Willamette Valley News, Friday 5/12 – Heat Advisories Issued, ODHS Closes Lane County 2020 Wildfire Survivors Long-Term Shelter Program, Armed Home Invasion Robbery in River Road Area

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

Friday, May 12, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

HEAT ADVISORY ISSUED: 3:20 AM MAY. 12, 2023 – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

...HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM SATURDAY TO 8 PM PDT MONDAY...

* WHAT...Unseasonably warm to hot conditions with maximum temperatures in the mid 80s to mid 90s. Minimum temperatures generally dipping into the mid 50s to lower 60s early each morning.

* WHERE...Portions of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington.

* WHEN...From 2 PM Saturday to 8 PM PDT Monday.

* IMPACTS...Hot temperatures may cause heat illnesses to occur.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Urban centers and locations above the valley floors will remain the warmest overnight, with morning lows potentially holding in the mid to upper 60s.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Drink plenty of fluids, seek air-conditioned locations if possible, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Children and pets should never be left unattended in
vehicles under any circumstances.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.

For sheltering information and other human services in your area, dial 2 1 1 during business hours or visit http://211info.org 

Daily high temperatures Friday through Monday could be 25 to 30 degrees above normal, but Northwest rivers are still extremely cold and moving fast.

It’s going to be hot this weekend in much of Oregon with temperatures along the Interstate 5 corridor likely reaching well into the 90s. The National Weather Service said daily high temperatures Friday through Monday could be 25 to 30 degrees above average.

In anticipation of that heat, first responders are urging people to be careful around area waterways.

Rick Wunsch with the Corbett Fire Department said it will feel like summer for a few days, but rivers and streams are still extremely cold.

“It’s not that time of year yet where you want to just dive into the water and go swimming,” he said. “It’s cold. It’s going to take your breath away when you jump in there.”

Cold water shock is a leading cause of drowning, according to the Oregon Marine Board.

This spring’s snowpack is nearly double normal levels and it’s currently melting, so rivers and streams will be moving swiftly.

“If you just absolutely think you have to go out and go swimming, put a life jacket on,” Wunsch said. “That’s always the first line of defense when we’re out swimming in the river.”

Wunsch offered additional tips for people beating the heat in nature this weekend.

“Let people know where you’re going,” he said. “Plan your trip, make sure your cellphone’s charged up and bring proper footwear and equipment with you on the trails. And certainly if you’re around the water and decide to get in the water, take advantage of our life jacket stations.”

Oregon Marine Board: Hot temperatures, cold water, life jackets

The National Weather Service forecast shows high temperatures dropping a bit after Monday. But they could stay in the 80s for much of Oregon well into next week.

Oregon Department Of Human Services Closes Lane County 2020 Wildfire Survivors Long-Term Shelter Program

Since December 31, 2020, through its Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) has been providing shelter and meals in Lane County to survivors of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. With the support of multiple organizations, on April 28, 2023, the last of these survivors were able to move out of ODHS shelter into either long-term or permanent housing. In total, 423 individuals were sheltered, and 193,080 meals were provided in Lane County. 

“Receiving notice that the last Holiday Farm Fire survivor in shelter has transitioned to either long-term or permanent housing is an important step in the recovery effort and worth celebrating,” said Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch (she/her). “We know the recovery process is far from over for many survivors and Lane County will continue, along with our partners at OHCS and other agencies, to support the rebuilding and recovery work happening in the McKenzie River Valley.”

Lane County was the last of all wildfire impacted counties with residents in emergency wildfire shelters. As of April 28, all Oregon residents have exited ODHS wildfire shelters and have moved into either long-term or permanent housing.

Oregon’s Emergency Operations Plan gives ODHS the responsibility of supporting the food and shelter needs of people in Oregon during large-scale emergencies and recovery from disasters.

Due to the Covid pandemic, sheltering 2020 Labor Day wildfire survivors was unlike other previous sheltering efforts because congregate shelters could not be used. Instead, sheltering was done in hotels. 

