Willamette Valley News, Monday 7/1 – U.S. Olympic Track And Field Team Trials Final Results, New Podcast by Lane County Emergency Management & 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, July 1, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

U.S. Olympic Track And Field Team Trials Final Results

RESULTS: https://olympics.com/en/news/usa-olympic-team-trials-2024-track-field-all-results-complete-list

Again, can’t say it enough…Hearing the roar of the crowd appreciating the incredible athletes in each event as they competed to represent the U.S. Olympic Team in Paris has been amazing. And watching the kids who wait for their favorite athletes to come sign their hats and t-shirts on the sideline showed how much the games represent the best of people and diversity. Now, on to Paris and the 2024 Summer Olympics!

Introducing “When It Hits The Fan”: A New Podcast by Lane County Emergency Management

Lane County Emergency Management is excited to announce the launch of a new podcast, “When It Hits The Fan,” now available on all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

“When It Hits The Fan” is designed to equip listeners with essential knowledge and resources to be prepared and stay safe during a disaster. Whether you’re new to emergency preparedness or a seasoned prepper, the podcast offers can help you face the future with confidence.

“Our goal with ‘When It Hits The Fan’ is to reach community members in a format that’s accessible and engaging,” said Lane County Emergency Manager Tiffany Brown. “We want to provide digestible and actionable information that people can easily incorporate into their daily lives to ensure they are prepared for any emergency. We hope to foster a culture of preparedness and resilience within our community.”

Episodes are share monthly and, so far, include:

  • “Welcome! And, what the heck is emergency management?” – An introduction to the world of emergency management.
  • “What do you mean we should be two-weeks ready?!” – Practical tips for ensuring your household is prepared for emergencies.

Listen at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/fan

About Lane County Emergency Management – Lane County Emergency Management is committed to preparing the community for emergencies and disasters through education, planning, and response coordination.

Eugene Springfield Fire responded to a house fire in West Eugene just before midnight Sunday.

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Firefighters were called to 4723 Marshall Ave at 11:43 PM on June 30th. Callers from across the street reported smoke and fire from the home. The first arriving firefighters found fire through the roof of the garage and a well involved attic fire. The home was heavily damaged, but there were no reported injuries. The cause is under investigation. In all, 4 engines, 1 truck, 2 chiefs, 1 ambulance, 1 support unit, 1 EMS supervisor and 2 deputy fire marshals responded.

Eugene Springfield Fire responded to three small fires along the railroad tracks in Glenwood.

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Firefighters were called to the railroad tracks under Glenwood Blvd at 12:31 PM on Sunday June 30th. Crews arrived to find three rubbish fires along the tracks with the largest at .10 acre and spreading up hill. Firefighters had to request the railroad and Glenwood Blvd be shut down for the safety of operations. Crews stretched hundreds of feet of hose to access the fire. In all, 2 engines, a brush truck, a water tender, 2 battalion chiefs and 1 deputy fire marshal responded for a total of 15 personnel. The cause is under investigation.

ESF Firefighters Handle Several Critical Calls Saturday

Eugene, OR. Eugene Springfield Fire responded to simultaneous critical calls Saturday afternoon, including a car fire, water rescue and person on fire.  At 1:54 Pm on Saturday June 29th, crews were dispatched to a non-injury car accident with a car on the ditch on fire.  Crews arrived to find the car burning and spreading to the grass.  The fire was contained to a small area. 

At 2:01 PM, Boats 5&6, Engine 14, Medic, 4 and Battalion Chiefs 1&3 were dispatched to a water rescue on the McKenzie River between Hayden Bridge and Harvest Landing in Springfield.  Callers reported an unconscious female floating in the river after falling out of her raft.  Boat 5 happened to be training in the vicinity call and was quick to arrive.  Bystanders had gotten the female to the shore and initiated CPR.  Boat 5 quickly loaded the patient on their boat and continued CPR to the nearest boat launch where Engine 14 was waiting to begin advanced life support.  Crews successfully resuscitated the patient and she was transported in life threating condition to RiverBend hospital.

At 2:05 PM crews were dispatched with EPD to a person on fire at 7-11, 150 Hwy 99 North in West Eugene. Bystanders used fire extinguishers and blankets to try and suppress the fire.  Witnesses reported that a person doused themself with gasoline from one of the pumps, walked 40 feet away from the pumps and themselves on fire.  The patient was transported to RiverBend with life threatening burns.   

