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, November 6, 2023
Willamette Valley Weather
WIND ADVISORY ISSUED – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
...WIND ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 7 PM PST THIS EVENING... * WHAT...South winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts as high as 40 to 45 mph expected. * WHERE...In Oregon, Greater Portland Metro Area, Central Willamette Valley and South Willamette Valley. In Washington, Greater Vancouver Area. * WHEN...From 10 AM this morning to 7 PM PST this evening. * IMPACTS...Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.
Oregon Awarded Millions To Reopen The Eugene Hynix Plant But Property Tax Fight Could Stand In The Way
One of Oregon’s largest factories, idle for 15 years, is facing fresh obstacles to reopening as Lane County fights with the plant’s latest owner over how much the company owes in taxes and how much it should pay in the future.
Oregon just offered the Eugene factory’s owner, an Ohio company called Stratacache, $19 million in subsidies to help get the 1.2 million-square-foot plant restarted. Stratacache says it would employ hundreds at the site, making micro-LEDs for electronic displays.
But Stratacache’s plans are in limbo while it’s in court working through the tax dispute with Lane County. The state says it won’t fund companies with outstanding tax liabilities, and the two sides are far apart: Stratacache values the property at $11 million, while Lane County says it’s worth as much as $50 million.
The gap represents millions of dollars in annual property taxes. Stratacache says its future in Eugene may hinge on how much the Oregon Tax Court says it owes. The fight is over 2020 taxes but the court’s ruling, expected next month, will set a baseline value for the property and help determine what it’s worth in subsequent years. That could add millions of dollars to Stratacache’s annual operating costs in Eugene, or save it millions.
“If we lose, it depends on what the magistrate comes back with,” said Chris Riegel, Stratacache’s CEO. “We have many options on the table. But if we find an adverse tax environment in Lane County, it may threaten the project.”
South Korean memory chip manufacturer Hynix invested $1.5 billion in the Eugene site to prepare for its 1998 opening. It was to be the first in a complex of factories on the 200-acre property. But Hynix operated the factory for only a decade before shutting down and laying off 1,400 amid a downturn in the memory chip market.
The Hynix factory had been one of Eugene’s major economic engines. Reopening the plant under a new owner has been a top priority for Lane County and Oregon economic development officials since Hynix left town in 2008.
The property has sold three times since then to manufacturers who each had plans to restart the factory, none of which has materialized. As the factory aged, the chances of it reopening appeared slimmer. Prior owners had planned to put it up for auction before Stratacache stepped in and bought it for $6.3 million in 2020.
Stratacache said the pandemic disrupted its supply chains and postponed its plans to begin production in 2021. But it has remained active on the site and sought funding to accelerate the reopening through Senate Bill 4, the Oregon CHIPS Act, which state lawmakers approved earlier this year. The law gives Gov. Tina Kotek authority to award $240 million in grants and loans to boost the state’s tech industry.
Lane County commissioners lobbied the state on Stratacache’s behalf in September, writing to Kotek that “we fully support redevelopment of a long underused technology sector asset.” Kotek’s office subsequently awarded the company $19 million, one of the state’s largest CHIPS grants, contingent on completing final negotiations with Stratacache.
At the same time the county was asking the state to help Stratacache, though, the county assessor’s office was fighting the company over its tax bill. It says Stratacache owes $2.5 million in unpaid taxes from 2020.
Lane County says the property is worth many times the $6.3 million Stratacache paid. The county assessor set the value at $29 million for 2020, but an assessment the county commissioned and submitted to the Oregon Tax Court pegged the property’s taxable value at $50 million that year.
In filings with the tax court last summer, Lane County argued that the 25-year-old factory has far more utility than Stratacache assigns to it. The county noted that Stratacache spent $3 million replacing part of the factory roof and has made other upgrades to the property, expenses that the assessor argues increased the property’s value should be included in its assessment.
And Lane County argues the land itself has considerable value. The county notes that Stratacache tried unsuccessfully to sell a vacant portion of property on the site for $25 million.
In its own filings, Stratacache maintains the factory is essentially obsolete because it was designed for an older class of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The company notes that a succession of companies considered operating there before concluding it was impractical.
“The property is an underutilized, aging facility,” Stratacache wrote in its closing brief to the court. “Through the years, the owners of the property have continually struggled with utilizing the property for their business purposes.”
Lane County Commission Chairman Pat Farr, acting on behalf of the full commission, signed the county’s letter seeking state funding for Stratacache. He did not respond to repeated messages about the property tax fight and how the dispute affects the county’s efforts to attract state funding for the factory.
Lane County spokesperson Devon Ashbridge described the fight with Stratacache as “very routine” and, noting that it predates Oregon’s funding program for electronics manufacturers, said the dispute has no connection to the county’s efforts to attract Oregon CHIPS Act money for Stratacache.
“It has nothing to do with the state’s conversations with Senate Bill 4,” Ashbridge said.
