Willamette Valley News, Monday 6/24 – U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials Update, Stranded Kayakers Rescued by Sweet Home Fire & 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, June 24, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

U.S. Olympic Track And Field Team Trials

Snoop Dog at the trials- He is part of broadcast team for the Olympics in Paris
Start of the Women’s 400m

It’s been amazing to watch the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials over the weekend.

The trials began June 21, and conclude June 30 at Hayward Field in Eugene. At least one final race will be held during each evening session.


The eight-day competition ends June 30 and will determine who will qualify to be inside the State de France in northern Paris when the track and field portion of the Summer Games begins Aug. 2.

With an increase in tourism and traffic expected to hit the Eugene and Springfield area, here’s all you need to know about the street closures, transportation services, and parking plans available for attendees.

Road closures planned around Hayward Field

Hayward Field is located at the University of Oregon at 1530 Agate Street in Eugene. To accommodate the event, parking lots and streets around the stadium will be closed.

On Monday night, East 18th Ave. and Agate Street closed to the public. Portions of East 15th Ave. and East 17th Ave. near Hayward Field were also blocked off from traffic.

Starting Friday, access to East 13th Ave. and University Street will be limited to use for University of Oregon business. The following parking lots on campus will be closed to permit holders:

VIEW SCHEDULE HERE: https://www.usatf.org/events/2024/2024-u-s-olympic-team-trials-%E2%80%94-track-field/schedule

While the track and field trials are a long event, held over eight days, there’s no better place to see Olympic athletes compete than Hayward Field.

Here’s how to get tickets for the competition: https://am.ticketmaster.com/haywardtrackandfield/buy — MORE INFO: https://www.usatf.org/events/2024/2024-u-s-olympic-team-trials-%E2%80%94-track-field

RESULTS: https://www.flipsnack.com/USATF/2024-usott-track-field-final-results/full-view.html

Stranded Kayakers Rescued by Sweet Home Fire

Saturday at 12:01 pm Sweet Home Fire was dispatched to a report of two stranded kayakers who had flipped their kayaks while traversing the rapids beneath the Green Peter Dam.

The kayakers were traveling down river when the water levels quickly began to rise due to the water being let out of the dam. This increase in water flow caused the rapids to become much stronger and they were unable to maintain control of their kayaks causing them to flip. The individuals were able to swim to shore but found themselves trapped on a rock outcropping between the water and thick brush/briars at the base of a very steep hillside.

Sweet Home Fire responded with a Battalion Chief vehicle, one medic unit, and one rescue vehicle with a total of eight personnel. Once on scene, the Incident Commander was able to make visual contact with the stranded kayakers who were approximately 200 feet down near the waters edge. A lowering system was made so that rescuers wearing harnesses were able to safely navigate down the embankment while clearing the thick vegetation with a machete. Once contact with the kayakers was made, it was determined that they were shaken but uninjured and were able to be assisted back up the embankment to the road.

This is a good reminder that Green Peter Dam routinely lets water out which can quickly and drastically change the condition of the river below it. Be prepared with proper safety equipment and plan accordingly when enjoying our local waterways.

Sweet Home Fire Dist. – North River Drive Crash Sends One by Life Flight

Saturday at 9:03 pm Sweet Home Fire was dispatched to a report of a motor vehicle crash on North River Drive near Gedney Creek boat ramp. Initial information reported the passenger of the involved vehicle had been ejected with one other patient on scene. 

Sweet Home Fire responded with a Battalion Chief vehicle, two medic units, and a rescue vehicle with a total of nine personnel. The incident commander arrived and found a heavily damaged vehicle had struck a group of trees. The ejected occupant was found approximately thirty feet from where the vehicle came to a stop and the driver was able to self extricate with minor injuries. 

Due to the severity of the passengers injuries a Life Flight helicopter was requested to transport the patient. Medics packaged and transported the patient to the helipad located at the Samaritan Urgent Care and transferred care to the Life Flight crew.  This is the seventh crash Sweet Home Fire has been dispatched to since Friday morning. 

Firefighters Respond to House Fire Near Downtown Eugene

Eugene Springfield Fire responded to a house fire near downtown Eugene Saturday morning.  

At 10:53 AM on 6/22/24 ESF responded to a reported window A/C unit on fire at 60 W 17th Ave. A Passerby reported smoke and fire from a window air conditioning unit that was spreading to the interior of the house.  ESF responded with 4 Engines, 1 Truck Company, 2 Battalion Chiefs, and an ALS Ambulance. 

Fire crews performed a primary search of the structure (locating two deceased dogs), extinguished the fire, then performed extensive overhaul. ESF Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause. The fire was contained to the building of origin and there were no other injuries reported.

Firefighter Rescues Woman and Child in The McKenzie River

May be an image of 4 people, boat, jet ski and text
(Photo credit, Chris Piestch RG) 

Eugene Springfield Fire was called to a water rescue on the McKenzie River behind Riverbend Hospital.  At 2:23 PM on Friday June 21st, a 11 year old caller called Central Lane 911 reporting they were trapped in the current and screaming for help. 

