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
Monday, September 26, 2022
Willamette Valley Weather
At least 40 people have reported injuries or illnesses related to Oregon’s Cedar Creek fire, officials say. The fire has burned for almost two months.
All of the injuries so far appear to be non life-threatening, Don Ferguson, a Cedar Creek Fire public information officer, told CNN in an email.
The blaze, sparked by lightning on August 1, has burned through 114,104 acres and is 20% contained.
“There have been no structures burned and no fatalities,” Ferguson said.
The fire “has grown by only a relatively small percentage” in the last week, according to Ferguson. “The fire received a little rain, enough to temporarily slow growth and allow work to progress on the indirect containment strategy.”
Officials are beginning to pull back resources on the firefighting process and reopen areas closed to the public, according to Ferguson. It’s unclear exactly when those public areas will be reopened.
The fire began near the city of Oakridge, which is just under an hour’s drive from Eugene. Almost 2,000 personnel are working to contain the flames, according to a Sunday Facebook post from Cedar Creek Fire officials. The effort includes 44 fire engines, 28 handcrews, and 9 helicopters.
As the Cedar Creek Fire continues to burn, Oakridge and Westfir residents are experiencing major changes in air quality. Wind conditions are determining when smoke moves into the area.
The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency is extending its air quality advisory, and right now, there’s no estimate for when it could be lifted. The air quality index is between 300 and 400 constantly, which is hazardous to all people and animals.
There are clean air respite shelters set up throughout the community. Residents are being told to stuff towels under all the doorframes just to have somewhat of a break from the smoke and stay inside.
Much of Deschutes and the Willamette National Forests are still closed and still have fire restrictions. A map of the fire area with both forest closures can be found here.
Eugene Police Department Participated in the ‘Run with the Cops’ event for Special Olympics
Sunday was a warm Fall day with every division in the department on their feet for a cause. Officers were in full uniform and ready to pursue this 5K run that took place at Dorris Ranch in Springfield.
A big thank you to our employees who took time out of their busy Sunday to participate in this important cause. Also, a big shout out to Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Springfield Police Department for running with us! It was a great way to spend time together outdoors on one of our last warm weather days.
Person Injured When Equipment Falls At Reser Stadium After OSU Football Game
An employee of a contracting firm is recovering after a piece of equipment fell on him at Reser Stadium after the Oregon State University football game, university officials confirmed.
This happened Saturday night after the OSU vs. USC game.
Officials said the equipment fell on his lower body and he was transported to the hospital for medical care.
At this time, it is unknown what caused the equipment to fall and it is unclear what kind of equipment this was.
The university is investigating the incident and said they take safety very seriously.
Albany Fire Department Receives $1.33 Million To Hire Firefighters
The Albany Fire Department, as well as fire districts in Scappoose and Portland, will be receiving a total of several million dollars in federal funding to support their operations.
The Department of Homeland Security reports the city of Albany has secured $1.33 million in funding from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program to hire firefighters. Albany officials say the extra funding will be very helpful to meet the growing needs of the fire department.
“The City of Albany is experiencing significant growth, and we continue to face pressures on our budget,” said Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson. “We’re grateful for these federal funds which will help us to keep up with growth and continue to provide important emergency services to the people of our community.”
Albany is not the only city to receive federal funding. Portland is getting $2.07 from the same SAFER program as Albany, also to hire firefighters, and the Scappoose Rural Fire Department earned just over $399,000 for new vehicles from the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grants program.
A day after the Oregon Health Authority declared a new era in the state’s approach to drug addiction had begun, experts warned legislators that the state’s drug epidemic is worsening while its new approach lacks crucial
elements to stem the crisis.
Keith Humphreys, director of the Stanford Network on Addiction Policy, based at Stanford University in California, said the state’s shift away from prosecuting people with addiction problems toward boosting medical and social services lacks a push for people to stop using drugs and seek treatment.
Harm reduction programs, including clean needle exchanges and giving people the medication naloxone to reverse an overdose, aim to keep people alive, not deter them from drugs.
Measure 110, passed in November 2020, made Oregon the first state nationwide to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs while funneling hundreds of millions of dollars toward medical and social support.
