Willamette Valley News, Monday 10/23 – Man Arrested After Splatter Ball Shooting at Downtown Eugene Protest Rally & Other Local and Statewide News…

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, October 23, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Man Arrested After Splatter Ball Shooting at Downtown Eugene Protest Rally

At 2:08 p.m., October 21, there was a protest at 405 E. 8th Avenue in Eugene. Eugene Police Mobile Response Team had responded to monitor safety at the planned protest. At about 3:15 p.m., an estimated 200 marchers concentrated in a city block began to a march.

The crowd was marching southbound on Pearl approaching E. 8th Avenue when a man later identified as Jonathan James Wisbey, age 51, stopped his pickup, blocking the crowd. He engaged the crowd and there was a verbal altercation.

EPD MRT began closing on the area as members of the protest slashed one of the truck’s tires. Wisbey got out of his truck and shot a splatter ball gun into the crowd. Immediately a couple of protestors armed with handguns drew their weapons. Very quickly, EPD MRT officers were able to challenge all armed subjects, and they were detained without further issues.

EPD patrol responded in emergency mode to cover EPD MRT and to create distance with the 200-member crowd returning to the scene and encircling officers. There was a concern when other armed subjects were seen in the crowd, including one who had an AK-47. Wisbey, was arrested and lodged at Lane County Jail on charges of Menacing, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and Bias Crime in the First Degree.Case 23-15877

EPA Continues Investigation and Cleanup At JH Baxter Plant

There is new information about the investigation and cleanup at JH Baxter, the Eugene wood treatment plant fined for dioxin contamination of a North Eugene neighborhood.

JH Baxter is cooperating with the Environmental Protection Agency while the federal investigation continues. The EPA has continued its monthly visits to the plant to measure the existing storage of chemicals on the site.

Part of the EPA’s agreement with the facility was that existing chemicals would remain on-site while the agency determines what chemicals are stored in the facility’s more than 60 storage tanks.

EPA coordinator Randy Nattis says tests are being done to choose the best way to safely dispose of the chemicals.

‘The focus of that investigation was to identify what exactly is in those tanks in order to properly plan for removing that material safely and disposing it.’ Nattis said. ‘We’re beginning to receive the results from that sampling event, which took place about a month ago. Everything’s been status quo, everything stays the same, as we expect.’

While the EPA is still working to establish a full footprint of the spread of dioxins, Nattis says those living near the facility should not be worried about any continued spread.

“There is no more activity at the facility that they should be concerned about. In terms of soil and residential properties, DEQ and EPA have already worked and have notified any residents that should have concerns. If you haven’t been coordinated with or communicated with at this point, there is no reason for concern.”

The DEQ and EPA will be holding another public, informational meeting on this topic on Monday November 13, 2023.

Community Health Centers of Lane County To Host Groundbreaking Ceremony For South Lane Clinic In Cottage Grove

After over a decade of planning, community collaboration, and fund raising, the Community Health Centers of Lane County (CHCLC), a division of Lane County Health & Human Services, will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the first rural CHCLC, the South Lane Clinic this coming Thursday, October 26th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the site of the future clinic (1275 S River Rd in Cottage Grove). The ceremony will feature remarks from Lane County Commissioner, Heather Buch, Lane Community College President, Stephanie Bulger, Cottage Grove City Councilor, Dana Merryday, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Oregon, Margi Hoffmann, and CHCLC patient and Cottage Grove community member, Michelle Thurston. 

“This ceremony marks arguably the most significant step in opening Lane County’s first rural CHCLC clinic location and providing critical healthcare services to an underserved area,” said Lane County Health & Human Services Director, Eve Gray. “The commitment from our partners to closing the healthcare gaps in South Lane has been inspiring and in large part has provided the momentum that has brought us to this point.”

The South Lane Clinic has been made possible by a strategic partnership between Lane County, Lane Community College, South Lane School District, Be Your Best, South Lane Mental Health, and PeaceHealth. The clinic will be the seventh CHCLC clinic location and the first outside the Eugene/Springfield area. It will offer medical, dental, and integrated behavioral health care to 5,000+ residents per year, as well as the first CHCLC site to provide training for local students interested in health care careers through a career technical education program administered by Lane Community College and in partnership with South Lane School District, Lane County, and PeaceHealth.