CLCC dispatchers were able to determine where the call was coming from and quickly dispatch ESF crews to the correct location behind the hospital. 

One of ESF’s water rescue team members was assigned to Medic 6 for the shift and they were clearing the hospital when the call came in.  Firefighter Corbari immediate donned his water rescue gear and ran to the river with his partner. 

The crew was able to quickly locate a 27 year old female tangled up by ropes and branches in a strainer (a deadly collection of trees and branches in the current) and the 11 year old in the boat caught in the strainer.  The 27 year old was not wearing a life vest, but the 11 year old was. 

FF Corbari recognized the life threatening situation and jumped in to action risking his own safety to cut the female free and guiding both to safety awaiting ESF water rescue boats to transport everyone to Armitage Landing. Firefighter Corbari is one of our newest water rescue members, completing his specialty training a little over 1 month ago.

Sweet Home Crews Respond to a Vehicle That Crashed into Foster Lake

At 5:13 pm Friday evening Sweet Home Fire was dispatched for a report of a vehicle into the water off of the Foster Dam. Bystanders reported that they witnessed the crash and did not see any occupants escape the vehicle. A Sweet Home ambulance crew was the first to arrive at the scene along with Officers from Sweet Home Police Department.

One firefighter and one officer went over the bank to the scene where bystanders were in the water over top of the vehicle attempting to reach it and searching for any occupants. The firefighter entered the water and with the use of an SCBA made continuous attempts to access the inside of the vehicle, which was submerged in an estimated 6 feet of water, to search for the occupants.

A Linn County Sheriff’s Office boat, which was already on Foster Lake at the time of the incident, arrived on scene and supported rescue efforts. Sweet Home Fire crews arrived with a second boat, a second ambulance, and an Incident Commander. Attempts to locate any occupants of the vehicle were unsuccessful.

The rescue operations were terminated after approximately 45 minutes of searching, and the scene was turned over to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office who were awaiting their dive team’s arrival. At this time it is suspected that the driver was the only occupant. Linn County Sheriff’s Office will be handling the investigation. No other details are available at this time.

Firefighters Respond to Food Truck Fire in Eugene

Eugene Springfield Fire responded to a food truck fire located at 90330 HWY 99 North in Eugene Friday Morning.  Firefighters were called to the scene at 8:51 AM. 

Initially reposted as a small structure fire, ESF responded with 3 engines and truck and chief officer. The fire was contained to the food truck and two bystanders were treated for smoke and extinguisher inhalation.  The cause is under investigation.

Deer Ridge Correctional Institution reports in-custody death of Lane County Resident

Steven D. Illman
Steven D. Illman

An Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) adult in custody, Steven Dietrich Illmann, died June 22, 2024. Illmann was incarcerated at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI) in Madras and passed away at a local hospital. As with all in-custody deaths, the Oregon State Police have been notified, and the medical examiner will determine cause of death.

Illmann entered DOC custody on June 16, 2022, from Lane County with an earliest release date of August 31, 2026. Illmann was 60 years old. Next of kin has been notified.  

DOC takes all in-custody deaths seriously. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of 14,500 individuals who are incarcerated in 14 institutions across the state. While crime information is public record, DOC elects to disclose only upon request out of respect for any family or victims.

Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI) is located four miles east of Madras in central Oregon. DRCI is a multi-custody prison that currently houses 947 minimum-custody incarcerated adults. DRCI provides a range of correctional programs and services including education and trades programs, mental health treatment, cognitive and parenting programs, and institution work crews. Construction began in October 2005 with the first minimum-security adults in custody (AICs) arriving in September 2007. DRCI is the largest minimum-custody facility in the state.

Lane County Firewise Grant Program open for applications

Lane County’s Firewise Grant Incentive Program is accepting applications from residents in unincorporated Lane County beginning May 31 through 4:00 p.m. on June 27, 2024.

Firewise grants provide rural property owners with funding to help complete projects that reduce the risk of wildfire, such as clearing vegetation, replacing wood shake roofing, fire-resistant landscaping materials, noncombustible exterior siding, chimney spark arrestors, and more. Up to $15,500 in grant funding is available for each qualifying property. 

Apply online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/firewise. Paper applications are also available at the Lane County Public Works Customer Service Center (3050 North Delta Highway, Eugene). 

Firewise grants are funded through Title III of the Federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Program – Section 601 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. 

2024 Mid-Willamette Valley Interagency Wildland Fire School begins June 24 in Sweet Home

(Sweet Home, OR) Approximately 170 wildland firefighters and instructors will convene in Sweet Home during the last week of June to take part in the annual five day Mid-Willamette Valley Interagency Wildland Fire School. Officials from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and US Fish and Wildlife Service host the yearly training to prepare new firefighters for the rigors of fighting fire, both in Oregon’s forests and in rural-urban interface areas.

