Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 10/25 – Albany Mother Charged With Attempted Murder Of Her Daughter & 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

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Albany Mother Charged With Attempted Murder Of Her Daughter

Attempted Murder of 3-Year-Old Girl-APD Case #23-06719 — On Sunday, October 22, 2023, at 1:40pm the Albany Police Department received a 911 call that a 3-year-old child was found face-down in a pool at a residence in Albany. Albany Police officers and Albany Fire Department responded to the emergency. Officers arrived first on scene and immediately began life saving efforts.

Albany Fire paramedics continued these lifesaving efforts when they arrived and transported the child to an area hospital. Later, the child was transported to a Portland-area hospital for a higher level of care, where she remains in critical condition.

During the initial investigation, officers developed information leading them to believe the child’s condition resulted from an intentional act. The child’s mother, Kristen Brooks, 30 years of age, was arrested for Attempted Aggravated Murder and Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree. She is presently lodged at the Linn County Jail. According to police and the Linn County District Attorney, there is no evidence Brooks has had any criminal history. Brooks’s next court appearance will be November 27.

The investigation remains active and no further information for release is available at this time. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Albany Police Department Detective Unit at 541-917-7686 and reference case #23-06719. 

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

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. 

Nov. 5 is Mushroom Day at Beazell Memorial Forest and Education Center

Join Benton County Natural Areas & Parks, Corvallis Parks & Recreation, Corvallis Environmental Center, Oregon State University Dept. of Botany & Plant Pathology, and The Mushroomery for an introductory exploration of Pacific Northwest mushrooms where participants can learn to identify different mushrooms in a natural setting. 

The program is catered to beginners and all ages are welcome. Engage in mushroom themed activities or join a guided walk to identify mushroom species on trails. Activities include a Kid Zone specially designed for young explorers aged 12 and under. Please note that while the event emphasizes learning and appreciation, mushroom collection will not be a part of the activities.

The morning session is 9:00 to 11:30 a.m., and the afternoon session is 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.

Date: November 5, 2023
Time: 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.
Admission: adults $25 ($31 out-of-city). Children 12 and under are free. 
Location: Beazell Memorial Forest and Education Center, 37283 Kings Valley Hwy., Philomath, OR 97370
More info: view the City of Corvallis’ website.

Benton County is an Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission or access to our programs, services, activities, hiring and employment practices. This document is available in alternative formats and languages upon request. Please contact Cory Grogan at 541-745-4468 or pioinfo@bentoncountyor.gov.

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.

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.


UPDATE: Save Eugene’s Hospital

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“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

Off-Duty Commercial Airline Pilot Charged in Federal Court for Interfering with Flight Crew

PORTLAND, Ore.—An off-duty commercial airline pilot, who was arrested on Sunday after he attempted to shut down the engines of passenger plane in flight, has been charged in federal court.

Alaska Airlines pilot says he thought he was dreaming before trying to cut  engines – NBC Bay Area

Joseph David Emerson, 44, of Pleasant Hill, California, has been charged by criminal complaint with one count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants.

According to court documents, on October 22, 2023, Port of Portland police officers responded to a report of inbound aircraft that had diverted from its route between Everett, Washington, and San Francisco to Portland International Airport due to an inflight disturbance. Police dispatch reported that Emerson, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot seated in a cockpit jump seat, had attempted to shut down the plane’s engines during flight.

After landing, responding officers interviewed the two pilots. The pilots recounted that, approximately halfway between Astoria, Oregon, and Portland, after engaging with them in casual conversation, Emerson attempted to grab and pull two red fire handles that would have activated the plane’s emergency fire suppression system and cut off fuel to its engines. After a brief physical struggle with the pilots, Emerson exited the cockpit. 

Flight attendants placed Emerson in wrist restraints and seated him in the rear of the aircraft. During the flight’s decent, Emerson tried to grab the handle of an emergency exit. A flight attendant stopped him by placing her hands on top of his. 

After landing in Portland, Emerson was arrested without further incident and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on multiple state charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment. He remains in custody in Multnomah County on a federal hold pending his first appearance in federal court on a later date.

