Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 11/8 – Eugene Police Chase Ends With Suspect Killing Self, Operation Winter Survival Supply Stockpile Drive Kicks Off Today & 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, November 8, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Eugene Police Chase Ends With Suspect Killing Self

According to Eugene police, just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, officers attempted to perform a traffic stop on a high-risk suspect wanted from another jurisdiction, but the suspect sped off when officers moved in. Police said the suspect led officers on a chase for about two blocks, before shooting himself and crashing into a stopped, unoccupied vehicle in a parking lot. Officers said the suspect was declared dead at the scene from the gunshot.

Emergency records show paramedics were called to assist police on west 11th Avenue near Grant Alley at about 11:49 a.m. on November 7. Police said the identity of the suspect is being withheld until his family is notified.

Police said one officer was receiving a medical evaluation from a minor injury suffered in the crash, but no one else was injured in the incident. West 11th Avenue was blocked by police between Hayes Street and Chambers Street, and was reopened just after 3 p.m.. Police said there is no ongoing threat to the public.

Operation Winter Survival Supply Stockpile Drive Kicks Off Today

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

For more information on Operation Winter Survival Stockpile, please contact Maria Cortez at ia.Cortez@lanecountyor.gov“>Maria.Cortez@lanecountyor.gov

Lost Mushroom Picker Rescued by Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office received the report of a missing mushroom picker Monday afternoon at about 2:30pm.  A man who had been lost in the woods in the area of Herman Peak Rd. northeast of Florence managed to hike his way out of the woods to a house in the Mercer Lake area. 

The man reported to authorities that he had become separated from his girlfriend a couple of days prior and that she was believed to still be lost somewhere in the woods.  Lane County Sheriff Search and Rescue personnel responded to the area and began searching for her. 

The female was located by SAR personnel late in the evening.  She had fallen into an area in the woods that was very difficult to access.  She was hypothermic, very disoriented and difficult to move.  The US Coast Guard provided a helicopter but were unable to hoist her out due to heavy fog that had set in the area.  Rescuers made the decision to stabilize and remain with her through the night until they could attempt to hike out in the morning.

This morning at about 5:30am rescuers were able to get the female up to the nearest roadway and into an ambulance.  She was transported to an area hospital for treatment. 

“I am so proud of our Search and Rescue team.” said Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold.  “Their care and compassion for others is so apparent.  Our community is a better place because of these brave men and women and their dedication to saving the lives of others.”     LCSO Case #23-5833

Salem Suspicious Death Investigation

Salem, Ore. — A teenager was found dead Monday morning, November 6, and Salem Police detectives are investigating the incident as a suspicious death.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. yesterday, Salem Police officers were dispatched to the 1000 block of Evergreen AV NE on the report of an unconscious person inside a vehicle. Officers arrived to find a deceased, young man. 

The individual has been identified as a 15-year-old Salem resident. Salem Police detectives are investigating the teen’s death and working all available leads.

No other information about this active investigation is being released, including the name of the victim who is a minor.

At this time, the police department is requesting anyone who may have information concerning this case to please call the Salem Police Tips Line at 503-588-8477.

Albany Woman Accused Of Drowning Her Child Now Charged With Aggravated Murder

The woman who allegedly drowned her three-year-old daughter in a kiddie pool back in October has had her charge upgraded to aggravated murder, but may be able to be conditionally released from jail later in November, according to court documents.

On October 22, Albany police responded to a 911 call that said a three-year-old girl had been found face-down in a pool at a home in Albany. Officers and paramedics arrived to try to save the girl’s life, and she was taken to a Portland-area hospital, where she later died. The girl’s mother, Kristen Rae Brooks, 30, told officers she had intentionally pushed her daughter under the water “as God had told her to do so,” according to a court affidavit.

Brooks was originally charged with attempted aggravated murder, but court documents show the charge was upgraded to aggravated murder on November 6. She is also charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment.

