Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 11/29 – Lane County Nurses Leading Info Picket and Rally Outside PeaceHealth 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 29, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

AIR QUALITY ALERT ISSUED – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

...AIR QUALITY ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THURSDAY...

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency have continued an Air Quality Advisory, which is in effect until 10 AM PST Thursday for the Central and Southern Willamette Valley. To include the cities of Salem, Eugene-Springfield
and areas located near those cities.

An Air Quality Advisory for smoke and other particulate matter remains in effect. Localized sources in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels at times through Thursday morning.

Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases, and aggravate other serious health problems. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition.

More information about air quality can be found at:
http://www.orcaa.org
http://www.swcleanair.gov
http://www.oregon.gov/DEQ
http://www.lrapa.org

Lane County Nurses Leading Info Picket and Rally Outside PeaceHealth Today, Nov. 29, 5-7 pm

Oregon Nurses Assn. – 11/28/23 2:53 PMONA nurses and supporters held a rally outside PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend June 7 to raise awareness about staffing issues at Sacred Heart hospitals and home care. Nurses are demanding PeaceHealth executives work with local nurses to improve health care for our community.

Home care and hospice nurses are fighting for a fair contract to address record turnover and job vacancies.

(Eugene, Ore.) – Dozens of local nurses, health care providers, elected officials and community supporters are leading an informational picket and rally outside PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services offices in downtown Eugene Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 5 – 7 p.m. Home health and hospice nurses are demanding PeaceHealth address its growing home care staffing crisis and compensate nurses equitably to meet the community’s increasing health needs.

Sacred Heart Home Care nurses travel to patients’ homes to provide vital medical and end-of-life care for residents throughout Lane County. After almost a year of unsuccessful contract bargaining with PeaceHealth, dozens of home care nurses have already left and a staggering one-third of home care nurses plan to leave next year if their contract isn’t resolved equitably.

Frontline nurses working at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).

WHAT: Nurse Informational Picket and Public Rally

WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. 5 – 7 p.m.
 
WHERE: Outside PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services offices in downtown Eugene. 
677 E 12th Ave. Eugene, OR 97401

WHO: Home health, home infusion and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, along with other health care workers, elected officials and community supporters including Oregon State Senator James Manning, State Representative Julie Fahey, Eugene City Councilors Matt Keating, and Jennifer Yeh as well as other community leaders.

Reporters and media representatives are encouraged to attend this event to capture the stories and voices of frontline home care and hospice nurses and inform the community about record turnover and worsening care conditions.

WHY: Sacred Heart Home Care nurses play an essential, but often unseen, role in our community. No matter where you call home–an urban apartment, rural house in the country or a tent under the freeway–home care nurses meet you where you are to deliver health care you can’t get anywhere else. They help patients return home to continue healing after being hospitalized for traumatic injuries or illnesses. They also assist patients and their families transition into the final stages of life with expert support, care and guidance to give sick and dying individuals dignity and freedom.

Despite their essential work, PeaceHealth has dragged out home care nurses’ contract negotiations for a year and continues to low-ball home care nurses with inequitable compensation which is less than other similar home health agencies and significantly less than PeaceHealth pays Sacred Heart hospital nurses–despite previously paying them equally. 

PeaceHealth’s disrespect towards home care nurses is driving many local nurses to quit–threatening patients’ care and placing an undue burden on the nurses left behind who are forced to take on even more work.  

PeaceHealth’s failure to retain and recruit home care nurses has real impacts for vulnerable patients who are experiencing delays and a loss of service. PeaceHealth was only able to admit 57% of hospital-referred home care patients into its programs in a timely fashion in October. The national average is 95%.

Local nurses are demanding PeaceHealth executives in Vancouver come to the table to reach a fair contract agreement that enables them to recruit and retain the highly skilled and valuable nurses who care for some of the most complex home care patients in the state.

Nurses have been bargaining for a new contract since January 2023. PeaceHealth allowed nurses’ contract to expire in April 2023 and has refused to reach an agreement with home care nurses despite coming to terms with local hospital nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in August. 

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 17,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including 1,500 frontline nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center and Sacred Heart Home Care Services. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

PeaceHealth Closure Dates In Eugene

PeaceHealth inpatient rehabilitation unit at University District in Eugene will relocate to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield on Dec. 15.

PeaceHealth is taking this step after announcing in August the start of a comprehensive process to close the underutilized University District hospital.

After the closure of the emergency department at University District at 7 a.m. on Dec. 1, the inpatient rehabilitation unit will be the only service remaining at the hospital until the unit moves to RiverBend on Dec. 15. Following the unit’s relocation to RiverBend, the hospital tower at University District will close.

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.

All PeaceHealth Medical Group clinics on the west side of Hilyard Street and the outpatient rehabilitation clinic, plus the inpatient behavioral health unit on the corner of Alder Street and 11th Avenue, will remain open and serving patients.

Oregon Rehabilitation Center, PeaceHealth’s inpatient rehabilitation unit, serves adults recovering from such conditions as stroke, neurological disease, or brain or spinal cord injuries. The center will operate temporarily at RiverBend until the state-of-the-art, 50-bed rehabilitation hospital PeaceHealth is developing with Lifepoint opens in 2026.

———- 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.

INCIDENT REPORT SPRINGFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT – Incident: Sex Abuse Investigation Yields Arrest

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Location: Springfield, OR Case Number: 23-7900 Date/Time: November 28th, 2023 INVOLVED SUSPECT: Ullmann, Cyrus Andrew 23-Year-Old Male | Springfield, OR

NARRATIVE OF INCIDENT: Earlier this month, Springfield Police received information regarding a potential inappropriate relationship between a Springfield School District employee and a student. Shortly after the initial report was taken, Detectives began the process of conducting interviews and collecting evidence to corroborate the suspicion.

On November 26th, Detectives, working in cooperation with the Springfield School District, met with and interviewed Cyrus Ullmann, the suspect in the investigation and developed probable cause to arrest him on 2 counts of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree. Ullmann was arrested for two counts of Sex Abuse II and lodged at the Lane County Jail. CHARGES:Sexual Abuse 2 (x2)

Multiple Crashes on I-5 Tuesday morning between Eugene and Albany due to heavy fog

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports multiple crashes on I-5, near Halsey, on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. At approximately 5:53 a.m. 911 dispatchers in Albany, Halsey, and Brownsville began receiving reports from motorists of several multiple vehicle crashes.