This case was investigated by the FBI and Port of Portland Police Department. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. https://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2023-10/6325/167448/23-mj-185_Emerson_Complaint_CERTIFIED.pdf

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington goes batty

Fat Bear Week is over, but you can still support wild animals in need. It’s time for the annual Bureau of Land Management Bat Beauty Contest, and your local Oregon bats are here to defend their crown.

William ShakespEAR, the Townsend�s big-eared bat

Each October, the BLM hosts a beauty contest to find the most stunning bat photographed on BLM public lands across the county. The event begins on October 24 and ends on Halloween. It also coincides with International Bat Week to raise awareness about bat conservation and their essential role in the natural world.

Last year, the BLM named Barbara, a canyon bat from Lake County, the 2022 Bat Beauty Contest Winner. Barbara was photographed by Kate Yates, BLM wildlife biologist.

This year, BLM offices in Oregon/Washington will be placing their hopes on William ShakespEAR, a Townsend’s big-eared bat from Butte Falls, photographed by Emma Busk, BLM wildlife biologist.

“We feel confident that William will bring us home the crown,” said Donald Manuszewski, BLM-OR/WA Deputy State Director for Communications. “He has the most beautiful ears.”

As a Townsend’s big-eared bat, William’s ears measure about half his body. The species can be found throughout both Oregon and Washington and is very vulnerable to human disturbance. Its numbers are declining, causing the species to be named an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. In an effort to help, BLM wildlife biologists perform regular checks on Oregon caves to keep an eye on bat populations and monitor for symptoms of white-nose syndrome, which can kill hibernating bats.

Bats play an essential role in Oregon. All bats in the Pacific Northwest are insectivorous, meaning they rid our world of pests like mosquitos, beetles, and moths. Just one bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour!

“We hope the contest is fun, and we also hope it increases people’s appreciation of these creatures,” said Manuszewski. “Bats aren’t just beautiful, they’re also in need of our protection.”

Want to do your part? As we head into winter, avoid exploring mines and caves where bats may be hibernating. And this week, help us share information about our flying friends!

To cast your ballot for William, visit the Bureau of Land Management on Facebook (@BLMNational) or Instagram (@mypubliclands).

-BLM- The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Oregon Supreme Court To Decide GOP Senators’ Challenge To Walkout Penalties

Five Republican lawmakers say they can’t be barred from running for another term because they boycotted the Senate earlier this year. Now, Oregon’s top court will decide the true meaning of Measure 113.

The Oregon Supreme Court has accepted a legal challenge by five Republican senators who say they should be allowed to seek reelection despite walking away from the Legislature for six weeks this year.

The decision, announced Tuesday, means one of the more pressing legal questions in Oregon politics will be taken up by the state’s high court, rather than working its way through the appeals process. Impacted lawmakers – and those thinking of running for their seats – should have clarity before the March 12 deadline to file for office.

At issue is the actual meaning of Ballot Measure 113, the popular 2022 proposal that created new consequences for lawmakers who accrue 10 or more unexcused absences during a legislative session.

In news coverage, promotional materials and an official explanatory statement, the measure was touted as barring lawmakers who walk away to block legislative action from seeking reelection.

That’s the meaning that state elections officials have chosen to adopt. In a rule issued earlier this year, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced that 10 conservative senators who walked away from this year’s legislative session would be prohibited from seeking reelection.

But five of those senators – Sens. Tim Knopp, Daniel Bonham, Suzanne Weber, Dennis Linthicum and Lynn Findley– have objected. In a legal challenge to Griffin-Valade’s ruling, they argue that the convoluted wording of the measure contained a loophole that went unnoticed last year. That wording, they believe, allows them to be reelected for one more term before penalties kick in.

The senators filed the challenge in the Oregon Court of Appeals but asked that the matter be put directly before the state Supreme Court. State attorneys defending Griffin-Valade in the matter agreed.

Supreme Court justices first signaled some uncertainty about whether they could fast-track a challenge to Griffin-Valade’s administrative ruling. They appeared to have cleared it up on Tuesday when the court announced it would accept the case – and adopt a speedy timetable. Oral arguments are set to begin Dec. 14th. (SOURCE)

Oregon’s Attorney General Leads Multi-State Lawsuit Against Meta for Alleged Harms to Youth Mental Health

Ellen Rosenblum, Attorney General, has filed a lawsuit against Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company. This lawsuit, backed by attorneys general from 33 states, was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that Meta knowingly created harmful features on Instagram and other platforms, which have negatively impacted children and teenagers.