According to court documents, Brooks had requested and received a court-appointed defense attorney at her arraignment hearing on October 23. However, court records show that attorney was removed from the case on November 2 for unclear reasons, leaving Brooks without a defense attorney. Court documents show that state prosecutors believe this to be a violation of Brooks’ Sixth Amendment right to legal representation, but are also concerned that Brooks may be eligible for conditional release from jail if no attorney is appointed.

According to a court order issued on November 2 by Judge Michael McShane, criminal defendants who are unrepresented for more than 7 days must be released from jail as the court process continues. Court documents show that prosecutors believe the order means the court must appoint an attorney to the case by November 9, or will have to order Brooks to be released from jail. However, the order issued by Judge McShane states that it will only go into effect on November 16. Regardless of when the order goes into effect, if no defense attorney is appointed for Brooks, she may be eligible for conditional release from jail later in November as the case proceeds.

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&

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

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.

For more information about leaf pickup in Springfield, visit www.springfield-or.gov/leafpickup, call 541-525-2658 or email ogram@springfield-or.gov“>leafpickupprogram@springfield-or.gov

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 leafcollection@lanecountyor.gov.

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.

Attached Media Files:Full press release with maps , 2023-10/6775/167460/Spfld_leaf_collection_zones.png , Lane County leaf map , Eugene leaf map

There is no school again today for tens of thousands of Portland Public Schools students as teachers remain on strike

Negotiations between the teachers union and the district continues, with PPS officials telling KGW that they’re making progress with educators on the topic of planning and preparation time. However, on the issues of cost-of-living wage increase and class size caps, both sides appear to still be far apart. 

On Tuesday, district officials announced that they had called on Gov. Tina Kotek to help identify a facilitator to continue bringing both the union and the PPS bargaining team together over the next two days, since the current mediator had another mediation commitment on Wednesday and Thursday. The district said if none could be found, they’d resume on Friday morning. 

Kotek released a statement, saying that the state’s chief financial officer, Kate Nass, will work with PPS and PAT during the ongoing mediation sessions. Nass will review financial information “to ensure the district and union are working from the same set of numbers as they keep working to resolve this strike.”

“My office successfully worked to secure a mediator to remain at the table with PAT and PPS,” she said. “My focus continues to be on providing the support needed to deliver a fair contract for PPS educators and return students to the classroom.”

Students, parents and educators also gathered for a rally outside Atkinson Elementary School in Southeast Portland. Although kids said they’re hoping to get back to class soon, they’re in full support of their teachers. 

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.

Oregon Housing and Community Services awards over $56 million to smaller developments and Veteran housing

SALEM, OR – The Oregon Housing Stability Council approved $56.7 million in Small Projects and Veterans funding to 11 affordable housing developments across the state. These investments from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will provide 261 homes in smaller developments for veterans, seniors, agricultural workers, people experiencing homelessness, and wildfire survivors.

OHCS defines smaller developments as those having 40 homes or fewer in one complex. Five developments selected for funding awards are in rural areas (42% of total homes) and six are in urban areas (58% of total homes).

“Providing housing is not just a matter of shelter,” says OHCS Director, Andrea Bell. “It’s a statement of our commitment to the well-being of our veterans who’ve sacrificed for our nation, our seniors who’ve contributed to our society, and our agricultural workers who feed our communities. It’s a testament to our values and our gratitude for those who are integral to our beloved communities.”

Brookings CORE Response, a non-profit that serves veterans experiencing homelessness, was awarded funding for the creation of the Veterans Housing Project which will provide 18 much needed homes in Gold Beach.

“The City of Gold Beach has worked hard in recent years to find housing solutions of all kinds,” said Tamie Kaufman, the mayor of the City of Gold Beach. “I am excited that Brookings CORE Response has taken the initiative to use a property for veterans housing. We have a large number of veterans in our community, many of whom need both housing and support, which this project provides. Additionally, the project’s support for culturally specific veterans is amazing.”

