Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 5/8 – UO Admin Warns Of Punishments As Hundreds Rally In Support Of Student Protest Encampment, Bushnell University Wins Cascade Collegiate Baseball Conference Tournament & Other Local and Statewide News…

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

UO Admin Warns Of Punishments As Hundreds Rally In Support Of Student Protest Encampment

Hundreds gathered at the University of Oregon on Tuesday, May 7th, for a pro-Palestine rally.

The Daily Emerald, the student newspaper at the University of Oregon, reported late Monday that protesters have been told that those who don’t leave the encampment by Tuesday at noon will no longer be eligible for “academic amnesty” and could face other disciplinary consequences. University spokesperson Angela Seydel would not confirm any details about negotiations to end the encampment.

Officials at the University of Oregon say they are negotiating with the pro-Palestinian leaders of a student encampment that has grown to about 150 tents over the last week, in hopes of reaching a peaceful resolution.

But students and university leaders are still far apart, according to some faculty observers. And in a Sunday email to students and their families, the university pointedly noted that the encampment in front of the Knight Library is “unauthorized” and said that protesters have been advised that they are in violation of university policies.

The deadline came and went without any significant changes to the encampment. Students have said they don’t plan to leave. The university has pledged to allow more meetings with student representatives in coming days. 

Bushnell University Wins Cascade Collegiate Baseball Conference Tournament

In just their third season as a program, the Bushnell University baseball team has won the 2024 Cascade Collegiate Conference Baseball Tournament, presented by U.S. Bank, defeating No. 5 Lewis-Clark State College, 8-2, at Harris Field on Monday.

Bushnell (29-24), the four-seed, knocked off tournament host LC State for the second time in three days. The Warriors were undefeated at home entering the tournament, but the Beacons recorded a combined 31 hits over the two-game span against one of the top teams in the NAIA.

Jordan Wilson, who hit a grand slam in the seventh and has been with the team since the beginning, said, “All glory to God. My teammates all had great at-bats before me to put me in that position. They picked me up earlier in the game when I was struggling and Tommy had faith in me to come up big for my team. All season we have stuck to our process and no matter the opponent, we just continue to play Beacon baseball and the results speak for themselves.”

LC State (37-11) scored a pair of runs in the opening frame with the first crossing home on a double by Nick Seamons. Seamons scored on a ground out to make it a 2-0 advantage for the Warriors. Bushnell went on to hold LC scoreless the rest of the way.

A seven-run bottom of the seventh fueled the victory for the Beacons, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Wilson, his 14th homer of the season. Trailing 2-1, Reece Carganilla led off the frame with a double to left center before a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases, forcing a Warrior pitching change. Wilson sent his shot over the left field fence to give the Beacons a 5-2 lead.

Albert Jennings and Isaiah Hart followed with back-to-back singles and Jennings scored on a wild pitch. Cade Crist made it an 8-2 lead with a double to left, scoring Hart and Chase Nye to conclude the seven-run inning.

LC State led off the top of the ninth with a single before grounding into a double play. Trevor Hammond (7-3) wrapped up his 3.1 innings of relief with a strikeout to seal a storybook ending for the Beacons.

Max Chapman got the start for Bushnell, giving up two runs on six hits in four innings. Blake Stavros pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief, allowing just two hits and Hammond finished off the game, giving up two hits over 3.1 innings of work.

Bushnell spread out its offense as eight players recorded a hit. Kyle Casperson, Wilson and Hart had two hits apiece.

LC State was led by three hits from Carter Booth and Jakob Marquez. Hiroyuki Yamada got the start, allowing one run on three hits in 3.2 innings pitched.

Up Next: Bushnell will travel to the 2024 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round on May 13-16. The Beacons will learn their site during the selection show on Thursday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m. (PT). LC State will compete in the opening round at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho.

AI Powers New Western Wildfire Detection Network

The University of Oregon, and its partners at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of California, San Diego, are launching the largest wildfire detection network in the West. The new ALERTWest system has 12-hundred cameras.