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, the American Red Cross began providing food and shelter in eight impacted counties. ODHS took over the feeding work on October 17, 2020, and took over the sheltering work on December 31, 2020. 

From 12/31/20 until 4/28/23 when ODHS’ sheltering work ended, a total of 4,457 people were sheltered by ODHS. 

In late summer 2021, assisted by a grant from FEMA, ODHS’ disaster case management program was able to begin working with fire survivors. Disaster case managers help people with wrap around services to support their recovery. 

Every survivor’s circumstances were different. Some people were well insured and needed little to no help. Others did not have those kinds of resources or understanding of the system and requirements to rebuild and recover. ODHS, along with disaster case management partner agencies, served a total of 3,928 families statewide.

Disaster case mangers assisted 1,244 people statewide to move from a wildfire shelter into long-term permanent housing. 

In Lane County, 405 families received disaster case management services. DevNW was one of the first partners brought on to help with this work. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with 2020 Holiday Farm fire survivors. The resilience of this community is inspiring. The partnerships forged between Oregon Department of Human Services Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, Catholic Charities of Oregon, The McKenzie Valley Long-Term Recovery Group, Cascade Relief Team, and many more, made this work possible. We are incredibly grateful to have been a part of the efforts to support these resilient and amazing people on their recovery journey and we wish them only the best in their journeys ahead” said Micole Olivas-Leyva (she/her/ella) Asset Preservation and Recovery Manager for DevNW.

While this is an important milestone, the state and Oregonians are still recovering from the 2020 wildfires. ODHS was able to close hotel sheltering work, but not everyone has moved into a permanent home. 333 families continue to receive disaster case management and will until they have fully recovered. 

“This was an unprecedented effort for our agency. With the support of our leadership, the Legislature and our partners, over the last 31 months this state came together to shelter more than 4,457 people and serve more than 2 million meals for wildfire survivors. Additionally, to date ODHS has provided over $10.5 million to local community-based organizations to provide case management services and monetary support to survivors,” said Ed Flick (he/him), director of the ODHS Office of Resilience and Emergency Management. “We have learned a lot since September 2020 and are in an even better position today to serve our state.”

About the ODHS Office of Resilience and Emergency Management – ODHS holds three distinct roles through its Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, all of which reduce the impact of disasters on people. In its most foundational role, OREM staff work every day with ODHS programs, offices and affiliated agencies, to ensure the safety of the people served by our programs, and our staff. The second role is as the lead agency for cooling, warming and cleaner air centers to protect the public from life-threatening weather and related events. The third role is as the primary agency for mass care and social services recovery, as outlined in Oregon’s comprehensive emergency operations and recovery plans. In this role, ODHS supports the evacuation, sheltering, feeding, emergency assistance, family reunification, distribution of emergency supplies and human services needs of people impacted by disasters. 

Across all these roles, ODHS develops and relies on partnerships and coordination with public and private organizations at the local and regional levels and with our state and Tribal Nation partners.

LCSO Case #23-2518 — Armed Home Invasion Robbery in the River Road Area

LCSO Case #23-2518 – Armed Home Invasion Robbery in the River Road Area

Lane County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating an armed robbery at a residence that occurred in the River Road area Wednesday afternoon. 

At approximately 1:00pm the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a resident in the 800blk of Willow Ave. stating that they had been struck on the head with a gun by a man claiming to be from the electric company.  After assaulting the female victim, the suspect fled with jewelry and an undisclosed amount of cash.  The suspect also took the victim’s cell phone before departing. 

The suspect is described as a white male adult approximately 40-45 years of age.  He is believed to stand approximately 6’00” tall and have brown hair and a scruffy beard.  Additionally the victim described the suspect as having a large nose that bends slightly downward.  The suspect was last seen wearing a lime green hard hat, lime green vest, a face mask, and blue jeans.  He was also carrying a clipboard. 

The weapon is described as a gray and black handgun, possibly a revolver.

Deputies are asking that residents report any suspicious activity to authorities.  Anyone that has information regarding this case is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150opt. 1. 

