Willamette Valley News, Friday 9/9 – Eugene Police Have A Man In Custody After Deadly Driving Spree On Hwy 99, Missing Eugene Man Found Dead In Willamette River Near Westfir, Red Flag Alerts, Planned Power Outages

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, September 9, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Active Weather Alerts


The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency has issued an Air Quality Advisory, which is in effect until 10 AM PDT Saturday

Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels at times through Saturday.

More information about air quality can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/DEQ


AFFECTED AREA…In Oregon, Fire Weather Zone 602 North Oregon Coast Range, Fire Weather Zone 603 East Slopes of the Central Oregon Coast Range and Fire Weather Zone 604 Willamette Valley.

* WINDS…Northeast 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. East wind 15 to 25 mph with gusts as high as 45 mph can be expected near the west end of the Columbia Gorge and Oregon Coast Range ridges.

* RELATIVE HUMIDITY…As low as 15 percent.

* IMPACTS…Conditions may be favorable for rapid fire spread which may threaten life and property. Use extra caution with potential ignition sources, especially in grassy areas. Outdoor burning is not recommended. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of the above conditions can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Eugene Police Have A Man In Custody After A Deadly Driving Spree On Hwy 99 Yesterday Afternoon

Several people are injured after a vehicle versus pedestrian incident in the area of Barger Drive and Highway 99 in Eugene and one was killed. The incident was reported at about 3:45 p.m. on September 8. Oregon State Police troopers confirmed a vehicle reportedly hit an occupied tent on the shoulder of the road. Medics and police were dispatched immediately, and police quickly closed off Highway 99 between Barger Drive and Elmira Road.

A 911 dispatcher took a call about a Toyota 4Runner being driven recklessly, with witnesses saying it was going south in the northbound lanes. The vehicle ran over a roadside tent with a couple inside, fatally injuring the woman and narrowly missing the man. The driver then hit a pedestrian outside a Dari Mart, who remains in critical condition.

One person in the tent was killed in the collision, with the car missing another person by mere feet, police say. Eugene police confirmed another person was hit about half a mile further down Hwy 99. That individual was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.

At a briefing last night, Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said bystanders helped police detain the driver — whose motive remains unknown.

“We’re not ruling out intentionality, we’re not ruling out impairment, both under the influence of some kind of an intoxicant and or medical or mental impairment,” said Skinner. “So we’re early enough in the investigation that we just don’t know. But we’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to get that information as the investigation unfolds.”

After his arrest, police took the man to a hospital for medical attention. Skinner said the crime scene involves a near-two mile stretch of 99.

Police say Highway 99 between Barger Drive and Roosevelt Boulevard was closed for nearly six hours as police conducted an investigation. Police are investigating intoxicants and intentional behaviors as factors in the incident.

Police say the driver was arrested in a parking lot on Highway 99 with some involvement from bystanders. The driver reportedly resisted arrest, but was eventually taken into custody and is receiving medical attention. Police said charges are currently pending.

Missing Eugene Man Found Dead In Willamette River Near Westfir

According to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, a missing 76-year-old man was found dead Wednesday morning in the North Middle Fork of the Willamette River north of Westfir, not far from his vehicle which also went into the water.

The man was identified Thursday as Walter Albert Biddle. A follow-up investigation and evidence suggest Biddle drove off the road for unknown reasons and crashed into the river, Sgt. Thomas Speldrich said in a news release.

Biddle was reported missing to police around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, with a family member saying he left to run errands and go for a short hike but did not return. The caller said he possibly was hiking somewhere east of Cottage Grove.

The Sheriff’s Office search and rescue personnel, including volunteers, searched late into the night, Speldrich said.

Just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Cedar Creek Fire Incident Management Team informed the Sheriff’s Office a crew had found a vehicle in the water off Aufderheide Highway near milepost 5, north of Westfir. Biddle was found dead in the river a short distance from the vehicle.

Deputies arrived and confirmed the vehicle and body matched the details regarding Biddle’s disappearance. The investigation found no evidence of criminal activity, and the death appears to be accidental, Speldrich said.

