Willamette Valley News, Monday 5/20 – Fatal 2 Alarm Fire Destroys Adult Foster Care Home in Lebanon, Bushnell’s School of Nursing Receives $2.5M Grant & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Monday, May 20, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

Fatal Alarm Fire Destroys Adult Foster Care Home in Lebanon

At Approximately 1:21AM Lebanon Fire District was dispatched to the report of a structure fire at an adult foster care home. BC31 arrived on scene to a two-story home that was well involved in fire. The owners of the adult foster home stated that there was still someone inside the structure. BC31 upgraded the fire to a second alarm fire, requesting additional resources from across the county. The first arriving engine and medic unit forced their way through a locked door to search the room for the missing victim.

The victim was located and removed from the burning building and then emergently transported to Lebanon Community Hospital where it is reported that they passed away. Hot embers from the fire were being blown across the street and started another structure on fire. A single engine was able to quickly extinguish the second fire and return to the original fire. The crews remained on scene for several hours extinguishing the fire. The fire is currently under investigation.

Lebanon Fire District received assistance From Albany Fire Department, Sweet Home Fire District, Tangent Fire District, Harrisburg Fire Department, and Corvallis Fire Department

The owners of the adult foster care home were awakened by working smoke detectors and able evacuate majority of the residents until the the LFD was able to arrive on scene.

Fire crews Respond To West Eugene Commercial Fire

Eugene Springfield Fire (ESF) responded to a commercial structure fire in West Eugene on Sunday night. At  11:02  PM on May 19th, ESF Engine 8 responded to a fire alarm at a large commercial structure with multiple businesses located at 4216 W 7th Ave.

The call was quickly turned into a full commercial structure fire assignment, as witnesses reported flames and smoke from one unit. Residents evacuated as ESF arrived.  Crews forced entry, and stretched hose lines for fire attack. Multiple engines and ladder trucks worked to locate and extinguish the fire, search adjacent occupancies, and check for fire extension. A large van was discovered to be on fire inside the occupancy, with fuel leaking and catching fire.  

Thanks to quick response times, the fire was contained to the business of origin. The fire was placed under control, all units with smoke were ventilated and searched. There were no reported injuries and the Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an investigation.

Bushnell’s School of Nursing Receives $2.5M Grant

Lane Community Health Council Makes Significant Investment in Nursing Education

Eugene, OR — Bushnell University’s School of Nursing, one of the anchor academic programs within the College of Health Professions, has received a sizable grant from Lane Community Health Council (LCHC) to expand its efforts to meet the nursing workforce shortage in Lane County. As a part of its ongoing mission to improve the health and well-being of residents of Lane County, LCHC has designated $2.5 million to help Bushnell build a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Lab and to provide scholarships for student nurses completing their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree for clinical practice. 

Lane Community Health Council is partnering with Bushnell University to meet the ongoing crisis of the nursing shortage in our region through this significant investment in nursing education.  Bushnell University has quickly distinguished itself among the ABSN programs in the state for its innovative approach and successful clinical and academic outcomes. These funds will support ongoing excellence in the School of Nursing as one of the best healthcare programs in the region while also maximizing student enrollment capacity in the program. This will allow Bushnell to meet the state-wide nursing shortage more quickly and effectively. Additionally, the funds will be deployed to address systemic inequities in healthcare by recruiting more students from diverse populations. The School of Nursing is committed to best practices in educating nurses on the healthcare needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized in our communities. 

Nursing simulation labs are the hallmark of modern clinical nursing education. Simulation training utilizes high-tech, responsive patient manikins, providing students the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge to real-life medical situations. In simulated scenarios, nursing students get to both observe their peers and evaluate their own care using video recording and playback technology. This prepares student nurses efficiently and effectively prior to their required in-person clinical rotations in traditional hospital and community health settings.

This generous funding from LCHC, along with additional contributions from individual donors, family foundations, and local businesses, brings the fundraising efforts of Bushnell’s Health Professions Initiative to a total of just over $4.5M since the accelerated program began in January 2022. Together with the generous donation of over 11,000 square feet of education space in the Center for Medical Education and Research (CMER) at PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Medical Center University District (UD) campus, these funds provide the University much needed start-up costs to equip and establish this innovative nursing program. 

Bushnell’s nursing graduates are already making a difference in Oregon, with 62% of them choosing to stay in Lane County and over 90% practicing in-state. ABSN students can complete this full-time, pre-licensure nursing program in 12 months. Bushnell graduates currently have a 100% first-time passing rate on the required licensure exam for nursing practice (NCLEX-RN) and a 100% job placement rate upon completion. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN). 

Bushnell seeks to raise an additional $4.0M for the Health Professions Initiative through ongoing fundraising efforts and community partnerships. Additional resources will serve ongoing needs of the School of Nursing and expand behavioral health education through the Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CHMC) graduate programs. Through this initiative, Bushnell will be able to enhance scholarship opportunities, train and graduate more healthcare professionals, and enlarge the scope of health education options in our region. 

About Bushnell University – Founded in 1895 Bushnell University helps students discover and answer God’s call on their lives. Devoted to offering a Christ-centered environment, Bushnell encourages students to grow in wisdom, informed by faith, leading to lives of service. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the University was founded by pastor-educator Eugene C. Sanderson and pioneer businessman and church leader James A. Bushnell.

Bushnell is the largest private university in Eugene’s vibrant University District. The University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees for undergraduate and graduate studies through on campus, online, and hybrid course formats. More information about the University is available at www.bushnell.edu.

About Lane Community Health Council – The Lane Community Health Council (LCHC) collaborates closely with physicians, hospitals, other healthcare providers and local community organizations to improve the health and well-being of residents in Lane County.

