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 16, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
Oakridge Police Warn Residents There Are Burglaries Due To Evacuations
As residents are returning to their homes as evacuation levels decrease in intensity the Oakridge police are encouraging them to inspect their homes to make sure everything is still there.
On Friday, September 9, a Level Three (Go Now) evacuation order was issued for the cities of Oakridge and Westfir due to the danger of the encroaching Cedar Creek Fire. On Sunday, September 11, evacuation levels were downgraded to Level Two (Be Set) and on Tuesday, September 13 Westfir and parts of Oakridge saw a further decrease in evacuation levels.
Oakridge Police Department says during that time, they and some officers from Junction City were patrolling neighborhoods. According to Oakridge police, while strong evacuation orders were in place they responded to two burglaries, two attempted burglaries and two suspicious individuals prowling the streets. Police say these numbers don’t paint the full picture, as there are many residents who have not yet returned. Police urge returning residents to immediately report any thefts or burglaries they discover to the Oakridge Police Department.
Cedar Creek Fire Evacuation Level Changes
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office continues to work closely with the fire teams. At this time we are able to reduce the following areas to Level 1 (BE READY):
- High Prairie area, including all of High Prairie Road, Brock Road, Bar BL Ranch Road, Nubian Way, Mountain View Road, and Huckleberry Lane
- Westfir-Oakridge Road from Westfir city limits to Roberts Road
- McFarland Road
- Oakridge north of Laurel Butte Road
This means that all zones in and around the Cities of Westfir, Oakridge, and High Prairie have been reduced to Level 1 (Be Ready). Many forest and road closures are still in effect.
Authorities would like to remind the public that fire crews are still operating heavily in the area. Please steer clear of fire traffic and other heavy equipment that may be in the area. Residents are asked to drive safely, and obey all road closures and traffic safety laws.
An updated map of the evacuation areas is available at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CedarCreek.
Residents should be reminded that although evacuation levels are able to be reduced again today, it is possible that conditions could change at a moment’s notice. Please stay informed of the latest information available.
Level 1 (Be Ready) means that you should be aware of danger in your area. Monitor emergency services websites and local news for information. This is the time for preparation and the precautionary movement of people with special needs, mobile property and pets and livestock. If conditions worsen, emergency services personnel may contact via an emergency notification system.
Please refer to www.tripcheck.com for the latest information on highway closures.
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 should conditions change.
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.
OLCC Resumes Minor Decoy Program To Catch Slacking Alcohol and Cannabis Sellers
The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is resuming a program to have minors attempt to buy alcohol and cannabis products to catch retailers who fail to check identification, and has already caught several violators.
The OLCC’s Minor Decoy Operations involve sending volunteers under the age of 21 to alcohol and cannabis retailers to attempt to purchase products from them. The program was temporarily shelved in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of volunteers. The OLCC restarted the program in May this year by outright employing people between the ages of 18 and 20, and has already carried out several operations across Oregon. According to the OLCC, these operations have revealed that a disappointing number of retailers in the state are not properly checking IDs.
According to the OLCC, only 35% of Eugene-area alcohol retailers were found to be in compliance with ID-checking regulations in two separate operations carried out in the area. Statewide, only about 63% of retailers are properly checking IDs. The OLCC says these figures are disappointing, as their objective is to have 90% or more of retailers in compliance. The OLCC says they will soon commence more aggressive compliance operations to encourage alcohol sellers to properly train employees in ID checking rules, and will consider imposing harsher punishments on the sale of alcohol to minors.
The Eugene area fared the worst in OLCC’s minor decoy operations, but other regions in Oregon still fell short of the commission’s stated 90% compliance goal. Two operations in Portland found compliance rates of 70% and 85%, and an operation in Salem showed a compliance rate of 88%. The OLCC said their Marijuana Program recently completed a minor decoy operation in the Medford region that showed a compliance rate of just 67%.
Northwest Fire Weather Summary
A frontal system will bring rain into Western Washington and Northwest Oregon on Friday. This also means gusty westerly winds east of the Cascades in the Columbia River Gorge, the Columbia Basin, and some spots in Central Oregon. Winds will decrease in most areas on Saturday and temperatures will continue below normal with humidity above normal.
Fire danger will continue decreasing across the geographic area through the weekend. With cooler weather in store and high humidity most areas, the risk of large, costly fires is also dropping below average for the weekend and into the new week.
