The latest news stories from across the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon, from RogueValleyMagazine.com.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Today Partly sunny, with a high near 37. Overnight mostly cloudy with a low around 25.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 41. East northeast wind around 5 mph. Overnight low of around 29.
Monday, M.L.King Day Partly sunny, with a high near 43. Overnight a chance of rain mixed with snow, with the snow lever around 4900 feet lowering to 4300 feet. Low of 33. Possible snow accumulation of less than a half inch.
Tuesday Rain and snow likely, mainly before 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Wednesday A chance of snow before 4pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38.
Around the valley, a few thousand people remain without electric power after the storms earlier this week. Crews are working to clear roads and downed trees. With that, Grants Pass Public Works is one of the municipalities working to restore power along with Pacific Power.
The Red Cross opened two shelters. One is at the Josephine County Fairgrounds in Grants Pass and the other is at Illinois Valley High school in Cave Junction. The shelters will be open as long as needed and offer food, showers and a warm place to stay. While some residents have been trickling in, the Red Cross says more are expected to seek help if power isn’t restored soon.
Cave Junction has many living on wells where electric pumps are not working, leaving residents without hot water, or heat.
The Red Cross says they’ll remain open as long as needed. When emergency services decides it’s no longer needed, a 24-hour notice will be given before shelters close their doors.
Pacific Power says crews will work day and night until it is fully restored having brought in many extra crews. Power has been restored to approximately 1,900 customers during Friday night with additional crews and equipment coming in from across the region to assist with clearing downed trees and restoration efforts.
Vegetation crews continue to focus on clearing away hundreds of felled trees and clearing debris from roads so line crews can safely make repairs to restore power to the remaining 6,000 customers impacted by the outages caused by the Jan. 16 winter storm that at its peak left more than 18,000 customers without power.
Crews have made steady progress during the night and expect to continue to restore more customers throughout today and into the evening. Restoration efforts have been hampered by the sheer number of outages spread across vast, difficult to access terrain and hundreds of felled trees.
More than 300 Pacific Power personnel and contractors are working around the clock in the area. Pacific Power estimates between 1,500 and 2,000 customers could be restored by this evening, but cautions some customers could remain without power into next week.
Red Cross Shelters. Red Cross has opened emergency shelters in areas that are experiencing extended outages.
- Illinois Valley High School: 625 E River St, Cave Junction, OR 97523,
- Josephine County Fairgrounds, Pavilion Building: 1451 Fairgrounds Road, Grants Pass, OR, 97527.
Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797. Text STAT to 722797 to check the status of your outage. Customers and media representatives can also track outages of any size online. Updates will be made as new information becomes available or at least hourly at pacificpower.net/outage.
To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:
- Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.
- Don’t drive over downed power lines.
- Turn on your porch light. After crews complete repairs, they patrol the area of the power failure to see if any lights are still out
- Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
- If you have power at this time, keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Pacific Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
- Remember your pets! Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.
- If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
- If you are using a generator, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the generator is outside and not near any household air intakes. Do not connect the generator directly to your breaker box as this can create a dangerous situation for crews working on the powerlines. Instead plug essential appliances directly into the generator.
Arrest made in elderly financial abuse case. On December 7, 2019 the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a Theft case involving an elderly victim under the care of an in-home care provider. The victim suffers from dementia and lives alone in the Shady Cove, Oregon area.
The investigation lead to the discovery of the care provider making multiple unauthorized cash withdrawals from the victim’s account using her ATM card at an ATM machine. The thefts occurred in October and November, 2019.
The suspect was arrested on January 10, 2020 at his home in Central Point.
The suspect is Tyson Chad Lee Sledge, DOB 04-23-88 of the 400 block of N. 1st St. Central Point, OR.
Sledge was lodged at Jackson County Jail and has been indicted by the Jackson County Grand Jury on four counts of Criminal Mistreatment First Degree, four counts of Identity Theft and one Count of Theft First Degree.
The suspect was employed by Interim Health Care. The company fully assisted in the investigation of this matter. They also notified all of their clients that the suspect worked for. It is believed Sledge may have had other clients he contracted with privately on his own. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have been the victim of similar crimes involving this suspect, please contact Deputy Duke, Jackson County S.O. at 541-973-4126.