The LCHC governs our local Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), PacificSource Community Solutions, in agreement with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), serving Medicaid members enrolled in the CCO on the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). The LCHC works to guide the design, development and implementation of strategic initiatives in support of the CCO, in service to the mission of better health, better care and better value for our members in Lane County.

UO Pro-Palestine demonstrators move encampment in front of Johnson Hall on 18th day

May 15 and 16 saw further pro-Palestine demonstrations amid a continued lack of progress between student demonstrators in the encampment and university officials. 

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By the end of May 16, roughly 60 tents had moved to the front of Johnson Hall, the UO administration building, as well as the lawn between Fenton and Friendly Halls opposite Johnson. Several protesters chained themselves to the pillars outside of Johnson. The protesters did not make attempts to occupy the building.

On May 15, pro-Palestine demonstrators held an early morning protest outside the home of UO President John Karl Scholz.

According to a statement by EPD Public Information officer Melinda McLaughlin, “at 1:55 a.m. on May 15, Eugene Police responded to reports of 15 or more protesters drumming and chanting in the yard of a Fairmont-area home. UOPD also responded. One unknown male individual was noted to have committed trespass. No enforcement action was taken.”

Protestors allegedly left behind flyers throughout the neighborhood apologizing for the loud noise but said that their neighbor, Scholz, would not condemn Israeli military actions in Gaza.

Hours after the protest at Scholz’s house, around 3:45 a.m., the Starbucks location in the 1500 block of Franklin Boulevard was vandalized. Subjects smashed the front windows of the store and graffitied other windows with messages of “land back” and “free Gaza.” It was unclear whether the protest at Scholz’s house or the ongoing encampment was connected to the overnight vandalism. 

Lather that day, encampment members gathered for a “Nakba Remembrance Day” vigil. Around 75 participants dressed in all black and joined in a silent march from the encampment to the Erb Memorial Union.

Demonstrators wore red poppy flowers, the national flower of Palestine. 

The Daily Emerald is providing live coverage of the University of Oregon’s pro-Palestine encampment, which began on April 29 at 7 a.m. All of their coverage on the encampment can be found here.

Student Protest Encampment at OSU

In a statement released on Thursday, May 16, less than a day after student protesters set up at the Memorial Union Quad, OSU gave demonstrators until Monday, May 20, to pack up their tents or face consequences for student conduct code violations. It wasn’t immediately clear what those consequences would look like.

Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights organization at Oregon State University assembled an encampment Wednesday in the northwest corner of the Memorial Union quad.


OSU students gather on Memorial Union Quad on May 15, 2024 on Oregon State University campus.

SUPER said in an Instagram post that the encampment was made in order to gather support for what they said is a stand for OSU to “divest from this genocide.”

The Associated Students of Oregon State University passed Senate resolution SR-83.09, calling for OSU to divest from any organizations funding Israel on May 9. 

OSU also released an encampment statement Wednesday. In it, OSU provides resources and statements for students, staff, faculty and community to read and understand OSU’s official stance on the encampment and what is happening with the people in Palestine.

“We will not accept violence or threats of violence, willful destruction of property, discrimination, harassment or hate speech that incites violence or criminal activity toward community members on the basis of nationality, ethnic identity or religious beliefs,” the statement states. 

In a written response last week, OSU invited protestors to help create new educational resources, and said it will launch a task force this fall to evaluate its procurement policies.

However, the university said the encampment must be gone by this Tuesday, or it will take disciplinary action.

“We will begin using methods available to us to hold participants accountable for violations of policy under the student conduct code and criminal statutes,” officials wrote.

OSU said the encampment violates the campus’ free expression and ground-use rules, while interfering with other scheduled events that have non-refundable contracts.

Encampment Demonstration – The university’s statements and information regarding on-campus protests: https://leadership.oregonstate.edu/encampment-demonstration

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate William David McCormick, 52. He is a person of interest in an assault investigation.

McCormick was recently last seen in the Vida and McKenzie Bridge area. If you have any information regarding McCormick’s location, please call the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4141 and reference case #24-2445.

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Housing and Community Needs Survey

2025 Consolidated Plan image

Are you familiar with the challenges of finding, maintaining, or paying for housing in the Eugene-Springfield area? Do you have insights into the local need for housing, human services and community/economic development programs? Please help identify our local housing and community needs for low- and moderate-income people by completing the short survey below.  TAKE THE SURVEY

Encuesta de viviendas y necesidades comunitarias

¿Conoces los desafíos de encontrar, mantener, o pagar los costos de vivienda en el área de Eugene-Springfield?  ¿Tienes conocimiento de la necesidad local de vivienda, servicios humanos y los programas de desarrollo de la comunidad o economía? Favor de ayudarnos identificar las necesidades de vivienda y de la comunidad local para las personas con ingresos bajos o moderados atreves esta encuesta breve.TOMA LA ENCUESTA

Survey results will help draft community needs and priorities for the Eugene-Springfield 2025-2030 Consolidated Plan for Affordable Housing and Community Development. The Consolidated Plan sets priority needs and strategies for use of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds over a five-year period. Eugene and Springfield receive funds based on formula allocation and Congressional appropriations. The two jurisdictions will receive an estimated $14 million in CDBG and HOME funds between July 1, 2025 and June 30, 2030. The process to develop the 2025-2030 Consolidated Plan is happening now. SIGN UP HERE FOR
CONSOLIDATED PLAN UPDATES

Lane County Public Health Declares Community Wide Pertussis Outbreak

Lane County Public Health (LCPH) has declared a community-wide pertussis outbreak due to a surge in cases surpassing typical community, regional, or seasonal expectations. In the last 7 days, the number of presumptive and confirmed cases has doubled, putting the total number of cases at nearly 40, with more awaiting lab results. While some of the cases are linked, there are sporadic cases scattered throughout the area indicating community spread.

