Willamette Valley News, Friday 12/8 – Police Identify Springfield Teenager As Person Found Dead Near South Eugene High, Weather Updates & 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, December 8, 2023

Willamette Valley Weather

Another atmospheric river takes aim at the Pacific Northwest

Another 2-5 inches of rain loom for the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest while the I-5 corridor could see up to 2 inches of additional rain on top of the several inches that fell earlier in the week as a new atmospheric river storm returns Saturday.

Heavy rain will return to the region Saturday into early Sunday, adding more water to swollen rivers that have mostly returned to their banks after reaching moderate to even record flood levels on Tuesday and Wednesday but are still running high.

The return of impactful snow to the mountains and their passes will present travel challenges to those heading into the passes on Saturday until snow levels rise once again above pass levels on Sunday.

After a relative break in the weather Friday with just some scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms, the next atmospheric river arrives in the Northwest on Saturday with steady moderate to heavy rain in the lowlands and increasing mountain snow.

By Sunday, about another 0.5-2 inches of rain is likely in the Interstate 5 corridor in Washington and Oregon, with another 2-5 inches of rain expected along the coastal regions and their mountains.

Police Identify Springfield Teenager As Person Found Dead Near South Eugene High

A 16-year-old Springfield boy has been identified as the person found dead in the area of Amazon Parkway and 24th Avenue near South Eugene High School on Nov. 28.

The Eugene Police Department on Thursday identified the teenager as Jose Floresmora.

An investigation into his death is ongoing. A representative for the police department said investigators did not believe there was any ongoing threat in the area related to Floresmora’s death.

Eugene Police were initially called to the scene on Nov. 28 where they found Floresmora dead in an area near trees by South Eugene High School at 8:08 a.m.

Oregon State Police seeking public assistance with vehicle shootings in Linn County

LINN COUNTY, Ore. 06 Dec. 2023 – On Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, the Oregon State Police (OSP), Albany Area Command, received a report of a vehicle struck by a bullet. On Tues., Dec. 5, 2023, OSP (Albany) received a second report in a similar area to the Dec. 1 incident. OSP Major Crimes Section detectives immediately began investigating these as possibly connected incidents and now have enough information to believe these shooting incidents are likely connected. 

The investigation revealed two other incidents reported to the Albany Police Department and the OSP Salem Area Command prior to Dec. 6. This morning, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office cross-reported another incident in the area of Highway 20 and Highway 226.

The Oregon State Police is actively investigating these random acts of shooting at moving vehicles.  All of the victims were driving along highways at the time of the incidents and some reported hearing a “pop.”  The dates, times, and locations of each incident are listed below:

  • Nov. 2, 2023, 2:00 a.m.- Highway 20, just east of Albany
  • Nov. 25, 2023, 9:30 a.m.- Highway 22E, near Mill City
  • Dec. 1, 2023, 2:30 a.m.- Highway 20, near Highway 226
  • Dec. 5, 2023, 2:00 a.m.- Highway 226, south of Scio
  • Dec. 6, 2023, 2:37 a.m.- Highway 20, near Highway 226

At this time, no victims have been injured. However, investigators have confirmed the damage to vehicles was caused by a firearm.

The Oregon State Police is adding extra patrols in the area of these incidents to enhance public safety.

OSP is seeking public assistance in identifying potential suspects or suspect vehicles; including any unreported incidents. If you have any information related to these incidents, please contact the Oregon State Police immediately at 1-800-442-2068 or OSP (677) on a mobile device.

LCSO Case #23-6360 — Missing Person from Eugene

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Eugene Police Department are looking for 63-year-old Joseph James Bucher.  Bucher’s vehicle was located by an Oregon State Police Trooper on 12/04/23 in a wooded area near USFS Rd. 5824 off of Hwy. 58 between Westfir and Lowell. He had not been heard from by family since 11/30/23.

Bucher is described as a white male adult standing approximately 5’11” and weighing about 250lbs.  He has gray hair and blue eyes.  He is also believed to currently have a beard. 

Anyone with information about Bucher’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1. or Eugene Police Department at 541-682-5111. 

Missing child alert — Jerrica Landin is still missing and is believed to be in danger

2023-12/973/168527/Jerrica_Landin_2.jpg

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help find Jerrica Landin, age 17, a child in foster care who went missing from Portland, Oregon on Aug. 21. She is believed to be in danger.

ODHS asks the public for help in the effort to find Jerrica and to contact 911 or local law enforcement if they believe they see her.

Jerrica may be in Portland or Eugene in Oregon. She may also be in Washington in Vancouver, Seattle or the Tri Cities. 

Name: Jerrica Landin
Pronouns: She/her
Date of birth: Oct. 24, 2006
Height: 5-foot-6
Weight: 130 pounds
Hair: Reddish brown
Eye color: Brown
Other identifying information: Jerrica has a tattoo of a heart on her neck below her right ear. She often dyes her hair red, pink and purple. 
Portland Police Bureau Case #23-803125
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1489518

Sometimes when a child is missing, they may be in significant danger and ODHS may need to locate them to assess and support their safety. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and assess their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. 

Pedestrian dies after being struck by delivery truck — UPDATE

The Salem Police Traffic Team continues their investigation of the fatal collision on Cordon Road in southeast Salem on Saturday evening. 

Investigators request to speak with a witness to the incident. A motorist, described as driving an unknown model Jeep vehicle, was traveling southbound on Cordon RD at the time of the crash. Investigators believe the witness will have additional information helpful to the investigation.

The witness driver is asked to contact the Traffic Team at 503-588-6293 and reference case number 23‑72055.

# # # Originally published 12/05/2023 | 6:00 p.m.

Salem, Ore. — A man was struck and killed by a delivery truck Saturday evening on Cordon RD SE. 

At approximately 7:50 p.m. on December 2, the driver of a delivery van reported he had struck what he believed to be a pedestrian while traveling northbound on Cordon RD SE just south of the HW22E overpass. Salem Police personnel arrived on scene and located a deceased man off the west shoulder of the roadway. 

The preliminary investigation by the Salem Police Traffic Team shows the decedent, Kiristian Murauo, age 23, was attempting to cross Cordon RD when he was struck by the delivery van in the north-bound vehicle lane of travel. No lawful pedestrian crossing, or overhead street lighting exists in the area of the crash location.

The driver, Justin Rodriguez, age 35, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

North and southbound travel on Cordon RD at the overpass was interrupted for approximately three hours for investigation and clearing of the scene. 

No arrest has occurred, or citation issued as the collision remains under investigation. No other information is available for release.