Oregon State Police (OSP), Linn County Sheriff (LCSO), ODOT, Brownsville Fire, Halsey Fire, and Eugene Springfield Fire responded to several crashes on northbound I-5 at mile posts 214, 216, and 219. As well as in the southbound lanes at mile posts 220, 221, and 222.

One driver, with unknown injuries, was transport to Albany General Hospital. Icy conditions near Junction City were enough to also close schools for the day in that district.

Lebanon Firefighters Extinguish Apartment Fire

Firefighters from the Lebanon Fire District responded to the 50th block of E. Sherman Street for a reported structure fire at approximately 8:45 Tuesday evening, November 28th. The incident commander (IC) arrived at the two-story complex with fire alarms sounding and local law enforcement helping to evacuate occupants. The IC noticed heavy dark smoke coming from one apartment located on the second floor with smoke coming from a stairwell on the opposite end of the building.

A working fire and offensive fire attack was radioed to all incoming units. The first due engine arrived and made an aggressive fire attack to contain the blaze to the room of origin. During suppression efforts, firefighters arriving on a ladder truck began a search of the building on the second floor and evacuated two occupants sleeping in a nearby apartment.

One resident of the complex was evaluated at the scene for smoke inhalation after she used two fire extinguishers to try and extinguish the fire. Because of her efforts, the fire remained in the apartment of origin and did not spread. Firefighters were on scene approximately two hours overhauling the apartment and evacuating smoke. Unfortunately, several residents have been displaced due to smoke damage in their apartments and throughout the common hallway leading to the apartments. One apartment below the fire sustained minor water damage after water came through the ceiling light fixture.

Lebanon Fire responded with 28 personnel on three engines, one ladder truck, three ALS ambulances, one heavy rescue, one brush truck, five staff vehicles and one rehab unit for firefighters. Lebanon Fire was assisted at the scene by Lebanon Police Department and Pacific Power. A thank you to Albany Fire Department and Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District for covering the citizens of Lebanon and additional emergency calls during the blaze.

The Lebanon Fire District would like to remind residents of the importance of working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms notified occupants of this complex. For assistance with smoke alarms in your home, contact our Fire & Life Safety Division at (541) 451-1901. Be safe Lebanon.

Break In at Greenhill Humane Society

Greenhill Humane Society was broken into sometime early Monday morning but no harm came to any of its animals or people.

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The organization posted photos on social media of the building’s shattered front door and Greenhill staff said that the incident has been reported to the Lane County Sheriff’s office. Greenhill officials said that the damage is limited to the front door of the building and the organization plans to replace the door with a more secure unit. Besides the damaged front door, Greenhill said a few dollars in change were stolen from a donation jar in the front lobby and total damages are estimated at about $2,500.

Greenhill Humane Society is asking for donations.

  · Please excuse our mess, we came into an early morning break in. We are still assessing the damage and the Lane County Sheriff is involved. No animals or humans were harmed but this has been challenging for our team. We are still operating normal business today and are here to assist our community and pets. The shelter animals are safe and cared for. If you’d like to help us as we will need to get a new front door, you can donate at www.green-hill.org/donate.

Oregon State University Names New Beavers Football Coach 

Oregon State University announced Trent Bray as the new head coach for its football program on Tuesday, a whirlwind few days after the sudden departure of Beavers coach Jonathan Smith.

“After interviewing several qualified candidates, we realized our top choice, Trent, has already been a mainstay at the Valley Football Center and Reser Stadium,” said Scott Barnes, vice president and director of athletics, in a statement. 

“He’s been a part of Beaver Nation for a long time and love for this place is real. The connection and trust he has built with our student athletes is unmatched. His energy and determination as head coach will be a catalyst for continued program success,” he concluded.

Bray had been the Beavers’ defensive coordinator for two-and-a-half seasons. The 2024 season will mark his 10th as an Oregon State coach. A 2022 Broyles Award nominee for the nation’s top assistant coach, Bray returned to Oregon State in 2018 as linebackers coach and was promoted to its defensive coordinator in Nov. 2021, according to his bio.

“I’d like to thank Scott Barnes and President Jayathi Murthy for this opportunity,” Bray said in a statement. “I’ve been a part of Oregon State for a long time, as a coach and a student-athlete, and know how special Beaver Nation is. I’m excited to lead an outstanding group of men our fans can be proud of.”

The Beavers ended their 2023 season with a 31-7 loss to the No. 6 ranked Oregon Ducks — what could be the last rivalry game between the two for some time following this year’s mass exodus from a mortally wounded Pac-12. As of late November, OSU and Washington State University were the only teams remaining in the greatly diminished conference.

Amid that upheaval, students reported feeling blindsided by the news over the weekend that Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith was leaving the program. Michigan State University announced Saturday that Smith would be their new head coach for the 2024 season, formally introducing him on Tuesday. (SOURCE)

Lane County’s Deeds and Records Office moves next week

The Lane County Deeds & Records Office is relocating from the County’s Public Service Building at 8th and Oak in downtown Eugene to the Elections Office at 10th and Lincoln in Eugene. 

The move will be effective starting on Tuesday, December 5, 2023. The last day for services at the current location will be Friday, December 1. The office will be closed for staff training on Monday, December 4, and the new location will open for service on Tuesday, December 5. 

“Combining the services of the County Clerk’s Office under one roof will help accomplish a couple of things,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “It will help us be more efficient in conducting elections since we will no longer need to staff two separate locations. It will also, we hope, make it easier for people to access our services with dedicated parking and an easy to find location.”

The services that will move to the Elections Office (275 W. 10th Avenue, Eugene) are:

  • Real property recording (including deeds, titles or interest to real property located in Lane County)
  • Marriage licenses and ceremonies
  • Domestic partnership declarations
  • Property value appeals

One service of the County Clerk will remain at the Public Service Building: 

  • Public research library for real property records

The research library and its self-serve computer terminals will remain at 125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene due to the amount of space they require. One staff person will be available to assist with research. 

About the County Clerk’s Office

The County Clerk and her staff are responsible for conducting elections, recording real property, issuing marriage licenses and domestic partnership registrations, and coordinating the Property Values Appeal Board. Services are now located at 275 W. 10th Avenue, Eugene) from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday–Friday. Property records research is available on the ground floor of the Public Service Building at 125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene. 

