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, January 9, 2023
Willamette Valley Weather
Another Hit-and-Run Fatal Pedestrian Crash in Eugene
Fatal hit-and-run at 7th Ave and Van Buren Sunday night — Eugene Police say the suspect vehicle in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run Sunday night is a light-colored 2006-2009 Land Rover. “The crash, which is a fatal pedestrian/vehicle crash, occurred at approximately 9:18 p.m. near W. 7th Avenue and Blair Boulevard,” EPD stated.
The Eugene Police Major Collision Investigation team is investigating.
All but one of the eastbound lanes of 7th Ave will be closed until further notice, EPD said. No further information has been released. No word on other injuries.
Eugene Police Still Seeking Tips in Hit and Run Pedestrian Crash
UPDATE: SEEKING TIPS — JANUARY 3, 2023 At 4:17 p.m. a female pedestrian, age 60, was struck crossing W. 6th Avenue on Lincoln by a vehicle that fled the scene west on W. 6th Avenue, possibly getting onto I-105 eastbound.
The woman has been transported to a local hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. The suspect vehicle is described as a black sedan, possibly a Honda Civic. There is possible front-end damage near the passenger side headlight and hood.
If anybody has tips or possibly in-car cam footage please call 541.682.5138. Case 22-00129 The roadway has been reopened to traffic.
PREVIOUS INFORMATION: 4:34 P.M. JANUARY 3, 2023Avoid 6th Avenue from Lincoln to LawrencePlease avoid 6th Avenue from Lincoln to Lawrence. It is currently shut down while emergency responders are in the area for a vehicle-pedestrian crash. The area will be restricted until further notice. Incident number 23-002277
Eugene Man Involved In Fatal Hwy 126 Crash Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison
A 65-year-old Eugene man was sentenced to 10 years in prison in early December for his involvement in a fatal crash that killed an ambulance district worker in September 2021.
Shane Tyler McVay was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and two counts of recklessly endangering another person.
McVay will have three years of post-prison parole. His driver’s license has been suspended for life.
Oregon State Police responded to a four-vehicle crash on Highway 126W on the morning of Sept. 20, 2021. McVay was operating a Kenworth log truck heading eastbound when his loaded trailer tipped over, according to state police. The trailer struck a Toyota Prius and a Dodge Ram towing a boat, police said. The Ram then struck an eastbound Ford Mustang, police said.
The driver of the Prius, 25-year-old Sarah Susman of Springfield, was killed in the crash. Susman worked part-time for the Western Lane Ambulance District and was on her way to work.
The City Of Eugene Says It Closed The Sale On The Second Phase Of Land Parcels in Downtown Riverfront Property Development
The City of Eugene says it closed the sale on the second phase of land parcels for the Downtown Riverfront district late last month.
Atkins Dame, the team developing the riverfront apartments, paid $4.3 million for two parcels.
The firm began construction on the first phase of the project last August, and the City expects the four-story “Heartwood” building with 95 market-rate apartments to be completed in early 2024.
The riverfront area will ultimately be home to at least 75 affordable housing units, and 500 to 1,000 market-rate units.
Design work for the Downtown Riverfront Plaza and playground, the second phase of the nearby park, continues, and construction is expected to begin in 2024.
For more information, see the city’s website here.
Wildlife Safari In Winston Oregon Welcomes New Cheetah Cubs
Wildlife Safari in Winston welcomed some new furry faces last Monday with the birth of new cheetah cubs.
Starting at 4 a.m., the first cub was born with several more coming shortly after. Their mother, Paca, has had two previous litters.
According to the Wildlife Safari website , their cheetah facility is the number-two breeding facility in the world, and number one outside of Africa.The new cubs are the first cheetahs to be born in the U.S. in 2023.
Tina Kotek to be Sworn in as Oregon’s New Governor Today
Tina Kotek will be sworn in as Oregon’s 39th governor on Monday. After taking the oath of office, Kotek, a Democrat, will give her inaugural address before a joint session of the Oregon Legislature. She’ll give her first media interview as governor on Tuesday.