To date in 2023, the Salem Police Department has investigated 12 fatal collisions, resulting in 13 deaths.

Lane County Youth Services hosting free community holiday meal on Dec. 13

Celebrate the holidays with Lane County Youth Services! Students in the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Education Center Culinary Arts Program will prepare and share a free holiday meal with the community. 

“Our students have been looking forward to the holiday meal for months now,” said Program Supervisor Matthew Sterner. “It’s an opportunity for them to showcase the skills they’ve worked hard to develop and to use those skills to give back to their community. It’s a great event that brings together so many different people to share a meal and a little holiday cheer.”

The meal will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13, in the Lane County Youth Services Carmichael Room (2727 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Eugene). 

The meal is free and open to everyone. It also includes a free raffle for prizes and free food boxes to take home. No reservation is required. 

About the MLK Education Center – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Center serves middle and high school students who have an active case with Lane County Youth Services. This program is a collaboration between Youth Services and the Lane Education Service District (Lane ESD). In addition to academics, the MLK Education Center provides vocational opportunities, including in the culinary arts. The Culinary Arts Program offers youth the opportunity to learn different jobs involved in food service and catering. Students gain skills and learn to safely use the equipment in an institutional and commercial kitchen that prepares meals for youth in detention, a residential treatment program, and more. Students may participate in all aspects of catering including preparing foods, serving, customer service, etc.

Board of County Commissioners takes stance on Measure 110 reform

The Lane County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to include Measure 110 reform in its legislative priorities and principles ahead of the upcoming state legislative session. 

There are eleven reform items included in the Board’s adopted position, including:

  • Reform rather than repeal.
  • Reclassify Possession of a Controlled Substance from a Class E violation to a Class A misdemeanor and a new Class A misdemeanor for public use of a controlled substance, as long as it is accompanied by improved investment in criminal justice and behavioral healthcare systems to better serve Oregonians. (Simply reintroducing sanctions without other changes and investment will only exacerbate the issues reform is intended to correct.)
  • Support legislation that requires prioritizing funding for expansion of treatment capacity over other existing uses of the funding associated with the Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRN) created by Senate Bill 755.
  • Ensure funding eligibility for organizations that solely focus on treatment for justice-involved individuals.
  • Support diversion and sufficient investment and redesign to improve diversion programs.
  • Support statutory requirement that funds continue to be allocated to specialty courts, including drug courts. 
  • Support for better defined peace office, director, and other hold authority needed in statute to limit liability for local government, non-profits, and other contracted service providers.
  • Support legislation creating incentives for successful local implementation of programs such as the Community Corrections Act and others.

The full document is available online. It contains a more detailed analysis and the full text of the Board’s reform priorities. 

The Board of County Commissioners regularly adopts and updates its legislative principles. Those principles help guide County efforts to inform state legislation, as well as help Lane County pursue funding for services provided on behalf of the state. 

Eugene’s Only Hospital and Emergency Room Closed For Good

Friday, December 1st at 7am, Eugene’s University District Hospital Emergency Room closed for good. Oregon’s second largest city now does not have a hospital nor an emergency room.

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.

This is critical and marks a big change for emergency medical calls around the Eugene-Springfield area. The closure of Eugene’s PeaceHealth University District Emergency Department means all ambulances will be directed to either McKenzie Willamette or PeaceHealth Riverbend, both in Springfield, miles from the University District Hospital.

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

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.

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.

As Eugene’s Only Hospital and Emergency Room Closes, The Fire Department Says They Plan To Step Up

With the only emergency room in Eugene closing today 12/1/2023, the city’s fire department is trying to strengthen its emergency response.

PeaceHealth is planning to shutter multiple services at its University District location in December, redirecting patients to its hospital at RiverBend in Springfield, located about 5.8 miles away.

At a City Council meeting Monday, Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Mike Caven said this is likely to create a larger burden on first responders. He said patients who could’ve walked into the emergency room in the past may now need to be transported to Springfield by ambulance.

To meet demand, Caven said Eugene Springfield Fire will begin staffing a squad for downtown Eugene and nearby areas this week, with an additional medical unit stationed in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

Caven said the department is also trying to balance the workload of units, and it’s working with community partners on alternatives to hospitalization. He said staff have options in reserve in the event of a crisis.

“If we run out of units, and we need a fire crew to temporarily staff an ambulance to help support capacity…it’s not ideal, but it’s there,” he said.

Currently, the department is waiting to obtain three additional ambulances that have already been funded, which it expects to have in three to four months.

Caven is asking for more money to help meet the department’s new responsibilities. He said the department can be somewhat flexible with expenses at this time, as its budget is funded on a two-year timeline.

“We’re not in crisis mode trying to figure out, ‘How are we going to pay this? How are we going to balance the budget immediately?’” said Caven.

Together with the city of Eugene, Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, is now drafting a bill to request one-time emergency funding from the state Legislature, which is intended to respond to the loss of PeaceHealth services.

City officials say this money could pay for a new ambulance and community response unit for the fire department, while piloting wellness programs meant to reduce the need for emergency services.

A spokesperson for Nathanson said she was unavailable to comment Tuesday, and she is still in discussion around the details of the bill.

To meet demand as soon as possible, Caven said Eugene Springfield Fire will begin staff an additional squad on December 1st with medical gear to triage as the system gets busy, and they also plan to add an additional transport ambulance in the system.

“That’s out initial surge capacity to really see what happens,” Caven said. “How does the community navigate towards their healthcare needs December 1 going forward.”

Caven said Eugene Springfield Fire, however, is still here to make sure calls are answered. But, they are also depending on people to call 9-1-1for emergencies only. (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.

Eugene Police Department Collecting Hoodies For High Schoolers

 Embrace the season of giving by donating hoodies to high school-aged kids! As temperatures drop, let’s wrap our community in warmth and kindness. Clean out those closets and drop off your gently used or new hoodies at our designated collection points.

May be an image of gingerbread cookie and text that says 'and confidence| ahead. HOODIES FOR DECEMBER 1st-31st We're collecting cozy oodies hig high, Join providing layer of. warmth and support to help these students face HIGHSCH IGHSCHOOL one hoodie at a time. winter with a smile. Together, we can make a. meaningful impact''

For those who prefer a convenient option, consider donating gift cards that will be used to purchase hoodies. Send your gift cards to the Eugene Police Department: Community Engagement Supervisor, Cherie Nelson300 Country Club Rd. Eugene, OR 97401Your contribution will ensure teenagers stay snug and stylish this winter. Let’s come together to make a difference—one hoodie at a time!

