Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 4/24 – Search for AMBER Alert Murder Suspect from Washington Ends on I-5 North of Eugene & 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

Monday, April 22, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

Search for AMBER Alert Murder Suspect from Washington Ends on I-5 North of Eugene

BREAKING NEWS: Authorities say a former police officer wanted for kidnapping his son after allegedly killing two people in Washington state yesterday has shot himself after a police chase ended on I-5 north of Eugene near the Coburg Road exit on Tuesday afternoon. All lanes of I-5 South just north of Eugene closed on Tuesday afternoon, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced.

ODOT said that the highway was closed at milepost 196 due to police activity. Officials encourage using an alternate route. Interstate 5 is blocked due to the large police response for a high-speed chase just north of Eugene related to an Amber Alert from Washington. Amber Alerts went out Monday night for the suspect.

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Oregon State Police said that a trooper parked along Interstate 5 just north of Eugene spotted Huizar’s car around 2:50 p.m. The trooper tried to stop Huizar, but he sped away. Another trooper joined the chase, which was interrupted when Huizar crashed into another vehicle and lost control.

Numerous law enforcement officers responded to the scene. The suspect reportedly crashed near Milepost 197 near Armitage Park. Police said shots were fired during the chase. Oregon State Police confirmed the driver, Elias Huizar, 39, shot himself in the head at the end of the pursuit.

Troopers and Huizar exchanged gunfire before Huizar again fled south, OSP said; there are no injuries reported from the exchange of gunfire.

South of Coburg, Huizar crashed into a commercial vehicle that had been stopped for another crash. Huizar’s vehicle spun into the median, OSP said, rendering it immobile. Troopers found Huizar dead from a gunshot wound to the head, and 1-year-old Roman unharmed.

His 1-year-old son is safe in police custody, while the suspect had killed himself, according to authorities. I-5 is severely backed up in both directions due to the police response, but one lane is open now.This is a developing story and we’ll bring you more details as we know them.

RELATED: Officials searching for former Yakima cop suspected of double homicide, child abductionHuizar is suspected of shooting and killing his ex-wife on Monday outside an elementary school in West Richland, about 3 1/2 hours outside Portland in the Tri-Cities area. The shooting happened just before 3:30 p.m. outside William Wiley Elementary, according to WRPD.

Police then served a search warrant at Huizar’s home and found the body of a second victim, WRPD said. The woman has not been publicly identified, but she was believed to be Huizar’s girlfriend.

OSP Statement regarding AMBER Alert suspect from Washington
Oregon State Police – 04/23/24 6:48 PM

Amber Alert Press Conference: https://www.facebook.com/OSPsocial/videos/1916328708798968

The following statement was provided at this evening’s news conference in Eugene. 

Captain Kyle Kennedy, Oregon State Police

I want to start by sending our heartfelt support to the community in West Richland, Washington, a community dealing with senseless tragedy. My prayer is their community will come together to provide support and strength during this grievous time.

The conclusion of this search has been the culmination of the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners in Washington and Oregon, as well as federal contributors. Since the start, our goal has been simple—to bring Roman Santos home safely. We did it. Roman is in the care of Oregon officials.

Last evening, the Oregon State Police issued an AMBER Alert at approximately 11:35 p.m. at the request of the Washington State Patrol. This AMBER alert was in response to the murder of two women in West Richland, Washington, and the kidnapping of a 1-year-old infant – Roman Santos.  The suspect in these murders and kidnapping was identified as Elias Huizar. The suspect was reportedly driving a 2009 Toyota Corolla with Washington plates.

Today, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Oregon State Police troopers were observing Interstate 5 for the suspect when he located the vehicle southbound near milepost 221. OSP initiated a traffic stop and the suspect vehicle fled southbound. Two troopers engaged in a pursuit with the suspect vehicle at high speeds heading southbound.

Near milepost 209, there was a minor collision and the suspect vehicle lost control. An exchange of gunfire occurred prior to the vehicle fleeing again southbound. No known injuries occurred as a result of the gunfire.

Near milepost 197, the suspect crashed into a stopped CMV and stopped in the median. As troopers contacted the suspect vehicle, he was deceased of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The infant was located uninjured and removed from the vehicle.

Involved in the exchange of gunfire, was Superintendent Casey Codding and Sergeant Orly Johnson of the Oregon State Police.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office has been asked to lead the investigation.

We are very proud of the efforts of the troopers involved in this pursuit today. Their dedication and courage are a hallmark of the character of an Oregon State Trooper. Their efforts today were paramount in bringing Roman home safely.

I want to thank our partners:

WASHINGTON: Kennewick PD, Paso PD, Richland PD, Prosser PD, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Benton Fire Districts 1 and 4, FBI, US Marshal’s, Fish and Wildlife

OREGON: PPB, OSP, Hillsboro, and Portland FBI.                     

PURSUIT: OSP, Linn County Sheriff’s Office    

ON SCENE: Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Eugene Police Department, Coburg Police Department

Nurses and Elected Leaders to Hold Solidarity Action at PeaceHealth Riverbend in Springfield April 24 at 9am

Hundreds of nurses and supporters attend a strike kickoff rally to support ONA nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services Feb. 10, 2024. Photo courtesy of ONA.

With 2nd strike looming, nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services speak out hours ahead of contract mediation with PeaceHealth executives. 

Nurse Solidarity Action and Press Conference
Wednesday, April 24 at 9 a.m.
Public sidewalks near PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend’s main entrance
3333 Riverbend Dr, Springfield, OR 97477

WHAT: Home health and hospice nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services, elected leaders and community allies are holding a solidarity action April 24 to speak about the importance of local home care services ahead of a contract mediation session with PeaceHealth executives. Nurses have spent more than a year fighting for a fair contract to address record turnover and job vacancies at PeaceHealth’s home health and hospice agency–the region’s largest home health service provider. 

On April 16, nurses voted to authorize an open-ended strike against PeaceHealth to protest PeaceHealth’s unlawful unfair labor practices (ULPs) and reach a fair contract agreement that improves community healthcare. Wednesday’s solidarity action precedes a scheduled contract mediation session between Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) nurse leaders and PeaceHealth executives at Riverbend. Nurses and local elected officials will speak and take media questions at the event. Members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation have also taken action to support nurses and sent a letter to PeaceHealth executives on April 23 calling for a “fair settlement that demonstrates the respect that healthcare workers deserve.”

WHEN: Wednesday, April 24 at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Public sidewalks near PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend’s main entrance. (3333 Riverbend Dr, Springfield, OR 97477). Near the intersection of Cardinal Way and MLK Jr. Pkwy.

