Rogue Valley News Update, Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve

The latest News and Weather for the Rogue Valley from RogueValleyMagazine.com

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2019

Rogue Valley Weather

Today Cloudy, with a high near 41. Calm wind. Overnight, 50% chance of showers, with a nearby snow level of 2100 feet. Low of 34.

Wednesday, Christmas Day 30% chance of morning showers.  Nearby snow level 2000 feet rising to 2700 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Overnight, patchy fog.

Thursday Patchy fog before 7am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 46.

Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.

Saturday A slight chance of rain after 4pm. Snow level 2100 feet rising to 4700 feet in the afternoon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 50.

Sunday A chance of rain. Snow level 2800 feet rising to 4500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47.

TODAY’s HEADLINES

Authorities at Jackson County Public Health and area police are seeing a large spike of opioid overdoses in recent days.   As a result, yesterday the organization, Max’s Mission, was working in Alba Park handing out overdose-reversal drug packets with naloxone.  These are being distributed free in the area. 

“We have given out a lot of doses, an awful lot of doses,” said Julia Pinsky, executive director for Max’s Mission. “People contact us, we’ve given it out to the homeless, we’ve given it out to some of those businesses who see people who use, and we’re just trying to get as much as we can out there.”   

Saturday, a red alert came after hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and other emergency responders reported seeing more than a dozen potentially fatal overdoses over the past several days. At least one suspected case did result in someone’s death, the agency said.

Officials said that the overdoses are likely being caused by a particularly potent supply of heroin, or heroin that has been laced with other opioids.

“Because a dealer brings in a batch that’s too strong basically,” Pinsky said. “We don’t know if there is fentanyl in it because it is too soon to test for that. It could be fentanyl laced, but it is very dangerous to use.”

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is usually administered as a nasal spray to someone in the throes of an opioid overdose. It can reverse an overdose with near-miraculous efficacy.

Pinsky said that Max’s Mission had handed out eight or nine doses of naloxone at Alba Park by Monday afternoon. They were also at the park on Saturday, doing the same.

Joaquin Amadeus Cowart

In October Jackson County Sheriffs detectives aided by the special weapons and tactics team served warrants at residences in the first block and the 1800-block of Upper Applegate Road.

At the time of that incident, detectives arrested Joaquin Amadeus Cowart, 41, of the 1800-block of Upper Applegate Road.  Cowart had felony warrants for absconding from parole and for charges related to a domestic violence incident.  He was lodged in the Jackson County jail without bail due to the State Parole Board warrant. Also, Cowart is a registered sex offender who had not updated his registration as required.  The investigation has been continuing since then.

Yesterday detectives added additional charges on Cowart, who has been in custody since October. Cowart has been charged with one count of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and five counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. Total bail $1,000,000.

Mark Daniel Root

Also yesterday detectives arrested another suspect in conjunction with this investigation. 56 year old Mark Daniel Root was arrested at his home in Jacksonville. He was lodged at Jackson County Jail on three counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and eight counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. His bail is $1,000,000

Around the state

Oregonians will have to pay $18 to $110 more per year to register their vehicles come January 1st as the state implements a new tiered fee structure with higher rates for vehicles with better gas mileage.

The change will add the most front-end cost to owners of fuel-efficient hybrids and electric cars, which contribute less money to Oregon’s fuel tax revenues than gas-guzzler vehicles such as sports cars or pickup trucks. The state said the new fees are necessary to comply with Oregon’s constitution that requires everyone who uses the roads to pay their fair share, and electric car owners can avoid costs by allowing the state to track their mileage.

While some owners support the change, others say the increases contradict the state’s efforts to reduce emissions and have at least 50,000 electric cars registered by the end of 2020.

31 year old Richard Steven Alberts an Oregon Department of Corrections Officer and resident of Sherwood made an initial appearance today in federal court before a U.S. Magistrate yesterday.

The court unsealed a 3-count indictment charging Alberts and co-conspirator 27 year old Joseph Lucio Jimenez of Gresham with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distribution of heroin. Alberts and Jimenez are alleged to have conspired with one another and others to distribute methamphetamine and heroin into the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville where Alberts is employed.

The Oregon Department of Corrections previously placed Alberts on administrative leave pending this investigation. Jimenez was in pre-trial custody on an unrelated felon in possession of a firearm charge when he was indicted in this case. He will remain in custody and make his first appearance on these new charges at a later date.

Fishery managers in Oregon and Washington are extending the Columbia River steelhead fishing closure upstream of McNary Dam to the Oregon-Washington state line through March 31st.

The 2019 summer steelhead return is the fifth lowest return to McNary Dam on record since 1954. The continued closure is needed to maximize survival of these fish and ensure sufficient numbers of steelhead will be available to meet hatchery brood stock production needs.