Eugene Police Department – If you have illegal fireworks at your home, there is an opportunity for you to get rid of them without getting cited!

Eugene Springfield Fire has a Fireworks App (Fireworks Alert) – https://www.eugene-or.gov/…/Fire-and-Emergency-Medical… Look for the links to “Download Fireworks Alert App”. City officials receive the information along with the geo location from where the picture was taken. Reports will not result in immediate action. Information will be gathered and analyzed to identify areas of the community to target future education and enforcement efforts.

Reporting Illegal Fireworks – Please bear in mind that it is never appropriate to call 911 for fireworks unless someone has been injured or property is actively being damaged by them. 911 is meant exclusively for reporting any immediate threat to life or property. This is one of the busiest holidays of the year for our agencies and if you call, you may experience extended hold times. Lower-level calls may take longer to get to such as noise complaints and concerns of illegal fireworks.

If you need to report a non-emergency crime like a noise complaint, suspicious person or activity, illegal fireworks, or any crimes that are not in progress please call one of the below listed business lines as appropriate:

Reporting In-Progress Illegal Fireworks • Eugene 541.682.5111, or Springfield: 541.726.3714: • Lane County unincorporated areas: 541-682-4150 – To report consumer fireworks within the Eugene city limits, call 541.682.5111.

The ban penalty is a fine not to exceed $500. It is unlawful to sell, use, light, detonate, or display any “consumer” fireworks anywhere in the city at any time. The social host ordinance in Eugene also applies to fireworks. The social host, or ordinance on unruly gatherings, holds individuals criminally responsible for hosting, organizing and allowing an unruly event or social gathering. Eugene property owners where the event is hosted will also be penalized if there are multiple violations of this ordinance at the same property. The Eugene Municipal Court has assigned a base fine of $375 for criminal violations of this ordinance. Both hosts and property owners could be civilly liable for police, fire and public works response to repeated illegal gatherings that fall under this ordinance.

Canoe Capsizes on Willamette River in Eugene

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Eugene, OR. One person was transported to a local hospital after a canoe capsized on the Willamette River Saturday afternoon.  At 5:11 PM on June 29th, Eugene Springfield Fire was called for a water rescue near the Knickerbocker bike bride.  

Bystanders reported seeing a canoe capsize with two boaters on board.  One boater was wearing a life jacket and was able to make it ashore while the other boater was rescued by a nearby drift boat. The second individual wax treated by ESF Paramedics and transported to a local hospital for evaluation.  

Crews Respond to West Eugene Car Fire

Eugene, OR.  Eugene Springfield Fire responded to an unknown injury motor vehicle crash near the intersection of Hwy 99 and Barger Dr in West Eugene Saturday afternoon.  Callers reported a vehicle crashed off the roadway and on fire.  Engine 8 from the Danebo station found the car and grass on fire, but was able to contain the fire quickly.  There were no injuries reported.

6/27/24 – LCSO Case #24-3390 – Male arrested in Pleasant Hill after assaulting female and deputies

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On June 27th at about 5 p.m., Lane County Sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police troopers responded to the 85100 block of Winding Way, Pleasant Hill, after a juvenile told a neighbor someone was trying to kill their mother.

When deputies arrived on scene, a female was found unconscious in the yard with injuries. A nearby male, Dillion Shane Simmons, 31, fought with deputies when told he was under arrest.  Once Simmons was in custody, he and the female were transported to the hospital for treatment. 

A Lane County Sheriff’s sergeant also responded to an area hospital for treatment of injuries sustained during the arrest. 

Simmons was lodged in the Lane County Jail for Assault in the 3rd Degree, Assault in the 4th Degree (APA), Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Menacing, and Resisting Arrest. 

Thanks to the Oregon State Police and Pleasant Hill Fire Department for their assistance during this incident.

 Firefighters Tackle Two Fires in Eugene Friday

Eugene Springfield Fire responded to two fires within about 30 minutes Friday afternoon.  At 1:12 PM on June 28th, firefighters were called to a structure fire at Edgewood Home Furnishings located at 155 Division Ave in North Eugene.  Firefighters arrived to find an exterior corner of the building on fire.  The fire was contained to the area of origin.  Witnesses reported the fire may have been set intentionally.  ESF Fire Marshals are investigating. 