WHO: ONA nurses with PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services and Riverbend, elected officials and community allies are scheduled to speak, including 

  • Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis
  • Lane County commissioner Laurie Trieger
  • Lane County commissioner Heather Buch
  • Springfield city councilor Kori Rodley
  • Eugene Springfield IAFF Local 851 trustee Brett Deedon
  • ONA bargaining unit chair Jo Turner, RN, hospice nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services
  • ONA bargaining unit chair Chris Rompala, RN, nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend

WHY: Local home health and hospice nurses have endured 45+ contract bargaining sessions with PeaceHealth executives since Feb. 2023 including six sessions with a federal mediator. After holding a limited duration strike Feb. 10 – 24, nurses have voted to approve an open-ended strike to protest PeaceHealth’s unlawful unfair labor practices (ULPs) and reach a fair contract agreement that improves community healthcare. Despite nurses and community leaders’ best efforts, PeaceHealth executives continue demanding local nurses accept nearly 5% lower pay than PeaceHealth pays hospital nurses in Eugene/Springfield and hospital and home care nurses in Florence–despite both groups of home care nurses sharing managers and staff meetings and regularly caring for the same patients. 

PeaceHealth’s continued disrespect towards local nurses and their patients is driving nurses to leave–threatening our community’s health and exacerbating the care shortage. The nurse bargaining team intends to work towards a positive resolution in mediation but will call for a strike if they believe it is necessary to move PeaceHealth to meet the needs of patients, providers and our community. If a strike is called, ONA will provide our community and PeaceHealth with a 10-day notice to allow PeaceHealth executives adequate time to connect patients to alternate care options or to join us at the table and reach a fair agreement. 

The ONA represents more than 90 frontline nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Home Care Services and nearly 1500 nurses at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend. 

04/23/24 – Lane County Sheriff’s deputy involved in crash on Beltline Highway

On April 23rd at about 2 a.m., a Lane County Sheriff’s deputy was responding from the Eugene area to an urgent call for service. The deputy was driving eastbound on Beltline Highway near Delta Highway when the deputy’s vehicle struck a slow-moving vehicle. The deputy and two occupants of the other vehicle were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  At the request of the Sheriff’s Office on-duty supervisor, the Eugene Police Department responded and will handle the crash investigation.

Reckless driving stop leads to multiple charges

On April 23, 2024, officers witnessed a reckless driver in the River Road area. Officers arrested Emilio Tobon for DUII. During the arrest, officers developed information Tobon was in possession of a firearm inside the vehicle.Upon further investigation, Tobon was found to be in possession of fentanyl and over $7,000 in cash. A K9 officer and his canine partner were called in to assist and the K9 alerted on the vehicle. Officers obtained a search warrant, leading to the discovery of additional fentanyl, packaging materials, scales, and four handguns.Tobon was lodged for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Delivery of a Controlled Substance Schedule II, and DUII.Case 24-05730

04/22/24 – LCSO Case #24-2079, 24-2081 – Lane County Sheriff’s deputies arrest suspect for Assault in the Second Degree along with trespassers

On April 22nd, a male reported Timothy Leon Shafer, 54, had beat him with a metal T-post, knocking him unconscious and severely injuring him the night before. Deputies contacted the victim and confirmed his injuries. They responded to the 88800 block of Poodle Creek Road, where the incident took place, and located evidence confirming the victim’s account. 

Surprisingly, when deputies arrived, they observed Shafer trespassing along with a female, Ana Maria Teresa Glica, 47, and another male. Shafer and Glica were arrested for Trespass in the Second Degree and lodged in the Lane County Jail. Shafer was also charged with Assault in the Second Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Another male on the property was cited in lieu of custody for Trespass in the Second Degree.

CAHOOTS and HOOTS Workers Rally for Wage Increase and Other Contract Issues

It has been more than a year since White Bird Clinic and its unionized crisis workers began negotiations and they still haven’t reached an agreement on a new contract.

CAHOOTS and HOOTS workers held a rally in downtown Eugene Frida calling for better pay and a speedy resolution at the bargaining table. They said their programs are losing staff and having trouble replacing them.

“Our wages are no longer competitive. They are no longer in line with industry standards,” said crisis worker Ashley Cakebread. “As a result, we are struggling to provide the high quality services that we want to offer to the community.”

The starting rate for CAHOOTS and HOOTS is $18 per hour, according to the workers. They say this has been stagnant since 2018, even as inflation has pushed up the cost of living in Eugene.

Crisis worker Berkley Carnine said some staff members have been forced to leave for better paying jobs, despite going through hundreds of hours of training with CAHOOTS.

“It’s incredible the amount of energy we put in, and skills that people develop,” said Carnine, “and then they can’t stay because they can’t afford to live in this town, pay all their bills, and work this job.”

With the resulting staffing shortages, crisis worker Chelsea Swift said it’s often impossible for remaining workers to take time off, even directly after they’ve experienced a traumatic event on the job.

The programs’ workers voted to join the Teamsters Local 206 in 2022. Collective bargaining on this contract began over 13 months ago.

“[The process] being so slow and drawn out has been demoralizing, and it feels we’re supposed to give up on some things that just get across the finish line,” Carnine told KLCC at Friday’s rally. “We’re here to say, no, we’re holding true to what we know we need.”

The workers’ bargaining unit is seeking a starting wage of $25 per hour. Swift said this would reflect the pay of Community Resource Officers, who have similar duties.

Right now, Cakebread said she’s making $19.31 per hour, despite working at White Bird for nearly ten years and helping to found the HOOTS program.

“I have been waiting for a wage increase for six years,” said Cakebread. “I would really like to know that my work is valued, that my experience is valued, that the 60 to 80 hour weeks that I have put into White Bird matter.”

Additionally, the workers are asking for assurance that CAHOOTS vans will be adequately staffed in the future, and are also seeking more worker benefits.

“We want to provide high quality, consistent services. We want to be there when you call, and we want to be there quickly,” said Cakebread. “And in order to do that, we need to be supported by our leadership.”

White Bird Clinic responded to KLCC with an emailed statement attributed to Executive Director Jeremy Gates. In it, Gates said leadership will continue to negotiate in good faith, and is confident about reaching a deal.

“The bargaining process requires us to keep much of the details at the table rather than in the public, but it’s important to note that we fully support our employees’ right to organize and negotiate,” wrote Gates. “Union organizing can be a catalyst for positive change.” (SOURCE)

Support CAHOOTS and HOOTS Workers Win a Fair First Contract NOW — PETITION

Did you know the $18/hr starting wage for CAHOOTS and HOOTS workers hasn’t changed since 2018? Sign this letter of support to help CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets) and HOOTS (Helping Out Our Teens in Schools) unionized workers win their first fair union contract with White Bird Clinic.

CAHOOTS medics and crisis workers have been proudly supporting their fellow community members on the streets and in the houses, schools, businesses, shelters, hospitals and healthcare offices of every neighborhood in Eugene since 1989. CAHOOTS later expanded service into Springfield in 2015 and soon founded its sister program HOOTS in 2017. These programs provide free crisis intervention, mental health and medical aid to whoever is in need (for CAHOOTS that’s an average of 20,000+ calls a year; HOOTS provides 28 clinics in 12 high schools). 