Conservation measures have been in place since July to protect hatchery and wild B-Index steelhead within the Columbia and Snake River basins.  This area of the Columbia River also remains closed to all salmon fishing.

With the January 1, 2020 start date for Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) a little more than a week away, the Department of Revenue (DOR) wants to remind business taxpayers of the resources available to help them learn about, and comply with, the new tax law.

“Opening CAT registration in December is one of the many agency efforts to minimize the risk of taxpayer noncompliance,” said Nia Ray, director of the Department of Revenue. “We encourage feedback and questions to ensure the taxpaying community gets the information they need.”

Several resources are available for business taxpayers and tax preparers on the CAT page of the Department of Revenue website at www.oregon.gov/dor, including:

  • A link to register through Revenue Online.
  • A list of frequently asked questions, including high-level summaries of the rules and other topics that will help taxpayers comply with the new law.
  • Drafts of the first 12 administrative rules.
  • A sign-up form to receive the latest updates on the CAT.

For other information, email questions to cat.help.dor@oregon.gov or call 503-945-8005.

What is the CAT?

The Oregon Legislature created the Corporate Activity Tax in House Bills 3427 and 2164 during the 2019 session to provide new funding for early learning and K-12 education.

The CAT is imposed on businesses for the privilege of doing business in Oregon, including those located inside and outside of Oregon. It’s measured on a business’s commercial activity—the total amount a business realizes from activity in Oregon.

Businesses with taxable commercial activity in excess of $1 million must pay the Corporate Activity Tax. The tax is $250 plus 0.57% of gross receipts greater than $1 million after subtractions.

The CAT applies to all business entity types, such as C and S corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and other entities. Businesses with more than $750,000 in Oregon commercial activity are required to register for the CAT.

Registration

The new law requires registration within 30 days of meeting the threshold of $750,000 in Oregon commercial activity. A penalty of $100 per month may be assessed for failing to register, up to $1,000 per calendar year. Businesses that wish to do so, can register early.

Registration for the CAT opened earlier this month on Revenue Online. Taxpayers don’t need a Revenue Online account to register for the CAT. Those who have Revenue Online accounts can’t be logged in to register for the CAT. Instead, they should go directly to the CAT webpage and click on the “Register For CAT” link on the right-hand side of the page.

Administrative rules

DOR is currently in the process of writing temporary administrative rules to provide guidance and clarity regarding the new tax. The rules have been divided into three groups according to priority. The highest priority group will be filed with the Secretary of State in January, with the other two groups following in February and March. As drafts of the rules are completed, DOR will post them on the CAT webpage. Draft versions of the first 12 temporary rules are now available.

Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments; call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon; or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 800-886-7204.

The Oregon Emergency Communications (E911) tax rate will increase from $.75 cents to $1, beginning January 1, 2020. This is the first increase to the E911 tax since 1995.

Phone companies and retailers are required to collect the tax and pay it to the Oregon Department of Revenue. The E911 tax provides about 24 percent of the total operating costs for 9-1-1 centers in Oregon.

Examples of products or services subject to the E911 tax include:

  • Landline telephone service.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.
  • Wireless telephone prepaid or postpaid service.
  • Additional prepaid minutes, regardless if the purchase is made at a retailer’s physical location, online, or over the phone.

Examples of products or services not subject to the E911 tax include:

  • Phone accessories such as batteries, chargers, phone covers, etc.
  • Ringtones.
  • Long-distance phone cards.

For more information on the state 9-1-1 program and how Oregon E911 tax revenue is used, see “Emergency Communications Tax” on the Oregon Office of Emergency Management website.

Learn how a family farm built a hemp-processing facility into a model of workplace safety. Get tips on how to safely remove snow from roofs as the snowy season looms. Check out the top 10 on-the-job safety and health violations for 2019 – and connect with tools to help make your worksite safer.

These stories and information – and more – are now available in the December issue of Health and Safety Resource. The bimonthly online  newsletter, published by Oregon OSHA, empowers employers and workers with knowledge about how to make their workplaces safer and healthier.

Inside the current issue, you’ll find:

  • FSOil grows a model safety culture: Spend time with a family farm in Woodburn that not only found success in Oregon’s burgeoning hemp industry, but did so while focusing on the safety and health of its workers.
  • How to safely remove snow from roofs: Do you understand the hazards of removing snow from roofs? Do you know which Oregon OSHA rules apply to such work? Get answers – and more – from this story.
  • Going the Distance: Meet Elizabeth Kokos, senior wind technician for PGE’s Biglow Canyon wind farm. Kokos discusses the wind farm’s journey through Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

Other features include:

  • Administrator’s message: Learn about Oregon OSHA’s policy vision.
  • Did you know? Scan the list of the top safety and health violations in 2019, and click links to find helpful tools.
  • Short takes: Review recent enforcement actions, access free online training for roofing safety, and learn about and support a high school video safety contest.

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