The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Monday, May 22, 2023
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Lane Community College Breaks Ground On New Trades and Workforce Development Center
Lane Community College on Friday broke ground on a new $50 million building to house their trade industry and workforce development programs. The “Industry and Trades Education Center” in Eugene will provide high-quality training in high-demand trades and industries like construction and manufacturing.
“This building is for our apprenticeship programs, for our construction program, our machining program,” LCC Associate Vice President for Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development Grant Matthews said. “As well as our new programs such as our unmanned aircraft systems program, and looking to the future at our advanced manufacturing industry 4.0 initiatives.”
The building will replace the current home of industrial trades education, the aging Building 12. The center will feature spaces for different programs to collaborate and see how their work is intertwined. It will also serve as a hub for students to look at modern manufacturing technologies like robotics and automation. The building will even have an area for their drone program to quickly put together advanced aircraft prototypes.
“This building really is our largest investment in the trades and technologies here at the community college for the last many decades,” Matthews said.
The building will also be open to the greater community, providing work spaces for other college students, opportunities for high school students to explore trades, and local companies to train up their workers.
“It represents our commitment to providing the best educational opportunities to our students and the larger community we serve,” said LCC President Dr. Stephanie Bulger at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The education center became a reality thanks to 2020’s Measure 20-306, which provided more than $120 million in bond funding to improve CTE offerings at the college. Speakers at the event acknowledged the bond’s importance in making the project happen.
“Thank you for your trust in our vision and for your dedication to the future of our students and our community,” Bulger said.
Bond money will also be used for a new health professions building and to upgrade spaces at the Eugene campus and Florence center.
Representatives of local companies at the groundbreaking said supporting the supply of skilled trades workers is critical to their work and future growth. The Industry Trades and Education Center is slated to open in November of 2024.
Community-Led Charter Review Committee Seeks Feedback From Residents
Lane County is governed by a Home Rule Charter that establishes how the local county government operates. It can only be changed by a countywide vote. Every 10 years, a committee of residents is appointed to review the Lane County Charter and suggest changes to the Board of County Commissioners.
This year, a committee of seven residents is reviewing the Charter. Committee members have created a survey to help them learn more about the priorities of residents.
The survey is available at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CharterReviewCommittee or scan the attached QR code.
The survey asks residents to weigh in on commissioner districts, local campaign finance limits, and more; it also includes opportunities to provide open-ended suggestions.
Past Home Rule Charter amendments recommended by a committee and approved by voters include reducing county commissioner terms from six years to four in 1972; required review of commissioner district boundaries every 10 years in 1982; and allowing more flexibility in County structure to provide services across departments in 2010.
The current Home Rule Charter is available online.
More about the Home Rule Charter – A 1958 amendment to the Oregon Constitution reserved the right for voters to adopt charters prescribing how their county governments should be organized, what powers they should have, and what procedure they should follow in administering county affairs. The Home Rule Charter for Lane County was approved by voters in 1962.
UPDATE: Sheriff’s Office Seeks Assistance Finding Wanted Man
UPDATE – On Saturday, 05/20/23, Woods turned himself into authorities and was taken into custody without incident.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is looking for tips concerning the whereabouts of 57-year-old Darren Lee Woods. Woods is currently pending trial on an assault case that occurred in the Spring of 2021. Woods, whose bail was posted in August of 2022, has failed to comply with his release agreement with the Lane County Circuit Court. Woods failed to keep his ankle monitor charged on or about 05/15/23 and is believed to have since removed it.
Woods is described as a white male adult standing approximately 5’11 and weighing approximately 150lbs. He has gray/brown hair and green eyes.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
Three teens arrested; several weapons seized after shooting incident in Salem
Salem, Ore. — Salem Police officers arrested three male juveniles this evening after responding to the call of shots fired into an apartment.
Patrol officers were called to an apartment complex in the 2400 block of Coral AV NE at approximately 4:15 p.m. this afternoon. A person reported a bullet entered their residence from a neighboring apartment after hearing what sounded like an argument occurring. No injuries were reported.
Officers immediately evacuated neighboring apartments. An adult, who lived in the apartment from where the gunfire originated, arrived on-scene. The person permitted officers’ entry, and four juveniles exited the residence. Officers cleared the apartment and located one AR-15 style weapon, a shotgun, and a long rifle.
