Willamette Valley News, Friday 11/10 – Lane County Elections Office Reopens Following Suspicious Mail Incident & 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

Friday, November 10, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather



* WHAT...Areas of dense fog, with visibility less than a half mile at times.

* WHERE...Central Willamette Valley and South Willamette Valley, as well as the valleys in the northern Oregon Cascades and Lane County Cascades foothills.

* WHEN...Until 10 AM PST this morning.

* IMPACTS...Hazardous driving conditions due to low visibility.

Lane County Elections Office Reopens Following Suspicious Mail Incident

The Lane County Elections Office reopened today at 8:00 a.m. to resume normal operations. The Elections Office closed unexpectedly on Wednesday after staff received a suspicious piece of mail. 

“We are appreciative of the quick response from Eugene police and other partners,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “Situations like this are scary for everyone involved. We will, of course, cooperate with the investigation and hope the person or people who wanted to terrorize our staff and disrupt the elections process are held accountable.”

Although the Elections Office was closed for part of yesterday, ballot processing was not significantly affected as staff had stayed late on Election Day to process ballots. Clerk Dena Dawson believes they will be able to get caught up today and provide an update on election results at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections.

“I am disheartened by the continuing threat landscape for election officials. We are dedicated public servants and we take our role in defending democracy very seriously. We just want to do our jobs without having to fear for our lives,” said Dawson.  An investigation is underway and any questions regarding its status should be directed to law enforcement. 

There were suspicious mail received all around the country at election offices this week including fentanyl in letter at Spokane. The FBI is investigating election threats in Oregon. And a report was issued earlier this week:

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.”

Fatal House Fire in Sweet Home

On Thursday, November 9th at approximately 3:21 pm Sweet Home Fire District was dispatched to a report of a structure fire at 28227 Santiam Hwy. First units went enroute at 3:23pm, arriving just 3 minutes later at 3:26pm.

While enroute dispatch notified units the caller was reporting there was a victim still inside the structure and flames were visible. First arriving unit spoke to the caller, he confirmed there was a victim who was unable to escape the fire. Crews made a rapid attack entering the structure, finding heavy smoke and heat inside. Due to the rescue attempt additional resources were requested and received from Lebanon Fire District. Within minutes, using a thermal imaging camera, crews were able to locate the victim and discovered them to already be deceased.

Crews continued to extinguish the fire and overhaul the structure checking for any hidden fire or hotspots. LCSO was notified of the fatality and they are currently investigating the fire as per protocol anytime there is a fatality. Any further information will be released when the investigation is complete. 

Fatal Crash – HWY 58 – Lane County

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at 5:06 p.m., the Oregon State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 58, near milepost 44, in Lane County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a gray Ford Explorer, operated by Justin Kazutaka Fabrick (33) of Eugene, was traveling westbound when an eastbound black Toyota Camry, operated by Isabel Macy Walth (20) of Castro Valley (CA), attempted to pass in the “no passing” zone and struck the Ford head-on.  The Toyota was traveling in the on-coming (westbound) lane at the time of the collision.

A passenger in the Toyota, Kent Derek Walth (59) of Castro Valley (CA), was declared deceased while being transported to an area hospital.  The operator of the Toyota (Isabel Walth) and passenger, Rozetta Kei Fan-Walth (62) of Castro Valley (CA), were seriously injured and transported to an area hospital.

The operator of the Ford (Fabrick) was seriously injured and transported to an area hospital.

The highway was impacted for approximately 5 hours during the on-scene investigation. 

OSP was assisted by Oakridge Fire, Eugene Fire, Springfield Fire, and ODOT.

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.

Eugene Police pursued a man wanted on a warrant in Deschutes County for about two blocks Tuesday and say he took his own life as they closed in. The man, whose identity has not been released, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the area of 11th Avenue and Garfield Street, said police spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said officers received reports Monday of a person who had been making threatening phone calls to local organizations in Eugene. A warrant was issued for his arrest Tuesday by Deschutes County Circuit Court for failure to appear in an assault case.

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.

The City of Corvallis and Benton County will be hosting an open house for the SW West Hills Corridor Plan on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

The City, County, and project team invites the neighborhood and community to participate in an upcoming open house to view work completed to date and provide final input before presenting to the Corvallis City Council and Benton County Commissioners.

  • What: Community open house – no formal presentation, drop by anytime to view exhibits and speak with the project team.
  • When: Tuesday, November 14 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: Benton County Fairgrounds Auditorium at 110 SW 53rd Street. The Auditorium building is the closest to and accessed from the 53rd Street entrance.