So far in 2024, there have been 120 cases statewide in Oregon, as compared to 17 at this time last year. LCPH emphasizes the urgency for the community to implement precautionary measures to mitigate further spread of this highly contagious respiratory infection.

“We are seeing a number of cases in very young children and at-risk populations,” said LCPH Deputy Health Officer, Dr. Lisandra Guzman. “Their health depends on our actions, so now is the time to do everything we can to protect them.”

Recognizing the severity of pertussis, especially for vulnerable populations such as infants, pregnant people, young children, and individuals with underlying medical conditions, LCPH emphasizes the importance of getting tested at the earliest onset of symptoms, staying up to date with pertussis vaccinations, and practicing good respiratory hygiene. This is especially crucial for pregnant people and those in close contact with young children.

In the event of a pertussis diagnosis, adherence to prescribed antibiotics and isolation from others until you are no longer infectious is crucial. Individuals can transmit the bacteria from the onset of symptoms for up to three weeks after coughing fits begin.

For more information about pertussis prevention and treatment, visit the LCPH website, at  http://www.lanecountyor.gov/publichealth

At Lane County Elections, we value transparency.

📺 Watch our Lane County Elections livestream 📺

Our Elections livestream up! You can watch on YouTube and see the Lane County Elections Office as it works to receive, process and count ballots. It’s part of our commitment to transparency in elections. The livestream will remain active through the certification of election results on June 17. www.youtube.com/@Lane_County_OR_Elections

 🙌The ballot returns dashboard is back! 🙌 — Lane County Elections has launched the ballot return tracker in the lead up to the May 21 special election. The dashboard, updated every few days, allows viewers to see how and where ballots were returned, how many have been returned, and how many ballots have signature challenges. Visit www.LaneCountyOR.gov/elections to view the dashboard and see other election information.

Lane County voters: remember to sign the return envelope and return your ballots Today!!

Voters are urged to return their ballots as early as possible to ensure they are received at Lane County Elections by the 8:00 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, May 21. 

In order to be counted, ballots must be received at Lane County Elections by:

  • 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).

“We have passionate, engaged voters in Lane County and we want all eligible voters to feel confident returning their ballots in a way that is most convenient for them,” said Lane County Clerk Dena Dawson. “There are several options and, as long as voters are aware of the ballot return deadlines, they can ensure their ballots are received in time so their votes can be counted.”

Voters must also remember to sign their ballot return envelopes before mailing or returning their completed ballot to Lane County Elections.

The signature is a security measure used to verify identity. Signatures are compared to those in the voter registration record. A ballot may only be counted if the signatures match.

If you forget to sign the envelope or your signature does not match, you will receive a notice from Lane County Elections advising you of the issue and how to fix or “cure” it. You have until the 21st day after the election to cure your signature issue and have your ballot counted.

What can you do to ensure your signature matches?

  1. Sign your natural signature. If you don’t usually sign with a middle initial don’t sign your ballot envelope with it. Election workers are trained to look for specific characteristics within each signature. If you think your signature has changed significantly, contact Lane County Elections.
  1. Don’t sign another person’s name. Even if someone gives you permission to sign, or you have power of attorney, it is against the law in Oregon to sign another person’s name on a return envelope. It’s forgery.
  1. Request help if you have difficulty signing.  If it is difficult for you to sign, on either a temporary or permanent basis, you can complete a signature attestation form and return it to Lane County Elections.  Completing this step will allow you to use a signature stamp or other indicator that represents your signature.
  1. Correct a mistake if you accidentally sign your name on someone in your household’s envelope. If you and another person in your household sign each other’s return ballot envelopes, simply place a line through the incorrect signatures and sign the correct envelopes.

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.

Election results available starting at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day

Election results will be made available to the public starting at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 21, and updated throughout the evening. Elections results can be obtained at:

www.LaneCountyOR.gov/Elections

Ballots returned by mail and postmarked by May 21 must be received by May 28 in order to be counted. Ballots returned via mail and postmarked by May 21 may take several days to arrive at Lane County Elections, which means that the outcome of some races or ballot measures may not be known as quickly as in past elections. The Lane County Elections Office will continue to periodically update election results after May 21 until all ballots have been counted. The full results reporting schedule is available online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/Elections.

Election results will be certified on June 17, 2024. Voters with questions can email elections@lanecountyor.gov or call 541-682-4234.

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 5/25/24 – 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

Oregon 2024 Primary Election Ballot Return Numbers Low

Deadline to return ballots is Tuesday, May 21

Ballots must have a USPS postmark dated on or before 8 p.m. on May 21. Ballots can also be returned at an official drop box or county elections office. County elections offices should be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and voters can find their nearest drop box at oregonvotes.gov/dropbox.

Oregon is on track to see fewer than 40% of registered voters cast their ballot in Tuesday’s primary, as is customary in years without more than one well-known contender for either major party’s presidential nomination.

As of Thursday, 14.1% of Oregon voters had returned their ballots to county election offices, the state reported Friday. That compares to the 14.6% who had returned ballots at the same stage of the 2022 primary.

Ultimately, the May 2022 election generated statewide turnout of 37.8%.

That was weak compared to recent years with hot or at least unsettled presidential nomination races. In 2016, for example, when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were still dueling and Republicans hadn’t fully given up on Ted Cruz’s bid against Donald Trump, turnout in Oregon’s May primary reached 54%.

But in 2018, a non-presidential year in which the major parties’ nominees for governor were largely settled, turnout sunk to 34.7%.

It’s not that there are not hot contests to be decided this month, particularly for many Democratic voters. Races for the Democratic nominations in the 3rd and 5th Congressional Districts have drawn national attention and eye-popping amounts of money from inside and outside Oregon to decide who will succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the 3rd and which Democrat will get to face first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the 5th this fall.