Fatal Crash – HWY 36 – Lane County

On Sunday, November 26, 2023, at 12:15 p.m., the Oregon State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 36, near milepost 1, in Lane County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a westbound Ford Explorer, operated by Benjamin William Beecher (72) of Florence, crossed the centerline of an icy curve into the eastbound lane and struck a Honda Civic, operated by Jeffrey Wayne Varga (18) of North Bend.  The Ford became airborne and came to rest, fully submerged, in the Siuslaw River.

The operator of the Ford (Beecher) was declared deceased at the scene by Lane County Search and Rescue, who responded with a dive team to assist with the submerged vehicle.

The operator of the Honda (Jeffrey Varga) and passenger, Geneva Mae Varga (21) of North Bend, were transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.

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

OSP was assisted by the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Siuslaw Valley Fire, and ODOT.

Eugene To Vote On STAR Voting Initiative In May Primary Election

Voters in Eugene, Oregon, will decide on an initiative to adopt a new electoral system, STAR voting, on May 21, 2024. STAR is an acronym for Score-Then-Automatic-Runoff.

If approved, Eugene Oregon would be the first jurisdiction to adopt STAR voting.

In 2018, voters in Lane County, Oregon, which includes Eugene, defeated Measure 20-290, which would have adopted STAR voting for county officers. Measure 20-290 was defeated with 47.60% voting ‘Yes’ and 52.40% voting ‘No’. Sara Wolk, the chief petitioner for next year’s ballot initiative, said while Measure 20-290 was defeated countywide, the measure won a majority of votes within Eugene.

For next year’s initiative, supporters collected 14,430 signatures, of which 10,040 signatures were deemed valid by city officials. At least 9,689 signatures needed to be valid.

Here’s how STAR voting would work: There would be no primaries. Rather, candidates would run on the same ballot. Voters would score each candidate on a scale of zero to five.

The idea is that if a voter doesn’t have any preference for a candidate, they could give that candidate a score of zero. If the voter has a strong preference for a candidate, they could give that candidate a score of five. A voter could give multiple candidates the same scores.

Scores are then tabulated. In an election with three voters, for example, a candidate could receive a five, three, and zero, equaling a score of eight. Another candidate could receive a score of three, three, and three, equaling a score of nine. This tabulation would occur for each candidate. The two candidates with the highest scores are known as finalists and enter an automatic runoff.

During the automatic runoff, a voter’s ballot counts as one vote for the finalist that the voter scored higher. If a voter gave the two finalists a score of three and two, respectively, the vote would go to the candidate whom the voter scored with a three. If the voter gave the two finalists the same score, the voter’s ballot would be counted as a vote of no preference between the two finalists. MORE INFO: https://www.starvoting.org/eugene (SOURCE)

St. Vincent De Paul Waives Affordable Housing Application Fees Through End Of 2023

St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) announced on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, that they will be waiving application fees for their affordable housing properties through the remainder of 2023.

The customary application fee of $44 will be waived for low-income residents who are applying to live in SVdP’s affordable housing properties.

“Eliminating all application fees will help reduce a barrier for many of our neighbors who need affordable housing the most, during this season when it is needed most,” says SVdP Property Management Director Ben Abbe.

Housing through SVdP operates on a waitlist basis, with staff evaluating the lists quarterly on the first business days of March, June, September and December. SVdP recommends those who are searching for affordable housing to explore more information and current waitlist options here: https://www.svdp.us/svdp-waives-housing-application-fees-through-2023/ https://www.svdp.us/homepage/affordable-housing/housing-waitlists-through-svdp-property-management/#waitlist

SVdP says applying for SVdp waitlists is always free, wait times vary.

[I]n some cases applicants will be on a waitlist for 6-18 months before they are contacted to schedule an appointment to apply for open housing. Only then, when an individual’s name comes up on the SVdP waitlist to apply for housing, are they typically charged an application fee to cover administrative costs.

“We hope that putting a pause on this fee will provide a small bit of relief for some of our neighbors during this time of year that is joyous for most, but creates an added financial strain for many,” Abbe says. “We know that every dollar needs to stretch even further than it normallydoes for families struggling to work their way out of poverty, as they do their best to build a special holiday season for their loved ones.”

SVdP’s next quarterly evaluation will happen and further waitlist openings will be made available, on Dec. 1, 2023.

Waste Wise Lane County: Holiday leftover recipe contest gets cooking

As the holiday season kicks off, Waste Wise Lane County—a part of the Lane County Waste Management Division—again encourages county residents to do the holidays differently this year with the launch of its second “Simplify the Holidays” campaign.

Last year marked the first iteration of the campaign, which is produced by the Center for Biological Diversity and has again been adopted by Waste Wise Lane County. “Simplify the Holidays” encourages residents and businesses to reimagine how they view and participate in the holiday season to inspire joy while curbing waste. The campaign includes earth-friendly gift ideas and will run through December 31.

However, this year’s campaign includes a twist: a holiday leftovers recipe contest. 

“Maybe it’s Uncle John’s famous Christmas Ham Sliders or Aunt Lucia’s delectable Thanksgiving Turkey Tamales,” said Waste Wise Lane County Outreach Coordinator Daniel Hiestand. “How does your family use holiday leftovers? We want to collect your recipes and share them with our community to inspire folks to reduce food waste and save money.”

Recipes submitted during the campaign will be published on the Waste Wise Lane County food waste prevention website, eatsmartwasteless.tips. Those who share recipes will be automatically entered into a prize drawing, with contest winners announced on January 3.

Prizes include Lion & Owl and BRING gift certificates, free enrollment in Oregon State University Extension Master Food Preserver workshops, and a collection of sustainable products from Main Street Market.

“Waste Wise Lane County is laser-focused on helping empower residents and businesses with food waste reduction tools,” Hiestand said. “Between 30 to 40 percent of all food produced is never eaten, so preventing wasted food is one of the most powerful things we can do to address the climate crisis. Eating what you have is a critical part of that. We hope this contest shows leftovers can be quite delicious with a little creativity while saving money.”

Follow the campaign on Waste Wise Lane County’s social media pages @WasteWiseLaneCounty on Facebook and Instagram. To submit a recipe, use this online form (https://bit.ly/LeftoverForm).

About Waste Wise Lane County – Waste Wise Lane County— a part of the Lane County Waste Management Division—empowers residents, schools, and businesses with education, tools, and resources that can be used to reduce waste, conserve resources, and live more sustainably. For more information, visit lanecountyor.gov/wastewise.

