Willamette Valley News, Thursday 4/21 – Eugene Company ‘Marley’s Monsters’ Featured on Good Morning America This Morning For Earth Day Deals, Early Morning House Fire in NW Eugene

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, April 21, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce small hail. Partly sunny, with a high near 56. South wind 6 to 8 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Friday– A 30 percent chance of showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 57. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. Light and variable wind.

Sunday– A 20 percent chance of showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 67.

Monday– A slight chance of showers after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 62.

Eugene Company ‘Marley’s Monsters’ Featured on Good Morning America This Morning For Earth Day Deals

In West Eugene, Sarah Dooley and her team at Marley’s Monsters are a family that provides handmade, eco-friendly, living essentials.  http://willamettevalleymagazine.com/2022/04/19/marleys-monsters-eugenes-eco-friendly-living-essentials/

Early Morning House Fire in NW Eugene

A house in NW Eugene was declared unlivable after a fire broke out early Thursday morning, according to Eugene Springfield Fire.

The fire started at 4:08 a.m. Thursday in the 800 block of Jerry Street in Eugene.  This is just off Royal Avenue.

Officials said the fire started at a generator located outside of the house. The fire then spread to the bedrooms and to the attic.

The three occupants of the house made it out safely, fire officials said. Red Cross is working to help those displaced from the fire with their living arrangements, officials said.

Royal Avenue was blocked off for two hours at Jerry Street while fire crews worked to clean up the scene.

Join the Office of State Fire Marshal for a Firewise USA Webinar Today

SALEM, Ore. – The Office of State Fire Marshal is hosting Jenna Trentadue from ODF to talk about the Firewise USA® Program. Jenna will present information on how Oregonians can help prepare themselves and their community by participating in the Firewise USA® program. These educational webinars are designed to provide Oregonians and local community partners with tools to prepare themselves and their properties for wildfire.  

The national Firewise USA®’s recognition program provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community and reduce wildfire risks at the local level. This presentation will be discussing the current drought outlook, stats from previous years, the Firewise USA® program, requirements, exploring types of work that can be done, and sharing some visuals on example mitigation work. 

More webinars will be scheduled over the coming months. In addition, the OSFM will be hosting discussions on various topics, including the importance of creating defensible space, wildfire prevention tips, and evacuation readiness. 

To register:

Firewise USA® Program in Oregon 

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

12:00PM – 1:00PM 

Register through Eventbrite  

The webinar will be recorded for those unable to attend.

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/Esmc50IO7V5

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and test positivity. Hospitalizations and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

OHA monthly media availability provides update on COVID-19

Today kicked off the first Oregon Health Authority (OHA) monthly media availability providing updates on COVID-19 in Oregon.

Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy state health officer and deputy state epidemiologist, OHA Public Health Division, and Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations, answered reporters’ questions and gave an update on the state’s ongoing management of COVID-19.

Here are the talking points from today’s media availability. You can also watch it here.

OHA releases biweekly COVID-19 reports

The COVID-19 Biweekly Data Report, released today, shows an increase in cases and deaths and a slight decrease in disease-related hospitalizations over the previous biweekly period.

OHA reported 5,980 new cases of COVID-19 during the weeks of April 4 to April 17, a 76% increase over the previous biweekly total.

There were 202 COVID-19-related hospitalizations during the biweekly period, a drop from the 245 reported over the previous two weeks.

There were 241 COVID-19-related deaths, up slightly from the 239 reported during the prior two weeks.

There were 145,100 tests administered during the weeks of April 3 to April 16, with a test positivity rate of 3.6%.

Today’s COVID-19 Biweekly Outbreak Report shows 31 total active outbreaks in care facilities, senior living communities and congregate living settings with three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases or one or more COVID-19-related deaths.

Note: this marks the first time both reports are being published on a biweekly basis, consistent with the new reporting schedule shared last month.

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President Biden Will Be at PDX Today

He’ll be speaking at the airport on a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. President Joe Biden to make quick stop in Portland Thursday during a Pacific Northwest tour. This is his first trip to Oregon since he took office.

It will be Biden’s first visit to Oregon since becoming president. He last visited Portland in 2019 for a fundraiser at which he discussed Russian aggression, climate change and other topics still in the news.

After speaking with reporters at the airport on Thursday, the White House said Biden will take part in a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee from about 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sources say the private event will take place at the Portland Yacht Club, less than a mile from airport grounds.

By 4:25 p.m., Air Force One is expected to take off for Seattle.

The appropriations bill approved by Congress in March includes $200 million earmarked for 149 projects in Oregon and funds federal agency grant programs that could direct more spending to the state.