The lawsuit accuses Meta of misleading the public about the safety of these features for young users. It argues that Meta’s practices contravene state consumer protection laws and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The attorneys general assert that these practices have harmed the physical and mental health of young people, leading to a youth mental health crisis.

The suit also alleges that Meta knowingly gathered data from young users, including those under 13, without parental consent. It accuses Meta of targeting these young users, whom they viewed as a valuable yet untapped user base. The company is alleged to have used tactics like infinite scrolling and frequent alerts to keep young users engaged.

The lawsuit claims that Meta knew these features could harm young people’s health, including their sleep. Yet, the company did not disclose this harm or take significant steps to alleviate it. Instead, Meta asserted that its platforms were safe for young users.

This lawsuit stems from a nationwide bipartisan investigation. Other states joining Oregon in the federal lawsuit include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Some states are filing lawsuits in their state courts, and Florida is filing a separate federal lawsuit.

Flu vaccination rates among health care personnel remain low

OHA data show rates slow to recover after big drop during pandemic

PORTLAND, Ore.—Influenza vaccination rates among Oregon’s health care personnel have not recovered from significant declines suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, new Oregon Health Authority (OHA) data show.

According to the Healthcare Worker Influenza Vaccination Dashboard published by OHA’s Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Program, 64% of the state’s eligible health care workers from all facility types were vaccinated against the flu during the 2022-2023 flu season. This is similar to the 2021-2022 flu season rate of 63% — a concern for state officials trying to prevent the virus’s spread to people most at risk of severe illness and death.

The influenza vaccination rate among eligible health care workers had dropped by 25% between the 2019-2020 and 2022-2023 influenza seasons.

“Health care workers are the first line of defense in protecting vulnerable patients and preventing a severe respiratory virus season from becoming a catastrophic one,” said Rebecca Pierce, Ph.D., HAI Program manager. “That’s why influenza vaccination of health care workers is a key strategy for infection control in health care facilities.”

OHA requires annual reporting of health care worker influenza vaccination data from four facility types – ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis centers, hospitals (including inpatient psychiatric facilities) and nursing facilities.

Data are self-reported by facilities and include aggregate counts of health care workers, filterable by health care worker category; who received an influenza vaccination; who declined; who had a medical contraindication; or who had an unknown vaccination status. The Healthcare Worker Influenza Vaccination Dashboard displays influenza vaccination data filterable by facility type, county, and worker classification. The dashboard also shows trends by flu season and facility-specific data.

According to the 2022-2023 dashboard, hospitals reported the highest vaccination rates among workers at 69%, followed by ambulatory surgery centers at 67%; nursing facilities at 41%; and inpatient psychiatric facilities and dialysis facilities, both the lowest at 35%. Rates for dialysis centers and hospitals saw a slight increase from the 2021-2022 season but were still below the rates for prior flu seasons.

“Influenza vaccinations among health care workers were significantly impacted during the pandemic, which is likely reflective of historically low rates of influenza during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 flu seasons,” Pierce said. “However, flu transmission has returned to pre-pandemic levels. It’s important that we focus on rebuilding flu vaccination rates for this critical, front-line workforce.”

The proportion of eligible health care workers who declined flu vaccination has increased over the years. For the 2022-2023 flu season, 15% declined, compared to 11% for the 2021-2022 season. Additionally, a high proportion (21%) of health care workers reported having an unknown vaccination status, which may contribute to low vaccination rates – and illustrates the need for improvement in facility-level documentation of vaccination status.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developed Healthy People 2020 with 10-year objectives for improving the health of all Americans, including showing progress toward a 90% influenza vaccination goal for the health care workforce. However, because Healthy People 2030 does not include a goal focused on increasing flu vaccinations among health care workers, Oregon continues to use the Healthy People 2020 goal as a way of directing public health action and showing where more support and education is needed.

