Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 5/3 – Firefighters Contain Fire At Best Western In Eugene, Apartment Building Fire In Downtown Eugene, Oregon Secretary Of State Resigns

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, May 3, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Firefighters Contain Fire At Best Western In Eugene

Eugene Oregon:  Eugene Springfield Fire crews responded to a second high risk multiple occupancy structure fire in as many days.  On Tuesday afternoon a fire was reported in the Best Western hotel located at 1655 Franklin Blvd in Eugene.  Arriving firefighters found fire in the basement workshop of the hotel.  Basement fires are risky on their own, when coupled with a high occupancy building the risk is elevated.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the workshop that was situated in a large unfinished basement area and limit risk from nearby flammable gasses.  There were no reported injuries to civilians or firefighters and the cause is under investigation.

Apartment Building Fire In Downtown Eugene

Numerous emergency responders were on the scene of a fire in an apartment building in Eugene Monday afternoon just blocks away from 5th Street Public Market in Eugene.

Several fire engines, firefighters and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the Parkview Terrace apartments at 255 High Street for a reported fire at 3:51 p.m. on May 1. A fire engine that happened to be nearby arrived within minutes to find a fourth-floor apartment on fire with smoke blowing out of the window. Firefighters jumped to put out the fire and help evacuate the building’s occupants.

Parkview Terrace Apartments residents watched as smoke billowed out of the unit. A bystander near the apartment just before firefighters were dispatched said he smelled smoke, moved to investigate the scene, and watched as an explosion blew out the window of the apartment.

Firefighters said that it is still unclear what started the fire, and the Fire Marshal is investigating. The burned apartment is a total loss according to firefighters, with relatively minor damage to adjacent units. Fire officials said Homes for Good is supporting residents displaced by the fire.

Firefighters said that it’s uncertain if there was anyone actually in the apartment at the time of the fire. One person was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Florence Police Department / Lane County Sheriff’s Office Joint News Release

Armed Robbery and Burglaries Believed to be Committed by Same Suspects in Florence Area

Last night at about 10:30PM the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received the report of an attempted burglary at the Cleawox Market located in the 85000blk of Hwy. 101 south of Florence.  The manager of the location reported that two masked subjects attempted to enter the vacant store after shooting through the front door with a shotgun.  Security footage on scene depicted the suspects armed with a shotgun that resembles the appearance of an AK-47 style rifle.  The suspects did not make entry into the store. 

Approximately 30 minutes later the Florence Police Department responded to the report of an armed robbery that had just occurred at the American Market located in the 2500blk of Hwy. 101.  The suspects were wearing masks and armed with what appeared to be the same weapon used in the attempted burglary.  The suspects stole cigarettes, other smoking devices and an undisclosed amount of cash. 

The suspects departed northbound on Hwy. 101 in a white, two-door Dodge Dakota pickup.  The truck was displaying California plate #53657H2.

The suspects are described as white males. One was wearing a red or maroon sweatshirt, black pants, white shoes, and a bandana over his face.  The other was wearing a black t-shirt, black pants, black shoes, and a black ski mask. 

The suspects in this case are to be considered armed and dangerous.  Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1 or Florence Police Department at 541-997-3515.  Please reference FPD Case #23-4223 or LCSO Case #23-2332.

Major Crimes Team Investigating Green District Homicide

ROSEBURG, Ore. – The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the homicide of a Roseburg woman who died Sunday in the Green District. 

On Sunday, April 30, 2023, around 2:30 p.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers were notified of a reported homicide at a residence in the 4000-block of Carnes Road in the Green District. Deputies responded along with officers from the Winston and Roseburg Police Departments. Deputies detained a man at the scene, later identified as 45-year-old William James Tiemann of Roseburg. Upon entering the residence, deputies located 52-year-old Roseburg resident Tonya Cathleen Ball, who had suffered fatal injuries. 

Tiemann was later booked into the Douglas County Jail on a charge of Second-Degree Murder.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the homicide, with the Sheriff’s Office assigned as the lead investigating agency. The Douglas County Major Crimes Team consists of investigators from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department and Oregon State Police working in consultation with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

The investigation is ongoing, and no additional details are expected to be released at this time. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact investigators at 541-440-4458 referencing Case #23-1571.

Oregon Secretary Of State Resigns

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has announced that she is resigning from office, effective May 8.

Fagan’s office said she will continue in her duties until Monday, May 8, when Deputy Secretary Cheryl Myers will take over until Governor Tina Kotek can appoint a new Secretary of State. Fagan’s office said Myers will have the power to carry out the duties of the office normally, and her stewardship will help the agency maintain stability during the transition to a new secretary.

Fagan’s office also said the Oregon Elections Division and elections officials across the state will be able to handle the May 16 Special Districts Election with no hang-ups.