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

Eugene Saturday Market’s Holiday Market

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

May be an image of text that says 'Holiday Market 2023 Holiday Market Activities Sat. Dec. 2nd Battle Lands Play Into to L.A.R.P., 3-6pm Sun. Dec. 3rd Cornhole Competition, 3-6pm Sat. Dec. 9th Fiber Arts Craft Circle, 3-6pm Sun. Dec. 10th Tell Your Story: Zine Making Workshop, 3-6pm Sat. Dec. 16th Thrill the World Flash Mob Class, 4:30-5pm Sun. Dec. 17th Belly Dance Class, 3-6pm Fri. Dec. 22nd Bird Seed Ornament Workshop, 3-6pm Sat. Dec. 23rd Snowflake Contest, 3-6pm Sun. Dec. 24th- Christmas Carol by Man of Words, 12-2pm'

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. 

“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

Eugene, Springfield and Lane County 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

OHA launches winter campaign to encourage conversations about alcohol

Rethink the Drink urges communities to talk about alcohol, offers tips for supporting others during holiday season

At a time when many people in Oregon are celebrating the holiday season with friends, coworkers, and loved ones, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is launching Rethink the Drink’s new winter advertising campaign to change the conversation about alcohol.

Rethink the Drink: Addressing Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Oregon |  Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

The campaign emphasizes the need for people to come together and support one another to be healthy and care for communities. That includes creating healthy environments that support people in their efforts to drink less alcohol. The campaign reveals how common alcohol has become in community settings and asks people to consider ways they can best support their friends and loved ones – and their entire community – to be healthy.

Rethink the Drink, informed by significant community and partner engagement, aims to decrease alcohol consumption and related harms in Oregon. Elements of this winter campaign include a website; statewide TV, radio, digital and print advertisements; and Facebook and Instagram pages. Oregon is the only state in the country to initiate a public health campaign of this scale to reach adults 21 and older.

While younger people in Oregon are drinking less, binge drinking and heavy drinking among adults are on the rise, and are responsible for an estimated 1 in 5 deaths among those ages 20-49. Overall, excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death and disease in Oregon.

“During December and the holiday season, many people and communities come together at celebrations or events where alcohol may be present. We’re trying to start a new conversation to help dial down the pressure around alcohol, and help create more supportive community spaces for everyone,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy state health officer and epidemiologist at OHA.

“Our new campaign and messaging explore how alcohol has crept into so many settings of our daily lives, whether that’s at the hair salon, a child’s birthday party, or a baby shower,” Jeanne said “Even in moments when people are trying to improve their health, such as a 5k run or during a hike in the woods, many of us find ourselves drinking more. This campaign is about caring for one another and for our communities so that we can all be healthy and feel supported.”

Data show the first Rethink the Drink campaign was a significant success

Based on evaluation data from RMC Research for its first campaign in summer 2022, Rethink the Drink achieved its goals and exceeded expectations for the campaign. People in Oregon who saw the campaign:

  • Had more conversations about their own drinking, friends’ and families’ drinking, and what excessive drinking is.
  • Thought more about their drinking habits.
  • Were more likely to plan on cutting back their drinking than those who did not see the campaign.

People living in Oregon may be drinking excessively without realizing it — The share of Oregon adults who drink excessively is larger than most people realize – more than 1 in 5. Most people in this group are not affected by alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. However, by drinking excessively, people increase their odds of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.

OHA uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of excessive alcohol use, which includes both heavy drinking and binge drinking:

  • Heavy drinking, which can lead to chronic diseases and other problems over time, is eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
  • Binge drinking is consuming four or more drinks on one occasion for women or five or more drinks on one occasion for men.

For more information on differences among genders for what’s considered excessive drinking, visit https://www.rethinkthedrink.com/what-is-excessive-drinking.

The unjust harms of excessive drinking — Certain populations experience more unjust stressors and disadvantages due to racism, discrimination, and historical disinvestment in these communities, which has led to higher rates of alcohol-related harms. These include Black and Indigenous communities, as well as people with lower incomes and less education.

Excessive drinking causes health harms that include increased risks for cancer, liver failure, heart disease and depression. Beyond the health harms to the individual, excessive drinking affects the entire community, costing Oregon $4.8 billion per year from lost earnings for workers and revenue for businesses, health care expenses, criminal justice costs and car crashes.

“We all have a role to play in building healthy communities and addressing alcohol and substance use in our state,” said Annaliese Dolph, director of Oregon’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission. “The Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission’s Strategic Plan calls for raising awareness of harm associated with alcohol misuse, especially using prevention techniques. This is exactly what the Rethink the Drink campaign helps accomplish. This is an example of state agencies working together with the Commission to carry out the Commission’s task of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of substance use services.”

Dolph added: “Preventing misuse across the lifespan includes having honest conversations to help people to think about the alcohol they are consuming, and decrease family and community norms permissive of misuse. This can increase the perception of harm from misuse and address the health harms faced by historically marginalized communities.”

Rethink the Drink is not telling people to stop drinking, Jeanne says. The campaign is asking people to pause for a moment, learn about the harms caused by excessive drinking, and think about the way alcohol is prevalent in their lives and communities. While the alcohol industry provides thousands of jobs for people in Oregon, and producers in our state make some of the world’s finest beers, wines and spirits, excessive drinking carries heavy costs for all Oregonians, whether they drink or not.

Note: If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcohol dependence or an alcohol use disorder, free confidential resources and support are available online or by calling or 1-800-923-435.

About Rethink the Drink

Rethink the Drink is an initiative of OHA’s Public Health Division with a goal to build healthier communities by decreasing excessive drinking and the harm it causes to individuals, families and communities. Recognizing the value of Oregon’s beer, wine and alcohol producers and businesses to the state’s economy, culture and identity, Rethink the Drink is not asking people not to drink. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the effects of excessive alcohol use. While people of all education and income levels drink excessively, certain populations experience higher rates of alcohol-related diseases. These include Black and Indigenous communities, as well as people with lower incomes and less education. Certain populations experience higher rates of alcohol-related disease due to discrimination and historical disinvestment in these communities that has contributed to fewer resources and support. Rethink the Drink is committed to OHA’s larger goal to end health inequities in our state by 2030.

Bureau of Land Management is hiring 100 student interns

Portland, Ore. — Are you a student looking to kickstart a career in civil service? Are you looking for a fun, fulfilling way to spend your summer?