Three teens, two aged 14 and one aged 16, were arrested and lodged at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center. One of the 14-year-olds is charged with theft by receiving, and all the boys are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, and reckless endangering.
The teens are not named because the Salem Police Department does not identify minors involved in criminal investigations. No further information is available for release.
Linn County Sheriff’s Office Identifies Deceased Victim Found in 2006
Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan reports a deceased victim found in the woods in 2006 was identified as Jesus Ruiz of Aumsville, Oregon.
The investigation began on October 23, 2006, at approximately 6:17 p.m. when the Linn County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of human remains found in the area of the Big Springs Snow Park on Highway 22, east of Sweet Home. Evidence at the scene indicated the remains had been there approximately one year.
Detectives continued to work with the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office and DNA was extracted from the remains. Although the victim’s DNA profile did not exist in any database, samples were sent to Parabon Nanolabs, a private company, for additional analysis to determine the identity of the person.
Parabon Nanolabs was able to find a possible identity by tracing the DNA through ancestry type databases and following possible relatives’ family tree lines. They were able to give detectives a possible identity of Jesus Ruiz. To confirm the identification, detectives contacted Ruiz’s family who provided DNA comparisons which confirmed the remains found in 2006 were Jesus Ruiz. Ruiz’s family said they had not seen or heard from Ruiz since 2005 and thought he had been in Mexico. They never reported him missing.
This investigation into the death of Jesus Ruiz is ongoing.
Investigation Results in Officer Involved Shooting; Arrest of Husband and Wife
IDLEYLD PARK, Ore. – On Friday, May 19, 2023, at 5:26 a.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers began receiving reports of a disturbance in the 100 block of Idleyld Park Lane in Idleyld Park. As deputies were responding, it was reported that a male was making threats toward others and carrying a brick. A subsequent report was made that gunshots were heard, and that the male was carrying multiple firearms.
Deputies arrived on scene at approximately 5:49 a.m. They began challenging the male, identified as 55-year-old Henry Charles McQuatters of Glide, who was in possession of two firearms. A subsequent radio transmission by deputies indicated shots had been fired by law enforcement.
McQuatters was transported to Mercy Medical Center for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. He was later discharged and taken into custody by detectives on charges of First Degree Burglary, Attempted First Degree Burglary, Fourth Degree Assault, Menacing, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
His wife, 62-year-old Glide resident Cindy Kay McQuatters, was also arrested by Detectives for Attempted Assault on a Public Safety Officer, Tampering with Physical Evidence, Interfering with a Police Officer, Hindering Prosecution, Obstructing Governmental Administration, and Resisting Arrest.
The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the officer involved shooting, with the Oregon State Police assigned as the lead investigating agency for the shooting incident. 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.
Detectives with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the related criminal case preceding the officer involved shooting.
The involved deputy, whose identity is being withheld at this time, has been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave as a normal procedure while the shooting is investigated.
Any additional information related to the officer involved shooting will be released by the Oregon State Police. Any witnesses who have not yet provided statements to law enforcement are encouraged to contact Douglas County Communications at (541) 440-4471.
Senate Bill 337 Would Make Sweeping Changes To Oregon’s Public Defense System
With just weeks remaining in Oregon’s legislative session, Gov. Tina Kotek is changing the course of a long-sought overhaul of the state’s public defense system. Kotek sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Rules this month requesting changes to Senate Bill 337, the bill meant to address a constitutional crisis that’s left thousands of people accused of crimes without attorneys.
Kotek’s letter comes after lawmakers and policy experts have spent more than a year crafting the legislation. Some public defense leaders say Kotek’s request for last-minute changes would force them to oppose legislation they otherwise support.
Senate Bill 337 would fundamentally change how Oregon provides lawyers to people who can’t afford them. It would create, for the first time, public defenders who are state employees, and phase out the use of contracted for-profit defense firms.
Among the changes is a provision that moves the Office of Public Defense Services, the state agency responsible for public defense. No longer would it be within the judiciary. National legal experts argue public defense must be independent of the courts and politics. The current version of the bill would do that by moving public defense to the executive branch, but with provisions to ensure no one person or entity can hire and fire the people in charge of the state’s public defense agency.
Kotek does not want the state’s failing public defense system as part of the governor’s portfolio of state agencies. If that move were to happen, Kotek’s letter states, the governor must have the authority to hire and fire the agency’s head and to remove its commissioners to achieve “true accountability.”