At 1:47 PM firefighters were called to a grass fire at 384 Wallis St in West Eugene.  Arriving crews found a fast moving fire in the grass.  In all about .15 of an acre was burned thanks to a quick response and deployment from Station 8. The cause is under investigation.

LCSO Case #24-3284 – Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue assists deputies with recovery of deceased subject at Terwilliger Hot Springs

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On Saturday, June 22nd at about 9 a.m., Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue personnel and deputies responded to the Terwilliger Hot Springs to assist Upper McKenzie Fire Department with an unresponsive patient. Shortly after being dispatched, the subject was declared deceased.

Search & Rescue assisted with carrying the subject along the hiking path down to the parking lot and deputies began an investigation into the cause of the person’s death. The subject was identified as Jesse James Calkins, 40, of Hines, Oregon. The circumstances of Calkins’ death do not appear to be criminal in nature.

Connected Lane County Participating In New Program To Prevent Youth Homelessness

Home - Connected Lane County

A Lane County nonprofit organization dedicated to improving outcomes for underserved youths is participating in a pilot program that aims to prevent homelessness by providing direct cash transfers to youths facing housing instability, according to Connected Lane County officials.

Connected Lane County staff said that their organization received $185,000 from the Oregon Department of Human Resources for an initiative supported by Point Source Youth and the ODHS’s Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program team that is expected to support at least 50 local youth with direct cash transfers.

A total of $109,835 has been disbursed to 44 youth to help stabilize their housing situation by assisting with rent, utilities, urgent car repairs, cover medical expenses, and pay off debt, the organization said. FOLLOW on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/connectedlane

Housing and Community Needs Survey

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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

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

Oregon Housing and Community Services responds to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing cities to ban people from sleeping outdoors

The United States Supreme Court made its ruling today in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson. In response to the decision, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Executive Director Andrea Bell issued the following statement.

“For many, we knew this day was coming, and yet it is still devastating. This is a wake-up call for all of us – cities in particular. We cannot succumb to cynicism or confuse this ruling as a mandate. Many of us have either experienced the struggle to make ends meet or know someone who has. In the face of this shared reality, out-of-sight, out-of-mind positions that criminalize sleeping or sheltering in public spaces only exacerbates the experiences of homelessness.

“OHCS’ position remains unchanged – we reject homelessness as an inevitable outcome. Every person, regardless of their background or where they come from, deserves a place to call home. Oregon’s shared values serve as a guidepost of hope and progress. In cities, suburbs, and rural towns across the state, our economies and communities are strongest when everyone’s fundamental needs are met. To the people of Oregon struggling to get by: We see you. We value your life. We will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.”

In 2023, Oregon prevented more than 9,000 households from becoming homeless, created over 1,000 new shelter beds, and helped some 2,000 people move from homeless to housed. This was done in partnership with Governor Tina Kotek, the Oregon Legislature, numerous state agencies, and many local community partners who implemented the funding and policy developed through the Governor’s homelessness state of emergency (EO 23-02) and the Affordable Housing and Emergency Homelessness Response Package (HB 2001 and HB 5019, 2023).

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

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Grants Pass, Allows Ban On Homeless People Sleeping Outdoors

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday sided with a local ordinance in Oregon that bans homeless people from sleeping outdoors, and local governments will be allowed to enforce those laws.

The case, Gloria Johnson, et. al. v. Grants Pass was originally brought by three homeless people against the city’s ban on the use of tents, blankets and cardboard to protect them from the elements while camping on public property. (Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

In a 6-3 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion that the enforcement of those local laws that regulate camping on public property does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Homelessness is complex. Its causes are many. So may be the public policy responses required to address it,” he wrote. “The Constitution’s Eighth Amendment serves many important functions, but it does not authorize federal judges to wrest those rights and responsibilities from the American people and in their place dictate this Nation’s homelessness policy.”

The case originated in Grants Pass, a city in Oregon that argued its ordinance is a solution to the city’s homelessness crisis, which includes fines and potential jail time for repeat offenders who camp or sleep outdoors.

Attorney Theane Evangelis, who represented the city, said in a statement to States Newsroom that the ruling would provide relief to local communities trying to address the issues of encampments of homeless people.

