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, January 17, 2023
Willamette Valley Weather
Hundreds Showed Up At MLK Events In Eugene and Springfield Monday To Honor Dr. King’s Legacy
It was nearly 60 years ago when the civil rights icon shared his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Hundreds showed up at the events in Eugene and Springfield Monday to honor his legacy.
It was a great day for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration Monday afternoon in Springfield. The march started at the Springfield Justice Center, where mayor Sean VanGordon kicked things off with a speech.
The march started at the Springfield Justice Center, where mayor Sean VanGordon kicked things off with a speech.
“This just says something about who we are. Springfield has always been a welcoming community that’s really driven by traditions, experiences, and celebrations,” VanGordon said.
People began marching around 1:15 p.m., and no one held back; kids, families, and even some four-legged supporters made their way to Springfield High School, where there was music, artwork, and camaraderie.
“This just says something about who we are. Springfield has always been a welcoming community that’s really driven by traditions, experiences, and celebrations,” VanGordon said.
Hundreds of people gathered in Eugene in solidarity for Dr. King’s mission including the Mayor of Eugene, Lucy Vinis. “It’s an opportunity for me to remind myself personally of the work that I have to do, and to reconnect with other people in the community who feel that we need to walk together to make the changes for equity for fairness. To create what Martin Luther King Jr. called a beloved community.”
Members of the University of Oregon football team also joined the march, “It means a lot because we have to stand for what’s right and justice.” Said Ugonna Silva, left tackle, UO Football. “You know, MLK fought for that, so, I fought for that too you know, I look up to MLK.”
People fittingly marched down Martin Luther King Jr. boulevard, across Ferry Street Bridge to the Hult Center.
“It’s not a holiday,” said Mayor Vinis. “It is a day when we come together to recommit ourselves to the work we need to do. So, it is really wonderful to see so many people coming together today. “
The gathering continued at the Hult Center with entertainment and a celebration of Dr. King’s legacy.
Antisemitic Fliers Left At Thurston Homes
Neighbors in the Thurston area are upset with antisemitic messages being left in the driveway of their homes.
“A flier that said abortion starts with Jews and I’m like [expletive] why would anybody do that?” said a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, “It’s sick. It’s terrible.”
The fliers, encased in a Ziploc bag, weighed down by bird feed, negatively associate Jewish people with political policies and other issues the messenger clearly doesn’t agree with.
“I collected some and the more I collected, the more angry I got,” the woman said.
In addition to those politically based claims, there was also offensive language directed at Jews, suggesting they engage in certain illegal sexual activities.
Some of the fliers featured the slogan “Let’s Go Brandon,” a common saying among Donald Trump supporters. According to the woman, they were not only in her neighborhood, but the surrounding neighborhoods as well.
“They hit every single neighbor, every single driveway. It wasn’t just kids going down the road. This was some group who, anonymously, I guess they’re cowards, put these flyers out,” the woman added.
It is unclear, what organization, if any, the fliers were distributed through.
She says she’s hopeful whoever did it will be caught, and people who see what’s going on will stand up against it, and not follow suit.
“We’re trying to recognize the fight for everybody to be equal and not target any nationality or any race,” she said.
Oregon Dept. of Revenue Eugene office set for temporary closure January 23-February 3
The Oregon Department of Revenue’s Eugene regional office at 1600 Valley River Drive, Suite 310 will be closed from Monday, January 23, 2023 through Friday, February 3, 2023 due to construction to enhance the safety and security of our customer service area.
A secure drop box will be available for taxpayers to deliver any necessary payments or documents, which will be removed daily from the drop box by office staff. The Eugene office will mail receipts directly to customers.
The Eugene office will return to normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Monday, February 6, 2023.
Both the DOR website and Revenue Online (ROL) have been improved for easier navigation and use by agency customers. Both now have built in responsiveness to various screen sizes to facilitate use on tablets and smart phones. Website FAQ are now located on subject matter pages, while ROL has better authentication options and simplified filing and payment options.
Through Revenue Online, individuals can view letters sent to them by the department, initiate appeals, make payments, and submit questions. Visit Revenue Online on the Revenue website at www.oregon.gov/dor to learn more.
To get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make payments, visit www.oregon.gov/dor or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), we accept all relay calls.
Fraudsters Have Been Stealing Oregon EBT Benefits By Skimming Cards
Crammed inside a budget hotel, Tricia Collins works hard to make the most of a tough situation. With no steady income, the Portland woman stretches every penny to help support her 10-year-old son. State-issued food stamps and cash assistance are lifelines for her.
”I depend on both of them to an extreme,” said Collins. “We wait for that one day that you’re going to get paid and all those things that you need to get done,” explained Collins.
