Willamette Valley News, Friday 2/16 – Eugene Police Find 16 Pounds of Meth While Investigating Home Reported By Neighbors & 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, February 16, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

Eugene Police Find 16 Pounds of Meth While Investigating Home Reported By Neighbors

The Eugene Police Department states they found about $250,000 worth of illegal drugs during a search of a house after investigating several complaints from the neighbors.

According to Eugene Police Department, officers from the Street Crimes Unit, a division of EPD funded by the Community Safety Payroll Tax, served a search warrant at a home on Debra Sue Court in the afternoon of February 13. Police said the home had been the subject of several complaints from others in the neighborhood, and police investigations had developed suspicion about the place.

During the search, police said they recovered 16 pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of fentanyl, two firearms, more than $18,000 in loose cash, a stolen generator, and two bicycles, one of which was valued at more than $13,000. Police said the drugs had a total street value of about $250,000. Police have not yet released the name of the suspect as their investigation is still in progress.

INCIDENT REPORT SPRINGFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT

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Incident: Aster Street Homicide Investigation Location: 4600 block of Aster Street Case Number: 24-1140 Date/Time: 02-15-2024 at 3:51 PM More Information: Public Information Coordinator | spdpi@springfield-or.govCompleted By: Sergeant James Wilson

INVOLVED SUSPECT: Smith, Jack Edward 89 Year-Old Male | Springfield, OR CHARGES: Murder II NARRATIVE OF INCIDENT: On February 15th, 2024 at 3:51 PM Officers and Detectives with the Springfield Police Department responded to a residence in the 4600 block of Aster Street regarding a shooting incident.

Officers located three family members, one of which was deceased due to a gunshot wound. It was learned there had been a family dispute that led to the shooting incident. After collecting evidence from the home, statements from witnesses, and statements from the involved, Jack Edward Smith was taken into custody without incident and lodged at the Lane County Jail for the charge of Murder II.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Springfield Police Department at 541-726-3721.

🚨 SCAM ALERT! 🚨 Pet owners in Lane County, BEWARE!

Dog and cat look up to see "Warning! Lost pet scam"

Scammers posing as Lane County Animal Services are preying on pet owners who’ve shared info about lost pets online. 📢 “Jack Richardson” claims your pet needs urgent care, demands CashApp payment 💸, and threatens to withhold treatment.

🛑 This is a SCAM! Lane County Animal Services would NEVER:

1️⃣ Demand payment via CashApp or gift cards.2️⃣ Withhold emergency care pending payment.3️⃣ Contact residents via text without prior arrangement.

Details of the scam: Name: Fake “Jack Richardson” from Lane County Animal Services. 📞 Scammer’s Caller ID number: 541-623-9114. CashApp account: $LCanimalserv, with reference numbers like LCAS-174752.

🚨 HOW TO REPORT:1️⃣ Contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov to report cybercrime.2️⃣ For local reports, contact your local law enforcement agency. Spread the word and help keep pet owners from falling for this scam!

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02/11/24 – LCSO Case #24-0714 — Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Recovers Remains using High Angle Rope Techniques

On Sunday, two Benton County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue volunteers were hiking near Cummins Peak southeast of Yachats.  The volunteers had previously been involved in search efforts in the area for Dustin Steyding.  During their hike, they located human remains.

Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers and deputies responded to investigate and recover the remains, which were near the bottom of an extremely steep coastal drainage with thick vegetation.  Operations took over ten hours and involved a steep angle rope system.  SAR volunteers and deputies used the rope system to raise the remains and recovery team 800 feet up the drainage to safe ground.  

The Lane County Medical Examiner’s Office retained jurisdiction.  Additional information is being withheld pending positive identification of the remains.  

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office could not handle these types of calls and many others without the selfless service of our Search & Rescue volunteers.  Nearly every week, they assist with rescues in all types of environments and weather.  Learn more about our Search & Rescue program at https://www.lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/sheriff_s_office/volunteers/search_and_rescue

Home Care Nurses Deliver Compelling Testimony at Eugene City Council Amid Strike

(Eugene, Ore.) – In a powerful display of caregiver advocacy, home health and hospice nurses on strike at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services took center stage at the Eugene City Council Monday, Feb. 12. Nurses shared their experiences caring for vulnerable patients and families throughout Lane County; discussed PeaceHealth’s nursing crisis; and shed light on the critical issues that have forced them to strike.

