Willamette Valley News, Friday 5/10 – UO Officials Formally Responded On Thursday to Demands Issued By Student Protestors, Protest at Willamette University in Salem Ends For Now & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Friday, May 10, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

University Of Oregon Officials Formally Responded On Thursday to Demands Issued By Student Protestors

University of Oregon protesters reject deal to leave encampment

The university’s response, which was posted on the ‘Free Speech and Safety at UO’ page on the U of O’s website, provided the university’s position on the issues raised by the protestors for which the college is willing “to continue productive engagement on the issues and concerns raised.” U of O officials asked that students agree to dismantle the encampment and cease overnight camping by May 11.

Students plan big response today – Friday May 10th.

The college also asked that the protestors agree to reserve a designated daytime gathering space through an officially-recognized student group and other proper channels, according to the university’s response. READ MORE: https://freespeech.uoregon.edu/uo-response-encampment-demands

Peaceful Occupation at Willamette University in Salem Ends For Now

The dramatic occupation of a library at Portland State University ended last week when police swept into the building and arrested demonstrators, but that doesn’t mean other protests on university campuses in Oregon came to an end.

About 20 to 30 student protesters at Willamette University in Salem have occupied the school’s Mark O. Hatfield Library since Saturday, following a smaller occupation of a different building on campus Friday.

Willamette University student protesters voluntarily left the Mark O. Hatfield Library building Tuesday evening, saying they planned to re-organize in the fall.

About 50 Willamette students first occupied the third floor of the Putnam University Center on May 3 before moving to the library Saturday morning, demanding the private university disclose and divest its investments in Israel “and the American war machine as a whole.”

Willamette Students for a Democratic Society organized the protest and said leaving campus for summer break meant beginning a “temporary pause” of their occupation. In a prepared statement, organizers said they plan to regroup in the fall.

More Details Emerge In Fatal Incident Involving UO Football Defensive Back Daylen Austin

Fifteen minutes before Oregon defensive back Daylen Austin allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian in Eugene last month, a man fitting the description of the victim — whom police identified on Wednesday as 46-year-old Frank William Seaman — threw a baseball-sized object at a white SUV matching the description of Austin’s vehicle.

The westbound SUV immediately slowed down, according to surveillance camera footage The Oregonian/OregonLive viewed from the night of April 15. A man believed to be Seaman then crossed to the north side of West Sixth Avenue, pointing and appearing to be yelling at other vehicles as they passed.

Seaman was struck and killed April 15 near the intersection of West Fourth Avenue and Polk Street in the Whiteaker area shortly after 9 p.m., according to Eugene police. Austin is accused of the felony of failing to perform the duties of a driver when another person is injured.

A source with knowledge of the incident provided The Oregonian/OregonLive with law enforcement documents that say a hammer was found on the street near Seaman when police arrived at the scene, where a blue grocery bag was found with other hand tools inside. The source requested anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.

One account from law enforcement also said Austin told police he was “being menaced with a hammer” by Seaman, who he claimed jumped in front of his SUV.

Firefighters Contain Santa Clara House Fire

Eugene Springfield Fire (ESF) responded to house fire in the Santa Clara area Thursday afternoon.  Firefighters were alerted to the fire located at 2899 Stark Street at 4:57 PM, with reports of heavy smoke from the garage area.

Ladder 11 from ESF’s Santa Clara station arrived about 4-1/2 minutes after the call to find heavy smoke from the garage with fire extending to the attic space. Crews extinguished the fire and searched for occupants.  Thanks to a quick response we the fire was contained to the garage and attic space.

ESF responded with a first alarm assignment including 2 engines, 2 ladders, 1 truck, 2 chiefs, 1 medic and the EMS supervisor.  There were no injuries reported and Lane Fire Authority is investigating the fire. 

Fire Crews Respond to Fire at Springfield Business

Eugene Springfield Fire (ESF) responded to a structure fire in East Springfield Thursday Morning. At approximately 10:34 AM, ESF responded to a reported electrical fire at Cascade Farm & Outdoor located at 5415 Main Street. A Passerby reported that there was a 50 foot section of the roof on fire. Employees evacuated 40-50 people from the business. ESF Engine company 14 stationed five blocks to the west responded in just under 3 minutes as part of a full first alarm response of 4 engines, 2 ladder trucks, 2 chiefs , an ambulance, Logistics Support and EMS supervisor.