Major party voters are also selecting their picks for Oregon’s secretary of state and attorney general. And voters of all affiliations are choosing county commissioners, district attorneys, sheriffs and other nonpartisan public officials. (SOURCE)

Hospital Association of Oregon Considers Appeal of U.S. District Court Ruling

Concerns remain about the state’s Health Care Market Oversight Program

Lake Oswego, Ore.—A U.S. District Court judge ruled yesterday that a state law creating the Health Care Market Oversight Program does not violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Hospital Association of Oregon brought the lawsuit, and it can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Oregon Legislature passed HB 2362 in 2021 to create the Health Care Market Oversight Program, which gives Oregon Health Authority (OHA) significant power to oversee transactions involving health care entities, and aims to promote transparency, support statewide priorities, and monitor impacts. But since its passage, there have been concerns about the law’s negative impacts.

“Proponents of this law said it would improve health equity and protect access to care, which we wholeheartedly support. However, the law fails to accomplish those objectives,” said President and CEO Becky Hultberg. “Instead, we have an agency that has been given too much power, and it has created costly and onerous processes that have proven both arbitrary and unpredictable.”

The hospital association challenged the law on two grounds: first, the law’s open-ended and vague wording violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it imposes costs and penalties without fair notice or defined standards. And second, the law violates the Oregon Constitution because it delegates legislative power to a state agency, OHA.

While the federal court ruled the law doesn’t violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution, it declined jurisdiction over the state constitutional claim and did not consider it on its merits.

“Rather than protect Oregonians, this law may be harming them,” Hultberg said. “It has created an environment where health care arrangements serving the public may be hindered, while allowing arrangements detrimental to the public to proceed. We continue to be worried about the impact this law will have on access to health care services, especially for the most vulnerable people in our state.” 

Wyden Presses Federal Officials to Make Improvements Quickly at Roseburg VA

Senator’s letter follows troubling report identifying serious and systemic problems with care for veterans in Roseburg

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urged top federal Department of Veterans Affairs officials to act quickly to make improvements identified in a troubling new report that details how problems with staffing levels and electronic records at the Roseburg VA Health Care System are undermining care for veterans.

Wyden’s letter to Dr. Teresa Boyd of the VA Northwest Health Network Office follows a report this week by the VA’s Office of Inspector General (VA OIG).

“First, I recognize the acute challenges in improving staffing levels after the COVID-19 pandemic, but I remain concerned that Roseburg is operating at 48% of its authorized strength during VA OIG’s inspection, and even lower in some of Oregon’s rural areas, Wyden wrote. “This is unacceptable for the veterans counting on the local and quality care they earned with their service, especially considering the new tools Congress has provided the VA to address this problem.”

Among those new tools Wyden outlined in his letter was the PACT Act that he worked to pass, which provided greater incentives for the VA to retain employees with in-demand skills, or skills in short supply and that serve a critical need. He also cited how he worked to secure authority for the VA to expedite the hiring of college graduates and post-secondary students that let the VA fill vacancies quickly. 

“Second, since 2022, I have joined my congressional colleagues in sounding the alarm about the Oracle Cerner electronic health record modernization effort,” Wyden wrote. “While modernization is an important and necessary step, I continue to track reports of widespread challenges stemming from this new system, including challenges surrounding patient safety, staff burnout, budgeting, workflows, professional evaluations, and suicide prevention.  I am glad the VA decided in April 2023 to halt additional deployments of this system. The VA OIG’s report continues to underscore the issues that Oracle Cerner must address with the VA before the modernization efforts resume in other locations.”

The senator concluded his letter by stressing his alarm at the report’s findings that Roseburg VA staff failed to complete an evaluation for 57 percent of patients who had a positive suicide risk screen, which is significantly above the OIG’s 10 percent deficiency benchmark. 

“The OIG report goes on to document that staff did not notify the suicide prevention team about two patients who reported suicidal behaviors during the evaluation.  Concerningly, VA OIG observed that the Roseburg VA Health Care System failed to conduct its required five suicide prevention outreach activities each month,” Wyden wrote. “I recognize that VA leadership attributes these findings to inadequate training and staffing as the reason for Roseburg’s inability to satisfy the stated requirements for reporting and outreach, but these outcomes are unacceptable and ultimately reaffirms the importance of addressing staffing shortages at Roseburg.” 

The entire “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection of the Roseburg VA Health Care System in Oregon” report is here.

The entire letter is here.

Wyden Announces Four Town Halls in Southern Oregon

Open-to-all town halls on will be May 28-29 in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties

Portland – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced he will hold in-person town halls in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties on May 28-29.

Heading into these four town halls, Wyden will have held 1,081 town halls throughout Oregon – including 16 so far this year — in fulfillment of his pledge to hold at least one town hall each year in each of our state’s 36 counties. The town halls in these four counties originally had been scheduled for April, but had to be postponed because of Senate votes in Washington, DC.

“I’m glad to be able to reschedule these town halls so quickly. I’ll always keep my promise of annual open-to-all town halls in each of our state’s 36 counties because it’s crucial that all Oregonians get the opportunity in their community to ask questions, offer suggestions and share ideas,” Wyden said. “As I approach my 1,100th town hall, these direct town hall discussions remain vital, and I very much look forward to the upcoming discussions with Oregonians in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties.”

·       Josephine County, 12:45 pm, Tuesday, May 28, South Middle School gym, 350 W. Harbeck Rd., Grants Pass 

·       Curry County, 5:30 pm, Tuesday, May 28, Gold Beach Jr/Sr. High School gym, 29516 Ellensburg Ave., Gold Beach

·       Coos County, 10 am, Wednesday, May 29, North Bend High School gym, 2323 Pacific Ave., North Bend (Parking available in lot behind football stadium)

·       Douglas County, 1 pm, Wednesday, May 29, Reedsport Community Charter Jr/Sr. High School, Pacific Auditorium, Reedsport (Enter at the Pacific Auditorium entrance. Please park on Longwood Drive as school will be in session.)

