Rogue Valley News, Thursday, Dec. 26 –

The latest News and Weather for the Rogue Valley from


Rogue Valley Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 42. Overnight patchy freezing fog with a low of 30 degrees.

Friday Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 45. Low of 32 overnight.

Saturday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49.  Overnight a 40% of showers. Low around 37.

Sunday A chance of showers before 10am, then rain likely, mainly between 10am and 4pm. Snow level 3800 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 46. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Monday Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 48.

Today’s Headlines

A driver on Christmas Eve heavily damaged a Pacific Power box containing a 3-phase 12,000 volt set of lines along South Pacific Highway on Tuesday night.   According to Medford Fire-Rescue, the area was secured after a hit-n-run driver missed a power pole but crashed into the power box. 

The driver tried to leave the scene but was caught and arrested by Bear Creek Security and Medford Police. 

A second driver who was rear-ended by the first was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Crews from Pacific Power had to cut the electrical flow through the box from a safe distance, then removed the crashed vehicle before putting the box back together.  No further details are available at this time.

Grants Pass Fire Rescue responded to a residential fire at 1633 Panoramic Loop early Christmas Eve at about 6PM.

Residents returned home to find a fire in the interior of their home. The fire quickly spread and could be seen venting from the 2nd story windows by responding crews. First arriving unit could not confirm that everyone was out of the house so a 2nd alarm was called.  Crews were able to conduct a search of the house and determined that no one was inside.

Two people were injured at the fire, The first was a resident who attempted to enter the house prior to fire crews arriving to look for family pets who suffered minor smoke inhalation. The second was a fire fighter who fell from a ladder while fighting the fire and received a minor injury to his ankle. Both were transported by ambulance for precaution. 

Fire fighting efforts were hampered by part of the second floor collapsing. The fire was controlled at 7:02 pm and extensive overhaul was conducted.

GPFR was assisted at the scene by Rural Metro Fire Department, Rogue River Fire District, Jackson County Fire District 9, Illinois Valley Fire District, American Medical Response, and the Grants Pass Police.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the fire can call the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety at 541-450-6200.

Around the state

Fatal crash on Highway 126w in Lane County. 

Yesterday morning at approximately 4:30 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle collision on Hwy 126W near milepost 51.

Preliminary investigation revealed a red GMC Sierra pickup operated by Conrad Schwarzkopf (25) of Springfield, was eastbound on Hwy 126W when it struck a bicycle, operated by Travis Ewert (49) of Veneta, in the eastbound lane.

Ewert sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Schwarzkopf was not injured.   Hwy 126W was closed for approximately 4 hours with a detour in place.

On Wednesday evening, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 213 near milepost 22.

Preliminary investigation shows that a Honda Civic, operated by Nathan Ward (38) of Silverton, was southbound on Hwy 213 when it left the roadway and struck multiple fence poles.

Ward sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.  No other information is available at this time.

The Oregon Health Authority is encouraging people to consider making health one of their top priorities in 2020. To this end, OHA is launching a social media campaign to share resources to help people improve their health. The following are six New Year’s health resolutions OHA will be sharing resources about:

HIV treatment and prevention

Getting tested, accessing treatment, using condoms and having open communication with sexual partners are ways to prevent HIV. Prevention medication such as PrEP is offered to Oregon Health Plan members and is free to people without drug insurance coverage through the Ready, Set, PrEP program.

Save on prescription costs

The Oregon Prescription Drug Program is the state’s prescription discount card program. You can enroll online, by phone at 800-913-4284, or you can download a printed application available in four languages and mail to the program.

Get health insurance

OHP is free and you can sign up anytime. Here are three ways to apply:

  1. Apply online: Go to to login or create an account.
  2. Trained community partners across the state can help you fill out an application. It’s free. Visit to find community partners in your area.
  3. You can download and print an application or have an application mailed to you. Request a paper application by calling OHP Customer Service at 800-699-9075 or 711 (TTY).

Get a flu vaccine

Protect your family, co-workers, neighbors and community from the flu. Cases of flu are on the rise across Oregon, but it’s not too late to get vaccinated. To find flu vaccine clinics, visit and use OHA’s flu vaccine locator tool.

Talk to your kids about their health

Let them know that now they can take “mental health days” just as they would sick days. Under state law, students can have up to five absences excused in a three-month period.

Quit vaping/tobacco

If you or someone you know is ready to quit tobacco or vaping cannabis or nicotine, free help is available. Contact the Oregon Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or online at or in Spanish at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA or online at

A former Oregon police officer filed a lawsuit saying he faced retaliation within the department for reporting a former police chief struck him with his arm while holding a metal sign, court records said.

Joseph Patnode is suing the Sunriver Police Department, current police Chief Cory Darling, Sunriver Service District board administrator and a department deputy, The Bulletin reported Tuesday.

The defendants violated Patnode’s free speech rights and retaliated against him for whistleblowing, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

The former Sunriver police sergeant is seeking $2.5 million in damages for lost wages and benefits, lost economic potential, harm to reputation, emotional distress and other reasons.

Former Police Chief Marc Mills struck Patnode in the chest with his forearm while holding a metal citizens patrol sign during an altercation while both men were on duty in December 2017, Patnode said.

Bend Police officers initiated a human trafficking investigation Christmas eve in Bend. Bend Police Officers conducted traffic stop on a stolen vehicle.

Occupants of the vehicle included Jennifer Johnson (40 year-old Portland resident), Tyler Ford (29 year-old Gresham resident) and a 15 year-old juvenile female. The 15 year-old female was a missing person out of the Portland area. Heroin and Methamphetamine were seized from the vehicle, along with numerous stolen and forged identification documents. Several of the recovered documents were linked to thefts in the Portland area. Among other crimes, Ford was found to be in violation of a restraining order, for being in contact with the 15 year-old juvenile female in the vehicle. 

Throughout the course of the investigation, Bend Police developed reason to believe that the 15 year-old female was being groomed for work in the commercial sex trade. No one was injured during this investigation and the juvenile is now safe. 

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