Willamette Valley News, Monday 1/30 – Oregon Truffle Festival Kicked Off in Eugene, Two Dogs Die In Roseburg House Fire Caused By Space Heater

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 30, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Oregon Truffle Festival Kicked Off in Eugene

Truffle-hunting dogs from across the Pacific Northwest competed this weekend during the return of the North American Truffle Dog Championship, the kick-off event for the Oregon Truffle Festival.

Over two more weekends, with events throughout the Willamette Valley, the Oregon Truffle Festival will celebrate the fungal food with truffle farming workshops, truffle dinners, truffle lectures and a fresh truffle marketplace.

While many of the Oregon Truffle Festival’s culinary events were placed on a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Joriad truffle dog competition continued. This will mark the eighth year of the competition, which took place Saturday at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene.

Down from 27 competitors earlier that morning, there weres five dogs who competed in the finals: Stevie, a Lagotta Romagnolo, handled by Nora Heider of Granite Falls, Washington; Pixel, a border collie, handled by Courtney Vandyke of Seattle; Bunny, another Lagotta Romagnolo owned by Rachel Su of Seattle; Raji, a Pembroke Welshi Corgi, owned by Ashley Rau of Grants Pass, Oregon; and Wilga, a Wirehaired Pointed Griffon, handled by Becca Book from Seattle.

These five competitors spent the first half of the day at the Lane Events Center Livestock Arena, doing their best to distinguish themselves apart from nearly two dozen rivals. A truffle odor recognition trial and second round arena hunt narrowed down the pack.

Charles LeFevre is co-founder of the Oregon Truffle Festival, marking its 18th year. He says that the truffle dog championship is definitely a highlight. “Everybody loves dogs. But the idea to go into the woods and find treasures under the ground is exciting. The fact that this is an event for amateurs, lot of these people are very new at it, and yet they’re doing, it, they’re succeeding at it.”

As the dogs and their handlers mingled outside an antique barn, judges gathered to inspect and count each dog’s bounty. Later that night at Party Downtown in Eugene, the big winner was announced.

Vandyke and Pixel took home a plaque, $500, and the distinction of being the Joriad North American Truffle Dog champs of 2023.

The festival is the premier event of its kind in the U.S. and will be running through the month of February and into early March. The festival continues with two winery dinners, Feb. 3 at Domaine Willamette in Dayton, and an already-sold-out dinner Feb. 4 at Adelsheim Vineyard in Newberg.

The main truffle events take place Feb. 16-19, starting with a two-day truffle farming workshop at Oregon State University. Both the workshop and the Feb. 18 truffle “homecoming dinner” are sold out, but as of this writing tickets are still available for the truffle dinner at Castor Restaurant in Corvallis on Feb. 17 and the Fresh Truffle Marketplace on Feb. 19.

Shoppers at the daylong marketplace will find fresh truffles, cheese, local wine, craft beers and other artisanal foods. The marketplace will also feature lectures on truffles, cooking demonstrations and a truffle dog exhibition.

Tickets to the marketplace are $25-$35 for general admission, or $40-$50 with a wine tasting.

Other events for the next month include a “Truffles & Bubbles Sparkling Dinner” at Willamette Valley Vineyards, a fresh truffle marketplace in Corvallis, and a weekend of truffle dog training in Banks.

The full list of events and more information and to purchase tickets, visit oregontrufflefestival.org.

Two Dogs Die In Roseburg House Fire Caused By Space Heater

The Roseburg Fire Department personnel responded to a reported residential structure fire at 2071 NE Stephens Street, Space #A3. around 6 a.m. Saturday (Jan. 28, 2023).

Douglas County Dispatch received a report of a living room on fire with smoke and flames seen. The reporting party stated all residents had evacuated the residential structure.

Firefighters arrived on scene to find a fully involved doublewide manufactured home with fire venting from the roof and porch area. “Firefighters made an aggressive exterior attack of the structure and quickly extinguished the fire,” RFD said.

They also completed a primary and secondary search as well as over all. “Sadly, two family dogs passed away inside the structure,” the department said.