Kotek’s requests have received traction. After all, the governor has the authority to veto the bill. Based on her letter, Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, drafted amendments that lawmakers are poised to take up in committee on Tuesday.
“We have been sitting around following scenarios and talking about it for far too long, and we need to have structural, systemic change,” Evans said Saturday.
But Kotek’s request is also at odds with national recommendations as well as a 2019 report she took credit for getting funded, which laid out a series of structural changes necessary to make the public defense system independent of both judges and politicians.
The Kotek-backed proposed amendments have created a tension that could undermine the effort to solve problems that Kotek, lawmakers and the state’s public defense commission all say are deeper and more important than whatever branch of the government houses the agency.
For years Oregon leaders have known the state has too few attorneys and too little oversight to ensure people are getting the criminal defense they’re entitled to under the constitution. Over the past year and a half, the crisis has grown to include thousands of people accused of crimes without attorneys. Hundreds of them are in jails.
From mid-August to mid-March, more than 3,700 Oregonians charged with crimes were unable to get a court-appointed lawyer, according to data compiled by the Judicial Department at OPB’s request. As of Thursday, more than 1,600 people did not have attorneys, including more than 240 people in custody.
In her May 11 letter to lawmakers, Kotek said she shared their urgency to address the crisis, but said moving the agency would “distract from the core mission” of trying to provide adequate criminal defense.
“I have yet to hear anyone articulate how moving branches will get a single person an attorney,” the governor wrote. “Moving an agency that is not fully functioning from one branch to another is not, on its own, going to fix this long-standing problem.”
If lawmakers are determined to move the agency, Kotek stated, “it will be important to add changes to the bill” to treat public defense like other agency leaders who serve at the governor’s discretion. Kotek told lawmakers the governor should also be able to remove members of the Public Defense Services Commission, which sets policy and manages the Office of Public Defense Services through its executive director.
In 2019, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sixth Amendment Center completed a report that the Oregon Legislature funded. It found Oregon’s public defense system, housed within the state’s judicial branch, was unconstitutional and structurally flawed.
One of the report’s recommendations was creating more independence so that the commission in charge of public defense is not entirely appointed by the chief justice of the state’s supreme court.
“There’s U.S. Supreme Court case law that calls for the defense function to be independent of government interference,” Jon Mosher, deputy director of the Sixth Amendment Center, told Oregon lawmakers at an informational hearing on May 11. “National standards point governments toward how best to implement structures to answer that question. Number one is creating an independent commission.”
While running for governor, Kotek touted the Sixth Amendment Center’s work.
“In 2018, I made sure the legislature funded a study conducted by the national Sixth Amendment Center, which ultimately revealed significant structural problems in the state’s public defense system,” Kotek said during her campaign.
But Kotek is now proposing authority for the governorship that would go against the recommendations of that same report, which says no single branch of government should have too much control over public defense.
On Thursday, the public defense community pushed back against the governor’s provisions, saying they would corrode independence that they say is fundamental to their work.
Public Defense Services Commission member Jennifer Nash told fellow commissioners Thursday that they should oppose any move that would put the agency under the governor’s office, a move the Office of Public Defense Services estimated would cost $15 million.
“My feeling is we ought to oppose the move, period,” Nash said. “We know the governor doesn’t want us, so let’s grant her wish.”
“Where it sits is less important than maintaining its independence and getting to the root causes of our inability to provide the level of defense service that we’re required to,” said Max Williams, another commissioner. “That’s where we ought to be spending our time.”
On Friday, the commission’s leaders sent a letter to lawmakers stating they would formally oppose Senate Bill 337 if the rules committee adopted the amendments Kotek wants.
“Oregon must not move backward and erode the core tenet that public defense remain independent from political pressures,” the commission’s letter stated, “so that is empowered to appropriately and zealously advocate against the government.”
Some of those closest to the bill are conflicted about what to do over the governor’s sudden interest in the legislation.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, co-chaired the work group that drafted the bill and chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prozanski on Friday said he planned to support the governor’s amendments, despite having concerns about them.
“It’s got to be something that the governor is going to accept,” Prozanski said Friday.
But by Saturday morning the senator had a change of heart. In an email, Prozanski stated that after reading the public defense commission’s opposition letter and reflecting on the matter, he no longer supported Kotek’s amendments. Prozanski said he believes there should be a higher threshold for removing the state’s head of public defense than at the will of the governor.