During the next couple of weeks, the Bureau of Land Management is hiring at least 100 paid student interns across the country, some of them right here in the Pacific Northwest. Come work with us! Job applications will be open on USAjobs.gov from December 8 through December 18, 2023. Don’t miss the opportunity!

Leaders from BLM Oregon/Washington will host two Zoom workshops to help students navigate the application process.

“Applying for a job with the federal government is a little different than applying for other jobs,” said Amanda Roberts, BLM Prineville District Manager. “I’m excited to help students from our community get involved!”

Roberts will provide an hour-long presentation on building federal resumes. There will also be approximately 30 minutes available for workshop attendees to ask questions. The two webinars will cover the same content. The first webinar will be recorded and posted to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/BLMOREGON).

The workshops will take place on:


Students will get the most out of the workshop if they already have an account on USAjobs.gov. Anyone 16 years or older and enrolled or soon to be enrolled in school is eligible to apply.

The American people rely on the BLM to care for their public land, and BLM leaders are committed to building a team that represents all of America.

“Civil service has been a fulfilling and meaningful career for me,” said Roberts. “Our ultimate goal is to give that same opportunity to the next generation.”

Internships are available in a variety of career fields and functions, including:
• Civil engineering
• Public affairs
• Information technology
• Survey
• Administration
• Land law examiner
• Natural resources
• Land surveyor
• Wildland fire
• Geographic information systems
• Human resources
• Grant management
• Contracting
• Budget
• Environment protection


All currently open BLM jobs in Oregon and Washington are listed on USAjobs at this link: https://www.usajobs.gov/Search/Results?l=Oregon&l=Washington&a=IN05&hp=public&p=1


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

State officials plan to boost naloxone availability in Oregon schools

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has announced plans to offer free opioid overdose reversal kits to middle and high schools throughout the state.

The effort is an expansion of the Save Lives Oregon (SLO) Initiative’s Harm Reduction Clearinghouse Project.

The SLO Harm Reduction Clearinghouse began during COVID and has provided naloxone and other harm reduction supplies at no cost to agencies around the state that directly engage with people at highest risk of substance use related overdose, infections, and injuries.

The expansion of the Harm Reduction Clearinghouse Project to support schools to access naloxone was made possible through one-time funding from the Oregon’s Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board.

The Oregon Department of Education last week notified school district leaders about the availability of naloxone for schools, registration opened Nov. 29 and as of today 505 total schools, colleges, and universities have requested to receive reversal kits.

The intent is to help school districts increase access to overdose reversal kits within their schools for use in the event of an opioid overdose emergency at or near a school campus.

“The opioid epidemic and overdose crisis impacts every community in Oregon. While overdose events on school property are rare, our school communities should be prepared to respond to an overdose medical emergency,” said Ebony Clarke, OHA’s director of behavioral health.

Every middle and high school is eligible to receive up to three opioid overdose reversal kits. The kits contain a wall mounted naloxone box, instructions, emergency medical supplies, and eight doses of the opioid antagonist, naloxone nasal spray.

Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, can restore breathing while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive.  Access to naloxone is necessary for school staff to respond to an opioid overdose on or near a school campus.  

Eligible schools must serve students seventh grade or higher. The program is open to all public, private, charter schools, colleges and universities or tribal communities located in Oregon.

For more information, including the link to the online application, please visit the SLO website.

The SLO Clearinghouse has provided no-cost supplies to more than 280 organizations and agencies across Oregon and Tribal communities, including harm reduction organizations, local public health and behavioral health agencies, law enforcement, first responders, community health clinics, substance use disorder facilities and hospital-based programs.

The Harm Reduction Clearinghouse has distributed more than 335,500 doses of naloxone to agencies that directly distribute naloxone to people at risk of opioid overdose since 2022, according to OHA estimates.

OHCS announces Homeowner Assistance Fund application portal to close on December 20

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is closing the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program to most new applicants to avoid overcommitting funds. The application portal will close at noon PST Dec. 20. Homeowners who are in active foreclosure may still be able to apply through a housing counselor.  

“We’re encouraging homeowners who are at imminent risk of housing displacement, socially disadvantaged individuals as defined by U.S. Treasury, or anyone who meets one of the additional eligibility criteria listed on the HAF website to apply for HAF assistance before noon Dec. 20,” said Ryan Vanden Brink, assistant director of Homeowner Assistance Programs. “Although we are accepting new applications, there may not be enough funds for everyone who applies as the program winds down.”  

Existing applicants can continue to log on to the HAF portal to check the status of their application or scheduled payments.   

OHCS planned its HAF program to operate as a safety net for the most at-risk homeowners who have no viable workout option, so those homeowners will receive priority processing. If funds still remain after the portal closes and applications are processed, HAF intake partners will be able to submit new applications on behalf of homeowners in a judicial foreclosure action or in nonjudicial foreclosure with a scheduled sale date. These applicants may need to complete intake paperwork and foreclosure prevention counseling before working with a counselor. Funding may not be available for all these new applications.  

In addition to Oregon’s foreclosure moratorium and increased mortgage forbearance and default workout options, HAF has helped Oregon maintain a historically low foreclosure rate during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping many in their homes. According to August 2023 Corelogic data, there were 1,016 residential foreclosures in Oregon, which reflects a 0.16% foreclosure rate, compared to a 20-year average 1.03% foreclosure rate. 

As of Dec. 4, OHCS has approved 1,745 applications, totaling about $46.9 million of the $72 million available to homeowners when the program launched. Over $35 million in approved funds have already been paid with an average award of about $27,000. OHCS is reviewing or monitoring another 859 applications that, if approved, are projected to total $23.2 million in assistance. The agency projects $1.9 million remains. OHCS is currently working with homeowners, housing counselors, and mortgage servicers to postpone and prevent hundreds of foreclosures for applicants. Visit the HAF Dashboard for more detailed information. 

Free help is available  – Homeowners who have fallen behind or are at risk of missing a payment on their mortgage can continue to get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about options to keep their homes, such as modifications or adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.  

Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer due to high volume and remote working policies.  

In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.  

Avoiding fraud  – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor.  

There are several common warning signs homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.  

To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.   

Thousands of Oregon Drivers May Soon Be Able To Get Their Driver’s Licenses Again After Governor Tina Kotek Announced She Plans To Forgive Uncollected Traffic Fines and Fees Standing In The Way

Governor Tina Kotek issued an executive order Tuesday that forgives unpaid traffic fees and court fines for about 10,000 people so they can get their driver’s license reinstated.

 (Release from the Office of the Governor) Governor Tina Kotek has issued new remission orders forgiving unpaid traffic fines and fees to include individuals who were inadvertently omitted in the previous 2022 remissions orders.