The primary home sustained extensive structural and water damage. Two adults and two children were displaced due to the fire. However, none of the adults or children were injured. The American Red Cross was notified and is assisting the family.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but believed to be caused by a space heater that was located in the living room of the residence, RFD said.

Thirteen firefighters assisted with firefighting operations. Other agencies assisting with the fire included Douglas County Fire District #2, Umpqua Valley Ambulance, Avista Utilities, Pacific Power, Roseburg Police Department, and the American Red Cross.

The Roseburg Fire Department would like to remind everyone of the following heating safety tips:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified company.
  • Check the cord on portable heaters to make sure it is not cracked, frayed, or getting hot when in use. Extension cords should never be used with portable heaters as they can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.

Click It or Ticket — Lane County Sheriff’s Office — Winter 2023

Of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants killed in the United States in 2020, 51% were not wearing seat belts. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent in an SUV, van or pickup and by 45 percent in a car according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office, along with other agencies across Oregon will be utilizing federal grant funding to staff additional traffic safety patrols from January 30th through February 12th.  Deputies will be on the lookout for improper seatbelt use and all other dangerous driving behaviors. 

Please take the time to confirm that you and your children are properly restrained before setting out.  Drive sober and text-free!  Your lives are worth it!

Grants Pass Police Still Searching For Extremely Dangerous Torture Kidnapping Suspect

Victim Still In Critical Condition – Grants Pass Police Say Man Suspected Of Torture And Kidnapping Of Woman Is Using Dating Apps To Evade Police

UPDATE from Grants Pass Police – Benjamin Obadiah Foster, an extremely dangerous suspect wanted for Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Assault, remains on the run. Detectives and Fugitive Apprehension Teams are continuing to follow investigative leads.

It is possible that Benjamin Foster may attempt to change his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or by changing his hair color. The Grants Pass Police Department asks the public to pay particular attention to Foster’s facial structure and eyes since those features are very difficult to change. Additional photos of Foster, as they become available, will be released to assist in his identification.

Tips regarding sightings of Benjamin Foster continue to flood into the department, and we are confident this dangerous criminal will soon be captured with the assistance of a concerned citizen. The Grants Pass Police Department appreciates the engagement of the community in this investigation, as well as the extensive media coverage from across the nation.

The Grants Pass Police Department has established a Tip-Line and is offering a $2,500.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Anyone with information is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Tip-Line at 541-237-5607. Citizens should not approach this extremely dangerous suspect and call 9-1-1.

720,000 Oregon Residents Face Drastic Food Budget Cuts

Oregon’s food banks are bracing for a surge in demand in March as hundreds of thousands of state residents face drastic cuts to their grocery budgets.

More than 720,000 Oregon residents rely on the state’s nutritional supplement program for their food. In April 2020, after the pandemic struck and many people lost wages and jobs, federal agencies increased monthly SNAP benefits by nearly 70% to an average of nearly $450 per household per month. But in March, those monthly emergency funds will be gone, reducing the average benefit to nearly $270 a month for about 410,000 homes.

And while food prices have come down a bit, it still costs a lot more to support a family today than it did in 2020.

“As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19, we know that without this emergency food assistance, some in Oregon could experience hardship and starvation,” Fariborz Pakseresht, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, said in a statement explaining the cut was announced.

The legislature is considering a trio of bills to increase food aid, but their prospects are unclear and the session runs until June 25 (see sidebar). Meanwhile, the department is urging Oregonians to prepare for the cut and identify food supplies in the area. The Oregon Food Bank, which serves 1,400 free grocery markets, pantries, eat-in spots and delivery programs nationwide, is also bracing for increased demand.

“We’re placing more orders so our warehouse is full to capacity,” Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan told the Capital Chronicle.

The food bank served about 850,000 people in Oregon in 2019. But demand surged to 1.7 million who needed help in 2020 as the pandemic spread, leading to the closure of businesses and schools and the loss of jobs. As federal aid kicked in and people got back to work, about 1.2 million relied on the Oregon Food Bank network in 2021, Morgan said.