Last year’s infrastructure bill is expected to send at least $5 billion to Oregon over five years, according to the White House, among other things paying for upgrades to roads, bridges, public transportation, broadband internet networks and water systems.

Former Oregon Health Authority Employee Indicted In COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

A former Oregon Health Authority employee faces a 21-count indictment over an alleged embezzlement scheme that siphoned nearly $1.5 million in fraudulent COVID-19 relief payments to a sham company.

A Marion County grand jury indicted the former authority employee, Marzieh Abedin, and the Department of Justice has requested a warrant for her arrest, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Wednesday. 

Oregon Department of Justice investigators started to dig into the case in November, when the health authority reported the fraud to that agency’s criminal division. 

At the health authority, Abedin coordinated the approval of vendors requesting payments from OHA for services related to the COVID-19 vaccination response. The payments came from Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 funds that the health authority distributes.

The criminal investigation found that she created fraudulent invoices for a sham company and generated fake records, according to the Oregon Department of Justice.  Those records allegedly allowed Abedin to authorize payments to fraudulent bank accounts she opened. 

“Fortunately this fraud was caught by OHA and immediately referred to our Criminal Justice team,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “We were able to quickly follow the money through various bank accounts and recover nearly all of it. Let this be a warning to anyone looking to personally benefit from a public health emergency—no one, state employee or otherwise, is above the law.”

Of the nearly $1.5 million, only $6,821 is not recovered, according to the Department of Justice.

In March 2021, Abedin began as a program analyst  in the authority’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Unit and left the agency in January, authority officials said. Her monthly salary was $7,107. 

“Oregon Health Authority takes seriously its responsibility for ensuring appropriate use of federal COVID-19 response funds it manages,” authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said in a statement. “OHA uncovered the alleged fraudulent activity described by the Oregon Department of Justice after suspicious invoices and payments for an unknown business were identified by an outside contractor hired to reconcile FEMA invoices and payments for OHA.”

The authority placed Abedin on administrative leave and notified investigators, Modie said.  

The felony charges are: one count of first-degree theft; six counts of first-degree forgery; two counts of Identity theft; five counts of aggravated first-degree theft, five counts of aggravated identity theft; and one count of computer crime. She also is charged with first-degree official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

The indictment alleges the activity started in June 2021 and continued until November, when the investigation started. 

The health authority has received more than $500 million in federal COVID-19 funds. 

FBI Portland Offers Reward in Teen’s Murder Investigation

Please see the attached reward poster regarding a new reward from the FBI for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Ja’mere Brown on December 31, 2020.  FBI – Oregon

State of Oregon Achieves Best in Enterprise Resilience ™ Certification, Recognizing Distinguished Leadership in Organizational Resilience Across Digital and Physical Domains

State of Oregon awarded Best in Enterprise Resilience ™ Certification, a first-of-its-kind assessment of an organization’s digital transformation and resilience in the face of critical events

Salem, OR— State of Oregon Enterprise Information Services announced earning the Best in Enterprise Resilience ™ Certification after undergoing a rigorous evaluation of its readiness, responsiveness and resilience when confronted with critical events including IT disruptions, natural and manmade disasters, supply chain interruption and other incidents that impact operations, assets and resources. 

The Best in Enterprise Resilience™ Certification means that Oregonians can be confident that there is an effort to constantly improve emergency response, preparedness, and resiliency across the enterprise, based on nationally recognized best practices. The Best in Enterprise Resilience™ designation validates best practices in Critical Event Management (CEM). Everbridge’s CEM Standards Framework ™ anchors the certification process, which examines an organization’s capabilities across key competencies. A strong CEM program helps organizations make better strategic data-driven decisions, enables and protects revenue streams, increases expense efficiencies, bolsters brand and reputation and drives operational improvements.

OR-Alert, the state’s emergency notification system, utilizes the CEM platform to reach 3.3 million residents across Oregon’s 36 counties and tribal governments in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. Becoming CEM Certified™ provides organizations with the following benefits:

  • Performance benchmarking, including areas of strength and opportunities for improvement
  • Improve resilience planning, budgeting and resource allocation
  • Drive strong return on investment through targeted initiatives
  • Demonstrate a commitment to enterprise resilience, instilling trust among employees, partners, and the public
  • Recruit and retain top talent 
  • Formalize recognition at the organizational level for global leadership in enterprise resilience
  • Reward individual achievement via employee certifications on professional profiles

William Chapman, Oregon Statewide Interoperability Coordinator stated, “We are proud to have earned the Best in Enterprise Resilience™ Certification. This recognition validates much of the work that counties, tribal governments, and state agencies have been doing to be better prepared for the next emergency or disaster. We want to be as prepared and as resilient as possible and will continue to work to improve now and into the future.”