On the first of each month, the Oregon Department of Human Services loads the 39-year-old mother’s EBT card, known as the Oregon Trail Card, with benefits. She receives both SNAP benefits for food assistance and TANF cash benefits that can help with other expenses.
On the morning of December 1, Collins went to the ATM at a convenience store expecting to find a month’s worth of benefits on her Oregon Trail card. “My money was gone and I didn’t understand what was going on,” explained Collins.
Her heart sank. Collins needed money for her car. Her son’s birthday was just a few days away and Christmas was coming.
After a dizzying number of calls, Collins finally reached some at Oregon’s Department of Human Services. A customer service agent explained someone had withdrawn $420 from Tricia’s account during two separate transactions at 8:26 a.m. and 8:28 a.m. from an ATM at a 7-Eleven store in Edgewood, Washington.
Collins warned the state agency that her account had been compromised. Employees told her there was little they could do.
“I’m hoping that this person only hit my card once and that it wasn’t going to happen again,” said Collins.
It did happen again. One month later.
On January 1, DHS told Collins someone had stolen her benefits by withdrawing $400 at 7:14 a.m. from an ATM at 7-Eleven store in Kent, Washington.
“It blew my mind that nobody on the fraud department side did anything. No flags, no nothing,” said Collins. “If it was a Visa or Mastercard (and) the transactions were done in another state you’d get a call immediately.”
Jana McDonald of Portland had a similar experience. DHS told her someone swiped $600 in food stamp benefits from her Oregon Trail Card.
“They said it had been used all at once on an online order. It had gotten sent to Florida. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, Florida? I’m not in Florida!” explained the Portland woman.
By law, Oregon DHS says it is unable to replace stolen SNAP benefits. The recent federal spending bill could change that, however, eventually allowing states to replace stolen benefits.
Over the past several months, the USDA, which oversees food assistance, along with several states, have warned about fraud tied to EBT accounts.
Crooks often skim EBT cards by secretly installing a device on ATM readers that send card numbers and pin numbers back to the thieves — who then create fake cards and drain accounts.
“We think it is unacceptable that fraudsters are getting away with taking those benefits from consumers with really no penalty,” said John Breyault of the National Consumers League.
Breyault believes states need to replace stolen benefits and improve fraud detection. And most importantly, Breyault argues, states should upgrade the EBT cards with smart chip technology that makes them more difficult and expensive for fraudsters to skim. Currently, every state still uses the old-fashioned cards with a magnetic stripe and no chip, according to the USDA.
“That is not secure, and it is trivially easy for crooks to use skimmers and other devices to get the information off those cards, clone the cards and start running up charges on them,” said Breyault.
Oregon DHS argued chip cards are not cost-effective.
“CHIP cards are significantly more expensive for the state to issue and use than the current magstripe cards and are still susceptible to fraud and skimming devices,” said Oregon DHS spokesperson Jake Sunderland in a written statement to KGW. “It is not believed that using CHIP EBT cards would significantly reduce the rates of fraud and stolen benefits, and that the increased cost of CHIP cards will not result in any significant benefit to people using EBT cards.”
In 2019, Visa reported chip cards reduced counterfeit fraud by 76%.
For fraud victims like Collins, it seems like a no-brainer. Oregon DHS should protect those most in need.
“It’s very … it’s devastating for all of us for them not to do anything,” said Collins. argues EBT recipients should have the same security technology as everyone else using the banking system. “I’m sure they have enough money to put a chip in a damn card,” said Collins.
The USDA encourages SNAP participants to take actions that may help prevent card skimming. For example:
- Keep your PIN secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
- Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you notice any, change your PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any new purchases.
- Check card reading machines to make sure there’s nothing suspicious overlayed or attached to the card swiper or keypad. The overlays can be difficult to detect but are often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.
2023 Oregon Legislative Session Begins Today
State representatives and senators convene for the purpose of lawmaking every year. Sessions begin each January. This year it will begin on January 17 and until June 25. It will take place at the State Capitol in Salem.
State Sen. Jeff Golden said he plans on focusing on homelessness, housing, mental health, and providing funding for community colleges and universities.
“The root of our homelessness problem and mental health problems is the inability of people to find jobs and support families,” says Golden. “Unless we just want to pour money into Band-Aids on homelessness forever. We need to build a system where people have a better chance of getting, you know, reasonable and decently paid employment.”
State Rep. Pam Marsh said finding innovative sources on providing homes for people in the community is at the top of her list.
“We are going to be very focused on, number one, providing some support for communities that are dealing with people who are houseless on the streets,” says Marsh. “And certainly national and other communities in the Rouge Valley qualify on that front. And secondly, we are going to really try to ramp up housing production.”
Since the recent midterm election, Oregon has uptrained new laws.