Cedar Creek Fire
Cedar Creek. . 15 miles E of Oakridge, OR.Start 8/1. . Cause: Lightning. 93,109 acres (+523). 0% containment. Timber. Moderate fire behavior. Evacuations in effect. Road, trail and area closures. The fire remains active, mostly burning with low to moderate intensity on the perimeter where fuels and topography are conducive and in the center of the fire within a large pocket of unburned fuels. Some spotting and torching is occurring in the East Zone carried by westerly winds.
Although fire behavior has calmed considerably since last weekend, fuels are still dry and fire behavior could increase under the right conditions. Smoke will continue to linger through the week, impacting air quality.
Oakridge Community Meeting: A community meeting for the communities of Oakridge and Westfir is scheduled for Saturday, September 17 at 11 am at the Oakridge High School Auditorium. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook Live. https://www.facebook.com/events/462741735787657
Rum Creek Fire
Rum Creek. 14 miles NW of Grants Pass, OR. Start 8/17. Cause: Lightning. 21,347 acres (+0). 83% containment. Timber. Minimal fire behavior. Road, trail and area closures.
High relative humidity and moderate temperatures continue to keep fire activity low on the Rum Creek Fire. Dead fuels are gradually absorbing moisture from the air, making them less likely to burn. Similar weather and fire behavior are expected to last into next week, with a chance of rain this weekend.
No significant fire activity was reported Wednesday although residual fuels continued to burn. A helicopter reconnaissance flight checked remote areas of the fire’s interior, with a similar flight planned today. Resources completed repair work on contingency lines south of Galice Road and Bear Camp Road toward Chrome Mountain. Resources are shifting from that area to other parts of the fire where repair work remains to be completed.
Fire personnel aim to complete waterbars and other soil stabilization work before heavy fall and winter rains arrive. Surplus resources are being released to other fires or home. Acreage has not increased for several days, and containment has risen to 83%. The uncontained section of the fire perimeter is adjacent to the Rogue River on the north side of the fire. Limited mop up is being done there due to extensive hazards to firefighters including very steep slopes, falling trees and rolling rocks.
Double Creek Fire
Double Creek. 10 miles SE of Imnaha, OR. Start 8/30. Cause: Lightning. 157,088 acres (+0). 24% containment. Timber. Moderate fire behavior. Road, trail and area restrictions. This team is also managing Nebo, Sturgill, Goat Mountain One and Goat Mountain Two incidents. The Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office rescinded all evacuation levels yesterday after reviewing the increased containment level on Double Creek Fire, progress made on the fires in Eagle Cap Wilderness, and moderating weather.
The thunderstorms, and associated lightning, that passed through the area on Tuesday resulted in three new fire starts. Initial attack responded to two fires south of the Double Creek Fire yesterday and one to the north.
Pacific Northwest Team 2 is committed to supporting initial attack in the region and will continue to monitor the area for any new starts in the coming days. There will be a community meeting to discuss the Double Creek, Sturgill, Nebo, and Goat Mountain 2 Fires on Friday, September 16 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Joseph Event Center (102 E First, Joseph, OR) and streamed live on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/DoubleCreekFire2022
OHA expands eligibility criteria for monkeypox (hMPXV) vaccine
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has expanded its eligibility criteria for the monkeypox (hMPXV) vaccine. It now includes “anyone who anticipates having or has had recent direct skin-to-skin contact with at least one other person AND who knows other people in their social circles or communities who have had monkeypox.”
The new interim monkeypox vaccination guidance for use of the JYNNEOS vaccine was developed with extensive input from community partners, local public health authorities, health care providers and Tribal health organizations, said Tim Menza, M.D., Ph.D., senior health adviser for OHA’s monkeypox response.
“It was a community-based process,” Menza said. “We heard loud and clear that if we wanted to get people in the door to get vaccinated against monkeypox, we needed to rethink how we talked about who is at greatest risk of infection.”
In its vaccine eligibility criteria, the vaccination guidance no longer refers to sexual orientation or gender identity – cisgender men, transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary people who have sex with men – which may have been a barrier for people seeking vaccinations, Menza said. The guidance also clearly states what is known as the most common route of transmission: direct, skin-to-skin contact.