The more than 90 registered nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).

“We are the community nurses. We go out to your homes. We go out to wherever you are. We are in the South Hills, we are in the homeless camps. We’ve been shot at, we’ve been thrown at, we’ve been threatened … but we’ve also been welcomed with open arms,” said Jo Turner, ONA bargaining unit chair and a hospice nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services. “We’ve been with people as they passed. We have given our hearts and our empathy and been welcomed by so many. I’ve held people’s hands as they’ve died and it felt like a great honor.”

Eugene city councilors listened attentively to nurses and a majority offered their support and promised to join nurses on the picket line to help secure a fair contract which addresses patient safety and community health; secures equitable pay; and helps solve PeaceHealth’s staffing crisis. 

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis also voiced her solidarity with striking nurses. Vinis previously attended and spoke at nurses’ strike kickoff rally Feb. 10.

“This is directly related to our loss of the UD (University District) hospital in terms of the needs and demands we have. If we don’t have that hospital we want to make sure that people can be treated in their homes where they will be safer and recover—or have a better chance at recovery—or if they’re needing hospice,” said Mayor Vinis during the council meeting. “Thank you for standing strong.” 

ONA home health and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth are holding a limited duration strike Feb. 10 – 24. Picket lines will be maintained Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. at the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services offices (123 International Way, Springfield, OR 97477) for the duration of the strike. Nurses are available for media interviews Tuesday, Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the picket line by appointment. Please contact Kevin Mealy, 765-760-2203, Mealy@OregonRN.org, to arrange interviews or filming. 

Local home health and hospice nurses deliver hospital-quality care to patients’ homes—helping heal patients with traumatic injuries and illnesses, keeping seniors independent, and giving dying individuals and their families dignity and freedom during the final stage of life. According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.”

Despite their essential work, PeaceHealth executives have repeatedly low-balled home care nurses in contract negotiations—telling them they’re worth less than PeaceHealth Sacred Heart hospital nurses and less than other home care nurses. PeaceHealth’s disrespect towards nurses and their patients has driven nearly a quarter of nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services to leave. Another one-third of nurses plan to leave if PeaceHealth continues shortchanging patients and providers. Fewer nurses means home-bound patients and their families suffer from care delays, receive fewer treatments and ring up costly hospital readmissions bills. 

Nurses began negotiating with PeaceHealth executives in February 2023 and have been working on an expired contract since April 2023. 

Nurses are not discouraging patients from seeking care during the strike, however PeaceHealth patients may experience delays, cancellations or substandard care as PeaceHealth refused to temporarily transfer patients to other home health agencies and is relying on scab workers from an out-of-state, for-profit company.

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 18,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 90 nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services and nearly 1,500 frontline nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit:www.OregonRN.org.

LCSO Adds Drug Detection Dog to Canine Unit

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The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce the addition of a new Drug Detection Dog to our canine unit!  Bear is a 2-year-old German Shepherd certified to detect dangerous drugs, including Fentanyl.  Bear and his handler, Detective McQuillan, will be utilized in patrol investigations as well as proactive work with shipping companies and the Eugene Airport.  They are partnering with local schools in the county to help maintain safe campuses.  They will also assist the Lane County Jail to prevent drugs from entering the facility.  

Bear started working less than a month ago and has already assisted with the seizure of a half-pound of cocaine, a half-pound of Fentanyl, and five and a half pounds of meth.  Good boy Bear!

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit is funded by community donations.  All donations go directly to the K9 program to supply food, veterinary care, and equipment.  Donations to keep their good work going can be made at https://client.pointandpay.net/web/lanecountysheriffdonations

Learn more about all our canines at https://www.lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/sheriff_s_office/about_us_-_now_and_then/police_services_division/k9_unit

Western Oregon University to be featured in award-winning Amazon Prime show

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Western Oregon University is featured on The College Tour, an award-winning TV series from Amazon Prime. 

The series focuses on different colleges or universities in the United States in each episode and includes stories of multiple college students’ experiences. Host and Executive Producer of the series is Alex Boylan, who won the CBS series The Amazing Race and spent the last 20 years as an award-winning onscreen personality and producer.  