The state announced Tuesday it had distributed more than $260 million to set up addiction and social services support in every county – a year later than scheduled. In the meantime, deadly pills laced with fentanyl along with
methamphetamine are pouring into the state, attracting and killing a growing number of teenagers.
The fact that we have an updated COVID-19 booster that targets the predominant variants circulating today is a wonder of science, but how do we know it’s safe and effective?
In late June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration weighed administering the original COVID-19 vaccine as the next round of booster doses against asking manufacturers to develop an updated version. The agency evaluated several options.
Moderna and Pfizer had already produced updated bivalent vaccines that targeted the Omicron BA.1 subvariant. These vaccines went through clinical trials, produced more antibodies against Omicron subvariants than the original vaccine, and were ultimately approved and rolled out in the United Kingdom over the summer.
The FDA, however, recommended vaccine manufacturers design updated bivalent boosters to specifically fight the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, in addition to previous subvariants.
Here’s a look at the process that led to the updated BA.4 and BA.5 booster dose: https://covidblog.oregon.gov/updated-covid-19-booster-targets-subvariants-responsible-for-98-of-cases-today/
Oregon Sees 63% Drop In Wildfire Acreage Burned In 2022 Though Fires Still Burning
The 2022 wildfire season in Oregon is nearing its end and seems this season has been decidedly different than in recent years. We’ve seen a 63% drop in acres burned in Oregon year-to-year. (Generally, wildfire season in Oregon lasts from mid-May to mid-September .)
“While the last 20 years have seen difficult-to-control large wildfire activity each year, this year has been
different for the PNW,” the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center tweeted Sunday night. “So far this year we’ve seen fires totaling 549,093 acres. This is a 63 percent drop from 2021 with 1,503,027 acres.”
But there are still plenty of wildfires burning in Oregon at this time. It’s just that they’re smaller (for the most part) and relatively contained.
As of Sunday night, the Incident Information Center listed these as the major fires still burning in Oregon:
- Double Creek Fire: 157,705 acres, 81% contained
- Cedar Creek Fire: 114,104 acres, 20% contained
- Rum Creek Fire: 21,347 acres, 90% contained
- Goat Mountain Fire: 20, 192, containment not listed
- Nebo Fire: 12,600 acres, containment not listed
The state’s largest fire, the Double Creek Fire, began August 22 by a lightning strike. Officials said the fire grew 6 acres over the past day, and 518 personnel are assigned to fight it.
MORNING BRIEF 9/26: Temperatures were predominantly in the 80s with a few areas reaching into the 90s west of the Cascades. Relative humidities were in the teens in eastern Oregon and reached single digits in the southeast corner, overnight recoveries were poor. Wind gusts less than 20 mph throughout most Geographic Area with stronger gusts in the Columbia Gorge. Existing large fires had light growth and exhibited moderate fire behavior.
The Pacific Northwest will continue warming and drying today into tomorrow. General winds will be light today but start increasing tomorrow as an upper-level trough approaches the coast. Light offshore winds continue today, warming and drying the west side and hampering ridgetop overnight humidity recoveries. Expect instability over the Cascades today into tomorrow.
The trough will arrive by Wednesday, cooling temperatures to near seasonal normal and bringing some rain to the west side and Washington’s northern mountains – the best chances for wetting rains will be in western Washington. Showers could linger Thursday behind the weather system. The system will also generate gusty westerly winds, especially through Cascade gaps. Temperatures should rebound Friday and Saturday before the next upper-level
trough arrives late Saturday or Sunday, cooling temperatures again and bringing more precipitation chances to the region.
Potential for new significant fires remains low across the region, but fire behavior could pick up as fire danger indices are rising. The combination of dry fuels, light offshore flow, and instability elevate concerns for the west slopes of the Washington Cascades today and, to a lesser extent, tomorrow. Breezes ahead of and with Wednesday’s system could boost spread potential after several warm, dry days, particularly on the lee side of Cascade gaps, where channeled winds will be strongest.
Oregon’s Hospitality Industry Is Still Short Thousands Of Jobs And Workers
Oregon’s economy has recovered all the jobs it lost to the pandemic, bouncing back from record layoffs at a much faster pace than in prior recessions. But the comeback has been much slower in some industries — especially in the hospitality sector.
Hotels, restaurants and bars still have about 12,000 fewer workers than they did before the pandemic, a roughly 6% decline. Employers are still scrambling to fill shifts waiting tables, tending bar and serving takeout.