Cedar Creek Fire Evacuation Level Increases

Extremely hazardous fire weather conditions and increased fire activity have prompted another increase in evacuation levels for areas around the Cedar Creek Fire. In addition to all previously issued evacuation notices remaining in effect, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following evacuation level increases:


  • High Prairie area – This is includes all of High Prairie Rd., Brock Rd., Bar BL Ranch Rd., Nubian Way, Mountain View Rd., and Huckleberry Ln. 

Level 2 means: You must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice, and this may be the only notice that you receive to evacuate as needed.

Public safety personnel cannot guarantee they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate. Continue to closely monitor your phone, local media and www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CedarCreek for information.

Officials are asking residents to keep cell phones and any other devices used to receive emergency alerts charged.  Residents should also make sure that they have adequate fuel to evacuate.

Planned Power Outages announced for Lane and Douglas Counties

Several power companies including Lane Electric, Pacific Power and the Eugene Water and Electric Board have announced they will be shutting off electricity to certain areas over the weekend of September 9 through September 11 to curtail the risk of a wildfire starting near electrical infrastructure.

In all cases, utilities companies said the power is being shut off to help guard against the possibility of fires starting in their coverage areas. With high temperatures, low humidity, and heavy winds in the forecast over the weekend, utilities are seeking to reduce the risk of power line-related fire ignitions. Other parts of Oregon including Linn County will see similar outages for the same reason.

Lane Electric sent an email to customers saying they will implement a planned electric shutoff starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, September 9 through the evening of Saturday, September 10. They say the communities of Oakridge, Lowell, and Veneta, as well as rural areas, will be affected. City centers of those communities will remain powered to provide key services. Power will be restored in the daylight hours of Saturday.

Pacific Power says it will be shutting off power in specific parts of Douglas County at 6 a.m. on Friday, September 9. The area from Toketee Falls east to Diamond Lake will be without power initially, with nonspecific “additional areas” added around 4 p.m. A temporary community resource center will be open at 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Glide High School at 18990 north Umpqua Highway.

EWEB will be shutting off power for customers in the McKenzie Valley area starting at 5 p.m. on Friday evening. The company says about 3,000 customers east of Hayden bridge up to Vida will be affected, including the Camp Creek, Upper Camp Creek, Cedar Flats, Deerhorn, and Walterville areas. Customers are being told to prepare for at least 48 hours without power.

As Pacific Power continues to prepare for Public Safety Shut Offs ahead of Friday’s wind event, the utility has updated its estimates of when the power will be shut off to specific communities and set up resource centers.

In Douglas County, the estimate is 6:00 a.m. for an area between Toketee Falls east to Diamond Lake with additional locations added around 4:00 p.m.

In Linn, Marion, Lincoln, Tillamook and Polk counties, the estimated shut off times vary between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

Locally, a temporary community resource center will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Glide High School, on the North Umpqua Highway. Other centers will be open in Marion and Linn counties as well. The facilities will have air conditioning, water, non-perishable snacks, seating, restrooms, televisions and Wi-Fi and other amenities. They could close earlier if power service is restored sooner.

For non-emergency questions about the shutoff, call Pacific Power at 1-888-221-7070.

Due to elevated wildfire conditions, Pacific Power is performing a Public Safety Power Shutoff in certain areas around the Umpqua National Forest, including the Diamond Lake area.

Chris Bentley of the UNF said it is an effort to prevent a fast-moving, hard to fight wildfire. It is only being used as an absolute necessity to ensure community safety. The shutoff could last through Sunday morning.

Bentley said impacts could include water systems at forest campgrounds, including wastewater and drinking water. Some campgrounds in the Diamond Lake area will have limited or no access to drinking water with potential access to shower facilities or flush toilets at more developed campgrounds.

Broken Arrow Campground and Wolf Creek Campground are closed through the weekend. The group site within Wolf Creek Campground will remain open. With the challenges to restoring water services to these two campgrounds, they may remain closed for the rest of the recreation season, reopening in 2023.

Bentley said all campers are asked to conserve water the best they can. It is recommended that campers bring a sufficient supply of their own water in case facilities are not available.

Campers should consider camping at campgrounds not affected by the power shut-off. More forest information is at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/umpqua

Pacific Power continues to monitor wind conditions, anticipates shut offs later today

PORTLAND, Ore. – September 9, 2022 — Pacific Power continues to monitor the weather system closely. As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, September 9, early forecasted easterly winds near the Cascades and foothills are beginning to develop in the company’s service area. The weather forecast for high easterly winds is still Friday through Saturday. As the weather system progresses throughout the day, the company is still anticipating Public Safety Power Shutoffs for specific communities and will provide advance notification to affected customers when possible before turning off power. 