With food inflation soaring to about 10% last year, about 1.5 million have relied on the Oregon Food Bank’s network. Though grocery inflation has fallen, Morgan expects the company to see similar demand this year, with a pick-up from March.

“More than half of the people who shop in a pantry use SNAP. So there’s a lot of overlap between the number of people receiving SNAP and the number of people receiving food aid,” Morgan said.

About 40% of the food distributed by the food bank and its affiliates comes from the US Department of Agriculture, and about the same amount comes from the Oregon food system. This includes donations from retail stores and farmers.

The Tafel also relies on donations, but with inflation, the money doesn’t reach as far as it used to. For example, in 2019, the grocery bank paid $32,000 for a truckload of peanut butter. It recently cost $42,000, Morgan said.

Last September, the Emergency Legislative Committee approved a $5 million allocation to the food bank. Morgan said the money is gone.

“More than 5 million pounds of food flows through our main facility in Northeast Portland each week,” Morgan said. “If we’re lucky, we can buy groceries for $0.60 a pound. So you get a sense of how quickly we can spend $5 million to keep those extra groceries going.”

The food bank uses donations to buy pantry staples like rice, beans, pasta, and cooking oil. Morgan said the nonprofit aims to offer foods that appeal to different cultures. Instead of buying tomato sauce, which is useful for European-inspired sauces, for example, it buys diced tomatoes, which can also be used for tacos or curry.

The food bank and its affiliates require residents to earn less than 300% of the federal poverty line, or $43,740 per year for one person and $90,000 per year for a family of four. The SNAP income requirements are stricter: an individual cannot earn more than $17,667, and a family of four is limited to a maximum annual income of $36,075.

Despite this, SNAP provides more food.

“For every meal we provide through the food aid system, SNAP provides at least 10 times as many meals,” Morgan said. “It’s important to understand how much bigger a program SNAP is.”

Because of this, the cut in benefits is likely to be profound. The Department of Human Services and food banks are trying to educate themselves so people are prepared. The food network posted in eight languages ​​to alert people to the change and to alert them to support.

“I want our community to know that this change is coming. And if you’ve never used food aid, it is there and it will be here to help you and the food aid is available to you,” Morgan said.

State lawmakers propose more food aid

State lawmakers have proposed three bills in this session to increase food aid to Oregonians.

Two that are largely identical, one tabled in the House of Representatives and one tabled in the Senate, are bipartisan. Senate Bill 555 proposes that the Department of Human Services spend $5 million per year on a program that encourages Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers markets, farmshare sites, and participating retail stores. The program, which would be run by an outside organization, would be equivalent to SNAP on eligible foods. Its counterpart, House Bill 2728, calls for the same program but proposes that the state spend $4 million a year.

A third bill, which has the support of 17 Democratic senators and representatives who have registered as sponsors and 75 nonprofit and other organizations, including the Oregon Food Bank, would establish the Food for All Oregonians program in the Department of Human Services. The goal of the program would be to buy groceries for people who would qualify for SNAP if they were legal residents. It has no Republican sponsors.

Senate Bill 610 makes no mention of funding or how many might qualify. The American Immigration Council estimated that 3% of the state’s population, or about 110,000 people, were undocumented immigrants in 2016. A statement by supporters of the proposal at a news conference said more than 62,000 people who are “starving” are currently barred from SNAP for their immigration status.

“We know that food is medicine; It is the most important element next to water,” Petrona Dominquez Francisco, leadership coordinator at Adelante Mujeres, said in a statement. “Tackling food insecurity and food accessibility will impact other social and economic challenges that we see in our communities. So I ask and encourage everyone to support this effort.” — OREGON FOOD BANK: https://www.oregonfoodbank.org

Cannabis Vape Products Recalled By OLCC Products Contaminated With Pesticides

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) is issuing a recall for two retail vaping products produced by an OLCC licensed processor that tested positive for pesticides. The products were sold by recreational marijuana licensed retailers to consumers across the state from June 10, 2022 to January 24, 2023.

The OLCC has issued a notice to retailers to halt the sale of the affected products and is utilizing the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) to prevent further distribution and sale. The products do not conform to state standards regarding cannabis product testing and therefore should not be sold or consumed.