“The Court has now restored the ability of cities on the frontlines of this crisis to develop lasting solutions that meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of their communities, while also keeping our public spaces safe and clean,” she said. “Years from now, I hope that we will look back on today’s watershed ruling as the turning point in America’s homelessness crisis.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent arguing that the ordinance against camping and a separate ordinance against using blankets on public property targets the status of being homeless and is therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

“Grants Pass’s Ordinances criminalize being homeless,” she wrote. “The Ordinances’ purpose, text, and enforcement confirm that they target status, not conduct. For someone with no available shelter, the only way to comply with the Ordinances is to leave Grants Pass altogether.”

During oral arguments, the justices seemed split along ideological lines.

The conservative justices sided with the town in Oregon, arguing that policies and ordinances around homelessness are complex, and should be left up to local elected representatives rather than the courts.

The liberal justices argued the Grants Pass ordinances criminalized the status of being homeless and criticized the city’s argument that homelessness is not a status protected under the Eighth Amendment.

The Biden administration took the middle ground in the case, and U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler offered partial support for the city.

“It’s the municipality’s determination, certainly in the first instance with a great deal of flexibility, how to address the question of homelessness,” he said during oral arguments in late April.

Homelessness crisis

The ruling, which was split along ideological lines, reverses the 9th Circuit’s decision that previously blocked the local law because it found the ordinance criminalized the status of being homeless and was therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Grants Pass ordinances prohibited people from camping and sleeping in parks and on public property and barred those people from using blankets, pillows or other materials to sleep outdoors. A violation carried a $295 file, and if not paid, could be increased to $530. Repeat offenders could also risk jail.

But the city, and a coalition of leaders from red and blue Western states, including Montana and California, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case.

“Cities across the West report that the Ninth Circuit’s involuntariness test has created intolerable uncertainty for them,” Gorsuch wrote.

Cities across the U.S., particularly in the West, are grappling with an increasing homelessness crisis. It’s estimated that 650,000 people were homeless on a single night in January of 2023, a 12% increase from 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

“HUD data indicates that the rise in overall homelessness is largely due to a sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time,” according to the agency.

States with the highest rates of homelessness include California, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to five-year estimates in the American Community Survey.

Gorsuch argued that the case the 9th Circuit relied on in Martin v. City of Boise had a “poor foundation” for using the Eighth Amendment as its basis. In that case, homeless plaintiffs sued the city of Boise, Idaho, after it fined them under a camping ordinance.

“The Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause focuses on the question what ‘method or kind of punishment’ a government may impose after a criminal conviction, not on the question whether a government may criminalize particular behavior in the first place,” he wrote. “The Court cannot say that the punishments Grants Pass imposes here qualify as cruel and unusual.”

Sotomayor argued that the ruling focuses only on the needs of local officials and “leaves the most vulnerable in our society with an impossible choice: Either stay awake or be arrested.”

“The Constitution provides a baseline of rights for all Americans rich and poor, housed and unhoused,” she wrote. “This Court must safeguard those rights even when, and perhaps especially when, doing so is uncomfortable or unpopular.”

Advocacy groups expressed their frustration and disappointment in Friday’s decision, and raised concerns that it could lead to homeless people being criminalized for sleeping outdoors when they have nowhere else to go.

The president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Diane Yentel, strongly condemned the court’s decision and argued it would only worsen the crisis.

“It gives cover to elected officials who choose political expediency over real solutions by merely moving unhoused people out of public view rather than working to solve their homelessness,” Yentel said in a statement. “These ineffective and inhumane tactics exacerbate homelessness by saddling unhoused people with debt they can’t pay, while further isolating them from the services and support they need to become stably housed.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director for economic justice, Kirsten Anderson, said in a statement that the ruling will set a precedent for criminalizing homeless people.

“The Supreme Court held that it is a crime to be homeless — at a moment in which housing is unaffordable for half the people in the country — proving that it continues to be out of touch with the American public,” Anderson said.

Rosanne Haggerty, the president of Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness, expressed disappointment in the decision.

“Arresting or fining people for experiencing homelessness is cruel — and it won’t solve the problem,” Haggerty said in a statement. (SOURCE)

Oregon’s 2024 Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect Today 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)

Fires Around the State

https://app.watchduty.org Monday 7/1/24 (:15am

Due to cooler temperatures and thanks to aggressive firefighting and the crews, many of last week’s fires are now in mop up stage.