Evans, who co-chaired the public defense work group with Prozanski, said he introduced the latest amendments because, even before her letter, the governor’s staff was clear with him and other lawmakers that Kotek did not want to add public defense to her office’s responsibilities.
“The governor has enough messes that she’s trying to work on and she didn’t want this in the executive branch,” Evans said. “Because it has been such a challenge, she wants a little additional capacity to be able to push people to do their jobs.”
Evans acknowledged that the legislation was a late departure from national recommendations. He said the compromise was a political reality.
Lawmakers and advocates for public defense have been trying to bring about systemic reform for years. In 2019, they failed to pass a bill that contained many of the same elements of Senate Bill 337. Any chance for legislation this year hinges on Senate Republicans ending a walkout that has stalled all work in the Oregon Senate since early May.
Evans said that, after months working on the bill, he’s losing what patience he had for seeing a growing number of people charged with crimes go without a public defender.
“I am angry, very angry,” Evans said, “we can’t even make sure that the justice system is providing defense for people when we’re charging them with crimes. There are very few things that are more fundamental to trust in government.” (SOURCE)
Enrollment in Oregon preschools is growing, but still lags behind most other states, according to a new report.
Child care is becoming more readily available for families across Oregon. But state workers and lawmakers are still fighting for long-term improvements.
A new report from Oregon State University found that available child care slots for young children in Oregon grew by almost 5% from March 2020 to December 2022, thanks in part to increased public funding.
The vast majority of Oregonians support increasing state funding to support child care needs, according to public opinion surveys , and more than half of Oregonians with young children reportedly spend a fifth of their monthly income on child care. More than half of Oregon employers say child care access is a challenge in hiring and retaining workers.
OSU researchers tallied 71,153 child care slots for ages 0-5 in 2022, up from 67,981 in 2020. But there is still work to pursue to increase child care throughout the state, university officials said.
The increase lifted several counties out of “child care desert” status, according to a recent news release. A child care desert is an area where at least three children exist for every child care slot available. Severe deserts are defined as having at most one slot for every 10 children.
Since March 2020, eight of Oregon’s 36 counties have moved out of desert status for preschool-aged kids ages 3-5, according to the report, and another eight became less severe deserts for infants ages 0-2 and toddlers.
Though all Oregon counties except Gilliam County remain child care deserts for infants and toddlers, researchers found the number of publicly funded slots for this age group increased by 49%.
“We’re seeing a lot of those counties coming out of desert status because of the additional supply being developed from public funding,” Michaella Sektnan, co-author on the report and senior faculty research assistant in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in the release. “Without that public funding, all except three counties would be child care deserts.”
— Between 2020 and 2022, available child care in Oregon increased by 1,789 infant-toddler child care slots and 1,383 preschool slots. In the same time frame, the number of publicly funded slots throughout the state increased by 4,214, split between 831 infant-toddler slots and 3,383 preschool slots.
A large reason is that there’s been more money dedicated to addressing this issue.
Most of the public funding for child care in Oregon comes from the Early Learning Account created by the Student Success Act of 2019, officials said.
One-time child care stabilization grants disbursed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 helped private child care programs during the pandemic. The programs include Oregon Prenatal to Kindergarten, Preschool Promise and Baby Promise, all state-administered programs that receive both state and federal dollars.
Public funding is currently making a bigger difference in rural counties than in more metropolitan counties, the report found.
Overall, 52% of slots for children ages 0-5 in non-metropolitan counties are publicly funded, compared with 20% of slots in metropolitan counties. Only Deschutes, Multnomah and Washington counties would continue to not be deserts without public funding.
Researchers were pleasantly surprised to find Oregon’s child care availability is in a better place now than pre-pandemic, Sektnan said in the release.
“We know Oregon’s child care supply was not adequate before 2020, and the pandemic really highlighted that,” she said. “The current numbers speak to the efforts to restabilize and rebuild child care, but there is still important work to do.”
Some of the additional or emergency funds from the pandemic won’t be available in the future. And the report did not look at the factors affecting access to child care beyond general availability.
Cost, schedules, transportation distances, culture and disability accommodations all affect whether families can benefit from the child care available in their area, Sektnan said.
OSU’s report coincides with the 2023 legislative session, in which several bills addressing child care have been considered. Some didn’t make it out of committee, but some are progressing and could have an impact on the industry’s workforce and options statewide.