The groundbreaking ceremony will feature a continental breakfast and is open to the public. All members of the media are welcome to attend. 

Lane County November Special Election Ballots in the Mail

The Lane County Elections office has placed ballots in the USPS mail stream for the November 2023 Special Election. 

Voters will notice that ballot envelopes look different than in previous elections. 

“The size, shape, and color of our mail ballot envelopes have changed,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “Our mail ballot envelopes no longer look like a standard mail piece. We worked with the Center for Civic Design to create an envelope that works best with USPS automation, supports good election administration, and works for voters.”

Not every registered voter will receive a ballot because there are no countywide issues for this election. Voters in the City of Eugene’s Ward 7, Pleasant Hill Rural Fire Protection District, Goshen Rural Fire Protection District, the proposed Pleasant Hill Goshen Rural Fire Protection District, Siuslaw School District, and River Road Park & Recreation District will receive ballots.

A total of 13 Lane County ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8:00 pm on Election Day, November 7, 2023.  Drop boxes are open 24/7. A list of drop box locations is included with every ballot. (Not all drop boxes are open because not all areas of Lane County will receive ballots during this election.)

“Ballots are in the mail and voters have until Election Day, November 7, to weigh in on issues facing their communities,” said Dawson. “My office is committed to assisting voters and providing a positive voter experience.”

Voters can track the status of their mail ballot by visiting. 

Voters may return their voted vote-by-mail ballots in one of the following ways:

  • Regular mail. Ballots must be postmarked no later than November 7, 2023 and received no later than November 14, 2023 to be counted.
  • A 24/7 ballot drop box.
  • Lane County Elections. Ballots can be turned in directly to the Lane County Elections Office during business hours.

Ballot drop box locations can be found online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections.  

Voters with questions can email elections@lanecountyor.gov or call 541-682-4234.

About the Lane County Elections Office: The Elections Office, located at 275 W. 10th Avenue in Eugene, is responsible for conducting elections in Lane County.  The elections office manages voter registration, the processing of mail ballots, recruitment and training of election workers, and certification of elections.

Lebanon Fire District Responds to Structure Fire Sunday

At approximately 04:20 hours on Sunday October 22, 2023 Lebanon Fire District responded to a structure fire in the 1700 block of 7th St. 

When initial units arrived, they found an unoccupied single story home with an attached garage, the garage was fully engulfed in flames and was threatening the home. Crews worked for approximately 2 hours to fully extinguish the fire and overhaul the remaining hot spots. 

The Lebanon Fire District responded with 19 personnel on 10 apparatus. In our commitment to ensuring the safety of our community, we had assistance from Albany Fire to provide coverage for our district during the event.

In light of this incident, the Lebanon Fire District would like to take this opportunity to remind all residents of the importance of properly functioning smoke alarms in their homes. These devices are vital in safeguarding lives and property. For any assistance with your smoke alarms or to address fire safety concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to our dedicated Fire & Life Safety Division at (541) 451-1901.

Lane County Seeking Applicants for Public Safety Funding Task Force

Lane County is seeking applicants for a limited-duration public safety funding task force that will explore possible long-term public safety funding solutions. 

A yellow half-circle against a dark teal background. Contrasting text over the shapes reads "Apply to serve on the new public safety funding task force. Help Lane County find solutions to public safety funding that will make our community a safe, healthy place for all. Apply at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/PublicSafetyTF"

“Our public safety system is a critical part of creating a safe and healthy county,” said Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky. “This task force will take on the important work of helping us identify solutions to a longstanding lack of funding for some of the most basic public safety services provided by Lane County, including our Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, Community Justice and other programs.”

The task force will be made up of 9­–11 residents. Each commissioner will appoint one task force member who lives within their district, with the remaining selected by the County Administrator. 