Please Help Prevent Wildfires!

Smokey Bear Turns 75: See How His Image Has Changed : NPR

Wyden, Merkley Announce $30.1 Million in PILT Payments to Support Vital Services in Oregon

Program provides funds to communities that support Oregon’s public lands, waters; invests in firefighters, police, schools, road construction

WASHINGTON D.C.— U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced counties throughout Oregon will receive more than $30.1 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2024. Because local governments cannot tax federal lands, annual PILT payments help to defray the costs associated with maintaining important community services. 

“Oregonians cherish our public lands, and we need to make sure local communities have all the tools they need to help improve quality of life and steward our natural treasures,” Wyden said. “These PILT payments are vital to help local governments carry out necessary services like firefighting, search-and-rescue operations, road construction, schools and police protection. I’m gratified to see PILT payments to Oregon are up nearly $3 million over 2023, and I’ll continue to monitor payments to ensure each county gets its fair share.”   

“Public lands are a treasure in rural Oregon, but they must not prevent communities from having the resources they need to pay for quality schools, emergency services, and safe infrastructure,” Merkley said. “This federal investment is vital for Oregonian’s communities. I will keep working to protect PILT payments so communities and families across Oregon have the stability they deserve.”

PILT payments are made for tax-exempt federal lands administered by federal bureaus including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction. 

Individual payments may vary from year to year as a result of changes in acreage data, which are updated annually by the federal agency administering the land; prior-year federal revenue-sharing payments reported annually by the governor of each state; and inflationary adjustments using the Consumer Price Index and population data, which are updated using information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Senators Wyden and Merkley continue to monitor PILT payments closely and will advocate for fair payments for every county.  

For a breakdown of PILT payments per Oregon county: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-merkley-announce-301-million-in-pilt-payments-to-support-vital-services-in-oregon

A full list of funding by state and county is available on the Department’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes page. 

Pedestrian Struck, Killed by Van Outside Ashland

JCSO Case 24-3504 – ASHLAND, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash after a pedestrian was struck and killed last night outside Ashland. ECSO Dispatch received a call on Saturday, June 29 at 9:35 PM for a pedestrian injured and the suspect vehicle still on scene in the 500 block of South Valley View Road. 

JCSO deputies, Ashland Police Department officers, and an Ashland Fire ambulance responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Next-of-kin has been notified. The victim is Mark David Langille, 50, of New Mexico. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Jackson County Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team and JCSO Medical Examiner detectives responded to assist with the investigation. The driver of the suspect minivan was taken into custody and a search warrant for a blood draw was granted.

Potential charges for the suspect are pending further investigation, toxicology reports, and a mechanical inspection of the vehicle. The suspect’s name will be released if and when charges are filed.

The STAR Team consists of investigators from JCSO, Medford Police Department, and Central Point Police Department. This case is under further investigation with deputies and the STAR Team following additional leads. There is no further information available at this time.

Unusual coin toss determines outcome of 7-7 tie in Oregon House primary

The winner, Democrat Doyle Canning, can’t accept the nomination because she lost her primary race

On Thursday morning, one Oregon primary election came down to an anticlimactic and ultimately meaningless coin flip. 

Republicans didn’t field a candidate in the heavily Democratic 8th House District in Eugene, which meant whichever qualified candidate received the most write-in votes could claim the Republican nomination. Of the 103 names written in by Republicans, the two highest vote-getters were Democratic nominee Lisa Fragala and her Democratic opponent Doyle Canning. 

Under state law, election officials needed to decide “by lot.” Past ties have been settled by rolling dice, but in this case election officials decided a coin toss was the fairest outcome. 

Neither Canning nor Fragala drove from Eugene to watch the coin flip, so employees of the Secretary of State’s Office served as proxies. In a basement conference room, a small group of employees, government nerds and one reporter watched as Luke Belant, the state’s deputy elections director, pulled a quarter from his wallet.

After both proxies agreed that the coin – minted in 2013 to commemorate Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory at Lake Erie in the War of 1812 – was acceptable, Belant tossed it in the air. It landed tails up – a victory for Canning. 