Crews quickly located the fire, made access with a hose line via aerial ladder and extinguished the fire. Fire crews performed a primary search of the building and did not locate anyone in distress. The fire was isolated to a 50’x50’ section of the roof, electrical utilities were secured and extensive overhaul was performed.  ESF Fire Marshal’s office is on scene investigating. The fire was contained to the area of origin (roof), and there were no other injuries reported.

Just last week ESF crews toured the new business with representatives from Cascade Farm and Outdoor toured the building for fire access and building layout.  These building tours are integral in keeping a relatively small fire from becoming a major loss to the business and community.

Wyden, Merkley: Lane and Douglas Counties to Receive Vital Drought Resiliency Investments

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced Douglas and Lane counties will receive $1.22 million and $4 million, respectively, in drought resiliency funding as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.    “In Oregon and throughout the West, we know firsthand how much the climate crisis has devastated our communities and economies with drought and other impacts,” Wyden said. “Solutions for water storage and innovative ways to capture and reuse water are … Continue Reading

Scam Alert – “Police Call”

About a month ago, we sent out a news release regarding this particular scam. We are continuing to receive reports about scammers stating they were with the Eugene Police Department and needed to speak with them about a legal matter or a warrant. The person calling identified themselves as a sergeant by name. Please don’t fall for this. The scam has actually been around for a while and crops back up like a weed in our community. It is called the “Police Call” scam. Often victims are told they are required to pay money to avoid criminal charges. They use the names of retired and current EPD officers and command staff, often calling from a spoofed number that looks like it’s coming from the police department including starting with ‘541.682’ and getting victims to pay through Apple Pay and Zelle. Victims could also be asked to pay through other means, such as cryptocurrency or gift cards.

Police caution the public to not fall for the “police call” scam. This is where an unknown suspect or suspects calls a victim’s cell phone or home phone, identifies themselves as police or an EPD officer (by name of a real officer working for EPD) and communicates with you about an issue, trying to scam you into parting with money, usually to avoid being arrested or having criminal charges.

This is a variation on other scams where victims report being called by the IRS, police or government agency, with the scammer demanding payment over the phone or face a warrant for arrest. These scams have at times had second calls that show the caller’s ID as ‘911’ or a police number, but these are spoof calls.

Eugene Police would like to remind the public that EPD or any other government agency would never call someone and demand payment immediately, and do not call and advise people they have a warrant for their arrest. There are so many scams out there. Many scams try to alarm you or scare you. Others just prey on your situation. A list of scams is provided on EPD’s website (http://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/11128). This document covers some of the most common scams we’ve seen in our area, but new ones are popping-up all the time. It is easy to get taken in, even if you are usually suspicious of scams.

If you receive a phone call and recognize that the call is a scam, please hang up immediately and report the information to www.ic3.govIf you are the victim of a scam and have incurred a loss, please call the EPD non-emergency at 541.682.5111. These cases provide an opportunity for a reminder on how to avoid becoming the victim of fraud. Scams are cyclical in nature. Eugene Police recommend to remain careful and skeptical of callers:

•If someone asks you for your cash, gift cards, credit card numbers, security log-ins, or other personal information (especially if you don’t know them well), the safest move is to refuse their request and check with the police, or find an independent way to contact a legitimate business and follow up rather than responding right away to the caller. •Don’t give out computer or phone log-ins, personal or financial information to someone who calls you. If you are unsure, hang up and independently find the phone number of the alleged represented agency and call yourself. A law enforcement agency will not ask you for this type of information or request that money be sent by way of money order for any reason.•

Beware of high pressure techniques, such as the need to give information or make a decision on the spot. •If it sounds quirky or weird, it probably is.

This weekend, letter carriers nationwide will be collecting non-perishable food items to donate to local food pantries as part of the National Association of Letter Carrier’s “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

Since it’s inception in 1993, the annual event always takes place on the second Saturday in May.

This Saturday, community members are encouraged to place non-perishable food in a bag and place it next to their mail box. The letter carriers will do the rest.

According to NALC, over the past 31 years, the event has become the nation’s largest one-day food drive, helping to fill the shelves of food pantries nationwide.