Fagan’s resignation comes after it came to light that she had taken a paid consulting position with a marijuana firm even as Oregon’s entire cannabis industry was under audit by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

New OHA report details health care spending trends

Oregon’s Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program analyzed 2018-2020 data

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) today published Oregon’s 2022 Annual Cost Growth Trends Report, which presents data on health care spending and health care cost growth in the state between 2018 and 2020.

Data confirm health care costs grew between 2018 and 2019 before dropping between 2019 and 2020 due to COVID-related changes in use of health care. Medicaid experienced the lowest rate of cost growth compared to Medicare and the commercial market.

“The findings released from today’s report provides invaluable insight into the key cost drivers of health care in our state,” said Dave Baden, OHA’s interim director. “With this data, OHA, policymakers and health system providers have an opportunity to come together to address growing affordability concerns across public and private markets.” 

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature established the Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program, which is designed to prevent health care costs from growing faster than wages, inflation, and other economic indicators. In collaboration among large provider organizations, hospitals and health insurance plans, the program sets a statewide target for the annual per-person growth rate of total health care spending.

A few key trends from the 2018-2020 report include:

  • Health care spending grew for all health care markets between 2018 and 2019, but it grew more in the commercial market than Medicaid or Medicare. Total health care expenditures grew the most for the commercial market between 2018 and 2019 (4.5%) and declined the least for the commercial market between 2019 and 2020 (1.6%). In comparison, spending for the Medicare market grew by 3.3% and declined 5.5% in the same time periods.
  • Health care spending grew between 2018 and 2019, then fell slightly between 2019 and 2020, primarily due to fewer people accessing health care in the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a per-person, per-year basis, health care spending grew 3.6% between 2018 and 2019, then declined 1.2% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Medicaid exhibited the lowest cost growth. Between 2018-2019, Medicaid had a cost growth of 3.3%, thus meeting the target 3.4%. While overall Medicaid spending declined between 2019-2020, Medicaid increased non-claims spending by 10%, which reflects Medicaid’s progress with value-based payment arrangements, as well as dollars being pushed out to support providers in the first part of the pandemic.
  • Retail pharmacy spending increased consistently: While spending declined in many categories between 2019 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, retail pharmacy spending increased 3.2% even after pharmacy rebates were taken into consideration. Retail pharmacy has been consistently identified as a primary driver of health care cost growth in Oregon.
  • High cost is a barrier to health care for Oregonians: In 2020, spending on health care and health insurance represented 23% of all household spending in Oregon. High costs cause people in Oregon to delay health care, especially working-age adults. A national poll found that 38% of adults reported delaying care in 2022 due to costs.

On May 9, the Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program will release a report with health care spending trends from 2020 to 2021. The report will compare the actual growth of health care costs to the target for both commercial and state markets, as well as payer and provider organizations. A May 17 public hearing will cover data from the two reports. More information is available online.

Oregon House Passes Bill To Guarantee Access To Abortion And Gender-Affirming Care

Democrats in the Oregon House passed a bill intended to guarantee access to abortion and gender-affirming care Monday evening after a grueling day of debate and parliamentary motions from Republicans who adamantly oppose the measure. 

House Bill 2002, a top priority for Democrats in the legislative majority, represents the state’s response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and ending the national right to abortion. Abortion remains legal in Oregon and must be provided at no cost to the patient because of a 2017 law. 

But legislators and others who met in private last summer feared that laws in other states criminalizing abortion would affect Oregon providers. The 46-page bill that resulted focuses on protecting gender-affirming care as well as reproductive rights, both personal medical decisions under attack in Republican-led states. 

Skeletal Remains Found in Ashland Rural Area Identified

Skeletal Remains Discovered Last Month Positively Identified

UPDATE 5/2/23: The skeletal remains discovered last month have been positively identified and next-of-kin has been notified. The decedent is Kris Heywood, 77, of Ashland. She was reported missing in September of 2022 to Ashland Police Department (APD case 22-1874). Our condolences to her friends and family. Her remains were located in a remote location near the 3700 block of Old Highway 99 south of Ashland. This case does not appear to be criminal, although the investigation is ongoing. 

Original Release 4/24/23:  JCSO Case 23-2132

SOUTHERN JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives are investigating a suspicious death after skeletal remains were discovered April 14 in a remote area in a rural southern Jackson County. The suspicious nature of the scene led to JCSO detectives and medical examiners responding to investigate. The rugged terrain and remote area required JCSO Search and Rescue to assist in recovering the body. Due to the ongoing investigation, the exact location of the remains will not be released at this time.

A forensic pathologist conducted an autopsy and concluded the remains were most likely female. Investigators are working to identify the subject and the cause and manner of death. Due to the advanced stages of decomposition, state medical examiners will conduct further testing. This case is under further investigation with detectives following additional leads. No more information is available at this time. 