  • Douglas County: Monitoring / Watch
  • Linn County: Monitoring / Watch
  • Marion County: Monitoring / Watch
  • Lincoln County: Monitoring / Watch
  • Tillamook County: Monitoring / Watch
  • Polk County: Monitoring / Watch

Temporary Community Resource Centers are available and will remain open Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. (unless service is restored earlier) at the following locations. 

  • Douglas County – Glide High School – 18990 N. Umpqua Highway, Glide, OR 97443
  • Marion County – Bethel Baptist Church – 645 Cleveland Street, Aumsville, OR 97325
  • Linn County – Sankey Park – 877 14th Ave, Sweet Home, OR 97386

For all non-emergency questions about the Public Safety Power Shutoff, customers and the public should call Pacific Power at 1-888-221-7070

Wildfires have burned through 168,000 acres across Oregon, with emergency power shutoffs by Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and other smaller electric companies expected to hit thousands of households on Friday.

A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service for Portland is in place until 11 p.m. on Saturday, with the agency warning of “rapid fire spread” which “may threaten life and property.”

There are currently seven active wildfires raging across Oregon, with another two contained, according to the emergency response Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

The largest is the Double Creek Fire, in the north-east by the Idaho border, which has consumed 100,182 acres.

Further south, just above Oregon Route 58, the Cedar Creek Fire has burned its way through 27,512 acres.

The third largest fire is in the Siskiyou National Forest, near the California border, where 21,227 acres have been destroyed by the Rum Creek Fire.

All three main fires were started by lightning, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

On Wednesday, Portland General Electric said it expects to cut power to 30,000 Oregon households on Friday morning, lasting until Saturday night, in a bid to stop damaged powerlines causing more wildfires. These are forecast to take place in Washington, Clackamas, Marion and Multnomah counties, along with the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood foothills.

Utility companies Portland General Electric and Pacific Power announced Thursday that they could initiate public safety power shutoffs for areas of multiple counties over the next several days due to the threat of high winds and extreme wildfire conditions.

Pacific Power said that a notice went out to roughly 12,000 customers between Linn, Douglas, Lincoln, Tillamook, Marion and Polk counties. The warning applies from early Friday morning through Saturday.

Utility companies Portland General Electric and Pacific Power announced Thursday that they could initiate public safety power shutoffs for areas of multiple counties over the next several days due to the threat of high winds and extreme wildfire conditions.

Pacific Power said that a notice went out to roughly 12,000 customers between Linn, Douglas, Lincoln, Tillamook, Marion and Polk counties. The warning applies from early Friday morning through Saturday.

PGE’s power shutoffs could impact even more people, an estimated 30,000 customers in 10 areas. The company said it intends to provide up to four hours’ notice before shutting off power. An interactive map on the PGE website shows exactly where those areas are.

“Based on current information, PGE estimates a PSPS could be called on Friday morning, and power could be out through Saturday night,” the company said in a statement. “Assuming this event duration and no damage to our system, power restoration would begin Sunday morning and power to customers could be restored by Monday night.”

“Strong east winds will develop across western Oregon Friday and last into Saturday,” “While these will be the strongest east winds we’ve seen since February, they will not be as strong as the east winds of September 2020. And they won’t last as long. The winds will back off Saturday evening.”

Pacific Power has been accused of starting or contributing to the devastating Oregon wildfires in September 2020 when their equipment failed during that historic wind event.

Public safety power shutoffs in areas at high risk of seeing extreme wildfire conditions have been increasingly adopted as a means of avoiding these risks. PGE and Pacific Power have each used them in the past, but they were not employed widely enough during the 2020 event to address all areas impacted by extreme wildfire conditions.

Weekend weather poses a significant risk of wildfire

Fire officials painted a dire picture of the weather expected this weekend during a Thursday press conference alongside Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

“The combination of really dry winds, low relative humidity, and an unstable atmosphere can lead to explosive fire growth,“ said Travis Medema, chief deputy state fire marshal. “And we are very concerned about the next 72 hours and what that means, both in terms of new fires that start, but also larger fires on the landscape.”