But Anca Matica, press secretary for Gov. Kotek, said Stratacache and the county must come to terms before the company receives any state funding. She said the governor’s economic development team is tracking the dispute before deciding whether to actually award Stratacache the $19 million in funding.
“All projects will need to be in compliance with state and local tax obligations before Oregon CHIPS money goes to a project,” Matica wrote in an email. “Additionally, under contract, companies would not be able to use any funding from the Oregon CHIPS Act to retire any debt.” (SOURCE)
Two Women Shot Outside The Bob Keefer Center In Springfield Friday Night
INCIDENT REPORT SPRINGFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT Incident: Preplanned Fight Ends in Shooting Location: 200 Block of South 32nd Street
Case Number: 23-07584Date/Time: November 3rd, 2023 at 10:09 PM More Information: Public Information Coordinator | email@example.comCompleted By: Sergeant James Wilson
NARRATIVE OF INCIDENT: On November 3rd, 2023 at 10:09 PM Officers with the Springfield Police Department responded to the 200 block of South 32nd Street. Area residents called the police after hearing gunshots. When Officers arrived on scene, they located a 16 year old female and a 20 year old female who had both been shot. The two females were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Officers contacted several witnesses on scene who refused to cooperate with the investigation. It was learned, the two victims and a few friends went to the location for a pre-planned fight with an opposing group. While they were waiting, members of the other group arrived and shot the two victims as they were sitting in a vehicle.
Detectives were called to the scene to assist with the investigation and at this time no arrests have been made. This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information or video surveillance regarding this incident is asked to contact the Springfield Police Department at 541.726.3721.
LCSO Case #23-5715 — Accused Child Sex Abuser Taken into Custody near Elmira
Lane County Sheriff’s Office detectives recently began an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse involving a suspect from the Veneta area. LCSO detectives obtained information indicating that 42-year-old Jeffery Allen Adams had been sexually abusing a minor child known to him. Detectives worked the case and determined yesterday afternoon that there was probable cause to arrest Adams for the related crimes.
Just moments after determining probable cause to arrest Adams was established, detectives learned that Adams was actively on his way to meet with the victim at her new residence.
Detectives and deputies flooded the area and located Adams less than a mile away from the victim’s new residence, driving in her direction. A traffic stop was initiated and Adams was taken into custody without incident.
Adams was transported to the Lane County Jail where he was lodged on the charges of Sex Abuse in the First Degree, Rape in the Second Degree, Sodomy in the Second Degree, and Unlawful Sexual Penetration.
Operation Winter Survival Supply Stockpile Needs Your Life Saving Donations
Lane County Health & Human Services, in partnership with the First Christian Church of Eugene’s Helping Hearts program and White Bird, today announced the launch of Operation Winter Survival Stockpile. The operation is an effort to create a stockpile through donations of clothing and other supplies that will help those in our community experiencing homelessness better brave the elements.
“Every winter those in our community who are without shelter are faced with life-threatening temperatures and weather,” said Maria Cortez, Lane County Human Services Program Coordinator. “These donations will be absolutely crucial to helping these community members stay warm and stay alive.”
To help kick off Operation Winter Survival Stockpile, the First Christian Church (located at 1166 Oak St. in downtown Eugene) and Cahoots are hosting a one day donation drive event where community members can drop-off donations and enjoy refreshments this Wednesday, November 8th from 12 P.M. to 6 P.M.
“Having access to the severe weather stockpile is an indispensable resource for service providers in our county,” said White Bird Clinic Nest Program Interim Coordinator, Theresa Bordreau. “Having both hot and cold weather supplies, fills a much-needed gap for survival gear that are often in short supply. For any community member looking for ways you can support the most vulnerable in our community, I would encourage you to look at donating to this very important resource. It has been of great value to our clients here at the White Bird Clinic.”
After the donation drive, items can continue to be dropped off on weekdays between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. or by appointment. Items can also be purchased on Amazon and sent to First Christian Church at 166 Oak St. Eugene, OR, 97402.
The Operation’s Amazon Wish List can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2XR33GS1ULV8Z?ref_=wl_share
Distribution of items will be prioritized to homeless outreach providers such as CAHOOTS that come into direct contact with individuals who are unhoused and unsheltered.
Preferred donation items include:
- Clothing such as rain ponchos, wool socks, thermal underwear, gloves, beanies and footwear
- Items like tents, blankets, hand warmers, tarps, gift cards, and laundry cards
- Tools such as flashlights, batteries, and other survival supplies
Eugene Springfield Fire Conducting Live Fire Training
Eugene, OR. Eugene Springfield Fire will be conducting live fire training in a vacant commercial building located in the 1200 block of S. Bertelsen Rd in West Eugene Monday November 6th. Fires will occur between 9:45 am and 1:30 pm. Expect smoke and emergency vehicles in the area.