Wildfire Alert App Expanding Coverage To Oregon

Watch Duty, a wildfire alert app run by active and retired firefighters and first responders, is expanding its coverage to Oregon next week.

John Mills, co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, said the app helps bring real-time wildfire updates to people, typically faster than law enforcement or government agencies.

Mills said he almost lost his ranch in Sonoma County to wildfires on multiple occasions and said Watch Duty helps save lives during fire season.

“It wasn’t until the 2020 lightning siege when half of California was on fire that it really occurred to me that the key was these men and women, retired and active firefighters, first responders and others who were on Facebook and Twitter listening to radio scanners all day and all night,” Mills said. “That’s where I found all the real-time information.”

Watch Duty was created in 2021 and currently covers the state of California, with more than 500,000 users. The website and app will cover the state of Oregon starting May 2.

Mills said having access to real-time information during fire season can potentially save lives. As fires continue to become more frequent in California and Oregon, he said every second counts. 

“It’s extremely important to us that everything is vetted and still using nixels and Code Reds and everything else the government used,” Mills said. “You need to have those but ultimately, we need more information faster and so Watch Duty works in unison with the government.”

Six Oregon high schools win prizes in media contest to promote young worker safety

Salem – Teams of students at Parkrose, Klamath Union, Wilsonville, West Linn, Lincoln, and Henley high schools have earned top prizes in a media contest designed to increase awareness about workplace safety and health for young workers.

High school students across Oregon were invited to participate in the annual contest organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). In its 15th year of putting a spotlight on the importance of young worker safety and health, the 2022-2023 competition challenged participants to create either a 30- to 90-second video or graphic design that inspires young workers to take the O[yes] online Safety Awareness Training to bolster their knowledge of how to stay safe and healthy while on the job.

The door to creativity was wide open: Participants were asked to choose a key message, theme, or tagline for their video or graphic design, with an eye on making their media project stand out and effectively reach their audience. 

Teams of students rose to the challenge. In attention-grabbing videos and colorful graphic designs, they called attention to everything from a young worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace and the importance of speaking up to the need to prepare for safety before the work begins – all with an emphasis on the value of taking the O[yes] online Safety Awareness Training

The top winners in each category were:

Video:

  • First place: Parkrose High School, “Screen Grab” ($500)
  • Second: Klamath Union High School, “Safety is Success” ($400)
  • Third: Wilsonville High School, “Work Smarter, Not Harder” ($300)
  • Finalists: Crescent Valley High School, “Workplace Safety? Oyes!” and Bend Senior High School, “Work Exhaustion.” 

Graphic design:

  • First place: West Linn High School, “5 Things You Need to Know” ($500)
  • Second place: Lincoln High School, “Be Your Own Hero” ($400)
  • Third place: Henley High School, “O[yes] Safety” ($300)
  • Finalists: Westview High School, “Staying Healthy,” Springfield High School, “Mental Health Matters,” Klamath Union High School, “Stay Alert; Don’t Get Hurt,” Klamath Union High School, “Don’t Lego of Safety.”

The first-place teams in each category also earned a matching award for their schools.

Check out the winning submissions on the (O[yes]) website, where you will also find videos of the contestants discussing their media projects.

With its first-place win in the video category, Parkrose High School has now taken the top spot in that category three years in a row and four out of the last five years. Parkrose has also finished in the top three of the video category a total of 10 times since 2013.

This year’s contest marked the second year in a row that West Linn High School secured a place in the top three of the graphic design category. Meanwhile, Klamath Union High School – new to the ranks of finalists in the media contest – put in a robust showing with a second-place finish in the video category and two finalist entries in the graphic design category. 

The mission of (O[yes]) is to prevent injuries and illnesses, and promote well-being to young workers. The nonprofit does this through outreach, advocacy, and sharing resources with young workers, educators, employers, parents, and labor organizations. 

The 2022-2023 contest sponsors are: Oregon Chapters of the American Association of Safety Professionals, Construction Safety Summit, Central Oregon Safety and Health Association, Hoffman Construction, Oregon Health & Sciences University, Oregon OSHA, Oregon SHARP Alliance, SafeBuild Alliance, and SAIF.

### Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to oregon.gov/dcbs.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to youngemployeesafety.org.

‘Inaugural Charge’ event unveiling electric vehicle chargers in Oregon State Parks

WHAT:  Celebration of Rivian Waypoints Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed at seven state parks in central and western Oregon. Event will include speakers representing partners and state and local officials.

Electric vehicle maker Rivian, working through the nonprofit Adopt A Charger (AAC), donated the installation design, construction costs and EV chargers placed in the parks. Fundraising by AAC brought plastics manufacturer Entec Polymers as a private donor to cover the cost of visitor charging electricity for a limited time.