Oregon Serial Killer Fears Sparked by Murders of 5 Women

The deaths of five women in Oregon have sparked serial killer fears in the state. The women, named as Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Bridget Leann Webster, Ashley Real, and Joanna Speaks, were found dead in various locations in and around Portland between February and May 2023.

Last year, Newsweek reported that Jesse Lee Calhoun, a 38-year-old man with a history of criminal activity, had been identified as a person of interest in the deaths of four of the women. A fifth woman, Speaks, has since been linked to the case.

Police in Portland initially said that they did not believe the deaths were connected but have since changed their mind. There is now said to be movement on the case behind the scenes.

Families of the victims spoke to News Nation, with one family member saying that she could see a connection. She said: “Putting their faces together… Either we have a serial killer or five homicidal maniacs. I don’t know which one would be worse.”

Last year, Multnomah County District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement agencies working on the case said in a joint statement that investigators had identified “at least one person of interest” linked to the decedents and had interviewed multiple people as part of the investigation. They did not identify Calhoun or reveal why he is considered a person of interest.

Calhoun was previously convicted on burglary and vehicle theft charges and was serving a prison sentence that was commuted by former Oregon Governor Kate Brown in 2021 due to his participation in a prison firefighting program. This commutation reduced his sentence by about a year. Following his release, the murders took place. Calhoun was then involved in further criminal activity, leading to the revocation of his commutation and his reimprisonment in July 2023 to serve the remaining months of his original sentence.

As reported previously by Newsweek, Jose Real, the father of Ashley Real, said that Calhoun was known to his daughter and that Calhoun had attacked and choked her late in 2022. He went on to say that officers did not arrest Calhoun over the alleged assault. Speaking to The Oregonian at the time, he said: “The police didn’t do their work. And now my daughter is dead.”

The investigation into the deaths of the five women has not yet determined the cause or manner of death for any of the victims and the cases remain unsolved. According to online records reviewed by Newsweek, Calhoun has been incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institution since July 6, 2023. He is due for release on June 9. (SOURCE)

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released new population estimates for cities and towns across the country. Here’s some facts for Oregon:

Portland continued to shrink, though its decline has slowed. Meanwhile, some suburban areas and exurban communities saw population gains. For communities of all sizes, here are four cities in Oregon with most growth.

 Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon

Boardman, a city on the Columbia River with 4,268 residents, was the fastest growing city between July 2022 and July 2023. The city, roughly 160 miles from Portland, saw its population grow nearly 8%, by 313 people, from the prior year’s 3,955.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Boardman has added 424 residents, a population growth over 11%. The city’s growth in recent years may be partly tied to the four giant data centers that Amazon built in the area in recent years, which brought several hundred local jobs tied to its operations.

Happy Valley in Clackamas County, Oregon

Happy Valley’s population grew to 28,409 in July 2023, up 7.5% from 26,438 a year earlier. The Portland suburb’s growth ranked at the top for cities with 20,000 or more people. Since 2020, the city has added 4,368 residents, representing an 18% gain over the years.

Happy Valley began seeing rapid growth in the late 1990s but was hit hard in the foreclosure crisis. It has since bounced back, outpacing most of the metro area in recent years, thanks to land availability and brisk housing development.

Woodburn in Marion County, Oregon

Woodburn gained 1,736 residents in the year leading up to July 2023, a 6.4% increase to 29,033. The mid-Willamette Valley city has added over 3,000 new residents, nearly 12%, since 2020.

Woodburn, situated between Salem and the Portland metro area, has seen a housing and industrial boom over the years. The city is home to Amazon’s new 3.8 million-square-foot warehouse, which is expected to open later this year or early 2025 and employ around 1,500 people.

Phoenix in Jackson County, Oregon

Phoenix, a city neighboring Medford in southern Oregon, gained just over 5% during the year, or 215 people, bringing its population to 4,422. The city has rebounded after shedding its population yearly since 2020.

The city’s population totaled 4,490 in July 2020. During the first year of the pandemic, the city saw its population drop nearly 5%, about 220 people. The city’s population dipped to nearly 4,200 in July 2022. The city’s population losses coincided with the southern Oregon wildfires in 2020 that wiped out hundreds of homes. The fires left more than 2,000 residents without a home. (READ MORE)

Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $6.2 Million to Boost Oregon’s Innovative Wood Products Economy and Support Healthy Forests

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is investing $6,276,170 in 13 projects in Oregon to boost the creation of innovative wood products, develop more markets for uses of mass timber and renewable wood energy, and increase the capacity of wood processing and manufacturing facilities. The federal funding is critical to ensuring the state’s leadership in the wood products industry, while helping to restore healthy forests and reduce wildfire risk.

“Oregon has the best wood products in the world, and this federal funding helps keep our state at the forefront of timber innovation while supporting our rural communities,” said Merkley , who chairs the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee which funds the USFS, and who recently introduced his bipartisan Mass Timber Federal Buildings Act to promote the utilization of mass timber in federal building projects and military construction. “These projects are a win-win to help get wood products to our mills and help reduce wildfire risk on our forests. I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of these investments for the fast-growing industry that’s deeply rooted in Oregon.”

“These federal investments throughout rural Oregon appropriately recognize that wood products and innovation are both synonymous with our state –and will continue to be for generations to come,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act that I worked to pass are producing such significant and immediate gains to reduce wildfire threats and to increase jobs for Oregonians in rural communities from mass timber and renewable wood energy. This all adds up to a big win that gives Oregon lots to build upon.”

The wood products economy is essential to Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest’s economy and environment, as sustainably sourced materials for many types of wood products improves the resiliency of our forests. Removal of small diameter trees and brush to reduce wildfire risk can benefit wildlife all while supporting rural economies.

