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, February 7, 2023
Willamette Valley Weather
Eugene Bans Natural Gas And Fossil Fuel Infrastructure In New Residential Buildings Under Three Stories
City councilors voted 5-3 Monday night to pass an ordinance that will apply to building permit applications submitted on or after June 30, 2023. They’ve cited concerns about climate change and public health during several years of discussions about decarbonization and electrification.
Eugene has banned natural gas and other fossil fuel infrastructure in new homes, townhouses and other residential structures no taller than three stories. The vote came after the council rejected a move to place the ordinance on the May ballot.
Councilor Emily Semple, who made the motion to approve the ordinance, said it was “time to pass this and not make any more to do about it and get on with the rest of the package and the other things we need to deal with.”
Other officials worried the move, which was not originally on the agenda for Monday night’s special meeting, will lead to problems. Those in support framed their arguments around health and the community, and they praised the council’s move.
“Elected officials across Oregon should follow Eugene’s lead,” said Dylan Plummer, a representative with the Sierra Club who testified before the council several times. “Local leadership in standing up to polluters has never been more important.”
People opposing the ordinance focused on energy choice, security and pragmatism. They also argued the council should let residents decide through a ballot measure.
The ban “eliminates energy choice for new homes,” NW Natural said in a statement. The gas utility added councilors “ignored the thousands of residents, workers and community leaders that registered their opposition” by not putting the issue out for a public vote.
The ordinance prohibits fossil fuel infrastructure in new low-rise residential buildings. It takes effect for building permits submitted on or after June 30, 2023.
It defines fossil fuel infrastructure as “natural gas piping, fuel oil piping, or other fossil fuel piping or conveyance system within a building, that connects a source of supply to a fossil-fuel burning appliance.”
Low-rise residential buildings are ones no taller than three stories with one or more permanent dwelling units, including:
- Detached one- and two-family houses
- Attached single family dwellings (townhouses)
- Manufactured homes
- Multi-family residential buildings
- The ordinance would not include mixed-used buildings where there are both retail and residential uses.
It does not include existing low-rise residential buildings.
Lane County Public Health Releases Report on Suicide Data and Trends In Lane County
On February 7, Lane County Public Health (LCPH) published the report Suicide in Lane County 2000-2020 Updated Trends, Risk Factors, and Recommendations. This report provides statistics and information on local suicide deaths in order to raise awareness of how suicide impacts our communities, as well as make recommendations on how the public and professionals can play a role in suicide prevention.
“Suicide is a serious public health problem in Lane County,” said Roger Brubaker, LCPH Suicide Prevention Coordinator. “The causes of this problem are complex; however, we can prevent suicide by promoting inclusion, compassion and safety for all populations, and by being aware of our local data.”
Some of the report’s findings of include:
In the U.S. generally, Non-Hispanic White and Indigenous populations see the highest rates of suicide of any racial/ethnic population.
The Suicide Prevention program at LCPH works with people with lived experience of suicide and professionals in Lane County to increase awareness of suicide and the importance of mental wellness, encourage and support community action, and prepare people to respond during a crisis. More information can be found at preventionlane.org. — Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
A $100,000 Powerball Winning Ticket Purchased in Cottage Grove
Oregon is home to another $1 million Powerball winner thanks to a ticket purchased in Beaverton on February 4, 2023. A $100,000 winner was also purchased in Cottage Grove on February 3, 2023. The Powerball jackpot is an estimated $747 million for Monday’s drawing, making it the fifth-largest Powerball jackpot in history.
Lane Transit District Makes Changes to Route Schedules
Lane Transit District will operate under a new schedule starting today, with reductions to eight routes, additions to one route, and scheduling shifts to three routes. LTD plans to prolong the suspension of three routes.
LTD attributed the cutbacks to a combination of reduced ridership and a shortage of drivers. The press release said ridership is at 70% of what it was pre-pandemic. LTD Chief Marketing Officer Pat Walsh said LTD is actively recruiting and that LTD can only provide the level of service it is staffed to deliver until positions are filled.
Schedule changes to EMX and the continued suspension of routes 27, 73 and 79 might affect University of Oregon students.
EMX – Full EMX trips will now occur every 15 minutes instead of every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays.
In between those, additional weekday trips have been added so that between 1:44 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. there is service along the route from Eugene Station to Springfield Station every 7 and a half minutes. The same is true for the trip from Springfield to Eugene between 2:43 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.