To achieve 90% influenza vaccination coverage, Pierce said there are important steps health care facilities can take. Among public health recommendations is encouraging health care workers, including those not employed by the facility—contractors and volunteers—to get vaccinated at the beginning of every influenza season. Facilities can also host promotional activities, such as holding mass vaccination fairs, providing vaccines at no cost to employees, starting incentive programs, and documenting all health care workers’ vaccination status and requiring a declination form for health care workers who decline vaccination.

OHA has developed a toolkit for health care employers and workers to help them improve employee flu vaccinations rates at their facilities to protect patients, themselves and their families.

Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund helps nearly 1,300 households stay in their homes

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services announced it helped 1,295 households to date stay in their homes through the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). OHCS remains committed to ensuring homeowners can afford to stay in their homes. The program offers federal temporary COVID-19 emergency mortgage relief intended to support homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the pandemic.

Jason Gist is one of the households who were able to keep their homes. Gist of Grants Pass lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then watched his savings dwindle away, but thanks to this program, he was able to stay out of foreclosure.

“The Homeowner Assistance Fund has made a profound difference in my life,” Gist said. “It’s not just financial assistance; it’s a lifeline for homeowners facing unprecedented challenges. I am grateful for their support and unwavering commitment to helping individuals like me navigate these uncertain times.”

Administered by OHCS, HAF provides up to $50,000 to help low- and moderate-income homeowners bring past-due mortgages and housing expenses current. Low-income homeowners may receive an additional $10,000 for up to six months of ongoing assistance with monthly mortgage payments and housing costs.

Geographically, about 500 of those homeowners helped live in rural areas. Count the Smiths of Klamath Falls among them.

“We were losing our home and we tried everything to get help,” Vickie Smith said. “And just before it got foreclosed, the HAF program stepped in and saved our home. Thank you to everyone who was involved with the program.”

OHCS will provide $72 million of assistance for Oregon households. Since opening a pilot program at the end of 2021, OHCS has approved assistance expected to total $44 million. OHCS has already scheduled over $35 million in payments for 1,295 households with an average award of about $27,000. OHCS is currently processing applications that have not been approved yet, for a projected $25 million of assistance. If each of these is approved and paid, about $3 million of funding would remain for about 111 new applications at the current average award. 

OHCS designed eligibility criteria to serve the most at-risk homeowners and homeowners who are traditionally underserved or who are less able to recover, such as Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, Asian, and Pacific Islander households, as well as members of federally recognized Tribes. 

“For many Oregonians, homeownership is an important part of building generational wealth. Although this program is one-time in nature, our goal is to help people afford to stay in their homes for the long term,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell. “Even if homeowners are eligible, there’s no guarantee their application will be funded through HAF but there are other loss-mitigation options that depend on a homeowner’s mortgage and their servicer. Homeowners should evaluate all their options with the help of a certified housing counselor.”   

Homeowners can 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. Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county at the OHCS website.

Visit the HAF Dashboard for more detailed information about HAF and other OHCS Homeownership programs.

Oregon Parks and Recreation To Discuss Drone Rules And Maps

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will livestream a virtual meeting Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. to present draft drone take-off and landing classification criteria to be used in future park drone use maps. The agency will then invite the public to share their views on the criteria from Oct. 23 through 5 p.m. on Dec. 29.

The meeting will be livestreamed on YouTube for the public here.

Attendees who want to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the meeting must register beforehand here.

Although the formal rulemaking process for drone take-off and landing began in 2021, the agency temporarily stopped in April 2022 to form a work group and explore the matter in more detail.

The work group included various partners including conservation groups, drone users, state and federal agencies and met from June 2022 through the summer of 2023.

OPRD’s region resource and Geographic Information Services (GIS) staff, alongside park managers reviewed the draft criteria and applied them to three sample areas, one from each region of state parks.

Feedback will be reviewed by agency staff and the work group as part of a final report to the OPRD Director Lisa Sumption, who will then decide whether to direct staff to resume public administrative rulemaking or do more work on the proposals.

Individuals who require special accommodations to view the meetings should contact Jo Niehaus at least three days in advance of the meeting at 503-580-9210 or jo.niehaus@oprd.oregon.gov .

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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