The investments for Oregon are part of a broader suite of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USFS Wood Innovations Program grants for public, private, and non-profit sectors, totaling $73.9 million for 171 projects across the country this year. This federal funding is made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations.

The 13 projects selected in Oregon are being funded in three Wood Innovations Program grant categories, which are as follows:

Wood Innovation Grants

  • $330,000 for Timberlab, Inc. for its Design for Mass Timber Manufacturing
  • $300,000 for Williams & Russell CDC for its Design for Black Business Hub Mass Timber Building
  • $300,000 for Community Development Partners for its Julia West’ Mass Timber Building Engineering and Design
  • $300,000 for Elk Creek Forest Products for its Resaw Equipment Installation Project
  • $300,000 for Go Lab, Inc. for itsPlanning to Support Increasing Wood Products Manufacturing Capacity in Southern Oregon
  • $299,164 for Oregon State University for itsBringing Point-Supported Mass Timber Structures to Commercial Viability in the USA
  • $125,000 for Jennifer Bonner MALL, LLC for Blank House: A Model for Aspect Ratios in Seismic Zones
  • $50,699 for Brocks Wood Lot, LLC for its Brocks Wood Lot LLC Sawmill Expansion – Phase 1

Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant

  • $981,651 for Iron Triangle LLC for its Iron Triangle Biomass Utilization Efficiency Improvement Project
  • $900,000 for Gilchrist Forest Products, LLC for its Gilchrist Forest Products Chip Reloader Expansion
  • $389,656 for Brocks Wood Lot LLC for its Community Firewood Program Wood Waste Kiln System Installation

Community Wood Grant

  • $1 million for CutMyTimber for Expansion of Mass Timber Fabrication Capacity
  • $1 million for Timberlab, Inc for its Timberlab Mass Timber Fabrication Expansion

State wildfire agencies prepared to respond to fire season but will need more staff in future

State wildfire leaders say they are struggling to attract more firefighters due to limited housing and low wages

The state’s top wildfire responders say they are prepared for the approaching wildfire season, but they are concerned about adding staff and resources in the future amid expectations that wildfires will increase. 

At a news conference last Wednesday, the leaders of the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management discussed the upcoming wildfire season, which typically begins in mid-May. They predicted a relatively average risk of wildfire through May and June, with a potentially greater risk in eastern Oregon in July and August, when drought and high wind conditions are possible.

Snowpack across Oregon is about average, and it’s been an El Niño winter and spring, which means conditions have been wetter-than-normal. Drought conditions statewide are better than last year but dry conditions persist in some parts of the state, which typically has about 2,000 wildfires a year that burn around 600,000 acres, state data shows. 

Chris Cline, interim chief of the fire protection division of the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the agency has the staff and equipment needed for the current year, but that finding and recruiting firefighters has been difficult and will continue to be a challenge in the years ahead. 

“The workforce is decreasing and shrinking, and it’s becoming very problematic,” Cline said. 

The Oregon Department of Forestry depends on more than 700 permanent and seasonal wildfire fighters, on top of the 11,000 structural firefighters who focus on protecting people, buildings and homes in towns and cities across the state. About 70% of those structural firefighters are volunteers, according to Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Oregon State Fire Marshal, and far more are needed.

“Capacity has gone down over the last 10 years and fires are increasing,” she said. “The Oregon volunteer system is truly the backbone of the Oregon fire service.” 

Cline added that incentives from the federal government for wildfire fighters, such as bonuses and higher pay, could draw those firefighters away from state and local agencies. Also, a lack of housing supply and affordable housing in parts of the state make recruitment difficult, Cline said.

Nevertheless, he added, “We have what we need right now, and we will be prepared to protect Oregonians this summer.” 

In recent years, state fire agencies have added aircraft and cameras for monitoring fires. They’ve also used state and federal grants to boost seasonal firefighter numbers and to purchase more engines, machines and equipment, while undertaking more preventative prescribed burns.

Cline said agencies are increasing the number of prescribed burns amid a recognition that they are needed to destroy ground brush and other fuel that’s been built up over the years and traditionally was burned off by lightning and tribes conducting low-intensity broadcast burns. 

“This is all trying to get (the land) health back to a more natural state,” Cline said. (SOURCE)

State holding open house meetings on community wildfire programs

SALEM, Ore. — A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map. 

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs. 

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website.

Background: The 2021 Legislature passed Senate Bill 762 that required the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022, in collaboration with Oregon State University. After the initial version of the map was rescinded August 4, 2022, ODF and OSU began gathering feedback and incorporating it into future mapping efforts. 

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements. 

Written comment or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to ehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov“>odf.wildfirehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov.

A Centennial High School teacher is on leave as Gresham police investigate reports of inappropriate behavior towards students.

The behavior was reported to school staff earlier this week, according to the police. Police ask anyone with information about the case to contact Detective Mark Hawley at mark.hawley@greshamoregon.gov or 503-618-3199.

Wyden Demands Intuit Help Oregonians Whose Use of TurboTax Misled Them into Overpaying State Taxes

Senate Finance Committee Chair: “Fixing this error will require identifying all affected Oregonians, notifying them, and ensuring they can be made whole.”

– U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today demanded that Intuit make whole all Oregon taxpayers whose recent use of the company’s TurboTax product incorrectly led them to overpay their state tax.

In a letter to Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi, Wyden cited a recent report that a TurboTax software error opted Oregon taxpayers into claiming the standard deduction on their state taxes when itemizing would have produced a larger refund. Wyden noted the Oregon Department of Revenue notified Intuit of the problem in early April, but the company failed to acknowledge it until a few days before the April 15 filing deadline.