They will use artificial intelligence to continuously monitor for new wildfire starts and deliver timely alerts to dispatchers and firefighters. This enables faster response times and helps fire managers better allocate resources when battling multiple fires.

Pallet Manufacturing Shop Burns in Early Morning Fire

A Pallet Manufacturing Shop is a total loss after an early morning fire.  Marion County Fire District No. 1 received reports of a large fire ball around 1 am at Silverton Road and Lardon Road and a Marion County Sheriff confirmed a fully involved structure.  Defensive fire tactics were used by the first-arriving engine to focus on protecting 2 adjacent residential structures.  

Due to the incident being outside the urban growth boundary in an un-hydranted area, 2 mutual aid water tenders were requested.  The wood-frame structure was filled with Pallet making supplies as well as adjacent to multiple stacks of the highly flammable material.  Fire damage was confined to the original structure and adjacent pallet stacks and under control in approximately 40 minutes.  

No injuries were reported, and the fire is currently under investigation.  Marion County Fire District was assisted by Salem Fire Department, Keizer Fire Department, Marion County Sheriff’s office and Marion County Public Works.

Police Respond Twice to Bomb Threats Called in to West Eugene Walmart and Target

According to the Eugene Police Department, police officers responded twice this week to reported bomb threats that were called into two west Eugene businesses that evacuated their premises as a precautionary measure.

EPD officials said the first threats were reported to the west Eugene Wal-Mart and Target locations on April 29. Both stores evacuated their buildings at about 6:45 p.m. and an investigation by police determined that the threats were unfounded, authorities said.

Eugene police said they responded to another pair of bomb threats called in to 911 dispatchers on May 2 with a threat called in to the Target store at about 8:45 p.m. The Target store was evacuated and searched by officers who found nothing suspicious and employees were then allowed to return to the store, authorities said. Police said that an officer responded to the Wal-Mart store at 9:52 p.m., which self-evacuated after an unknown person called and reported that there was a bomb inside the store. An investigation determined the threat was unfounded, police said.

2024 Primary Election Ballots in the Mail for Lane County Voters

The Lane County Elections office has placed ballots in the USPS mail stream for the 2024 Primary Election. 

Lane County’s 21 ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8:00 pm on Election Day, May 21, 2024. Drop boxes are open 24/7. A list of drop box locations is included with every ballot.

“Most voters will receive their ballot within the next couple of days. Lane County Elections is committed to assisting voters so their voices can be heard and they can play a role in shaping their community,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson.

Voters can track the status of their mail ballot by visiting www.oregonvotes.gov/MyVote

Voters may return their voted ballots in one of the following ways:

  • Regular mail. Ballots must be postmarked no later than May 21, 2024 and received no later than May 28, 2024 to be counted.
  • A 24/7 ballot drop box.
  • Lane County Elections. Ballots can be turned in by May 21, 2024 directly to the Lane County Elections Office during business hours (open until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day).

Ballot drop box locations can be found online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections.  

As a reminder, Oregon is a closed primary state. All voters will have an opportunity to vote on issues and nonpartisan positions. Only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for their respective party’s candidates in a primary election.

Voters with questions can email elections@lanecountyor.gov or call 541-682-4234.

About the Lane County Elections Office: The Elections Office, located at 275 W. 10th Avenue in Eugene, is responsible for conducting elections in Lane County.  The elections office manages voter registration, the processing of mail ballots, recruitment and training of election workers, and certification of elections.

Lane County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Offers Free Boat Inspections During May

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Bi-Mart to again offer free boat inspections to help you get on the water safely! 

Bring your boat to a listed Bi-Mart on the scheduled date and time and a Lane County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Deputy will inspect your boat for free and help make sure you have everything you need.

And for those non-motorized boats (including paddle boards, kayaks, etc.), be sure to always carry a life jacket, whistle/horn and a waterway access permit.