But that victory was to be short-lived: Because she lost the Democratic nomination, Canning is barred from accepting the nomination of any other party under the state’s sore loser law. Instead, Republican precinct committee persons – the elected local party officials who vote on party business, including nominating replacements for candidates or elected officials who don’t finish their terms – could choose a Republican nominee to appear on the general election ballot. 

Canning, laughing when she heard the results from a Capital Chronicle reporter, said she was shocked but proud that the Secretary of State administered elections so consistently, fairly and transparently. 

“Even though we’re talking about seven votes, it’s great that we can all be so confident that the laws and procedures are so dutifully followed,” she said. 

She still has no idea who the seven Republicans who voted for her are, but she said the tie vote coin flip should be a lesson for political parties to compete in every district. 

“The lesson here for any political party is to field a candidate,” Canning said. “I’m sure, had the Republicans fielded a candidate, they would have gotten more than seven votes.”

It’s rare, though not unheard of, for an election to end in a game of chance. It last happened in Oregon in 2016, when both Democratic candidate Janeen Sollman and Republican Dan Mason earned 41 votes from members of the Independent Party of Oregon. 

In that case, election officials decided to have each candidate roll a die. Mason won the roll with a six to Sollman’s three, Northwest News Network reported at the time, but Sollman, now a state senator, won with voters in November.  (SOURCE)

FBI Seeking Individual Who May Have Information Regarding the Identity of a Child Sexual Assault Victim

PORTLAND, OREGON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the public’s assistance with obtaining identifying information regarding an unknown male who may have critical information pertaining to the identity of a child victim in an ongoing sexual exploitation investigation. Photographs and an informational poster depicting the unknown individual, known only as John Doe 48, are being disseminated to the public and can be found online at the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/ecap.

Initial video of the unidentified male, John Doe 48, first recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in December of 2023. The EXIF data embedded within the video file indicated that the file was produced in October of 2023.

John Doe 48 is described as a White male between the ages of 45 and 65 years old, with dark hair, and a gray beard. He has a tattoo on each of his forearms. He is seen in the back of a 2018-2019 Nissan NV Cargo Van wearing a blue t-shirt and a dark-colored hat. He is heard speaking English in the video.

Anyone with information to provide should submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov/ or call the FBI’s toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). The public is reminded no charges have been filed in this case and the pictured individual is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This individual is being sought as part of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) initiatives. Operation Rescue Me focuses on utilizing clues obtained through in-depth image analysis to identify the child victims depicted in child exploitation material, while ECAP seeks national and international media exposure of unknown adults (referred to as John/Jane Does) who visibly display their faces and/or other distinguishing characteristics in association with child pornography images. — UNKNOWN INDIVIDUAL – JOHN DOE 48 — FBI

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Seeks to Improve Fish Hatcheries

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) hosted a public meeting Thursday addressing the current problems plaguing Oregon’s fish hatcheries.

ODFW Deputy Administrator Shaun Clements says hatcheries serve an important purpose, and provide social, economic, and cultural benefits to Oregonians. Hatcheries also play a significant role in re-establishing declining fish populations. But climate change, aging hatchery infrastructure, and increasing costs are making it difficult to reach fishery and conservation goals.

Clements says the main priorities of ODFW are investing in hatchery infrastructure and collaborating with community members for more solutions.

“These hatcheries produce about 35 million salmon steelhead a year and about 5 million trout. Hatcheries are an incredibly important source for harvest opportunity, constituting about 70% of the harvested fish in Oregon,” Clements said.

As part of an established timeline ODFW will conduct a webinar series in August, as well as more public meetings and a report to the state legislature by early 2025.

Oregon Ranks as One of the 10 Best States for Hikers

DPR_10 Best States ofr Hiking_Header Best states for hiking scaled

Oregon is the No. 10 best state in the country for hikers, according to a new ranking. Kuru Footwear ranked the best states in the United States for hiking, looking at “five key metrics—total hiking trail reviews, number of trails, percentage of trails ranked as easy, trails rated 4.5 stars or higher, and yearly precipitation.”