About Simplify the Holidays – Simplify the Holidays is an award-winning program of the Center for Biological Diversity. Simplify the Holidays seeks to empower individuals and families to be more conscious of the impacts of holiday traditions and, in doing so, reconnect with meaningful and lasting celebrations. Learn more at simplifytheholidays.org

The 71st Annual Springfield Christmas Parade hosted by Oregon Riders Society 501c3 is just around the corner!

The parade kicks off Saturday, December 2nd at 1pm, but multiple roads will be shut down prior to that for participant and attendee safety and traffic control. In an effort to prepare the community for the impending road closures associated with the parade, we’re going to be sharing reminders in the days leading up to the day of the event.

The staging area on Olympic St., from 28th St. to 21st St. will be completely closed off, including exits from Walmart and 23rd St., starting at 7 am for floats to be setup and decorated. No vehicle traffic or drop-offs except vehicles that are registered to drive in the parade will be allowed in this area. Walmart & Wilco parking lots are the correct locations to drop off anyone participating in the parade.

Once the parade starts, streets ahead following the route will be strategically shut down and completely unavailable for normal traffic until the last vehicles are through. The parade will start at 21st & Olympic and end on Pioneer Parkway East. Please plan accordingly to avoid any unnecessary trips through this area at the time.

Renovation Work On Lane Transit District’s Eugene Station Started

Lane Transit District’s central hub is undergoing a major renovation. The $3.8 million project at Eugene Station is set to begin Nov. 20 and last through the fall of 2024.

Some of the project’s key components include a remodel of the Customer Service Center (CSC), station signage updates, the addition of inclusive restrooms, and efficiency upgrades for lighting and HVAC equipment. Several safety and security upgrades will also be made around the property. The “Next Stop Center,” the public meeting room at the corner of West 11th & Olive, will be remodeled to enhance the accessibility, technology, and comfort of events held there.

During construction, CSC will remain open. Restrooms inside the CSC will be closed, but portable ones will be available outside. These restrooms will only be open during service hours and locked overnight.

Once completed, our riders and community members can expect an improved experience that promotes safety, security and inclusiveness. The infrastructure improvements will allow LTD to run even more efficiently for the foreseeable future. 

80% of the project budget is funded through grants, and 20% of the project is funded through local match dollars. Information about LTD’s Annual Budget and Community Investment Plan can be found on the Financials webpage. — https://www.ltd.org/latest-news/eugene-station-remodel-improves-efficiency/

Eugene Saturday Market’s Holiday Market Returns

The Eugene Saturday Market’s Holiday Market returned to the Lane Events Center this weekend and will be open every weekend until December 24th.

Visit indoors from 10am until 6pm (10am until 4pm on Dec. 24th) and explore two halls filled with handmade treasures made by local artisans, delicious food, and live performances. As always, admission and parking are free!

MORE INFO: https://www.facebook.com/eugenesaturdaymarket/https://www.holidaymarket.org/

Operation Winter Survival Supply Stockpile Drive Need Ongoing

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.” 

“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.” 

Items can 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

Bushnell University School of Music and Performing Arts Presents A Bushnell Christmas

EUGENE, Ore. – Bushnell University’s School of Music and Performing Arts is pleased to welcome the community to a free event celebrating the birth of Christ: A Bushnell Christmas. This creative and spiritual musical celebration will feature a selection of holiday classics and contemporary favorites performed by the university choir, jazz ensemble, and choral.

The event will take place on Dec. 2 at 4:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church.

Kelly Ballard, D.Min., Associate Dean of Music and Performing Arts, acknowledges that “our students find great joy in all styles and genres of music and appreciate the opportunity to perform in welcoming spaces for appreciative audiences. We are honored and privileged to present this concert at First Baptist Church.”

The musical selection is woven together with a beautiful narrative of the meaning of Christmas. We hope you will come and experience a joyous, inspirational holiday concert for the entire family in A Bushnell Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Christ together!

Program subject to change.
LOCATION: First Baptist Church of Eugene
Tickets: Free

Bushnell School of Music and Performing Arts is a nonprofit, 40+ student music school based in Eugene, Oregon led by Associate Dean, Dr. Kelly Ballard. The school provides students with fundamental musical knowledge, performance, and leadership skills, marked by innovation, creativity, and high academic standards. Digital content is offered through its social media channels. More at www.bushnell.edu.

Eugene, Springfield and Lane County to begin leaf pickup

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.

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

Governor Tina Kotek plans to seek $600 million more for housing, homelessness in 2024 session

Governor Tina Kotek plans to ask the Legislature to spend another $600 million on housing and homelessness next year, building on record investments over the past few years as the state continues to grapple with a housing crisis.

She laid out some of her budget priorities during a Tuesday press conference in Salem, a little more than two months before lawmakers return to the Capitol for a 35-day dash to pass new laws and allocate money. Kotek and legislative leaders from both parties generally agree that housing, homelessness, addiction and public safety are top priorities.

Kotek’s biggest request, $500 million, will be tied to housing production. She set a goal of building 36,000 homes each year – nearly double the average number of homes built in Oregon in recent years. A 2022 state report estimates that Oregon needs to build more than 550,000 homes in the next 20 years to make up for years of underbuilding and keep pace with population growth.

“I’m really urging the legislators to be bold with one-time money to make sure we can move forward on our housing production goals here in the state,” Kotek said.

The state’s most recent point-in-time count indicates that at least 18,000 Oregonians are homeless. Shrinking that number will require not only more homes, but also more affordable housing, experts say.

Members of her Housing Production Advisory Council have suggested using state funding to train construction workers and create or expand loans, tax rebates and grants for developers building homes for low-income and middle-income families. Cities have also indicated they’ll need state help with infrastructure funding to build the streets, sewers, sidewalks and other infrastructure necessary to build new homes across the state.

Along with money to spur housing production, Kotek said she’ll ask for about $65 million to keep existing homeless shelters open and another $33 million for rent assistance to keep Oregonians who fall on tough times from losing their homes.

Lawmakers allocated almost $34 million this spring to help nearly 9,000 households avoid homelessness. By Sept. 30, the most recent date for which data is available, Oregon Housing and Community Services had spent a little more than $11 million and helped more than 3,800 households.

Kotek also plans to ask for money for summer learning, child care and road maintenance. Districts scaled back summer learning programs this summer after the Legislature failed to provide funding ahead of an April deadline. The $50 million Kotek will ask lawmakers to provide for summer learning this spring is far below the $240 million lawmakers approved in 2021 and the $150 million provided in 2022, when federal funding tied to the COVID pandemic gave the state and school districts more money to spend.