Community members can contact the project team online and view open house materials that will be available Nov. 14.

During the open house in June, the project team shared information and collected feedback in person and online. The team also presented an overview of the corridor planning process and information about next steps to a joint work session of the Corvallis City Council and Benton County Commissioners in September. View the meeting minutes, materials, and video of the presentation. At the September joint work session, the project team announced they would begin working on a third corridor concept to share with the community at the November open house.

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

Operation Winter Survival Supply Stockpile Drive

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

PeaceHealth Announces More Closure Dates In Eugene

PeaceHealth says the inpatient rehabilitation unit at the University District hospital will relocate to RiverBend in Springfield on Dec. 15.

The transition will mark the official end of services at the main “hospital tower” at University District, which is Eugene’s only hospital. The healthcare organization announced in August that it would phase out services at the facility, but until recently, had not announced specific closure dates.

PeaceHealth previously announced that the University District emergency room would close on Dec. 1 at 7 a.m.

Services in outlying buildings at the Eugene location, including the inpatient behavioral health unit, will remain available.

Community leaders, as well as Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, have urged PeaceHealth to reconsider or delay the closure of the hospital. While there are two hospitals just several miles away in Springfield, including PeaceHealth’s RiverBend facility, officials in Eugene say the loss of a close-in emergency room could be potentially dangerous in emergency situations, or in the event of a major earthquake that damages or destroys bridges that cross the Willamette River.

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.

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

Bargaining is still underway between Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers. The main issues involve pay, more planning time and smaller class sizes.

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.”

There will be more bargaining on Friday when schools would have been closed anyway for Veterans Day.

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 joined two Oregon County Clerks and the Reed College researchers to share the study’s findings during November Legislative Days at the Capitol. 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)

OSP K-9 teams seize illegal drugs along I-5 corridor


Fentanyl powder stamped “Versace” seized
OSP K-9 teams seize illegal drugs along I-5 corridor

LINN COUNTY, Ore. 8 Nov. 2023 – Oregon State Police (OSP) K-9 teams recently seized six pounds of meth, two kilograms of cocaine, and 2.3 pounds of fentanyl powder.

In October 2023 alone, troopers across the state seized 3.9 pounds of fentanyl – enough for 800,000 fatal doses. Recent seizures along the I-5 corridor in the Willamette Valley highlight the continuing efforts of OSP interdiction teams focused on disrupting the flow of illegal drugs. 

  • During an Oct. 19, 2023, traffic stop in Linn County the police K-9 alerted to the presence of drugs. During a search of the vehicle, six pounds of meth and two kilograms of cocaine were found hidden in the vehicle. The suspect, Ari Noel Quiroz Jimenez, was arrested for Attempted Delivery of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine, Attempted Delivery of Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine, and lodged at the Linn County Jail.
  • A second stop in Linn County on October 26, yielded a vacuum sealed package containing a compressed white powder stamped with the word “Versace.” The white powder tested positive for fentanyl. The driver, Luis A. Duran, was arrested for attempted delivery and possession of fentanyl. 

OSP reminds the public of the danger of illicit drug use, which is the leading cause of injury deaths in Oregon. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, or is in crisis, help is available. Call or text “988” or visit 988lifeline.org to chat. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free and confidential support. 

# # # About the Oregon State Police K-9 Program 
The Oregon State Police K-9 program includes explosives, fish and wildlife, and drug detection K-9s. A variety of dog breeds are included in the program including Blood Hound, Springer Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Belgian Malinois, and German Shepherd. K-9’s are selected based on the dog’s personality, high drive, workability, and intense desire for tracking and detection. K-9 teams assist in the detection of illegal drugs, recovery of stolen property, and the arrest of wanted persons on Oregon’s highways and in local communities. These teams work closely with other troopers, drug enforcement detectives, as well as city, county, and federal law enforcement agencies. 

OSP Drug Enforcement Section investigation leads to seizure of firearms and illegal drugs

GRANTS PASS, Ore. 9 Nov. 2023 – An Oregon State Police Drug Enforcement Section (DES) investigation led to the arrest of a suspected drug dealer, the recovery of multiple firearms, and the seizure 108 grams of fentanyl.


On Nov. 6, 2023, OSP DES troopers located Jesse Rigel (35) who was wanted on an outstanding arrest for a parole violation stemming from original charges including assault, DUII, hit and run, and possession of methamphetamine. Rigel had been evading police for more than a year. While searching an associated property in the 17000 block of Redwood Highway in Selma, detectives located and recovered two stolen vehicles.