Eleven projects were approved for funding at the November Housing Stability Council meeting:

NameCityAward Amount Units
Baker City Senior VillageBaker City $ 2 million   10
Carson Commons Dallas $ 3.9 million 20
EverFree HomesKlamath Falls  $ 3.5 million 15
The JadePortland  $ 10 million 40
Jolenes Second CousinPortland  $ 1.2 million  11
Queen Ave Apartments Albany $ 6.2 million 30
Springfield ApartmentsSpringfield  $ 7.9 million  39
Talent 2 Senior ApartmentsTalent $ 5.2 million  26
Town Center Courtyards Phase IIHappy Valley  $ 3.8 million  12
Trinity PlaceSisters  $ 9.8 million 40
Veterans Housing Project Gold Beach  $ 3.2 million 18

This was a competitive application process. OHCS received a total of 17 applications, amounting to over $94 million in funding requests. OHCS is grateful to the internal and external scoring committees for their diligent evaluation of the applications.  

For more detailed information about each recommended project, please refer to the November Housing Stability Council packet

OHA urges mpox vaccinations after 17 cases reported since July 20

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is reminding people about the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against mpox following an increase in cases of the virus in recent months.

Seventeen mpox cases were reported to OHA and local public health authorities between July 20 and Oct. 31. This prompted state health officials to distribute a statewide advisory to health care providers this week, recommending they consider mpox when evaluating patients with mpox symptoms regardless of the patient’s  reported risk, vaccination status or level of community transmission. The advisory also states that testing patients with rashes, lesions or symptoms compatible with mpox should be considered part of comprehensive sexual health care.

Tim Menza, M.D., Ph.D., senior health adviser for OHA’s mpox response, said Oregon saw one to three mpox cases per month before mid-summer. While the recent increase in cases since July 20 is still lower than the 10 to 15 cases reported each week at the height of the 2022 outbreak, these cases show that mpox is still spreading in Oregon.

“We never declared the 2022 outbreak over because we were concerned about increases like the one we are seeing now,” Menza said. “And it gives us an opportunity to remind folks in the community that vaccination against mpox remains a valuable tool for reducing the risk of mpox infection.”

The JYNNEOS mpox vaccine is free and readily available to anyone in Oregon who wants to be vaccinated, regardless of insurance status. It is also highly effective: According to a study published in May in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the vaccine was found to be 75% effective for those receiving one dose and 86% effective for those who had two doses.

Mpox spreads primarily through close, skin-to-skin contact. Most often, it has spread through intimate or sexual contact, and during contact with the lesions of an individual with mpox through a caregiving relationship, such as a parent caring for a child or an adult caretaker of another person.

Mpox symptoms can start between a few days to three weeks after contact. The most common are flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and feeling tired. Most people will develop a rash within a few days of the flu-like symptoms; some people only develop a rash, which may start on or near the penis, testicles, labia, vagina or anus. It may also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.

People who suspect they have mpox should contact their health care provider to let them know before going in to be seen. The provider may recommend testing for mpox. Those who don’t have a health care provider can call 2-1-1 for help finding a clinic or health care provider.

For more information about mpox in Oregon, visit OHA’s mpox website or the CDC’s mpox page, https://mpoxvaxmap.org/. Vaccination clinics can also be searched by ZIP code with the mpox vaccine locator tool at https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Monkeypox/Pages/vaccine.aspx.

Oregon County Clerks Struggling with Staffing, Retention, and Recruitment in the Midst of a Toxic Political Environment

Oregon’s 36 county clerks play a critical role on the front lines of administering Oregon’s elections and are essential in promoting our democracy.

But an increasingly toxic political environment, inadequate funding model, and rapidly growing and changing workload are threatening the clerks’ ability to recruit, hire, and retain county elections staff, according to a new study published by Reed College…

The study was commissioned by the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division to better understand the changing landscape county clerks face in advance of the 2024 Presidential election year. Researchers at Reed College’s Elections and Voting Information Ce… (EVIC) spent months interviewing nearly all Oregon county clerks and have compiled the sobering findings in a study to be presented before the Legislature today.

“This report is a grim but realistic look at what our county clerks face,” said Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade. “But it’s also a testament to their professionalism and ingenuity.”