Governor Kotek’s new remission orders remove existing fines for more than 10,000 additional Oregonians who should have been included in the 2022 remission orders. These Oregonians now have their fines and fees forgiven and have the opportunity to restore their licenses.

“Debt-based driver’s license suspensions disproportionately impact rural and low-income Oregonians,” Governor Kotek said. “For families who are already struggling to make ends meet, these orders seek to remove one more barrier to financial stability.”

Prior to the 2020 passage of House Bill 4210, driver’s licenses could be suspended if a person was unable to pay the fine they received because of a minor traffic violation. The new law prohibited most license suspensions for nonpayment of traffic fines going forward, but individuals with debt-based license suspensions already on their record could not reinstate their driver’s licenses.

In December 2022, former Governor Kate Brown remitted the fines and fees associated with years-old traffic violations imposed on Oregonians who were unable to pay their fines or did not appear in court to remedy their fines, thus causing the suspension of their driver’s licenses. The initial orders impacted approximately 7,000 people.

Over the last year, Oregon’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) discovered that not all individuals who met the criteria in the original 2022 remission orders were included in the released lists.

Governor Kotek’s orders do not alter the original criteria from the 2022 remission orders. Her orders instead ensure that those who met the original criteria are identified. The remission orders forgive fines and fees related only to traffic violations. The orders do not forgive fines and fees related to traffic crimes, such as misdemeanors and felonies, or public safety-related sanctions, like other criminal convictions. Much of the debt forgiven by the Governor’s remission orders has remained unpaid for three or more years and, as a result, is considered uncollectible.

Governor Kotek’s remission orders, including the list of cases, may be found here. A compiled list of names from all three orders can be found here, and an FAQ is located here.

The 2022 remissions orders, including the list of cases, may be found here.

Oregonians can go to the DMV’s Fine Remittance – Do I Qualify? web page to learn if their name is on one of the remission orders and how to reinstate their driving privileges.

——– Kotek said in the statement that “debt-based license suspensions” disproportionately harm rural and low income Oregonians by creating financial hurdles that are hard to overcome.

“For families who are already struggling to make ends meet, these orders seek to remove one more barrier to financial stability,” she wrote.

The state Legislature passed House Bill 4210 in 2020, which prohibited license suspensions for nonpayment of traffic fines. The measure was not retroactive, however, and did not help those who currently had their license suspended.

Kotek’s predecessor, Gov. Kate Brown, later forgave unpaid court fines and fees for about 7,000 people who weren’t helped by the new law. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles discovered that not everyone who was eligible was helped under Brown’s order, so Kotek’s executive order captures those who were unintentionally left out the first time around.

The remission for the fines and fees do not apply to people who have fees related to traffic crimes or owe compensatory fines to victims. They only apply to traffic fines, such as unpaid parking tickets.

“License suspension plunges already low-income people further into a spiral of debt which it is extremely difficult to escape,” said Sybil Hebb, with the Oregon Law Center.

The majority of the fines and fees forgiven are considered uncollectible debt, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Most of the debt has not been paid for three or more years. The order forgives about $6 million worth of fines from circuit court cases in Oregon. It’s unknown how much was remitted from Oregon municipal and justice courts.

After Brown issued her remission orders, the Oregon Law Center created a video explaining what remission orders do and how to get your driver’s license back if you’re eligible. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles also has a webpage explaining how to apply for debt forgiveness. (source)

Winter Whale Watch Week returns to the Oregon Coast Dec. 27-31

Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay

OREGON COAST, Oregon—Oregon State Parks will once again host Winter Whale Watch Week at 15 sites along the Oregon Coast Wednesday, Dec. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.

Every year thousands of gray whales migrate south through Oregon’s waters at the end of December, and state parks invites visitors to the coast to see their journey. 

Trained volunteers will be stationed at 15 sites to help visitors spot whales, share information and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Volunteer opportunities are still available along the north and south coast if you register by Dec. 11 at https://orwhalewatch.org/volunteer/

The Whale Watch Week sites are some of the best places to spot whales on the Oregon Coast. 

“We are excitedly waiting for the migration of the gray whales to come down from Alaska,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

“We really enjoy sharing the experience with visitors,” he said, “It’s been a tradition at Oregon State Parks for more than 40 years.”

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

An estimated 14,500 gray whales swam past Oregon’s shores last winter, according to the most recent population estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The journey is part of their annual migration south to the calving lagoons near Baja, Mexico, and the end of December is the peak time to see their migration south. 

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos and videos from Winter Whale Watch on social media using #OregonStateParks and #ORWhaleWatch23.

Southern Oregon Man Sentenced to More Than 12 Years in Federal Prison After Boobytrapped Home Injures Federal Officer

MEDFORD, Ore.—A former resident of Williams, Oregon, was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison today after he boobytrapped a southern Oregon home and injured a federal officer.

Gregory Lee Rodvelt, 72, was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

“Fueled by anger and bitterness, this defendant boobytrapped a property in southern Oregon with intent to seriously injure someone. Unfortunately, his trap worked, and he injured an FBI bomb technician,” said Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices. “We are fortunate Greg Rodvelt’s actions did not kill a law enforcement officer or community member. Today’s sentence is a just punishment for a serious crime.”

“This individual went through great efforts to set intricate and deadly concealed traps to prevent FBI agents from doing their job. These were no joke,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “Mr. Rodvelt knew he was breaking the law and his reprehensible actions are what landed him this sentence. We are thankful that our agent and other law enforcement officers survived this vicious attempt and we are thankful for our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligent work in bringing justice to this case.”

“It is clear that his emplacing multiple layers of boobytraps were intended to hurt or kill a person or multiple people,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “We are thankful that the FBI bomb technician wasn’t more seriously injured and hope that this sentence sends a strong message to not only Mr. Rodvelt but anyone who would contemplate doing something like this.”

“I’m thankful this incident didn’t result in more critical or fatal injuries, said Sergeant Kevin DelGrande of Oregon State Police, “This case highlights the dangers explosive devices present to responding law enforcement officers.”

According to court documents, on September 7, 2018, bomb technicians from Oregon State Police (OSP) and the FBI went to a property in Williams formerly owned by Rodvelt that he had lost in lawsuit. After Rodvelt learned that a receiver had been appointed to sell the property, he proceeded to boobytrap it.