On Friday, Kotek announced Colt Gill, the director of the Oregon Department of Education will retire at the end of this year’s legislative session, and she also announced new people joining her administration in education and health.
Kotek’s transition team said in a news release the new governor will conduct a national search for a new education director.
“Colt Gill earned a reputation as a strong advocate for education equity, helping to make our schools more inclusive for all Oregon students,” Kotek said. “I appreciate his many years of public service — both as an advocate and as a leader in our state government.”
The Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, thanked Gill for his service in a news release.
“For more than 30 years Colt Gill has served Oregonians during his career in education, providing mentorship and leadership to both students and educators alike,” said OEA President Reed Scott-Schwalbach. “As Director of the Oregon Department of Education Colt led Oregon’s public schools through unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic with grace, poise, and tenacity, all rooted in a student-centered approach that is critical the work of education.”
Other staff additions Kotek announced Friday:
Pooja Bhatt will serve as Kotek’s education initiative director. She served as outgoing Gov. Kate Brown’s education policy adviser.
Melissa Goff will be Kotek’s education adviser. She was the deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association.
Ebony Clark will serve as behavioral health director at the Oregon Health Authority. She served as the director of Multnomah County’s Health Department.
“These talented individuals are ready to dig into the details and form solutions that will deliver results for Oregonians. I’m grateful to have strong leaders joining my team who are ready to take on three of our state’s biggest challenges: housing and homelessness, mental health and addiction care, and successful schools,” Kotek said in her news release.
—- When Kotek takes office, she said she will focus on three things.
“I will declare a homelessness state of emergency, and work with urgency to help Oregonians get off the streets. I will expand access to mental health and addiction treatment services. And I will work to bridge the divisions in our state,” Kotek said.
She also stated she will work to make sure Oregon has successful schools for kids.
I’ll spend time [with] communities all over Oregon, working to fix problems and partner with Oregonians who want to find solutions.
Live streaming of the events will be available remotely on the Oregon Legislative website. There will also be designated hearing rooms to watch the events. In the morning, the Senate session will stream in hearing rooms A, B and C and the House session will stream in D, E and F. In the afternoon, the Joint Session will be streamed in hearing rooms A – E. Capacity is limited to 90 people per room.
For the inauguration, the House and Senate will meet at 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. for organizational sessions. There will then be a joint session with Tina Kotek at 1:00 P.M. This joint session will include her inaugural address.
House Organizational Session
- When: 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9.
- Where: Oregon State Capitol, House Chamber
Senate Organizational Session
- When: Monday, Jan. 9, 9:30 a.m.
- Where: Oregon State Capitol, Senate Chamber
Joint Session, including the inaugural address of Governor-Elect Tina Kotek
- When: 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9.
- Where: Oregon State Capitol, House Chamber
OSU Archaeologists Uncover Oldest Known Projectile Points
Oregon State University archaeologists have uncovered some tools that add to a new understanding of the timeline of human life in the Americas — projectile points.
The projectile points, or spear tips; razor sharp and ranging from half an inch to two inches long, that are so telling about the people who came here to hunt, to fish and to gather. They are about 3000 years older than what had been found before.
“This record is notable because now we realize it extends back to 16,000 years ago or probably a little earlier,” said OSU Anthropology Professor Loren Davis who has led expeditions of students to Cooper’s Ferry for the duration of the project.
In 2019 they found bones and other items that gave them evidence of human life arriving here roughly 3000 years sooner than was previously believed.
Now carbon dating of these sharp hunting tools confirms it — and shows how advanced those native peoples were early on.
“Something in your hand that’s that old, and to think about somebody actually took a block of rock through a series of steps, turned it into a spear point that I have in my hand is really pretty amazing,” said Davis.
In collaboration with the Nez Perce Tribe and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Davis and more than 200 students have spent thousands of hours carefully clearing the dirt, discovering signs of the first human life in the Americas, right here in the Pacific Northwest.