More information can be found on NALC’s website.

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.

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.

Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care Celebrates the Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

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– Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) representatives joined Governor Tina Kotek and state officials today to celebrate its new partnership with The Dollywood Foundation for the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. During the 2023 legislative session, under Senate Bill 5506, $1.7 million was appropriated to DELC to help administer and expand the program statewide.  

The Imagination Library is a program developed by The Dollywood Foundation; a nonprofit organization founded by Dolly Parton. Since launching in 1995, the Imagination Library has become the preeminent, international early childhood book-gifting program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books each month to children (0-5 yrs. old), free of charge to families, through funding shared by Dolly, the State of Oregon, and local community partnerships. Today, millions of children receive a specially selected book each month, from birth to age five, to help foster early literacy skills and a love of reading.   

The goal of the statewide expansion is to make books available to children ages 0-5 in every zip code in Oregon. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a voluntary program and parents of children ages 0-5 can sign up to receive a new book each month at no cost to families.  

“Brain science clearly shows that kids start to develop literacy skills from birth,” said DELC Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “That’s why here in Oregon, we’re making major investments to help kids develop the joy of reading.” 

In addition to remarks from Director Chatterjee, Governor Tina Kotek, and House Majority Leader Ben Bowman made comments and were joined by representatives from The Dollywood Foundation and local program partners. Dolly Parton provided remarks by video, concluding with an Oregon twist on her classic “I Will Always Love You.   

Currently, over 54,000 children across Oregon receive the gift of a monthly book through 55 community programs. Books are free to the family regardless of family income. The Department of Early Learning and Care is working with local community partners and The Dollywood Foundation to expand. 

Families can visit www.imaginationlibrary.com to find out if the program is available in their area or to sign up to be notified when the program expands to their community. To learn more about becoming a community partner, contact Rachel King at king@imaginationlibrary.com“>rking@imaginationlibrary.com 

Dolly Parton’s video remarks, along with the remarks of Oregon officials can be found on the DELC website.   

About the Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care – The Department of Early Learning and Care’s mission is to foster coordinated, culturally appropriate, and family-centered services that recognize and respect the strengths and needs of all children, families, and early learning and care professionals. More information about DELC is available at Oregon.gov/DELC. You can also connect with DELC on Facebook or sign up for news alerts and updates. 

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library  – Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. This is achieved through funding shared by The Dollywood Foundation and Local Community Partners.  The Imagination Library mails more than 3  million high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to children’s homes each month. Each child enrolled in the program receives one book per month from birth to age five – at no cost to families.  Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More®.  

The program’s impact has been widely researched, and results demonstrate its positive impact on early childhood development and literacy skills. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visitimaginationlibrary.com

Wyden, Colleagues Pass FAA Reauthorization Act

— U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today that the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act he voted for this week would save lives as well as benefit Oregon air travelers and small businesses. “It is absolutely essential to our national security and economy to fully fund the departments that keep our planes in the sky and Oregonians safe in Oregon and throughout the country,” Wyden said about the legislation authorizing operations for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation … Continue Reading

Oregon Attorney General Announces $10.25 Million National Settlement With Wireless Carriers Over Deceptive And Misleading Ad Practices

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced a $10.25 million, 50-jurisdiction settlement with AT&T Mobility, LLC, Cricket Wireless, LLC, T-Mobile USA, Inc.Cellco Partnership, d/b/a Verizon Wireless, and TracFone Wireless, Inc. (collectively, the “Wireless Carriers”), which resolves the state attorneys general investigations into the Wireless Carriers’ deceptive and misleading advertising practices. Oregon will receive $362,838.66 for its portion of the settlement.

“Mobile phones are a necessity of life, and Oregonians deserve to know exactly what they’re paying for when they purchase one,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising is a cornerstone of our work, and this settlement is a great example of the power of working together across state and party lines,” said Rosenblum, who is currently serving as president of the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General.

The terms of the settlements address the common misleading advertising practices of the Wireless Carriers, including misrepresentations concerning: (1) “unlimited” data advertisements, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material limitations; (2) “free” phone offers, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material conditions; (3) monetary incentives to “switch” wireless networks, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose how the monetary incentives would be provided; and (4) wireless carrier plan comparisons, which failed to disclose material differences.