When the bomb technicians arrived at the property, they observed a minivan blocking the gate. The technicians found steel animal traps affixed to a gate post and under the hood of the minivan. They also located homemade spike strips, which the receiver had previously run over. As the technician neared the residence, they observed a hot tub that had been placed on its side and rigged in a manner that when a gate was opened it would activate a mechanical trigger causing the spa to roll toward the person who had opened the gate. 

The technicians further observed that the windows of the residence had been barred from the inside and there were security doors at the front and rear of the residence. The front door also had what appeared to be bullet holes from shots fired inside. In the garage, they found a rat trap modified to accept a shotgun shell. Though the trap was unloaded, it was connected to the main garage door so it would be tripped when the door was opened.

The technicians and two other law enforcement officers gathered near the front of the residence and used an explosive charge to breach the front door. The group carefully entered the residence, looking for traps, and found a wheelchair in the center of the front entryway. When the wheelchair was bumped, it triggered a homemade shotgun device that discharged a .410 shotgun shell that struck the FBI bomb technician below the knee. The group administered first aid to the wounded technician and transported him to a local hospital.

On June 2, 2023, a federal jury in Medford found Rodvelt guilty of assaulting a federal officer and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from OSP and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper and Jeffrey S. Sweet, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

Southern Oregon Woman Sentenced for Using Deceased Spouse’s Identity to Obtain Federal Student Aid Funds

MEDFORD, Ore.—A Southern Oregon woman was sentenced in federal court Monday for using her deceased husband’s identity to unlawfully obtain more than $36,000 in federal student aid.

Cynthia Pickering, 56, of Central Point, Oregon, was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and ordered to pay $36,341 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education.

According to court documents, beginning in September 2017 and continuing through April 2019, Pickering devised a scheme to use her deceased husband’s personally identifiable information to submit multiple applications for federal student aid and enroll her former husband at three different colleges and universities in Oregon. These fraudulent applications caused the three colleges and universities—Eastern Oregon University, Rogue Community College, and Western Oregon University—to disperse $36,341 in federal student aid into Pickering’s personal checking account.

To conceal her scheme, Pickering attended online classes pretending to be her former husband so that her husband would remain eligible for the student aid. Pickering did what was necessary to pass first term courses at each institution and collect the funds.

On October 6, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a nine-count indictment charging Pickering with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and student loan fraud, and, on November 15, 2022, she was arrested at her residence in Central Point. On August 21, 2023, Pickering pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and three counts of student aid fraud.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General (ED-OIG). It was prosecuted by John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Local Child Exploitation Task Force Investigation Leads to Federal Prison for Eagle Point Woman

JCSO Case 20-5124

MEDFORD, Ore. – An Eagle Point woman was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison Monday, December 4, for taking sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old child and sending them to multiple individuals she met online. Kayla Dee Lester, 31, was sentenced to 156 months in federal prison and 20 years’ supervised release. This case was investigated by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force. It was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office District of Oregon. 

This case’s successful outcome required collaboration from local and federal law enforcement agencies. This teamwork led to the establishment of the Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET), a joint inter-agency task force that was started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. 

The initial investigation began in January of 2020 when JCSO detectives and HSI received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of child pornography being uploaded from an address in the 600 block of East Archwood Drive in Eagle Point. According to court documents, in 2020, Lester took sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old child and distributed them to multiple individuals online. When interviewed by police, Lester admitted to using Whisper and other social media applications to meet people and solicit child pornography. She further admitted to sending the images she took of the 8-year-old child to others in hopes they would send her child pornography in return.

On September 17, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Lester with using a minor to produce visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct and distributing and possessing child pornography. On May 10, 2023, Lester pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.

On July 6, 2023, while awaiting sentencing, Lester was arrested for possessing an internet-connected cell phone in violation of her release conditions. Her cell phone was found to contain nude images of herself and other adults who she was chatting with online as well as chats between Lester and others wherein she described sexually abusing her 8-year-old victim. A forensic search later conducted on her phone revealed 44 videos of child pornography. On July 10, 2023, Lester’s pretrial release was revoked.

Umpqua Bank Launches Warm Hearts Winter Drive, Mobilizes Associates across Oregon to Support Neighbors in Need

Local residents can help support nearly 30 Aide Organizations across Oregon this holiday season

― Umpqua Bank announced the launch of its Warm Hearts Winter Drive, an associate-driven campaign to support individuals and families who struggle with access to housing and other basic resources. As part of the drive, associates and local branches in Oregon will help mobilize their respective communities to raise money and collect winter clothing for 28 shelters and aide organizations serving Oregonians experiencing homelessness. 

Umpqua’s Warm Hearts Winter drive continues a community-impact commitment of the former Columbia Bank, which merged with Umpqua earlier this year. The campaign was started in 2015 as a way for bank associates to partner with customers and members of their community to raise funds and other resources for local shelters and nonprofits providing support for families without a home. More than $2 million in contributions has been raised since its inception. This year’s drive expands to support more than 100 organizations in communities across the combined bank’s footprint in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. 

“As a newly combined bank, Umpqua is committed to mobilizing our greater resources and the collective power and passion of our associates to make a difference in our local communities,” said Umpqua Bank Chief Marketing Officer David Moore Devine. “Access to adequate shelter and clothing continues to be a major challenge for many of our neighbors, and our Warm Hearts campaign empowers associates, along with members of our communities, to support local families in need. Simply donating a few dollars, a new coat or other quality clothing items can help ensure that more of our neighbors are cared for in the months ahead.”

How to Support the Warm Hearts Winter Drive — The Warm Hearts Winter Drive accepts cash donations in addition to new winter clothes. Contributions can be made at www.WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com. Financial contributions and new clothing items can also be donated at local Umpqua Bank branches.

Associates and local branches across Umpqua’s footprint are actively engaged in securing financial contributions and warm clothing from customers and community members. One hundred percent of the clothing and funds collected will be donated directly to local shelters and aide organizations. 

All designated contributions stay in the community where they were raised and directly support local organizations.