Today, their workers need your support. Show your commitment to sustaining workers and protecting the integrity of the CAHOOTS model that has been called “the gold standard”* for alternative response models nationally. Sign here to ensure crisis workers and medics who are dedicating their lives towards helping others win a living wage. Learn more about our campaign

https://www.change.org/p/support-cahoots-and-hoots-workers-win-a-fair-first-contract-now

Lane County mowers are gearing up and need roadsides clear of obstructions, including signs

Drivers on rural County-maintained roads will see mowers clearing the road rights-of-way of grass and brush beginning this month. 

“Mowing helps us reduce fire danger and make sure that drivers have clear lines of sight on County roads,” said Chad McBride, Lane County vegetation supervisor. “It’s really helpful when people keep things like fences and signs out of the right-of-way. They slow us down, damage our equipment, generate complaints about the cluttered landscape, and don’t belong there in the first place.”

In the coming weeks, County staff will remove any signs in the rights-of-way in preparation for mowing.

“During big election years, the number of signs placed illegally alongside roads explodes and it makes it more difficult to mow roadsides efficiently,” said McBride. “This year, we’ll do a sweep ahead of the mowers to remove signs.”

Property owners can help prepare by ensuring they have not placed anything in the mower’s path in the road right-of-way.

  • Political and other signs. No political signs, business signs or other types of signs belong in the road right-of-way. Signs may be removed and stored for 30 days at Lane County Public Works before being destroyed. Signs placed near a rural road must be on private property and behind any utility facilities (poles, closures, etc.) or sidewalks.
  • Rocks. Rocks over 3 inches in diameter and other fixed objects must be removed from the right-of-way.
  • Fencing. Derelict fencing can be both a hazard and a high-cost obstacle for mowers. Fencing that has fallen into the road right-of-way can become entangled in the equipment, or can make it impossible to clear the affected area of grass and brush.
  • Ornamental vegetation or other plantings. Plants in the right-of-way, especially those that grow large and aggressively, will be removed. Plants in the right-of-way will be mown to the lowest level practical in order to provide the longest-lasting effect.

By keeping items out of the right-of-way, residents can avoid unnecessary expense and hassle, save taxpayer money by saving Public Works personnel from having to remove signs and other items, and help protect neighbors and visitors from accidents.

In rural areas, the road right-of-way is typically from the pavement to the fence or private property line (anywhere the maintenance vehicles would drive). In the unincorporated parts of Eugene or Springfield, the right-of-way is the planting area between the sidewalk and curb.

Drivers are allowed to pass the mowers on the left when it is safe to do so but oncoming traffic takes precedence. 

Road Construction: Green Hill Road

Road Name: Green Hill Road 
Location: Green Hill Road Bridge – #039C51 (South of Barger Drive over Amazon Creek) 
Begin Construction: Milepost 3
End Construction: Milepost 3.5
Dates and times: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, April 11 to June 30, 2024 
Reason for construction: Bridge rail repairs. There will be one lane closure and traffic will be controlled by flaggers. 
Alternate routes: Royal Avenue, Barger Drive, and Bodenhamer Road 

Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue now recruiting youth volunteers!

We are looking for teens 14 and up (by June 1st) who have positive attitudes and want to serve their community. Volunteers must be willing to respond any time day or night, often in bad weather and extreme conditions. Teens who attend our SAR academy will become Oregon State SAR Certified, and receive training in medical care, orienteering, outdoor survival, and other important skills.

Learn more at our open house on Tuesday, April 9th at 6:00 p.m. in Harris Hall, 125 E 8th Ave., Eugene. We will hold an additional open house on April 25th as well. Questions? Need more info? Email our team at LCSOsar@lanecountyor.gov.

Career Fair Invitation at Emerald’s Home Games

You’re invited to table at our Region’s next Career Fair. We are hosting two career fairs at Emeralds home games on Sunday, August 18th at PK Park in Eugene. Parking and game tickets will be FREE to anyone who mentions the Career Highlight Night at the Box Office. To reserve a space is $300 for one of the days or both days for $400. To register please visit the event page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/career-highlight-night-tickets-863277545377

To logon to iMatchSkills click the iMatchSkills link on www.Employment.Oregon.gov. You may call your local WorkSource Oregon Employment Department office at (541) 686-7601 for further assistance. TTY/TDD – dial 7-1-1 toll free relay service access free online relay service at: https://www.sprintip.com. Llame al 7-1-1 para asistencia gratuita TTY/TDD para personas con dificultades auditivas. Obtenga acceso gratis en Internet por medio del siguiente sitio: https://www.sprintip.com.

WorkSource Oregon is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services, alternate formats and language services are available to individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency free of cost upon request. WorkSource Oregon es un programa que respeta la igualdad de oportunidades. Disponemos de servicios o ayudas auxiliares, formatos alternos y asistencia de idiomas para personas con discapacidades o conocimiento limitado del inglés, a pedido y sin costo.

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. 

U.S. Supreme Court Appears To Lean Toward City of Grants Pass In Complex Homelessness Case

Homeless rights activists hold a rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22, 2024 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson and Smith v. Spizzirri, a dispute over the constitutionality of ordinances that bar people who are homeless from camping on city streets. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A majority of U.S Supreme Court justices Monday seemed inclined to side with an Oregon town’s law that bans homeless people from sleeping outdoors, in a case that could have broad implications for local ordinances related to homelessness across the country.

During oral arguments in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, conservative justices said that policies and ordinances around homelessness are complex, and indicated it’s a policy question that should be left up to local elected representatives rather than the courts.

“Why do you think these nine people are the best people to judge and weigh those policy judgments?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked, referring to the Supreme Court.

Taking a much different tack, the three liberal justices said that Grants Pass officials went too far and targeted homeless people with fines for the basic human need to sleep when they camped outside.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor grilled the lawyer for Grants Pass on how the city law essentially criminalized homelessness.

“You don’t arrest babies who have blankets over them, you don’t arrest people who are sleeping on the beach, as I tend to do if I’ve been there a while. You only arrest people who don’t have a second home, is that correct?” Sotomayor said.

The case originated in Grants Pass, a city in northwest Oregon that argues its ordinance is a solution to the city’s homelessness crisis.

An attorney representing a group of homeless people argued that they are involuntarily without housing because there are limited shelter beds for the number of homeless people in the area. The lawyer also said the ordinances criminalize homelessness through fines and potential jail time for camping or sleeping in outdoor spaces.

The town of nearly 40,000 has about 600 people who are homeless and the only nonprofit that can provide shelter can house only up to 100 beds, according to a brief submitted by the nonprofit, Grants Pass Gospel Rescue Mission.

‘Cruel and unusual punishment’ —- The justices are being asked to decide whether the enforcement of that local ordinance on regulating camping on public property violated the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Theane Evangelis, the attorney representing the city, argued that the city is going after the conduct of unhoused people, rather than the status of homelessness.

“We can look at the law and it has a conduct element — the conduct is establishing a campsite,” she said.

