Willamette Valley News, Thursday 5/26 – Eugene Police Dept. Seek Tips In Arson Cases, Lane County Sheriff’s Office Mckenzie District Deputies Arrest Suspect In Multiple Theft Cases

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, May 26, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Eugene Police Dept. Seek Tips In Arson Cases

On Wednesday (May 25), the Eugene Police Department received reports around 7:15 a.m. of several intentionally set fires, mostly in dumpsters.

One fire was set in the bushes next to a house and another was set in a community-sharing libraries in a yard (like a large mailbox, but with books), EPD said.

These fires were set in 5th, 6th, and 7th Alleys from Jefferson to Polk.

EPD Arson investigators are reaching out to the public for tips in this case. Reference EPD case 22-07979. Please contact Detective Branden Esch with any tips: BEsch@Eugene-OR.gov or (541) 682-5176.

Lane County Sheriff’s Office Mckenzie District Deputies Arrest Suspect In Multiple Theft Cases

McKenzie District Deputies with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office arrested 23 year old Zachary Nasholm of Eugene for multiple thefts in the McKenzie River area last week.

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Nasholm is reported to have stolen a Kubota tractor and chainsaw from a resident in the Cedar Flat area on May 11th. Nasholm, had been hired to do landscaping for the victim at the time the items were stolen.

Investigation revealed Nasholm had also recently performed landscaping work for a local business in Leaburg at which time they had property come up missing as well. Employees reported that two weed-eaters had been taken during the same time frame that Nasholm had worked for them.

Deputies were able to identify Nasholm as the suspect in both cases. Investigation revealed that Nasholm had sold the tractor to a person in Silverton, OR after stealing it. They were also able to locate the stolen chainsaw, weed-eaters, and some other property believed to have been stolen in different cases at a residence in Eugene.

Nasholm was taken into custody and lodged at the Lane County Jail. He was lodged on new charges of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Burglary in the 2nd Degree, and two counts of Theft in the 2nd Degree. He was also lodged on several outstanding unrelated warrants for his arrest.

Athletes Already Arriving for World Athletic Championships

The World Athletics Championships are coming to the United States for the first time ever. It’s almost time for athletes from all over the world to arrive in Oregon for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene.

Many are arriving early next month to training camps, which are spread throughout the state. The camps are usually just weeks prior to the big event. They’re designed to get athletes geared up and give them time to acclimate to Oregon.

There are about 15 to 20 training camps so far and some are even located outside of Oregon. FOR MORE INFO: https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-championships/oregon22

Even Though Oregon Came in 2nd at the Women’s NCAA Golf Championship, That’s Still Amazing They Got That Far

The No. 1 Stanford Cardinal defeated the No. 2 Oregon Ducks in the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday to win their second national title and first since 2015.

It was a dominant win for the Cardinal, who rallied to defeat Auburn 3-2 in the semifinals for a berth in the final against Oregon. Three of Stanford’s five players won their head-to-head matches Wednesday to seal the victory.

One of Oregon’s most exciting performances of the day came from Briana Chacon, who rallied back from 2-down to tie Stanford’s Sadie Englemann on the 17th hole before sealing the 1-up victory on the final hole. With the loss, Oregon has yet to win a national title in women’s golf. But coming in 2nd is no small feat and they should be celebrated for that too!

Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Myrtle Creek

On May 25, 2022, at approximately 08:00 AM, Deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to an address on Weaver Road in Myrtle Creek to investigate a domestic violence complaint.  

Upon arrival the suspect, Spencer Cassanova Heckathorne (60), had fled the scene. Probable cause was established to arrest Heckathorne for the crimes of Menacing and Recklessly Endangering.  Shortly after 10:00 AM, DCSO Deputies and officers from the Myrtle Creek Police Department located Heckathorne on Weaver Road near his residence.  Heckathorne rammed two deputies in their vehicles before crashing into a ditch.  After exiting his vehicle Heckathorne remained uncooperative and engaged a uniformed Deputy.  The Deputy fired his duty weapon and Heckathorne was struck one time. Deputies quickly began rendering aid to Heckathorne who was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

OSP Major Crimes Detectives from the Springfield and Roseburg Area Commands responded to assist Douglas County Major Crimes Team and is leading the investigation into the Officer Involved Shooting Incident.  The Douglas County Major Crimes team is comprised of members from the Roseburg Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office and the Oregon State Police.  

Additional details regarding the investigation will be made available through the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.       Oregon State Police   

Here for each other. Safe + Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 or visit safestrongoregon.org. Oregon YouthLine at 877-968-8491, text "teen2teen" to 839863 or visit oregonyouthline.org. National Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990. The Dougy Center at dougy.org.

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/wRSu50Ji7lS

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity and  hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.
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Pacific Power Plans To Raise Electricity Rates 14%

Customers of Pacific Power would see their power bills increase 14% if a plan proposed by the company is approved. In the plan filed with the state, the utility is asking for an $84 million yearly increase in rates for customers in Oregon, a 6.8% increase. But that increase would impact different types of customers in different ways.