WasteWise Lane County, Toolbox Project Organize Springfield’s first Fix-It Fair

WasteWise Lane County—part of the Lane County Waste Management Division—and nonprofit Toolbox Project are excited to announce the first fix-it fair in Springfield.

The free public event, hosted at The Academy of Arts and Academics (615 Main Street, Springfield) during the Downtown Springfield Second Friday Art Walk on May 12, runs from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Fix-it fairs promote reuse and repair by offering participants opportunities to have household items repaired by volunteer fixers. Participants can watch and learn repair skills, discover local repair resources, and extend the life of household items—keeping more stuff out of the trash and saving money.

The Springfield event will focus primarily on clothing, textile, and bike repairs. 

This year, Lane County is funding Toolbox Project to introduce the fairs to three cities outside of Eugene for the first time: Springfield, Cottage Grove (July 22), and Florence (September 23).

“These fairs have been very popular in Eugene for several years, so we are excited to help the concept branch out to more rural areas,” said Waste Reduction Outreach Coordinator Daniel Hiestand. “The Toolbox Project has done a wonderful job organizing these fairs over the past several years, so we’re thrilled to coordinate with them on these new events. We’re also grateful to Lane Council of Governments for its financial support; the staff and students at The Academy of Arts and Academics for hosting and participating in the fair; and the many event volunteers and fixers who make this possible—including local nonprofit Shift Community Cycles.”

Repairs take an average of 30 minutes, and attendees can only bring items that can be reasonably carried in. Learn more at fixitlanecounty.com/calendar.

About WasteWise Lane County – WasteWise Lane County offers education, tools, and resources that residents, schools, and businesses can use to reduce waste, conserve resources and live more sustainably. Learn more about repair resources at fixitlanecounty.com.

About Toolbox Project – The ToolBox Project serves Lane County by providing members with low-cost access to building repair and garden tools to transform their homes, businesses, and neighborhoods. Learn more at www.eugenetoolboxproject.org.

Free Boat Inspections with Lane Co. Sheriff’s Office and Bi-Mart

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Bi-Mart stores across Lane County to help boaters prepare for the summer season! “Boating can be one of the greatest ways to experience the outdoors, but certain steps must be taken to always ensure a safe voyage”, says LCSO Marine Patrol Deputy Eric Churchill. 

May be an image of 1 person, boat, jet ski, Lake Powell and text that says 'Saturday 5/13/23 ~10am-1pm Cottage Grove Bi-Mart 100 Gateway Boulevard Sunday 5/14/23 ~10am-1pm Florence Bi-Mart Highway 101 Saturday 20 23 1 River Road Bi-Mart 2030 River Road BI-MART Employee Oirned. al Value. Ever EveryDay Sunday 05/21/23 ~10am- 1pm Junction City Bi-Mart E.6 Ave. Saturday /23 ~10am-1pm Springfield Bi-Mart 1521 Mohawk Boulevard Sunday 6/04/23 10am-1pm Veneta Bi-Mart 25126 Jeans Road OREGONSTATE OREGON STATE MARINE BOARD SHERIP'

To help you prepare for a safe season, LCSO deputies will be at various Bi-Mart stores on Saturdays and Sundays starting on May 13th.  Bring your boat (any kind) to the below listed Bi-Mart locations on the scheduled date/time for a free inspection! 


Saturday 5/13/23 ~10am-1pm
Cottage Grove Bi-Mart 
100 Gateway Boulevard

Sunday 5/14/23 ~10am-1pm
Florence Bi-Mart
4310 Highway 101

Saturday 05/20/23 ~10am-1pm
River Road Bi-Mart
2030 River Road
Sunday 05/21/23 ~10am-1pm
Junction City Bi-Mart
110 E. 6th Ave.

Saturday 06/03/23 ~10am-1pm
Springfield Bi-Mart
1521 Mohawk Boulevard

Sunday 6/04/23 ~ 10am-1pm
Veneta Bi-Mart 
25126 Jeans Road

Courtesy Boat Inspection page

Renovations to Lane County’s Law Library Results in Modified Hours

Lane County’s Law Library will be renovated during the month of May in an effort to improve access to the library and its materials. 