Co-Incident Commanders Chris Mushrush, Fire Planner for Northwest Oregon Interagency Fire Management, and Craig Pettinger, District Forester for ODF South Cascade District, are leading the effort to train firefighters in tactical skills and safety.

“Fire School provides crucial education and training in wildland fire to new firefighters and gives veteran firefighters a chance to refresh their skills and explore leadership opportunities. It’s also an important opportunity to strengthen interagency ties and collaboration.” said Mushrush. 

Trainees will learn about fire behavior, suppression tactics, weather, map and compass use, teamwork, leadership, safety, use of engines, tools and hose lays, and fire investigation. In order to get a taste of life in a real fire camp students will sleep in tents at Sweet Home High School and eat their meals in a group.

The training culminates with a live fire exercise on Friday, June 28just outside of Sweet Home. This presents trainees with a final challenge: applying their newly acquired skills and techniques to suppress and mop-up a real fire.

“Cascade Timber Consulting, a local forest landowner, provides a new field site each year and we are very grateful,” added Pettinger. “The live fire exercise provides an invaluable training experience – working in smoke, hiking through uneven terrain, and working closely with crew members to dig fireline – these are all things they’ll experience this season as wildland firefighters.”

Safety principles of fire training include wearing protective gear, safe use of tools and looking out for hazards. “Safety is paramount in every aspect of wildland firefighting, and it begins with our training exercises,” continued Pettinger. “Working together in a collaborative training setting improves communications and builds effective relationships for all agencies to draw on during fire season.”

This year, the field site that will be used for the live fire exercise is located north of Foster Lake approximately 2 miles northeast of Sweet Home. Fire officials urge the public to use caution as there will be increased fire traffic in the area and the potential for visible smoke on Friday, June 28. 

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

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


Fire Season in Full Swing with Fires All Around the State

Upper Applegate Fire

State Fire Marshal mobilizes two task forces to the Upper Applegate fire in Jackson County

SALEM, Ore. – This morning, the Oregon State Fire Marshal mobilized two structural task forces to the Upper Applegate Fire in Jackson County. The task forces are from Lane and Polk counties and were mobilized through Immediate Response, a tool the state fire marshal uses to send firefighting resources outside of a conflagration. The structural task forces will support the Applegate Valley Fire District.   

Report Image
Image from Watch Duty – https://app.watchduty.org/#/i/22540

ODF Morning Update:

Despite numerous hazards, firefighters are making good progress on the fire, one of two reported within 15 minutes on Thursday afternoon. The fire is burning on extremely steep terrain affecting private, BLM, and U.S. Forest Servie land on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

This morning resources will continue to build and strengthen the lines that were dug on both blanks of the Upper Applegate Fire. Wind and terrain pushed the flames up a steep gill creating a long and skinny fire footprint. The majority of each side is currently line, however the most easter portion still remains uncontrolled. Firefighter are working to gain access and put line in that area. Today 108 personnel are assigned to the incident, including four 20-person crews, two engines, two water tenders and two bulldozers. Three helicopters are also assigned to work exclusively on this fire, including a Type 1, 2, and 3. Additional aircraft will be ordered as needed. Approximately a dozen homes were protected from this fire yesterday and overnight; structure protection will continue to be a priority as resources work today.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, as of Friday morning, the Upper Applegate Fire was estimated to be 500 acres in size. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has Level 1 Be Ready evacuation notices in place for homes near the fire. You can find the latest evacuation map here and information about evacuations here

“Our priority is to proactively protect our communities from the threat of wildfires. We’re sending resources to boost capacity and support the Applegate Valley Fire District until the fire is contained,” said Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. “With warm, dry weather in the forecast, the risk of wildfires is heightened across Oregon. We urge everyone to help our firefighters by taking preventive measures to avoid sparking a wildfire this summer and follow all burning restrictions.” 

For information about the fire, please follow the Oregon Department of Forestry – Southwest District. Learn how to be #WildfireAware this summer by following these wildfire prevention tips

About Immediate Response — Immediate Response is made possible through the OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon initiative, created through Oregon’s wildfire omnibus bill, Senate Bill 762, signed into law in 2021.  

LEARN MORE: Response Ready Oregon 

Oregon State Fire Marshal urges Oregonians to keep firework use legal and safe
Oregon State Fire Marshal – 06/21/24 2:34 PM

SALEM, Ore. – With fireworks set to go on sale on Sunday, “Keep it legal, keep it safe” is the message from the Oregon State Fire Marshal. The 2024 fireworks retail sales season begins on June 23 and runs through July 6 in Oregon. The state fire marshal would like everyone to know which fireworks are legal to use, where fireworks can be used, and how to use them safely. 

“We ask Oregonians to be responsible if they plan to use fireworks as part of their celebrations,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Assistant Chief Deputy Mark Johnston said. “Every year, we see fires and injuries because of improper use of fireworks or illegal fireworks. Our message is simple: keep it legal and keep it safe.”  
To reduce the risk of starting a fire, some local governments in Oregon have firework sales or use restrictions in place. Oregonians are asked to check local regulations and follow them where they live or where they may be traveling to celebrate the Fourth of July. 