Springfield Receives Funding For Streetlight Replacement Throughout The City
The City of Springfield has received funding for streetlight replacement throughout the city. All streetlights within Springfield that are not currently Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures will be converted to LED lighting. This lighting is up to 70% more energy-efficient, lasts 4-5 times longer, and allows for better control over light output. The funding was received from the American Recovery Plan Act that was passed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city has already begun installing LED lights on all its streets and there are over 3,000 to go. Maintenance costs on the old lighting in Springfield have skyrocketed, and some fixtures aren’t on the market any more, said Scott Miller, an engineer with the city.
The City has been planning for streetlight replacement for several years of all 4,557 lights within the City with work being done in phases as money was available. Now that federal money has been provided for this project, they are beginning the work immediately.
“The other big reason that we’re doing this is the new lights are quite a bit more efficient,” he said. “We estimate about a 50% to 70% energy savings and about 70% maintenance savings because the lamps don’t need to be changed out every couple of years.”
Miller said the city is also installing a new control system, so lights can be monitored remotely and repaired faster.
Miller said it takes 15 to 20 minutes to swap out each streetlight. Two crews will be at work throughout Springfield for the next four to five months.
Drivers should see minimal disruption, but some locations such as roundabouts may require more extensive traffic control. For more information, see the city’s website here.
City Of Eugene Seeks Participants In Rental Experience Survey 2023
The City of Eugene wants to know about the place you’re renting, your experience finding a place to rent, and a little bit about you.
The responses we receive will be used to inform the rental housing program in Eugene. What you share is confidential. Who you are and where you live will not be identified in the survey results.
The City will be hosting this survey every two years, along with a survey of Landlords/Property owners to gain a better understanding on the full rental housing experience in our community.
Watch your mailbox in late October – early November for an invitation to participate in the 10-minute survey about your rental experience in Eugene.
You must be a renter in Eugene to participate; if you rent and haven’t received an invitation in the mail by Nov. 3, 2023, or prefer to take the survey on paper, there’s a form to fill out on the website: https://www.eugene-or.gov/5180/Rental-Experience-Survey-2023
Enter to Win!
At the end of the survey, enter into a FREE drawing to win a gift card to a local grocery store of your choice!
State Health Officials Take Steps To Preserve Mental Health Services And Medical Care In Downtown Eugene
Regulators approve changes at PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart University District Hospital to avert closures at Gov. Kotek’s direction
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) officials have ruled on a waiver request from PeaceHealth that will enable it to continue delivering inpatient mental health care to patients in downtown Eugene at PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart University District Hospital.
This is the first of a multi-step process involving both state and federal requirements that PeaceHealth must meet. OHA’s Public Health Division and Behavioral Health Services will have other decision points in the future as PeaceHealth works toward a permanent solution.
In August, PeaceHealth announced plans to close its Sacred Heart University District Hospital (SHUD) facility and the emergency department, and relocate its rehabilitation unit to Sacred Heart Riverbend in Springfield. State officials were concerned that this closure would impact the mental health treatment beds, and could lead to full closure of all services in Eugene.
PeaceHealth has indicated it will open and operate an urgent care center in downtown Eugene. It is offering expanded urgent care services separate from the waiver and the hospital license.
In response, Gov. Tina Kotek directed her staff and OHA officials to work with PeaceHealth to avoid a full closure of all services on the University District campus. While state regulators do not have authority to prevent a hospital’s decision to close, Gov. Kotek’s office and OHA listened to community concerns, including those expressed by local officials about a potential closure’s impact on access to services in Eugene and emergency preparedness.
Gov. Kotek’s priorities, driven by Oregon’s behavioral health crisis and feedback from the Eugene community, were to preserve behavioral health capacity on the University District campus, ensure transitional access to medical services and ensure greater communication with the community.
Following discussions between state officials and PeaceHealth, regulators have issued a waiver regarding operations of the emergency department and radiology services at Sacred Heart University District Hospital. The waiver sets terms that will enable PeaceHealth to:
- Consolidate its emergency medical care resources at the Sacred Heart Riverbend for a period of six months beginning Dec. 1, 2023.
- Continue to operate behavioral health beds at Sacred Heart University District Hospital under a modified hospital license.
- Continue to operate 27 acute rehabilitation beds at Sacred Heart University District Hospital under a modified license.
State regulators also outlined conditions for the approvals. To maintain the waivers and variances, PeaceHealth will be required to notify community members about the changes; ensure adequate patient transportation in close coordination with emergency medical services and law enforcement officers in Eugene and Springfield; and report patient data on a monthly basis to state health regulators.
OHA Interim Director Dave Baden said, “I appreciate Gov. Kotek’s urgent focus on preserving vital mental health and medical care in Eugene and PeaceHealth’s willingness to work with us to find viable solutions. These steps will preserve access to care for Eugene residents in coming months, at a time when we cannot afford to lose health care capacity in our state, especially for people experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.”
“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.
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&
- Learn more at www.SaveEugenesHospital.com.
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.