Saturday 5/11/24 – 10am-1pm
River Road Bi-Mart
2030 River Road

Sunday 5/12/24 – 10am-1pm
Cottage Grove Bi-Mart
100 Gateway Boulevard

Saturday 5/25/24 – 10am-1pm
Springfield Bi-Mart
1521 Mohawk Boulevard

Sunday 5/26/24 – 10am-1pm
Veneta Bi-Mart
25126 Jeans Road

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

OHA launches Fentanyl Aware social media campaign

Risks, harm-reduction strategies, recognizing and responding to overdose, and Oregon’s good Samaritan law to be focus of five-week online promotion

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) today kicked off a social media campaign spotlighting the public health harms caused by fentanyl, and how people can prevent the deadly overdoses that devastate communities around the state.

Fentanyl Aware Northwest

The campaign, called Fentanyl Aware, will run for five weeks, with posts in English and Spanish. Fentanyl Aware will focus on teaching people about fentanyl risks, harm reduction strategies, recognizing and responding to an overdose, and Oregon’s good Samaritan law, which provides legal protections for individuals and the people they’re helping during a drug overdose.

The Fentanyl Aware campaign begins with a series of social media messages with facts about fentanyl – “What it is, where it can be found and why you need to be aware,” according to the first post. It then moves into messages about the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone, including how it’s given, how it works and where to can get it, followed by posts about Oregon’s good Samaritan law.

The campaign wraps up with posts warning about risks of mixing drugs with other substances, relying on fentanyl tests and using drugs alone.

OHA’s statewide campaign borrows from a social media campaign that Lane County Public Health created in 2023 with support from OHA funds. The county also shared its campaign materials with local public health partners to adapt and share – Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties collaborated to launch the Fentanyl Aware Northwest campaign through this partnership.

Just today, Multnomah County launched its own fentanyl awareness campaign, called Expect Fentanyl, focused on Portland-area youth ages 13-20.

The statewide Fentanyl Aware campaign launches on National Fentanyl Awareness Day, a day of observance that recognizes those who have lost loved ones to the overdose crisis and raises awareness of the lethal danger of illegally made fentanyl (IMF).

Cara Biddlecom, OHA’s interim public health director, said Fentanyl Aware contains youth-informed messaging, but it is intended for general audiences.

“We want everyone to see these important messages because anyone can be affected by fentanyl – teens and young adults, older Oregonians, even young children,” Biddlecom said. “These messages won’t end the fentanyl crisis, but they could help equip people with information that could help them save a life, whether it’s someone else’s or their own.”

Fentanyl is now showing up in a wide variety of drugs on the illicit market, including counterfeit pills made to look like common prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medications. These may contain enough fentanyl in a single pill to cause an overdose.

According to OHA data, the number of people in Oregon dying from unintentional and undetermined overdoses continues to increase at an alarming pace, from 1,083 people in 2021 to 1,289 people in 2022. Fentanyl has surpassed methamphetamine as the most common substance identified as the cause of death in unintentional and undetermined drug overdoses.

In Oregon, the number of individuals who experienced an unintentional/undetermined fentanyl overdose death between 2020 and 2022 more than tripled (for all ages). And those at higher risk for unintentionally dying from a drug overdose continued to include non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives, non-Hispanic Black/African Americans, and males, though patterns of use across communities is similar. These inequities are avoidable and point to structural racism in the health system and the need for long-term policy change.

Nasal naloxone is now available over the counter, without a prescription. It can be purchased at many retail pharmacies in Oregon, and it costs about $45 for two doses. Most insurance companies cover the medication but may charge a co-pay. Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members can get naloxone at no cost at most pharmacies. Those who use drugs can get medication for overdose reversal and other harm reduction materials such as fentanyl test strips at no cost through syringe service programs. Syringe services are available to everyone that uses drugs, regardless of whether they’re injected. Visit OHA’s Opioid Overdose Reversal Medications webpage for a list of syringe and needle exchange services available in Oregon.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use, please reach out for help. Speak with a health care provider or visit OHA’s Fentanyl Facts webpage for support and treatment resources. You are not alone.