Medema said over 360 homes are under some level of evacuation due to wildfires across the state. In northeastern Oregon near the community of Joseph, over 100 homes are under evacuation due to the Double Creek Fire, which is burning through over 100,000 acres near the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Another 260 homes in Klamath County are under evacuation due to the Van Meter Fire, 13 miles southeast of Klamath Falls. Medema said that fire “grew rapidly” Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, many fire agencies were able to leave the Rum Creek Fire area burning in Josephine County, which is starting to stabilize, Medema said.

Utilities plan outages for thousands of customers

More than 42,000 Oregonians will likely lose electricity as utilities plan to shut off power to prevent electrical equipment from potentially starting wildfires, utility company representatives said Thursday.

Emergency officials said all Oregonians should be prepared, regardless of where they live.

“Now is the time to charge your devices, ensure you have flashlights and batteries and those essentials like non-perishable food and water and extra medication in case you have to go without power for a couple of days or you need to evacuate your home due to a threat of wildfire,” Oregon Department of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps said during the conference.

One of the most important steps Oregonians can take to prepare for potential outages is to update their contact information with their utility service, said Kandi Young, public information officer with the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Oregonians are urged to prepare for planned shutoffs. Some people might also lose power beyond those areas if high winds damage power lines. It’s a wind and weather event we’re expecting.

“Customers might receive an outage due to weather and not necessarily because it’s a planned outage,” she said. The Oregon PUC regulates Oregon’s three investor-owned utilities: PGE, PacifiCorp and Idaho Power. Under a 2021 law, utilities must produce a public report detailing the steps they’re taking to prevent wildfires✎ EditSign.

In Multnomah County, officials urged residents to keep phones charged and make plans in case of power outages.

Schools close over power outages

Several Oregon schools will be closed Friday due to planned power outages, meant to guard against the rising risks of wildfires over the next few days.

The Santiam Canyon and Sweet Home school districts are both in parts of Linn County that Pacific Power has said will lose power overnight Thursday. Both districts have canceled school in response.

In a message sent to customers, Pacific Power said the lights will start to go out at midnight.

“The Public Safety Power Shutoff will affect approximately 12,000 customers and begin at around 12:01 a.m on Friday, September 9 and could last through Saturday evening,” the utility said.

The National Weather Service is anticipating high temperatures and strong winds — conditions that could fuel fires across a large part of the state.

In a statement to the Santiam Canyon school community, Superintendent Todd Miller said the challenges created for schools and families by a loss of electricity made closing school the only option.

“I don’t like canceling school, especially the first week, but there are too many safety factors that play into this decision,” Miller said. “First off, this event may be traumatizing for many who went through this two years ago and you want to hunker down with family.”

In September 2020, wildfires fueled by similar weather conditions tore through the Rogue Valley and other parts of Oregon, including the Santiam Canyon, with downed power lines playing a role.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Travis Medema said: “We’re really concerned about the next 72 hours.”

Governor Kate Brown said: “Go to bed tonight with a plan in the event your family needs to evacuate or you wake up without power. If you’re asked to evacuate, do so immediately.”

Brown later tweeted: “The forecasted wind patterns, hot dry weather, and potential for lightning are making a challenging environment for increased fire danger in the coming days. There is also the possibility of public safety power shutoffs to mitigate potential fire risks.

“As with every fire season, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect you, your homes, and the places we all love and cherish.”

The Van Meter Fire is burning on Stukel Mountain, 13 miles southeast of Klamath Falls.

The fire was reported on September 7, 2022, at 12:24 p.m. Current size estimate is 4,500 acres and no containment.
Fire personnel worked through the night again last night on structure protection and fire suppression.

A total of 260 structures are threatened and five structures have been confirmed lost to the blaze, one of which is a residence. All structures damaged are located on S. Poe Valley Road south of Beta Lane.

For up-to-date evacuation orders call- 541-205-9730.

Local animal businesses have also opened their doors to people who need to evacuate dogs and cats. Cherish K9 House is open for small dogs and cats. Those who are a client of Cherish K9 House are also able to bring in their pet
for evacuation, regardless of size. The dog day care center is located at 2006 Oregon Ave, Klamath Falls, OR 97601.