House Bill 2504 , for example, which passed the Oregon House on a 44-9 vote and unanimously by the Senate education committee, would make it easier for people who have been trained internationally to work in child care domestically.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 559 – which passed the Oregon Senate on a 27-3 vote and is tentatively scheduled for a House vote on Monday – would require landlords to allow a dwelling to be used as a family child care home.
“It’s a good sign, but we can’t lose momentum,” Alyssa Chatterjee, Early Learning System director at the state Early Learning Division, said in response to the study’s findings.
The Early Learning Division, which will soon become the Department of Early Learning and Care, is currently working to increase availability and improve access by reducing licensing barriers, aligning program administration and reporting requirements, coordinating enrollment and making sure families are aware of the services available to them, Chatterjee said.
“We see this as our call to action for the state to continue investing in early learning and child care programs,” she said. “The long-term benefits of these investments are clear: stronger families, more equitable outcomes for Oregon children and a more robust economy.”
The post Public funding is key in increasing child care openings statewide appeared first on Oregon Capital Chronicle .
Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.0% in April
Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.0% in April, down from 4.4% in March. For the past 21 months since August 2021, Oregon’s unemployment rate has remained relatively steady and near historic lows. The unemployment rate averaged 4.2% in that time, while ranging between 3.5% and 4.8%. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.4% in April and 3.5% in March.
In April, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1,600 jobs, following a revised gain of 1,300 jobs in March. In April, gains were largest in other services (+1,700 jobs) and health care and social assistance (+900). Declines were largest in construction (-1,000 jobs) and manufacturing (-600). Since April 2022, Oregon has added 38,400 nonfarm payroll jobs (+2.0%).
Other services is an industry made up of a variety of service establishments, such as repair, maintenance, laundry, religious organizations, and social advocacy organizations. Employment in this broad industry rose to 66,000 in April, reaching a record high, and for the first time surpassing its prepandemic peak of 65,500 in February 2020. Other services employment has recovered at a fairly steady pace over the past two and a half years.
Health care and social assistance continued its recent rapid expansion. It added 11,500 jobs (+4.3%) during the past 12 months, which was the most jobs added of the major industries in that time. Social assistance, at 73,400 jobs in April, expanded rapidly in recent months, adding 7,300 jobs since April 2022. Nursing and residential care facilities also grew rapidly, adding 2,800 jobs in that time.
Both durable goods manufacturing and nondurable goods manufacturing have cut slightly more than 1,000 jobs each in the first four months of the year. Durable goods industries declining in that time include computer and electronic products, wood products, fabricated metal products, and transportation equipment. Within nondurable goods, food manufacturing has cut jobs this year, and is down 1,000 jobs since April 2022.
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the April county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, May 23, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for May on Wednesday, June 14.
All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted except for the components of health care and social assistance and manufacturing. The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources. The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised quarterly by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. This month’s release incorporates the October, November and December 2022 tax records data. In addition, data for July through September 2022 were revised by a total of up to 1,300 jobs per month. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.
To file a claim for unemployment benefits or get more information about unemployment programs, visit unemployment.oregon.gov.
The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is an equal opportunity agency. OED provides free help so you can use our services. Some examples are sign language and spokenlanguage interpreters, written materials in other languages, large print, audio, and other formats. To get help, please call 503-947-1444. TTY users call 711. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
El Departamento de Empleo de Oregon (OED) es una agencia de igualdad de oportunidades. El OED proporciona ayuda gratuita para que usted pueda utilizar nuestros servicios. Algunos ejemplos son intérpretes de lengua de señas e idiomas hablados, materiales escritos en otros idiomas, letra grande, audio y otros formatos. Para obtener ayuda, por favor llame al 503-947-1444. Usuarios de TTY pueden llamar al 711. También puede enviar un correo electrónico a email@example.com.
10 Oregon Senators have disqualified themselves from reelection as of May 18, as the Republican-led walkout of state senators continues in Salem.
Since the beginning of the Walkout on May 3, Republicans have said it’s a protest against Senate President Rob Wagner (D – Lake Oswego) claiming he’s breaking Senate rules and violating the Oregon Constitution. Oregon Democrats, on the other hand, said Republicans are trying to halt legislation.