Consumer-legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted fireworks retailers and stands. State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used, including public lands and parks. The possession and use of fireworks are prohibited in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on state beaches, in state parks, and in state campgrounds. Fireworks are also prohibited on many private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. 

For those who purchase legal fireworks, fire officials encourage everyone to practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use: 

  • Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket. 
  • Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks. Never use fireworks near or on dry grass or vegetation. 
  • Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Please wait 15 to 20 minutes, then soak spent fireworks in a bucket of water before disposal. 
  • Be aware: use only legal fireworks in legal places. 

Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground without a permit issued by the state fire marshal. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon without a permit. Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor which could result in a fine of up to $2,500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damages. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. 

The Oregon State Fire Marshal has resources about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, retail sale permits, and state rules for firework use and enforcement activities to its website

Former Asante Nurse Accused Of Diverting Fentanyl From Hospital Patients In Medford Posts Bail And Is Out Of Jail

A former Asante nurse charged with 44 counts of second-degree assault on accusations she allegedly harmed patients by swapping prescription pain medication IVs with non-sterile tap water has posted bail a little over one week after her arrest by Medford police.

Dani Marie Schofield, 36, was seen entering the lobby from a restricted area of the Jackson County Jail just after 10:40 a.m. Friday. Schofield was wearing dark sunglasses, a sweatsuit and slippers, carrying a plastic bag of personal belongings as she greeted two men who had been waiting for at least an hour prior to her appearance.

Former Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center nurse Dani Marie Schofield, middle, leaves the Jackson County Jail Friday, June 21, 2024, after posting $400,000 bond. Schofield was arrested Thursday, June 20, 2024, after an investigation into alleged drug diversion that harmed patients at the Medford, Oregon, hospital. (Rogue Valley Times / Jamie Lusch)Jamie Rusch, Rogue Valley Times

After embracing both for several long moments, Schofield was led out between the two men and quietly walked to a pickup truck parked along West 8th Street. Asked if she wanted to offer comment, Schofield and the two men only stared ahead, the younger of the two men rubbing her back as they walked away.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Aaron Lewis confirmed Friday morning that a wire transfer for $400,000 — 10% of her $4 million bail — had been processed through the Jackson County Circuit Court.

Following Schofield’s release Friday morning, an update to circuit court records included a notice of representation, timestamped Thursday afternoon. Schofield is being represented in her criminal case by Kristen Winemiller and Lisa Maxfield of Pacific Northwest Law of Portland.

Schofield’s arrest last Thursday at a residence outside Eagle Point marked a major development in the high-profile drug-diversion case that began in December 2023. Asante officials reached out to the Medford Police Department after conducting its own internal investigation into a spike in central line infections at Rogue Regional Medical Center. Medford police handed the results of its investigation over to the DA’s office in late April.

Last Friday, Schofield pleaded not guilty during her arraignment before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Cromwell.

During Schofield’s first court appearance, Cromwell set bail at $4 million and advised Schofield that, if she posted bail, her release would come with stipulations: She cannot consume intoxicants; have contact with surviving Asante victims, or Asante or its property except for emergency services; or provide care to anyone 65 or older, or who has a disability.

On Tuesday, family members of three alleged victims — former patients of Schofield’s who all died after developing life-threatening infections — contacted the Rogue Valley Times saying they had been notified by victim advocates for the Jackson County Circuit Court just after 3 p.m. that Schofield was expected to post bail and be released Tuesday evening.

Courts were closed on Wednesday for Juneteenth with Schofield still being held in solitary confinement, which she explained to Cromwell during her arraignment was for her safety from other inmates, and because Medford police had publicly identified her following her arrest. Finalization of the bond money took three days from Tuesday’s wire transfer initialization.

Victims and attorneys representing alleged victims or families of victims expressed a range of emotions, from disappointment to anger, at being told that Schofield was being released. (SOURCE)

ODF sends 19 firefighters to New Mexico

– This week the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) filled an order to send 19 firefighters to New Mexico to assist in fighting numerous, out of control wildfires. Many of the firefighters arrived in the state today and the rest will arrive within the next day. The two-week rotation with our New Mexico partners will allow our firefighters to brush up on their skills before Oregon’s fire season hits its peak later this summer. 

The firefighters went to New Mexico under mutual assistance agreements between the states. When wildfire activity is low in Oregon, firefighters can be spared to help in places experiencing high levels of wildfire. So far in 2024, Oregon has deployed:

  • 48 firefighters to Texas
  • 14 firefighters to Alaska
  • Five firefighters to California
  • Two firefighters to Tennessee
  • One firefighter to Washington
  • One firefighter to Florida
  • One firefighter to New Mexico (this deployment is separate from the current one)

Oregon can and has called on those same states to send firefighters and equipment when wildfires here exceed local capacity.

“These agreements help bolster the complete and coordinated fire protection system across the continent and create a cache of reciprocal resources for all of us to call on when needed.” Chris Cline, ODF’s Fire Protection Division Chief, explained. 