  • May 8-12, 2023– Library remains open with the following areas closed: computer lab, small meeting room and a small sitting area.
  • May 15-22, 2023– Library remains open with the following areas closed: larger seating area and library books access. 
  • May 29 – June 2, 2023– Library will be closed.

Renovations will focus on safety and accessibility for all patrons, as well as upgraded rooms to allow for virtual meetings. 

“We are excited to provide a more welcoming and accessible space for patrons to get information and resources on legal topics,” said Lane County Law Librarian Brittany Young. “The renovations will help us improve service to the community through an updated service desk area and collaboration space.”

The library is located in the Lane County Public Service Building (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene) on the basement level. For more information call 541-682-4337 or email LCLawLib@lanecountyor.gov

OHCS awards funding to create more than 330 homes to ensure access to affordable homeownership opportunities

Oregon Housing and Community Services and Oregon Department of Human  Services Partner to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness — NCSHA

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced the approval of 34 new homeownership development projects that will lead to the creation of 337 new affordable homes. The goal is to increase homeownership opportunities of low- to moderate-income people and families in rural and urban communities over the next three years.    

OHCS released a notice of funding availability (NOFA) in December 2022 and received 53 applications for about $65 million in available funding. All the developments focus on building housing that is responsive to their community’s needs and are using innovative, climate friendly, and accessible design methods. Some of the funding will be used to advance culturally responsive approaches and increase homeownership opportunities for members of Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes.  

“Oregon has a vast network of partners committed to building housing that will not only be affordable for homebuyers now but will support wealth building that will impact future generations,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell. “This is especially true in rural areas of our state where housing prices have skyrocketed preventing many families from realizing their dream of buying a home.” 

Among many projects, the pre-development and capacity building funds will support Wallowa Resources to hire staff to focus on the development of a 21-acre site that will lead to the construction of 10-20 affordable homes in Joseph, an area that has fallen behind in building housing. 

Of the seven Homeownership Development projects funded by General Funds, the Williams & Russell CDC Homeownership Project is to build 20 townhomes on land acquired through eminent domain for urban renewal in the early 1970s to make way for the expansion of Emanuel Hospital, now owned by Legacy Health. In 2017, Legacy Health, Prosper Portland, and the City of Portland formed a collaborative project to develop the vacant property left at North Russell Street and North Williams Avenue. Historically, the site once was part of a thriving community where many Black families lived in Portland. Through a community-driven process led by Black leaders, Legacy, the current property owner, is donating the land to the Williams & Russell CDC to realize four community priorities: support for entrepreneurs, affordable rental housing, affordable homeownership, and education/workforce training. 

“This funding helps create a path forward for the Black community in Portland to reclaim land ownership where it was once taken from them,” said Bryson E. Davis, president of Williams & Russell CDC. “By lowering the barrier to entry, future homeowners are afforded the opportunity to participate in generational wealth building and create a sense of belonging in a centrally located neighborhood and in a range of housing types informed by community input.” 

And, in Blue River, a wildfire recovery area, Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) funds will support a new community land trust (CLT) created by a group of residents. With the help of developer DevNW, McKenzie CLT will build six new homes for those who lost their homes in the Holiday Farm Fire.  

full list of EditSignprojects approved for funding can be found on the OHCS website.  

GOP-led Senate Walkout Continues

Six Republican and Democratic legislative leaders met Wednesday, May 10 to talk about the GOP-led Senate
walkout, which continued for an eighth day after they talked. Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Senate
President Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, were at the meeting, which marked the first time the two have talked in bout five weeks.

House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis; Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, D-Beaverton; House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, D-Eugene; and House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, also participated in the meeting.
Spokespeople declined to say when they might meet next.

The walkout is preventing the Senate from having the two-thirds quorum needed to vote on bills, and it is jeopardizing legislation on a variety of issues that include housing, behavioral health and budget bills for schools, prisons and other state needs.

