Willamette Valley News, Monday 1/23 – Eugene Police Seek Suspect in Fatal W. 18th Shooting, Oregon State Pinball Championship Kicked Off Saturday in Eugene

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 23, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Eugene Police Seek Suspect Vehicle and Videos in Fatal W. 18th Shooting

Eugene police are investigating a shooting that they said left one person dead and another with life-threatening injuries.

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EPD said officers responded to 2810 west 18th Ave. at about 11:14 p.m. on January 19 for a report of shots fired. Officers said they arrived to find one person dead inside the residence, and a second person who had suffered life-threatening injuries.

Police said a possible suspect vehicle was seen leaving the scene heading northbound on Wilson Street from west 18th Avenue. The vehicle is described as a grey or silver sedan.EPD officers said the area is not known to be a hotbed for violent activity, and neighbors are also shocked at the incident. One resident of the area reported having trouble sleeping and being startled by loud banging at their door, and another said they heard up to 15 gunshots. Yet another resident told KEZI they saw one person being placed into an ambulance on a stretcher.

Eugene police are asking nearby residents to check for surveillance camera footage that may have caught the incident or the possible suspect vehicle on tape. Anyone with any information about the incident is encouraged to call the Eugene police tip line at 541-682-5162. Police believe this was a targeted incident, and an investigation is ongoing including forensic evidence investigation.

Oregon State Pinball Championship Kicked Off Saturday in Eugene

The Eighth Annual Oregon State Pinball Championship kicked off Saturday as pinball wizards from across the state gathered to compete in some full-tilt action. 

“We got started here at 10 a.m. sharp. We could be playing as late as 9 p.m. For the lucky ones who have a good day, it’s gonna be a long day,” said organizer Matt Walton.

24 players are competing – with eight from Eugene. The event was held at Blairally Village Arcade, which also held practice sessions last week.

The championship is in a single-elimination format. Players play until someone wins four times in a row.

Adam Jones is the highest ranked player in Eugene. “It’s good! It’s been a little bit of a mountain to climb to get here. Folks been doing a lot of work on machines, getting them ready. And there’s a lot of folks down from Portland to play with them all with us,” said Jones.

“Pinball’s a very physical game, so it’s from a video game, or a card game, or a board game. It’s a unique hobby and to play it at this level and see folks that really love playing pinball and getting good at it… getting them all together, that’s fun,” said Walton. 

This year’s championship is the first year he’s organized it.

A cash prize of over $5,000 will be awarded to the winner as well as the opportunity to move on to the national championship in Wisconsin.

“I would encourage people if they’re interested in checking out what pinball tournaments and leagues are like. To look online at Emerald City Pinball League,” Walton said. ” We’re starting our season in February. We play at both Level Up and Blairally. It’s a great opportunity for folks to come in. It’s the best Monday night you can have in Eugene, I think.”

Salem Detectives Handle Suspicious Death of Child

Update 01/21/2023 | 2:45 p.m.

The investigation into the suspicious death of a six-year-old child led to the arrest of the boy’s father, Robby-Joe Alexander Davenport, and Davenport’s domestic partner, Cierra Wiedner.

Davenport, age 29, and Wiedner, age 25, were each charged with criminal mistreatment in the first degree.

An autopsy was completed by the State Medical Examiner’s Office, not the Marion County Medical Examiner’s Office as previously reported.

No further information is available for release by the Salem Police Department. Media inquiries concerning this investigation will now be handled by the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

# # # Originally published 01/20/2023 | 7:15 p.m.

Salem, Ore. — Salem Police detectives are currently investigating the death of a six-year-old child.

At approximately 8:45 a.m. today, emergency responders were called to a residence in the 600 block of 18th ST SE on the call of a child reported to be unresponsive. The child was transported by ambulance to Salem Health where they later died.

An autopsy will be performed by the Marion County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.

At this time the incident is being handled by the Salem Police Special Victims Unit as a suspicious death investigation. No further information is being released. 

Study Shows Personal Income Is Among The Starkest Divisions Between Urban And Rural Oregon

Of the many divisions between urban and rural Oregon, personal income is among the starkest.

People living near Oregon’s biggest cities earn nearly twice as much as those living in remote, sparsely populated areas. That’s according to a new report from the Oregon Employment Department.

For example, Washington County residents earned $71,500 per capita during 2021, according to the analysis of the latest federal data by economist Molly Hendrickson. That’s the most of any county in Oregon and well above the statewide personal income level of $62,000 per capita.

Contrast that with Malheur County, which had Oregon’s lowest per capita income at $38,900.

Similar disparities exist across Oregon. The three counties in the Portland area all had per capita incomes over $70,000. The eight counties with incomes under $50,000 are mostly in eastern or southern Oregon.

There are many reasons incomes vary so dramatically. Oregon’s largest and most lucrative industries are in its big cities, which also have the highest cost of living. Some rural areas have struggled to overcome the decline of the state’s natural resources industries and attract new business and residents.

A key component of that trend is the aging populations in many of the counties with lower incomes. Many younger people leave smaller communities for higher wages in the cities, leaving behind a higher share of retirees who rely on Social Security and other government programs for a big part of their income.