The products were tested for pesticides and were found to have failed for two pesticides: Pyrethrins and Piperonyl butoxide (PBO). At this stage in the OLCC’s investigation, it appears that PREE Laboratories, the OLCC licensed lab responsible for testing the products, incorrectly entered into CTS that the products had “passed” a pesticides test, when in fact the products had “failed.” OLCC’s investigation is continuing.

Under Oregon Health Authority (OHA) rules, cannabis products like vape cartridges cannot contain amounts of Pyrethirns greater than 1 part per million (ppm) and PBO cannot contain amounts greater than 2 ppm. The original test results showed that the impacted products contain 1.58 ppm of Pyrethrins and 58.7 ppm of PBO. More than 1,000 units of the vape cartridges were sold to 29 OLCC retailers.

According to CTS, at least 812 units of the two affected products have been sold to consumers since the contaminated cartridges reached the licensed retail market last spring; the retailers still have approximately 240 units on hand according to CTS. As a result, the recall includes two products sold under product names produced by Swell Companies

Limited identified below:

  • Product name: La Mota – Jack Herer vape cartridge | Manufacture Date: 6/3/2021 (Label ID 6466) | Tested Date: 5/17/2022 | Sold starting 11/11/2022
  • Product name: Her – Girl’s Night Out vape cartridge | Manufacture Date: 4/27/2022 (Label ID 6114) | Tested Date: 5/17/2022 | Sold starting 07/10/2022 January 26, 2023

OLCC staff are continuing to work with retailer licensees to remove the products from being offered for sale and an investigation is ongoing into the cause of the issue. Consumers who purchased the recalled products are encouraged to destroy them or contact the retailer they purchased them from to determine if they will accept a return. The OLCC has not received any health-related complaints from the use of the recalled products.

 Consumers with health-related concerns about a recalled product should contact the Oregon Poison Center at 800-222-1222, or their medical provider. Consumers who consumed this product may experience respiratory irritation. Symptoms of respiratory irritation are coughing, wheezing, and triggering asthma symptoms in people who already have it.

If consumers have other product related complaints related to this recall, they should notify the OLCC at olcc.recalls@oregon.gov and include any information they have, including the consumer’s name and phone number, or alternative means of contact.

Hwy 26 Reopens After Crashes Cause Closures Between Madras And Mt. Hood As Snow Moves Into Region

Two crashes about 50 miles and two hours apart closed U.S. Highway 26 north of Madras for several hours Saturday evening as an Arctic front sweeping in from the north brought snow, wind and slick roads around Central Oregon.

The first crash was reported shortly before 6 p.m. near milepost 61, about four miles south of the intersection with state Highway 35 (the Mount Hood Highway), ODOT reported on its TripCheck page.

Around the time that closure ended, an apparently multi-vehicle crash was reported around 7:15 p.m. near milepost 113, about four miles north of Madras. ODOT confirmed the closure shortly after 8 p.m. and advised motorists to “expect extended delays.”

ODOT later provided details of a detour route that was established around the crash, using NW Elm Lane, Boise Drive and Fir Lane. They said the lanes were cleared and highway reopened by about 11 p.m.

The snowy, icy conditions also apparently led to one, possibly two jackknifed semi-trucks near milepost 108 eight miles south of Terrebonne, near Juniper Butte. Other truck drivers were reported to be chaining up in the area.

Meanwhile, a rollover crash was reported about 8:15 p.m. on state Highway 126 near milepost 4, east of Redmond.

The National Weather Service in Pendleton issued a winter weather advisory from 4 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday for a few inches of snow at lower elevations, along with gusty winds and difficult travel conditions. Follow traffic updates on http://tripcheck.com

The FBI Investigating Abortion-Related Attacks In Oregon And Across The Country

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for tips about three arsons in Oregon last summer against an anti-abortion group and centers.

The attacks occurred between May and July in Portland, Gresham and Keizer. One attack targeted the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland. Another involved Molotov cocktails thrown at the Oregon Right to Life building in Keizer. And the third was against the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center, a Christian resource hub that’s anti-abortion. There are pregnancy resource centers nationwide that try to steer women away from having an abortion.