So why does Oregon send resources to help other states? Through these mutual assistance agreements with other states, including Alaska, Hawaii and NW Canadian territories, we can share resources with one another, creating a larger, faster comprehensive fire management system.   

“We do our best to answer the call when it comes in from any of our wildland partners as we’ve been on the other side of the equation and we understand how difficult it can be to need help so desperately,” said Cline. “But know that we don’t share these resources without appropriate vetting. Before committing to any out-of-state deployment, we make sure that our own fire management system is still adequately staffed and ready to respond to fires here in Oregon. Serving Oregonians is our first and primary priority.”  

Updated At 12:15 p.m., June 21, 2024 (Portland, Ore.) – On the first day of the illegal lockout by Providence, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) reports that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has confirmed ONA’s interpretation of Oregon’s nurse staffing law underlying its complaints against Providence. The letter from OHA, delivered to ONA late on June 20, comes as hundreds of nurses from six different Providence facilities across Oregon are picketing in front of their hospitals today and tomorrow in response to an illegal lockout of nurses.  
ONA has consistently communicated to Providence, since the negotiation of the safe staffing law in 2023, that adequate staffing is essential for nurse retention. This week, nurses visibly demonstrated the critical need for proper staffing levels through their three-day strike and continued picketing in the face of an illegal lockout of nurses.  

Safe staffing has been a key issue in contract negotiations, and Providence’s inability to meet these essential requirements, coupled with efforts to undermine the staffing law, significantly influenced the nurses’ decision to strike. 

Providence submitted staffing plans to OHA for approval that were never agreed upon by nurses and were unilaterally adopted by management without the required approval from the nurse staffing committee. According to OHA, such an action would violate Oregon’s staffing law, as ONA represented nurses have been claiming. Additionally, Providence’s proposals at the bargaining table sought to eliminate the legal requirement for staffing committee agreement, which nurses have steadfastly refused to accept. 

On Sunday morning, more than 3,000 unionized nurses across six hospitals returned to work after walking off the job on Tuesday.

Nurses went on strike because, according to the Oregon Nurses Association, they’re fighting for better wages and working conditions.

Contract negotiations stalled between the ONA and Providence. As of Sunday afternoon, no bargaining sessions are scheduled.

(Medford, Ore.) – Providence Medford Medical Center has canceled the bargaining session with the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) scheduled for June 24, 2024. The bargaining session was intended to include a federal mediator but, when no mediator was available, ONA nurses offered to meet with Providence Medford executives anyway, seeking to make progress on a fair contract as soon as possible.  

According to an email sent to ONA representatives on June 21, Providence decided not to participate in the bargaining session without the mediator and instead wants to reschedule for mid to late July. 

“Providence has consistently accused ONA of canceling bargaining dates in the press, but here we see Providence doing the same thing they accuse nurses of doing,” said ONA Chief of Staff Scott Palmer. “Our nurses engaged in a good faith effort to continue working towards a resolution and a fair contract, but Providence said no.” 

Hundreds of nurses and supporters have been gathered outside Providence Medford for the past 5 days, rallying for fair treatment and better working conditions. Despite the hardships imposed by both the three-day strike and the illegal two-day lockout, nurses have stood ready to return to the negotiating table in good faith.  

ONA remains committed to seeking a fair contract and we will respond to Providence’s request to push bargaining back to July once we have determined our bargaining team’s availability.  

Oregon’s Nonfarm Payroll Employment Rises by 4,000 in May

Salem, OR  In May, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,000 jobs, following a revised gain of 2,400 jobs in April. Health care and social assistance gained 1,900 jobs in May, while leisure and hospitality added 1,000. Monthly declines were largest in retail trade (-800) and construction (-400).

Private-sector job growth has been very slow over the year, gaining 3,500 jobs (+0.2%). Health care and social assistance was the primary source of growth with a solid gain of 16,200 jobs (+5.7%). All four component industries have been adding jobs at a rapid clip. Elsewhere in the private sector, manufacturing dropped 3,700 jobs over the year, retail trade lost 3,400, and construction dropped 2,200 jobs in the past year.

The public sector added 9,100 jobs over the past 12 months. Local, state, and federal government are all at least 2% above their job counts a year ago. Local education gained 3,400 jobs over the year to reach 142,600 in May. This is the first spring that local schools reached the employment level in spring 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.2% in May for the fourth straight month. Looking back at the past few years, Oregon’s monthly unemployment rate has been 4.2% or lower every month since October 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.0% in May.

Next Press Releases – The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the May county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, June 25, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for June on Wednesday, July 17.

——— Notes: All numbers in the above narrative are seasonally adjusted except for the local government education job figures.

The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.

The Oregon Employment Department publishes payroll employment estimates that are revised quarterly by using employment counts from employer unemployment insurance tax records. All department publications use this Official Oregon Series data unless noted otherwise. The department continues to make the original nonfarm payroll employment series available; these data are produced by the BLS.