The researchers found:

• Staffing recruitment and retention is hampered by out-of-date job classifications, compensations, and perceptions of the work. Staffing today is at or below staffing levels from a decade ago.
• Public records requests are becoming increasingly burdensome, as false information is spread and distrust in elections systems continues to fuel more frequent and complicated requests for information.
• Local elections offices are experiencing retirements, resignations, and loss of expertise. Since 2020, 34% of county clerks have retired or resigned.
• Oregon’s funding model for county elections, dependent largely on fluctuations in interest rates and the real estate market, is inadequate for election needs. Counties are already laying off workers because of this outdated funding model.
• Elections officials and staff are subject to unacceptable levels of abuse, threats, and harassment, driving many of them to quit despite expressing their pride and passion for the work.

“We have active shooter training that we’ve done,” said one individual to the researchers. “We kind of know how to recognize some of the signs that somebody might be escalating versus deescalating.”

“I saw in [previous Clerk] this love and passion that I didn’t know was there,” said another. “It pushed me into really caring and loving and making sure that people really know what they had, and how important elections are, and the rights they have. And if you are not involved, it’s really hard to see change.”

Elections Division staff commissioned the study at the request of the Oregon Association of County Clerks, after hearing concerns from elections officials about the changing electoral landscape. Prior to the study, officials lacked data to fully capture the needs of elections administration in Oregon. This study is a critical first step to understanding the discrepancies in staffing challenges across the state and provides information for Oregon clerks to use when advocating for increased investment.
“For the last few years, we have heard hundreds of anecdotes about underfunding and understaffing at county elections offices, both here in Oregon and around the country,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “Now, we have some real data to back up those anecdotes. We call on legislators and county governments to read this report and consider its recommendations.”

Researchers include several recommendations in the study, directed at both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Oregon Legislature, on ways to provide coordinated and statewide support to county elections officials.

The Secretary will be joining two Oregon County Clerks and the Reed College researchers to share the study’s findings during November Legislative Days at the Capitol.

What: A presentation on the findings of the clerk staffing study before the House Rules Committee.

Who: Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade;

Paul Gronke PhD, Director of Elections and Voting Information Center and Professor of Political Science, Reed College;

Paul Manson PhD, Research Director of Elections and Voting Information Center and Research Assistant Professor, Portland State University;

Harney County Clerk Derrin “Dag” Robinson; and

Baker County Clerk Stefanie Kirby.

When: 11:30 a.m. on November 7, 2023

Where: Hearing Room A at the Capitol. You can also watch a live stream of the meeting on OLIS: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023I1/Comm… (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

For general information about the three levels of plans, go here. For information about coverage and to sign up, go here

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)

Adults in Custody apprehended after fleeing Oregon Department of Corrections Central Distribution Center in Salem

An adult in custody (AIC) left an offsite work crew Tuesday, November 7, 2023, from the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Central Distribution Center (CDC) located in Salem. Juan Antonio Castillo fled on a golf cart at approximately 9:50 a.m. He was apprehended by Marion County Sheriff’s Office nearby on Lancaster Drive at 10:13 a.m. Oregon State Police are investigating.

Juan Castillo entered DOC custody on July 12, 2023, on one count of eluding a police officer, and one count of robbery in the second degree out of Marion County. His earliest release date was April 17, 2027.

Castillo was housed at the Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem. SCI a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses approximately 440 adults in custody who are within four years of release. The facility concentrates on work opportunities, most of which are in the form of work crews contracting with state agencies, local organizations, and private industries within a 60-mile radius of Salem. SCI provides a range of other correctional programs and services including education, transition programs, and religious services. The building that is now SCI was constructed in 1946 and was originally used as an annex to the Oregon State Hospital for mental health patients. Over the years it was used for a variety of correctional purposes until, in 1990, it opened as SCI.

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 .

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.

Information about the Poet Laureate program, how to nominate the next Poet LaureateAnis, and how to request an appearance can be found on this website. Please also check out our Facebook page.

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.

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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