Filming for Western’s episode took place last September and students were encouraged to audition for the episode. Ten were selected to be featured in the episode, each with unique backgrounds and stories. The episode is compiled into one 30-minute video and is also divided into ten segments, one per student. Each student collaborated on their segment’s script. 

“I am excited that we now have the opportunity to share our unique story with a nationwide audience through this exceptional episode,” expressed President Jesse Peters. “Western holds a special significance, particularly for first-generation and historically underrepresented students and those seeking a personalized education that equips them for success in life.”

The featured students are Brenda Rocio Martinez, from Woodburn, Justin Conklin, from The Dalles, Hunter Hall, from Portland, Nancy Montecinos, from Sisters, Hannah Rispler, from Gresham, Max Smoot-Brown, from Camas Valley, Keisha Taylor, from Aberdeen, Washington, Aneli Godinez-Martinez, from Hillsboro, Layla William, from Beaverton, and David Echevarria, from Caldwell, Idaho.

Meet the featured students which is now available on Western’s The College Tour website, and will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on May 28, 2024, in season 11.

### About Western Oregon University — Western Oregon University, established in Monmouth in 1856, proudly stands as Oregon’s oldest public university. Hosting around 4,000 students, Western embodies a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution, with approximately 80% of its students hailing from within the state. Notably, its diverse student body comprises individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, veterans, and non-traditional learners. Western stands as the preferred campus in Oregon for those pursuing an enriching education within a nurturing, student-focused environment, characterized by faculty-led instruction.  Together we succeed.

Become a temporary election worker and help democracy thrive

The Lane County Elections Office is hiring temporary election workers to assist with the May 21, 2024 Primary Election. 

“Temporary election workers are critical to the success of elections,” said County Clerk Dena Dawson. “We want to build a more diverse pool of people that is representative of our community. Retirees are always welcome, but so are students, stay-at-home parents, gig workers, and anyone who just wants to learn more about elections or earn a few bucks.”

Available positions include customer service, data entry, ballot processing, and ballot collection. Some positions require a few weeks of availability and others only require a few days, or even just one night. Lane County does not use volunteers to conduct elections; all temporary election worker positions are paid. 

Temporary election workers are hired before each election cycle. Another round of hiring will begin in August for the November 5 Presidential Election. 

Detailed job descriptions, instructions, and more details for applying can be found at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections under the “Election Temporary Jobs” section. 

Lane County Elections holding student contest to create “I Voted” coloring page

A young boy wearing a blue plaid shirt and glasses grins through missing front teeth as he holds a handful of pens and pencils. Text next to him reads "Calling all student artists"

Local students, kindergarten through college, are invited to create an “I Voted” coloring page for the Lane County Elections Office.

Four winning entries will be used to create a coloring page that will accompany ballots for the November 5, 2024 Presidential Election. 

“I’m excited about this creative way for Lane County voters to celebrate voting,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “I can’t wait to see what students come up with and I hope we blow up social media in November with the colorful versions voters create.” 

There are four categories for student submissions:

  • Category 1: Kindergarten–5th Grade
  • Category 2: 6th Grade–8th Grade
  • Category 3: 9th Grade–12th Grade
  • Category 4: College or vocational school students

Submissions are due by April 1, 2024 and may be provided by email, mail or in-person. All entries must be submitted on the official entry form and must be signed by a parent or guardian if the entrant is under 18 years old. 

Submissions must be original artwork and on a plain white background with black outlines so voters can color the artwork in November and share on social media using #LaneCountyVotes. 

The entry form and more detail about how to submit artwork can be found at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections under the “I Voted Coloring Contest” section. 

Lane Co. Government – Residents asked to fill out ice storm damage assessment form online

Lane County residents whose homes were damaged in the recent ice storm are being asked to fill out an online damage assessment form.

English: https://www.cognitoforms.com/LaneCountyOR/LaneCountyIceStormHousingDamageSurvey

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Spanish: https://www.cognitoforms.com/LaneCountyOR/EncuestaSobreLosDa%C3%B1osMateriales

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Both renters and property owners are encouraged to complete the form. The form will be used to help Lane County and its partners understand the long-term recovery needs of the community. 

People should still work with their insurance companies to pursue reimbursement for eligible damages and repairs. There are currently no government resources available to repair private properties or businesses. 