Fallen officers honored during annual Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony

SALEM, Ore. — A ceremony held Tuesday, May 7 in Salem commemorated law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty in Oregon. Hundreds gathered for the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony to honor the state’s fallen officers and those they left behind.

The annual event is held at the Oregon Public Safety Academy, site of the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial. Tuesday’s ceremony remembered two fallen officers whose names were recently added to the memorial: Sergeant Jared J. Miller of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, end of watch Dec. 9, 2021, and Reserve Corporal Joseph W. Johnson of the Nyssa Police Department, end of watch April 15, 2023. 

The ceremony was attended by Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, elected officials and public safety professionals from throughout the state. Governor Kotek, in her address to the audience, spoke of the sacrifices made by the fallen officers and their families. 

“Sergeant Jared Miller and Reserve Corporal Joseph ‘J.J.’ Johnson were known for rising to the occasion every time. Known for showing up as their best selves when the chips were down. As heroes. And as people who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Governor Kotek said. “There is no sacrifice more noble, no pledge to the public more honorable.”

Sergeant Jared J. Miller fell ill in November 2021 while working as a shift sergeant at the Marion County Jail during an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility. He died from complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 9, 2021. Sergeant Miller had served with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for 16 years, and is survived by his wife, father, sister, brother, and grandfather.

Reserve Corporal Joseph W. Johnson shot and killed on April 15, 2023, while making a traffic stop in Nyssa. After being dispatched to a domestic incident, Reserve Corporal Johnson engaged in a short vehicle pursuit with the suspect, who stopped and opened fire on the officer while he was still in his patrol vehicle. Reserve Corporal Johnson succumbed to his injuries at the scene. He had served with the Nyssa Police Department for almost five years, and also served as a corrections officer with the Oregon Department of Corrections for 15 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The memorial bears the names of the 196 officers who have died in the line of duty since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

Keynote speaker Mike Reece, Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, heralded the sacrifices of the law enforcement members and their families, and stressed the importance of honoring their sacrifices and their memories. 

“These men and women were exceptional. Their value to their families and friends, their service to others, and their ultimate sacrifice deserves our eternal gratitude,” Reece said. “So as we gather today at this annual ceremony, we say their names and we give our sacred promise to never forget.”

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

Oregon’s memorial ceremony is held ahead of National Police Week events in Washington, D.C. so that family members and coworkers can attend both memorial ceremonies. More than 23,000 officers who have died in the line of duty are honored on the national memorial.

### About DPSST— The mission of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is to pursue excellence in training and accountability for public safety professionals. DPSST certifies and licenses police, corrections, and parole and probation officers, as well as regulatory specialists, emergency telecommunicators and medical dispatchers, criminal justice instructors, private security providers, private investigators, fire service professionals, and polygraph examiners in the state of Oregon.  DPSST works with public and private safety agencies around the state to provide basic, leadership and specialized training at the 237-acre Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem and regionally throughout the state.

For more information on the Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial please visit https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/Memorials/LawEnforcement/Pages/default.aspx.

Issues with unemployment benefits in Oregon predate new computer system, state agency says

The Oregon Employment Department rolled out a new system, Frances Online, in February. Many people continue to report issues receiving benefits.

For just about anyone, losing a job is a stressful prospect in and of itself. It can mean struggling to pay rent, cover bills or buy groceries — particularly for those without enough rainy day savings set aside.

Unemployment benefits are intended to fill that gap, providing funds that workers can draw on to tide them over, having paid into the system while still employed. But in Oregon, receiving those benefits may be easier said than done, adding stress upon stress.

The Oregon Employment Department says it’s made progress in helping people sign up for its new online claims system. But Governor Tina Kotek and ordinary Oregonians who contact the KGW newsroom practically every day say the state agency is not doing enough.

