michelle Anderson at 541-900-1102 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Enforcement Manager James English at (O) 541-900-1106 or (C) 541-315-0366 or email@example.com.
Oregon reports 696 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 34 new deaths
PORTLAND, Ore. — There are 34 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll at 6,686, 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 696,003.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (21), Clackamas (53), Clatsop (4), Columbia (6), Coos (11), Crook (3), Curry (7), Deschutes (46), Douglas (24), Gilliam (2), Grant (5), Harney (1), Hood River (5), Jackson (36), Jefferson (6), Josephine (17), Klamath (11), Lane (60), Lincoln (5), Linn (46), Malheur (4), Marion (48), Morrow (1), Multnomah (140), Polk (8), Umatilla (6), Union (2), Wallowa (3), Wasco (9), Washington (89) and Yamhill (16).
Statewide, the Oregon Department of Education is releasing new guidance for school districts to deal with the pandemic after the mask requirement is lifted on March 11th.
Contact tracing will go away. If a student or staff member gets COVID, the groups affected would be notified. Infected students should stay home for five days. They can return 24 hours after their fever breaks but should wear a mask for the next five days. The Test to Stay program would turn into an enhanced exposure program for people at
OHA STATEMENT: We understand that COVID-19 guidance is changing quickly, and that can cause anxiety and emotional distress. Not everyone has an immediate support system around them.If you’d like to find mental health resources, visit our website for information about crisis support hotlines (http://ow.ly/KP0i50I9Lqy), including for mental health and youth, as well as contact information for local mental health programs (http://ow.ly/rnBC50I9LqB) throughout Oregon, listed by county.You can also find mental health resources and information in multiple languages at Safe + Strong: http://ow.ly/Zomx50I9Lqz
Oregon Employment Department receives $4.5 million for equitable access to Unemployment Insurance benefits
SALEM – Oregon will receive more than $4.5 million in grant funding from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to address disparities in access to unemployment insurance (UI). The Oregon Employment Department (OED) will use the grant to provide direct outreach to underserved communities and gather data to identify which communities need more help.
“This grant will help us reach those people who really need our services but haven’t been able to access them,” Acting OED Director David Gerstenfeld said. “It gives us the opportunity to connect with partners who bring a deep understanding of Oregon’s unique communities, to gain invaluable knowledge about how to best serve these communities, and to gather the data that shows us where there are barriers and how to knock them down.”
Gerstenfeld said the grant will enable the agency to build on what it already started during the pandemic. During the surge of unemployment claims, OED listened to the needs voiced by Oregon’s underserved communities and quickly applied strategies that improved access to its much-needed services.
This included partnering with community-based organizations to help people file claims and expanding the amount of information available in languages other than English, including on OED’s website.
With the grant, OED plans to create a new business unit called the Equitable Access to Unemployment Insurance (EAUI). The unit will create new materials in additional languages and formats, implement outreach programs for underserved communities, and provide one-on-one guidance services to help people with barriers to using the UI system.
Designed in alignment with the State of Oregon Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, the new program will focus on Native Americans, Latinx, Blacks, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, immigrants, people who need assistance in languages other than English, people with disabilities, and those who are economically disadvantaged.
OED will also use the federal funding to analyze data and determine which underserved communities would benefit from future outreach efforts.
Oregon is one of four initial recipients of the DOL grant. “These grants are the first of their kind to advance equity in state unemployment insurance programs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “To become a more robust safety net and economic stabilizer, our unemployment insurance system must serve all workers fairly and equitably.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden says millions of workers across the country have relied on jobless benefits to make ends meet throughout the pandemic. However, accessing those benefits has been challenging for too many Oregonians. He’s grateful the federal government is helping Oregon with its continued efforts to provide aid, equitably.
“While the Oregon Employment Department continues to work tirelessly to get benefits out the door as quickly as possible, I’m gratified to see federal dollars going to help the state address equity issues head-on,” he said.
—— The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is an equal opportunity agency. Everyone has a right to use OED programs and services. OED provides free help. Some examples are: Sign language and spoken language interpreters, written materials in other languages, braille, large print, audio and other formats. If you need help, please call 971-673-6400. TTY users call 711. You can also ask for help at OED_Communications@employ.oregon.gov.
Bill Passes To Give A One-Time $600 Payment To Low-Income Households With People Who Worked During The First Year Of The COVID-19 Pandemic
Oregon House Democrats passed a bill that would give a one-time $600 payment to low-income households with people who worked during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. — After the bill passed the House with a 42-16 vote, it also passed the Senate this afternoon on a vote of 23-2.
“Low-wage workers are a critical part of our economy and are also the most vulnerable to the rising costs of everyday necessities,” said Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Business, who carried the bill on the Senate floor. “Cash payments make a huge difference in the lives of individuals and working families. They can help pay a utility bill, buy necessary medicine or essentials like diapers and groceries. Cash payments also ease stress, allowing families some support to manage the obstacles they face in their daily lives. House Bill 4157 is an opportunity to show support to our low-wage workers as they show up to do the jobs upon which our economy depends.”