“Looking back, we didn’t realize exactly how old this was going to be, but I hope students or ex-students now are looking back and thinking they’re part of something pretty magical and rather special.”
Davis has been studying the Cooper’s Ferry site since the 1990’s when he was an archaeologist with BLM. Now he brings OSU graduate and undergraduate students to the site to work during the summer.
The team also works closely with the Nez Perce Tribe to provide field opportunities for tribal youth and to communicate findings.
Increased rain brings possible flooding to parts of Oregon
SALEM – Winter in Oregon brings rain – and lots of it. This year is no different and the Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) reminds people to be prepared. The forecast for this weekend and into next week is for continued rain and with flooding already happening in the Northwest, there are ways you can be ready.
Most Oregonians with flood coverage have it through the National Flood Insurance Program. You can also purchase private flood insurance through your insurance company. Typical homeowners or renters policies do not cover flood damage. If your insurance company does not offer flood insurance, you can shop different companies that do.
DFR has resources available on its website about flood insurance. It is important to be prepared before flooding takes place. One way to do that is to build a financial first-aid kit and inventory. You can do this by:
- Saving account numbers – Have a safe place where those are stored and accessible.
- Having an inventory of your belongings – Take pictures or videos of your items and write down a record of what you have.
- Backing up computer files – Consider backing up your information to a secure cloud storage service or keeping an external device with important information backed up somewhere other than your home.
- Securing important documents – It is critical to keep important papers in a water-tight fire safe or a bank deposit box.
More information on this checklist can be found here
The division also has additional storm damage resources available.
“Water damage from flooding can be devastating to your home,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and Department of Consumer and Business Services director. “Much like a fire, flooding and storm damage can destroy your home and the items you care most about inside it. Being prepared will make dealing with the aftermath much easier.”
If you do have coverage and need to file a claim, immediately contact your insurer or agent. Also, save any receipts from repairs, housing, food, mitigation (sand bags, pumps, etc.) because reimbursements may be part of your coverage.
Before going back into your home, make sure it is safe to do so. Flood damage can make buildings insecure and unsteady. Also, you want to be careful of gas leaks and electrical wires in flooded areas.
If you don’t have flood insurance, consider purchasing it. Even those who don’t live in flood zones are susceptible under certain conditions. Contact your agent or the National Flood Insurance Program.
### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and www.dcbs.oregon.gov.
Wyden, Merkley: Nearly $20 Million to Oregon School Districts to Hire More Mental Health Providers
Douglas, Jackson and Multnomah county districts to benefit
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that four Oregon school districts will receive a combined nearly $20 million in competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education to hire additional licensed mental health providers over the next five years.
“Students, teachers and counselors across Oregon tell me just how crucial school-based mental health services are to young people facing challenges at home and in the classroom—but these services are stretched to the breaking point,” said Wyden, who is leading bipartisan legislation to transform youth mental health services in Oregon and across the nation. “While I am gratified to see this investment in Douglas, Jackson and Multnomah county school districts, more providers are needed state- and nationwide. I’m all in to remove barriers so that all students can benefit from school-based mental health care.”
“Mental health care is essential health care, especially for school-aged kids, which is why I introduced the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act to put more providers in schools,” said Merkley. “I’m grateful that, in the spirit of that legislation, Douglas, Jackson, and Multnomah counties are receiving this critical federal investment to help support students. Our children’s success in the classroom is more than just test scores, and with the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and other unprecedented global and weather events greatly impacting the growth and experience of our school-aged kids, we must invest in programs that provide social and emotional support to all students.”
The School-Based Mental Health grant program through the U.S. Dept. of Education provides funds intended to recruit and retain school-based mental health services providers, as well as increase the diversity and cultural/linguistic competency among providers. These grant funds will be allocated as follows:
- $6,808,215 to Douglas Education Services District
- $2,649,732 to Jackson County School District #4 DBA Phoenix-Talent Schools
- $5,538,155 to School District 1J Multnomah County
- $4,918,177 to Corbett School District 39
“This grant will play a critical role to expand mental health support throughout thirteen component school districts in Douglas County. The increased services will positively impact our students, families, staff and community,” said Analicia Nicholson, Douglas Education Service District superintendent.