Lane County voters: remember to sign the return envelope and return your ballots early
Voters are urged to return their ballots as early as possible to ensure they are received at Lane County Elections by the 8:00 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, November 7.
In order to be counted, ballots must be received at Lane County Elections by:
- 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.
“We have wonderful, secure elections that allow all eligible voters the opportunity to return their ballots in the way most convenient for them,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “Every voter should make a plan for how they plan to return their ballot and ensure their ballot is received on time.”
Voters must also remember to sign their ballot return envelopes before mailing or returning their completed ballot to Lane County Elections.
The signature is a security measure used to verify identity. Election workers who have received training in handwriting analysis compare it to signatures in the voter registration record. A ballot may only be counted if the signatures match.
If you forget to sign the envelope or your signature does not match, you will receive a notice from Lane County Elections advising you of the issue and how to fix or “cure” it. You have until the 21st day after the election to cure your signature issue and have your ballot counted.
What can you do to ensure your signature matches?
- Sign your natural signature. If you don’t usually sign with a middle initial don’t sign your ballot envelope with it. Election workers are trained to look for specific characteristics within each signature. If you think your signature has changed significantly, contact Lane County Elections.
- Don’t sign another person’s name. Even if someone gives you permission to sign, or you have power of attorney, it is against the law in Oregon to sign another person’s name on a return envelope. It’s forgery.
- Request help if you have difficulty signing. If it is difficult for you to sign, on either a temporary or permanent basis, you can complete a signature attestation form and return it to Lane County Elections along with a new voter registration form. Completing these forms will allow you to use a signature stamp or other indicator that represents your signature.
- Correct a mistake if you accidentally sign your name on someone in your household’s envelope. If you and another person in your household sign each other’s return ballot envelopes, simply place a line through the incorrect signatures and sign the correct envelopes.
Voters with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-682-4234.
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.
Election results available starting at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day — Election results will be made available to the public starting at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7, and updated again at 11:00 p.m. Elections results can be obtained at:
Ballots returned by mail and postmarked by November 7 must be received by November 14 in order to be counted. Ballots returned via mail and postmarked by November 7 may take several days to arrive at Lane County Elections, which means that the outcome of some races or ballot measures may not be known as quickly as in past elections. The Lane County Elections Office will continue to periodically update election results after November 7 until all ballots have been counted. The full results reporting schedule is available online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/Elections.
Election results will be certified on December 14, 2023.
Voters with questions can email email@example.com 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.
PART 2 – Newsweek 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.
Eugene, Springfield and Lane County to begin leaf pickup
Lane County and the cities of Eugene and Springfield are preparing to kick-off their annual leaf collection efforts. Removing leaves from catch basins, grates and gutters allows storm water to run off and prevents flooding.
Keeping leaves out of the drainage system also improves water quality because decomposing leaves use up oxygen that is needed by aquatic life in local streams and rivers. And removing slippery leaves from streets and sidewalks makes travel safer for people walking, biking and driving.
In all three jurisdictions, property owners are responsible for leaves that are placed improperly in the street or cause safety or localized flooding hazards.
Eugene and Lane County allow residents to pile leaves in the street, while Springfield only allows bagged leaves to be set out for collection.
Leaves are the only items collected. Piles with branches, pine needles, trash, grass and other lawn debris are not accepted and will not be collected.
To get the best information for your property, determine which jurisdiction provides service in your area, and then contact that agency. Here are the details for each jurisdiction:
City of Eugene – Eugene’s leaf collection and delivery program begins Nov. 6. Eugene’s leaf program is funded by storm water fees because proper use and disposal of leaves keeps decaying leaves out of local creeks and rivers and helps prevent localized flooding caused by blocked storm drains.
After an initial focus on the central Eugene area, City crews will break into three groups to focus on designated sections of the city. Each crew has the staffing and equipment needed to collect and deliver leaves and sweep streets after the leaves have been picked up. This puts resources closer to neighborhoods and improves service on unimproved streets.
Online features allow Eugene residents to look up their address and see when they should pile their leaves neatly in a row parallel to the curb, order leaf deliveries, or report hazards such as leaves in a bike lane. People should place their leaves in the street the weekend before crews are scheduled to be in their neighborhood. The second round of leaf collection will start January 2. Safely pile remaining leaves in the street between December 31 and January 1.
For more information about Eugene’s leaf collection and delivery services, go to www.eugene-or.gov/leaf or call Eugene Public Works Maintenance at 541-682-4800.
City of Springfield – In Springfield, the City provides a leaf pickup service to residents within the city limits to help prevent flooding, protect water quality, and keep neighborhood streets safe for people walking, biking, and driving. Leaves are collected in two rounds in two areas — the west and east sides of town with 28th/31st Street as the dividing line.
Sanipac is contracted to pick up, haul, and recycle bagged leaves for residents within the city limits. Leaves must be put in medium-sized bags that contain only leaves. Bags containing other yard debris cannot be used for compost and will not be picked up.