CEM Certification provides the state of Oregon’s employees, customers and stakeholders with the confidence that state government stands at the forefront of digital transformation and operates from a position of enterprise-wide resilience. Upon achieving Best in Enterprise Resilience™ status, a certification medallion signals to vendors, partners and customers the validation of a decidedly ‘resilient’ organization.

About Everbridge

Everbridge, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVBG) is a global software company that provides enterprise software applications that automate and accelerate organizations’ operational response to critical events in order to Keep People Safe and Organizations Running™. During public safety threats such as active shooter situations, terrorist attacks or severe weather conditions, as well as critical business events including IT outages, cyber-attacks, product recalls or supply-chain interruptions, over 6,100 customers in 76 countries rely on the Company’s Critical Event Management Platform to quickly and reliably aggregate and assess threat data, locate people at risk and responders able to assist, automate the execution of pre-defined communications processes through the secure delivery to over 100 different communication modalities, and track progress on executing response plans. For more information, visit www.everbridge.com, read the company blog, and follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Links:

Forest Service Cautions The Public About Burned Areas

U.S. Forest Service employees encourage everyone planning to visit northwest forests this spring to learn more about hazards associated with recently burned areas.

Wildfires burned more than 1 million acres of national forest in Washington and Oregon last year. That’s more than in 2020, when multiple “megafires” of 100,000 acres or more burned more than 680,000 acres of national forest and 2 million total acres in the two states.

Fires are a natural occurrence on these landscapes, but residents and visitors may encounter burned areas with greater frequency during the next few years, Alex Rozin, Burned Area Emergency Response Coordinator for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest region, said.

“Most hazards aren’t unique to burned areas, but the hazards are exacerbated by wildfires. These conditions can persist for many years after a fire while the landscape recovers,” Rozin said.

The effects of fire can create hazards in a recently burned areas, as well as downhill and downstream.

These include:

Flash floods and debris flows: Burned landscapes have fewer plants to intercept rain, causing more water to reach the ground with high impact and the soil to become saturated faster than they did before a fire. This creates a risk of flash floods and debris flows. Be very aware of the weather and avoid travel in channels when rain is likely.

Falling rocks: Both the burning away of ground cover and erosion of newly exposed soil can loosen rocks and boulders on hillsides, causing them to roll. If trees are burned, there are fewer barriers to stop the falling rocks. Piles of newly fallen rocks may be a sign you’re in an especially at-risk area. Fallen logs may also shift and roll downhill.

Stump holes, root chambers, and infrastructure damage: Burned stumps can create large holes in the ground. When roots burn, they can create empty chambers below ground that could collapse with your body or vehicle weight. Be especially wary after rain as moisture may travel through the root chambers and make collapse easier. Damaged road infrastructure, such as bridges or culverts, may no longer support a vehicle’s weight.

Hazard trees: Both scorched and green trees that are surrounded by a burned area are very prone to breakage and uprooting. Assume that a dead or damaged tree may fall and impact an area up to two times its height as it strikes other trees, or rolls. Allow yourself extra room and consider the potential fall zone when choosing a travel route and especially where you choose to rest or camp. Be especially wary of hazard trees after rain events or during high winds.

Many burned areas from fires in 2020 and 2021 remain closed while the Forest Service assesses landscape and infrastructure damage and conducts repairs.

But as areas reopen, visitors shouldn’t assume that means they, or any public lands, are safe.

“Public lands are inherently ‘use at your own risk,’ but we want to make sure everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions about managing their risk,’ Rozin said.

For more information about safety in burned areas, visit: https://go.usa.gov/xzSmX.

ODF Preparing Map To Set Wildfire Risk Levels Across Oregon

A new statewide map is aimed at helping determine which areas and properties face the highest wildfire risk and will face new safety requirements in the wildland-urban interface.

Learn more at this ODF site.

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Grants Pass Missing Person

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The Grants Pass Police Department is seeking assistance from the public in locating 30 year old Noah Baker.  Baker was despondent after an argument and left his residence in Grants Pass driving a silver Ford Fiesta with Oregon Plate 671MUR.  

Baker is described as a white male adult, 5’09”, 170 lbs, brown hair and blue eyes and was last seen wearing black sweats, black shirt, black shoes and a black hat.  

If anyone knows of his whereabouts or sees Baker, please call your local law enforcement agency or the Grants Pass Police at 541-450-6260. Reference case #2022-14203 Grants Pass Police Department 

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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

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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