Several bills have been stopped dead in their tracks by the walkout, including bills on abortion and health care for transgender individuals. Other proposals that aren’t moving forward include a proposal to fund a veterans home in Roseburg, allow Oregonians statewide to pump their own gas, and a program to help homeless students. Many stopped bills have Republican sponsors or co-sponsors.
Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D – Beaverton & SW Portland) called it a sad day, and said people’s faith in Oregon’s democracy was shaken thanks to the actions of Republicans. She said the minority party is trying to overrule the will of the people who elected a majority Democrat legislature, and that Senate Democrats have been showing up to do their jobs.
“Instead of accepting the results of the election and realizing that in a democracy you accept the election results, you believe in the rule of law and the majority governs,” Lieber said. “The minority plays an incredibly important part, and that important part is to show up do your job debate on the floor of the senate, work behind the scenes with your colleagues to make sure that we are crafting policies that work for all Oregonians and to show up and take a vote. You can vote no, that’s your job.”
Senate President Rob Wagner said the missing senators are ignoring voters who passed Measure 113, and called on Republicans to show up to do their job.
“The founders of our country warned us of the dangers of a minority veto, and capitulating to this outrageous demand will not strengthen our democracy — it will only encourage more walk outs as we’ve seen,” Wagner said.
Democratic leaders have placed the blame on Senate Republican Leader Tim Kopp (R – Bend) who they believe planned this from the beginning.
Knopp responded, “Senate Republicans are engaged in a peaceful, constitutional protest of the unlawful, uncompromising, and unconstitutional agenda the untrustworthy and deeply partisan Senate President has brought forward. We commit to Oregonians and our Democrat colleagues that we will return before the constitutional sine die to suspend readings and rules on lawful, substantially bipartisan budgets and bills.”
Knopp also said Democrats are “laser-focused” on issues that divide people, while Republicans are focusing on issues that Oregonians care about like homelessness, public safety, the cost of living and more.
OHCS announces new pause in accepting Homeowner Assistance Fund applications
SALEM, ORE. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will pause accepting new applications for the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program at 4 p.m. PST May 31. This pause will allow OHCS to process current applications in its queue and better project the amount of federal HAF funds remaining for homeowners. The state previously paused at the end of 2022 for the same reasons and has been reopened to accepting applications since March.
“HAF is pausing again to make sure there are enough funds for qualifying homeowners who’ve already applied,” said Ryan Vanden Brink, assistant director of Homeowner Assistance Programs. “The program will likely reopen once we process additional applications already in the queue. If you are a homeowner falling behind, we encourage you to reach out to a state-approved homeownership center right away.”
Homeowners who are most at risk of foreclosure and housing displacement, socially disadvantaged individuals (as defined by U.S. Treasury), or otherwise meet one of the additional eligibility criteria listed at oregonhomeownerassistance.org are encouraged to apply for HAF assistance before 4 p.m. PST May 31.
If a person has previously applied or begun an application, the pause will not impact them. Those who started their applications will still be able to access and complete them, and those applications that were previously submitted will still be processed. Applicants can continue to log on to the HAF portal to check the status of their application or scheduled payments. They can opt in to email alerts as their application advances.
To serve the most at-risk homeowners, as an exception to this pause, OHCS will continue to accept new applications submitted by housing counselors on behalf of homeowners who are in a judicial foreclosure or forfeiture action or have a verified foreclosure sale date. If a person is in a judicial action or in a nonjudicial foreclosure and can provide documentation of a pending foreclosure sale date, they should apply before the pause or work with a free housing counselor to submit their application.
OHCS planned its HAF program to operate as a safety net for the most at-risk eligible homeowners who have no viable workout options, and it will continue to operate HAF this way during the pause. As of May 12, 2023, OHCS approved 1,027 applications, totaling over $30 million of the $72 million budgeted for homeowners. In addition, 1,301 applications are currently being reviewed and 1,320 applications have been started but not completed for processing. At least 219 of the submitted HAF applications were or are in active foreclosure. The average award disbursed is nearly $30,000 per application.
Free help is available – During this pause, homeowners who have fallen behind or are at risk of missing a payment on their mortgage can continue to get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about budgeting tools and evaluation of options to keep their homes, such as modifications, adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage, or HAF. HAF may not be the best option for everyone, and it may prevent homeowners from servicer options available for different types of loans. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.
Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer to respond due to the holidays and remote working policies.