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. 

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

Oregon Senate Committee Votes To End Daylight Saving Time

A senate committee on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a plan that would do away with the state’s annual one-hour switch from standard to Daylight Saving Time.

Switching to standard time would mean earlier sunrises and sunsets in the summer. In Oregon, that would mean the sun would rise around 4:30 a.m. and set around 8 p.m. in June, instead of the current 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Oregonians living in the Pacific Time Zone would be able to continue using standard time for the entire year under SB 1548. Oregon would become the third state after Arizona and Hawaii to not observe Daylight Saving Time.

In 2019 a ruling that stated Oregon would only permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time if California and Washington also decided to do so by 2029. The Oregon House and Senate will now discuss the new bill on the floor before voting on it.

Oregon Senate Passes Bill to Cap Insulin Cost At $35

The Oregon Senate on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 1508, which caps the price of insulin at $35 and prevents Oregonians with chronic illnesses and disabilities, who are covered by Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan, from facing higher costs.

In recent years, the cost of insulin skyrocketed 55%. SB 1508 provides certainty and protection from the rising cost of insulin for Oregonians living on tight budgets, especially seniors, Sen. Deb Patterson (D – Salem) said in a news release. 

The bill also stops the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) and Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee (P&T) from using Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY)-based formulas to determine coverage for Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan.

The QALY formula places a lower value on treatments that extend the lives of people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities, making it harder and more expensive for those individuals to get the care they need.

“No Oregonian should suffer because they can’t afford basic, life-saving medication,” said Patterson. “No Oregonian should have to ration their medication or choose between paying for prescriptions or basic necessities like food or housing. SB 1508 works to make sure that every Oregonian, regardless of their health or disability status, gets the care they need.”

SB 1508 is a key pillar of Senate Democrats’ Uniting Oregon Agenda, which aims to make all communities safer and healthier and lower rising costs for hard-working Oregonians. The bill now goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration. (SOURCE)

Ahead of New Unemployment Insurance System Rollout, Employment Department Shares What Claimants Can Expect  

Unemployment Insurance Benefits go live in Frances Online on March 4 

FEB. 14, 2024 (SALEM, ORE.) – The Oregon Employment Department (OED) announced more details of what Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants can expect when benefits go live through Frances Online on Mon., March 4. The new system, Frances Online, will provide better service for claimants and employers.  

“With any new technology, there is going to be a learning curve,” said Lindsi Leahy, director of the Oregon Employment Department’s Unemployment Insurance Division. “We are communicating early and often about what claimants can expect come March 4th to ensure minimal disruption to benefits. We’re excited to highlight some of the specific features that will be new for claimants, and will offer a better user experience online.” 

Frances Online offers features that will provide a better online customer service experience. It’s also mobile-friendly. UI customers will be able to do a lot more things online through self-serve features, instead of waiting for a letter in the mail or calling the UI Contact Center.  

Video of OED’s media briefing on Feb. 14, 2024 is available at: https://youtu.be/NwRjkOHMYjE

What’s Changing for UI Claimants 

Here are some of the highlights about what is going to change for UI claimants on March 4: 

  • New system and URL for filing UI benefits online, called Frances Online. The URL for the new UI online system will be live on March 4 at unemployment.oregon.gov.   
  • New or improved self-serve features such as checking the status of a claim, uploading supporting documents directly into the system, responding to questions about eligibility, sending and receiving secure messages, live chat, filing an appeal or completing a payment plan application.  
  • Claimants will need to create a Frances Online account before an initial or weekly claim can be filed (but they shouldn’t do this until March 4).  
  • Customers will see enhanced fraud protections
  • Some information will still have to come by mail, even if a customer selects to receive electronic communication.  

More details about these changes are available at unemployment.oregon.gov/frances.  

What’s Staying the Same for UI Claimants 

While there are several changes coming, many of the services and contact pathways will remain the same: 

  • The UI Contact Center number is the same: 1-877-FILE-4-UI.  
  • The automated Weekly Claim Line number is the same: 1-800-982-8920
  • Customer service information, including unemployment and Frances Online guides, videos, and frequently asked questions, will still be available at unemployment.oregon.gov
  • UI eligibility rules and program requirements (welcome process, job search, filing weekly claims, etc.) are the same. 
  • If a UI customer has a current claim, their preferred payment method (direct deposit or ReliaCard), will stay the same.  
  • Frances Online is available only in English and Spanish right now. Call the UI Contact Center at 1-877-FILE-4-UI for help in other languages.  

