Willamette Valley News, Tuesday 11/15 – The City Of Eugene Hosts Public Open House Today, Egan Warming Centers Urgently Need More Volunteers

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

The City Of Eugene Hosts Public Open House for Input On Priorities And Projects In Downtown Eugene Today

The City of Eugene will host a public open house for members of the public to give their input on priorities and projects in downtown Eugene. The open house will take place Tuesday, November 15 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Farmers Market Pavilion at 8th and Oak.

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In a news release, the city says, “Through interviews with key stakeholders and focus group meetings, a set of topic areas has emerged: housing, events and culture, commercial activity, public spaces, public safety, and social services. Open house attendees will be invited to visit topic area stations and provide input on the projects and programs that will support our community vision downtown.”

“The open house will take place at the Farmers Market Pavilion, which is only a semi-heated space, so bring warm layers. Light snacks and warm drinks will be provided, along with entertainment from the Jazz Station. All ages are welcome. Spanish translation will be provided.”

Members of the public who are not able to attend are encouraged to complete the online survey, which will be available on the project website on Wednesday: https://www.eugene-or.gov/4723/Downtown-Priorities-Projects. Sign-up there to receive project updates, including notification when the survey launches. 

About the Downtown Priorities and Projects Work:

“Downtown Eugene is the social, economic and cultural heart of our community, and the source of some of our most vexing community challenges. Since the Downtown Plan was adopted in 2004, we have made significant improvements to our downtown. We have invested in transportation options, redeveloped old buildings, and filled vacant and underutilized lots with purposeful buildings and significant community destinations. However, ongoing and emerging challenges continue to hold us back and impact the quality of life of people living, working, and visiting downtown. It is time to develop an updated list of priorities and projects that will guide the next phase of downtown investments.

Through conversations with residents, businesses, and organizations, the City is developing a list of Downtown Priorities and Projects to guide future improvements to the area. Eugene City Council will consider this list in early 2023 and begin strategizing on how to implement the priorities that come out of this process.”

Egan Warming Centers Urgently Need More Volunteers

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Two Egan Warming Centers – the Eugene-Springfield area’s only emergency winter, low-barrier shelters – were activated Monday but could only open two locations because of a volunteer shortage.

Egan Warming Centers is a program of St. Vincent de Paul whose mission is simple: ensure that unsheltered people in Lane County have a place to sleep indoors when temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overnight temperatures in the area are expected to range from 28 degrees to 26 degrees through Friday.

New volunteers need to attend a volunteer orientation session. A virtual new-volunteer orientation will be hosted from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom. Anyone interested can use the Zoom link https://bit.ly/EganVolunteerOrientationNov15.

The Wheeler Pavilion in the Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave. in Eugene will open at 10 p.m. and the Springfield site is at Springfield Memorial Building, 765 A St. will open at 6:30 p.m.

Egan Warming Center

All of the program’s sites are on standby for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shuttles to the Eugene shelter will be available from behind First Christian Church 1166 Oak St., Eugene from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. The centers accept pets and are accessible to people with disabilities.

Egan Warming Centers are open throughout an operational season that typically begins Nov. 15 and ends March 31, with nighttime activation as necessary during that period. The program was named in honor of Maj. Tom Egan, a local man who died in freezing weather in 2008 while sleeping outside.

More information about Egan Warming Centers is available at https://www.svdp.us/services/shelter-assistance/egan-warming-centers/

Fatal Crash Involving Fire Truck East Of Lebanon

Officials are investigating after one person died and others were injured in a crash that involved a fire truck on Monday.  This incident happened two miles west of Sodaville-Waterloo Drive, at milepost 17, east of Lebanon. 

Officials with Oregon State Police said one person died, and several others were injured. 

Officials said passenger cars were detoured via Cascade Drive, and there was no detour for commercial trucks. 

OSP officials said this will be an extended closure, and drivers are asked to avoid the area and take alternate routes. The crash is still under investigation.