Routes 27, 73 and 78 – In the press release LTD announced there would be “no service until further notice” on these routes. These were three of seven routes suspended when LTD cut back services at the start of the pandemic. The other four have since returned.
Route 27 Fairmount ran from downtown through the West University, South University, Fairmount and Laurel Hill Valley Neighborhoods. Route 73 UO/Willamette ran from UO Station south through the Southeast Neighborhood along Willamette St. Route 78 UO/Seneca/Warren ran west from UO station through the Churchill Neighborhood.
Other changes can be found on LTD’s website.
Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team – Fentanyl Seizures
Throughout the end of January detectives assigned to the Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT) conducted multiple investigations over a ten-day period involving individuals distributing fentanyl throughout the community.
In total over the ten-day period DINT seized approximately 288.7 grams (10.18 ounces) of fentanyl. These investigations are ongoing and no specific details on the investigations or arrests will be released at this time.
On January 19, 2023, DINT investigated a case which resulted in the seizure of approximately 53.8 grams of fentanyl.
On January 20, 2023, DINT conducted two investigations which resulted in the seizure of approximately 5 grams of fentanyl and a separate seizure of 40 grams of fentanyl.
On January 21, 2023, DINT investigated a case which resulted in the seizure of approximately 40 grams of fentanyl.
On January 25, 2023, DINT investigated a case which resulted in the seizure of approximately 57.9 grams of fentanyl.
On January 29, 2023, DINT investigated a case which resulted in the seizure of approximately 92 grams of fentanyl.
These are merely some recent examples of fentanyl cases by DINT, and the list does not include seizures of other drugs during this time period. Methamphetamine and other drugs are still an ongoing problem and are still being addressed by DINT. However, fentanyl is undeniably the drug of choice among opiate users in our area. Heroin use for example, is in steep decline, mostly replaced by fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and a Schedule II controlled substance. Fentanyl is used by medical professionals to treat pain and is most often prescribed or given post-surgery. The fentanyl which is being illegally manufactured and distributed throughout our community is not manufactured by a professional and often times has inconsistent purity levels or is “cut” with other opioids or depressants. DINT has seen a substantial increase in fentanyl in our community as well as a significant increase in opioid overdoses. Per the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) “Two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage.”
The DINT team is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency, prosecutor-supported approach. DINT is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department, Oregon State Police, Bureau of Land Management, and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including DINT.
Oregon House Bill 2572 Would Deal With Illegal Paramilitary Group Activities
Oregon ranks sixth in the nation for the highest rate of violent extremist incidents over the past decade according to a recent Secretary of State Audit. A bill looks to give Oregon law more authority when it comes to preventing incidents involving paramilitary groups or organized groups that use “dangerous weapons” in acts of civil disobedience.
Oregon is a hotspot for domestic terrorism and paramilitary activity. Armed militia groups have taken over public land and terrorists have targeted the electric grid.
State lawmakers are responding to such threats with two bills that would address an individual act of domestic terrorism and coordinated paramilitary activity. The proposals follow unrest in Oregon in recent years and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021.
One proposal, House Bill 2572 , would address the threat and damages people face from paramilitary activity involving a group of three or more people who illegally prevent others from accessing public areas or exercising their lawful rights, such as voting.
House Bill 2772 would make domestic terrorism a felony. It would apply regardless of whether an individual or group is involved, allowing the prosecution of so-called “lone wolf” terrorists who target people or property.
“Like many others, I grappled with the question, how do we work to bring the temperature down without infringing on civil liberties?” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Tigard. “After researching and working with a variety of legal and constitutional experts, we have landed on a policy that I believe is the most constitutionally sound and focused approach to preventing the most egregious cases of political intimidation and violence.
HB 2572 would expand the definition of illegal paramilitary activity in Oregon and would allow the attorney general to petition a judge to halt the actions of a group if the AG “has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons has engaged in or is about to engage in paramilitary activity.” The bill would also allow a private citizen to sue a member or all members of a paramilitary group that has infringed upon his or her constitutional right by means of intimidation.
During a hearing on the bill before the House Judiciary Committee, legal experts noted that though paramilitary activity is already illegal, the way Oregon law currently defines it makes it difficult to prosecute individuals who engage in things like armed voter intimidation or intimidation of legal protesters.
Kimberly McCullough, legislative director for the Attorney General’s Office, said the current law was written in the 1980s and modeled after similar legislation passed in other states.
“Passage of these laws was primarily motivated by the establishment and proliferation of paramilitary training camps across the country,” McCullough said. “Examples cited in the testimony included gorilla warfare camps operated by the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi organizations.” She said, as drafted, the law has not ever successfully been used to prosecute paramilitary groups like those.
