Rogue Valley News, Thursday, Nov. 7 – City of Medford Receives $15.5 Mil from Dept of Transportation For Road Repairs

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Today’s Headlines…

Today, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) announced that the City of Medford will receive $15.5 million from the Department of Transportation (DOT) through their Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program.

Walden wrote to and spoke with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in support of the city’s request for funding, which will help expand the roadway along Foothill Road and North Phoenix Road in east Medford. 

“This is great news for southern Oregon,” said Walden. “This funding will allow for better flow of traffic and safer conditions for those traveling along Foothill Road, while simultaneously providing jobs and fueling the economy. I worked closely with local officials and made the case directly to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.  I’m very appreciative of her and the Trump Administration’s support for improving transportation infrastructure in our part of Oregon.”   
The funding will allow for almost four miles of roadway to expand from two-lanes to four-lanes, and will include a center turn lane, sidewalks, and bike lanes. The current roadway is overcapacity and in vital need of expansion. The project will provide a more viable route for people to reach local destinations and will also generate new jobs and revitalize the area’s rural economy.

Detectives are investigating an inmate’s death by apparent suicide at the Jackson County Jail here in Southern Oregon.

28-year-old Scott Ashbaugh was found unresponsive in his cell by a sheriff’s deputy at 10:56 p.m. Monday during a routine cell check, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputy began life-saving efforts and Medford Fire-Rescue and Mercy Flights was called, but Ashbaugh was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled for today to confirm the cause and manner of Ashbaugh’s death. He had been set for release from the jail Thursday. Court records say Ashbaugh was serving time for a probation violation for failing to report as a sex offender and resisting arrest. Medford police arrested him Oct. 19. He had been lodged in a cell by himself.

A Coos County man has disappeared somewhere in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and rescue teams are trying to narrow down his location.

64-year-old Michael Dean Vos was last seen by friends on October 10. While Vos has split his time subsisting between Coos County, Alaska, South Dakota, and California, those close to him have become increasingly concerned after his latest disappearance. He was reported overdue by family in North Bend on October 16.

“Mike is described as very self-sufficient and has said he intends to live off the land,” the Coos County Sheriff’s Office said. “Unfortunately, he is also showing signs that he may be suffering from the onset of dementia.”

On October 29, the Sheriff’s Office found Vos’ car about 9.5 miles south of Powers, a small community along Highway 542 just north of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Two days later, a search and rescue team from Klamath County found Vos’ clothing northeast of his car. Despite a grid search of the area, Vos was not discovered.

“It is now believed that Vos’s mental state was such that he removed his clothes soon after he parked his car and began walking,” CCSO said. “He quite likely has a twenty-day head start and may not want to be found.”

By November 2, search efforts in the immediate area were reduced while rescuers focused on “wider-ranging patrols” to find evidence of Vos’ location, CCSO said.

“The Sheriff’s Office is asking everyone who travels into the area of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to keep eyes out for Mr. Vos and help return him to his family,” the agency concluded.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced he is co-sponsoring legislation that would help low-income and rural tenants of multifamily rural housing stay in their affordable housing units.

Direct federal home loans under what’s known as Section 515 help to develop affordable housing development in rural areas, but the required affordability restrictions are eliminated when those loans mature or are pre-paid. The Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019 would give housing vouchers to residents of units with expiring affordability restrictions so they can stay in those affordable homes, and it would provide incentives to stay in the Section 515 program by offering resources to repair and restore homes.

“I have heard consistently at town halls across Oregon how a must for quality of life is ensuring there’s enough affordable housing in every nook and cranny of our state,” Wyden said. “This bill helps to achieve that objective through vouchers that keep a roof over the heads of rural residents who rely on affordable housing.”

Oregon has 178 properties primarily financed by Section 515, funding 5,765 units for low-income Oregonians in rural areas. Another 175 properties are established under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Rental Assistance program, funding 4,464 units.

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