OED rolled out the new platform, Frances Online, in March. It’s been in the works for several years and was intended to replace the agency’s outdated system from the ’90s. Many Oregonians will remember less-than-fondly how that old system contributed to a meltdown during the early months of the pandemic, as thousands of out-of-work Oregonians sought benefits. Slowdowns lasted far beyond that.

Frances Online is the same system used by the new Paid Leave Oregon program, which launched last September but was dogged by complaints from families who waited months to receive benefits well into this year.

Gov. Tina Kotek addressed the ongoing issues during a press conference late last week.

“It is one of those things that I’ve been really not happy about, and we’ve had conversations directly with the department about this,” Kotek said. “What I’ve said to the agency is we have to do better. I don’t want to read any more stories about someone who can’t pay the rent and is going to lose their housing. That would be counterintuitive to what we’re trying to achieve.”

OED itself has refused to do any interviews or directly answer questions about the issues. But in a press release last week, they said that the new computer system is working as intended.

The agency said that it had paid about $111 million in benefits in the nine weeks after the Frances Online system launched, and they’d processed about 30,000 claims a week for the preceding six weeks. They claimed that 93% of people are able to use the system successfully.

The problems that persist, OED said, predate Frances Online. Long phone wait times and delays in getting claims approved are the result of staffing shortages, which the agency attributed to chronic federal underfunding of the unemployment system.

Kotek said that the state legislature approved funding for OED to add new staff but added that the agency needs to give her a better plan to address the ongoing issues.

“The legislature did allow for more money at the employment department; they’re up to hiring 70 new staff to help with the backlogs to get people through,” the governor said. “The numbers are improving, but not up to my satisfaction, and we’re continuing to work hard with the agency … like, we need to see some new ideas in addition to getting those staff on board.

“So, I wish I had a better answer today. I want people to know I’m not happy; I don’t want people left behind. I lived through the pandemic as the (Oregon House Speaker) when we had a lot of people who couldn’t get help. I want to make sure people are getting the benefits they need, and we’re still working on it.”

OED’s statement said that they are also working on adjusting staff workflow in order to address the problems, adding overtime hours for some staff. They added that they plan to improve the way they communicate to people filing claims and looking for answers by updating their messaging to the public to be clearer, as well as providing more detailed information as to why claims are being reviewed.

The agency provided some hard numbers as evidence that things are improving. The average time for an employee to handle an unemployment-related call has gone from 17 minutes to 11, suggesting they can get to more calls. The average number of items employees can complete in the Frances system went from 3.3 items an hour to 6.8.

The average time for employees to resolve an issue with a claim once they start working on it has gone from nine days down to two, OED said. (SOURCE)

First Lady Jill Biden Visits Portland Thursday

First Lady Jill Biden is coming to Portland this week. The White House says Biden will deliver a speech at a political finance event in Portland this Thursday night. The visit is part of a the First Lady’s tour of several western states this week. After Portland, she’ll travel to California and Arizona.

Governor Kotek Hosts Event to Commemorate Progress on Housing and Homelessness in Legislative Session — Governor ceremonially signs SB 1537, SB 1530, SB 1564, and HB 4134

Monday, Governor Kotek hosted a signing ceremony for a package of bills that passed during the 2024 session that are aimed at addressing the housing and homelessness crises.

“Across the state — from big and mid-size cities to small, rural towns — Oregonians are straining under the pressure of an increasingly unaffordable housing market,” Governor Kotek said. “But the actions we’re taking today – and will continue to take in the coming years – will be key to creating healthier and safer communities and supporting economic growth.”

Governor Kotek ceremonially signed Senate Bill 1537, Senate Bill 1530, Senate Bill 1564 and House Bill 4134. Speakers at the ceremony included Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-N/NE Portland), Senators Kayse Jama (D-East Portland, Damascus, Boring) and Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City), Rep. David Gomberg (D-Lincoln and Western Benton & Lane Counties), Portland Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency executive director Jimmy Jones, and NAYA interim CEO Oscar Arana.