Such “transfer payments” from the government, Hendrickson notes, are highest in Wheeler, Malheur and Jefferson counties – the three counties with Oregon’s lowest per capita income. Transfer payments also include Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance, though Hendrickson said the higher share of transfer payments in Oregon’s lower-income counties has more to do with age than dependence on government subsidies.

Overall, Oregon ranks 21st among states for personal income, which grew by 8.2% in 2021 – tied with Washington for the 10th fastest rate in the nation. COVID-19 provided a boost in personal income, according to Hendrickson, because of stimulus payments coupled with the boost that came from people returning to work as the pandemic eased.

State economists expect personal income growth will cool considerably in 2023, to 2.4%. That’s partly because well-off Oregonians boosted their incomes last year by cashing out investments after the stock market’s big run in 2020 and 2021, and partly because economists expect a “mild” recession this year.

USDA Puts Nearly $500 Million Toward West Coast Wildfire Prevention

Wildfires have been burning up the west coast with unprecedented frequency and intensity. Ongoing megadrought conditions have turned the major blazes from seasonal occurrences to year-round threats. NBC News now reports that the United States Government is now drastically ramping up efforts to protect vulnerable forests and at-risk communities from the devastating infernos.

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a huge announcement. Approximately $490 million of government funding from the Inflation Reduction Act have been earmarked for projects to reduce wildfire risks. The states where those projects will take place are Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. This is on top of the $440 million in fire mitigation funding that was part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress.

The collective sum of funding is expected to help protect around 45 million acres. That according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. That acreage is broken down into 134 areas where wildfires are considered to pose a serious risk to communities and infrastructure. The USDA has identified as many as 250 of those areas across the western U.S. “We expect and anticipate that around 200 communities in the western U.S. will see a mitigated wildfire risk as a result,” Vilsack said Wednesday.

Ongoing Megadrought Making West More Susceptible To Infernos — While wildfires used to only be a concern during the warmest and dryest months. However, with current drought conditions still ongoing throughout much of the western U.S., wildfires have become a year-round threat. Research also predicts that climate change is only likely to increase both the frequency and intensity of these infernos.

USDA Focusing On Potential Wildfire Areas Near Infrastructure — The bulk of the work funded by the almost $500 million will focus on 11 different landscapes. Those areas were selected because of their proximity to neighborhoods, buildings, and infrastructure. Areas that include underserved communities, public water sources, and tribal lands will also be a major focus.

“We also factored into this determination the most current predictive science and research that will allow us to determine where risks are highest,” said Secretary Vilsack. “It’s not a matter of whether or not a forest will burn. It’s just a matter of when and where.”

A variety of techniques will be used to make the land hardier and more capable of withstanding threats from wildfires. Those methods include prescribed burns and thinning dense and dead strands of trees. A major priority will also be removing the buildup of leaves and branches on the ground that often fuel fires. Reforestation efforts are also a part of the plan.

“We know from science, we know from models, we know from input from those who live, work and raise their families in communities around these forests who understand and know the forest, that there are critical areas that need to be worked on,” Vilsack said. “And by working on them, essentially you create a circumstance that should there be a fire, you minimize the risk of the fire getting to a point where it risks communities or critical infrastructure.”

Oregon offers free electronic filing option for state income taxes

Salem, OR— All Oregon resident taxpayers preparing their own returns in 2023 can file electronically at no cost using one of Oregon’s free file options, the Oregon Department of Revenue announced today. The department will begin processing 2022 state income tax returns today, the same day the IRS will begin processing federal returns.

Free electronic filing options

Several free file options are available on the department’s website www.oregon.gov/dor. Free guided tax preparation is available from several companies for taxpayers that meet income requirements. Using links from the department’s website ensures that both taxpayers’ federal and state return will be filed for free.

Free fillable forms

Taxpayers that don’t meet the income requirements for guided preparation can file for free using Oregon Free Fillable Forms. Free Fillable Forms performs basic calculations and are ideal for taxpayers who don’t need help preparing their returns and want the convenience of filing electronically. A detailed series of steps for using free fillable forms are available on the agency’s electronic filing page. The IRS offers a similar option for filing federal taxes electronically.

Other free options

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. Low- to moderate-income taxpayers can also access preparation services through AARP and CASH Oregon. United Way also offers free tax help through their MyFreeTaxes program. More information on these options is available on the department’s website.

E-filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund 34 days sooner than taxpayers who mail their paper return and request paper refund checks.

Refunds will be issued starting February 15. A refund hold is part of the department’s tax fraud prevention efforts and allows for confirmation that the amounts claimed on tax returns matches what employers report on Forms W-2 and 1099.

To check the status of your refund or make payments, visit Revenue’s website. 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.

Early Buzz Over New License Plate Design

There’s a possible new license plate in the works in the state of Oregon. It’s called ‘Pollinator Paradise‘. 

The plate features two of the state’s most iconic bees: the managed honey bee, and the wild yellow-faced bumble bee. 

There may already be a lot of ‘buzz’ with this new plate, but before production can start, the Oregon State University Horticulture Department must first sell 3,000 license plate vouchers. 

Proceeds then go towards documenting bee biodiversity in Oregon and research to keep honey bees healthy. 

You can learn more on the O.S.U. College of Agricultural Sciences website

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