“Fixing this error will require identifying all affected Oregonians, notifying them, and ensuring they can be made whole,” wrote Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “In part because of TurboTax’s various guarantees and market share, Oregonians who overpaid due to TurboTax’s error likely assumed the software opted them into claiming state standard deduction to minimize their taxes. That assumption was wrong.”

“And because the vast majority of taxpayers understandably dread filing season and avoid thinking about taxes after it ends, many of those affected will not learn on their own that they overpaid,” Wyden wrote. “Intuit must inform them and help them get the full tax refunds they are entitled to receive.”

Wyden has been a longtime critic of deceptive advertising by Intuit and a strong supporter of Direct File, the new free tax tool available in some states to let taxpayers file federal taxes directly with the IRS.

“TurboTax encourages customers to ‘File with confidence knowing your tax return is backed by America’s #1 tax preparation provider. Its “Maximum Refund Guarantee” states that ‘[i]f you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, we’ll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid,’’’ Wyden wrote. “Intuit has a history of deceptive advertising, but I expect it to make good on this guarantee.”

Wyden asked Intuit to answer the following questions by May 15 to help the Finance Committee understand the extent of its problems in Oregon and address them:

  • When and how did Intuit first learn of the problem, what steps did it take to investigate, and what steps did it take to mitigate the problem after it was confirmed?
  • How does Intuit test TurboTax to identify and eliminate errors in its software that would cause taxpayers to over or underpay?
  • How did this quality control process fail in this case involving Oregon’s state return?
  • How will Intuit prevent this or other similar problems from reoccurring?
  • How many Oregon customers were or may have been affected in this case?
  • Has Intuit investigated whether its software made a similar error in other states?
  • What steps will Intuit take to inform affected customers that they overpaid state tax due to a TurboTax error? 
  • Will Intuit help affected taxpayers file amended returns? How so, and at what cost?
  • If Oregonians discover they overpaid due to the TurboTax error, what steps will Intuit require they take to obtain a refund for the cost of filing a state return?
  • Will Intuit proactively send refunds of the TurboTax purchase price to customers who were affected?

The entire letter is here.

Tax day is not over for thousands of Oregonians. Some 12,000 Oregonians might be getting thousands of dollars in refunds due to TurboTax error

Intuit, a Silicon Valley company that makes the popular Turbotax software, has contacted more than 12,000 taxpayers who used it to file their state and federal returns, telling them they may have paid more than they should have because of an error in the software. 

The error was discovered by an Oregon Department of Revenue employee and involved directing people to take the standard deduction when itemizing expenses would have lowered their tax bill. 

The company initially downplayed the impact of the error, saying few had been affected, according to reporting by The Oregonian/OregonLive, but after being pressed by the revenue department it found that as many as 12,000 people were affected, with thousands of dollars at stake.

The company also came under pressure from Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He wrote to Intuit’s CEO, Sasan Goodarzi, on May 2, noting that the company urges customers to “file with confidence” and has a maximum refund guarantee that includes a refund for buying the software. 

“Fixing this error will require identifying all affected Oregonians, notifying them and ensuring they can be made whole,” Wyden wrote. “In part because of TurboTax’s various guarantees and market share, Oregonians who overpaid due to TurboTax’s error likely assumed the software opted them into claiming state standard deduction to minimize their taxes. That assumption was wrong.”

Intuit has promised to refund the original purchase price for the software to affected customers, something which Wyden expects to happen.

“Intuit has a history of deceptive advertising but I expect it to make good on this guarantee,” Wyden said.

The 12,000 Oregonians now face filing an amended return and possibly waiting six months for money back, which is how long it can take for officials to process returns if they have errors or are missing information.

Taxpayers need to fill out amended returns following Turbotax instructions – either using the online or desktop versions – and then printing them out and mailing them to the Department of Revenue at  P.O. Box 14700, Salem, OR, 97309-0930. Taxpayers can also drop them off at a revenue office or use the state’s online tax filing service. The state offers instructions on this website.

To avoid a months long wait for money, the state officials advised filers to:

  • File a complete amended return, including the federal form and all schedules that were with the original filing.
  • Check the “Amended Return” box on the first page.
  • Use a current address even if it is different from the one on the original return. 
  • Provide direct deposit information; otherwise the department will send a check. 
  • Sign the amended return.

Tax filers can also call 844-333-2161 Monday  through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and mention “2023 Oregon itemized deductions” to an expert who can help. (SOURCE)

Protect Our Waters – Waterway Cleanup Series Seeks Volunteers for Summer Events

The annual Waterway Cleanup Series, a collaborative effort between SOLVE and Clackamas Water Environment Services, has launched its 2024 iteration with a highly successful kickoff event at Meldrum Bar Park in Gladstone. The event, held on May 9, brought together 36 volunteers who joined forces to clean the vegetation and wetlands along the picturesque Willamette River, collectively picking up 100 pounds of trash and preventing it from reaching the waterways.

The Waterway Cleanup Series, spanning from May to September, is a vital initiative aimed at elevating the cleanliness of rivers, streams, and creeks throughout the region. Each year, SOLVE and Clackamas Water Environment Services join forces to actively promote and support a diverse range of litter cleanup projects, all geared towards preserving and enhancing the health of our precious waterways.

“We are thrilled to launch another season of the Waterway Cleanup Series, a true testament to the power of community and environmental stewardship,” said Kris Carico, CEO of SOLVE. “As we embark on this journey together, I urge individuals and families to seize this opportunity to make a tangible impact on the environment while connecting with nature and each other. Hosting or joining a cleanup event is not just about picking up trash; it’s about fostering a sense of responsibility and pride in our local ecosystems, ensuring they remain vibrant and healthy for generations to come.”