“It is frankly no wonder our current laws are clunky, if you spend some time with it — which we have — it is very complicated,” she said. “In talking to prosecutors and criminal justice experts at DOJ (Department of Justice) about whether they would use this tool to combat paramilitary organizations in Oregon, I have heard descriptions using words like ‘unworkable’ and ‘convoluted.’”
The bill maintains the current standard which categorizes the crime of “unlawful paramilitary activity” as a class C Felony. The definition of the crime includes training other individuals to use “explosive or incendiary devices or techniques for the intent of civil disobedience.”
The bill specifies that law enforcement agencies, licensed security firms, hunting groups and self-defense groups are exempt from this category.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee questioned whether the bill would allow the attorney general or a private citizen to seek injunctive relief to block a group from open carrying at a protest. AG Assistant Carson Whitehead said either party would need to prove that the group open carrying in the scenario was infringing upon another citizens’ constitutional rights.
“To the extent that open carry of firearms is constitutionally permissible, and in many cases it is constitutionally permissible, the fact that a person is intimidated and subjectively feels fear, that wouldn’t be actionable under this law,” Whitehead said. “This would be ultimately, as all things at trial, be a question of proving, did this individual or this group go to the park knowing that their paramilitary activities would have this intimidating effect.”
He also noted that this would not stop an armed group of individuals from protecting their personal property during a protest or contracting with private licensed security firms to do so. It could, however, stop an armed and organized group of three or more from say, “commanding protesters to leave the sidewalk.”
Though no individuals testified against the bill during the hearing, a number of people submitted written testimony against it. Most claimed it would allow favoritism for left-wing extremist groups while punishing those on the right.
“I would hate to think we are addressing ‘right wing factions’ when I seen Antifa, BAMN and others put on football pads, baseball helmets and carry flash bangs and fire bombs in the streets of Oregon,” wrote Mark Crosby of Marcola, Oregon.
Some of the written testimony questioned the constitutionality of the measure.
“HB 2572 is a violation of the First Amendment right to the freedom of association. It is also a violation of the Second Amendment and the right to a well-regulated militia,” wrote Rob Taylor of Bandon.
Grayber pointed out that many who submitted written testimony mistakenly took it as a firearms prohibition, which she noted it is not. She pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled in Presser v. Illinois that states had a right to prohibit paramilitary organizations.
“The Supreme Court has been clear since 1886 that the Constitution does not protect private paramilitary organization,” Grayber said. “Every Oregonian has the right to free speech and association, to petition the government and to vote without fear of violence or intimidation.”
Oregon Lawmakers Discuss Flavored Tobacco Ban
Bill sponsors and community advocates will host a virtual news conference on Feb. 7 to support HB 3090 to end the statewide sale of all flavored tobacco products. Products with flavors like Cotton Candy and Orange Soda are clearly marketed to kids, and ending the sale of flavored tobacco products will protect their health and prevent them from becoming lifelong tobacco users.
What Virtual news conference with HB 3090 sponsors and supporters, including new poll statewide results showing strong support to end to the sale of flavored tobacco products. Sen. Elizabeth Steiner (D-Portland) and Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) are Chief Sponsors, but are unable to attend the news conference.
Chief Sponsor is Rep. Lisa Reynolds, MD (D-Northeast Washington County), Rep. Hai Pham, DMD (D-South Hillsboro, West Beaverton), is Co-Chief Sponsor, Rep. Mark Gamba (D-Milwaukie), Co-Sponsor Iden Campbell, Policy & Research Justice Mgr, Coalition of Community Health Clinics. Emcee will be Christina Bodamer, American Heart Association
When Tuesday, Feb. 7, 9:30 – 10 a.m.
Where Register for Zoom event: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwsdOmtqDgvGdCxsJDnuQx5_u_twN6wXvA8
For too long, the tobacco industry has targeted youth, especially kids of color, with flavored tobacco products, all to hook new customers. Flavors like Cotton Candy, Orange Soda and Watermelon Ice clearly target kids, and these appealing products serve as an on-ramp to nicotine addiction and prolonged tobacco use. The evidence is clear: Flavors Hook Oregon Kids.