State Sen. Golden said wildfires in the state of Oregon have become a big discussion.
“It’s come to the point where almost the whole state suffers,” says Golden. “This really bad smoke happens is a depressing thing for people who are actually a part of this side of Oregon. So I’ll continue to try and lead towards a better path on that. We’ve waited too long to do something about this, but we do need a general collaborative, cooperative approach. And the wildfire maps we have, some are leading us in that direction.”
State Rep. Marsh said investing in modular housing facilities to provide affordable housing is one bill she plans on discussing.
“We are going to look at legislation that would allow us to make use of commercial spaces as housing to convert buildings that are already being used to be used as commercial buildings into housing units.”
Governor Kotek Gives Directives To Agencies
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek is telling state agencies to improve customer service.
Kotek sent a letter to agency directors telling them they need to be more efficient, more effective, and create systems that help the 42-thousand state employees deliver better service for Oregonians.
Governor Tina Kotek is launching her new administration by setting ambitious goals for improving customer service and delivering on a focused agenda. She sent a letter to all agency leaders outlining new expectations that will serve as guideposts for this effort.
The Oregon Agency Expectations will provide new data to help break down silos and make systems improvements across state government.
“A core part of my vision for the next four years is to improve customer service for Oregonians – whether they are coming to us for a service, or we are coming to them in the wake of a disaster,” Governor Kotek wrote. “That means being more efficient, more effective, and creating systems that will empower our collective 42,000 public servants to deliver for Oregonians.”
Gov. Kotek is directing the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to provide her office with updates on the progress in meeting the new expectations quarterly beginning June 1, 2023.
Read the letter and new agency expectations here.
Gov. Kotek also sent a letter to all state employees, thanking them for their public service and pledging to partner with them in solving problems, big and small.
“Thank you for serving Oregon and all of the people who call our state home. Thank you for your professionalism and commitment to public service. Thank you for the grit and dedication you each have shown through back-to-back crises and unprecedented challenges,” Gov. Kotek wrote. “I admire the work that you do, day in and day out, to provide the vital services Oregonians rely on.”
Kotek has told the Department of Administrative Services she wants progress reports every quarter starting in June.
Lake Of The Woods Tops Best U.S. Ice Fishing Locations List
Lake of the Woods isn’t just near the top of a pass in Oregon’s Cascade mountain range. It’s also at the top of a list of the best ice fishing locations in the United States.
Online fishing enthusiast website fishingbooker.com lists Lake of the Woods at the top of “The 9 Best US Ice Fishing Destinations for 2023.”
Its recent article ranking Lake of Woods as #1 notes, “Fish don’t hibernate and neither should you.” FishingBooker says it is the world’s largest platform for booking fishing trips, and when it compiled a list of the best ice fishing destinations in the nation for this year Lake of the Woods topped the list.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lists ice fishing as a recreation option in its information about Lake of the Woods resort.
FishingBooker notes the Klamath County lake “spans 1000 acres” (officially listed as more than 1,100). It wrote, “Crowned by towering forests, the lake is also blessed with a stunning view of the snow-capped Cascades. But besides the scenic setting, the lake is famous for its incredible fishing opportunities. Lake of the Woods is home to a variety of fish species, but Trout, Crappie, Perch, Salmon, and Bass are the main targets here. Yellow Perch, in particular, are eager to bite.”
In Oregon, fishing licenses are valid January 1 to December 31, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) licensing staff will answer questions at 503-947-6101. While the State has various options for fishing licenses, its Annual Angling License costs state residents $44 and nonresidents $110.50, clarifying, “Resident is defined as a person who has resided in Oregon at least six months immediately prior to applying for a license, tag or permit.”
The USFS points out nearby Mt. McLoughlin standing almost 10,000 feet is another attraction for the resort located 40 minutes from Klamath Falls and 45 minutes from Medford, Oregon. Lake of the Woods is listed at 4,949 feet elevation.
FishingBooker wrote that, “Besides fishing, the area boasts numerous resorts and events. Nature lovers can keep on admiring the wildlife by bird watching. Families can spend some quality time ice skating. Meanwhile, those keen on having a cup of hot beverage in a cozy armchair can check in at one of many superb accommodations.”
Its list of the 9 Best US Ice Fishing Destinations for 2023 include:
- Lake of the Woods, Oregon
- Bonaparte Lake, Washington
- Henry’s Lake, Idaho
- Sheridan Lake, South Dakota
- Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
- Boom Lake, Wisconsin
- Shores and Islands, Ohio
- Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
- Moosehead Lake, Maine
State Wants Your Input For Locating More Air Quality Sensors – February 1st Deadline
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has launched a public survey to help its Air Quality Monitoring Team determine and prioritize 20 locations for new SensORs to measure air quality from wildfire smoke across the state. SensORs, which were first developed by DEQ’s Laboratory in 2019, are lower-cost monitors that collect timely particulate matter 2.5 data and display it over DEQ’s Air Quality Index .