Eugene Power Outage Fixed

As reported, a large part of Eugene suffered a power outage Monday morning. Eugene Water and Electric Board reports that crews were able to fix power lines within a few hours.

According to the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s website, just over 6,50 customers were without electricity in an area between Highway 105, Cal Young Road, Interstate 5, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. EWEB says the outages were first reported near the Oakway substation at about 7 a.m. on November 14, and the rest of the area was reported without power shortly afterwards.

EWEB crews were able to restore power to the affected area just before Noon the same day. Officials have not yet released a suspected cause for the outage. YOU CAN CHECK EWEB OUTAGE MAP HERE: https://www.eweb.org/outages-and-safety/power-outages/power-outage-map

Governor Brown Issues Emergency Order To Help Hospitals Address Rising Pediatric Cases Of RSV

Governor Brown has issued an executive order to help hospitals combat rising cases of pediatric respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus — commonly known as RSV. The executive order will give hospitals the flexibility to staff beds for children, and allow them to draw on a pool of medical volunteer nurses and doctors, among other steps.

But the Oregon Nurses Association expressed disappointment that the state and its health agency did not intervene sooner to mitigate the emergency.

“The RSV crisis did not happen suddenly. In fact, it has been building over the past weeks and months. Yet we have not seen robust public health interventions that would have mitigated this crisis and prevented more Oregonians from getting sick,” the Association wrote in a statement responding to the executive order.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing. For most children, RSV produces mild illness, similar to the common cold. However, young children are especially susceptible to RSV. And children under the age of two are at increased risk of severe disease.

Since the onset of Oregon’s RSV season in late October, the statewide pediatric hospitalization rate has more than tripled, according to Governor Brown’s office, and is likely to exceed its previously recorded weekly hospitalization rate imminently. Oregon Health Authority could not be immediately reached for updated numbers since the announcement about the executive order came just before 5 p.m. on Monday.

Last week it was reported that 4 out of 40 statewide pediatric ICU beds were available, and 90% were occupied.

In Oregon, there are only three hospitals with a pediatric ICU — OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel — and Providence St. Vincent’s Hospital.

“Like other hospitals in the region and across the country, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is currently admitting a high number of sick patients. Illnesses have hit our communities hard — and this comes on top of extreme health care staffing challenges which were exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Dr. Dana A. Braner, physician-in-chief at Doernbecher. “We expect this spike in illness to continue in the coming months.” The state nurses association said that public health campaigns focused on parents and schools asking them to keep children home if they are sick or show signs of illness, and other actions, such as encouraging mask use, handwashing, and practicing social distancing could have helped reduce the impact of this surge in RSV cases.

This dramatic increase in RSV cases comes at a time when Oregon’s hospitals are already facing a nurse staffing crisis. ONA called on hospitals to incentivize nurses who agree to work the extra shifts that are needed to meet during this crisis and to relieve nurses of extra duties through additional ancillary staff. They also called on hospitals to delay elective surgeries.

The Oregon Health Authority encourages all individuals at increased risk of severe disease, and their caregivers, to take steps to prevent RSV and other respiratory infections this flu season.

Signs of RSV include runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, wheezing and labored breathing. Symptoms usually appear in stages. Young infants with RSV may only show irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties, according to the CDC.

Because RSV largely stopped spreading during the pandemic, health officials said there’s likely a larger pool of kids being exposed to it for the first time.

There is no vaccine for RSV. People who want to avoid getting, or spreading it, should consider wearing a mask if they’re in a crowded indoor environment. Hand washing is a more effective tool against RSV transmission than it is for COVID-19. People are advised to wear a mask if they have a runny nose to keep others from getting sick.

And if you have an infant under 6 months or a young child with underlying conditions, consider limiting the number of visitors in your household during RSV season.

Jury Convicts Former Oregon Securities Broker of Tax Evasion

PORTLAND, Ore.—After a two-week trial, a federal jury in Portland found a McMinnville, Oregon man guilty today of evading $2.5 million in income taxes by hiding his income in multiple bank accounts and submitting false financial statements to the IRS.