“Cities across Oregon are excited to implement the historic investment in housing infrastructure made possible by the legislature in Senate Bill 1530, helping to deliver on Governor Kotek’s annual housing production goal,” Mayor Vinis said. “In Eugene alone, the funding from SB 1530 will support the development of 1,200 new housing units, across all income levels.”

“Services alone are not enough. We must also have supply side answers,” Jimmy Jones said. “Our best path forward to a tomorrow where no child, no family, no person sleeps outside, is the construction of thousands of safe and affordable units in the coming decade. Senate Bill 1537 is the beginning of our efforts to rebalance the housing supply in Oregon.”

The ceremony took place in North Portland at the construction site for Tistilal Village, a 57-unit affordable housing development owned by NAYA Family Center that is currently being redeveloped to serve Native American families, including those experiencing homelessness.

“NAYA was a strong supporter and advocate of the housing bills being signed here today,” NAYA interim CEO Oscar Arana said. “We know these programs and funding sources are desperately needed to create more housing opportunities, like Tistilal Village, for our community.”

The following is a description of the bills Governor Kotek ceremonially signed today:

Senate Bill 1530: Provides $278 million total, including funding for infrastructure projects that support housing development ($100 million), emergency shelters ($65 million), homelessness prevention ($40 million), recovery housing projects ($18 million), land acquisition for affordable housing ($10 million), the Healthy Homes Repair Fund ($7.5 million), and more.

Senate Bill 1537: Provides a menu of tools to encourage more housing production across Oregon, including the creation of the Housing Accountability and Production Office, the allocation of $75 million to establish the Housing Project Revolving Loan Fund, the allocation of $3 million to establish the Housing Infrastructure Support Fund (HISF), and a provision allowing cities that meet specific criteria the ability to make a one-time expansion of their urban growth boundary with a requirement that at least 30% of new housing is affordable, and more.

Senate Bill 1564: Directs the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to adopt model ordinances that cities may use in order to implement housing-related statewide land use planning goals.

House Bill 4134: Provides $21.3 million for grants to specified cities for infrastructure projects that support housing developments in which at least 30 percent of the units are affordable to households earning 130 percent or less of the county median income. (SOURCE)

 Gene Editing Helps Patients In OHSU Study

A medical trial at OHSU that uses gene editing had positive results for improving sight in people with a certain type of inherited retinal disease. The CRISPR [[ crisper ]] gene editing process was used. Around 79 percent of the study participants had improved sight. The study included 12 adults and two children. The inherited retinal disease affects around two out of every 100-thousand people.

Oregon National Guard Program Offers Students Paid Opportunities To Earn High School Credit And Learn Career Skills

 “The Oregon Plan,” renewed its approval with the Oregon Department of Education, is open to high school students throughout Oregon.

High school students in Oregon will have a paid opportunity to learn professional technical training while earning high school credit, as part of the newly endorsed program called The Oregon Plan.

Created by the Oregon National Guard, the plan received official approval last month from the Oregon Department of Education, which is required as part of its regular renewal process.

“Through this exciting program students get paid to earn high school credit, learn career skills such as basic finance, medic training, construction and engineering and practice working in teams,” said Dr. Charlene Williams, Director of Oregon Department of Education. “As students plan their summer of learning and work, I hope they consider this enriching and life changing option.” 

Background On The Oregon Plan
Established in 1995 as the Military Career Education Cluster Concept, “The Oregon Plan” enables school districts across the state to award academic credits to students who complete qualified military training and instruction. Approximately 700 high school students have joined the Oregon Guard since 2020.

“The Oregon Plan has been providing valuable education pathways for Oregon students for nearly 30 years,” said Brig. Gen. Alan Gronewold, Adjutant General, Oregon. “We’re proud to highlight this innovative program that recognizes the skills our young recruits gain through their military service.”