The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Kelsi B. Corkran, argued that the ordinance is a violation of the Eighth Amendment by inflicting punishment for the status of being homeless.

“Although the city describes its ordinances as punishing camping on public property, it defines campsite as any place a homeless person is while covered with a blanket,” she said. “The city interprets and applies the ordinances to permit non-homeless people to rest on blankets and public parks, while a homeless person who does the same thing breaks the law.”

Corkran is representing Gloria Johnson and John Logan, who are both homeless.

Effects across the United States — The case could not only have implications for the city in Oregon where the case originated, but for cities across the U.S., particularly in the West, that have similar ordinances and are grappling with an increasing homelessness crisis.

There are nearly 327,000 people who are homeless in the country, according to most recent U.S. Census data. States with the highest population of homeless people per 10,000 people include California, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to five-year estimates in the American Community Survey.

Outside the court, advocates gathered to show their support of the injunction that bars the city ordinance from taking place.

“Homelessness is a result of systemic issues such as a lack of affordable housing, exorbitant rents, and a shortage of well-paying jobs,” Sarae Lewis, a spokesperson for Community Solutions, said in a statement. “Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets is ineffective, keeps people homeless for longer, and distracts from real solutions like those we see working in communities across the country.”

Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness, was joined by other organizations that advocate for people without homes such as the National Homelessness Law Center and the National Coalition for the Homeless.

History of the case — The city is appealing to the Supreme Court after lower courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Johnson and Logan, who are homeless residents of Grants Pass.

A federal judge blocked the city’s ordinance that prohibited people from camping and sleeping in parks and on public property. Grants Pass also barred people who are homeless from using blankets, pillows or other material to protect themselves from the weather while sleeping outside.

If that ordinance was violated, it carried a $295 fine that, if not paid, increased to more than $530. Repeat offenders could also be jailed for up to 30 days.

A three-panel judge on the 9th Circuit determined in 2022 that the city has such strict restrictions on anyone sleeping outdoors that it led to a ban on being homeless. 

That decision relied on a 2018 case, Martin v. City of Boise. The case involved homeless plaintiffs who sued the city of Boise, Idaho after it fined them under a camping ordinance.

The 9th Circuit found that the city’s ordinance violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it imposes criminal penalties for homeless people sleeping outside or on public property when they do not have access to a shelter.

On Monday, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted that the state of Oregon enacted a statute that codified the Martin case, saying city regulations “of this nature have to be objectively reasonable as to time, place and manner, with regards to people experiencing homelessness.”

“It seems like the state has already precluded Grants Pass from doing the sort of thing it’s doing here,” Jackson said to Evangelis.

Evangelis said that the new law was not similar to the Martin case and that the city ordinance also takes into consideration the safety of the community.

“They protect the health and safety of everyone and it is not safe to live in encampments,” she said. “It’s unsanitary. There are the harms of the encampments themselves on those in them and outside.”

City’s argument — Evangelis argued that the court of appeals was wrong in its interpretation, as well as the plaintiffs, who cite a 1962 Supreme Court decision in Robinson v. California.

In that case, the Supreme Court deemed that a state cannot criminalize someone for their status of being addicted to drugs because it violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

That case barred the criminalization of narcotics addiction, but not the conduct of the crime that someone who is addicted to drugs might participate in, such as using, buying, selling or possessing drugs.

Evangelis argued that the Grants Pass law is “so far removed from what was at issue in Robinson that it just isn’t implicated here.” She said that the city’s ordinance does not criminalize the status of homelessness.

Justice Samuel Alito said that the Robinson case “presents a very difficult conceptual question.”

“The point is that the connection between drug addiction and drug usage is more tenuous than the connection between absolute homelessness and sleeping outside,” he said.

Evangelis said that the case the plaintiffs are making is that camping or sleeping outside and being homeless are “two sides of the same coin.”

“It’s collapsing the status that they claim into the conduct,” she said. “So we think the conduct here is very clear, because it applies generally to everyone. The law does not say on its face, ‘It is a crime to be homeless,’ I just want to make that clear.”

Justice Elena Kagan asked if under Robinson, the status of homelessness could be criminalized.

“I don’t think that homelessness is a status like drug addiction,” Evangelis said.

Kagan said that homelessness is a status, because “it’s the status of not having a home.”

Evangelis said she disagreed with that because being homeless is a fluid experience that could change from day to day.

Jackson said that the city’s ordinance seemed to punish the basic need for sleep.

“What’s happening is you’re only punishing certain people who can’t afford to do it privately,” she said.

Corkran argued that if someone is violating the city ordinance, and is told to leave but they have no place to go, that means that person is homeless.

“So again, homelessness is not something you can do, it’s just something that you are,” she said. READ MORE: https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-supreme-court-appears-lean-215843827.html

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has scheduled an opportunity for public comments concerning the proposed merger of two major grocery store chains — Kroger and Albertsons. Public Hearing Wednesday 4/24 1 to 3pm

This deal could impact more than 150 pharmacies in Oregon, according to a release from the OHA.

“The OHA is reviewing this planned transaction to understand how it might affect pharmacy services in Oregon,” the release states.

OHA has convened a community review board. This board is hosting a public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. The public hearing will:

• Provide information about the transaction and OHA’s review;

• Allow representatives from Kroger and Albertsons to provide testimony and answer questions;

• Allow members of the public to provide comments.

To register for the public hearing, visit the OHA’s website.

Background

Kroger and Albertsons are the nation’s two largest grocery chains. In Oregon, the two corporations operate 176 stores, serving nearly every community in the state. Kroger operates 51 Fred Meyer and four QFC stores, while Albertsons operates 96 Safeway and 25 Albertsons stores.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the nation in acting to block the proposed $24.6 billion Kroger-Albertsons grocery chain merger.

“If big grocery stores are allowed to reduce competition this way,” Rosenblum said, “they can charge higher prices for food for no good reason and reduce services, including in their pharmacies. They can also slow the growth of employees’ wages, or even reduce some of those wages. Working conditions and employee benefits can suffer, as well. In short, there’s no good for consumers or workers in this proposed merger — and lots of bad.”

Oregon Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission investigators found compelling evidence that direct, head-to-head competition between Kroger and Albertsons has forced the two chains to compete vigorously against one another, both on price and on the quality of goods and services offered at their stores, according to Rosenblum.

Oregon, the FTC, and the other AGs filed to enjoin the merger in U.S. District Court in Portland following a vote by FTC commissioners Feb. 26.

It is the result of thorough investigations by the FTC and the states into the proposed merger’s anticipated effects, Rosenbaum said in a statement.

“We are doing this to protect Oregon consumers and workers,” she said. “We believe this proposed merger would hurt both, and we’re doing our part to prevent it from going forward.”