The settlement terms will, among other things, require the Wireless Carriers to:

  • (1) make all future advertisements and representations truthful, accurate and non-misleading;
  • (2) refer in marketing to “unlimited” mobile data plans only where such plans do not set any numerical limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle and clearly and conspicuously disclose any restrictions on data speed, as well as the triggers of such restrictions;
  • (3) offer to pay for consumers to “switch” carriers only where they clearly and conspicuously disclose the type of fees and amounts that they will pay consumers, the form and schedule that such payment will take and all material requirements that consumers must satisfy in order to qualify and receive such payment;
  • (4) offer wireless devices or services for “free” or similar terms only where they disclose clearly and conspicuously all material terms and conditions that the consumer must meet in order to receive the “free” devices or services;
  • (5) make offers to lease wireless devices only where it is made clear to the consumer that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement;
  • (6) make representations that a consumer will save money by purchasing its products or services only where it has a reasonable basis to do so based on comparisons with the prices of comparable goods or services of other providers, or where any material differences between those goods or services are clearly and conspicuously disclosed; and
  • (7) appoint a dedicated employee to work with the attorneys general to address ordinary complaints filed by consumers;
  • (8) train its customer service representatives who speak with consumers to comply with these terms and implement and enforce a program to ensure compliance with these terms.

Attorney General Rosenblum thanked the DOJ’s Consumer Protection team for their hard work securing this settlement.

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)

Plaid Pantry Awarded Bonus for Selling $1.3 Billion Powerball Ticket

Portland, Ore. – After selling the winning Powerball ticket worth $1.3 billion, the fourth largest jackpot in the game’s history, Plaid Pantry was presented a bonus check worth $100,000 on Thursday. Oregon Lottery officials celebrated with store representatives at the location on 6060 NE Columbia Boulevard in Portland.

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Oregon Lottery

“The excitement and impact of a win like this in Oregon is incredible, not only for our prize winners, but also for our communities and locally owned retailer Plaid Pantry,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells. 

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan of Portland, his wife, and their friend claimed the winning ticket from the April 6, 2024 drawing. The ticket was the only one in the country to match all five numbers plus the Powerball. 

“The energy and excitement we experienced from selling the winning ticket has been a big morale boost for the entire Plaid team,” said Plaid Pantry President and CEO Jonathan Polonsky. “We are very proud of our brand, which has been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 60 years. This bonus check will be reinvested in our business to benefit our associates, customers, and local suppliers.”

Oregon Lottery staff also surprised store customers at the Thursday event by handing out free $2 Scratch-its. 

Plaid Pantry has 104 stores in Oregon and has sold other sizable wins in recent years, including a $3.3 million Megabucks ticket in August of 2023 and a $1 million Powerball prize in March of 2023. 

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

OSP to Recognize National Missing Children’s Day May 25th

– In recognition of National Missing Children’s Day, May 25, 2024, the Oregon State Police Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse is sponsoring an awareness event to provide resources for parents, guardians, and caregivers. 

The event, which coincides with Missing Children’s Day, will be held on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the north end of Capitol Mall Park in Salem (Center Steet NE between Winter and Capitol Streets). From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., OSP representatives and partner agencies will be on hand with activities and giveaways. 

The event will include informational booths from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Safe Oregon, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse, and Marion County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. Attendees can pick up free identification and DNA kits, visit with a police search and rescue K-9, and tour OSP’s new command vehicle. 

Julie Willard, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse coordinator, said, “National Missing Children’s Day is an opportunity to remember the thousands of children who go missing each year. We work to educate parents about how to keep their kids safe, and we teach children about the “4 Rules for Personal Safety” that they can learn about on Kid Smartz.” 

Kid Smartz is a child safety program that educates and empowers grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors. Please visit the Kid Smartz website for more information. 

About National Missing Children’s Day:
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. Etan’s killer was convicted in February 2017, but the case remains active because his body has never been recovered. National Missing Children’s Day is dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. The commemoration serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families.

Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to Host Statewide Memorial Day Event in Salem May 27th

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs will host Oregon’s annual Statewide Memorial Day Ceremony in person at 11 a.m., Monday, May 27, at the Oregon World War II Memorial, located at the intersection of Cottage and Court Street NE on the grounds of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

This event honors Oregon’s fallen service members from all eras of service and will include remarks from ODVA Director Dr. Nakeia Council Daniels and Oregon Adjutant General Alan R. Gronewold, along with other veteran leaders and state dignitaries. 