Bags need to be placed curbside, not in the street, by 7:00 a.m. on Monday of the scheduled week for collection in that area. Not all bags will be picked up first thing Monday; it may take several days. Additionally, severe weather may cause delays. Landscaping, yard maintenance companies, property management companies, and residents are not allowed to blow or rake leaves into the streets.
Springfield residents can also pledge to properly dispose of their leaves for a chance to win one of two $100 gift cards from a local home improvement store. Residents can view this year’s informational flier for more details on how to enter.
The first round of leaf collection in Springfield starts November 27 west of 28th Street/31st Street, then December 4 east of 28th Street/31st Street. The second round starts January 8 west of 28th Street/31st Street, then January 15 east of 28th Street/31st Street.
Lane County – Lane County Public Works will begin its annual leaf pick-up program on Monday, November 13. The County collects leaves in two rounds in two general areas: Santa Clara north of Beltline Highway and several Springfield locations generally just outside the city limits. Lane County crews may be working in your zone prior to official collection dates if time allows; however, crews will return to your zone as scheduled.
Lane County provides a leaf collection information line (541-682-8565) updated at 5:00 p.m. each Friday. It describes where leaf pickup begins on a weekly basis. For more information go to www.LaneCountyOR.gov/LeafPickUp, call 541-682-6905 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leaf Preparation Guidelines – Two priorities that are the same in all three jurisdictions are public safety and operational efficiency. Here are some tips to help meet those objectives:
- In Eugene and Lane County, leaves must be in the roadway but piled at least 15 feet away from parked vehicles. Do not bag leaves.
- In Lane County leaf pickup will be provided for paved curb-and-gutter streets only. In Eugene, unimproved streets are picked up during both rounds but equipment must be able to reach the leaves from the hard road surface.
- In Springfield, leaves need to be put in medium-sized bags that contain only leaves. The bags should be placed curbside, not in the street.
- Do not pile leaves in bike or traffic lanes or on curbs or sidewalks.
- Keep storm drains and gutters clear to prevent localized flooding.
- Do not mix in other debris such as branches, rocks, lawn clippings, pine needles, or trash.
- Leaves are not picked up in private yards.
- Wait to put leaves in the street until the weekend prior to collection.
- Consider recycling leaves as compost or mulch material.
Portland Teacher Strike Continues
Negotiations between Portland Public Schools and Portland Association of Teachers continued Saturday and Sunday, but the two sides had not reached an agreement by Sunday evening. With teachers not planning to show up to school Monday, the district is set to cancel classes for a third day, after cancellations on Nov. 1-2.
Teachers at Portland Public Schools, Oregon’s largest school district, have been on strike since Nov. 1. PAT and PPS differ on spending on wages and planning time for staff and teachers, among other issues.
Union members said on Saturday that if an agreement wasn’t reached by Sunday, picket lines would resume at school sites at 8 a.m. Monday.
Federal Judge Orders Oregon Counties to Release Criminal Defendants from Jail If They Aren’t Appointed An Attorney Within a Week of Their First Court Appearance
A federal judge ordered Oregon counties to release criminal defendants from jail if they aren’t appointed an attorney within a week of their first court appearance. The ruling will go into effect November 16th.
The state is one of many that have struggled to ensure their public defense systems meet the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, and Oregon has faced multiple lawsuits over the issue in recent years.
Ruling Thursday in a case filed this year by the Federal Public Defender’s Office, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said indigent defendants are essentially being locked up and deprived of a voice simply because they are too poor to hire their own lawyer.
“While the reasons underlying the shortage of publicly funded attorneys in Oregon are complex, all parties agree that the state is facing a crisis in its constitutional mandate to provide qualified attorneys to those charged with crimes,” McShane wrote.
Fixing the problem will take systemic change and time, the judge said, “But the luxury of time, unfortunately, is not something that many petitioners have when faced with a criminal prosecution.”
Roughly 135 people were in Oregon jails without access to attorneys at the end of October, the judge said. Many of them had technically been appointed public defenders but no attorney ever actually showed up to represent them. State laws generally require that criminal defendants have their first court appearance within 36 hours of being arrested, though that time frame doesn’t include weekends.
Judges in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, routinely dismiss cases due to a lack of defense attorneys. More than 300 cases, most of them felonies, were dismissed in 2022.
The county’s top prosecutor, Mike Schmidt, has called the shortage “an urgent threat to public safety” and said 10 cases were dismissed between Oct. 20 and Nov. 2.
Public defenders say uncompetitive pay, high stress and overwhelming caseloads affect staffing levels, and the state has historically relied on a contracting system that made it difficult to track which attorneys are assigned to which cases. Lawmakers passed a public defense reform bill earlier this year, but the reforms will take time to implement.
The U.S. Constitution says people charged with a crime have a right to an attorney, but it’s up to states to decide how to make sure that happens. States have carried out that constitutional mandate with varying degrees of success.