Republican senators have said they walked out because bill summaries fail to comply with a state readability requirement that they be written at a middle-school level. Knopp also told the Capital Chronicle they want 20 “hyperpartisan” bills set aside, including proposals on abortion, guns and transgender health care.

Four senators — Republican Daniel Bonham of The Dalles, Cedric Hayden of Fall Creek, Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls and Independent Brian Boquist of Dallas — have seven unexcused absences.

On Tuesday, May 9, Lieber said Democratic leaders want to hear what Republicans wish to accomplish for their districts but are uninterested in a “kill list” of Democrat-sponsored bills that need to die.

In 2022, voters passed a constitutional amendment that prevents legislators from running for re-election if they have 10 or more unexcused absences.

Oregon Lifts COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements, Other Health Measures As Federal Emergency Ends

Oregon is ending COVID-19 vaccine requirements for educators and health care workers and officials are no longer asking people infected with the virus to isolate for five days.

Oregon public health officials announced the changes on Wednesday, a day before the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ends.  Some of the changes start on Thursday, and others will begin later. 

Public health officials said requirements can be relaxed now because many people have immunity to COVID – about 80% of Oregon adults have received primary doses of the vaccine – and many infections are mild or asymptomatic. Here’s a look at the changes:

Vaccinations: Starting Thursday, health care workers will no longer need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

For teachers and staff in public and private schools, the vaccination requirement will end on June 17 to coincide with the end of the school year.

Oregon public health officials recommend that people with COVID-19 stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours and their symptoms are improving. That’s a shift from the previous five-day isolation recommendation, which officials said was doing little to reduce the spread of the virus.Get help

For information about the Oregon Health Plan renewal process and to update your contact information, you can go here. People with questions can call the state’s customer service center at 800-699-9075 (TTY 711) from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Those with COVID-19 also should avoid contact with people who have an increased risk of serious illness, including older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and weakened immune systems. Officials encourage people to consider masking up for 10 days while they’re infected to protect others. The state is asking people with COVID-19 to wait until one day after their fever breaks to be around other people instead of self-isolating for five days

“We feel that this is the best response and evolution to our guidance as we enter this phase of the pandemic,” Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist at the Oregon Health Authority, said during a news conference.

Schools: The state is ending voluntary weekly COVID-19 testing for students and staff in K-12 schools without  symptoms on July 31 when  federal funding for the program ends.

Tests for students and staff with symptoms or those who’ve been exposed  to COVID-19 will remain available until July 31, 2024.

Insurance: The federal government is ending extra Medicaid benefits which kept  everyone enrolled in the free program, including in Oregon, regardless of a change in income. Now states need to review everyone’s information to ensure they still qualify. Oregon officials, who started that work in April, say up to 300,000 people could lose coverage for medical, dental and behavioral health care. 

State officials are encouraging participants to keep their contact information up to date and to respond promptly to requests from the state. “It’s our job to make it as simple as possible,” said Vivian Levy, interim deputy Medicaid director for the Oregon Health Authority. “It’s our job to only ask for the information that we absolutely need to be able to determine eligibility.” 

COVID-19 reporting: Oregon is no longer monitoring COVID-19 based on individual cases. Instead, the state will keep tabs on the spread of COVID-19 by analyzing the percentage of positive tests, the presence of the virus in wastewater samples, deaths and hospitalizations.

“Our focus will continue to be on serious disease,” Sidelinger said.

Some of the COVID-19-related activities and programs will continue. Non-citizens will still have an extra 90 days – or 180 days in all – to verify their residential status so they can enroll in the Oregon Health Plan. The state will require commercial health insurers and Oregon Health Plan providers to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations without a fee for patients. (SOURCE)

Wildfire Outlook Predicts Normal-To-Below Normal Fire Potential For Region

As wildfire season approaches, the National Interagency Coordination Center has an outlook for wildfires over the next four months.

The outlook lays out the likelihood of areas that could have large, costly fires needing outside assistance.

The agency said an area may still have wildfires, but those could be contained by local agencies.

There’s good news for much of our region. Southern Oregon is expecting normal fire potential through August.