She’ll seek $59 million to maintain the state’s Employment Related Day Care program, which helps low-income families pay for child care and now has a waitlist. The program, which is facing a $123 million shortfall and indefinite waiting lists,  allows families earning up to twice the federal poverty level – just less than $40,000 annually for a single parent with one child or $60,000 for a family of four – to have most of their child care costs covered and pay only a small monthly copay.

Other priorities — Kotek is also asking legislative leaders to commit to spending $19 million for the Oregon Department of Transportation to schedule overtime and equipment to meet winter road maintenance needs. The department announced in October that it planned to cut back on plowing and sanding this winter because of staff shortages, inflation and decreased revenue from gas taxes related to more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Legislature will take up a large transportation funding package in 2025, eight years after passing a $5.3 billion transportation package that was intended to cover needs for the next decade.

And other spending proposals could be coming. Kotek said she’ll work with lawmakers to review and revise the state’s methodology for providing school funding, as well as come up with a plan to provide funding for minimum teacher salaries. A teachers’ strike just wrapped up in Portland and other large districts, including Bend-La Pine and Salem-Keizer, are in negotiations as school districts around the state face budget shortfalls.

Kotek, who opposed the city of Salem’s failed payroll tax that she and about 21,000 other state employees based in Salem would have paid, also said she was open to legislation that would have the state make payments in lieu of taxes for state property within city limits. The capital city faces an estimated $15 million budget shortfall by 2026, and city officials estimate the untaxed state property within city limits would generate about $7.25 million annually if it were taxed.

Other capitals, including Olympia, Washington, receive such payments from their state governments. Kotek said she would likely sign such a bill if it arrived on her desk.

“Having state government in Salem is a benefit, and there are also costs to provide public safety services,” Kotek said. “I think there is a place for the state to do more to support Salem because of the number of properties we have here, but it will be up to the city of Salem and Salem legislators to bring something in the session.” (SOURCE)

Governor Kotek Outlines Next Steps Following Resolution of PPS Strike

Following the tentative agreement reached to resolve the teacher strike at Portland Public Schools, Governor Tina Kotek today announced the next steps she will lead on to address core issues that educators have raised to improve outcomes for students across Oregon.

“The strike was a reflection of larger challenges that districts across the state are facing,” Governor Kotek said. “From salaries not staying competitive with the market, to backlogs in facility maintenance, to classroom disruptions related to the behavioral health needs of students, we clearly have work to do.

“I commit to continuing the work. As your Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, I commit to partnering with educators across the state to tackle the systemic issues that contributed to this strike. We all have an opportunity to do our part to ensure our schools are safe, successful places for students, teachers, and school employees.”

To address many of the underlying structural needs facing our schools, Governor Kotek will take the following steps:

1. Develop a statewide action plan, with the help of a multidisciplinary group of leaders, to support the social-emotional health needs of students in school settings and strengthen resources and capacity of school staff to meet these needs.
2. Partner with the legislature on their work to establish minimum teacher salaries and review funding for schools.

Salary Schedules: The Governor will closely monitor and review the recommendations of the legislature’s Task Force on Statewide Educator Salaries. She wants to see a proposal for minimum teacher salary schedules that make Oregon competitive with our neighboring states, mitigate competition between neighboring districts, and reflect local cost of living. She also wants to see a plan to fund that proposal over the next several years.

Funding: While the legislature ultimately adopts the budget, the Governor’s office must be a partner to ensure the methodology makes sense for today’s realities. The Governor will direct the Chief Financial Officer and the Oregon Department of Education to partner with the legislature and education stakeholders to review and revise the methodology for school funding.

3. Create the Office of Transparency within the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to make budget information that the State already collects from districts more accessible and easier to understand. This is intended to ensure labor and district partners and the public have the same budget information that the State does and strengthen transparency and improve customer service to Oregonians. ODE will include data about future estimated revenues that districts may have, the share of district funding that comes from State sources compared to local sources, and the share of district expenditures spent on administration. This work will draw from the work of states such as Arizona,Illinois and Michigan, and from ODE’s ESSER dashboard.

A full document outlining Governor Kotek’s commitments can be found here.

Demand for food aid spikes in past year as many Oregonians struggle with hunger 

After the pandemic ended, the demand for food  continued to increase in Oregon, with the need for  millions more pounds of produce, pasta and other staples at meal sites and food pantries.

The Oregon Food Bank distributed more than 104 million pounds of food in the fiscal year from July 2022 through June 30, an 11% increase from the prior year. High housing and fuel costs coupled with inflation have contributed to the hunger of tens of thousands of Oregonians.

Farmworker Francisca Aparicio washes lettuce in July 2023 as part of an Oregon Food Bank ambassador program that helps diverse communities across the state. (Oregon Food Bank)

U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas, who represents Oregon’s 6th Congressional District, has noticed the surge in demand. Earlier this month, she introduced a bill that would double the amount of federal funding for the program that keeps Oregon pantries stocked with items.

The Oregon Food Bank, which distributes food to more than 1,400 locations throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, has seen demand grow over the past three years.

Before the pandemic, about 860,000 people annually visited the food bank’s partners in Oregon and southwest Washington, said Morgan Dewey, a spokesperson for the nonprofit food bank. This year, the food bank is on track to serve more than 1 million people, Dewey said.

“We’re just continuing to try to keep up with how much food folks are needing on the ground,” Dewey said.

Get help — The Oregon Food Bank, state agencies and other organizations, including pantries and churches, provide food for hungry Oregonians. For help:

The needs have increased as extra pandemic-related food benefits from the government have stopped. During the pandemic, most families received 70% more in their monthly allotment of federal food aid, called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. The extra aid ended in March, with the average household allotment falling from $450 a month to about $300. The state also paid out the last of the pandemic-related extra food benefits for low-income families with young children in October.

“Those supports – when they ended it – really, really put folks in a dire situation,” Dewey said.

The food bank has five warehouses throughout the state that deliver to 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 other points, including meal sites, delivery programs and pantries. Those sites are critical for rural and frontier areas in Oregon with food insecurity that are not near a large regional pantry, Dewey said.

The operation puts out fresh produce and dairy products, with an eye toward offering nutritional food that aligns with the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of Oregonians. 

“Being able to partner with local fishers and ranchers and farmers and other growers really has been advantageous to supplying fresh produce to our communities,” Dewey said. “You know, this is not a warehouse where you walk in and it’s just all Ramen.”