The guidance “no longer calls out specific populations defined by sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, it calls out the most common route of transmission,” Menza explained. “In doing so, we hope to reduce the stigma associated with eligibility for monkeypox vaccination.”
In addition to encouraging JYNNEOS vaccination for anyone who anticipates having or has had recent skin-to-skin contact with others and shares a social circle or community with someone who had the virus, the guidance continues to recommend the vaccine for other high-risk persons: anyone who had close contact with someone with monkeypox or who local public health staff identified as being a contact of someone with the virus; laboratory workers who routinely perform monkeypox virus testing; and clinicians who had a high-risk occupational exposure, such as from examining monkeypox lesions or collecting monkeypox specimens without using recommended personal protective equipment.
The guidance also encourages vaccine providers to “think creatively” in planning vaccine events, Menza said. For example, it recommends providers work in partnership with community-based organizations or local businesses to offer “venue-based vaccine events” that prioritize communities most affected by monkeypox, which will make vaccines more accessible and acceptable. Venue-based vaccine clinics are those that occur in spaces or at events frequented by people from communities most affected by monkeypox. For example, OHA and partners have been offering vaccines at large community events, nightclubs and bathhouses.
Anyone who requests the vaccine at community-based vaccine events, should receive it, the guidance states.
When possible, vaccine providers should integrate monkeypox vaccine administration with the influenza vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, COVID-19 testing, HIV/STI testing, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) information and referrals, and harm-reduction education and outreach. Combining services will reduce stigma related to receiving a monkeypox vaccine “in that people could come to a vaccine event for one of several services,” according to the guidance.
“We want these events to feel more like a health fair,” Menza explained.
Menza believes the expanded monkeypox vaccination guidance represents a new phase in the state’s response to the outbreak.
“Initially, folks were stepping forward, and we had a lot of demand for the vaccine up front,” he said. “In the last four weeks, since mid-August, we’ve seen a steep drop-off in demand. Wait lists have dropped to zero, and available slots are not being filled. We need to reinvigorate our vaccination campaign and find new ways to get the vaccine to people who most need it.”
Free webinar to learn about COVID-19 treatments
Join us this Friday, Sept. 16 at noon for a free webinar to learn about COVID-19 treatments: http://ow.ly/ulYt50KKKfX You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions during the live event or emailing OHA.firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of time.ASL interpreters will be present.
If you’re unable to attend the live event, the webinar will be recorded and posted on our website here: http://ow.ly/Om6450KKKfU
Update #1-Suspect located and in OSP custody-Oregon State Police alerting the public of an armed and dangerous suspect last seen in SE Oregon
Update #1-The suspect has been located and is in custody. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.
On September 14, 2022 at approximately 10:19 AM, the Oregon State Police were advised Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was in pursuit of an armed and dangerous suspect that had committed multiple violent felonies from Salt Lake City, Utah to Elko, Nevada. The vehicle entered Oregon on Hwy 140 and was last seen northbound from Plush, OR.
The vehicle and suspect have not been located. The vehicle is described as burnt orange/silver 2001 Dodge Dakota 4-door. The plate is Nevada-436 NTR. The suspect is described as a white male adult, approximately 6 feet tall with a thin build, and beard. His clothing has been described as black jacket, brown pants with a baseball cap. The pants were also described as tan camouflage.
The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous, having committed prior home invasions and car-jackings. He should not be approached and if seen call 911 or contact the Oregon State Police Dispatch Center at 800-442-0776 or OSP (677) from your mobile phone.
Oregon Supportive Housing Institute reveals projects to develop tenant-centered, high-quality supportive housing
SALEM, OR – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) announced nine innovative projects that emerged from the third Oregon Supportive Housing Institute (SHI). The SHI is designed to increase the pipeline and supply of quality affordable housing paired with comprehensive support services.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown, provided a message to the project teams, stating “I am so grateful for your work to create more permanent supportive housing in our Oregon communities. Your work is critical in helping our neighbors who are experiencing chronic homelessness to return to safe, stable, and affordable housing.”
The nine project teams from across the state met over five months for intensive training and technical assistance to develop permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects. Permanent supportive housing is a national model that effectively serves individuals and families experiencing long-term homelessness. By providing on-site, individualized services, PSH leads to cost savings in public systems, particularly within healthcare and justice systems, and long-term housing stability for vulnerable households.