Customer Service Tips 

Below are several customer service tips leading up to the migration through the first few weeks of the UI system launch. Visit unemployment.oregon.gov/frances for a full list of what customer service options will be available before, during and after the migraiton of UI benefits: 

  1. Check online before contacting us. Many questions will be resolved quickly through the new self-serve features in Frances Online when the system goes live. You can also find how-to guides, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions at unemployment.oregon.gov. We encourage UI claimants to try using those before calling the UI Contact Center or visiting a WorkSource Oregon center. Call wait times will likely be long in the first few weeks after Frances Online goes live.  
  2. Make sure to check the mail daily. Important letters with due dates may arrive in the mail. If a UI claimant misses these due dates, their benefits will be delayed or denied. 
  3. Know where to get help. Visit unemployment.oregon.gov/frances for more details to ensure the best possible customer service. 

Important Dates to Avoid Benefit Delays 

As a reminder, OED will migrate UI benefits to Frances Online beginning at 5 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 27, through 8 a.m. on Mon., March 4. This means that customer service options during this time will be very limited.  

  • The due date to file a weekly UI claim for Feb. 18-24 is 5 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 28.  
  • The due date to file a new initial UI claim is 5 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 27.  

All UI phone lines will be temporarily offline on Wed., Feb. 28 through Fri., March 1. If UI customers do not file their weekly claim by this due date, their benefits for that week will be delayed. They will need to wait until the new system launches at 8 a.m. Mon., March 4.  

OED encourages current UI claimants to check their mail daily, review all letters and messages, check unemployment.oregon.gov/frances, and follow OED on social media for important updates about the migration. Paid Leave Oregon claimants can visit paidleave.oregon.gov in the coming weeks to learn more about these impacts. 

Oregon Kids Credit offers big boost for lowest-income families

Free filing assistance available to help taxpayers claim their credits

Salem, OR—A new state tax credit could provide up to $5,000 for Oregon’s lowest income families who file an Oregon state income tax return.

The Oregon Kids Credit, created by the Legislature last year, is a refundable credit for low-income people with young dependent children. For those with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $25,000 or less, the full credit is $1,000 per child for up to five dependent children under the age of six at the end of the tax year—a maximum benefit of $5,000. A partial credit is available for individuals and families with an MAGI up to $30,000.

When combined with the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Oregon Earned Income Credit, it could help boost the tax refund for the lowest income families to more than $13,000.

The EITC is for people with an adjusted gross income of up to $63,398 in 2023. Families may be eligible for a maximum refundable credit of $7,430 on their federal tax return, and a maximum Oregon EIC of $891 on their state tax return.

All three credits are fully refundable, meaning the portion of the credit that is larger than what a taxpayer owes can be refunded. Taxpayers may even be able to claim the credits and receive a tax refund if they don’t normally file a tax return.

To claim the credits, taxpayers must file a return. To assist taxpayers, Oregon offers several free filing options, including free fillable forms and the new Direct File Oregon. Taxpayers who need help filing their taxes can also find free assistance options on the agency website.

Families who are eligible for the Oregon Kids Credit are also likely eligible for the partially refundable Working Family Household and Dependent Care Credit (WFHDC), which helps low- to moderate-income families pay for the care of their dependents while they’re working, looking for work, or attending school.

To encourage Oregonians to save for college and job training, the Education Savings Credit for Oregon 529 Plan contributions allows single filers to receive a refundable credit of as much as $170 ($340 for joint filers) if they contribute to an Oregon College Savings Plan account before tax day. The refundable tax credit is also available for contributions to an Oregon ABLE Savings Plan account, which empowers people experiencing disabilities to invest and build financial security without jeopardizing their eligibility for vital state and federal benefits.

For more information about the federal EITC, the Oregon EIC, the Oregon Kids Credit and other similar credits, go to the Tax benefits for families page.

Taxpayers can dial 2-1-1 or visit the Oregon Department of Revenue website to find free tax preparation sites by using our interactive map. For more information on the EITC, visit https://www.eitc.irs.gov/. For questions about Oregon taxes, call the Department of Revenue at 503-378-4988.

