Southern Oregon News Update, Tuesday, Aug. 27th – Triple Digit Heat Expected

The latest News from around Southern Oregon from


Rogue Valley Weather

Sunny and hot, with a high near 105. Clear overnight with a low around 69.

A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Sunny and hot, with a high near 101.

Sunny, with a high near 95.

Sunny, with a high near 94.

Sunny, with a high near 92.

Today’s Headlines…

Governor Kate Brown welcomed the incoming freshman class at South Medford High School yesterday addressing students on their first day of the new school year.

Joined by educators, students, and legislators, she ceremonially signed the Student Success Act, which provides a historic $2 billion additional investment into Oregon’s early education and K-12 schools.  

The Student Success Act targets resources to improve education for every child in the state, especially those that have long been underserved. This includes expanding access to high-quality preschool, ensuring teachers have resources to support students struggling with behavioral health issues, and funding hands-on learning that will prepare students for college or a career.

A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging a Southern Oregon man and frequent marijuana trafficker with attempting to pay for the murder of an associate. John Tobe Larson, 68, of Josephine County, Oregon, is charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

Oregon State Police Southwest Region Marijuana Team learned that Larson was involved in the interstate distribution of marijuana from Southern Oregon throughout the U.S. and smuggling cash back into Oregon via a private plane Larson pilots. In addition, investigators had learned that Larson was allegedly looking for someone to murder an associate who owed him approximately $75,000 in unpaid debt. In early June, investigators arranged for a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives acting in an undercover capacity, to meet with Larson in Grants Pass, Oregon to discuss his plans. After further discussion, Larson and the agent agreed to a price of $20,000 for the murder.

In June Larson met the agent at a hotel room in Grants Pass and delivered a $10,000 cash payment. Larson also provided the agent with the identity, address, phone numbers, and social media account information of the intended victim. On August 21, 2019, Larson was arrested in Rogue River, Oregon. Immediately preceding the arrest, Larson provided the agent with $5,000 and concentrated marijuana after being lead to believe the murder was complete.

Beginning in early March of 2019, Officer with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) responded to several commercial burglaries where entry was made via the rooftops of local businesses.

The investigation into these incidents have been ongoing. On May 1, 2019, Officers responded to an alarm at Shop River Rock (966 SW 6th Street) and located a possible burglary suspect. The suspect fled from officers on foot and was not apprehended at that time. It was determined the suspect had entered the gift shop through a second floor door, which was accessed via the roof.

On August 23, 2019, another alarm at the location revealed a second burglary had been committed at Shop River Rock where entry was made through the rooftop door. During both incidents several thousand dollars in purses and jewelry were stolen. During the second burglary, the suspect had also caused several thousand dollars in property damage by forcing entry. Video surveillance of the suspect was obtained and lead investigators to identify Joseph Gustin III as the suspect.

On August 24, 2019, Gustin returned to the gift shop and was recognized by employees. Police responded, detained Gustin, and transported him to the Grants Pass Police Department for further investigation. At the conclusion, Gustin was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the above listed charges. Through the investigation, it was determined Gustin is linked to five of the previous rooftop burglaries.  Gustin is being charged with crimes related to those cases.

ARRESTED: Gustin III, Joseph J.   WMA (31 Years Old), Grants Pass Resident

Burglary in the Second Degree-3 Counts
Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree
Criminal Mischief in the First Degree- 2 Counts
Theft in the First Degree- 2 Counts
Theft in the First Degree (Receiving/Selling)
Attempted Theft in the Second Degree
Forgery in the First Degree
Theft in the Third Degree

These incidents are still under investigation and anyone with further information is asked to contact Detective John Lohrfink with the Grants Pass Department of Public safety at 541-450-6260.  

Earlier this summer the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and other agencies responded to Lost Creek Lake for a reported drowning of two individuals.

Deputies located the first victim however the search for the second drowning victim has been ongoing as Police, Fire, and Search and Rescue personnel have worked diligently to recover the second victim.

Experts in Side Scan Sonar arrived at Lost Creek Lake Tuesday and quickly located a body approximately 135 feet below the surface. The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has positively identified the subject as Juan Carlos Fuentes age 29.

The Oregon Health Authority and local public health departments are urging clinicians to be on alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among individuals who report vaping or e-cigarette use.

OHA is aware of a cluster of respiratory illness primarily among teenagers and young adults in 16 states. These people have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain. No deaths have been reported. CDC and the affected states have not identified a cause, but all cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping. OHA knows of no cases in Oregon.

Before the new illness reports, OHA was already concerned about the health risks of vaping products. A recent report by the agency details the health risks for the products including nicotine addiction, exposure to toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, and increases in blood pressure. Individuals who have recently vaped and are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately

With a heat wave rolling into southern Oregon this week, Pacific Power offers tips on how to beat the heat, use less energy and save money.

First Get some fresh air. Open your windows during the early morning and evening, and use fans to circulate the fresh air. Next Keep clear of the sun. Close blinds and drapes during the warmest parts of the day. Keeping the sunlight out of your home will keep it cooler. Be AC savvy. Set your air conditioner to 78 degrees when you’re home, and 85 when you’re away. Push the use of heat-producing appliances such as ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers to cooler parts of the day. Grilling outside and air-drying clothes are great alternatives.

With sweltering temperatures, you need to protect yourself. Drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Don’t forget your pets; they need water and shelter as well. Also check on any neighbors who may have limited contact with others and may need a fan or other assistance. Finally make a conscious effort to unplug items not in use. Even if they’re not on, they’re drawing energy.