The payment aims to help address the rising cost of living and help working families’ necessities such as rent, groceries, prescriptions, and childcare.
“Right now many Oregonians, myself included, have been struggling to get by as the cost of living has skyrocketed,” state Rep. Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland), the chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “These payments can make a huge difference for low-income individuals and working families: they can help pay a utility bill, buy necessary medicine, or essentials like diapers and groceries.”
Those who qualified for and claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 personal income tax returns or file an amended 2020 tax return by April 15, will be eligible to receive the payments. According to the Department of Revenue (DOR), an estimated 250,000 Oregonians will qualify.
“We know that the wealth gap has only continued to widen since the pandemic,” state Rep. Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn) said in a statement. “This means rising costs disproportionately impact our lowest wage workers. With this legislation we’re reaching the working families and individuals whose hard work is essential and makes up the backbone of our economy.”
Eligible Oregonians will not be required to go through an application process and can expect checks or a direct deposit as soon as June. Payments will be distributed through the DOR and funding will come from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund program, a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The bill will now go to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.
Gov. Brown’s $200 million workforce initiative won bipartisan approval in the Oregon Legislature this week
Senate Bill 1545 passed the Oregon House in a 48-10 vote Thursday. The Senate approved it on Tuesday, 23-3. The workforce initiative, which Brown is calling “Future Ready Oregon,” aims to address a severe labor shortage that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Oregon had more than 100,000 job openings last fall, exceeding the number of Oregonians looking for work, according to employment department data. It is Brown’s final major legislative initiative. The bill will direct funding to local workforce development boards, community colleges and state agencies to support youth, training and apprenticeship programs that prioritize underserved communities.
The plan is being funded by $76.9 million from the state’s general fund and $123.1 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, the 2021 federal stimulus package.
Arrest of Drug Traffickers in Clackamas County Leads to Largest Seizure of Fentanyl Pills in Oregon History
On March 1, 2022, a coordinated law enforcement operation targeting four drug traffickers operating in the Portland Metropolitan Area led to the seizure of approximately 150,000 counterfeit prescriptions pills containing fentanyl and 20 pounds of suspected bulk fentanyl, the largest single fentanyl seizure in Oregon state history with an estimated street value of approximately $4 million.
The operation, led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Clackamas County Inter-agency Task Force (CCITF) with assistance from the FBI, came after federal agents learned that Ufrano Orozco Munoz, 27, was knowingly and intentionally conspiring with others to traffic large quantities of fentanyl manufactured in Mexico and elsewhere to Oregon for distribution and sale in the Portland area.
Three of Orozco’s associates were also arrested during this week’s operation. They include Abraham Vera Enriquez, 29; Jesus Miguel Zamora Cruz, 36; and Jose Javier Valdez Paramo, 32.
Orozco, Vera, Zamora, and Valdez have been charged by criminal complaint with conspiring with one another to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl. All three made their first appearances in federal court today and were ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
HSI began investigating Orozco in February 2022 for his role in trafficking large quantities of fentanyl from Mexico to the U.S. for distribution in several western states including Arizona and Oregon.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case is being investigated by HSI and CCITF with assistance from the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott M. Kerin is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
CCITF, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community. The task force is comprised of members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, HSI, and FBI.
Former Beaverton Mayor Charged with Possession of Child Pornography
Dennis “Denny” Doyle, the former mayor of Beaverton, Oregon, is facing federal charges for illegally possessing child pornography.
Doyle, 73, a Beaverton resident, has been charged by criminal information with one count of possession of child pornography. According to the information, between November 2014 and December 2015, Doyle is alleged to have knowingly and unlawfully possessed digital material containing child pornography, including images depicting minors under twelve.
Doyle will make his first appearance in federal court today. If convicted, Doyle faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a life term of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement. This case was investigated by FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF). It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. A criminal information is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. Child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, child victims suffer re-victimization each time the image of their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.org.
The FBI CETF conducts sexual exploitation investigations, many of them undercover, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. CETF is committed to locating and arresting those who prey on children as well as recovering and assisting victims of sex trafficking and child exploitation.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Justice Department to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum announced the settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family regarding their role in the opioid epidemic.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said yesterday that a major settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family that will deliver up to $6 billion nationally for their role in the opioid epidemic. Oregon will receive up to $97 million in the settlement, all of which will be used for opioid treatment and prevention.
On Friday, the historic $26 billion opioid agreement against the three largest distributors of opioids (McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health) and drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was also approved, with Oregon and its cities and counties to receive approximately $329 million from the settlement. Oregon was part of the lead group of attorneys general negotiating both settlements.
The settlement keeps intact provisions of the Purdue bankruptcy plan that forces the company to be dissolved or sold by 2024 and bans the Sackler family from the opioid business and requires Purdue to publicly disclosure additional records.
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.