The event will also feature a color guard ceremony, a performance of the national anthem by West Salem High School’s award-winning a cappella group Soundscape, and other ceremonial elements. The theme of this year’s Memorial Day event is “Oregon Remembers.” ODVA Strategic Partnerships Division Director and Navy veteran Sheronne Blasi will serve as emcee.

“Memorial Day, established following the Civil War, is a day when we all pause and remember the more than 1 million men and women throughout history who have given their lives in defense of our nation,” said ODVA Director Dr. Nakeia Council Daniels. “Those of us who volunteer to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces come from a diverse tapestry and understand when we take the oath to defend and preserve our Constitution, and our nation’s highest ideals, we do so on behalf of ourselves, our families, and every person that calls America their home. On Memorial Day, Oregon will remember all our fallen and honor their service and their greatest sacrifice. Thank you for joining us in remembering.”

Limited seating will be available. Attendees are welcome to bring their own seating for the park setting and are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather.

For those unable to attend in-person, the event will also be livestreamed beginning at 11 a.m. on ODVA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/odvavet and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAQVavs9KmvDeJ42ySFtY8A

Established in 1945, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is dedicated to serving Oregon’s diverse veteran community that spans five eras of service members. ODVA administers programs and provides special advocacy and assistance in accessing earned veteran benefits across the state. Learn about veteran benefits and services, or locate a local county or tribal veteran services office online at oregon.gov/odva

Oregon Dept. of Forestry seeks to give $10 million in urban forestry grants to federally recognized Tribes

(SALEM, Ore.) – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, is now taking proposals from the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon for grants they could receive for urban and community forestry projects and programs.

In 2023, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) awarded ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program $26.6 million of the $1.5 billion investment in urban and community forestry from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

“The IRA funding Oregon received is intended to promote community and urban forest investment and tree equity for overburdened and underserved communities,” said ODF UCF Program Manager Scott Altenhoff. “Tribal communities in Oregon have a long history of displacement, dispossession and under-investment in their communities. So, a significant proportion of the funds – $10 million – are earmarked to support federally recognized Tribes’ efforts to protect and enhance their urban and community forests. This also includes workforce development in the urban forestry sector.”

Specifically, priorities for the funds earmarked for federally recognized Tribes are to:

  • Support community and urban forestry assessment, planning, and prioritization
  • Support culturally responsive community and urban forestry education, engagement, recreation, and community-building initiatives
  • Build capacity with collective impact through a community and urban forestry network 
  • Support community forestry and natural resource-related workforce development 
  • Significantly expand tree production, planting, and maintenance 
  • Support monitoring, adaptive management, and lesson sharing 

The USFS and ODF have also identified projects or programs related to first foods (foods traditionally eaten by Native Americans) and improving community access to greenspaces (e.g., developed parks or natural areas) as priorities for this funding opportunity.

Proposals should address at least one of the above program priority areas, or clearly demonstrate how the proposed project or program supports Tribal community connections to trees and/or forests, said Altenhoff.

He acknowledges that the program areas outlined may not fully reflect each Tribal Nation’s community and urban forestry needs and priorities. 

“We recognize that working with Tribes through this federal funding is critical to strengthening relationships and supporting the needs of Tribal communities to enhance cultural, socio-economic, and environmental priorities,” Altenhoff said. 

Altenhoff said a further $12.5 million will soon be made available to other eligible entities throughout Oregon. The money will fund competitive, multiyear investments in urban and community forestry programs and projects. Proposals for this second funding opportunity should:

  • increase equitable access to urban tree canopy
  • broaden community engagement in urban and community forest planning, tree planting, and management activities
  • improve community and urban forest health and resilience. 

ODF Urban and Community Forestry Program Mission and Vision

The mission of ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is to advance equity, well-being, and resilience for all communities in Oregon by promoting investments in trees and green infrastructure. Our vision is for every community forest in Oregon to thrive with good planning and management, while fostering statewide recognition of trees and forests as vital contributors to the social, economic and environmental well-being of the state’s residents.

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.

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

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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