Participating Organizations in Oregon:

Bethlehem InnBend
The Shepherd’s HouseBend
Oregon Coast Community ActionCoos Bay
Community Outreach, Inc.Corvallis
Eugene MissionEugene
St. Vincent De Paul Lane CountyEugene
My Father’s House: A Community ShelterGresham
Martha’s House of HermistonHermiston
Community Action Hillsboro Family ShelterHillsboro
Gorge Ecumenical Ministries Hood River
Klamath & Lake Community Action ServicesKlamath Falls
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc.La Grande
Union County Shelter from the StormLa Grande
Family Promise of Lincoln CountyLincoln City
Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Rogue ValleyMedford
Northwest Housing AlternativesMilwaukie
LOVE, Inc. | Newberg/Yamhill County Gospel MissionNewberg
Grace Wins HavenNewport
Samaritan House, Inc.Newport
Community in ActionOntario
Neighbor to Neighbor Pendelton (N2N)Pendleton 
Portland Rescue MissionPortland
United Community Action Network Douglas & Josephine CountiesRoseburg
Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette ValleySalem
Union Gospel Mission of SalemSalem
Helping Hands Reentry Outreach CenterSeaside
St. Vincent De Paul: Warming PlaceThe Dalles
Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. Tillamook


For more information on the list of benefiting organizations in each county, or to make a cash or new clothing donation, please visit WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com. Those interested in supporting the Warm Hearts campaign may also email community@umpquabank.com for more information.

About Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank is a subsidiary of Columbia Banking System Inc., (Nasdaq: COLB) and a premier regional bank in the western U.S., with offices in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. With over $50 billion of assets, Umpqua combines the resources, sophistication and expertise of a national bank with a commitment to deliver personalized service at scale. The bank consistently ranks as one of America’s Best Banks (ranked by Forbes) and supports consumers and businesses through a full suite of services, including retail and commercial banking; Small Business Administration lending; institutional and corporate banking; equipment leasing; and wealth management. The bank’s corporate headquarters are located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Learn more at umpquabank.com.

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.

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)

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. 

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)

Klamath Falls has been named 44th in the Top 50 best places to travel globally by Travel Lemming, a U.S.-based online travel guide that is read by more than 10 million travelers.

The article calls Klamath Falls an “uncrowded gateway to Crater Lake National Park,” and says that its “numerous hiking trails lead to lakes, mountain summits and stunning waterfalls (are) a key feature of southwest Oregon.”

It cites seeing the Klamath Falls Rapids, hiking the Link Trail, and zipping on the Crater Lake Zipline as a few things that visitors shouldn’t miss while in the area.

County Commissioner Kelley Minty says, “It’s encouraging to see others recognize what we all know — Klamath County has so much to offer our citizens as well as visitors. I hope others feel as proud as I do of our community.”

Other American cities making the list were: Memphis, Tenn., ranked 5th; Kodiak, Alaska, ranked 8th; Eureka Springs, Ark., ranked 10th; Quincy, Mass., ranked 21st; Jacksonville, Fla., ranked 29th; and Steamboat Springs, Colo., ranked 41st. https://travellemming.com/best-places-to-travel-2024/

Oregon Heritage Commission grants awarded for history projects throughout the state

Oregon Heritage Commission has awarded $381,262 in grants to 33 organizations throughout the state. The grants will help fund a variety of projects including collection preservation and access, research, oral history, exhibits, and performance projects. Award amounts ranged $1,000 – $20,000.

Funded projects:

  • Albany Regional Museum, in Albany, digitize and make accessible the photo, postcard and negative collection.
  • Bend Park and Recreation District, in Bend, for an exhibit at the Hollinshead-Matson site.
  • Benton County to hold an event at Fort Hoskins and repair the chimney of the Commander’s House.
  • Big Butte Historical Society, in Butte Falls, to update the Butte Falls Discovery Loop.
  • Chetco Community Public Library, in Brookings, to digitize historic issues of the Brookings Harbor Pilot and make it accessible through the University of Oregon Oregon Historic Newspapers website.
  • The City of Dayton, in Yamhill County, to digitize historic issues of the Dayton Oregon newspapers and make it accessible through the University of Oregon Oregon Historic Newspapers website.
  • The City of Lowell, in Lane County, to create a digital archive of materials related to the history of Lowell and surrounding areas.
  • Crater Rock Museum, in Central Point, to rehouse the lithic artifacts collection.
  • Deschutes County Historical Society, in Bend, to complete priority collection data clean-up. 
  • Friends of Kam Wah Chung, in John Day, to translation of collection materials. 
  • Gresham Historical Society, in Gresham, to develop and promote a local history podcast.
  • Hellenic-American Cultural Center and Museum, in Portland, to develop an audio tour and accompanying materials. 
  • High Desert Museum, in Deschutes County, to develop content and strategies for connecting people to the experiences and stories of Black Oregonians. 
  • Japanese American Museum of Oregon, in Portland, to develop a set of traveling trunks about Japanese American history, to be available throughout the state.
  • Lake Oswego Preservation Society, in Lake Oswego, transcribe and make accessible records of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. 
  • Linfield University, in McMinnville, to create an exhibit at the Portland campus about Emily L. Loveridge, who founded and led the first nursing school in the.
  • Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation, in Portland, to support archaeological work to uncover the remains of the Chinese alter at Lone Fir Cemetery.
  • Mark Prairie Historical Society, in Canby, to complete interior restoration of the Mark Prairie School building.
  • Oregon Aviation Historical Society, in Cottage Grove, to collect oral histories of Oregon woman aviators.
  • Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, in Portland, to install interpretation at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. 
  • Oregon State Grange, in Salem, to preserve, digitize and make accessible the historic documents of the Oregon State Grange.
  • Oregon State University, Anthropology Department, in Corvallis, to 3D scan historic buildings at Silver Falls State Park. 
  • Portland Chinatown History Foundation to repair the historic dragon sculpture and hold the Lunar New Year Dragon Dance Parade and Celebration. 
  • Powerland Heritage Park, in Brooks, to repair the boiler of the steam powered sawmill.
  • RASIKA Society for Arts of India, in Portland, to collect oral histories exploring the agency of South Asians who immigrated to Oregon, following the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and share them through a multimedia performance.
  • Southern Oregon Historical Society, in Medford, to digitize over 6,000 glass plate negatives of photographer Peter Britt. 
  • The Eugene Debbs Potts Foundation, in Josephine County, to improve access and increase displays at the museum.
  • The Immigrant Story, in Hillsboro, to present To Tell the World, a public arts program.
  • Vanport Mosaic, in Portland, to develop an audio walking tour series and complete a pilot tour about Portland’s Black Panther Party. 
  • Vanport Placemaking Project, in Portland, to develop audio accessible content for interpretation at the Vanport site.
  • Weston Area Development Association to install a Weston history exhibit at a local restaurant. 
  • Willamette Heritage Center, in Salem, to complete preservation assessments on historic buildings at the site.

This competitive grant program is for qualifying organizations, and is offered once per biennium for projects that conserve, develop or interpret Oregon’s heritage. It is a program of the Oregon Heritage Commission. The Commission works to secure, sustain and enhance Oregon’s heritage. The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the governor and nine agency advisors. Members are chosen from state agencies and statewide organizations, and represent diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds. 