Interested applicants should apply online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/PublicSafetyTF.

If an interested resident cannot apply online, assistance is available from the Lane County Public Information Office at 541-682-4526. Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. First review will begin on December 1, 2023. 

“Volunteer committee members make a tremendous contribution to our community by sharing their time and expertise,” said Mokrohisky. We look forward to working with the members of this task force to focus on solutions to our community safety challenges.”

Applicants must:

  • be full-time residents of Lane County.
  • be at least 18 years of age.
  • provide a cover letter addressing their interest in the task force and qualifications to serve.

The task force is expected to meet through spring of 2024, although the exact timeline will be determined by the task force members. 

Eugene police are seeking tips on a suspect involved in a vehicle versus pedestrian hit-and-run crash that happened on Wednesday evening.

Police said they responded at about 8:12 p.m. on October 18 to the crash in the 3300 block of West 11th Avenue in west Eugene. The pedestrian victim was crossing the street when hit and was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Eugene police officials said.

Police said the driver of the involved vehicle did not stay on scene and was last seen driving eastbound on West 11th Avenue.

The vehicle is described as possibly an older model green Toyota Camry while the driver is described as a white male with short hair and beard who was last seen wearing a black jacket, dark-colored pants, and dark-colored shoes with lighter soles. If you have any info: (541) 682-5111

UPDATE: Save Eugene’s Hospital

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PeaceHealth shares that its Eugene Hospital location has been losing nearly 24 million dollars a year, citing the profit loss as its primary reason for the closure. Further, PeaceHealth named  the hospital location as “underutilized” and “unsustainable.”  

PeaceHealth hospital administration announced on October 10 that it would be moving its main urgent care clinic from West Eugene to University District Campus, at the site of the current hospital. The news comes in light of the August 22 announcement that PeaceHealth would be closing  its emergency department, inpatient rehabilitation, and other related medical services at the University District hospital, Eugene’s only hospital.  

The decision to move the urgent care clinic to a more centrally located part of Eugene came after two months of backlash from the local community following the announcement of the hospital closure

The hospital also cited that nearly one-third of patients who travel through the Emergency Department are not in need of routine medical-care but rather in need of services from the new Lane County Crisis Stabilization Center that is planned to open by 2025. 

Since PeaceHealth announced its closure plans Aug. 22, frontline health care workers, elected leaders, unions, allies and activists have formed the “Save Eugene’s Hospital” coalition to demand PeaceHealth reconsider its disastrous decision and save lives by keeping University District open.

However, the promises we’ve won from PeaceHealth still fall short of fulfilling our community’s needs. Oregon’s second-largest city needs a full-service hospital to serve our citizens. 

“Make no mistake. The costs of this decision are high. Eugene Springfield Emergency and Rescue make approximately 4,500 trips to the emergency room every year. Consider the impact to our response time and cost. Our estimates are that every round trip transport will increase by 27 minutes. Think about what that means to people in West Eugene who have a heart attack or a house fire or another life-threatening crisis. Lives will be lost,” said Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis.

The Save Eugene’s Hospital coalition has also received local and state support from:

  • The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)
  • Lane Professional Firefighters IAFF-851
  • CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets)/Teamsters Local 206
  • White Bird Clinic
  • Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) at the University of Oregon
  • The local chapter of HealthCare for All Oregon (HCAO)
  • Eugene-Springfield DSA
  • Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network
  • Operating Engineers Local 701
  • SEIU 49
  • The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP)
  • Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis
  • Lane County Commissioner Laurie Trieger
  • State Senator James Manning
  • and many others.

Learn more at www.SaveEugenesHospital.com

Save Eugene’s Hospital

Join us in asking the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Governor Tina Kotek to do everything in their power to prevent PeaceHealth’s from closing Eugene’s only hospital!

Use this easy tool to email OHA and ask them to save Eugene’s hospital and protect Lane County residents: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/save-eugenes-hospital?source=direct_link&

1st press conference was livestreamed on the Oregon Nurses Association’s (ONA’s) Facebook page here.  