Refunds distribution has begun
The annual refund hold that is part of the agency’s fraud prevention efforts has been completed and the department began issuing the first refunds of the 2024 tax season Monday.

In 2024 Oregon is returning $5.61 billion in surplus revenue to taxpayers in the form of a “kicker” tax credit. Taxpayers will receive their kicker as part of their refund, or the kicker can reduce the tax they owe.

Most refunds are issued within two weeks, but returns that need more review may take up to 16 weeks before a refund is issued. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund by using the department’s Where’s My Refund? tool on Revenue Online. A video outlining the refund process and timelines is also available to help taxpayers understand the process.

46 Foot Whale Washed Ashore Near Sunset Beach

Seaside Aquarium — A sub-adult 46-foot male entangled Fin whale washed ashore Monday morning, February 12th near the Sunset Beach approach in Oregon.

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As the whale was washing ashore, the surf was pushing it around making some people believe that the whale was still alive at the time of stranding. Unfortunately, before authorized responders had a chance to examine the whale, someone removed the entangling gear. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, this compromised the stranding and entanglement investigation.

A necropsy was performed today and the results are pending analysis. What we do know is that the whale was extremely underweight and had recent interactions with orcas, evidenced by fresh rake marks. The entanglement injuries appeared to be fresh and the abrasions noted were superficial.

It is extremely important to report strandings and to not interact or remove entangling gear from stranded animals. Analyzing removed entangling gear provides information that may reduce the risk of future entanglements. By identifying the source of entangling fishing gear, NOAA Fisheries can work with the fishing industry and coastal communities to identify geographic areas, times of year, fisheries, and gear configurations that have resulted in whale entanglements. These data can help NOAA Fisheries better understand and minimize the risks of entanglement and ultimately aids in the conservation and management of many large whale species.

Central Oregon Resident Diagnosed With Plague

A Central Oregon resident has been confirmed to have a case of the plague, Deschutes County announced Wednesday. It’s the first reported case in Oregon in nearly a decade.

It’s believed the person, identified only as a “local resident,” was infected by their cat.

“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” Deschutes County Health Officer Dr. Richard Fawcett said in a statement. 

No other cases have been identified. The county said the case was diagnosed and treated early, posing little risk to the community.  

The plague spreads to humans or animals through a bite from an infected flea or by contact with an animal sick with the disease, the County said. The most common animals to carry plague in Central Oregon are squirrels and chipmunks, but mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. 

Symptoms of plague usually begin in humans two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea, the county said. These symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches, and/or visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.  

If not diagnosed early, the plague can infect the bloodstream or lungs, making it more severe and difficult to treat, the county said. 

Tips from the county to prevent the spread of plague: 

  • Avoid all contact with rodents and their fleas. Never touch sick, injured, or dead rodents. 
  • Keep pets on a leash when outdoors and protect them with flea control products. Do not allow pets to approach sick or dead rodents or explore rodent burrows. 
  • Pet cats are highly susceptible to plague, and infected cats can transmit the bacterium to humans. If possible, discourage their hunting of rodents. Consult a veterinarian immediately if your cat becomes sick after being in contact with rodents. 
  • Residents should keep wild rodents out of homes and remove food, woodpiles, and other attractants for rodents around homes and outbuildings. 
  • Do not camp, sleep, or rest near animal burrows or areas where dead rodents are observed. 
  • Refrain from feeding squirrels, chipmunks, or other wild rodents in campgrounds and picnic areas. Store food and refuse in rodent-proof containers. 
  • Wear long pants tucked into boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas. Apply insect repellent to socks and trouser cuffs to help reduce exposure to fleas. 

The last known case in Oregon was in 2015, the county said, citing the Oregon Health Authority. (SOURCE)

New grant promotes home improvement options for low-income housing to qualifying organizations

PORTLAND, Ore.— A new funding opportunity from Oregon Health Authority (OHA) promotes safe and long-lasting homes by offering qualifying groups support toward repairing and rehabilitating low-income housing.

The first round of this funding opportunity from OHA’s Healthy Homes Grant Program (HHGP) aims to improve health and safety, maximize energy efficiency and extend usable life of both rented and owned low-income residences across Oregon.

