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
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Willamette Valley Weather
Another Vehicle/Pedestrian Crash on Hwy 99
Hwy. 99 northbound was closed between Roosevelt and Elmira for at least two hours Tuesday, while the Eugene Police Major Collision Investigation Team investigated a vehicle-pedestrian crash.
Motorists were asked to use alternative routes to avoid congestion. Without confirmation, comments from bystanders state that this was another fatal vehicle/pedestrian crash. An investigation is ongoing.
LCSO Case #23-2159 — Pleasant Hill Armed Robbery Suspect Taken Into Custody
On Sunday, 04/23/2023, at approximately 1:00pm, Lane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the report of an armed robbery at a local coffee business in the 35000blk of Hwy. 58 in Pleasant Hill. An employee reported that a male pointed a handgun directly at her and demanded that she give him all of the cash inside of the register. The male then departed the location in an unknown direction with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Deputies reviewed surveillance video and were able to see that the male left in an older model purple Ford Taurus. This vehicle and its occupants had also been spotted earlier in the day behaving suspiciously at another area business.
The involved vehicle was observed driving on Hwy. 99E by a Junction City police officer at about 2:30pm. Deputies responded and contacted the occupants after they pulled into a driveway in the 95000blk of Hwy. 99E. The occupants of the vehicle were detained without incident.
One of those detained matched the person in the video that pointed the gun at the female employee and committed the robbery. He was identified as 40-year-old Brian Keith Gifford of Klamath Falls.
Gifford was arrested for Robbery in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm and lodged at the Lane County Jail.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Oregon State Police, Junction City Police Department, and Coburg Police Department for their assistance with this case.
Are you #ElectionReady in Lane County?
Election Day is quickly approaching, and the Lane County Elections office would like to encourage voters to be #ElectionReady for the May 16, 2023 Special Election. Voters in Lane County must register to vote no later than April 25, 2023.
“In the weeks leading up to Election Day, voters have multiple ways to ensure they are ready to vote and have their voices heard,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson.
The voter registration deadline is April 25, 2023. If a voter registration form is hand delivered, it must be received no later than 5:00 pm at the Election Office (275 W 10th Ave., Eugene) on that day. If mailed, it must be postmarked no later than April 25, 2023. If registering via www.oregonvotes.gov, it must be completed no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 25, 2023.
Ballots will be mailed starting on April 27, 2023. To track the status of a ballot, visit www.oregonvotes.gov/MyVote.
Voters may return their ballot by regular mail, ballot drop box, or at the Elections Office. For ballot drop box locations, visit www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections.
Voters with questions can email email@example.com or call 541-682-4234.
Lane County Proposed Measure 20-340
If approved by voters, the measure would maintain a minimum of 255 local jail beds, providing the Sheriff with improved ability to hold those arrested for violent felony offenses until their cases are resolved.
The estimated tax rate for this levy is $0.55 per $1,000 of assessed value. The median Lane County homeowner is estimated to pay an average of $9.80 per month for five years. https://www.publicsafetylevy.org/?fbclid=IwAR2PE2Eb8Hqm-Ax4zAMuV5zh_IYoP6xMIEqYEa_w0u26Sm79zjVWpJ98KZ4
Eugene Police Investigating Shooting
Police officials are investigating a shooting that occurred Saturday morning in the 900 block of Hilyard Street, authorities said.
Police said a resident was having a party on April 22 on the second-floor balcony of a building when a group of about 12 to 15 men walked by and yelled a slur. The resident was upset by the slur and went to confront the group when he heard a gunshot.
A bullet hole was found in the apartment’s window and the group ran away.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Eugene Police Department at 541-682-5111.
County mowers are gearing up and need roadsides clear of obstructions
Drivers on rural County-maintained roads will see mowers clearing the road rights-of-way of grass and brush beginning this month. In the rural areas, the road right-of-way is typically from the pavement to the fence or private property line (anywhere the maintenance vehicles would drive). In the unincorporated parts of Eugene or Springfield, the right-of-way is the planting area between the sidewalk and curb.
Property owners can help prepare by ensuring they have not placed anything in the mower’s path in the road right-of-way.
- Political and other signs. No political signs, business signs or other types of signs belong in the road right-of-way. Signs may be removed and stored for 30 days at Lane County Public Works before being destroyed. Signs placed near a rural road must be on private property and behind any utility facilities (poles, closures, etc.) or sidewalks.
- Rocks. Rocks over 3 inches in diameter and other fixed objects must be removed from the right-of-way.
- Fencing. Derelict fencing can be both a hazard and a high-cost obstacle for mowers. Fencing that has fallen into the road right-of-way can become entangled in the equipment, or can make it impossible to clear the affected area of grass and brush.
- Ornamental vegetation or other plantings. Plants in the right-of-way, especially those that grow large and aggressively, will be removed. Plants in the right-of-way will be mown to the lowest level practical in order to provide the longest-lasting effect.
“Mowing helps us reduce fire danger and make sure that drivers have clear lines of sight on County roads,” said Chad McBride, Lane County vegetation supervisor. “It’s really helpful when people keep things like fences and signs out of the right-of-way. They slow us down, can damage our equipment, and don’t belong there in the first place.”
By keeping items out of the right-of-way, residents can avoid unnecessary expense and hassle, save taxpayer money by saving Public Works personnel from having to remove signs and other items, and help protect your neighbors and visitors from accidents.