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 16,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout Oregon. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

PART 2Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County

Here One Minute, Gone the Next —-– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040

PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com. — Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

Scammers Targeting Public Benefits At New Paid Leave Oregon Program

Some Oregonians have reported getting a letter saying they’ve been approved for paid leave benefits that they never applied for, a warning sign of identity theft.

Oregon’s Paid Leave program has sent out more than $28 million in benefits so far — but scammers are among those trying to cash in on the state’s new program.

Public benefits have long been a target of fraudsters who attempt to illegally gain access to personal data in order to file fraudulent applications for things like unemployment insurance or food benefits. Officials with Paid Leave Oregon said it is experiencing the same type of attempted fraud, and are asking Oregonians who receive a letter regarding benefits they didn’t actually apply for to report it on the program’s website.

The program started paying out benefits last month and has approved more than 15,000 applications so far. Eligible Oregon employees can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family, medical or “safe leave” — the program’s term for people seeking financial support to escape domestic or sexual violence. Workers taking paid time off for pregnancy may be eligible for up to 14 weeks of leave.

Workers seeking benefits must send in certain documentation that corresponds to the type of leave they’re taking, such as a birth certificate for a new child. Once an application is submitted, the employment department reviews all the documents and verifies the identity of the applicant. It also notifies the employer.

But some Oregonians have reported getting a letter saying they’ve been approved for paid leave benefits that they never applied for. That’s a warning sign a person’s identity has been compromised. A spokesperson for the program said Oregonians should keep an eye on their mailboxes and report any letters regarding benefits they didn’t apply for.

OPB has heard from at least one employer who reported feeling suspicious after receiving a letter from Paid Leave Oregon regarding an employee who was not planning to be away from work.

Employment department officials declined to provide a count of potentially fraudulent applications they’ve received. But they believe they are catching the fraud attempts in the screening process, before money goes out.

The Oregon Department of Justice suggests checking personal credit reports frequently for any anomalies, and urges suspected victims of identity theft to report it to local authorities and the Federal Trade Commission. (SOURCE)

FAA Investigating Dangerous Close Call Between 2 Passenger Jets Over Portland Airport

Investigation underway as two passenger jets have a dangerous close call over Oregon, coming within several hundred feet of each other. The FAA is now reviewing the nation’s Aerospace system, raising renewed questions about air safety. Both flights landed safely.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Approves Controversial Pipeline Expansion Project In The Pacific Northwest

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a controversial natural gas pipeline expansion project in the Pacific Northwest on Thursday, despite opposition from Democrats who said the project would imperil their states’ climate goals.

Take action against the GTN XPress Pipeline

The $335 million Gas Transmission Northwest XPress Project from TC Energy was one of several natural gas projects approved by FERC at its monthly meeting. Commissioners also advanced the Plaquemines LNG terminal project in Louisiana, as well as a new rule to protect grid reliability amid an influx of renewable resources.

The gas project known as GTN Xpress would expand an existing pipeline system in parts of Idaho, Washington state and Oregon to export natural gas from British Columbia, increasing the system’s capacity by 150 million cubic feet of gas per day. The developer says the expansion is necessary to meet growing fuel demand, while some elected officials from the region have expressed concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.

The project was approved by all four commissioners.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview that the GTN Xpress decision showed that FERC was a “completely captured agency” that is “one huge rubber stamp” for fossil fuel projects. Merkley said he intends to hold conversations in Congress about changing FERC, which is an independent commission whose members are appointed by presidents and confirmed by senators.

“I think they need to be scrapped so we can start over with an agency that actually exists in sync with our need to take on climate change,” Merkley said. “If our national policy is that we are going to take on climate change, we have to dump an agency that greenlights fossil fuel project after fossil fuel project.”

FERC has been blasted by Republicans and Democrats over the years over which projects were approved or rejected and whether climate-warming emissions were adequately considered. Currently, the two parties each have two seats on the commission. One spot is vacant.