And yet pandemic-era jobless benefits have long ago expired, and unemployment is near an all-time low. So where did those hotel and restaurant workers go?
Economist Damon Runberg crunched the numbers for the Oregon Employment Department to find out.
Using wage records and unemployment insurance claims, Runberg found that the largest group, by far, still works in the hospitality industry. But thousands of other bar and restaurant workers bolted for other industries – mostly retail, health care and business services jobs.
Such professions often pay better wages, with more regular hours, than bars, restaurants and hotels. And with Oregon experiencing a broad labor shortage, workers naturally gravitated toward the best opportunities. Runberg found the exodus from hospitality to other industries was faster than before the pandemic.
Curiously, the number of Oregon hospitality workers on the jobless rolls quadrupled between the start of 2020 and the end of 2021. That’s despite the number of overall Oregon jobless claims hovering near a historic low, around 4.0%.
In Lincoln County, 4,880 jobs were lost in April 2020 as the pandemic hit, and the county remains 780 jobs below its pre-pandemic employment of August 2019
Runberg thinks the most likely explanation is that restaurants and bars were laying off staff last fall — the latest period for which he has data — during a fresh round of infections driven by highly contagious COVID-19 variants. That may have been a passing phenomenon – the hospitality sector has grown at a 9.9% annual rate over the past year.
Unemployment certainly doesn’t account for all the missing hospitality workers. More than 20% in Runberg’s survey weren’t working in Oregon at all.
“Where is this mystery 1 in 5 workers that have disappeared from our employment records in Oregon? We don’t know,” Runberg said.
Some might have retired, died, gone back to school or moved to another state.
Crucially, though, the share of hospitality workers that left the Oregon workforce altogether was roughly on par with the number who left during a similar period before the pandemic. That suggests that most people kept working, even if they didn’t stay in hospitality jobs.
Tallying up the changes, then, Runberg finds no one single answer to the missing hospitality workers. Rather, it’s a combination of factors — people moving, taking new jobs, or dropping out of the workforce altogether.
And Runberg suspects there’s another factor contributing to the hospitality labor shortage that isn’t captured in the data: Hospitality jobs used to be some of the easiest to get for entry-level workers building their resumes and developing their skills. So they were willing to accept the hard work and night shifts to get a start.
Now, though, Runberg thinks those new workers may be finding better opportunities outside the hospitality industry.
“With a high demand for labor across many industries it is also possible that many workers entering the workforce (largely young people) who would typically find a job in a restaurant or hotel are finding work in different industries with more consistent hours and less seasonality,” he said.
Animal Abuse/Neglect Search Warrant – 13 Malnourished Dogs Rescued From Boarding Business In Grants Pass
Josephine County Animal Control Officers received a report of malnourished canines at Pawsitive K9 Solutions, located at 783 SE 6th Street Grants Pass, Oregon. Deputies with the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office obtained and served a search warrant at the location on September 21st, 2022.
Deputies and Animal Control Officers recovered 13 canines all at different levels of malnourishment. Some of the canines required immediate care from veterinarians who helped after hours to see them in a timely manner. The living conditions of the animals revealed they had been neglected for some time. The canines were transported to the Josephine County Animal Shelter.
The owners/employees of the business were not present at the time of the search warrant, but they have been identified.
As of September 23, 2022, the canines are doing well and are getting the care they need at the Shelter. The Shelter has stated that they are on special and expensive prescription diets at this time and donations are always appreciated. If you would like to help with their care and donate, the Shelter specifically asked for hoses, bleach, laundry detergent, and nitrile exam gloves but always welcomes any donations.
This case will be forwarded to the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office for review. Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office
Representative E. Werner Reschke secures funding for Klamath County domestic wells
Representative E. Werner Reschke successfully secured 5 million dollars in emergency funding for Klamath County residents who are suffering from failed domestic wells due to drought. The Oregon Emergency Board convened Friday afternoon to pass an emergency funding request to specifically help Klamath County citizens. The request passed unanimously.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the Emergency Board, those at the Department of Water Resources, Representatives Helm & Owens as well as Klamath County Commissioner Minty for making this request possible. It was a team effort to help ensure people in Klamath County can recover from the devastating blow of drought.”