Multiple high schools across Oregon participate in the program, including Pendleton, Hermiston, La Grande, Elgin, Wallowa, Baker, Ontario, and Grant Union High School in eastern Oregon. Additionally, high schools in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Douglas, Union, Umatilla, Wasco, Hood River, Malheur, Baker, and Wallowa counties have also approved use of The Oregon Plan.

By enabling credit proficiencies through military training, the Oregon National Guard and The Oregon Plan exemplify a commitment to developing educated, skilled, and work-ready youth for future success.

“Our recruiters consistently hear from educators about the value of this flexible credit program, “said Lt. Col. Jessy Claerhout, Executive Officer, Recruiting Retention Command.  “It provides a helpful pathway for students to turn their military experience into academic progress toward graduation, while obtaining life skills and leadership training.”

Many of the credits earned may also translate into college credits towards a higher education degree. Sophomores and Juniors in high school can learn more about the program here. You can also learn more about the Oregon Guard’s 100% College Tuition Assistance program here.

Oregon Housing and Community Services awards nearly $23 million to create more than 150 affordable homes across Oregon

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announces the approval of nearly $23 million toward creating 157 new homes across the state. These investments will continue to help establish concrete pathways for Oregonians to pursue homeownership.

“While no one community is identical, there is a shared need across communities for more affordable housing options. Even in this tough economy, our imperative is to continue fighting to ensure that Oregonians can still realize the dream of homeownership,” said OHCS Executive Director Andrea Bell. 

This year, OHCS changed how it grants Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Homeownership funding for the development of new affordable homes through a rolling application process.

“By providing multiple opportunities for developers to apply for funding instead of all at once, this new process can help accelerate new construction timelines in service to getting homes into communities faster, especially in rural areas,” Bell said. 

In fact, 30% of the awarded projects will be built in rural communities. The Hope St. Project is a prime example of that and is the first affordable homeownership community in Hood River. 

“After 32 years of building in the Gorge, Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity is very excited to build permanently affordable homes for the first time in Hood River,” said Chad Krause, executive director of Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity. “With the help of Oregon LIFT funding, these new homes will be built and sold to hardworking members of our community who can’t afford market-rate homes. Hood River teachers and retail workers—needed desperately in our small town—may now be able to purchase their own Habitat homes.”

Here are the 10 developments receiving this round of funding awards:

ProjectLocationAwardeeUnitsTotal Award
1201 E 5th StNewbergNewberg Area Habitat for Humanity2$400,000
Adams CommonsSistersSisters Habitat for Humanity19$3.8 million
Breath of LifeMedfordTurning Point Program38$6.02 million
Hope St ProjectHood RiverColumbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity4$800,000
Myrtlewood WayGreshamHabitat for Humanity Portland Region20$2.68 million 
Rooted at 19thRedmondRootedHomes22$2,599,996 
Rooted at AntlerRedmondRootedHomes18$1.47 million 
Southtown IICorvallisDevNW16$2,815,610
Timber CottagesRedmondBend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity13$1.45 million
WoodlandsSistersSisters Habitat for Humanity5$950,000

Since the creation of the program in 2018, $71.3 million in LIFT funds have resulted in 47 projects with a total of 752 homes that are affordable to Oregonians. 

For more detailed information about each recommended project, please refer to the Housing Stability Council packet from April 26, 2024.

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)  – OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of low and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.  

During Mental Health Awareness Month, OHA reminds Oregonians of support resources for those in need and their loved ones 

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority is recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month during May by promoting resources that support mental well-being for all Oregonians.

One in five people will experience a mental health condition in a given year, and about half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their lives, according to national statistics.

Nearly everyone faces challenges in life that can affect their mental health and emotional well-being.

“Too many people in our state are facing mental health challenges, and we want everyone to know you do not have to struggle alone,” said OHA Director Sejal Hathi, M.D., MBA.

Dr. Hathi, who has spoken about her mental health journey, added, “In many of our communities, societal or cultural norms discourage people from reaching out, or even admitting that we may need some help. Mental Health Awareness Month is a critical opportunity to highlight that mental health is health.”