Efforts in Congress — Oregon’s congressional members are looking for ways to keep produce in pantries. Earlier this month, Salinas announced she has introduced a bill to help food banks and local farmers by allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase more food directly from producers, including Oregon farmers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases food products that are sent to the Oregon Food Bank as part of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Essentially, the bill would cut back on red tape and allow the federal government to consider other factors beyond simply the lowest price when considering bids from food producers. This, in turn, would set the stage for smaller family farms to get more contracts that put their products in Oregon pantries. 

Salinas, a Democrat, is sponsoring the bill with U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-California.

“The pandemic caused higher rates of food insecurity in Oregon and across the country, and food banks have struggled to keep up with the increased demand,” Salinas said in a statement. “The Farmers Feeding America Act will address this problem by providing more funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, ensuring our local food banks are fully stocked.” 

The bill also would double the federal funding for the program, which was about $20 million for Oregon in 2022. 

“With increased funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program and new resources for food distribution and storage, this legislation will help our communities procure fresh produce and dairy products and address food deserts – especially in under-resourced and remote areas,” Oregon Food Bank President Susannah Morgan said in a statement. “No one should be hungry, and this investment will have a resounding impact for millions of people facing food insecurity.” 

For the long-term, it’s important to look for ways to address the economic circumstances driving hunger, Dewey said. Those can include unaffordable housing and a lack of access to health care.

“We can serve everyone who is standing in line for a meal or standing in line to get a grocery bag full of food,” Dewey said. “We can serve all those people today, but hunger still won’t go away tomorrow.” (SOURCE)

Judge To Decide Whether Oregon’s Process For Taking Back Unemployment Benefits Is Unconstitutional

An Oregon judge will hear arguments Thursday that the state has been acting unconstitutionally when trying to claw back unemployment benefits from more than 60,000 people since 2020.

A lawsuit filed last year argues that the Oregon Employment Department has a convoluted and chaotic process for notifying people when the agency believes it has paid them too much. Many faced claims that they owed the state thousands of dollars. In some cases, the state sought $10,000 or more from people who reported losing their jobs during the pandemic. (SOURCE)

Homicide Suspect at Large, Detectives Renew Request for Information

RIDDLE, Ore. – Detectives are renewing their request for information as to the whereabouts of a homicide suspect who killed A Grants Pass man last Monday.

Gauge Douglas James Main of Riddle is wanted in connection to the homicide of 20-year-old Devonte Lovell Clark of Grant Pass. A felony warrant has been issued for his arrest. Main was last known to be in the Northern California area following the homicide.

On Monday, November 20, 2023, shortly after 11:30 p.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers received information about a shooting which had taken place in the area of Main Street / E. Third Avenue in Riddle, Oregon.

Deputies arrived on scene to discover Clark had died at the scene. A second victim, 29-year-old Killian Mavity of Grants Pass, sustained a gunshot wound to the arm.

Main fled the scene of the homicide after stealing a silver 2017 Honda Civic 4-door sedan bearing Oregon license plate 276PAT, which has since been recovered in California.

Detectives say Main is to be considered armed and dangerous. Sheriff John Hanlin has officially enlisted the assistance of the United States Marshal’s Fugitive Taskforce in apprehending Main. Anyone with information which may lead to Main’s arrest is urged to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 440-4471 referencing case #23-4651.

Temporary Hold On Ruling That Would Release Defendants From Jail

A ruling from a federal judge that would allow criminal defendants to be released from jail after 10 days without a lawyer has received a temporary stay from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Michael McShane’s ruling was scheduled to go into place on Nov. 23. While the Oregon Department of Justice works on an appeal to the ruling, it will remain on hold.

A new ruling out of Washington County orders that criminal defendants be released from jail if they aren’t given an attorney seven days after their first court appearance. 

“I just worry about people’s faith in the justice system,” said Patrick Green, Chief Deputy District Attorney with Jackson County.

While it’s important for defendants to receive a lawyer as soon as possible, Green told news outlets he’s worried about seeing serious offenders potentially get released back onto the streets.

“I also have to focus on the public safety risk,” Green said. “The threat to victims, the threat to future victims, the threat to the community at large, so it is a little bit of a rock and a hard place.”

Moving forward, Green said he’s hopeful for the future. A team of public defenders will be arriving in Douglas County early next year. Green is hoping they will be able to help out in Jackson County, amid an ongoing public defender shortage.

But, when it comes to solving the issue of having too many people in jail and not enough lawyers to represent them, Green said the solution is a systemic one.

“I think it is a million-dollar question,” he said. “How do you solve it? I think probably in the short term, you have to reform the system.” (SOURCE)

Governor Kotek Announces Alan R. Gronewold Sworn in as Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard

Governor Tina Kotek announced that Alan R. Gronewold has been officially sworn in as The Adjutant General (TAG) of the Oregon National Guard, following an investiture ceremony on Tuesday, November 28. Governor Kotek appointed Gronewold to the position…

The ceremony took place in Salem, Oregon among family, Oregon National Guard representatives, including former Adjutants General Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, and Maj. Gen. Mike Stencel, a member of U.S Representative Andrea Salinas’ staff, State Senator James Manning and State Representatives Rick Lewis and James Hieb.

Governor Kotek provided remarks and then administered the oath with assistance from Brig. Gen. Gronewold’s spouse. Governor Kotek then did a Presentation of Personal Colors with the assistance of Command Sergeant Major Lee G. Smith, followed by remarks from Brig. Gen. Gronewold.

“The Oregon National Guard has distinguished itself many times over in its service to our state in times of need, dedication to supporting federal missions, and commitment to continued excellence in training and readiness for the greatest of challenges,” Governor Kotek said. “I am confident that Brig. Gen. Gronewold will continue and expand upon this legacy.”

“The Oregon National Guard is prepared to face any challenge to ensure the safety and security of our great state,” Brig. Gen. Gronewold said. “We find fulfillment and pride in our service, knowing that we are making a difference to our fellow Oregonians. I am honored to lead the Oregon National Guard.”