The PDF version of this news release can be found at QualityInfo.org/press-release. To get the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit QualityInfo.org, select Tools, then choose LAUS or CES under the Economy header. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.

To file a claim for unemployment benefits or get more information about unemployment programs, visit unemployment.oregon.gov.

The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is an equal opportunity agency. OED provides free help so you can use our services. Some examples are sign language and spoken-language interpreters, written materials in other languages, large print, audio, and other formats. To get help, please call 503-947-1444. TTY users call 711. You can also send an email to communications@employ.oregon.gov.

El Departamento de Empleo de Oregon (OED) es una agencia de igualdad de oportunidades. El OED proporciona ayuda gratuita para que usted pueda utilizarnuestros servicios. Algunos ejemplos son intérpretes de lengua de señas e idiomas hablados, materiales escritos en otros idiomas, letra grande, audio y otros formatos. Para obtener ayuda, por favorllame al 503-947-1444. Usuarios de TTY pueden llamar al 711. También puede enviar un correo electrónico a communications@employ.oregon.gov.

Proposed ballot measure to raise corporate taxes, give every Oregonian $750 a year likely to make November ballot

Oregon voters will likely decide in November whether to establish a historic universal basic income program that would give every state resident roughly $750 annually from increased corporate taxes.

Proponents of the concept say they likely have enough signatures to place it on the ballot this fall, and opponents are taking them seriously.

State business advocacy groups are preparing to launch a campaign against the proposed measure, arguing that it would harm Oregon’s business landscape and economy.

The proposal, Initiative Petition 17, would establish a 3% tax on corporations’ sales in Oregon above $25 million and distribute that money equally among Oregonians of all ages. As of Friday, its backers had turned in more than 135,000 signatures, which is higher than the 117,173 required to land on the ballot. The validity of those signatures must still be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“It’s looking really good. It’s really exciting,” said Anna Martinez, a Portland hairstylist who helped form the group behind the campaign, Oregon People’s Rebate, in 2020. If approved by voters, the program would go into effect in January 2025.

Martinez and other supporters say the financial boost would help Oregon families buy groceries, afford rent and pay for basic necessities. “This will put money back in the local economy. It will help small businesses,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Well it’s only $750.’ But that’s huge if you really need it.”

The state Department of Revenue would be responsible for distributing the money. Every Oregon resident would be able to claim the money either in cash or as a refundable tax credit, regardless of whether they have filed personal incomes taxes, according to the ballot initiative draft.

The initiative proposal draft states that any leftover funding from the rebate would “be used to provide additional funding for services for senior citizens, health care, public early childhood education and public kindergarten through grade 12 education.”

The ballot measure campaign has received significant financial support from out-of-state supporters of universal basic income.

Oregon People’s Rebate has received about $740,000 in contributions and spent all but about $10,000. The highest contributor by far is Jones Holding LLC, a corporation based in Los Angeles and controlled by investor and universal basic income fan Josh Jones that has given $425,000. The second largest contributor is a related L.A.-based corporation, Jones Parking Inc., which contributed nearly $95,000. The third largest source of contributions are the foundation and mother of Gerald Huff, a software engineer and advocate of universal basic income from California who died in 2018. Huff’s foundation and mother have contributed $90,000 combined.

“Yes, the funders are from California, but these are not like nefarious outside interests here,” Martinez said. “These are people who are committed to basic income.”

Oregon business groups are preparing to fight the measure. State business lobby Oregon Business and Industry and tax policy research nonprofit Tax Foundation say raising corporate taxes would harm companies and lead to higher costs of goods and services.

“(The proposed measure) would impose a massive tax increase in Oregon,” Oregon Business and Industry said in a statement. “If it qualifies for the ballot, our organization will be involved in a campaign against it, and we are confident that when voters look at the facts, they will vote to reject it.”

Oregon currently brings in billions of dollars of corporate taxes every year. The state’s excise and income tax on corporations brought in 10.3% of the state’s general fund in the 2021-2023 biennium, enough to make it the second highest revenue source after personal income tax, according to the Legislative Revenue Office.

C corporations, the default type of corporation for tax status, that do business in Oregon currently pay a state excise tax of 6.6% on income under $1 million and a 7.6% tax on income above that. If a corporation doesn’t earn a net income, they must pay a minimum state tax of $150 to $100,000 based on their total sales, according to the Legislative Revenue Office. Other types of corporations pay a minimum $150 excise tax.

Oregon corporations also pay a 0.57% corporate activity tax, which is calculated from companies’ commercial activity in the state valued above $1 million.

The proposed ballot measure would increase the minimum excise tax to 3% on all corporations’ reported gross sales above $25 million. Under the proposed measure, all of that money would then be distributed by the state Department of Revenue to all Oregon residents who live in the state for more than 200 days of the year.

Business groups fear that the increased taxes would drive corporations away from Oregon. “In practice, affected businesses would likely move more of their operations out-of-state to avoid” paying such high taxes, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.