The average residential bill is $91.89 for customers in single-family homes using 900 kilowatt hours per month. The company’s request would increase that to $104.90 per month. That would be a 14.2% increase.

Also, multi-family homes that use an average of 600 kilowatts per month would see their bills increase $6.97 per month, an 11% increase, under the proposal.

“Pacific Power’s big bill increase could break customer’s budgets,” Knowledge Murphy, sustainability coordinator for Multnomah County, testified at a public comment hearing held by the state Tuesday.

Commercial and industrial customers would have smaller percentage increases, though the company didn’t indicate what that would be in publicly available information.

Pacific Power serves about 600,000 Oregon customers in cities such as Albany, Bend, Dallas, Grants Pass, Hermiston, Independence, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Medford, parts of Portland, Roseburg and Stayton.

As an investor-owned utility, Pacific Power’s rates are determined by the state. The company files to the state for rate increases. They are approved or denied by the state’s commission.

Everyone who testified at Tuesday’s hearing was against the increase.

“This rate increase puts thousands of Oregonians at risk,” said Alessandra de la Torre of Phoenix, who works with RealClimate.

Some customers of Pacific Power would see their power bills increase 14% if a plan proposed by the company is approved.

In the plan filed with the state, the utility is asking for an $84 million yearly increase in rates for customers in Oregon, a 6.8% increase. But that increase would impact different types of customers in different ways.

The average residential bill is $91.89 for customers in single-family homes using 900 kilowatt hours per month. The company’s request would increase that to $104.90 per month. That would be a 14.2% increase.

Also, multi-family homes that use an average of 600 kilowatts per month would see their bills increase $6.97 per month, an 11% increase, under the proposal.

“Pacific Power’s big bill increase could break customer’s budgets,” Knowledge Murphy, sustainability coordinator for Multnomah County, testified at a public comment hearing held by the state Tuesday.

Commercial and industrial customers would have smaller percentage increases, though the company didn’t indicate what that would be in publicly available information.

Pacific Power serves about 600,000 Oregon customers in cities such as Albany, Bend, Dallas, Grants Pass, Hermiston, Independence, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Medford, parts of Portland, Roseburg and Stayton.

As an investor-owned utility, Pacific Power’s rates are determined by the state. The company files to the state for rate increases. They are approved or denied by the state’s commission.

Everyone who testified at Tuesday’s hearing was against the increase.

“This rate increase puts thousands of Oregonians at risk,” said Alessandra de la Torre of Phoenix, who works with RealClimate.

Of the requested $84.4 million increase, Pacific Power is proposing to spend $41.4 million on wildfire vegetation management, $17.1 million on capital structure improvements, $14.8 million for a wind farm project in Wyoming, $9 million in insurance and $8.4 million for operations and maintenance.

Pacific Power said the rate increase is needed as power costs are increasing for the first time in five years. But it says the increase would be below the national average of 27% over the past year.

The company said in its filing it has provided customers in the state with $102 million in savings through the use of zero-carbon energy through the end of 2021.

“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,” Matt McVee, vice president of regulatory policy and operations for Pacific Power, said in a statement. “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 lowered electric rates by 5.2% in 2021.

Ryan Kliewer, an organic farmer and vice president of the Klamath Water Users Association, said between water needs and high utility rates, many farmers are on the brink of financial solvency. He said an increase like the one proposed by Pacific Power would put some farmers out of business. “We have an extreme drought situation and so water efficiency is very, very critical to our operations,” Kliewer said. “Water efficiency is pretty much afforded by electric power.”

The increase, if approved, would be about $200 per year for a residential customer.

De la Torre said the rate increase would unfairly impact those who live in Southern and Eastern Oregon who are served by the company.

“I work with these families just like many others and they do consistently ask what they could do to reduce their utility bills,” de la Torre said.

Pacific Power is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the company largely owned and operated by Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Murphy said Berkshire Hathaway is worth $713 billion, has spent $52 billion buying back its own shares in the past year and has $144 billion in cash and equivalents that will go towards buying back more shares.

He points out Buffet gained $34.4 billion in wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It seems the desire for more profit is not matching up with the need for more profit,” Murphy said.

People questioned the lack of detail in the part of the proposal that was given to the public. They questioned how much profits would be increased from the rate increase and how much more executives would be paid.

Robin Vora, a Bend resident, said the 14% increase is above the current rate of inflation. “I saw the list of the six, seven categories,” Vora said. “There’s not enough detail in there to be able to say you need that.”

According to Pacific Power, more than 30,000 of its customers in the state received $13.8 million in assistance in paying power bills in 2020.

“And the timing, again, could not be in my opinion any worse to ask for an increase for the utilities,” said Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for U.S. Senate. “Families, quite honestly, cannot afford it.”

The commission can approve the rate case increase, approve part of it or deny it. They can adopt a settlement on it.

Katie Mapes, the administrative law judge in the case, said the commission typically adopts a lower increase than what is requested. “They cannot raise the rates above what the utility has asked for,” Mapes said.