“I believe that in this space today, it represents our shared values of community building, commitment to our beloved communities, and the reality that us here today is a signal that we do not accept homelessness as a fact of life,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell.
The 2022 Oregon SHI projects focus on developing high-quality homes for chronically homeless households. Some projects are specifically designed for homeless youth transitioning out of foster care or state custody, veterans, and/or individuals who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Also, there are several projects serving rural communities throughout the state.
As Rae Trotta, CSH Senior Program Manager said, “Our Supportive Housing Institutes are training engagements to support quality planning for supportive housing projects, but what we’re really doing over these five months is community building.”
After the launch of the SHI in 2019, PSH expertise and developer capacity greatly expanded and have led to a significant increase in PSH across Oregon. Twenty-seven teams have graduated from the SHI since 2019, resulting in 525 new PSH units approved for funding by the Oregon Housing Stability Council.
“I want to extend my congratulations to all the project teams and thank you for allowing us to learn along with you and to support your efforts to advance supportive housing opportunities,” said CSH President and CEO, Deborah De Santis.
About Oregon Supportive Housing Institute
The Oregon Supportive Housing Institute (SHI) is a signature initiative of Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) in collaboration with and support from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). Since its start in the state, 27 teams have participated in the Oregon SHI which has resulted in 525 new permanent supportive housing units. The Oregon SHI has had diverse statewide representation from every region in Oregon, including projects from Central Oregon (2 – Bend and Warm Springs), Coastal Regions (4 –Astoria (2), Coos Bay/North Bend, Toledo), Corvallis, Eastern Oregon (2 – Ontario and Lakeview), Eugene (2), Portland (7), greater Portland Metro (4 – Gladstone, Happy Valley, Newberg, Tualatin/Tigard), Salem (2), Southern Oregon (2 – Medford/Grants Pass, Roseburg).
About Oregon Housing and Community Services
Oregon Housing and Community Services provide resources for Oregonians to reduce poverty and increase access to stable housing. Our intentional focus on housing and community services allows the agency to serve Oregonians across the housing continuum, including preventing homelessness, providing housing stability support, financing the building and preservation of affordable housing, and encouraging homeownership.
About Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) is the national champion for supportive housing, demonstrating its potential to improve the lives of very vulnerable individuals and families by helping communities create more than 385,000 real homes for people who desperately need them. CSH engages broader systems to fully invest in solutions that drive equity, help people thrive, and harness data to generate concrete and sustainable results. Visit us at www.csh. —- Oregon Housing and Community Services
Oregon State Police Northwest Region Marijuana Team Serves Search Warrant, Recovers Stolen Property, and Rescues Livestock
On September 13, 2022, the Oregon State Police, Drug Enforcement Section, Northwest Region Marijuana Team (OSP NWR MJ) served search warrants on South Criteser Road, south of Oregon City, OR. Investigators with NWR MJ began the investigation after discovering 22 greenhouses not registered to grow hemp or licensed to grow marijuana.
During the search warrant operation, investigators found nine horses and four cattle that were malnourished and in need of veterinary care. The Oregon Humane Society and Sound Equine Options, an Oregon based non-profit equine rescue organization, responded to help with documenting animal evidence and to take possession of the horses and cattle.
Also discovered were 2987 marijuana plants, approximately 3000 pounds of bulk marijuana and four firearms. NWRMJ recovered stolen property including two tractors, a track hoe, a travel trailer, a heavy-haul trailer, a pickup truck and an SUV. NWR MJ seized a Lamborghini sports car as a suspected proceed of the marijuana growing operation.
Investigators contacted eight individuals living in multiple locations throughout the approximately 75-acre property. The case and potential felony marijuana and animal neglect charges will be referred to the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office.
NWR MJ was assisted in the operation by the Clackamas County Interagency Taskforce, the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team, the Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Gresham Police Department, Clackamas County Code Enforcement, The Oregon Humane Society, and Sound Equine Options.
Advocates Say Oregon’s Homeless Youth Go Largely Unnoticed As Need For Services Grows
A yearly Wallet Hub analysis of underprivileged youth in the U.S. consistently ranks Oregon as one of the top states for the number of homeless youth, which they define as people younger than 24.
Since the late 80’s, the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act has required school districts to keep track of the number of homeless youth it educates in order to qualify for grants. Until last year, those were the closest estimates Oregon had to quantify the youth homeless crisis it is dealing with. National Center for Education Statistics ✎ EditSignis also the data Wallet Hub sites as its source for state-by-state comparison.