Double-C Dog Training is also taking in evacuated dogs. They are located at 4141 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, OR 97603.

UnFurrgettable Pet Care is also open for all evacuated cats and dogs. They are located at 601 S. 5th St, Klamath Falls, OR 97601.

Significant fire potential remains elevated today due to the combination of high fire danger and hot, dry, and unstable

Roseburg Forest Products Co., the operators of the veneer mill at the center of the Mill Fire, is investigating whether the possible failure of a water-spraying machine from a third-party equipment manufacturer led to the ignition of the Sept. 2 structural fire.

Roseburg’s mill produces its own electric power in a co-generation facility fueled by wood remnants. The generator ejects ash after consuming the wood; that ash is sprayed with cooling water, using a third-party-supplied machine. Roseburg is investigating whether the third-party machine failed to cool the ash sufficiently which thereby ignited the fire.

Although the origin of the fire is still to be determined, Roseburg plans to proactively provide up to $50 million for a community restoration fund for the initial recovery needs of impacted residents. The fund will assist residents with temporary shelter, medical supplies and treatment, transportation, clothing, food and water, and childcare/day care services.

Many members of the community are Roseburg employees, who along with their families, have been impacted by the fire. Roseburg team members will be offered counseling and other support services by the company.

The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal requests additional support ahead of heightened wildfire conditions

To boost capacity ahead of forecasted east winds and heightened wildfire conditions, the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal has ordered three Washington task forces from Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Chelan, and Clark counties through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). 

Of the Washington task forces, one is assigned to the Double Creek Fire in Northeast Oregon. Two task forces will be pre-positioned in Wasco and Lane counties. These added resources will give the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System added capacity to respond quickly should a fire happen and support local fire agencies.  

“We want to thank the Oregon fire service and our partners from Washington for their dedication to protecting Oregon communities,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “This extra capacity will allow our office to be nimble and help local fire agencies during this critical point in the fire season. We ask those who live in Oregon and those visiting to be aware of the dry conditions and take the necessary steps to prevent sparking a wildfire.” 
Currently, the OSFM has an incident management team and 11 task forces assigned to the Double Creek Fire and Sturgill Fire in Northeast Oregon. Two strike teams were mobilized on Wednesday to support the Van Meter fire in Klamath County. 


The OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon initiative was created to help bolster capacity and modernize wildfire response within the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS). The goal of Response Ready Oregon is to attack fires while they are small and keep them away from communities. To learn more about the OSFM, OFMAS, or Response Ready Oregon, visit oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm.   

Red Cross Cascades Region Urges Residents to be Prepared for Potential Increase of Wildfire Activity

People in Areas Under a Wildfire Watch, or Visiting Them, are Urged to Prepare

The Red Cross Cascades Region is currently supporting two evacuation shelters in Oregon. One for the Rum Creek fire near Grants Pass and another in response to the Van Meter fire burning not far from Klamath Falls. 

Trained volunteers are on hand to provide evacuees with food, water and a safe place to sleep. The Red Cross Cascades Region is closely monitoring the changing weather conditions that could make new or existing wildfires spread more rapidly and potentially force new evacuation shelters to open. 

For up-to-date information and alerts about emergencies in your area and shelter locations, download the Red Cross Emergency App from your app store. It’s free and available to both iPhone and Android users.

The Red Cross urges everyone to be prepared should a wildfire occur in your area. 

“Disasters can happen anywhere,” says Rebecca Marshall, Regional Disaster Officer, for the Red Cross Cascades Region. “With the forecast calling for high winds and an increased wildfire risk across much of our region, it’s important to take the time now to get your family and home prepared. If you are able, you can also register to become a trained Red Cross volunteer to help those in your community.”

Follow the steps below to keep your family safe.

  • Gather your family or household members and delegate responsibilities.
  • Assemble an emergency kit to take with you when you evacuate. For a detailed list of items to include visit www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies.html
  • Prepare an information kit with important documents like medical, banking and insurance records.
  • Save a list of emergency numbers on every cellphone.
  • Plan ahead for your pets and livestock. Ask local officials where you can bring them.
  • Identify a place to meet in case you are separated.
  • Plan and practice several evacuation routes from your neighborhood.