Possible repairs include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Structural renovations for improving home access, such as wheelchair ramps.
  • Upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Mold and mildew abatement.

Renovations can help protect people from extreme heat and cold, and keep indoor air clean from wildfire smoke, asthma triggers and allergens. Older and very young people and people with pre-existing health conditions are all at higher risk of health impacts from these hazards.

The new grant money can also help pay for mitigation efforts against radon, an invisible gas that builds up in homes and puts people’s health at risk through prolonged exposure. Because hiring qualified contractors for this work can be expensive, this grant offers additional support for these services.  

“With radon mitigation usually costing an average of $2,000 depending on the house, we recognize that hiring a contractor isn’t affordable for everyone,” said Brett Sherry, program manager for the Healthy Homes & Schools Unit at OHA’s Public Health Division. “Supporting eligible organizations through this grant – especially those serving underrepresented groups such as people of color, American Indian and Alaska Native communities – creates more options for low-income residents looking to improve their home’s safety.”

This funding opportunity was designed in collaboration with the Interagency Taskforce on Healthy Homes, the Rules Advisory Committee and community partners statewide. 

Details on eligibility requirements are available on HHGP’s Request for Grant Application webpage. Qualifying groups are asked to submit their ‘Intent to Apply’ by Feb. 23 at 3 p.m., before sending a complete application April 9 at 3 p.m.

Oregon Blue Book Cover Photo Contest Underway

The front cover of the 2023-2024 Oregon Blue Book showcases a hillside covered in beautiful balsam root and lupine flowers at Rowena Crest, captured by Oregon photographer Micah Lundsted of Eugene. The book’s back cover shows an image of three rockfish made at the Oregon Coast Aquarium by Dale George of Grants Pass.

A hillside covered in flowers of purple and yellow. In the sky is a scattering of clouds reflecting sunlight in blue and purple.

Which images will cover the 2025-2026 Oregon Blue Book? The Oregon Blue Book cover photo contest kicks off today, giving amateur photographers the chance to submit their photos to answer that question. Photo contest winners will be selected in October 2024 by Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade.

“Choosing the cover photos for the Oregon Blue Book is an honor,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “The images are a chance to see our beautiful state through the lens of the many talented amateur photographers who live in Oregon.”

The contest is open to Oregon residents of any age who earn less than half their income from photography. Images must be Oregon related and should be submitted in the portrait, rather than landscape, orientation. Two images will be selected for the cover: one for the front and one for the back. Visit the Oregon Blue Book Photo Contest guidelines for more information: https://sos.oregon.gov/blue-book/Pages/about-conte…

Images can be submitted through the Oregon Blue Book website portal or via U.S. mail. The deadline to submit photos for consideration is October 27, 2024. Contact the Oregon Blue Book Managing Editor at Oregon.Bluebook@sos.oregon.gov with questions or for additional information.

DETAILS

What: 2025-2026 Oregon Blue Book Cover Photo Contest
Who: Amateur photographers who live in Oregon
When: February 7, 2024-October 27, 2024
Where: Submit online or through U.S. Mail
Why: Photo on the cover of the 2025-2026 Oregon Blue Book

Treasury Proactively Returning $10 Million in Unclaimed Funds to Oregonians

Individuals will receive funds through the ‘Checks Without Claims’ initiative in February

Salem, OR—Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read announced today Treasury will be proactively returning approximately $10 million in unclaimed property this month to individuals as part of the agency’s 2024 ‘Checks Without Claims’ initiative.

“We’re excited to reconnect thousands of individuals with their unclaimed funds without requiring any action on their part,” Treasurer Read said. “In addition to collecting and safeguarding Oregonians’ unclaimed property, Treasury is committed to returning these assets and helping to bolster our citizen’s financial well-being.”

Through ‘Checks Without Claims’, Treasury will proactively disburse payments to verified owners of unclaimed property reported to the state’s Unclaimed Property Program in 2021 and 2022. Payments, via check, will be mailed to individuals this month and accompanied by an additional confirmation letter from the Treasurer.

In 2023, Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Program conducted ‘Checks Without Claims’ and reconnected more than 18,000 individuals – from Oregon and 47 other states – with their unclaimed funds.