3.560 SOLVE volunteers celebrated Earth Day across 126 Oregon Spring Cleanup events over the span of ten days

Over 4,000 SOLVE volunteers celebrated Earth Day across 126 Oregon Spring Cleanup events over the span of ten days

Portland, Ore., April 23, 2024 – The Oregon Spring Cleanup, in partnership with Portland General Electric, concluded on Earth Day yesterday with resounding success. Between April 13 and April 22, more than 4,000 volunteers across Oregon and SW Washington gathered for a celebration of Earth Day, where they collectively picked up 21,981 pounds of litter and marine debris and removed 21,900 square feet of invasive plant species such as English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. Families, community members, neighborhood associations, youth groups, and environmental enthusiasts once again made the Oregon Spring Cleanup the highlight of SOLVE’s annual calendar

Oregon Spring Cleanup History — Rooted in SOLVE’s longstanding traditions, the Oregon Spring Cleanup merged two of the organization’s most cherished events—the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup, dating back to 1986, and SOLVE IT for Earth Day, which began in 1990.

Oregon Spring Cleanup event highlights — SE Portland Eco-Disco: Litter Cleanup & Silent Disco, April 20th:

In collaboration with Heartbeat Silent Disco, this unique Earth Day celebration, in partnership with Portland General Electric, drew 114 volunteers to Portland’s Central Eastside. Following the cleanup in the Buckman neighborhood, where 800 lbs of litter got collected, the festivities continued with a free silent dance party, adding an extra layer of celebration to the cleanup efforts. Volunteers were provided with wireless headphones with personal volume control and adjustable fit, allowing everyone to enjoy the music while respecting the natural surroundings.

Cityscape Sparkle: Earth Day Cleanup at Sport Oregon, April 22nd:

This litter cleanup event took place on Earth Day and went beyond tidying up the neighborhood streets. 100 participants came together for a day of community, cleanliness, and local love at Sport Oregon to foster a sense of unity and enhance the local environment. 

“Once again, we were thrilled to witness the vibrant array of events orchestrated by our community, showcasing the power of collective action in honoring Earth Day,” enthuses Kris Carico, CEO of SOLVE. “This annual event series continues to serve as a beacon, drawing together volunteers and SOLVE partners from across the Pacific Northwest in a joyous celebration of our planet. From the shores of Oregon’s northernmost tip in Astoria, down the coast to Brookings, and extending to riverside locations such as Cascade Locks, Sandy, and Breitenbush, as well as reaching Baker City in Eastern Oregon, the spirit of Earth Day resonated through every cleanup endeavor.” Carico highlights the diverse range of initiatives, including the impactful efforts of the Portland chapter of Women Who Explore, bringing together 20 women for a Pre-Earth Day Riverside Cleanup at Kelley Point Park. A Girl Scout group also picked up trash along the Molalla River in Clackamas County and the Clark County Master Gardener group held an impactful Service Day in Vancouver, Washington. “These events exemplify the spirit of community and environmental stewardship that lies at the heart of SOLVE,” Carico adds. 

Photo Contest — There is still time for volunteers and event leaders to send in the pictures they have taken during their cleanup events and habitat restoration projects. Everyone who submits their photos and videos by 
April 28 will enter the SOLVE photo contest with chances to win a 1-year AAA membership. Ways to enter include tagging SOLVE on Facebook or Instagram, using #OregonSpringCleanup2024, or sending us their footage via email to info@solveoregon.org. SOLVE likes to see volunteers in action, before and after cleanup shots, the largest and tiniest items you’ve picked up, and most importantly, your smiling faces!

Anyone who couldn’t attend an Oregon Spring Cleanup event this year can support SOLVE by individual giving. A donation of any size helps SOLVE to host more events year after year and to provide volunteers with free supplies, event leader training, and all the support they need to run a successful event.

Oregon Spring Cleanup Sponsors 2024 — Along with Portland General Electric, other event sponsors include Clean Water Services, AAA Oregon/Idaho, Fred Meyer, Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, KOIN, The Oregonian, The Standard, Swire Coca-Cola, Holman, Demarini-Wilson, TriMet, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo.

About SOLVE  — SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings people together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model for volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon and Southwest Washington to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit solveoregon.org for more information. 

Report: As health care costs increase, Oregon patients are paying more in deductibles and copays

Oregon Health Authority furthers commitment to helping make healthcare more affordable across state

(PORTLAND, Ore. –) According to an Oregon Health Authority (OHA) report out today, the amount that Oregonians with commercial and Medicare Advantage insurance paid in deductibles, copays and co-insurance increased more than 17 percent from 2015 to 2022. As health care costs continue to grow, the amount that people with health insurance pay for their care – known as patient responsibility or patient cost sharing – is also rising.

On average, in 2022, people in Oregon with commercial health insurance were responsible for 13.4% of their total health care costs, and people with Medicare Advantage insurance were responsible for 9.1% of their total health care costs. This does not include how much people pay for their health insurance premiums.

Over the past several years, patient cost sharing increased by 17.4% for commercially insured Oregonians and 17.7% for those with Medicare Advantage insurance. That growth was driven primarily by increasing deductibles in the commercial market and co-insurance for prescription drugs in the Medicare Advantage market.

At least 28 percent of Oregonians were considered underinsured in 2021, meaning that even though they have health insurance, it was too expensive for them to use.

“Too many Oregonians are struggling to afford their health care, even as more than 95 percent of people in the state now have health coverage,” said OHA Director, Dr. Sejal Hathi. “This report provides more information about how much people in Oregon are paying for health care and the reasons for those cost increases. Health insurance should open the door to care, but instead, we know that even moderate increases in cost sharing can thwart access for those who need it most. OHA will continue to work both to rein in health care costs and to protect and expand access to care.”

What is Patient Cost Sharing? — When an individual or a household buys healthcare insurance, they agree to a certain set of arrangements for services are covered by the health plan and how much of the cost the health plan will pay. The portion of the cost of covered services that the patient is responsible for is “patient cost sharing.”

Unlike health insurance premiums, which are paid to the health plan whether any services are used or not, cost sharing only applies when services are used. Examples of patient cost sharing are deductibles, copays and co-insurance.

Report Findings — The report shows that people in Oregon with commercial health insurance paid for 13.6% of their total health care costs on average in 2022, with more than half of that going toward deductibles. Commercial deductibles grew 31.9% between 2015-2022, faster than the growth in commercial co-insurance (19.2%) and copays (4.3%).

This is in part due to the increase in number of people who have a high-deductible health plan. People with high deductible health plans are responsible for 22.9% of their total health care costs, even though their average annual health care costs were lower.

The report also shows that in 2022, people in Oregon with Medicare Advantage insurance paid 9.1% of their total health care costs, on average. More than 60 percent of Medicare Advantage cost sharing was in the form of copays and less than 5 percent was paid in deductibles.

In the commercial market, almost 40% of the cost sharing in 2022 was for professional services like a doctor’s visit. In the Medicare Advantage market, almost 40% of the cost sharing in 2022 was for prescription drugs, with people paying increasingly more in co-insurance for specialty drugs.