High Cascade highways remain closed overnight due to additional snow and trees that fell overnight and yesterday.
However, Oregon 138E is expected to open a limited distance today by 2 p.m. The highway will only be open from U.S. 97 west into Diamond Lake and Three Lakes SnoPark only. No through traffic. Crews are working on the Oregon 138 connection from Roseburg area as well as Oregon 62 from Prospect north toward Union Creek and Crater Lake National Park boundary.
To encourage visitation and appreciation for America’s public lands, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it will waive recreation-related visitor’s fees during five 2020 Fee-Free Days.
On these five days, recreation-related fees for all visitors to agency-managed public lands across the nation will be waived. Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the BLM, William Perry Pendley, hopes that with their fee-free days Americans will get outside to enjoy the 245 million acres of public lands across our nation, most of which are in the West and Alaska. The next Fee-Free Day is Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Around the state of Oregon
Salem– The first-annual Oregon Housing Economic Summit (“Summit”), presented by the Oregon Home Builders Association, the Oregon Bankers Association and the Oregon Association of REALTORS® was held yesterday in Salem. The event drew over 400 participants representing the homebuilding, banking and real estate industries, as well as public officials and other stakeholders.
Senior Economist and Director of Housing and Commercial Research at the National Association of REALTORS® Gay Cororaton, CBE, and Dr. Michael Wilkerson, partner and director of analytics with ECONorthwest, addressed economic and housing affordability issues. Policies impacting housing supply at the local level were tackled during a panel discussion with City of Tigard’s Community Development Director Kenny Asher and Sightline Institute’s Senior Researcher Michael Andersen.
For an on the ground perspective, industry representatives discussed trends and barriers to housing development, financing, and homeownership. Panelists included Susan Brown, senior vice president and construction production manager at Umpqua Bank, Chad Harvey, principal broker at Harvey Realty Group, and Justin Wood, vice president of Fish Construction NW.
Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (N/NE Portland) and two members of the House Interim Committee On Human Services and Housing, Chair Alissa Keny-Guyer (NE/SE Portland) and Vice-Chair Ron Noble (McMinnville) concluded the program with a discussion about recent housing-related legislation and their views about addressing Oregon’s housing affordability and availability challenges. The representatives fielded audience comments and questions from various industry perspectives.
The Summit succeeded in bringing together key stakeholders for a collaborative and productive dialogue about the challenges and potential solutions to housing affordability and availability in Oregon. The three industry groups plan to hold next year’s Oregon Housing Economic Summit in Salem on January 14, 2021. More information will be available at https://oregonhousingeconomicsummit.com.
Portland– The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Decision Record for the reclassification of public domain lands as part in one of the final steps of the implementation of the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act.
The Act, signed into law by President Trump on January 8, 2018, directed the BLM to transfer 14,708 acres of public lands to be held in trust for the benefit of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, and 17,812 acres to be held in trust for the benefit of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Of these conveyed lands, 31,132 acres were lands managed under the Oregon and California Lands (O&C lands) Act of 1937.
In addition to transferring these lands into trust for the Tribes, the Act also required the BLM to identify and convert public domain lands to replace the conveyed O&C lands. Reclassifying these lands as O&C lands will allow 18 western Oregon counties to share in a portion of receipts from timber sales on these lands.
The selected alternative in the Decision Record ensures that BLM will meet the requirements of the law by converting lands of approximately equal acreage and condition. This will ensure that these converted lands have the potential to provide approximately equal timber receipt payments to O&C counties as the conveyed O&C lands would have.
The selected alternative will also reclassify plots to best match the condition of the conveyed O&C lands that were transferred to the tribes. This means that the selected alternative will also match the estimated average annual payments to O&C counties from timber sales on reclassified lands that the O&C counties would have received from timber sales on the conveyed tribal lands.
The reclassification of public domain lands to O&C lands does not change the management of the land, which is governed by the 2016 Northwestern and Coastal Oregon Resource Management Plan and the Southwestern Oregon Resource Management Plan. Additional information about the effort is available online at: https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington/serving-america/western-oregon-tribal-fairness-act
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.