Detectives additionally located and seized seven firearms, one of which was previously reported stolen, body armor, approximately 108 grams of suspected fentanyl (liquid, powder, and pill form), and three grams of methamphetamine. Also found was evidence of controlled substance distribution.

Rigel was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on an outstanding arrest warrant. OSP DES was assisted by the Grants Pass Police Department and the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) team. This investigation is ongoing, and no additional details are available at this time.

# # # About the Oregon State Police
Oregon State Police (OSP) is a multi-disciplined organization that protects Oregon’s people, wildlife, and natural resources. OSP enforces traffic laws on the state’s roadways, investigates and solves crime, conducts postmortem examinations and forensic analysis, and provides background checks, and law enforcement data. The agency regulates gaming and enforces fish, wildlife, and natural resource laws. OSP is comprised of more than 1,400 staff members – including troopers, investigators, and professional staff – who provide a full range of policing and public safety services to Oregon and other law enforcement agencies throughout Oregon.

OSP Drug Enforcement Section Serves Search Warrant on Illegal Marijuana Grow-Cave Junction

On Thursday, November 2, 2023, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Drug Enforcement Section (DES) Southwest Region Marijuana (SWRMJ) team executed a search warrant on an illegal marijuana growing operation in the 400 block of Pinewood Way, Cave Junction, Oregon.  

Randall MEISENBURG (41), of Cave Junction, was arrested and issued a criminal citation for Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana (ORS 475C.349).  As a result of the operation, 1,644 illegal marijuana plants and approximately 2,000 lbs. of dried, processed marijuana were seized and ultimately destroyed.  Additionally, approximately $9,000.00 in U.S. currency was seized.   

Due to the living environment, DHS Child Welfare was contacted and responded to the location to assess the condition of two (2) small children.

The OSP DES SWRMJ team was assisted by the Jackson County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) and the OSP Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.  

This investigation is ongoing and no additional details are available for release at this time.

Contest promoting young worker safety in Oregon is open to high school students; submissions due Feb. 16, 2024

Salem – High school students across Oregon are encouraged to let their video or graphic design skills flourish by engaging in a competition involving cash prizes and a noble cause: increasing awareness about workplace safety and health for young workers. 

The 2024 media contest, organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]), calls on participants to create an ad – through a compelling graphic design or video – that captures their peers’ attention and convinces them to take the O[yes] Young Employee Safety Awareness online training.

The door to creativity is open: Participants get to choose the key message, theme, or tagline they believe will enthrall their audience and move it to act. The contest is now open for submissions. To compete, participants may submit either a graphic design or a video that is no more than 90 seconds in length. 

Participants are expected to choose their key message, theme, or tagline in a wise and positive manner as they work to convince their target audience – teen workers or teens who are preparing to work for the first time – to take the O[yes] Young Employee Safety Awareness online training to improve their knowledge of how to stay safe and healthy in the workplace. 

The top three entries in each of the two media categories will take home cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500. In each category, the first-place winner’s school, club, or organization will receive a matching award. Moreover, O[yes] will use the best of the submissions as ads in its ongoing efforts to improve on-the-job safety and health protections for teens. 

While they carry out their projects, participants must ensure the health and safety of their team. No one should be endangered while creating their video or graphic design project. 

The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. 

Participants are encouraged to submit entries online. Submissions may also be mailed on a USB thumb drive or delivered in person. 

For more information about the entry form and rulescontest expectations, and resources – including the entries that won in 2023 and 2022 – visit the O[yes] online contest page

The contest sponsors are local Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Construction Safety Summit, Central Oregon Safety & Health Association, Hoffman Construction Company, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU, Oregon OSHA, SafeBuild Alliance, SAIF Corporation, Oregon SHARP Alliance, and the Oregon Utility Notification Center.

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to oregon.gov/dcbs.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to youngemployeesafety.org.

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)

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

May be an image of 2 people and text that says '864 ALBANY POLICE DEPARTMENT BULLETIN **For Public Release Issue Date: 11/07/2023 APD Case 23-07048 860 MISSING JUVENILE Ylianna Marie May years old 5'0" 145lbs Brown Hair, Brown Eyes Reported missing from Albany, Oregon on 11/07/2023. She has expressed intent leave the state. additional details or endangering factors known at this time. Please call local police if located. Albany Police Department 2600 Pacific Sw, Albany, 97322 Submitting Off/Det. Lovejoy'
May be an image of 1 person and text

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

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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