Get Involved! — We’re calling on individuals, businesses, community groups, and organizations to host cleanup events along their favorite waterways throughout the summer months. By organizing or joining a cleanup event, everyone plays a crucial role in preventing trash from polluting our rivers. More information and details about the family-friendly Watershed Discovery Day on June 1st can be found on our website: https://www.solveoregon.org/waterway-series

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

About Clackamas Water Environment Services — Clackamas Water Environment Services (WES) produces clean water, protects water quality, and recovers renewable resources. We do this by providing wastewater services, stormwater management, and environmental education. It’s our job to protect public health and support the vitality of our communities, natural environment and economy.

Registration Open For Inaugural Oregon Native Trout Challenge

Anglers, grab your favorite fishing rig and a map, as registration is now open for the inaugural Oregon Native Trout Challenge.

Basalt to Breakers, an Oregon nonprofit with fiscal sponsorship by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, is launching the Oregon Native Trout Challenge to encourage anglers to explore new waters, celebrate the diversity of Oregon’s native trout fisheries and support projects that conserve our native trout species.

“The challenge is intended to be a celebration of Oregon’s native trout species and the ecosystems that support their populations. We intentionally made this challenge different from other native trout challenges to encourage people to explore the diverse ecosystems that Oregon offers,” said B2B Founder Max McCool. “Completing the challenge consists of catching and taking a picture of any native trout species caught in each of Oregon’s eight ecoregions and submitting the location, date, and species through our online form,” continued McCool.

The Challenge is catch-and-release. “We want to ensure that each participant follows ODFW regulations throughout the challenge and isn’t putting additional pressure on any vulnerable species,” said McCool.

Each catch must be documented according to the Challenge rules to count. A one-time entry fee of $35 offsets the administrative costs of the challenge with net proceeds used for habitat restoration, trout conservation, and education projects. Beyond learning more about Oregon’s native trout species and our diverse ecoregions, the Oregon Native Trout Challenge seeks to encourage advocacy for local fisheries.

“In Oregon, salmon get the lion’s share of attention, but Oregon has stellar trout fishing throughout our state. What I like most about the Oregon Native Trout Challenge is that it encourages anglers to explore more of what Oregon has to offer,” said Tim Greseth, Oregon Wildlife Foundation’s executive director. 

Participants can register at https://owhf.tofinoauctions.com/b2bchallenge24/homepages/show. For more information, visit www.basalttobreakers.org

Basalt to Breakers — is a nonprofit corporation registered in the State of Oregon. The mission of Basalt to Breakers is to inspire, educate and engage all anglers throughout Oregon in native trout conservation projects. Basalt to Breakers is sponsored by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation. https://basalttobreakers.org/

Oregon Wildlife Foundation — is an apolitical operating charitable foundation dedicated to increasing private and public funding support for wildlife conservation projects in Oregon. Since 1981, OWF has directed tens of millions of dollars in private and public support to a broad range of projects throughout Oregon. For more information, visit www.myOWF.org.

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

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

State Parks Day Events

Several free special events are planned June 1 to celebrate State Parks Day:

Carl G. Washburne: Hot dog BBQ noon-1 p.m. in campground B Loop, across from site 32.

Fort Stevens: Come and play disc golf 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lil’ Oozlefinch Putting Course.  Make a putt, win a special prize! Loaner discs available to use.  Giveaways and prizes for all who attend. 

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail – Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead: Rangers and park partners will be at the Visitor Center 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with information and self-guided activities.

Jessie Honeyman: Hot dog BBQ 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the back patio of the Historic Cleawox Lodge.

L.L. Stub Stewart: The Friends of Stub Stewart State Park encourages all to come to the Community Fair at the Hilltop Day-use Area Picnic Shelter 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the booths and tables hosted by local fire departments, state forestry agencies, and local volunteer organizations.  There will also be interpretive displays and arts and crafts activities for everyone.

Milo McIver:  Join a park ranger at the Interpretive Shelter for a Plant Identification Scavenger Hunt 10-11 a.m. Learn about the different traits of plants and how to determine which species grow within the park. Plan to spend approximately 20-30 minutes learning about edible fruits and prickly plants and then 30 minutes on the trail completing the scavenger hunt. 

Silver Falls State Park: Learn about the emerald ash borer (EAB) and its role as a threat to Oregon’s ash trees. Oregon State Parks and Oregon Department of Forestry staff will be on hand 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to share information about this destructive pest at the Discovery Table in the Stone Circle in the South Falls day-use area. 

Spring Valley Access: Easy, ½-mile guided hike exploring native plants 11 a.m. Meet at the main parking lot near 8900 Wallace Road NW, Salem, OR, 97304. 

The Cove Palisades: Festival of the Landis a free festival that celebrates the diverse history, food and culture of Central Oregon 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event includes Dutch oven cooking demonstrations, kids’ games and activities, petting “zoo”, mini farmers market, pollinator, wildfire, and fish displays, and more. 

Visit the stateparks.oregon.gov event calendar for a list of additional events this summer.

For camping availability, please check oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com or visit first-come-first served sites: https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=reserve.first-come

About Oregon Parks and Recreation Department – The mission of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is to provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations. The department manages 254 Oregon State Parks comprising more than 100,000 acres. Learn more at stateparks.oregon.gov.

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

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

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

Open-Air Train Rides in June!
Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Saturday, June 1 and Saturday, June 29

1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:00pm

Adults: $15; Kiddos 3-12: $10; Children 2 and under ride free (on lap); Military & Seniors: $13.50

Join us for a 45-minute train ride in open air rail cars along the Willamette River in the heart of Portland. Excellent for viewing wildlife, paddleboarders and Oaks Park rides!

Open air cars are pulled by a diesel locomotive and depart from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center at 2250 SE Water Avenue in Portland, Oregon. Be sure to save a little time before or after to check out the museum.

Visit www.orhf.org/Saturday-train-rides for ticketing and more information.

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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