For More Information — OHA presented preliminary findings on patient cost sharing in an educational webinar in March. The recording from that webinar is available online here. View the patient cost sharing analysis webinar slides here.

The Cost Growth Target Advisory Committee meets each month to discuss and plan strategies for increased health care affordability.

Explore the patient cost sharing data in an interactive online dashboard and find the full patient cost sharing report online  here.

Portland Woman Wins $1 Million in Oregon Lottery’s Raffle

Salem, Ore. – Tucked away with a stack of other tickets in a Tupperware container was this year’s $1 million Raffle ticket. Leslie Carr, 52, of Portland claimed the prize on Monday after she brought her pile of tickets to the retailer where she buys them – the Fred Meyer in Happy Valley. 

“I had no idea I was the winner,” said Carr, who works as a medical receptionist. “If it weren’t for the billion dollar Powerball winner making news, I would have forgot. We don’t check our tickets.”

After scanning a few dozen tickets for other draw games in the store, the last one was the winning Raffle ticket, drawn on March 15. When the machine came up with a message that she needed to go an Oregon Lottery office, she asked a staff member at the store to double check. 

“I heard him say, ‘Oh, I can’t cash this because your prize is worth over $1,000,’” she said. “That’s when I started getting butterflies.” 

Carr plans to use the money to pay off the mortgage on the home she shares with her husband, calling it “a dream come true.” A new truck to replace the one she currently drives with a broken windshield is also on her wish list, along with a vacation to Hawaii. 

Carr said she regularly plays the annual Raffle and has never won. Prizes for the Raffle include the $1 million top prize, along with 300 prizes of $500, and 1,500 prizes of $100. The Raffle offers the best odds of any Oregon Lottery game to win $1 million – 1 in 250,000. Overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 138.8. The Oregon Lottery’s Raffle game went on sale December 31, 2023, and all 250,000 tickets were sold out by March 8, 2024. 

The Oregon Lottery reminds players to always sign the back of their Lottery tickets, regardless of the game. In the event of winning a jackpot, they should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. 

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15.5 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org

Governor Kotek Announces State Commitment to National Semiconductor Technology Center

Coalition of industry, state and local government, and higher education representatives will coordinate the development of a proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce

oday, at an event celebrating Intel’s plans to invest more than $36 billion to expand and modernize operations at the company’s global center for research and development, Governor Tina Kotek announced that the State of Oregon in collaboration with industry, higher education, and federal and local governments, will pursue federal semiconductor research and development funds to form a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) affiliated technical center.

“With our existing workforce hub in Washington County and a robust semiconductor manufacturing and exporting industry, Oregon has set a strong foundation as a decades-long national center of research and development,” Governor Kotek said. “With support from industry leaders, the federal delegation, our universities, and local leadership, Oregon is excited for the potential to host a NSTC-affiliated technical center and advance our strong track record as a leader in the semiconductor supply chain.”

“The Silicon Forest and Oregon’s long and proven record of semiconductor innovation and manufacturing makes our state a naturally perfect fit for this center,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “I worked to pass the federal CHIPS Act in no small part because of standout job-generating opportunities just like this national semiconductor technology center for Oregon that’s uniting our state to take full advantage of our leading-edge position in the global semiconductor industry.”

“Oregon’s rich history in semiconductor manufacturing and its commitment to fostering innovation make it an ideal location for an NSTC technical center,” said Ann Kelleher, Executive Vice President of Foundry Technology Development at Intel Corporation. “As Intel continues to invest in cutting-edge technology and expand our operations in Oregon, we are laying the foundation for the future of semiconductor research and development in the United States, ensuring our nation remains at the forefront of technological advancement.”

“The semiconductor cluster in Hillsboro’s Silicon Forest is one of three places in the world – and the only one in the United States – producing leading edge research and development for semiconductor manufacturing,” City of Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway said. “As the nation’s largest and most advanced semiconductor hub, Oregon offers the National Semiconductor Technology Center the greatest competitive advantage to further the interests of our local community, the industry, and the nation.”  

The Biden-Harris Administration announced this past February that it expects to invest over $5 billion in semiconductor-related research, development, and workforce needs, including the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), to advance President Biden’s goals of driving research and development in the United States.

The NSTC technical center, which will focus on manufacturing related research and development, will feature an Advanced Lithography Center (ALC) located at Intel’s Hillsboro site, with state-of-the-art lithography tools necessary to develop the next generations of leading-edge semiconductor technology. The technical center will invite ecosystem partners, academic researchers, and advanced chip design teams to bring their latest tools, materials and prototypes to work at the leading edge of semiconductor technology.

Intel achieved a significant industry milestone by securing the world’s first commercial-use High Numerical Aperture lithography tool at its research and development facilities in Hillsboro, Oregon. Known as “High-NA EUV”, this is the most advanced semiconductor processing tool in the world, and perhaps the most complex piece of manufacturing equipment ever built.

The Oregon CHIPS Act (SB 4) dedicated $240 million to develop a grant and loan program to support semiconductor businesses looking to expand in Oregon. The state funds provide the opportunity to attract significant federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act that Congress passed and President Biden signed in August 2022. The Oregon CHIPS Act also funds $10 million to help communities prepare land for manufacturing sites and $10 million for a University Innovation Research Fund that will help public universities secure federal research grants. The Governor’s office, in partnership with Business Oregon, has been working to distribute the funding to projects.

Editor’s Note: The NSTC Oregon team includes the Governor’s Office, Senator Wyden’s Office, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s Office, Business Oregon, Intel, the Oregon Business Council, the City of Hillsboro, Portland State University, and Oregon State University.

Nike Layoffs at Oregon Headquarters

Nike plans to lay off 740 employees at its Oregon headquarters before June 28, the company has told state officials.

The company notified state and local officials about the workforce reduction at its Beaverton, Oregon headquarters in a notice mandated by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act on Friday.

The sportswear giant “will be permanently reducing its workforce at its World Headquarters” in a “second phase of impacts” that would begin by June 28, wrote Nike vice president Michele Adams in the notice, first reported by Reuters and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Two months ago, Nike CEO John Donahoe told employees in a memo of plans to reduce its workforce by about 2%, or more than 1,600 employees, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time. The company had about 83,700 employees as of May 31, 2023.

“Nike’s always at our best when we’re on the offense. The actions that we’re taking put us in the position to right-size our organization to get after our biggest growth opportunities as interest in sport, health and wellness have never been stronger,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “While these changes will impact approximately 2% of our total workforce, we are grateful for the contributions made by all Nike teammates.”

The reductions are part of a three-year plan to cut $2 billion in costs Nike announced in December.

Nike is targeting cost reductions as it forecasts a “low single-digits” decline in revenue during the first half of its 2025 fiscal year – which begins June 1. “We are taking our product portfolio through a period of transition,” Nike chief financial officer Matt Friend said during the March 21, 2024 earnings call.