However, those numbers only account for students enrolled in the education system and do not take into account those who have dropped out or are between the ages of 18 and 24.
Last year, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) conducted a first-of-its-kind needs assessment, specific to homeless youth, and found that there are over 8000 unhoused individuals in Oregon✎ EditSign that are under the age of 24.
It’s a problem that stakeholders say has gone unaddressed for far too long.
“In Oregon, I think long-term it was difficult in some ways, and a struggle to attract state funding into these kinds of projects because they were geographically concentrated in the metro, they were geographically concentrated in the [Willamette] valley,” said Jimmy Jones, Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Center. The Non-Profit provides a wide array of services to low-income populations in the valley including homeless youth-specific services.
He said the awareness around homeless youth is starting to shift nationwide with more federal grants becoming available to services that deal specifically with homeless individuals who are under the age of 24. Stakeholders say it’s a population with unique needs that often goes unnoticed.
“I like to call them the invisible unsheltered population, people when they really think of homelessness they are thinking of older adults,” said Ashley Hamilton, Chief Program Officer for the non-profit.
She said they often go unnoticed because they may be couch surfing, or be in and out of homes that are unstable. She also noted that they tend to avoid adults because often they have not had positive experiences with the adults in their lives.
Because of that lack of visibility, the needs of this specific population have also been ignored for many years, Hamilton pointed out that many of the systems of care and case management for individuals experiencing homelessness are centered around adults. For example, many of the models prioritize individuals who have been chronically homeless for transitional housing opportunities.
“Automatically because of their age group and their lack of life experiences it makes them ineligible or unlikely to be prioritized into housing,” Hamilton explained.
Those are the type of barriers that the non-profit tried to address with services geared specifically towards individuals under 24 who are experiencing homelessness. The organization runs a youth drop-in center and shelter in Salem and is expanding this same model to Polk County. Hamilton noted that the county has one of the state’s highest numbers of homeless youth per capita and pointed out that it is often difficult for kids to travel to Salem from rural areas.
Thanks to a $3.7million grant from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, the new drop-in center and shelter are expected to open their doors sometime in early 2023.
Jones said he is glad to see some progress being made in terms of funding these youth-specific resources but noted that more needs to be done, “to make sure that folks who are 16, 17 and 18 years old right now don’t become 27 and 30 year old chronically homeless folks ten years from now.”
He said by tackling these issues “upstream,” state and federal policymakers can avoid having a bigger and more expensive problem on their hands in the future.
Out of the approximately $400 million that Oregon lawmakers set aside to fund homeless services last year, just over $2 million went specifically to youth services. According to the needs assessment Oregon will need to invest about $150 million to house all of its homeless youth.
A demolition contractor on Thursday imploded the towering smokestack and 19-story boiler building at Portland General Electric’s shuttered coal-fired power plant near Boardman, bringing a symbolic close to the era of coal-fired power generation in Oregon.
Imported electricity generated from coal still flows through transmission wires across the Pacific Northwest, but that looks to be winding down soon, too.
Strategically placed explosives toppled the 656-foot tall stack like a logger might fell a tree and collapsed the adjacent boiler building into a heap of concrete chunks and twisted steel. In seconds, a huge cloud of dust enveloped the partially disassembled coal plant. A small crowd of onlookers invited by PGE, including former plant workers oohed and aahed, but mostly refrained from clapping or cheering as the moment was tinged with sadness or melancholy for many.
“Very emotional for me and very emotional for a lot of the people that I worked with for a number of years,” saidPGE Vice President of Utility Operations Brad Jenkins, a former plant manager at Boardman.
“The coal plant has been just a workhorse of the fleet for 40 years,” Jenkins said. “But if you look around the landscape here, we’ve got lots of clean, renewable resources coming in. We’re transitioning and this is just part of that transition.”
PGE livestreamed the controlled demolition on social media but did not enable comments. Before the explosion, a smattering of people on the utility’s Facebook page bemoaned the demise of the coal plant. A recurrent theme among those commentators was that the Northwest needs reliable, baseload power such as what Boardman provided to balance intermittent renewable energy sources.
Jenkins said the fleet of natural gas power plants in the region would provide grid stability for the coming years until those are phased out and replaced with developing, zero emissions technologies.
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.