If an evacuation is imminent:

  • Tune in to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Limit exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing (but not locking) windows and doors. Close curtains, shutters, and blinds. Use the recycle mode on your air conditioner.
  • Turn on exterior lights.
  • Remove flammable items from decks and porches.
  • Open gates for animals that cannot be evacuated.
  • Connect a hose to an outside spigot, mark any water sources on your property, and leave a ladder for firefighters.
  • Put your emergency kit in your car. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape, with windows closed and keys in the ignition.
  • Put your best driver at the wheel. Turn on lights, drive slowly and watch out for emergency vehicles.

Evacuate as soon as the order is given. Don’t delay.

Evacuation Levels – What Do They Mean?

Level 1 – “BE READY!“ for potential evacuation.

Level 2 – “BE SET!” to evacuate. You must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice. 

Level 3 – “GO!” evacuate now. Leave immediately!

Click here for photos from the Rum Creek wildfire evacuation shelter.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross. —- American Red Cross – Cascades Region

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/BSWS50KEVEB

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows a decrease trend in cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

With hot weather in the forecast across Oregon, keep your community safe by learning the signs of heat-related illness and what to do if you see someone with symptoms. Remember to check in regularly with family, friends, and neighbors who are vulnerable to heat, especially if they live alone, are older, or don’t have AC. If you or someone you know needs help finding a place to cool down, visit http://ow.ly/EkY550Km92X or call 211.

Oregon raises awareness of hope during National Suicide Prevention Month

In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 4-10, 2022), Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and local partners are continuing efforts to increase awareness of ways everyone can help prevent suicide.

In 2020, Oregon had the 13th highest rate of suicide in the United States, with a total of 833 deaths. Oregon’s suicide rate has stayed well above national rates since 2000. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5-24.

“Suicide remains a persistent and yet largely preventable cause of death in Oregon,” said Debra Darmata, adult suicide prevention coordinator at OHA. “Every death by suicide in Oregon carries a substantial and long-lasting ripple effect into our communities. We know that suicide prevention is everyone’s business.” 

Oregon is brimming with advocates and champions for suicide prevention, including the Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide. Many organizations also have ongoing social media and awareness campaigns to join.

What can you do to help?

Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase thoughts of suicide. We all have a part to play in reducing stigma and ensuring people have hope, feel safe asking for help, and can get access to community-based support. You can also:


Photo courtesy: Bella Organic Farm

Some businesses are also using September to raise awareness. Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island in Portland, Ore., is using their seven-acre corn maze to promote 988, the number for the new national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

“We wanted to be able to spark conversation and to try to destigmatize the idea that you can’t talk about your mental health and how you are feeling,” said Sofia Kondilis-Hashem, marketing director at Bella Organic Farm, who helps design each year’s maze. “We really wanted to do something that inspires hope in people. No matter who it is, you can always reach out to somebody.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis, free help is immediately available.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, via phone, text and online chat, offering people compassionate care and support from trained crisis counselors for individuals, families or their loved ones. One does not have to be suicidal to call 988 but can reach out when experiencing any behavioral health crisis. 988 call services are available in English and Spanish, along with interpretation services in more than 150 languages. Texting 988 and online chat are currently available only in English. Veterans and military service members can call 988 and press “1” to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line.

Oregon State Hospital to receive Oregon OSHA violations

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has notified Oregon State Hospital Hospital (OSH) that the hospital will be cited with three violations related to workplace violence and injuries in the areas of documentation, thorough investigation and response. Oregon-OSHA also warned the hospital of three additional issues on the same topics that could become a problem in the future if not addressed.

“One of our guiding principles at the hospital is to ensure the safety of both our patients and our staff,” stated OSH Superintendent Dolly Matteucci. “Our staff deserve to come to work each day without the fear of being hurt. We know we have more work to do, and we know more thorough investigation of incidents will help us learn from what happened and prevent future occurrences.”

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen echoed Superintendent Matteucci’s statement about the importance of staff and patient safety. “Members of our hospital staff are getting injured while caring for patients, and that is not acceptable. Period. We must do better, and we will do better. We appreciate what the Oregon-OSHA violations bring to light, we will continue to partner with our hospital staff to find additional ways to prevent workplace violence.”