• The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed:
• More than 2.5 million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes
• 85% of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products
• 81% of kids who’ve used tobacco started with a flavored product.*
• Each year, 5,000 Oregon kids will try their first cigarette.*
• 11.9% of Oregon 11th graders are current e-cigarette users.*
• Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Oregon, killing over 8,000 Oregonians a year.* The tobacco industry has a 60+ year history of predatory marketing of menthol and other flavors to communities of color and the tactics worked:
• Menthol-flavored cigarettes, which are more addictive and harder to quit, are used by 85% of Black smokers (12 and older) compared to 29% of white smokers.* Ending the sale of flavored tobacco will stop the predatory marketing of these addictive products that are especially targeted to youth and people of color.
Strong support for ending sales of all flavored tobacco products A January 2023 statewide poll shows that 62% of Oregon residents support ending the sale of flavored tobacco products. The poll was conducted by FM3 of 800 Oregon voters between Jan. 18-21, 2023. This figure is similar to other recent Oregon polling results. While Oregon’s two most populous counties have approved ordinances ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, having the Oregon Legislature approve this bill will protect kids’ health statewide.
*Sources: JAMA, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Oregon Health Authority, Oxford Academic.
About Flavors Hook Oregon Kids
Flavors Hook Oregon Kids is a statewide coalition of over 50 diverse organizations focused on ending the sale of flavored tobacco products. The coalition includes the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Kaiser Permanente and community-based organizations cross the state
ODOT Urges Drivers To Be Watchful Of Seasonal Wildlife Migration
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says they document an average of more than 6,000 vehicle collisions with deer and elk each year. And, they say the actual number of collisions is likely higher, as many are not reported if there is minimal damage or no human injuries.
The encounters frequently lead to damaged vehicles triggering expensive repair costs, and often the collisions can cause human injuries and even death. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports 24 people in Oregon died in vehicle collisions with animals between 2011 and 2020.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and ODOT are urging Oregonians to Watch out for Wildlife this time of year and follow these tips:
• Be careful when driving in areas that have special signs indicating the possible presence of wildlife. These signs are posted for a reason.
• Be alert in areas with dense vegetation along the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road may not be visible.
• If you see one animal, stay alert. There may be others nearby.
• If you see wildlife on or near the road, slow down and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes are the result of drivers losing control as they swerve to avoid wildlife.
The same advice applies for smaller wildlife like raccoons; try to stay in your lane and do not swerve for these animals. They are less dangerous to vehicles than big game animals and maintaining control of your vehicle is most important.
• Always wear your seat belt. Even a minor collision could result in serious injuries.
ODFW, ODOT and partner organizations are working to reduce the risk of vehicle-wildlife collisions by building wildlife crossings. The crossings allow wildlife to safely follow their migration patterns over or under a road. Data shows wildlife crossings on Hwy 97 near Sunriver have reduced vehicle-wildlife collisions by nearly 90 percent.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021 is providing $350 million in competitive grants to the states for wildlife crossings and other mitigation. ODFW, ODOT and other partners will be working to secure grants for projects.
Oregon drivers can also show their support by purchasing a Watch for Wildlife license plate. The revenue generated from license plate sales will benefit projects that help wildlife move within their range and between habitat patches. Originally developed by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, the license plate is now available at the DMV.
The Central Oregon Coast is experiencing its seasonal cold weather. Although the weather slows down our daily commute, we are not nearly as affected as wildlife, specifically elk and deer.
Natural food sources are lean in the upper elevations in the coast range during the winter as snow falls, covering the ground. This time of year with snow accumulation in the coast range and freezing temperatures periodically down to sea level, elk and deer may move to even lower elevations to find adequate food.
These additional movements often mean that the animals are crossing major roads both day and night which creates hazards to motorists. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office would like motorists and spectators to be mindful of the animal movements. If you see one deer cross in front of you, chances are there is another one behind.
Please take into account that the animals are often stressed due to additional migration in search of food. When spectating please keep a minimum distance of 100 yards from wildlife. If the animals begin to move from your presence, don’t follow them. Oregon Revised Statute 498.006 does protect the chasing or harassing of wildlife.
Linn County Sheriff’s Detectives seek public’s help with a suspicious death investigation
On December 9, 2022, Linn County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a body located in northern Millersburg. With assistance of the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office the body was confirmed to be Richard Champion, who was reported missing to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in September. Detectives are continuing to investigate the death of Mr. Champion as suspicious.
If you have any information regarding Richard Champion, contact Det. Van Horn @ (503) 584-6211 / firstname.lastname@example.org“>email@example.com. You can also submit information to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office by texting your tip to TIPMCSO(847411).