“America’s dirty little secret is that thousands of people go to jail every single day in our country without ever having spoken to an attorney,” said David Carroll, executive director and founder of the Sixth Amendment Center, which advocates for equal access in the criminal justice system.
Earlier this year the Mississippi Supreme Court changed that state’s rules so that poor criminal defendants must be appointed an attorney before they are indicted. The indictment process in Mississippi can sometimes take a year or more, forcing indigent criminal defendants to spend months or longer in jail without anyone to fight for their legal rights, Carroll said.
But Mississippi, like most states, lacks enforcement mechanisms to make sure the criminal defense requirements are actually followed, Carroll said.
The lack of enforcement mechanisms means improvements are sometimes forced by lawsuits rather than legislation.
In August the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine obtained a settlement over the failure of that state’s public defender system with a state agency’s commitment to press for more funding, additional public defender offices and other improvements.
A 2004 ruling in a Missouri state court took action similar to this week’s Oregon ruling, ordering that indigent inmates could not be held in lieu of bail for more than seven days without an attorney. But civil rights advocates said the problems continued, and additional lawsuits were filed in 2017 and 2020. In February of this year, a state judge ordered that poor defendants facing imprisonment must be provided a public defender no later than two weeks after they qualify for representation.
2 People Dead In MAX Train Collision
Two people died after being hit by a MAX train in Northeast Portland late Saturday night, the Portland Police Bureau and TriMet reported.
Portland police said responding officers found two people dead at the scene who were hit by a MAX light rail train.
The two individuals were within the restricted area of the train tracks along I-84 at Northeast 28th Avenue when they were hit at around 9:39 p.m. Saturday. Portland police said that a car was damaged in a single vehicle crash along the freeway resulting in no injuries. Speeding is believed to be a factor in the crash. After the crash, the two people in the crashed car jumped over a barrier to pick up a car part that was in a restricted area of the train tracks. While retrieving the part they were both struck by the train.
All I-84 westbound lanes between Northeast 43rd Avenue and I-5 were closed for several hours.
The blue, green and red line services were disrupted for several hours, reopening around 6:14 a.m. Sunday. During the disruption, shuttle buses provided service for the area.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to email Portland police at email@example.com with the subject as attn: Traffic Investigations Unit. The reference case number is 23-288616.
In late October, a man was killed by a MAX train in Gresham. The man was within the restricted area of the train tracks and may have been wearing headphones. In September 2021, a woman died after she was hit by a MAX train traveling west between the Civic Drive station and Ruby Junction, and then in November 2022, a man died after he “inadvertently” walked in front of a train traveling west in the area of East Burnside Street and Southeast 197th Avenue.
Reporting at the time said all three victims were inside the restricted area of the tracks when they were hit. (SOURCE)
Enrollment In Individual Health Insurance Now Open Through Mid-January
The tens of thousands of Oregonians who buy their own health insurance can now start shopping for the best plan for next year.
Open enrollment on the federal online marketplace, which Oregon will continue to use for the next few years, runs this year from Nov. 1 through Jan. 16. Those who enroll by Dec. 15 will be covered starting Jan. 1, and those who sign up after that will be covered starting Feb. 1.
Premiums will increase 6% next year on average but individuals can obtain subsidies through the marketplace to reduce costs. The subsidies come in the form of tax credits that can be used throughout the year or at tax time. In the past, around 70% of those who applied obtained financial help. That jumped to 80% last year, according to Amy Coven at the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees health insurance enrollment.Sign up for coverage
But before buying a plan, state officials recommend that people use the window-shopping tool to compare plans, which vary among different areas.
Oregon also offers free help through experts in health insurance. Find someone for the marketplace, or healthcare.gov, by clicking here.
“Premiums can start as low as a dollar, sometimes even less with the financial help, and they go up from there,” Coven said.
The average tax credit last year was around $500 per person a month, Coven said. That translated to an out-of-pocket premium cost per person of about $225.
Subsidies are based on the marketplace’s silver, or mid-range plans, and there’s no upper income limit to qualify for financial help. Individuals can also sign up for a bronze plan, which has the least expensive premium but costs more out-of-pocket for services, or gold plans, which have the highest premiums but lowest out-of-pocket costs.
All plans include 10 essential benefits, which include emergency care and hospitalization, prescriptions, mental health and addiction services, lab services and maternity and pediatric care. The plans also include free preventive care, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act. All Oregon plans also offer coverage for abortions, acupuncture and chiropractic care and the first three primary care or mental health care visits cost $5 even before the deductible kicks in.
“The coverage is very robust,” Coven said.
The state has offered catastrophic coverage, which is designed to cover unexpected medical costs. And its website says it still does, but Coven said Thursday in a follow-up call that they will not be available for 2024.
Enrollment on the marketplace increased in recent year, hitting nearly 147,000 in 2022 and nearly 142,000 last year. Coven expects 2024 enrollment figures to increase over this year’s as a result of the thousands of people who are being bumped off Medicaid because they no longer qualify. Since April, state officials have been auditing the nearly 1.5 million Oregonians on Medicaid to see whether they still meet the income and other qualifications as part of the end of extra Medicaid benefits during the pandemic.