Currently, DEQ has more than 70 PM2.5 monitoring locations across Oregon. As a result of the devastating fires in 2020, the 2021 state legislature passed Senate Bill 762 , which provides funding for 20 more SensORs to be deployed in regions with few to no monitors.
While DEQ has compiled a list of proposed areas, it would like public input to refine and prioritize it before starting the process of determining specific sites.
The list of proposed locations is based on the following:
• Counties and areas without monitors in the existing network. Typically, these are coastal or interior counties with low populations.
• Areas commonly affected by wildfire smoke.
• Regions where underrepresented communities are disproportionately affected by PM2.5 and wildfires, including rural areas.
• Input from agency partners and other interested parties, such as the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Health Authority.
There are sections of the survey that allow participants to suggest areas of the state that are not on the proposed list. DEQ’s Air Quality Monitoring team is open to ideas.
“In the past, we have used a complex formula of criteria, including meteorology, topography, emission sources and availability of infrastructure to determine air quality monitoring locations,” said Lori Pillsbury, administrator for DEQ’s Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division. “Those continue to be important elements for the final locations. However, we recognize it’s also important to consult with those who know our state best – the people living in the various regions. We are eager to hear where they believe SensORs should go next for the most comprehensive data collection.”
Particulate Matter is a mix of tiny particles and liquid droplets found in air. Sources include wildfires, automobiles, woodstoves and more. PM2.5 measures 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller (As a comparison, the average strand of human hair is 70 microns in diameter). When inhaled, it can lodge deep in the lungs and remain there a long time, aggravating asthma, heart disease and other respiratory and heart conditions. Understanding high levels of PM 2.5 means state agencies can focus more resources, such as wildfire and smoke preparation materials and smoke management community response plans and gran… , toward those areas.
You can always check current air quality conditions on DEQ’s Air Quality Index or by downloading the free OregonAIR app, which is available for smartphones.
Those interested in participating can find the survey at https://ordeq.org/AQSensORSurvey. Responses will be accepted through Feb. 1, 2023. For questions about the survey, send an email to Questions.AQM@deq.oregon.gov.
The Local Government Grant Program (LGGP) Accepting Applications for Park and Recreation Projects from Local Governments and Agencies
(Release from the Oregon parks and Recreation Department) The Local Government Grant Program (LGGP) is accepting applications for the 2023 grant cycle. The program helps local government agencies fund outdoor park and recreation areas and facilities and acquire property for park purposes.
Approximately $6 million in reimbursement grant funds are available for the 2023 cycle.
Eligible applicants are cities, counties, metropolitan service districts, park and recreation districts and port districts.
A live virtual workshop is scheduled from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 8 to help new and returning applicants navigate the application process and learn about the program. Register for the workshop at: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_93JkGpkfRv6KniG9-tOKwA
Program grants are split into large, small and planning categories. Application deadlines vary for each grant type:
- Large grant application deadline: April 1
- Small grant application deadline: May 1
- Planning grant application deadline: May 15
The site also includes additional information about the LGGP, including the grant manual, application instructions and program schedule.
The Lottery-funded grant program is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). The program has awarded more than $70 million in reimbursement grant funds since 1999.
Youth invited to enter poster contest as part of Radon Action Month
PORTLAND, Ore. – Students across the Northwest are encouraged to get creative and help raise awareness about the dangers of radon gas by participating in the 2023 Northwest Radon Poster Contest as part of January’s Radon Action Month.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can build up in our homes. Both old and new housing can have radon problems. Testing is the only way to know if your home has radon because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Long-term radon exposure is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer in smokers.
Youth between ages 9 and 14 living in Oregon, Idaho and Washington are eligible to participate in the poster contest. Students must either be enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense or home school, or be a member of a sponsoring club, such as a scouting, art, computer, science or 4-H club. Only one entry per student is allowed. Contest deadline is March 10, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced by April 17, 2023. Find contest submission forms, lesson plans and rules at the Northwest Radon Poster Contest page.
First-, second- and third-place winners will be selected from each participating state. A regional grand prize will be selected from the winning submissions. First-place posters from each state will be submitted to the 2024 National Radon Poster Contest. All participating students will learn about radon and how to reduce their risk of exposure.
The Northwest Radon Poster Contest is sponsored by Oregon Health Authority’s Radon Awareness Program, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Nez Perce Tribe, Spokane Tribe of Indians and Washington Department of Health’s Radon Program, in collaboration with the Northwest Radon Coalition and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10.