In Northern California, the situation is even better.

“Going into June, when we’re looking at the potential in Northern California, we’re actually seeing below average for June 2023 which is good news. It seems like it’s been many years since we’ve had lower than typical fire potential in California going into fire season,” NICC Fire Weather Program Manager John Saltenberger said.

Saltenberger said high amounts of rain and snow this winter helped wildfire conditions.

However, the outlook projects parts of southeastern and central Oregon to have above-normal fire potential come July.

Oregon FAIR Plan Association increases coverage limits, hires new executive director

Salem – The Oregon FAIR Plan Association board of directors recently approved an increase in coverage limits for personal and commercial dwellings in the face of statewide increased wildfire risk and increased housing values and construction costs. The board also hired Stephen Steinbeck as executive director.

The board increased the retention limits for the FAIR Plan, the state’s insurer of last resort, to $600,000 for personal dwellings and farms and $1 million for commercial dwellings at the urging of the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR). The previous coverage limits were $400,000 and $700,000. A retention limit is the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for claims. The new limits expand the protection offered to Oregon consumers as housing values and construction costs continue to increase. The new limits became effective May 1 and is the first increase in coverage limits since 2016.

“The FAIR Plan coverage increases were needed and it will allow the association to be accessible to more Oregon residents who need this type of insurance,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi, who is also the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), which includes DFR.

The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon FAIR Plan Association in 1971 as a nonprofit licensed insurance company supported by its member companies. Every insurance company licensed to write property insurance in Oregon is required to be a member. The FAIR Plan Association is not a State of Oregon entity and receives no tax dollars. 

The FAIR Plan, as the insurer of last resort, serves people and businesses who cannot get insurance in the standard market. It operates much like a small insurance company, writing only property insurance for dwellings, commercial property, and farms. The FAIR Plan issues all policies out of its office and handles and investigates all reported losses with independent local adjusters.

The hiring of Steinbeck gives the association someone with nearly three decades of industry experience. He recently spent the past eight years as a senior manager for Oregon Mutual Insurance in McMinnville and before that spent 21 years in various roles with Nationwide Insurance.

“Insurance can be very confusing, so finding ways to explain coverage in simple ways that make sense and unraveling some of the mystery of buying insurance coverage has been the challenge,” Steinbeck said. “The FAIR Plan has an added challenge in that we are serving a clientele with unique needs and often emotional challenges because they were turned down by the standard market.”

Steinbeck will work closely with DFR and Commissioner Stolfi, who serves on the FAIR Plan Association’s board. Steinbeck will be responsible for overseeing all operations, developing strategies and plans for accommodating growth, and ensuring that the Oregon FAIR Plan continues to provide quality insurance coverage to its customers.

“We are excited to have Steve on board,” Stolfi said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this position, having worked in various insurance leadership roles over the years. He is dedicated to continuing the mission of offering fair and equitable access to property insurance for people in Oregon.”

Steinbeck said that the Oregon FAIR Plan is often a stepping stone to getting back into the standard insurance market.

“Our goal is to help each client find ways to make their time with us as short as possible,” he said. “Our primary goal is to get the insured out of our organization and back to the standard insurance market as quickly as possible.”

### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

Curry County Systems Still Down Following Ransomware Attack

Curry County’s systems are still down after data was stolen in a ransomware attack.

“Curry County’s digital footprint has been completely wiped away,” said Curry County Commissioner Brad Alcorn. ” Our ability to provide service to the people in Curry County has been completely disrupted.”

According to a news release from Curry County, the troubles began during the morning hours of April 26 when the county’s offices began to experience difficulty accessing internal documents.

From there I.T. specialists were called to look into problem and discovered that the situation was much more serious than anticipated. 

After some investigating, officials determined that the issues were from a ransomware attack attributed to the Royal Ransomware Group. 

“The entire county and every department in the county has been impacted by this,” Alcorn said. “I would describe this in the I.T. world as being the Cascadia event. It is that devastating”

Since the attack, Curry County has declared a local public emergency. NewsWatch 12 has also learned that the county’s systems are still down and that specialists are working on recovering all of the data that was lost. NewsWatch 12 has learned that the county’s telephone service is working, but emails are not. 