Top-Ranked U.S. States for Hiking

StateRankTotal # of ReviewsTotal # of Trails% of Easy Trails% of Trails Rated 4.5+Precipitation (yearly inches)
Colorado11,995,9665,28626%51%15.9
California24,500,86412,83527%52%22.2
Arizona31,556,6523,29227%54%13.6
Montana4273,1751,50823%47%15.3
New York51,065,3464,48150%38%41.8
Utah61,110,8523,22424%53%12.2
Texas7572,6342,42472%44%28.9
Washington81,368,7964,16133%39%38.4
North Carolina9774,1482,73646%49%50.3
Oregon10686,5253,10634%38%27.4

https://www.kurufootwear.com/a/blog/best-states-for-hiking-2024

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.” (READ MORE)

What Is Your Home’s Wildfire Risk?

by Claire Carlson, The Daily Yonder July 1, 2024

A newly updated wildfire risk map could help level the playing field for rural communities who don’t have the resources to conduct their own wildfire risk assessments, according to the independent research group Headwaters Economics.

The map, first created by the U.S. Forest Service under the direction of Congress in 2018, shows wildfire risks at the county level and ways to mitigate those risks. Every U.S. county and tribal area is included in the map. 

“With this tool, the data is available for everyone to use, no matter whether you have your own staffing and expertise to produce these kinds of resources or not,” said Kelly Pohl, associate director of Headwaters Economics, in a Daily Yonder interview. 

Headwaters Economics was brought on as a partner in the mapping project in 2020. The group made the map’s new updates by incorporating the latest vegetation and climate data, advancements in wildfire hazard simulation modeling, and the most recent building and housing unit information from the Census Bureau. 

Wildfire Risk Is Increasing

Better understanding local wildfire risk could be more important for communities than ever because of the map’s recent findings, which shows that about one-third of all Americans live in counties with high wildfire risk.

“There are a lot of states in the East, especially in the Southeast, that have wildfire risk,” Pohl said. “And we do see parts of the country have higher wildfire risk than we previously understood.” Oregon and Washington are two such states, according to Pohl. 

In many parts of the country, climate change has caused hotter temperatures and drier conditions. This exacerbates wildfire risk. 

Grant Opportunities

The Biden administration has implemented several grant programs to better equip communities with wildfire resilience tools in light of this increasing risk. 

In February 2024, the administration launched a $5 million pilot program for rural emergency response agencies to convert vehicles to wildland fire engines using slip-on water tank units. 

In May 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allocated another $250 million to the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program that supports communities to develop wildfire protection plans and remove vegetation. 

The wildfire risk map’s new data underscores the need for the federal government to “continue these efforts through Community Wildfire Defense Grants and our work to increase the pace and scale of hazardous fuels reduction on federal and non-federal lands,” according to USDA’s Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, who was quoted in a press release

Information about the grant programs and other funding opportunities can be found on the wildfire risk map’s website

This article first appeared on The Daily Yonder and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

HGTV names Jacksonville Oregon among the most charming small towns in the US

From cities with quaint shops to “fascinating histories,” HGTV released a list of the top 50 charming small towns in the United States, with one southern Oregon hidden gem making the cut.

“There’s something special about small towns,” HGTV said about the list. “Whether it’s the simplicity, the character or the people, they are a quintessential part of American life.”

Located in Southern Oregon’s wine county, the historic Jacksonville, Ore. scored a spot on the list, as first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The small town received a shout-out for agritourism like the Applegate Valley Wine Trail and a “premier” arts fest.

“Come in the summer to enjoy the Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Pacific Northwest’s premier outdoor summer performing arts event, or explore the town’s independently owned shops, restaurants and hiking and biking trails year-round,” HGTV said, noting the city has also been named among America’s 10 “coolest small towns.”

Cities topping the list include Fairhope, Ala., Unalaska, Alaska, Winslow, Ariz., Eureka Springs, Ark., and Carmel, Calif.

Cookie Recall Map as Health Warning Issued in Six States

A cookie mix product has been recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to the presence of an undeclared major allergen.

The product, The Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, was recalled after it was found to contain undeclared coconut, a tree nut, which is one of the FDA’s designated major allergens. More than 20,000 units produced by California based Penguin Natural Foods Inc. were first voluntarily recalled on June 21 before being categorized as a Class II risk on June 27.

Classifications are given to indicate the seriousness of the risk to the public when a food item is recalled. Under the FDA’s definition, a Class II recall is issued in “a situation in which use of or exposure to a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.” The product was sold in six U.S. states, most of which are in the West: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. (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.

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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