Eagle Point Couple Arrested for Child Sex Crimes, Special Victims Unit Detectives Looking for Other Underage Victims

JCSO Case 23-6341 EAGLE POINT, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Special Victims Unit (SVU) detectives arrested an Eagle Point couple last Thursday, November 16th for multiple sex crimes involving a child under the age of 12.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'DETECTIVES BELIEVE THERE ARE OTHER VICTIMS IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION CALL SVU DET. (541) 770-8928 ቅন CISON W SHERIF ARRESTED COLTON THORNTON'

The suspects are Colton Joseph Thornton, 28, and Elizabeth Nicole Shockey-Rydall, 31, both of Eagle Point. Thornton is charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual penetration, first-degree sodomy, and first-degree sexual abuse. Shockey is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. They are both lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

JCSO SVU detectives believe Thornton may have other juvenile victims. Anyone with information about the pictured suspect is asked to call SVU Detective Jill Wenzel at (541) 770-8928.This case is under investigation with SVU detectives working additional leads. Further information will come from the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.

Rite Aid Closing Oregon Stores Amidst Financial Crisis

The financial woes of the once-prominent Rite Aid pharmacy chain have reached a critical point, leading to a series of store closures that are set to significantly impact Oregon communities.

Founded in 1965, Rite Aid was once a cornerstone of American pharmacy retail. However, recent years have seen the company falter under a staggering debt of $3.3 billion, culminating in a bankruptcy filing last month. This financial downfall has led to a drastic reduction in Rite Aid’s nationwide presence. Originally operating over 2,330 stores across 17 states, the chain now faces a decline that will see its store count drop below 2,000.

In October, as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Rite Aid announced the closure of 154 locations. However, this number has been continuously updated, with over 200 stores now earmarked for closure, including several in Oregon.

The closure wave in Oregon is particularly significant, affecting both urban and rural areas. The following Rite Aid stores are set to close soon:

  • Canby: 891 S.E. First Ave. Closing December 4
  • Portland: 1814 N.E. 41st Ave. Closing December
  • Warrenton: 145 S. Highway 101. Closing November 28
  • Florence: 3451 Highway 101. Closing November 29
  • Hines: 629 N. Highway 20. Closing November 27
  • Milton-Freewater: 105 S.W. Second Ave. Closing November 28

Additionally, three stores in Portland and Medford have already shut their doors. The company’s decision to close its Wilsonville warehouse in April will result in 136 layoffs, starting in January and continuing until April 5, 2024.

A Rite Aid spokesperson explained the decision as a strategic move to consolidate operations and improve efficiency, transitioning the distribution network to their Washington center.

As Rite Aid closures mount, Oregon residents face the looming threat of ‘pharmacy deserts’. These areas lack convenient access to pharmacy services, a problem exacerbated by the simultaneous closures of other major chains like CVS and Walgreens. According to Dima Qato, an associate professor at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, pharmacy deserts pose a severe health risk, especially in vulnerable communities. When local pharmacies close, many people, particularly those living in underserved areas, may cease taking essential medications or face significant challenges in obtaining them.

The closure of Rite Aid stores in Oregon is more than a business headline; it’s a public health concern. As the state braces for the fallout of these closures, the healthcare landscape faces a significant shift. The situation underscores the need for a reevaluation of pharmacy accessibility and highlights the growing importance of addressing the challenges posed by pharmacy deserts in ensuring the health and well-being of communities. (SOURCE)

Portland Man Who Claimed to be a Foreign Exchange Currency Trader Indicted for Wire Fraud

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland man, who for more than a decade claimed to be a successful foreign exchange currency trader to solicit millions of dollars in investments, has been indicted in federal court for wire fraud.

William Bennington, 52, a resident of Portland, has been charged with five counts of wire fraud.

According to the indictment, from March 2012 until at least October 2022, Bennington is alleged to have knowingly and intentionally devised and carried out a scheme wherein he purported to be a wealthy foreign exchange currency trader to solicit investments in WBFX LLC, a foreign currency investment company Bennington incorporated in Oregon in 2010. Bennington promised his investors annual returns of up to 80 percent and repayment terms as short as six months. He further falsely claimed to have written a proprietary trading algorithm, which he alleged was the source of his wealth.

Over the course of his scheme, Bennington is alleged to have caused at least five individual victims to pay him more than $2 million. Instead of investing his victims’ money in foreign exchange currency markets as promised, Bennington spent it on various personal expenses.

Bennington appeared in federal court Monday before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and released pending a five-day jury trial scheduled to begin on January 9, 2024.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison per count of conviction.

This case was investigated by the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Robert S. Trisotto, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Get $5 off annual Oregon State Park parking permit in December

Give the gift of the outdoors and save this season with the Oregon State Parks 12-month parking permit sale during the month of December.

The permit hangtag once again features whimsical designs from Portland artist El Tran. Holiday shoppers can buy the annual parking permits for only $25, which is a $5 savings starting Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 31. The permit is good for 12 months starting in the month of purchase.

Purchasing permits is easy. Buy them online at the Oregon State Parks store (use the drop down menu to pick your favorite design). Parking permits are also sold at some state park friends’ group stores and select local businesses throughout the state. For a complete list of vendors, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.

Parking costs $5 a day at 25 Oregon state parks unless you have a 12- or 24-month parking permit or a same-day camping receipt. The 24-month pass is $50 and is also available at store.oregonstateparks.org. The permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle.

Victim in a Bias crime goes through a dark period, but hopes that the convicted man will make the most of his last chance.

On November 27, 2023, 26-year-old Douglas Quintanilla pleaded guilty to Attempted Robbery and Bias Crime in the First Degree. The guilty pleas resulted from an incident that took place on October 7, 2023. On that date, Quintanilla entered the Safeway on 3380 Lancaster Dr. NE in Salem. Quintanilla grabbed various items for sale by Safeway, then left the store without having paid for these items. The victim, James Murphy (Murphy), is a loss prevention officer for Safeway. Murphy is transgender and prefers the term male to female transitional. Murphy tried to stop Quintanilla when it became apparent that Quintanilla had no intention of paying for the items. When Murphy stopped Quintanilla by the exit doors and grabbed the bag where Quintanilla had placed the stolen items, Quintanilla then pulled on the bag to get it away from Murphy. Quintanilla then threatened to stab Murphy and reached into his pocket as if he had a knife. Thinking that he was about to get stabbed, Murphy let go of Quintanilla’s bag.  It was at this time that Quintanilla called Murphy a slur which is highly offensive toward the LGBTQ+ community. This slur was said multiple times, directly to Murphy’s face, and with great indignation. Police were promptly called and arrested Quintanilla who was a short distance away from Safeway.