Merkley — along with Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) — sent a letter this week asking FERC to reject the project, citing the climate impacts, potential safety risks and a lack of consultation with tribes. In previous comments on the pipeline docket, the attorneys general of California, Oregon and Washington said FERC had not done enough to evaluate the pipeline’s climate change impacts by not accounting for emissions associated with natural gas after it is shipped.

“It’s just inconsistent with what the West Coast is doing in trying to develop a clean energy economy,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in an interview Thursday. “It strikes right at the heart of our West Coast plans.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, FERC acting Chair Willie Phillips said that the commission understood the concerns but had to “act on the record.” There was nothing in the agency’s environmental review, he said, that indicated the project would “significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions” since there were agreements to purchase all gas going through the pipeline.

Idaho, which will purchase at least half of the gas, supported the project, said Phillips, a Democrat. “We considered and balanced all the information on the record, and the commission determined this project was needed and therefore we supported its approval,” he said.

FERC spokesperson Mary O’Driscoll said the agency did not have a response to Merkley’s comments.

Some Republicans from the region applauded the decision, which was delayed after being put on FERC’s agenda in July. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.) said in a statement that the pipeline “will support domestic energy production, which boosts our energy security while also helping lower utility bills for Oregon families.”

The current GTN pipeline is 1,377 miles long and transports natural gas from Canada to communities in Washington, Oregon and California. Canada-based TC Energy has said the project will deliver enough gas to serve half a million homes and meet regional demand that has grown more than 26 percent since 2014.

“The GTN XPress project will play a critical role in keeping energy affordable and reliable for consumers in California and the Pacific Northwest,” said TC Energy spokesperson Michael Tadeo in an email. “We appreciate FERC’s bipartisan action today to approve the project and will work diligently to place it into service as soon as possible.” 

In a statement Thursday, several environmental groups led by Columbia Riverkeeper said they intended to file a petition for rehearing to challenge FERC’s ruling. Inslee likewise said he is talking with his state’s attorney general about legal options. (SOURCE)

Portland Man’s Dashcam Video Shows Him Drive Through Grand Floral Parade Route

Newly obtained dashcam footage shows a Portland man plowing past blockades and nearly hitting several people including small children along the Rose Festival’s Grand Floral parade route in June. 

Sidney Mecham, 42, of Portland pleaded not guilty to 38 counts, including felony unlawful use of a weapon and attempting to elude an officer.

Prosecutors submitted the dramatic video, taken from inside Mecham’s Chevy Avalanche, as evidence during an August preventative detention hearing. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Judith Matarazzo granted the state’s motion to keep Mecham behind bars while awaiting trial. KGW obtained the video through a public records request.  

The 30-minute recording shows three different angles, including front-facing, rear-view and inside the truck’s cab. In the video, Mecham can be seen leaving a home in Southeast Portland.  He commits various traffic infractions including speeding and running several red lights while driving through Southeast Portland toward downtown. Mecham becomes increasingly frustrated by heavy traffic, while headed westbound on Interstate 84.

Portland police motorcycle officer David Baer chased after Mecham’s truck, before pulling up beside him. Baer shouted for Mecham to pull over, but he refused.

The truck suddenly turned at Northeast Wasco and exited the parade route, driving through wooden barricades, nearly hitting several people.

An unmarked police SUV attempted to stop Mecham at a red light in Portland’s Lloyd District, but he drove off. The video showed Mecham continuing to drive for several blocks, until he eventually stopped near other officers at Northeast 24th Avenue and Clackamas Street. Mecham was arrested and taken to jail. He was driving on a suspended license and didn’t have insurance, police report.  

Mecham drove around another ODOT crew and their vehicles before turning onto Weidler Street. He came within a few feet of several people waiting for the parade, including several small children playing in the closed roadway.  

Mecham is a registered sex offender. He has prior convictions from 1999 for attempted first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy in Multnomah County. In 2016, Mecham was convicted of third-degree sodomy and third-degree sexual abuse in Clatsop County, according to court records.

Mecham is currently being held in the Multnomah County Inverness Jail. No trial date has been set for charges related to the alleged road rage incident in June.   (SOURCE)

New Funding of $41.4M for Oregon Mass Timber Modular Housing

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition (OMTC) $41.4 million to develop and expand Oregon’s emerging Mass Timber industry.