James Millegan, 65, was convicted of one count of tax evasion.

According to court documents, Millegan owned and operated J.W. Millegan, Inc., a small, commission-based investment advisory business that served clients in the Portland and Salem, Oregon metropolitan areas. From 1996 to 2016, the investment firm was Millegan’s only significant source of income.

Over a seven-year period from July 2009 through September 2016, Millegan evaded payment of $2.5 million in income taxes. Millegan filed tax returns each year reflecting his true income, which sometimes exceeded $1 million, and the taxes he owed on that income, which typically ranged from $125,000 to $350,000. Despite these returns, Millegan often failed paid the IRS. 

Millegan was described as a prolific spender by personal assistants hired to pay his bills. He used the proceeds of his tax evasion to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included a $4.5 million home in Portland, a $1.3 million home on the Oregon coast, Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles for everyday use, equestrian expenses like stabling and lessons, and an attempt to establish a world-class equestrian competition center and resort near Sheridan, Oregon. Millegan also bought a classic 1938 Rolls Royce touring car, spent $800,000 restoring it, and showed it in premier car shows in the U.S., Great Britain, and Europe.

To evade the payment of his income taxes, Millegan concealed his income from the IRS by transferring it to six bank accounts he controlled, including transferring $1.4 million to the bank account of his deceased mother’s trust, which he used to pay his personal expenses. From July 2009 through September 2016, Millegan transferred $3.7 million to these accounts. To further conceal his income, Millegan submitted false financial statements to the IRS.

On November 21, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a 13-count indictment charging Millegan with tax evasion and investment churning. Later, on February 17, 2022, he was charged by superseding indictment with wire fraud and tax evasion. A jury trial on the wire fraud charges is scheduled to begin in March 2023.

Tax evasion is punishable by up to five years in federal prison. Millegan will be sentenced on April 3, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.

This tax evasion case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation. Seth D. Uram and Meredith D.M. Bateman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Horsley assisted the trial team.

Former Owner and General Manager of Oregon Dump Truck and Concrete Companies Pleads Guilty After Failing to Pay Employment Taxes

PORTLAND, Ore.—The former owner and general manager of dump truck hauling and concrete companies based in Damascus, Oregon pleaded guilty today to willfully failing to pay employment taxes despite withholding them from employee paychecks.

Rebekah Joy Williams, 44, a resident of Damascus, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to pay over employment taxes.

According to court documents, until the third and fourth quarters of 2017, Williams owned and operated Anbasa Transport LLC and Kelaye Conrete LLC, commercial dump truck hauling and concrete companies registered in Oregon that formerly operated in both Oregon and Washington State. As the sole owner and general manager of both companies, Williams was responsible for collecting, accounting for, and paying federal income, Medicare, and Social Security taxes (also known as FICA taxes) on behalf of her employees.

Over at least a three-year period, from 2015-2017, Williams withheld these taxes from her employees’ paychecks and provided them with paystubs reflecting the withholdings. Despite doing so, IRS records showed that Williams made no payroll tax payments on behalf of either company from the third quarter of 2015 through the fourth quarter of 2017. In total, Williams failed to pay approximately $112,257 in employment taxes to the IRS.

On October 19, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a 19-count indictment charging Williams with willfully failing to collect or pay over employment taxes.

Williams faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice her gross gains resulting from the offense, and three years of supervised release. She will be sentenced on February 14, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.

As part of her plea agreement, Williams has agreed to pay $725,492 in restitution to the IRS.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Claire M. Fay, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Board of Forestry to meet in Seaside on Nov. 16, host field tour on Nov. 17

The Oregon Board of Forestry will be extending the time allotted for public comment during its Nov. 16 meeting in Seaside, OR, due to the high volume of Oregonians who signed up to speak to the board on a variety of topics. The meeting will now start at 8:30 a.m. at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center. View the amended agenda for the meeting

Additionally, the board has tentatively scheduled an executive session following conclusion of the meeting to consult with counsel concerning current litigation or litigation likely to be filed, pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(h). No decisions will be made during executive session. Members of the media who are interested in attending the executive session need to contact Jason Cox, public affairs officer, at jason.r.cox@odf.oregon.gov for details.