The report states that corporations with high gross sales but low or no profit would be taxed unreasonably high amounts. A corporation with a low 3% profit margin would have to pay all its profits from sales above $25 million in Oregon taxes.

Martinez said the opposition from business groups does not surprise her. “It’s a tale as old as time,” she said. “Corporations don’t want to pay their fair share. They pay so little compared to everyday Oregonians. We all have really thin margins and we manage to do it.” (SOURCE)

Oregon Sen. Wyden proposes legislation to preserve rural maternal care 

The federal bill follows last year’s closure of the only hospital birth center in Baker City that served large swath of rural eastern Oregon

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is pushing for a pathway for rural hospitals to continue to provide maternal care in small communities.

Wyden, D-Oregon, on Monday released a draft bill that outlines a series of financial incentives to encourage hospitals to continue to offer birth services. The bill includes higher Medicaid rates and additional payments to cover the cost of on-call staff for expectant mothers in small communities with low numbers of births.

Wyden’s bill is backed by 15 other Senate Democrats – one-third of the Democrats in the chamber. It comes in response to last year’s closure of the birthing center at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City. The only maternity ward in the rural eastern Oregon county with nearly 17,000 people had served the area for a century. The move has forced expectant mothers to travel to Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande. 

“In Baker County, you have to drive at least 45 miles further to the next hospital to give birth on roads that can sometimes be impassable because of winter weather or summer wildfires,” Wyden said in a Monday press call. “We believe that Oregonians and Americans deserve better.” 

The fallout in Baker City is part of a trend that’s unfolding across rural America as hospitals decide what  services to offer based on cost, demand and profitability. That’s translated into reduced birth services in rural communities, especially those with dwindling birthrates and aging populations. Between 2011 and 2021, one out of every four rural hospitals nationwide stopped providing obstetrics services, or more than 260 hospitals, according to a national report. Today, only about 45% of rural hospitals deliver babies, and in some communities, only 33% do, according to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. In Oregon, one-quarter of its 32 rural hospitals offer obstetrics care.

The bill would provide more funding for hospitals with a low number of births – called low-volume payment adjustments – so they continue to stay in their communities. It also would require each state to study and report the costs of providing labor and delivery services in rural areas to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The legislation would improve overall maternal services for women by offering incentives for states to expand depression and anxiety screening for mothers before, during and after birth and requiring states to provide coverage for women on Medicaid after delivery for 12 months, Wyden said.

Hospitals would be required to provide a timely notification of when they plan to close birthing centers so communities and families have adequate time to plan.

“What we want to do is find a way to create smart, cost-effective choices for the future in these communities,” Wyden said. “We recognize that these are changing times.”

The Hospital Association of Oregon, which represents 61 hospitals, said it supports the legislation.

  “The proposal acknowledges the need for emergency staffing options to help rural providers temporarily fill obstetrical positions as needed, the importance of Medicaid coverage for midwives and doulas and the critical need for a simplified Medicaid enrollment process for out-of-state obstetrical providers,” the association said in a statement. “The proposal recognizes the costs involved in maintaining and staffing obstetrical units 24/7.”

Daniel Grigg, CEO of Wallowa Memorial Hospital, located in rural northeastern Oregon, said the bill is an important step in protecting access to maternity care in rural areas.

“This bill will support rural families and communities by boosting reimbursement for labor and delivery services and providing payments to hospitals with low-birth volumes,” Grigg said in a statement. 

Wyden said this issue is bipartisan and he hopes to see support from both sides of the aisle. 

The other lawmakers to sign on so far are Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Maria Cantwell of Washington Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Tom Carper of Delaware, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael Bennet of, Colorado, Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Mark Warner of Virginia, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire,  Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Corey Booker of New Jersey. (SOURCE)

Portland Pickles To Be First Team To Sell Thc-Based Seltzers At Events

(Portland, OR)  —  An Oregon summer-league baseball team is now the first sports team in the U.S. to sell cannabis-based refreshments at games. The seltzer drinks will be available in passion fruit and lemon flavors. They’ll be available for fans 21 and over.  The Pickles say the Portland Parks and Recreation department gave them the thumbs up.

Oregon’s 2024 Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect July 1st

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

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

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

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

The increases announced Tuesday range from 2.9% for the Portland metro to 3.8% raise in rural areas.

The average Oregon hourly wage is much higher than the minimum, $31.17 last year, according to the state employment department. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. (SOURCE)

The Oregon Health Athority is rasising awareness for one of the most common forms of financial fraud: Medicare fraud. 

OHA says Medicare loses $60 billion a year to fraud, errors and abuse. 

Raising awareness on 6/5 and the week after signifies the 65-yr-old and older population since most people become eligable for Medicare at 65-yrs-old.  To learn more, read the OHA blog here: https://ow.ly/VIRu50Sc7pS

Oregonians Targeted By Text Tolling Scam

A new nationwide texting scam is targeting Oregon drivers now. Ellen Klem, with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office says the phishing scheme started in the midwest earlier in the spring. “I’m honestly not surprised it’s happening now, because now is the time where everyone is gearing up to drive.”