Although a majority of people on Medicaid have retained coverage, the health authority’s dashboard shows that more than 62,000 have lost the free medical and dental coverage.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that folks understand what other coverage options are available and provide direct assistance for enrollment,” Coven said.
She said officials have sent out 50,000 letters to those who’ve lost Medicaid coverage. It’s not yet clear how many will remain insured by buying health insurance. The state increased the percentage of those who have health insurance during the pandemic thanks to federal and state programs. The state’s insured rate stands at 96%, though that could fall if a lot of people who lose Medicaid do not buy coverage. (SOURCE)
Food Insecurity Rises in Oregon
The percentage of Oregonians whoaren’t sure where their next meal will come fromhas risen steadily since 2020 after a significant drop over recent years, new data shows.
Why it matters: Even with near-record low unemployment across the state, hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon are experiencing food insecurity.
Details: Food insecurity means that at times during the year, a given household couldn’t afford enough food for one or more of its members, write Axios’ Emily Peck and Kavya Beheraj.
- Those with “very low” food security often skip meals.
By the numbers: According to new USDA data, 11.2% of Oregon households experienced food insecurity over 2020-2022, and 4% were at the extreme end with “very low” food security, compared to the U.S. three-year average.
Context: Three-year averages — especially spanning the pandemic — paint only the big picture, Oregon Food Bank senior policy manager Matt Newell-Ching tells Axios.
- Oregon Food Bank data shows a “massive spike” in food requests in the six months after the pandemic hit.
- But as government cash payments and temporary, emergency food benefits kicked in, demand “kind of came back to earth,” Newell-Ching said.
Yes but: When COVID-era benefits ended, the need for food started to rise.
- “It was so frustrating” to see programs that helped alleviate hunger “just taken away,” Newell-Ching said.
Flashback: Oregon struggled with hunger for years — in 1999 the state was shocked to find itself ranked first in incidents of “outright hunger” by the USDA.
- A decade later, it remained in the top five worst states for food security.
- Oregon changed that in part by signing up more people for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), says Mark Edwards, an Oregon State University professor and researcher who sits on the state’s Hunger Task Force.
- He also said the improvement in Oregon’s hunger levels coincided with increases in the state minimum wage.
Threat level: Edwards, who regularly researches local data on hunger, says food insecurity hits people with limited means hardest, such as renters or single parent families.
- In communities of color data often shows “rates that are almost twice that of the rest of the state,” Edwards tells Axios.
- Older people are hardest to get signed up for SNAP, Edwards says, with fewer than half of those eligible signed up.
State of play: At Southwest Portland’s Lift UP food pantry, staff say rising inflation — including high housing costs — is increasing demand.
- “Food costs more, everything costs more,” CaSaundra Johnson, Lift UP development manager, tells Axios.
The intrigue: While waiting for the pantry to open last week, Alejandro Saucedo told Axios he appreciates the fresh food Lift UP provides, which is otherwise outside his means.
- “The amount of produce, and how good it is,” he said.
David’s Chair places Life-Changing Electric All-Terrain Track Chair in the City of Florence
David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems (David’s Chair) has added another location for one of their all-terrain electric Track Chairs to be used for free. The city of Florence in Lane County Oregon has now become the new home and the seventh location where a Track Chair provided by David’s Chair will be permanently stationed. The chair can be reserved now at davidschair.org and accessed and used at Heceta Beach County Park at 88466 1st Ave. in Florence.
CEO and Founder Steve Furst said, “We have been working for several months to make this happen. We are excited to continue to work with the Florence community and wonderful volunteers that are helping facilitate the use of this track chair.” Initially the all-terrain track chair will be available three days a week with hopes of expanding the use in the spring. “I am so proud of the work that Jeff Kallevig (Operations Manager for NW Oregon) has been able to do. He has taken on this project and coordinated with the volunteers and is working with the City of Florence, Lane County and other local organizations to provide support for this location”, said Steve Furst. “We also want to thank the Driftwood Shores Resort for providing a place on the edge of their property near the beach access trail to store our track chair.”
David’s Chair and Oregon Parks Forever have partnered to provide this new way to get out on the beach and into nature for people with mobility challenges. The two non-profits have set a goal of having 10 locations along and near the Oregon Coast where mobility challenged visitors can pick up and use an electric all-terrain Track Chair at no charge.
Anyone with mobility impairments, requiring the assistance of wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes or crutches, will be able to use these chairs free of charge.
These chairs provide a new freedom for a mobility challenged park visitor – to get off the pavement and out into nature.
With increased accessibility to trails, lakes, rivers and beaches, through demanding conditions like sand, snow and mud, mobility-impaired visitors will be able to participate in activities never-before possible.