With over $1 billion in unclaimed funds currently held by the state, ‘Checks Without Claims’ is one of many efforts to reconnect more Oregonians with their unclaimed money and property. Payments distributed through ‘Checks Without Claims’ represent unclaimed property reported to the state in 2021 and 2022 by various businesses and organizations that were unable to return funds to the rightful owner. Common examples of unclaimed property include uncashed checks, forgotten bank accounts, tax refunds, credit balances, investment accounts, payroll checks, refunds, and more.

Nearly one in seven people in the United States has unclaimed property. To help raise awareness around unclaimed funds, Treasury joined programs across the country this week to celebrate National Unclaimed Property Day, held annually on February 1. In fiscal year 2023, more than $5.4 billion dollars in unclaimed property was returned to its rightful owners according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

Typically, individuals need to file a claim with Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program and complete the verification process to receive the funds they are owed. Treasury conducts ‘Checks Without Claims’ to proactively verify some owners of unclaimed assets and facilitate payments directly to them. Checks distributed will vary in amount between $50 and $10,000.

Searching for unclaimed funds is free and easy. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit Treasury’s unclaimed property website at unclaimed.oregon.gov.

More information about ‘Checks Without Claims’ is available online at https://unclaimed.oregon.gov/app/checks-without-cl… Questions about unclaimed funds or “Checks without Claims” can be directed to Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program via email claims@ost.state.or.us or phone at 503-378-4000.

About Oregon State Treasury
Oregon State Treasury improves the financial well-being of all Oregonians. We provide low-cost banking, debt management, and investment programs for governments and empower Oregonians to invest in themselves and their loved ones through the Oregon College Savings Plan, Oregon ABLE Savings Plan, and OregonSaves.

AARP grant ‘unique’ opportunity to fund community projects in Oregon

A program that funds ideas for improving communities is now open to applications. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is accepting applications until March 6th for projects that can be enacted quickly to make cities more livable for people of all ages.

Stacy Larsen, communications director for AARP Oregon, said the program has a track record for supporting communities of all sizes.

“They deliver really unique support to rural communities. Since the beginning of the program in 2017, 46% of the grants distributed in Oregon have been to rural communities,” Larsen said.

Since its start in 2017, the program has invested $16.4 million in more than 1,300 projects nationwide, including 28 in Oregon. The program is open to local nonprofits and governments. A webinar for interested applicants will be held on the AARP website on January 31st at 11 a.m.

Applicants can apply in three different grant areas. Those include capacity-building microgrants, demonstration grants and flagships grants, which allow for the most creativity and flexibility. Larsen has some tips for those applying.

“The applicants who can demonstrate that they are addressing a clear need, that brings positive change to make their communities more livable for residents of all ages, and that they’re addressing disparities for people of color or other historically marginalized groups will find themselves rising to the top,” she explained.

Selected projects must be completed by December 15th. (SOURCE)

May be an image of 2 people, dog and text

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. 

PART 2Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County

Here One Minute, Gone the Next —-– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040

PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com. — Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

Missing Yachats Man’s Vehicle Found in North Lane County

On 08/25/2023, Dustin Steyding was reported missing to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office after he left work on 07/22/2023 and hadn’t been located since. Dustin was living and working in the Yachats area. 

Dustin was reported to be in good physical condition, having previously worked as a hot shot firefighter in New Mexico. Dustin is very experienced in the woods and commonly goes out for hikes to stay in shape. Without means to locate Dustin, Deputies entered Dustin as a missing person in a national database. 

On 09/04/2023, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Dustin’s family after they located his vehicle on Keller Creek Rd, just outside of Lincoln County in Lane County. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputies contacted the vehicle and determined it had been at the location for some time. Deputies were unable to determine Dustin’s direction of travel from the vehicle.

The vehicle having been located in Lane County, Lincoln County Deputies contacted the Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and arranged for their response the next day to started searching the area. After two days of searching, no clues to Dustin’s have been found.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dustin Steyding should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 541-265-0777 and reference case number 23S-07321.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'MISSING TALYNN RYLIE MERTZ, 15 Talynn was last seen in Eugene, Oregon on June 2, 2023. Talynn is 5'3"- -5'4" and 170 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. f/MissingNorthwest @MissingNW @MissingNW IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-THE-LOST Eugene Police Department: 541-682-5111'
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