Prior to the Oregon-OSHA investigation, OSH had started making proactive and operational changes to reduce workplace violence. Here is some of the work that is underway:

  • Workplace Violence Prevention Program
    • SAIF Corporation has hired a workplace violence prevention consultant to work with OSH. That consultation began last month. The work is expected to lead to more recommendations to reduce workplace violence and improve staff safety.
  • Broset Violence Checklist (BVC) Implementation
    • The BVC is an evidence-based risk assessment tool that assists in identifying patients at high risk for aggressive behavior within the next 24 hours.
  • Trainings
    • The Safe Together team is improving access for staff to attend drills, training opportunities and consultation.

One factor contributing to changes at OSH is a recent shift in the patient population. There has been an increase in “Aid and Assist” patients who are more likely to pose behavioral challenges until medication and other treatment has a chance to work. In addition, staff and patients have coped with inconsistent staffing, Covid-19 restrictions and other external demands.

OSH is expected to receive the official Oregon-OSHA report in the next 2-3 weeks.

Twenty People Arrested In Bend Human Trafficking Investigation

Bend Police say a several months-long investigation into human trafficking, sex work and luring of minors has led to the arrest of 20 people. Investigators put an emphasis on identifying and arresting people who are attempting to meet underage children for sex. 

Bend PD says officers posted ads online, then posed as minors in both text and phone conversations. Over the course of the project, people at more than 200 distinct phone numbers answered officers’ ads. Many of those people, upon learning they were apparently communicating with a minor, immediately cut off communication. However, of the 200-plus people who answered Bend Police’s online ads and learned of a minor child being trafficked for sex, not one subsequently shared that information with law enforcement.

Police identified themselves as underage. Those arrested then agreed to meet, sometimes bringing drugs and alcohol to the agreed-upon location. Upon arrival, they were taken into custody on the above charges and lodged at the Deschutes County Jail.

During the course of the project, multiple people came forward and identified themselves as victims of sexual abuse at the hands of these suspects. Bend Police ask the public to contact nonemergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 if you or someone you know is the victim of any of these suspects.

The agency’s goal is to identify traffickers and prevent this activity from taking place in the community. During the operation, Bend Police saw a significant decrease for demand in sex work, and by extension, a decrease in sex workers.

Bend Police also reminds parents, guardians and caregivers to stay involved in their children’s digital world, know the apps they are using and implement parental controls when possible. Children should talk with a trusted adult so they understand online risks, only chat with people they know, and make sure their online accounts are private. There are people who target vulnerable youth via online apps and other internet sources, and we have to work together to keep our children safe. 

During the investigation, police also arrested eight people who attempted to patronize adult sex workers. They were cited and released. Patronizing a prostitute is a Class A misdemeanor. 

Bureau of Land Management to Round Up Horses

In September of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District, Klamath Falls Field Office, began a wild horse gather on private property within and adjacent to the Pokegama Herd Management Area (HMA), located about 30 miles southwest of Klamath Falls.

Pokegama HMA | Bureau of Land Management

The BLM plans to resume this gather beginning mid-September 2022. The action is at the request of a private landowner to remove horses from private property within and adjacent to the HMA. The Pokegama HMA encompasses more than 80,885 acres of public and private lands.

The BLM plans to gather wild horses from private property only. No horses will be gathered from lands managed by the BLM within the HMA. The BLM will conduct gather operations utilizing temporary bait traps consisting of a series of corral panels stocked with water and hay; no helicopters will be used.

The appropriate management level (AML) for the Pokegama HMA is 30 to 50 horses. Based on the most recent survey, the current estimate is there might be as many as 230 horses within the area; however, the HMA is forested, making it difficult to count. The BLM’s priority is to conduct safe, efficient and successful wild horse and burro gather operations while ensuring humane care and treatment of all animals gathered. The BLM and its contractors will use the best available science and handling practices for wild horses while meeting overall gather goals and objectives following the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy.

Due to the nature of the bait and water trap method, wild horses are reluctant to approach the trap site when there is too much activity; therefore, only essential gather operations personnel will be allowed at the trap site during operations. Due to private land restrictions, there will be no public viewing opportunities during gather operations or at the holding facilities.

All horses identified for removal will be transported to the BLM’s Wild Horse Corrals in Hines, Ore. They will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program. For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, go to www.blm.gov/whb.