While pleading guilty to Attempted Robbery 2 and Bias Crime 1 on 23CR49233, Quintanilla also pleaded guilty to two additional misdemeanor thefts (from the Target on Lancaster) and a probation violation on another case. Defense attorney David Kuhns had arranged for Quintanilla to enter inpatient drug treatment at City Team in Portland. Marion County Circuit Court Judge, Daniel J. Wren, required that successful completion of drug treatment is an expressed requirement of Quintanilla’s probation. During his 3 years of supervised probation, Quintanilla is to have no contact with Murphy, no physical presence at Safeway or Target, and to obey all laws. Should Quintanilla violate the terms of his probation and his probation be revoked, he faces 21 to 24 months in prison.

In a unique conclusion to this matter, Quintanilla wrote an apology letter to Murphy, who was present at Quintanilla’s sentencing. Murphy also had the opportunity to speak directly to the victim, but also to Judge Wren. For Murphy, this was about more than being the victim of an attempted robbery.  Due to the hateful names Murphy was called, Murphy not only lost interest in his job, but he lost interest in living for a couple of weeks. Despite going through this dark period, Murphy stated he wished that this was truly a turning point for Quintanilla and that Quintanilla make the most of this last chance he was given.

The Marion County District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the Salem Police Department in its prompt and thorough investigation into this matter. But, most of all, the District Attorney’s Office would like to thank Murphy for his participation in yesterday’s sentencing, re-enforcing the District Attorney’s commitment that Bias type crimes will not be tolerated in Marion County. 

FDA Issues Recall Alert for Dog and Cat Foods Sold in Oregon Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners to a recall of certain pet foods that could be contaminated with Salmonella. TFP Nutrition and the FDA said all dry dog food and all dry cat food manufactured in one of TFP’s Texas facilities is contaminated and should be disposed of.

Brands affected by the recall include Exclusive Signature Dog and Cat Food and Feline Medley Formula Cat Food. The recalled food was sold at several pet and animal supply stores in Oregon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said babies and young children can get sick from contaminated pet food if they have access to pet food bowls on the floor, put pet food in their mouths, or if caregivers don’t wash their hands after feeding pets.

Pet owners are urged to throw away recalled pet food and clean any surfaces that might have come in contact with the pet food.

Suppliers who may have sold the recalled pet food include:

  • Wilco stores all over Oregon
  • H and E Feed in Eugene
  • Junction City Farm and Garden
  • Old Mill Farm Store in Cottage Grove
  • Country Farms and Ranch Supplies in Creswell
  • The Farm Store and J and S Supply in Veneta
  • Sweet Home Feed and Supply
  • Out West Farm and Ranch in Philomath
  • Scio Farm Store
  • Central Feed and Supply in Sutherlin
  • Douglas County Farmers Co-op in Roseburg
  • Tractor Supply Co. in Junction City and Creswell

More information on the recall, including a comprehensive list of the pet foods affected by the recall, can be found at TFP’s website and the FDA’s website.

Unusual Respiratory Illness Effecting Oregon Dogs

Veterinary laboratories in several states are investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs and encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as veterinarians try to pin down what’s making the animals sick.

Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the illness, which has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.

Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. Some cases of the pneunomia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and told state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible. The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses.

Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But without a clear way to define the disease or test for it, he said it’s hard to put a number on how many died from a severe form of the infection.

Williams had a simple message for dog owners: “Don’t panic.” He also said dog owners should make sure that their pets are up to date on vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.

Labs across the country have been sharing their findings as they try to pinpoint the culprit.

David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been investigating the mysterious disease for almost a year.

His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states.

He said his team has not seen a large increase in dogs dying from the illness but still encouraged pet owners to “decrease contact with other dogs.” (SOURCE)

Douglas County Celebrates the 50th Annual Christmas Craft Fair

            (Douglas County, Ore.) The kick off for the 2023 Christmas holiday season is fast approaching and in Douglas County that means it’s time for our annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Courthouse on November 26, followed by the Annual Christmas Craft Fairat the Douglas County Fairgrounds December 1-3.  This year the Douglas County Commissioners are excited to join with the Douglas County Fairgrounds staff in promoting the long-standing Christmas craft tradition a half-century in the making.  That’s right, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Christmas Craft Fair at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

The Christmas Craft Fair at the Douglas County Fairgrounds will run from Friday, December 1, 2023, through Sunday, December 3, 2023.  Hours are Friday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Santa will make appearances in the Exhibit Building on Friday: 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm & 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Sunday: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

 Admission is $5.00 for adults and kids under 12 are free.  The Craft Fair is also helping to stock local food pantries and provide pajamas for local foster care kids by accepting donations at the door.  Entrants donating canned food will receive a $1.00 discount at the door. There will be vendor donated door prizes drawn every hour, and a special drawing for a big door prize package to celebrate our 50th year.  For more information check out the attached flyer or visit their website at www.douglasfairgrounds.com.     

Silver Falls State Park hosts Winter Festival Dec. 9 and 10

Enjoy guided nature hikes, seasonal crafts and educational activities at the Silver Falls State Park Winter Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. 

Visitors will have a chance to learn about the park in winter including the changing landscapes and habitats for resident and migratory birds and animals. 

Activities include guided walks and talks; building bird nest boxes; making bird feeders and paper bird crafts; creating wreaths and decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Schedule of Activities:

  • Make a wreath at the Evergreen Picnic Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Build a bird nest box at the Creekside Shelter (South Falls day-use are)
  • Make a bird feeder or paper bird craft in the Stone Kitchen Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Attend a short educational talk or guided walk at the South Falls Theater (South Falls day-use area unless otherwise noted)
    • 11 a.m.: Winter Hibernators Walk (45-minute walk at Smith Creek Village)
    • 12 p.m.: Mushroom ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 1 p.m.: Winter Tree ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 2 p.m.: Learn to Love a Lichen (20-minute talk)
    • 3 p.m.: Winter birds of Silver Falls (20-minute talk)
  • Visit a discovery table near South Falls to learn about the waterfalls in winter or learn about the winter solstice (South Falls day-use area)
  • Decorate a cookie, make a paper bird craft or learn about winter animal tracks (Smith Creek Village, 1.5 miles from the South Falls day-use area)
  • Earn a commemorative Silver Falls ornament from taking part in at least five of the above activities

All activities are free, but a day-use parking permit is required. Permits cost $5 per day; annual permits, normally $30, are on sale for $25 in the month of December and are available at the park. For more information, visit the event page on our calendar at stateparks.oregon.gov or call 503-874-0201.

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'
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1109674113319848

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