The text claims to be from “Oregon Toll Service” and says the recipient owes an $11.69 outstanding balance; they face a $50 late fee if they don’t click on a link and pay up. Klem says some people may identify the fraud right away, because Oregon doesn’t have tolling, “But, we live next to all these other states that have tolls.” And she worries some will fall for it. 

“They are not interested in the $11,” says Klem, “They are interested in much, much more.” She believes the scammers want your personal information, and clicking on the link could allow them to access other data on your phone.

The text has all the markers of a scam, like contact out of the blue from an unknown agency. “There’s a lot of really cheap or free technology out there that allows the scammers to pretend to be somebody they’re not. So, in this case, they’re pretending to be associated with an agency that administers tolls in the state of Oregon. But that doesn’t exist,” says Klem, “Second sign: There’s some sort of emergency. In this case, you have an unpaid bill; that’s frightening to a lot of people.”

She suggests not being in such a rush to respond to every text or email, “These phones, they’re everywhere and we have this sort of automatic response to click on a link or to pick up every phone call. And, I want to remind people just to slow down and think before you click on anything.” Klem adds, “Really, at the end of the day, this is a text message that you can and you should ignore.”

If you get a text, email or phone call you’re not sure is legit, call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer hotline at 877-877-9392. Volunteer experts are available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Come to the World Beat Festival to Experience Global Cultures: Ukraine is the 2024 Featured Country

Salem Multicultural Institute is excited to celebrate Ukraine as the 27th annual World Beat Festival’s featured country. World Beat is one of Salem’s premier community traditions, offering a vibrant two-day program of international music, dance, song, theater, food, crafts, customs, rituals, and folklore. This year’s festival will begin Friday evening, June 28, and run through Sunday, June 30, at Salem’s Riverfront Park.

Kathleen Fish, Executive Director, emphasizes that this is the only festival of its kind honoring the Salem/Keizer community’s rich tapestry of cultures. “There are 107 languages spoken in our school district. The festival recognizes and explores the cultures of many of these families.”

The festivities kick off Friday, June 28, from 5 to 10 p.m. with “Friday Night at the Beat,” featuring vocal performances and fire dancing on the Main Stage. 

The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, with the Children’s Parade. Kids who want to participate in the parade will assemble at the Pavilion at the North End of the park. 

Each child who attends will receive a passport at the entrance gate to collect stamps from each World Village. Village tents will feature kid-friendly cultural games and activities. This year’s activities include making cherry blossoms in the Asian Pacific Village, Pysanky (traditional egg decorating) in the European Village, Arpilleras (traditional Chilean textile art) in the Americas Village, and crafting Nguni Shields in the Africa & Middle East Village.

Adults can enjoy beverages in the beer garden while listening to live music. Boating enthusiasts can cheer on their favorite teams during the World Beat Dragon Boat Races

“We had over 25,000 guests attend last year, enjoying performances on seven stages representing more than 50 different countries and cultures. Our visitors come from all over the Northwest and even Canada,” added Fish.

Organized by the volunteer-driven Salem Multicultural Institute, the festival requires 400 volunteers annually to manage setup, stage operations, and cleanup. Volunteers contributing at least four hours receive an event T-shirt and free entry to the festival.

Admission to the festival is $10/1-day pass/adult or $15 for the weekend. Children 0-14, SNAP card holders, and Veterans are free. 

You can view a complete schedule and vendor list or sign up to volunteer atwww.worldbeatfestival.org or call (503) 581-2004. 

About the World Beat Festival: The World Beat Festival originated in the late 1990s and was conceived by two young mothers, Mona Hayes and Kathleen Fish, who wanted a space to celebrate cultural heritage. Starting with a small gathering in 1998, the festival has grown into Oregon’s largest multicultural event of its kind. www.WorldBeatFestival.org, 503-581-2004.

About the Salem Multicultural Institute (SMI): The vision of the Salem Multicultural Institute and the purpose of the World Beat Festival and World Beat Gallery are to create an environment of openness for all people. In all our activities, SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic. Visit the gallery located at 390 Liberty ST SE, Salem. www.salemmulticultural.org.

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.

Oregon’s Missing Persons

Many times you’ll see postings without case numbers or police contact. There is rarely a nefarious reason why (the nefarious ones are pretty obvious). Usually the loved one tried to call to report their missing person and they are either refused or told to wait a day or two by people who are unaware of SB 351 and the laws that they are bound to when answering the phone. Many people don’t bother calling LE if their loved one is homeless or in transition because they believe LE won’t care. The biggest myth is the 24 hour rule.

In Oregon we don’t have those rules and an officer or person answering the phone is not allowed to decide. The law decides. We have Senate Bill 351 and it states that the police CANNOT refuse a request for any reason and they must begin working on it within 12 hours. The person making the report does not have to be related to missing person either.

Here is SB 351 written by families of the missing here in Oregon in conjunction with Oregon law enforcement officers. This should be common knowledge, please make it this way. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/…/SB351/Introduced

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