For technical information, contact Wild Horse and Burro Specialist Blair Street at 541-947-6184 or bstreet@blm.gov. MORE INFO: https://www.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro/herd-management/herd-management-areas/oregon-washington/pokegama

The 10th Annual Klamath Independent Film Festival Exclusively Showcasing Made-In-Oregon Films

For the 10th anniversary of the annual Klamath Independent Film Festival (KIFF), exclusively showcasing made-in-Oregon films, a grand celebration will commence honoring arguably the greatest comedy film in history and shot on location in Oregon — National Lampoon’s Animal House. Taking place Sept. 16-18 at the Ross Ragland Theater in Klamath Falls and streaming online via Eventive, the film festival will feature over 30 films shot in Oregon or made by Oregon resident filmmakers, including several world premieres and multiple films made in the Klamath Basin.

On-stage activities will be simultaneously livestreamed for online viewers and all films made available on-demand for a limited time.Opening KIFF will be a street festival on Friday, Sept. 16 complete with food trucks and beer garden, presented as an Animal House-style toga party. Activities will include a making-of documentary, “Animal House of Blues,” a special presentation by original National Lampoon’s Animal House Casting Director Katherine Wilson, and a screening of the iconic film complete with toga costume contest and “shout!” dance-off on-stage. The evening will culminate with a cast reunion featuring multiple actors from the film.

Attendees are strongly encouraged to dress up for the occasion in their best toga or college-related attire. The festival will continue on Saturday, Sept. 17 highlighting selected feature-length films shot across the state, including a special panel discussion highlighting the Modoc Wars and Klamath Tribes surrounding two films made about the Modoc Wars –“Modoc Nation: An Untold Story of Survival,” and a narrative short film shot near Tulelake last year, “This is Their Land.”

Saturday will culminate with a world premiere of a Klamath Falls-produced murder-mystery film, “Duplicity,” with cast on hand for the screening. Sunday programming will open with a K-12 student film showcase and short film selections, ending with an awards ceremony that includes $5,000 in cash prizes and custom-made awards by the Southern Cascade Woodcrafters Guild. The Woodcrafters Guild, comprised of master craftsmen in the Klamath Basin, for the third year in a row will produce one-of-a-kind art pieces carved out of native Oregon wood specific to each of the winning films in each category.

Six awards will be distributed in total, divided geographically as northern and southern Oregon divisions among K-12 student films, short films (under 40 minutes in length), and feature films (over 40 minutes). The festival has garnered a reputation as the premier Oregon-centric film fest, drawing filmmakers and film fans to the Klamath Basin from across the Pacific Northwest for a multi-day celebration of Oregon’s diverse landscape and artistic endeavors. It features animation, documentaries, and narrative films spanning many genres.

Additionally Klamath Falls last year was honored with a historic marker on the Oregon Film Trail in recognition of the film “Phoenix, Oregon” – made in Klamath Falls in 2018. KIFF is produced annually by Klamath Film – a 501c3 nonprofit that promotes, inspires and supports filmmaking through programming, education, and outreach. Among its endeavors is an annual youth film camp, various film showcases throughout the calendar year, professional film equipment and liaison support for film crews interested in filming in the Klamath Basin, and the annual Klamath Independent Film Festival.

The organization also hosts free monthly member meetings as networking opportunities that feature a Hollywood industry professional as featured guest each month, most recently Wilson regaling the participants with behind-the-scenes stories of the making of Animal House. Tickets for KIFF vary from single-day passes for $25, weekend passes for $40, an online pass for $40, and a festival-wide pass including online livestreaming/on-demand access for $50. Tickets to the opening night street festival and Animal House toga party celebration are $15. Tickets can be acquired in advance at www.klamathfilm.org/festival.

May be an image of 2 people, outdoors and text that says 'MISSING ENDANGERED PERSON NEWPORT OREGO Dawn Marie Catalano Age: 47 Sex: Female Race: White Height: 5' 5" Weight: 153 lbs Hair: Red Eyes: Blue Tattoos: Two light pink flowers on each forearm; unknown design on lower back Vehicle: White Ford Focus OR license 549MVX Last seen September 3, 2022 at residence in Newport, OR Case #22N-01731 Newport Police Department 541-574-3348 or call 911 if you have any information.'
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This is just a small compilation of missing women and their pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten. 

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