Nike shares rose nearly 2% this past week, but are down more than 11% so far this year and have fallen more than 23% over 12 months.

The Oregon Cheese Festival is coming to the Expo in Jackson County. 

The event will allow residents to sample artisan cheese from across the region. There will also be specialty food, beer, wine and cider available.  The Cheese Festival starts Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. for anyone 21
and older. It will also be open on Sunday for all ages from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. 
Tickets are $25 and $35 at the door. MORE INFO: https://www.oregoncheesefestival.com/

EPA Announces Oregon Department of Energy to Receive $86M to Deliver Residential Solar

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Oregon Department of Energy has been selected to receive $86,600,000 through the Solar for All grant competition to develop long-lasting solar programs that enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed residential solar. This award is part of the historic $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which was created under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to lower energy costs for families, create good-quality jobs in communities that have been left behind, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis.  

The Oregon SFA Coalition (OSFAC) will leverage existing solar technology incentives and support platforms through a coordinated program delivery system, designed specifically to meet the needs of low-income households and residents of disadvantaged communities in Oregon. Together, OSFAC members will enable solar installations at single-family households with little to no upfront customer cost and provide point of sale rebates for multifamily buildings that provide tangible benefits to low-income residents. The program will also support financial and technical assistance to develop Consumer Owned Utility Territories’ Community Solar projects in areas outside of OCSP coverage, as well as workforce development activities. This diversified approach will maximize use of existing resources and the breadth and diversity of households served throughout the state.  

“President Biden committed to making the largest investment in our nation’s history to combat global climate change. Our announcement today ensures every community has a green energy future,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This funding will be used to supercharge the deployment of solar power in communities, create jobs, make our power grid more resilient, and lower the cost of energy for every household.” 

The grant to the Oregon Department of Energy is among 49 state-level awards EPA announced today totaling approximately $5.5 billion, along with six awards to serve Tribes totaling over $500 million, and five multistate awards totaling approximately $1 billion. 

 “The Oregon Department of Energy is thrilled to be part of a coalition bringing significant solar dollars to our state,” said ODOE Director Janine Benner. “While past programs have helped expand access to solar for many Oregonians, it has been a challenge to lower the costs enough to ensure low-income households and other disadvantaged communities could participate. Solar for All can make this happen.” 

A complete list of the selected applicants can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Solar for All website.  READ MORE: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-oregon-department-energy-receive-86m-deliver-residential-solar-lowering#:~:text=SEATTLE%20(April%2023%2C%202024),to%20deploy%20and%20benefit%20from

Federal regulators approve construction on expanded Northwest gas pipeline despite petitions

This is a map of the Gas Transmission Northwest Express pipeline, or GTN Express, from the Idaho-Canada border to southern Oregon. (Courtesy of TC Energy)

Federal regulators are allowing construction to begin on expanding a controversial gas pipeline running through North Idaho, Washington, Oregon and northern California.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order Wednesday giving the greenlight to the pipeline’s owner, the Canadian company TC Energy, to begin construction following its denial Tuesday of appeals from conservationists and attorneys general in Oregon and Washington to reassess its approval of the Northwest XPress expansion project.

The 1,400-mile pipeline already sends billions of cubic feet of gas everyday from Canada to utilities supplying natural gas customers in the Northwest and California. In 2021, TC Energy asked the federal energy commission to allow it to increase the pipeline’s capacity, adding millions of cubic feet of gas extracted by fracking to the pipeline each day. Company representatives told the commission and the Oregon Capital Chronicle that they need to increase capacity to meet demand.

Those opposed to the pipeline say the company has not proved a need for an expansion in an increasingly electrifying world and one where renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and more abundant. Natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, and environmentalists also oppose fracking which involves injecting toxic chemicals into the earth.

Northwest opposition to pipeline’s expansion — The project is opposed by environmentalists, the governors of Oregon and Washington, the states’ U.S. senators and the attorneys general of Oregon, Washington and California. For more than a year, they have called on the federal energy agency not to allow the project to move forward. They’ve said expanding the pipeline’s capacity undermines their goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that the company will invariably pass the costs of the pipeline expansion on to natural gas customers in the region.

Consumers already pay significantly higher prices today for natural gas than they did even three or four years ago. All three natural gas companies in Oregon have requested rate hikes this year from the state’s Public Utilities Commission. Rates have gone up 50% on average since 2020 for residential customers of the state’s largest natural gas utility, NW Natural, according to the watchdog Citizens’ Utilities Board. READ MORE

National Park Service approves Crater Lake National Park concessions contract transfer

Hospitality company ExplorUS to offer full visitor services this summer

CRATER LAKE, Ore. – The National Park Service (NPS) has approved the transfer of the Crater Lake National Park concessions contract formerly held by Crater Lake Hospitality.   

Hospitality company ExplorUS will take over providing visitor services under the contract immediately, including:  

  • Lodging at Crater Lake Lodge, The Cabins at Mazama Village, and Mazama Campground    
  • Food and Beverage at Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, Annie Creek Restaurant, and Rim Village Café    
  • Retail at Rim Village Gift Shop, Annie Creek Gift Shop and Mazama Village Store (including gas pumps)   
  • Lake and Wizard Island Boat Tours 

“We look forward to working with ExplorUS as they invest in facilities, staff training, visitor services, and other improvements to make visitors’ and employees’ experiences at Crater Lake even better,” Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman said.  

NPS and ExplorUS are striving for a seamless transition of services but ask for flexibility and patience from park visitors. The majority of visitor services in Crater Lake National Park begin to open for the season in mid-May. Information about services currently available are available on the park website at https://www.nps.gov/crla.   

www.nps.gov  

  About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 429 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.   

The Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is back open after the winter season closure.

Tours will be offered five days a week, Thursday through Monday, on a limited basis. They will run on a first come, first served basis between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Entry to the monument is free, however tickets for tours can be purchased on site or at the Illinois Valley Visitor Center.

Meanwhile, Crater Lake National Park visitors can enjoy a free visit this weekend. Saturday is the first day of National Park Week which means the National Park Service is offering free admission to over 400 parks nationwide.

That includes Crater Lake National Park, and it’s only on Saturday.

The next fee free day after that is June 19.

National Park Week runs April 20 through April 28 and NPS is offering up a list of themes for each day of the celebration: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm

Entrance fees will be waived on April 20, 2024, to kick off the celebration and to encourage everyone to enjoy their national parks in person. National Park Service parks, programs, and partners will host events and activities all week! Follow National Park Week on social media and join the fun all week using #NationalParkWeek.

Oregon’s Next Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect In July

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday that the minimum wage in the Portland area will rise to $15.95. In urban counties outside the Portland area, the minimum wage will be $14.70 an hour. And in rural counties, the minimum will be $13.70. The change takes effect July 1.

A 50-cent hike to Oregon’s minimum wage will bring baseline pay in the Portland area just to the doorstep of $16 an hour this summer.