From birdwatching and fishing, to riding along the beach, to simply enjoying the fresh air and solitude of nature, these all-terrain chairs will invite many new people to share the wonders of the great outdoors in our parks.
See these chairs in action at: https://davidschair.org/video-gallery/
Track Chairs are also currently available for free use at Tigard, Seaside, Manzanita, Pacific City, Netarts, Gold Beach and White City. Newport Oregon should be up and running within a couple of weeks.
Two locations (Tigard and White City) also allow guests to pick up a trailer and chair and take it to their location of choice. Linn County’s location will also offer this “Tow and Go” opportunity.
Reservations for free use must be made at least three days in advance at: https://davidschair.org.
About David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems
David’s Chair is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit based in White City, Oregon with a mission to provide people with mobility challenges the free use of electric all-terrain track chairs offering freedom and independence to get outdoors and experience terrain and conditions that would otherwise be unavailable to them. The organization currently has 20 electric all-terrain track chairs and 7 trailers, available in many areas of Oregon for use for free by people with mobility challenges who reserve them at www.davidschair.org.
Contact: Steve Furst, CEO 541/941-8976 firstname.lastname@example.org
About Oregon Parks Forever
Since 1995, Oregon Parks Forever has been raising funds to help fund programs and projects that enhance the experience and accessibility of Oregon’s parks & forests. Emphasis is placed on projects that protect existing facilities and amenities, increase park accessibility, provide healthy activities and educate the future stewards of our public lands. Oregon Parks Forever is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission includes working with federal, state, local and tribal public land managers to enhance and preserve special places and experiences in all Oregon parks. For more information, visit orparksforever.org/
Work On Copco No. 2 Dam Removal Completed
Crews put the final touches on the removal of the Copco No. 2 Dam this week.
Removal of the dam structure was completed in September, and crews spent the past month removing the remaining diversion infrastructure, grading the river channel, and performing erosion control.
That work prepared the river canyon for consistent river flows, likely commencing within 30 days, which the canyon hasn’t seen in 98 years.
Currently, flows in the canyon are fluctuating due to work being done to prepare Copco No. 1 for drawdown.
“Copco No 2 is the first dam to be removed due to its small stature, location, and lack of reservoir,” said Mark Bransom, CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), the entity tasked with the removal of the four lower Klamath hydroelectric dams. “However, while Copco No. 2 was significantly smaller than the other dams slated for removal, it still had a significant impact on the river.”
Copco No. 2 was located right below Copco No. 1 in a steep river canyon, commonly known as Ward’s Canyon, named after Kitty Ward, a Shasta woman who lived in the valley now submerged by the reservoir created by Copco No 1.
Completed in 1925, Copco No. 2 was a diversion dam that funneled the river’s flows out of the canyon and into a tunnel system that sent the water to the Copco No. 2 powerhouse located downstream, essentially dewatering the 1.7-mile-long canyon.
Without the river’s presence in the canyon, trees grew in the riverbed which, when exposed to consistent river flows, would have died off creating a hazard for future recreationists. Those trees were removed in September in collaboration with area tribes.
“Seeing the Klamath River flow through this canyon after being diverted for nearly a century is inspiring,” said Laura Hazlett, COO of KRRC. “It makes me excited for everything else that is to come with the removal of the other three dams.”
The remaining three dams, Copco No. 1, Iron Gate, and JC Boyle are slated for removal next year.
In January, KRRC will implement the drawdown, the slow draining of the reservoirs, which is expected to take 3-5 months, depending on the amount of water entering the system as a result of spring runoff.
Once the drawdown is complete, restoration and deconstruction activities will begin in earnest. All three dams are expected to be completely removed by November 2024.
In a related story, Researchers at Oregon State University have concluded that a large-scale dam removal and restoration project currently underway on the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California will help salmon populations, according to college officials.
The college said a group of scientists published their findings in a new paper that concludes salmon populations devastated by disease and other factors will be aided by the removal of four hydroelectric dams along the river. The project will not, however, fully alleviate challenges faced by the species, OSU said.
The researchers said that factors that affect salmon health include stream-flow levels, water temperature, and pathogens. Opening up habitat and creating longer fish migration routes by removing the dams will decrease fish disease risk by flushing out pathogens and unclogging a pathogen hot spot that formed below the Iron Gate Dam about five miles south of the California-Oregon border east of Interstate 5, OSU officials said.
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 email@example.com .
Oregon is Searching for its Next Poet Laureate
Oregon is searching for its next Poet Laureate. Over the two-year-term, the Poet Laureate promotes the art of poetry, encourages literacy and learning, addresses issues relating to the humanities and reflects on public life in Oregon.
Nominations are accepted through January 8th, and poets are welcome to nominate themselves. The next Poet Laureate term begins in May. MORE INFO: https://culturaltrust.org/oregon-poet-laureate/?fbclid=IwAR0O-Gx81HjAKwXHwyrEVtxpgyXma9XRb5xwacG_o57ga3_lKUwIbPRMXks
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.