This grant through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, is specifically focused on utilizing mass timber products in prefabricated, modular home construction.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is utilizing a portion of the funding through this grant to help cities update and modernize local development codes to encourage the use of mass timber modular housing through the Code-UP project.

Working with a consulting team and the Department of Consumer and Business Services in 2022, DLCD staff and a consulting team audited the development codes of five cities to identify local regulatory barriers to developing mass timber and modular housing. Starting this fall, the Code-UP project team will continue this work by providing additional jurisdictions with code audits, amendment recommendations, and community engagement services.

Ten jurisdictions that have been selected to receive technical assistance this year: Chiloquin, Clatsop County, Creswell, Gates, Lincoln City, Mt. Vernon, Phoenix, Rufus, Sandy, and Talent. Consistent with the federal grant award, staff prioritized assistance to wildfire-affected and rural communities.

DLCD is committed to assisting a total of thirty jurisdictions over the next five years through a model code funded by the grant and encourages communities to reach out with interest.

Next Steps — Project consultants MIG and Cascadia Partners, DLCD’s Mass Timber Coordinator, and DLCD specialists and regional staff will support the Code-UP project team to complete the following tasks for each selected community.

Provide Adoption-Ready Code Amendments: Consultants will audit local code to understand potential barriers and opportunities for modular mass timber housing and prepare draft code amendments based off those findings.

Engage Community Members Equitably: Consultants will gather local data and information to assist in engaging traditionally underserved communities. They and DLCD staff will use a range of methods to engage community members.

Provide Additional Capacity: DLCD regional representatives and the AmeriCorps Resource Assistance for Rural Environments Mass Timber Coordinator will assist in local planning commission and city council work sessions and adoption hearings.

Oregon’s statewide land use planning program — originated in 1973 under Senate Bill 100 — protects farm and forest lands, conserves natural resources, promotes livable communities, facilitates orderly and efficient development, helps coordination among local governments, and enables community engagement.

The program affords all Oregonians predictability and sustainability to the development process by ensuring allocation of urban land for industrial, commercial, and housing development.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) administers the program. A seven-member volunteer citizen board known as the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) guides DLCD.

Under the program, all cities and counties have adopted comprehensive plans that meet mandatory state standards. The standards are 19 Statewide Planning Goals that deal with land use, development, housing, transportation, and conservation of natural resources. Technical assistance in the form of grants to local jurisdictions is a key element of the program. (SOURCE)

Police Arrest Rock Climber Who Plotted To Kill People At Popular Mountaineering Event In Oregon

  • An Oregon rock climber was arrested and charged on Thursday, according to multiple reports.
  • Samson Zebturiah Garner was plotting to kill several climbers at a rock climbing event, police said.
  • Police said they found several weapons in the back of Garner’s car. His motives are not known.

A rock climber plotted to kill several people at a popular mountaineering event in Oregon this weekend, Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies alleged.

Samson Zebturiah Garner, 39, was arrested on attempted murder and other charges on Thursday, police said, according to local media.

He was planning on shooting attendees of the annual Craggin’ Classic event in Smith Rock, located in central Oregon’s High Desert.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said they were tipped off by two people who had heard Garner speaking about his plan to attack the climbers during another climbing event earlier in the week.

They said they found several weapons in his vehicle, including a Beretta and Sig Sauer 9mm handguns and an AR-15 rifle.

Police recovered journal entries that indicate Garner was “planning a violent attack,” Sergeant Jason Wall told reporters on Friday . Garner was not planning to target specific people, but had a “generalized anger,” Wall added.

Garber’s exact motives are not known, Wall said.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Garner was charged with attempted murder of multiple victims, attempted first-degree assault, attempted second-degree assault, and unlawful use of a weapon and is scheduled to appear in court on October 27.

The 39-year-old is a Portland resident who has worked in IT and is an avid climber.