“We had to take all of our computers into a room so that they could be examined by a professional to determine if they’re even functional,” Alcorn said. “We have essentially had to start by rebuilding the network and then the servers and then the computers and we are still in the beginning processes of that rebuild.”

During an interview with NewsWatch 12 Alcorn said that daily services have been disrupted across all county departments including the sheriff’s office, the court, records, etc. He also said that it could be several weeks before their systems are back to normal.

“The response team will be working around the clock to restore operations. At this time, we cannot estimate when full access and services will be restored,” the release said. “The County is prioritizing service returns to public safety and public-facing departments.” 

Since the attack on April 26, Alcorn says that Homeland Security and the FBI have stepped in to investigate how the attack happened. No specifics details have been released, as of May 11, from the investigation. 

“We are very prepared for wildfires, we’re very prepared for earthquakes, we’re very prepared for floods and wind events, but not so much for this type of cyber attack,” Alcorn said. “And it’s every bit as costly and every bit as damaging.”

NewsWatch 12 has learned that the county is receiving help from several different organizations from across the state and the country including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Administrative Services, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, FirstNet, Microsoft, the Brookings Police Department, Josephine County, Coos County and Lane County. 

Alcorn says that he has also been in touch with Governor Kotek’s Office and is working on receiving help from the state government. 

Alcorn also confirmed that the county’s election system was not impacted during the ransomware attack and that system is safe and secure.

Updates will be posted to Curry County’s website, the release said. Press Release: Update on service disruptions

Oregon Zoo Welcomes Pair of Snowy Owls

Two snowy owls are making themselves at home in the zoo’s North America area this month. Visitors can find the fluffy white pair — named Rocky and Banff — in their new habitat near mountain goats and black bears.

“Snowy owls are known for their striking appearance, and Rocky and Banff are no exception,” said Jennifer Osburn Eliot, who oversees the zoo’s North America area. “As a male, Banff’s feathers are bright white, while female Rocky’s feathers are white with a dark bar pattern.”

Unlike many of their owl cousins, snowy owls spend a lot of their time on the ground, perching on rocks or logs. Also unlike most owls, snowy owls are active during the day. Eliot reports that Banff and Rocky are especially lively at dawn and dusk.

The pair arrived at the Oregon Zoo last month, and care staff say they’ve settled right into their new home. Their move was recommended by the Species Survival Plan for snowy owls, a cooperative program among accredited zoos to promote genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of at-risk species.

In the wild, snowy owls are threatened by habitat loss due to climate change. During migration, they’re especially vulnerable to threats from human development like car collisions, wind turbines and airplanes. https://www.oregonzoo.org/news/2023/05/hoot-hoot-hooray-zoo-welcomes-pair-snowy-owls

Hubbard Man Becomes Winner For Life with Oregon Lottery

Salem, Ore. –  Robin Riedel of Hubbard has been playing Oregon Lottery games with this philosophy, “It’s not a matter of if, but when.” His “when” came on Monday, when he hit the jackpot in the Oregon Lottery’s Win for Life game, earning him a $1,000 check each week for the rest of his life. 

Robin Riedel of Hubbard is Oregon Lottery's latest Win for Life winner
Robin Riedel

Riedel, who drives a truck for a concrete company, said he has played the game regularly since it launched in 2001. He purchased his winning ticket Sunday at the Woodburn Liquor Store, learning of his big win Monday night when checking the numbers online.  

“I hit it,” he said. “I hit it.” 

Riedel plans to use the winnings – $52,000 per year – to pay bills, make improvements to a home he purchased three years ago with his wife Debi, and vacation in Saint Lucia to mark the couple’s upcoming wedding anniversary. 

“The money will allow us to do some things we wouldn’t be able to do,” said Riedel. “I’m hoping to retire in another two to three years.”

The Oregon Lottery recommends that you sign the back of your ticket to ensure you can claim any 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

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