In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.
Avoiding fraud – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor.
There are a number of common warning signsEditSignEditSign
EditSignEditSign homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.
To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.
OSFM announces investment into Oregon firefighter apprenticeship program
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon State Fire Marshal has announced it is investing $3 million in the Oregon State Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Program over the next two years. Klamath County Fire District No. 1 and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue will each receive $1.5 million dollars.
The Oregon fire service has seen a decrease in the number of career and volunteer firefighters entering the field. The goals of the apprenticeship program are to create an accessible pathway into a fire career and increase diversity and inclusion, ensuring the Oregon fire service represents the communities they serve.
The two agencies were selected to receive funding because of the increased risk of wildfire near their communities. Over the last few decades, these regions have experienced more wildfires that have increased the demand for firefighters. This investment will help to lessen that need and provide highly-trained personnel to stop fires before they have a chance to grow and impact communities.
“Apprenticeship attracts a wide range of people, bringing with them eagerness and enthusiasm, which will have a positive effect on the rest of our workforce,” Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Palmer said. “Having the opportunity to sponsor a firefighter apprenticeship program is an effective strategy for helping our fire district meet the demand for skilled labor which has become a valuable and limited commodity.”
“The fire service recognizes that our greatest asset is our people, and we are committed to building, developing, and nurturing the skills of these new apprentices while unlocking their full potential and preparing them for long and healthy careers,” Klamath County Fire District No. 1 Chief Greg Davis said. “Through targeted training initiatives, mentorship programs, coaching, and career progression opportunities, we aim to create a dynamic and engaged workforce that is equipped and capable to tackle any challenge the fire service is faced with.”
This program provides 4,000 hours of training over two years. Apprentices learn the skills of basic emergency medical technician (EMT), applicable college-level math and writing coursework, and on-the-job training. During the program, apprentices also increase staffing at local fire agencies.
The apprentice program is approved by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and adheres to strict guidelines for inclusion and training requirements.
Funding for this program was made possible through Senate Bill 762, which was signed into law in 2021. This investment is part of a multi-pronged approach Oregon is taking to strategically invest in responding to and preventing wildfires. Learn more about the OSFM’s wildfire investments here.
Additional Information – Oregon State Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Program
Investments for Oregon: OSFM Grants
State to launch online delinquent taxpayer list this summer
Salem, OR—On July 14, the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) will publish a list of delinquent taxpayers on the department’s website.
DOR will post the names of people and businesses who owe at least $50,000 in unpaid taxes to the state. Taxpayers can avoid appearing on the list by paying their balance in full or making payment arrangements. Affected taxpayers will begin receiving notifications during the week of May 22 and will have nearly eight weeks to resolve their status to avoid being on the list.
“Affected taxpayers should contact us as soon as they receive a notice to resolve the debt,” said Deanna Mack, Collection Division administrator for DOR. “Publishing this list will support our efforts to collect the revenue that our state counts on.”
The list focuses on individuals and businesses who owe at least $50,000 in delinquent tax, penalties, and interest to DOR. Taxpayers meeting these criteria will be notified by mail that their names may be posted online. A qualifying taxpayer’s name, business name, the name of any person held personally liable for business debt, the current city and state of residence, lien identification number, type of debt, and current amount due will be available on the department’s website. Taxpayers who don’t want their information shared can pay their tax debt in full or enter a department-approved payment plan or agreement to resolve their debt by the deadline in their notice.
In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 523, authorizing DOR to post information online about delinquent taxpayers whose tax debt topped $50,000. Many states already post information publicly about delinquent taxpayers as part of their efforts to promote greater tax compliance and collect state revenue.
The department initially planned to launch the program in March 2020 but postponed its implementation out of concern for possible financial hardships for taxpayers created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact the Oregon Department of Revenue:
Taxpayers who owe are encouraged to contact DOR promptly to make arrangements to resolve their debt by going to the department’s online services portal, Revenue Online, or by phone. Individual taxpayers can call 503-945-8200 to resolve their accounts. Business taxpayers can call 503-945-8100.
### The Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) administers Oregon’s major tax programs, including the Personal Income Tax, corporate income and excise taxes, and other tax and fee programs. DOR also administers delinquent debt collection on behalf of other state agencies. Annually, DOR’s tax programs collect more than 95 percent of the state’s general fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in Oregon, visit: www.oregon.gov/dor.