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet for a hybrid public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 8:30 9 a.m. in Seaside, with a social in the evening and a field tour the following day. The public can attend in-person at Seaside Civic & Convention Center, Riverside Room, 415 1st Avenue, Seaside, OR 97138 or observe the livestream on the department’s YouTube page. The field tour on Nov. 17 is organized to be held on location with no virtual access. The tour itinerary will be released before the event and recordings will be available post-tour.

The board’s business agenda includes:

  • State Forests Endangered Species Management Plan for marbled murrelets
  • *Adoption of Certified Burn Manager rules
  • Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee testimony
  • Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan outcomes
  • State forests branding
  • Fire season summary
  • Macias Gini O’Connell Implementation Management Plan progress

View the agenda for the meeting, social and tour details

On Nov. 16, the department will host an evening community social. This informal event is open to the public and can attend in-person at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center, Riverside Room, 415 1st Avenue, Seaside, OR 97138. An RSVP is not required, but a courtesy as spacing and parking is limited. RSVP to boardofforestry@odf.oregon.gov

On Nov. 17, the board will host a tour that is open to the public. To minimize the number of vehicles traveling in the woods, there are a limited number of seats available for the tour vans.  If you plan to attend the tour, please RSVP by noon on Nov. 14 to boardofforestry@odf.oregon.gov. Members of the public will be responsible for providing their own lunch. 

Live testimony is available for item #1 – State forester and board member comments. Sign-up is required and instructions to provide live testimony are available online. Sign-up closes Friday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. Written public testimony will also be accepted. Written comments can be submitted before or up to two weeks after the meeting day to boardofforestry@odf.oregon.govwith the appropriate agenda item included with the submission. No testimony will be available for the Certified Burn Manager rulemaking item included on the agenda, it is marked as a work session (*) and not open for public testimony.

Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services, or assistance can be arranged by calling ODF’s Public Affairs Office at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting at 503-945-7200 or by email at forestryinformation@odf.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Board of Forestry consists of seven citizens nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Responsibilities include appointing the State Forester, setting management direction for state-owned forests, adopting rules governing timber harvest and other practices on private forestland, and promoting sustainable management of Oregon’s 30 million-acre forestland base. Read more information about the board.

New reports show gas prices are on the decline as drivers prepare for Thanksgiving holiday travel.

According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.77.  That is 13 cents less than a month ago.

“The decline has been partly driven by Great Lakes states, where prices fell by 15-25 cents per gallon due to an improvement in the refining situation, and also oil prices, which fell back under $90 per barrel last week,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “With oil prices remaining volatile, the outlook is murky, but I’m hopeful in the lead-up to Thanksgiving we’ll see prices declining in more states.”

Drivers can expect to see lower prices at the pumps in Southern Oregon, even though prices are still above the state and national average for most consumers. 

Oregon’s state average is $4.79 as of Monday, Nov. 14. 

AAA reports the current average in the Medford-Ashland metropolitan area is $4.84.  That is down 7 cents from a week ago and 70 cents from a month ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Medford was priced at $4.47 yesterday while the most expensive was $4.99, a difference of 52 cents per gallon.

In the Grants Pass metropolitan area, AAA says the current average is $5.04.  That’s down 4 cents from a week ago and 58 cents from a month ago.

You can track the current average gas prices across the country here.  Alternatively, you can search for the cheapest gas stations in an area by entering the city name or zip code here.

Applications Open for the 2023 Oregon FFA Scholarships

Applications are currently open for the 2023 Oregon FFA Scholarships. High school FFA students, and some alumni, with an interest in agriculture or a similar field, have an opportunity to get a jump start on their advanced education.

Available scholarships and a brief description of their purpose All scholarship applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. January 31, 2023. For more information https://oregonffa.com/scholarships-2/

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