Drivers are allowed to pass the mowers on the left when it is safe to do so, but must remember that oncoming traffic takes precedence.
Trial Begins In Lawsuit Linking Pacific Power To 2020 Labor Day Fires
The class action suit claims that PacifiCorp’s equipment started several of the devastating wildfires that burned across Oregon during a historic wind event in 2020.
Jury selection began Monday for a trial in which utility company PacifiCorp will have to defend itself against claims that its negligence resulted in several of the devastating wildfires that burned across Oregon during a historic wind event in September 2020.
The class action lawsuit was first filed at the end of September 2020, shortly after the fires, by a Linn County couple who lost their homes to the Beachie Creek Fire. The complaint grew to include survivors of the Echo Mountain Fire in Lincoln County, the South Obenchain Fire in Jackson County, the 242 Fire in Klamath County and the Santiam Canyon Fire — the last one formed by the merger of multiple large fires, including Beachie Creek.
According to the complaint, Pacific Power and its parent company failed to de-energize power lines in areas of particular risk, despite forecasts warning of a historic wind event and extreme fire danger.
As a result, the lawsuit continues, trees brought down active power lines — sparking some of the fires that destroyed hundreds, if not thousands of homes, businesses and other structures, resulting in several deaths.
“This devastation could have been avoided if Defendants had turned off the power surging through their power lines,” the complaint alleges. “Instead, PacifiCorp and Pacific Power prioritized dollars over livelihoods and lives.”
In November, PacifiCorp settled with a couple who had sued over their losses in the Archie Creek Fire in Douglas County, another of the Labor Day weekend fires.
No such settlement has been reached in this case, and jury selection began Monday. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday and the trial is expected to last into mid-June. Plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $1.6 billion.
In a filing Monday, PacifiCorp attorneys said there was no explicit request from government officials to de-energize power lines ahead of the storms.
The defense attorneys argued for the ability to cross-examine Nik Blosser, former Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Chief of Staff, saying that the plaintiffs “intend to give him a starring role in testifying.”
PacifiCorp is a Portland-based company, and the trial will take place in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
As a result of these devastating fires and state-level rule changes, Oregon power companies have become more aggressive with power shutoffs in subsequent years. (SOURCE)
Traffic Stop Leads to Seizure of 100,000 Fentanyl Pills and More -Union County
On April 21, 2023, at approximately 6:37 am, a Trooper from the La Grande Area Command stopped a vehicle traveling westbound on Interstate 84 near La Grande, Oregon. While on the stop, the Trooper observed signs of criminal activity.A search of the vehicle was conducted which led to the seizure of approximately 100,000 Fentanyl pills, 3 Kilograms of Heroin and 1 Kilogram of Fentanyl Powder.
This case is being investigated jointly by the Oregon State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
Traffic Stop Leads to Seizure of 86 Pounds of Powdered Fentanyl and Methamphetamine – Marion County
On April 23, 2023, at about 9:15 a.m., An OSP Trooper out of the Salem Area Command stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation. While on the stop, the Trooper observed signs of criminal activity and subsequently asked for consent to search the vehicle.
The driver denied consent but admitted to importing marijuana from California.
OSP K-9 Titan was deployed and alerted to a large duffel bag in the trunk. An additional search of the vehicle revealed a large amount of various controlled substances.
51 lbs. of suspected Methamphetamine
31 lbs. of suspected powder fentanyl
9 lbs. of suspected cocaine
2 lbs. of suspected heroin
Both occupants of the vehicle were detained, interviewed, and charged with federal drug charges and lodged at the Multnomah County Jail.
This case is being investigated jointly by the Oregon State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and OSP. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
Forestry department invites public comment on state forest management activities
Salem, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry is inviting public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities in state-owned forests in fiscal year 2024.
Starting April 25 through 5 p.m. June 8, Oregonians can weigh in on draft Annual Operations Plans (AOPs) for state forests on the Astoria, Forest Grove, Klamath Falls, Tillamook, West Oregon, and Western Lane Districts. These plans lay out on-the-ground activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year. State forests by law must provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to Oregonians. To achieve the legal mandate, these lands are managed to create healthy productive forests, high-quality habitat for native fish and wildlife, clean water, timber, revenues to rural communities, and recreation and education opportunities. Overall management policies and management goals are established in long-range Forest Management Plans and Implementation Plans. Annual Operations Plans describe activities to achieve the objectives and goals laid out in the longer-range plans. ODF is seeking input on the draft AOP summary documents, which can be viewed on the State Forests website.
Common topics included in an Annual Operations Plan include:
- Timber harvest operations
- Recreation improvement and maintenance projects
- Forest road construction, maintenance, and improvements
- Reforestation/replanting and young stand management activities
- Habitat improvement for native species
- Invasive species management
The most useful input speaks to these specific activities and whether they are consistent with longer-range plans, offers suggestions to improve efficiency or effectiveness, corrects errors, provides additional information, and is solution-oriented, understanding that state forests are working forests and by law must provide a variety of economic, environmental, and social benefits. Activities that affect fish and wildlife habitat are reviewed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, while operations that may affect threatened and endangered fish and wildlife habitat are shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities on the North Cascade District fiscal year 2024 Annual Operation Plan will be conducted separately.
ODF is offering several convenient avenues to comment on AOPs:
- Online comments can be submitted received through ODF’s comments page
- Comments can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Comments can also be mailed to ODF Public Affairs, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310