“It is a traumatic experience when your house well fails. When you turn on a faucet and no water comes out — you not only lose drinking water, but the ability to cook, clean, wash dishes, wash clothes, take showers and flush the toilet. The financial burden and uncertainty of not knowing how or when a well driller is available is further complicated with the looming question of whether a well driller will find water at a deeper level. The stress takes quite an emotional toll on individuals and families.”
OSU To Team With 5 Oregon Tribes On Forest Restoration Projects
Oregon State University plans to team with five Oregon tribes on a three-year $5 million forest restoration effort to improve the resilience of woodlands to climate change using Native American practices.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is funding the $5 million pilot project, which will include collecting the seeds of culturally and ecologically significant plants on Bureau of Land Management lands.
Potential tribal partners include the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, the Coquille Indian Tribe and the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indians.
“We will engage each of these tribal nations individually, co-creating partnerships that best reflect their unique community needs,” said Cristina Eisenberg, the College of Forestry’s associate dean for inclusive excellence and director of tribal initiatives. “The BLM is giving us the flexibility to adapt our project to best meet the needs of our partners.”
The process uses “traditional ecological knowledge,” said Eisenberg, which is the accumulation of information, practices and beliefs about relationships and environmental functions, including all elements, species and processes within ecosystems.
“We want to engage and empower tribal youth to help find solutions to the pressing conservation problems we are facing in Oregon and beyond,” Eisenberg said. “A goal is to provide as many job and educational opportunities as possible for tribal youth within the college. We also hope to foster a tribal seed-growing business, to build on work that has already done by some Tribal nations, and we will co-create an eco-cultural restoration plan for federal land.”
Visitation Down at Crater Lake National Park
Although figures for August are not yet available, visitation at Oregon’s only national park dropped steeply in June and July compared to 2021. Because of staffing shortages and construction, visitors had fewer opportunities to
participate in ranger-led programs and lake boat tours.
Crater Lake Hospitality, the park’s concessionaire, had trouble hiring seasonal staff, including Coast Guard certified boat captains, so two-hour tours were available only from Aug. 26 to Sept. 13, “The shortest boat season on record,”
according to park Superintendent Craig Ackerman.
Likewise, because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, seasonal staffing shortages and the ongoing closure of the Munson Valley visitor contact station, several of the park’s summer programs were reduced or eliminated.
The Mazama Campground was open for the summer, but the Lost Creek Campground was closed because of water supply related concerns.
Visitation at the park in July 2021 totaled 194,712 compared to 139,513 this July. In June, the 2022 total was 70,975, well below the 95,155 counted in As of July 31, 284,967 visits were reported this year.
Visitors also faced challenges because of ongoing reconstruction of the park’s main visitor contact station in the park headquarters complex in Munson Valley. A temporary contact station was placed at Mazama Village near the
park’s South Entrance but received relatively small numbers of visitors.
Oregon Governor Candidates Will Hold Live Televised Debate Tuesday 9/27 In Bend
Oregon’s candidates for governor will participate in a televised debate from the Oregon State University-Cascades campus on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The debate among Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson will be the second time the three candidates take the stage together, following a July forum in front of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. More debates are expected, although not yet announced.
The debate won’t be open to the public, just OSU-Cascades students and invited leaders from the area. It will be broadcast on KTVZ for central Oregon audiences and live-streamed on ktvz.com.
Oregon’s race is historically close this year, in large part because Johnson is running. She was a conservative Democratic legislator for two decades before launching her campaign and has the potential to draw votes from either party.
Polls showing outgoing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is deeply unpopular with voters also led national forecasters, including the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and the Cook Political Report, to downgrade the likelihood of a Kotek win. The Center for Politics considers it a tossup and the Cook Report rates the race as “leaning” Democratic, down from “likely.”
With less than two months to go until Election Day and more money coming in daily, the three candidates have raised nearly $30 million combined and spent most of it since beginning their campaigns. Johnson leads the field with more than $11.3 million raised to date, thanks to large contributions from business leaders including Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
Drazan has raised more than $9 million and Kotek nearly $8.7 million. National Democratic and Republican groups are boosting their campaigns, with the Democratic Governors Association giving Kotek almost $1.9 million and the Republican Governors Association sending $2.6 million to Drazan’s campaign.
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.