The Level 2 chargers are compatible with all electric vehicles and are powered by 100% renewable energy via Rivian’s energy matching program. This collaborative effort extends the electric charging infrastructure grid to new areas for EV drivers to explore. The chargers will improve recreational access for all EV drivers, not just Rivian vehicle owners.  

WHEN: Formal event 11 a.m.-noon, Friday, May 5, 2023. Media welcome to arrive at 10:30 and stay beyond noon.  

WHERE: Silver Falls State Park, South Falls Day-use parking lot at electric vehicle charging stations (west side of main lot)
20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385

SPEAKERS: Chris Havel, deputy director of government relations, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Kelly Brooks, transportation advisor to Governor Tina Kotek
Hannah J. Steinweg, public policy manager, Rivian
Kitty Adams Hoksbergen, executive director of Adopt-A-Charger
Steve Tomaszewski, senior vice president & general manager of Entec Polymers

Demonstration of electric vehicle charging station use after formal event. Rivian Electric Adventure Vehicle onsite. Vehicle ride and drive planned for interested media and attendees after formal event.

10th Annual Art of Survival Century Bike Ride Returns to Klamath Basin

The 10th Annual Art of Survival Century Bicycle Ride and Gravel Grinder event isn’t just about pedaling a road or mountain bike through beautiful stretches of the countryside. It’s also an opportunity to learn about a region that includes Southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin and Northern California’s Tulelake Basin and Butte Valley area.

What is unique about this event—which is a ride, not a race—is that at each rest stop offers educational components and/or ranger or historian-led talks highlighting the cultural history, geography, environmental issues and geology of the area. Along with providing fluids and nutritious snacks at the rest stops, riders will have opportunities to learn about the areas they’re passing through.

This year enjoy a breathtaking ride through American History. 150 years ago, along the banks of Lost River, sharp cracks of rifles broke the restful silence of the Klamath Basin igniting a tragic war between the Modoc Indians and U.S. Army.  This Memorial Day weekend we invite you to join us in “Remembering the Modoc War”.  Cycle along the uncrowded backroads of our beautiful Basin in the shadow of majestic Mount Shasta. Witness first-hand where the war started and where many of the battles took place.

Explore Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a natural fortress where 55 Modoc warriors held off a U.S. Army force of several hundred troops for six months.  Ride along roads where Army soldiers were marched into battle.  Talk to historians about the land and cattle barons and their relentless efforts to remove the Modoc from the Basin, the Modoc’s desire to stay in their homeland since time immemorial and the plight of the soldiers and settlers friendly to the Modoc caught in the middle.

Day 1, Saturday, May 27:  Choose from four routes that begin and end at the Malin Community Park in Malin, OR – 100-mile Century, 62-mile Metric Century, 38-mile and family friendly 14-mile road routes plus a 22-mile mountain gravel grinder route in the Medicine Lake Highlands. 

Day 2, Sunday, May 28, is a Gravel Grinder Mix covering distances of 74 and 54 miles and a family friendly 13-mile route.  All gravel routes begin and end at the Butte Valley Community Center in Dorris, CA. Participants will ride along the flatlands of Butte Valley, including the Butte Valley Wildlife Area, farms, ranches and for the long rides to Juanita Lake. Views of snow-capped Mount Shasta and Goosenest Mountain are plentiful. 

Registration Fees for Saturday, May 27:  Rides are $75 for the Century and Metric Century, $55 for the 38-miler and $25 for both the mountain bike and family friendly events. The cost for Sunday, May 28 rides are $75 for the 74 and 54-mile and $25 for the 13-mile ride.  However, if riders register for both days they will receive a discount. The cost for all routes will increase $10 after May 20. Fees include rest stop food and beverages, SAG, delicious post-ride meal both days and SWAG.

Whether riding a bicycle or not there will be plenty of activities during the weekend. The ride committee, along with Rural Klamath Connects, is planning to offer a bus tour of the audio tour  “Modoc War: A Homeland Lost” on Friday morning, May 26.  For more details and to sign up email aoscentury@gmail.com.

A pre-ride reception will be held Friday, May 26 from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at the Malin Broadway Theater in Malin, OR for cyclists to pick up their ride packets, enjoy refreshments, discover new area activities and learn about the Modoc War history, plus tour our restored historic theater and visit with the locals. The committee welcomes anyone interested to attend this reception.

Post-ride meals will be offered both days and are included in the registration fees. The cost for non-riders is $15 both days. The Malin meal will likely feature locally grown, load-your-own baked potatoes while Dorris will offer yummy lasagna.

For images, see here. For more information and to register visit the website at https://survivalcentury.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1109674113319848

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