“The Corbett School District is very excited about the ability to expand the school-based mental health opportunities for our Cardinal families within our schools and community using the funds from the US Department of Education grant,” said Derek Fialkiewicz, Corbett School District superintendent.
“This grant puts Phoenix-Talent Schools in a position to greatly expand our students’ mental health support system, and the collaborative partnership PTS has with La Clinica makes it a perfect fit. Following the devastating 2020 Almeda fire and the impact of the Covid pandemic, the need here is tremendous and likely will be for some time. We are very excited to get to work and eternally grateful for this opportunity to help our kids and families,” said Brent Barry, Superintendent Jackson County School District #4 DBA Phoenix-Talent Schools.
“These dollars will augment the supports already in place across PPS schools to better serve our students, especially those experiencing isolation, depression and other adverse symptoms, resulting from the challenges of the last few years.” He added, “With this 5-year, $5.5 million dollar investment, Portland Public Schools will hire more than a dozen school psychologists to provide culturally affirming mental health supports,” said Guadalupe Guerrero Portland Public Schools’ Superintendent.
Oregon Workforce Declining As Population Ages
Finding work isn’t as hard as was in the past in Oregon, yet finding workers has proven to be more challenging for employers. The combination of an aging population and the younger adult demographics being reticent to join the workforce has created a declining labor force participation rate, especially in rural areas.
We learn from an Oregon Live article written by Mike Rogoway on Jan. 8, 2023, called “Workforce participation remains depressed, especially in rural Oregon,” that 19 percent of Oregon is over the age of 65 and the workforce participation rate is 62 percent, down from its peak of 70 percent in the 1990s.
Labor force participation rates have been declining across the country since around 2009 and Oregon has been slightly below this average, dropping around 4 percent during the 2011-2012 time frame.
The article explains the rural areas of Coos, Curry and Lincoln counties have the lowest labor force participation rates at under 50 percent and more than a quarter of the residents in those counties are older than 65.
Labor force participation is highest in Multnomah, Washington and Hood River counties at around 70 percent and these urban counties have a younger demographic.
State economists have explained the declining workforce participation will only continue in the future as the Baby Boomer generation ages and moves into retirement. This is especially going to affect rural counties where the demographics are older.
Finding future population growth by attracting workers from outside of the state and retaining workers through any future recessions are key solutions to combat the trend, as the article explains.
Oregon Commercial Dungeness Crabbing Season to Open January 15
Oregon’s commercial Dungeness crab season opens Jan. 15 for much of the coast after a weekslong delay.
Oregon Fish and Wildlife initially had a targeted opening date of Dec. 1, but that was delayed after pre-season tests showed crabs had too little meat yield as well as elevated levels of domoic acid.
The state agency says commercial crabbers can begin fishing between Cape Arago near Coos Bay up to Cape Falcon near Cannon Beach, since all crabs tested within that region have passed meat and biotoxin tests. The season will open from Cape Falcon up to Washington state on Feb. 1. More info.
Crab testing for domoic acid will continue from Cape Arago south to the California border, because recent results showed elevated levels of the biotoxin in that area. There’s also a closure of the south coast to recreational crabbing.
Domoic acid is produced by “blooms” of certain types of marine algae. It can be harmful or even fatal to eat shellfish with high levels of domoic acid.
In a press release, the agency said commercial crabbers generally supported delaying the season, because it ensured customers would get the best Oregon crabs. It also prevented wasting crabs that yielded too little meat.
“Look, everyone wants to start Dec. 1,” said Tim Novotny of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “But the fishermen know that this process sets a high bar on purpose, so consumers know they’re getting the highest quality and safest product possible,” he said.
The earliest the commercial crab season can open by state regulation is Dec. 1, depending on the outcome of crab meat and biotoxin test results. The season has rarely opened on that date in recent years: 2021 was the first time since 2014 the fishery opened Dec. 1.