$1 Million Powerball Ticket Sold in Beaverton as Jackpot Reaches $747 Million
Salem, Ore. – Oregon is home to another $1 million Powerball winner thanks to a ticket purchased in Beaverton on February 4, 2023. A $100,000 winner was also purchased in Cottage Grove on February 3, 2023. The Powerball jackpot is an estimated $747 million for Monday’s drawing, making it the fifth-largest Powerball jackpot in history.
Since the Powerball jackpot run up began on November 21, 2022, the Oregon Lottery has sold about $15 million in tickets. Approximately a third of those sales will be returned to state beneficiaries to support economic development, education, veteran services, state parks and more.
Retailers who sell lottery tickets also earn commissions from the boost in ticket sales and bonus payments for lower tier wins. In this case, the retailer who sold the $1 million ticket earned a $10,000 bonus.
Powerball is a multi-state jackpot operated by 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The largest prize won in Oregon was a $340 million jackpot in 2005.
The Oregon Lottery recommends that you always sign the back of your ticket to ensure you can claim your prize. In the event of winning a jackpot, players should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. Players have a year to claim their prize.
Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org.
BLM waives day use fees in observance of Washington’s Birthday
— In honor of George Washington’s birthday and to increase recreational access to public land, the Bureau of Land Management is waiving recreation standard amenity and day-use fees for visitors on Feb. 20, 2023. The BLM invites the public to visit the unique and diverse natural landscapes and visitor facilities on BLM-managed lands to celebrate the life of the first U.S. President George Washington.
This marks the second of the BLM’s fee-free days of 2023. Fee-free days refer to the waiver of standard amenity fees and day-use fees, such as visitor centers, picnic/day use areas, and National Conservation Lands units where fees are charged. Expanded amenity fees and other fees, like group day use, overnight camping, cabin rentals, and individual special recreation permits, will remain in effect unless the authorized officer determines it is appropriate to waive them.
BLM’s public lands offer spectacular beauty in the colder months. Find a map of BLM’s top recreation locations in the snow, rain, or ice here:
Winter recreation on public lands
- Know before you go. Check with local offices for current conditions, including closures and travel restrictions.
- Make sure tires have adequate traction for road conditions.
- Ensure that a friend or family member is aware of your adventure plans.
- Ensure you have the 10 essentials before venturing out: navigation tools (map, GPS, personal locator beacon), headlamp, sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen, especially against snow glare!), first aid kit, knife/gear repair kit, fire essentials (fire starter, matches, lighter, etc.), shelter (i.e., an emergency blanket that folds up extremely small), extra food, extra water (beyond the minimum expectation), and extra clothes (layer up!).
Recommendations on where to go with snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees):
- Burns: Steens Mountain offers an array of winter recreation opportunities, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Individual permits must be obtained through the Burns District Office.
- Lakeview: Gerber Recreation Site is popular for ice fishing and open year-round for camping. The paved roads are not plowed but remain clear of snow most winters. Wood River Wetland offers hiking, dog walking, bird watching, hunting, and (when there’s enough snow) snowshoeing. Be aware that the parking area is not plowed in the winter, so parking is not always available.
- Medford: Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are available at the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument and Table Mountain Winter Play Area.
- Washington State: Split Rock Recreation Site at Palmer Lake offers ice fishing (or regular fishing if there is no ice). Visitors can also hike on the Similkameen Rail Trail from Oroville to the Enloe Dam or on the Cowiche Canyon Trail (where there is usually little to no snow). The Yakima River Canyon Recreation Site is a great location for winter camping. If winter is mild, the Juniper Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area is a good option for recreation, and if the winter is cold, the Fishtrap Recreation Area offers ice fishing and cross-country skiing.
Recommendations on where to go with little to no snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees):
- Northwest Oregon: The West Eugene Wetlands offer disc golf, the Sandy Ridge Trail System offers mountain biking, Shotgun Creek Recreation Site is open to off-highway vehicles, and the Wildwood Recreation Site has an underwater salmon viewing chamber.
- Medford: Sites such as the Upper and Lower Table Rocks, Cathedral Hills, and Mountain of the Rogue offer winter hiking and tend to be free of snow.
In 2023, BLM will waive recreation standard amenity and day use fees for visitors on:
- January 16 (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- February 20 (Washington’s Birthday)
- June 19 (Juneteenth National Independence Day)
- August 4 (Great American Outdoors Day)
- September 23 (National Public Lands Day)
- November 11 (Veterans Day)
For more information about the BLM’s recreation fee program, please visit https: //www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-fees.
-BLM- The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.