He has a membership with the Mazamas, a mountaineering education nonprofit, according to its executive director, Rebekah Phillips. She said while Garner’s membership was current, his involvement with the group had been “limited since 2018,” according to Gripped Magazine.

The Craggin’ Classic event in Smith Rock is organized by The American Alpine Club and held annually. It includes films, presentations, and vendor villages and people climb in the area, according to its website.

Smith Rock is considered the birthplace of American sport climbing.Read the original article on Business Insider

Klamath River Dam Removal Project Update

The dam removal project along the Klamath River is running on schedule, according to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. It marks the largest dam removal project in world history.

Copco 2 was the first of four dams to be removed. The KRRC said the three remaining dams, Copco 1, Iron Gate Dam and the J.C. Boyle Dam will be removed by November of 2024.

“About a year from now, we will have re-established a free flowing condition throughout the hydroelectric reach on the Klamath River for the first time in over 100 years,” said Mark Bransom, CEO of the KRRC.

Bransom said there are two main goals for the project: Re-establishing a fish passage that runs both upstream and downstream of the river, and improving overall water quality.

Native tribes along the Klamath River have been advocating for dam removal for generations, hoping to see the salmon population return to the river. Bransom said the relationship between the tribes and the KRRC is an extremely important element of the project. 

“We are simply standing on the shoulders of the tribes that have been advocating for and active on this work for two decades in some cases,” he said.

Right now crews are focusing on drawdown preparation. This means crews will lower the water levels of the reservoirs, before they start chipping away at the dams.

“In order to create a safe condition, we need to slowly reduce the level of water in the reservoirs until they’re completely drained out,” Bransom said. “By May or June of 2024, after we return to a low, summer flow condition, then we can begin the removal of the dams.”

Explosives will be used to help break up Copco 1 and the J.C. Boyle Dam. However, that won’t be necessary for the Iron Gate Dam. Iron Gate Dam is made up of organic material that will be taken apart and returned to the area it originally came from.

Aside from removing the dams from the river, the KRRC said environmental restoration work will continue for several years, possibly until 2031. 

“Dam removal is the first phase of this overall project, and we expect to be around for at least another seven to eight years,” Bransom said. (SOURCE)

Oregon Wildlife Officials Urge Residents To Be Bear-Aware

Black Bear

Oregon wildlife officials are urging residents to be bear-aware. This is the season when bears fatten up before hibernating for the winter. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding people living in bear country to make sure they aren’t leaving out food that will attract bears.

Garbage cans should be put out just before they’re picked up; chicken feed, pet food and other livestock feed should be secured; remove bird feeders; pickup downed fruit; and store barbecues inside. If you see a bear, give it plenty of space, don’t run, don’t make eye contact, and if you are attacked fight back with rocks, sticks and your hands. MORE INFO: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.asp

Missing Yachats Man’s Vehicle Found in North Lane County

On 08/25/2023, Dustin Steyding was reported missing to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office after he left work on 07/22/2023 and hadn’t been located since. Dustin was living and working in the Yachats area. 

Dustin was reported to be in good physical condition, having previously worked as a hot shot firefighter in New Mexico. Dustin is very experienced in the woods and commonly goes out for hikes to stay in shape. Without means to locate Dustin, Deputies entered Dustin as a missing person in a national database. 

On 09/04/2023, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Dustin’s family after they located his vehicle on Keller Creek Rd, just outside of Lincoln County in Lane County. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputies contacted the vehicle and determined it had been at the location for some time. Deputies were unable to determine Dustin’s direction of travel from the vehicle.

The vehicle having been located in Lane County, Lincoln County Deputies contacted the Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and arranged for their response the next day to started searching the area. After two days of searching, no clues to Dustin’s have been found.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dustin Steyding should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 541-265-0777 and reference case number 23S-07321.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'MISSING TALYNN RYLIE MERTZ, 15 Talynn was last seen in Eugene, Oregon on June 2, 2023. Talynn is 5'3"- -5'4" and 170 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. f/MissingNorthwest @MissingNW @MissingNW IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-THE-LOST Eugene Police Department: 541-682-5111'

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