A visit to the Oregon Lottery’s “Scoreboard Arena” in Cascade Hall during the Oregon State Fair offers fairgoers an opportunity to have fun, win prizes and get an exclusive video look at Oregon Lottery Scoreboard.

“We’re excited to have people visit us during the fair,” said Lottery Promotions Supervisor Kevin Ziebart. “You must be 21 years of age or older to get into the Scoreboard Arena. Once inside, you’ll be able to watch videos about Oregon Lottery Scoreboard and play sports-related games for fun and prizes.”

Oregon Lottery Scoreboard is the Lottery’s new sports betting game that gives players a chance to place wagers on professional sports. The new game will soon be available on its own mobile app as well on the Lottery’s website at The Lottery is targeting the launch of the game for the NFL regular season.

“Players are anxiously waiting for the release of Scoreboard,” added Oregon Lottery Spokesman Chuck Baumann. “We’re in the final testing phase and just want to ensure the game and player accounts are fully functional and secure prior to release of the game. Once the game is launched, the list of professional sports players will have access to includes the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, PGA, even NASCAR.”

Oregon Beverage Services will be sharing space with the Oregon Lottery during the fair. Customers will be able to buy all Lottery products including Keno, Scratch-its and Video Lottery.

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned more than $12 billion for economic development, public education, state parks and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit

The Rocky Point Boat Launch on the Klamath Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest will be closed today through Thursday, August 29 at 5 p.m. The Rocky Point Resort boat launch located nearby will be open during this time.

The temporary closure of the Forest Service boat launch is due to the assembly and deployment of solar aeration systems into Pelican Bay off Klamath Lake. The pilot project is a collaboration between the Oregon Renewable Energy Center, Oregon Institute of Technology and the Klamath Tribes. The solar aeration systems are expected to help boost dissolved oxygen levels and help juvenile Lost River and Shortnose Sucker survive through the August and September hypoxic (lack of dissolved oxygen) conditions caused by the die-off of cyanobacteria in Klamath Lake.

The Oregon Department of Transportation will be doing work in Klamath County this week. They will be performing sign work at intersection of highway 140 and highway 66 and you should expect minor delays.

The Oregon Department of Forestry has named Josh Barnard as deputy chief of the agency’s Private Forests Division. Barnard assumed his new responsibilities Aug. 1. The former deputy chief, Kyle Abraham, was promoted to chief of the Division earlier this summer.

An Idaho native, Barnard first worked for ODF on the Clatsop State Forest before pursuing jobs managing industrial timberlands in the private sector. He returned to ODF six years ago. For the past three years he has managed the Private Forests Division’s Field Support Units. In that role he has overseen final development of stream-protection rules and guided work on rulemaking to protect an endangered bird called the marbled murrelet, which nests in coastal forests.

In his new role, Barnard will help plan, develop, and direct Private Forests Division programs to protect and maintain Oregon’s forests and the diverse services they provide. The Division is responsible for forest health, family forest landowner assistance and helping Oregonians follow the Forest Practices Act governing timber harvesting and replanting.

“I’m very excited to serve as the next deputy chief,” Barnard said. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to guide the Division’s operations at a time when Oregonians are looking to forestlands to meet both traditional needs and help address new challenges.” 

Barnard holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho in Forest Products-Timber Harvesting, and a master’s in Business Administration from Washington State University.

The 2019 season runs from Sept. 3rd to Nov. 3rd. A commercial permit must be purchased to pick any matsutake mushroom on National Forests that is harvested for resale. Permits cost $200 for the season, $100 for a half season permit or $8 per day with a three-day minimum purchase. Harvesters must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid ID in to purchase a permit.

Matsutake mushroom season opens after Labor Day

Matsutake mushroom season opens the day after Labor Day, on the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua, and Willamette National Forests.

The Chemult, Chiloquin and Crescent Ranger District Offices will be open Tuesday September 3 for permit sales. Permits also are available at other ranger district offices on the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua and Willamette National Forests.

Each purchase of a permit includes information and a map of areas open to harvest. The permit is not valid on state or private property. Areas closed to harvest include Crater Lake National Park and other posted closed areas

The Oregon Department of Transportation is committed to providing a safe, efficient transportation system. ODOT invests in Oregon’s future through roadway improvement projects.

The following projects are located in ODOT’s Region 4 encompassing Central Oregon from The Dalles to Klamath Falls on the east side of the Cascades. 

All work is dependent on weather conditions and schedules are subject to change. Where traffic is routed through or around a work zone, pedestrians, including those with disabilities, will also be provided alternate routes through the work zone.

Last week Oregon’s seven public universities which includes Southern Oregon University and Oregon Tech reached an impasse in negotiating pay increases, benefits and time off for classified workers.

SEIU Local 503, the union representing classified university workers, said the stalemate could lead to a strike next month, just as the state’s roughly 64,000 university students will be starting classes

The median classified university worker makes $36,000 per year, according to SEIU 503. The universities, meanwhile, say that the combined 12 percent increase for the next two years — 2.5 percent in a cost of living adjustment and 9.5 percent in “step” increases for satisfactory job performance — is a “fair offer.”

Rob Fullmer, an IT specialist at Portland State University cites colleagues who work in dining services or as office specialists who have to take second jobs, noting that about a quarter make so little money that they qualify for food stamps for a family of four.

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