The Commission is part of Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. To learn more about the Oregon Heritage Grant or the Oregon Heritage Commission, visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at i.gill@oprd.oregon.gov“>Kuri.gill@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-0685. 

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.

Alert for 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)

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.

Enjoy Evening Hours at the Museum with the December return of Winter Nights!

BEND, OR — Days are shorter, and the air is colder… winter is coming! Every Thursday in December, the High Desert Museum will host fun and festive Winter Nights events — offering participants a break from their busy work weeks with unique evenings out. 

For Winter Nights the Museum will remain open until 7:30 pm with seasonal themes as well as a chance to experience new exhibitions and engaging activities for all ages. In addition, the Museum presently has two new exhibitions — Wolves: Photography by Ronan Donovan and Endangered in the High Desert — and will open a third one on Saturday, December 9, Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species: From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation.

For this year’s Winter Nights:

  • December 7: Welcome to Winter — The first Winter Nights event will feature speedy rounds of Museum trivia! Several rounds will be played, and prizes will be won. Alongside trivia, Museum visitors may enjoy fun beverage tastings from local vendors and a dinner or a treat at the Rimrock Café. Silver Sage Trading will also be open, offering holiday discounts to all and complementary gift wrapping. Cookie decorating and storytelling for kids will also be happening all evening long.
  • December 14: College Night– Students with college identification will receive free admission! For this Winter Nights event the Museum encourages all visitors to come dressed in their best vintage snow-wear. The evening will feature speedy rounds of Museum bingo, more regional beverage tastings, cookie decorating and storytelling. Silver Sage Trading – with holiday discounts and gift wrapping – and the Rimrock Café will also be open throughout the evening.
  • December 21: Exploring Endangered Species– Bring the family to explore the Museum’s newest exhibits, Wolves: Photography by Ronan DonovanEndangered in the High Desert and Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species. Like the previous nights, there will be beverage tastings alongside an exhibit-themed scavenger hunt that ends with an art project. Plus, there are sugar cookies to decorate, discounts to be had at Silver Sage Trading and delicious food to eat at the Rimrock Café. All ages are sure to enjoy this evening!
  • December 28: By the Fireside – This will be an exciting opportunity to get the entire family out of the house… in pajamas! During the final Winter Nights of the season the Museum will host a pajama party with family portraits, cozy stories, sugar cookie decorating and more delicious craft beverage tastings. 

With up to nine new exhibits opening at the High Desert Museum each year, there is always something new for visitors to explore. October, November and December were no exception, with one new exhibition opening each month. The first, Wolves: Photography by Ronan Donovan, opened on October 21. This stunning exhibition, created by the National Geographic Society and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, features Donovan’s images and videos of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and on Ellesmere Island in the high Canadian Artic. Since 2014, the National Geographic Explorer and photographer has examined the relationship between wild wolves and humans to better understand the animals, our shared history and what drives the persistent human-wolf conflict. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/wolves.

Winter Nights visitors can also explore the original exhibit Endangered in the High Desert, which recently opened on November 11. With vibrant colors and engaging photography, this exhibition is meant to ignite conversations about species in the region that are either facing or recovering from the threat of extinction. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/endangered-high-desert.

The Museum’s final exhibition opening in 2023, Andy Warhol’s: Endangered Species: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, makes its debut at the Museum on Saturday, December 9. The exhibition will showcase the pop art icon’s complete Endangered Species series (1983), as well as select works from Warhol’s Skull series, Vanishing Animals series and one of Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe works. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/warhol.

All three of these exhibitions are key components of the Museum’s yearlong recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.

Admission for Winter Nights is $10 general admission and $6 for ages 3-12. Ages 2 and under and Museum members are free. Visitors who arrive earlier in the day may stay for Winter Nights without paying additional admission. The outdoor exhibits are closed during Winter Nights. Regular winter hours are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Learn more at highdesertmuseum.org/winter-nights.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM: The HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Visitors can book same-day online reservations statewide starting in 2024

SALEM, Ore— Visitors hoping to camp last minute will soon have the chance to view and book same-day campsite openings online statewide starting Jan. 1, 2024. 

Campsite at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

Previously, most sites required booking 24 hours or more in advance of arrival when reserving online. Same-day online reservations started as a pilot project at two coastal parks and expanded last summer to all 17 coastal state park campgrounds. 

“Same-day reservations at the coast gave those traveling the peace of mind that there was a place ready for them when they arrived,” said Coastal Region Director Dennis Comfort.

When the program expands statewide, it will include a total of 40 park campgrounds across Oregon. Some parks switch tent and RV campsites to first-come-first served during the winter and those sites will start offering same-day online reservations in the spring. Visitors can check park webpages for seasonal information on specific parks at https://stateparks.oregon.gov/

Eleven campgrounds will remain first-come-first served year-round: Jackson F. Kimball, Goose Lake, Bates, Cascara, Catherine Creek, Hilgard Junction, Jasper Point (except for the cabin), Minam, Red Bridge, Smith Rock and Ukiah-Dale.

The goal of same-day online reservations is to offer campers the flexibility to travel last minute when sites are available while giving them the security of knowing they have a site when they arrive. Same-day online reservations also have the potential to give park staff more time to offer interpretive opportunities, improve park facilities and increase time interacting with visitors.   

“The transition to same-day reservations at Nehalem Bay State Park was nearly seamless and has been generally well received by guests,” said Park Manager Ben Cox.

Starting Jan. 1, 2024:

  • Tent and RV campers can make a same-day online reservation up until 11:59 p.m. on the day they arrive by visiting https://oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Yurt and cabin reservations must be made before 6 p.m. the day of arrival due to the staffing required to assist with keys or codes. 
  • All visitors can make reservations by calling (800) 452-5687 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
  • Visitors can also make same-day online reservations at parks statewide using mobile devices where they have cell reception or where Oregon State Parks’ free, limited Wi-Fi is available. Wi-Fi is provided at most parks for reservations only and is not guaranteed to be available 24/7. Signs at the park have login information. Since internet connectivity varies by park, it’s best to reserve campsites before arrival.
  • Visitors can still pay with cash or checks at the park by finding a ranger or following posted instructions, which could include using self-registration envelopes only if instructed to do so. Ranger availability is limited depending on time and location.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will waive the $8 reservation fee for all same-day reservations. 

If you have any questions about the new option, please contact the information center at k.info@oregon.gov“>park.info@oregon.gov. For more information about the option, please visit our online FAQs.

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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