The Public Utility Commission will take comments on Pacific Power’s proposal through June 22.

People can call 800-522-2404, email pucpubliccomments@puc.oregon.gov or write to Attn: AHD-UE 3099, Oregon Public Utility Commission, PO Box 1088 Salem OR, 97308-1088 with comments.

A hearing on the increase has been scheduled for Aug. 2 and oral arguments on Aug. 25. The commission is on track to make its decision in December; any rate increase takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.

I-5 Siskiyou Pass Construction In Effect During Memorial Day Weekend

Drivers on Interstate 5 between Ashland and the California border should expect delays due to construction on Siskiyou Summit, including this weekend.

While ODOT will suspend most statewide highway lane restrictions during the Memorial Day weekend, the single lane of traffic in each direction on I-5 south of Ashland will continue.  ODOT says that reconstruction of the southbound slow lane continues into next month so, “Drivers should give themselves more time and extra following distance for safety.”

ODOT said today it will suspend most scheduled highway closures in the Portland area during the Memorial Day weekend as drivers travel for the first of the summer holiday weekends.  It expects a busy holiday weekend on Oregon roads, noting AAA Oregon predicts that 530,000 Oregonians will travel during this Memorial Day weekend, Thursday, May 26 through Monday, May 30.

ODOT advises drivers to check travel routes on Tripcheck.com and to be careful as, Last year in Oregon, cars were the number one source of summer wildfires.”

ODOT also reminds drivers to follow Oregon’s Move Over Law and move to another lane if an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road with lights flashing;  otherwise, slow down as, “ODOT Incident Responders are on the road to respond to incidents with other first responder partners. Brush up on the rules of the road in the 2022-2023 Oregon Driver Manual.”

It says some upgraded charging stations along Interstates 5 and 84 and U.S. 101 are part of the West Coast Electric Highway with upgraded plug types to connect to more EV models.  ODOT says, “Oregon has about 2,100 public EV charging stations and we’re about to get a lot more along major roads, courtesy of ODOT’s pledge of $100 million for EV charging infrastructure.”

Oregon Zoo Welcomes New Chimps

The Oregon Zoo is welcoming five new chimpanzees to its recently opened Primate Forest habitat. They join three chimps already at the zoo. The new group includes four females and one male.

They came to the zoo on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which works to find locations where endangered chimps can be cared for.

The zoo’s new Primate Forest habitat expands on improvements first helped along by Dr. Jane Goodall. Officiasl said 40 years ago, the zoo’s pioneering work with chimpanzees drew the attention of the famed conservationist, and she visited regularly, getting to know Chloe, Delilah and the other zoo chimps.

According to the Oregon Zoo, the habitat features climbing structures, complex spaces for family groups and enhanced opportunities for enrichment and keeper interaction.

Oregon warns recipients of food boxes about the recall of Jif peanut butter

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is warning the people of Oregon to be on the lookout for Jif brand peanut butter that may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

J.M. Smucker Co., the parent company for the peanut butter brand, issued a voluntary recall on Friday. The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local partners are investigating this outbreak.

The recalled peanut butter was distributed in retail stores and other outlets throughout the country. It includes creamy, crunchy and natural varieties.

Jif peanut butter was included in food boxes distributed through OHA’s food box program. OHA has investigated further and determined that the recall lot does include the Jif peanut butter that was distributed in the food boxes. This only impacts the peanut butter product inside the food box which can be exchanged for a replacement or refunded. 

Starting today, staff with the Oregon Health Authority is visiting all OHA food hubs and inspecting respective food boxes in order to substitute any recall product for new.  This work will require the remainder of this week to accomplish and all food hubs are being notified this evening. All warehoused Jif products that are waiting to be distributed have been thoroughly inspected and replaced.

To see if your jar of Jif peanut butter is being recalled, check the lot number that is printed below the “Best if Used by” date on the label.

Products with lot codes 1274425 – 2140425, with the digits 425 in the 5th-7th position, are being recalled. This information is printed on the back label of the jar.

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Photo courtesy: Food and Drug Administration

A list of recalled products and their numbers can also be seen on the FDA’s website. If you happen to have a jar included in the recall, you should throw it away immediately. After throwing the peanut butter out, OHA recommends washing and sanitizing any surfaces or containers that might have come into contact with the peanut butter.

For many infected people, symptoms appear 12 to 72 hours after contact and often include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people who are infected recover within four to seven days and do not need any treatment. More serious and severe cases can occur, though, so OHA recommends contacting your health care provider if you believe you have been infected.

Currently, there are 14 cases across 12 states, two hospitalizations, no deaths and no cases in Oregon.

OHA recommends that all peanut butter distributed from April 15 through May 23 be immediately thrown away or exchanged at a retail store.

Product can also be reimbursed directly by Jif by following their instructions at: https://jms-s3-mkt-consumer-p-pmc6.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/recall.html.

Consumers who have questions or would like to report adverse reactions should visit www.jif.com/contact-us or call 800-828-9980 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM ET.

Please share this information with your community members and partners who may have received a food box.

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