Oregon has had a tiered minimum wage since 2017, when the state Legislature approved a series of minimum wage increases but kept the minimum lower in more rural parts of the state, reasoning that the cost of living was lower, too.

Since 2023, annual increases in the minimum wage have been tied to the rate of inflation. The Consumer Price Index, the inflation measure used to calculate the increase, rose 3.5% over the past year.

The increases announced Tuesday range from 2.9% for the Portland metro to 3.8% raise in rural areas. The average Oregon hourly wage is much higher than the minimum, $31.17 last year, according to the state employment department. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

April 30th is the deadline for people registering to vote in Oregon for the first time or for those who wish to change party affiliation.

The upcoming May 21st election is a closed-party primary election for registered Democrats and Republicans.
That means that Democrats will be voting for Democrat and nonpartisan candidates and measures and Republicans will be voting for Republican and nonpartisan candidates and measures.

Non-affiliated and all other voters will be voting on nonpartisan candidates and measures.

Oregon Online Voter Registration: https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/registration.aspx?lang=en

ODOT Reminding The Public That Political Signs Posted Incorrectly Will Be Removed

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) would like to remind the public that political signs posted incorrectly will be removed.

ODOT will remove improperly placed signs like the one above and hold them at the nearest ODOT maintenance yard. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

During election season ODOT tells us they receive complaints from the public and candidates regarding the improper placement of political signs on the state highway rights of way, where only official traffic control devices are allowed. Improperly placed signs can distract drivers and block road safety messages.

Wrongly placed signs will be taken down and held at a nearby ODOT district maintenance office for 30 days. To reclaim signs, go here to find the nearest ODOT maintenance office.

Signs are prohibited on trees, utility poles, fence posts and natural features within highway right-of-ways, ODOT tells us. They also are prohibited within view of a designated scenic area.

State highway width rights of way can vary considerably depending on the location. Check with your local ODOT district maintenance office to determine whether placing a sign is on private property or highway right of way. Local municipalities may also regulate the placement of political signs.

Political signs are allowed on private property within view of state highways with the following restrictions:

  • Signs are limited to 12 square feet but can be up to 32 square feet with a variance from our Oregon Advertising Sign program
  • Signs cannot have flashing or intermittent lights, or animated or moving parts
  • Signs must not imitate official highway signs or devices
  • Signs are not allowed in scenic corridors
  • No payment or compensation of any kind can be exchanged for either the placement of or the message on temporary signs, including political signs, which are visible to a state highway

For more information go to ODOT’s Outdoor Advertising Sign Program.

Oregon Secretary of State releases 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a civic engagement toolkit today, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections.

The tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office.

Download the 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit here.

Museum receives $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities award

BEND, OR — The High Desert Museum will receive $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, one of 10 in the nation selected for funding for the exceedingly competitive Public Humanities Projects: Exhibition category, the agency announced Tuesday.

The funding will support the Museum’s revitalization of its permanent exhibition dedicated to the Indigenous cultures of the region. By Hand Through Memory opened in 1999, supported in part by NEH funding. Hand in hand with Native partners, the Museum has been working on a new version of the exhibition for several years.

This award is the second grant for the project: In 2019, NEH awarded the Museum $45,000 to support the planning of the renovation. The agency also awarded the Museum $500,000 in 2023 to support an associated expansion of the Museum, bringing the total commitment to the Museum’s future to $1,045,000.

“For more than four decades, the High Desert Museum has set the gold standard for showing and telling both Oregonians and visitors our state’s history,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said. “Indigenous history is essential to that mission, and I’m gratified this Central Oregon treasure has secured such a significant federal investment to enable it to update and expand the permanent exhibition devoted to Native perspectives and experiences.”

“We’re immensely grateful to NEH and Senators Wyden and Merkley for this transformational investment,” said High Desert Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “The revitalized exhibition will be centered in Native voices and knowledge, sharing the rich stories of Indigenous communities throughout the Plateau region. The NEH funding is vital for realizing our vision.”

The Museum is presently working on exhibition design with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a firm that has handled museum projects ranging from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. to the First 

Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, an effort sharing the stories of the 39 Tribes in Oklahoma that opened in 2021.

The exhibition renovation is part of the long-term vision for the future of the Museum, which includes more capacity for educational programming, immersive experiences to bring visitors into the forest canopy, a permanent art exhibition space and a gathering space for Museum events. The Sisters-based Roundhouse Foundation helped launch work on this vision with a $6 million gift in 2021.

The Museum opened in 1982. Founder Donald M. Kerr envisioned the space as an immersive experience that highlights the wonder of the High Desert, often saying that its mission is to “wildly excite and responsibly teach.” He also intended for the Museum and its programs to spark dialogue and bring people together in conversations about what they want for the region’s future.

Today, the Museum shares up to nine rotating temporary exhibitions, serves more than 8,600 participants with school field trips, and provides free and reduced-price admissions to more than 25,000 visitors. It welcomed more than 216,000 visitors in 2023.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency that supports cultural institutions in their efforts to facilitate research and original scholarship, provides opportunities for lifelong learning, preserves and provides access to cultural and educational resources, and strengthens the institutional base of the humanities throughout the nation.

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.

Oregon Offers Electric Car Rebates Again – Apply Now Until June 3rd

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Due to high demand and limited funding, OCVRP will be open for a short time in 2024. Vehicles must be purchased or leased between April 3, 2024, to June 3, 2024, to be eligible for a rebate.

Applicants have six months from their date of purchase or lease to apply. Low- and moderate-income households can prequalify for the $5,000 Charge Ahead rebate by completing the application now at https://apps.oregon.gov/DEQ/Voucher/apply.

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.

The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

LCSO Case #24-1671 – Missing Person from west Eugene

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is looking for 39-year-old Brian John Fierke.  He last had contact with his family on March 26th, 2024.  Deputies, detectives, and Sheriff’s Search & Rescue have searched extensively for Fierke without success.   

Fierke is described as a white male adult, standing approximately 6’4” tall and weighing about 185 pounds.  Fierke has brown hair and blue eyes.  He may have brown facial hair.  

Anyone with information about Fierke’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150, option 1, and reference LCSO Case #24-1671.

20240224ewextra-David-Bjorkman-Missing
May be an image of 1 person, dog and text that says 'MISSING TAMMY PITKIN, Oregon State LAST KNOWN TO BE: Albany, Oregon on 17 OCT 2022 Reported Missing 26 OCT 2022 VEHICLE LOCATED ON DEAD- END FOREST SVC ROAD OFF HWY 20, 30 mi EAST of SWEET HOME, OR, 29 OCT 2022. Physical: age 54, White female, 5'4" tall, 160 lbs, blonde hair, hazel eyes Possibly Accompanied by her 2 small dogs, Cope and Trooper white/brown dog multi smooth-haired Jack Russell terrier) 23 IFYOU HAVE TIPS OR HAVE Feb OR, TAMMY: PLEASE PHONE LINN COUNTY, OR County SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Linh 1-541-967-3911,or911 Locted'

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

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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