Here are a few highlights of resources available for Oregonians:

  • OHA provides support for Community Mental Health Programs that provide services related to mental health, substance use, and problem gambling, in counties and communities across Oregon. A directory of these services, listed by county can be found
  • In Oregon, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The easy-to-remember 988 number is available for people experiencing any type of mental health challenge, substance use crisis or thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Anyone who needs support can call, text or chat in English and Spanish (interpretation services and American Sign Language are also available) and connect with trained crisis counselors. The 988 Lifeline is also a resource for friends and families concerned about a loved one.
  • The Mental Health Toolkit was created through a collaboration between OHA and Oregon Department of Education to help educators increase students’ academic achievement through meeting their mental and behavioral health needs.
  • Online resources from Sources on Strength – Sources of Strength has two online resource packets. The first is Resources for Practicing Strength at Home, and the second is a shorter version that also offers a wellness plan. Any resource in these packets can be used in classrooms, staff meetings, in individual or group counseling, or to practice strength wherever you are.

OHA encourages communities, organizations, and individuals to use the month of May to help raise awareness of mental health and well-being. 

May is Wildfire Awareness Month

SALEM, Ore. – May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Oregon experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer months, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies, will be spreading the word about the steps we all can take to prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires this summer, and encouraging Oregonians to create defensible space around homes and outbuildings. 

At stake: lives, property and scenic beauty – Each year, over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burn piles or gas-powered equipment and vehicles casting sparks or catching fire.

During the 2023 fire season, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported that people were directly responsible for sparking 823 wildfires that burned 6,197 acres. Any spark can gain traction in dry vegetation, spread quickly and impact lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s scenic natural areas.

Before heading outdoors this summer, contact the agency or landowner who manages the land at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should be familiar with these restrictions before building campfires or using equipment that could ignite a wildfire. 

Put Your Smokey Hat On – Smokey Bear is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Smokey is a beloved and trusted American icon that has educated the public on preventing human caused wildfires since 1944. His timeless and important message celebrates people who take responsibility and prevent wildfires. Smokey’s hat is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s 2024 summer wildfire prevention campaign. “Put Your Smokey Hat On” is a call to action, encouraging the public to predict the outcome of their actions and do everything they can to prevent wildfire ignitions. Campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.

Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips – During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal at https://www.oregon.gov/osfm/education/pages/prevent-wildfires.aspx

Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media: Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and @OSFM

OHCS on track to help hundreds of disaster survivors through the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program

Program moves into application and review phase — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is moving into the application phase of the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program (HARP) after receiving nearly 800 Eligibility Questionnaires from survivors of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires and straight-line winds. This is an important milestone only made possible because of the partnership of local organizations.  

ReOregon, an OHCS program, launched HARP at the end of March to help homeowners with low to moderate incomes who still need assistance to repair, rebuild, or replace their homes in the wake of the disasters.  

“The HARP program is now progressing into the application review phase, which brings us closer to getting survivors the resources they need on their path to recovery,” said Ryan Flynn, director of Disaster Recovery and Resilience at OHCS. “We also want to thank all of our outreach and intake partners for their help in reaching and assisting hundreds of survivors. We couldn’t do this without them.”

ReOregon is now working on notifying more than 300 of the 800 people who submitted questionnaires with instructions on how they can apply for HARP. Local culturally specific organizations are helping households that may need additional support navigating the application process. ReOregon estimates there may be more survivors who may be eligible for assistance in later phases of HARP.

Those who are interested can still fill out the Eligibility Questionnaire on the re.oregon.gov website where eligibility requirements are also listed.  

For assistance with the process, contact the ReOregon Call Center at 1-877-510-6800 or 541-250-0938 or email t@oregon.org“>housingsupport@oregon.org. Additionally, OHCS has partnered with community-based organizations to provide in-person support. A full list of these partners is on the re.oregon.gov website.  

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)  – OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of low and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.  

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

Home

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.

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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