Besides the Oregon attacks, authorities are seeking information about seven other instances of arson and vandalism at reproductive health organizations in other states, including an anti-abortion political group in Wisconsin and a Planned Parenthood in California.

The FBI’s national office published a press release with information and surveillance photos about the 10 nationwide cases and is encouraging tips.

“Vandalism, arson, and threats of violence such as these should not, and cannot, be acceptable in our shared community,” FBI Special Agent Kieran Ramsey, who leads the bureau’s Portland division, said in a statement last week. “We are, therefore, asking the public to take a look at these photos and videos and if you recognize anything that could be helpful to our investigation, please reach out.”

Keizer police responded May 8 to 911 calls that someone had thrown multiple Molotov cocktails at the Oregon Right to Life headquarters, causing a small fire. According to the FBI, surveillance footage showed a person running from the building to a white car that may be a 2017 or 2018 Hyundai Elantra.

Oregon Right to Life opposes abortion except in “rare cases” to save the life of the mother or child, its website says. Its political action committee funds Republican candidates for office and conservative causes, including cutting Oregon’s broad protections for abortion.

Molotov cocktails were also thrown at the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center on June 10, the FBI says. The center is run by Christian organization First Image.

In Portland, the Mother and Child Education Center was vandalized and targeted for arson in June and again early July. The building was spray-painted with the words, “IF ABORTION AINT SAFE NEITHER RU JR” and “JANES RVVGG,” according to the FBI.

One of the attacks against Mother and Child coincided with a June protest in Portland against the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

A spokesperson for the Portland FBI division did not respond by Tuesday when asked whether Oregon’s arsons were part of a national pattern.

In August, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that the court decision kicked off “a general intensification of violence” among abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists, Politico reported.

The Department of Justice announced a slew of prosecutions last year in connection with attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities and other reproductive health care centers. They included Devin Kruse, who pleaded guilty in September to throwing a concrete block through the window of a Planned Parenthood in Grants Pass in 2021.

If you have a tip — The FBI asks anyone with information to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), to contact their local FBI office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov .

Tipsters can remain anonymous and are eligible to receive up to $25,000 for information that ultimately leads to a conviction of the suspect or suspects.The attacks were part of “a general intensification of violence across the issue” of abortion last year, according to U.S. Senate testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Coos County Deputies Arrest Man Five Years Behind in Taxes Who Allegedly Had Materials To Make Bombs

A man the Coos County Sheriff’s Office says was behind on five years of back taxes and had materials to make bombs at his residence is in jail after an emergency response team brought him into custody, deputies said.

According to the CCSO, Coos County government employees as well as sheriff’s office personnel worked with Chester A. Cunnington, 52, for several months over an alleged failure to pay over five years of back taxes. According to officials, Cunnington resisted all of the County’s attempts to work out a solution. Coos County officials said that in early January, Cunnington made it very clear that he would never cooperate with efforts to get him to pay his taxes.

According to the CCSO, Cunnington lived in a makeshift residence on Washington Road in Coos Bay that authorities say was not fit to be used as a human dwelling. The CCSO said they were granted a Writ of Assistance to remove Cunnington from the property. However, when deputies arrived at his residence to serve that writ, Cunnington was not on the property. Deputies said they did find materials for making bombs, and called in the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad to dispose of the potentially dangerous items.

Deputies said that as they served the writ, Cunnington showed up to the property and was served eviction paperwork. Deputies said Cunnington told them he understood, and left the property. However, over the next two weeks, neighbors contacted the CCSO and Coos County government saying that Cunnington was back on the property and had boarded up the doors and windows.

The CCSO said they deployed their Emergency Response Team to remove Cunnington from his home, citing a potential for violence as well as the bomb making materials they had found earlier. At about 9 a.m. on January 27, the ERT showed up to Cunnington’s residence to arrest him. According to the CCSO, after more than an hour of negotiations, Cunnington was removed from the residence and taken to the Coos County Jail on charges of first-degree criminal trespass and obstructing a governmental or judicial process.


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