Rogue Valley News, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 -Pacific Power Restoring Power To More Homes After Storm

The latest news stories from across the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon, from RogueValleyMagazine.com.

MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2020MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

Rogue Valley First Alert Weather

Today   Morning fog then mostly cloudy, with a high near 51. Overnight rain expected, low of 39.  New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tuesday   Rain at times.  Snow level 3600 feet. High near 47. Southeast wind 7 to 10 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon.  New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.  Overnight a 30% chance of showers. Snow level 3500 feet.

Wednesday   A 50 percent chance of rain, mainly before 4pm. Snow level 3400 feet rising to 6100 feet in the afternoon.

Thursday   Morning rain possible, otherwise cloudy with a near near 53.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: What’s open and what’s closed

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan officially declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday in the U.S, but it wasn’t until 1986 that it was celebrated that way. Since then, the holiday has allowed many Americans the day off to remember the legacy of the prominent civil rights leader.

Here’s what’s open and closed on January 20, 2020.

Post office is closed Minus a few select locations, US Postal Service offices will be closed. There will be no mail delivery to homes and businesses except for Priority Mail Express, according to USPS. If you need something delivered, UPS is open. FedEx is operating, but with modified service for FedEx Express and FedEx SmartPost.

A majority of US banks are closed because they follow the holiday schedule of the Federal Reserve System, which is the nation’s central bank. That includes most Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo bank locations. But that shouldn’t stop you from being able to take out some quick cash as ATMs and online banking will be operating. Also closed are the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

What about the DMV? Most DMV offices will be closed, as they are government agencies. Same goes for courts and other nonessential government buildings.

Most retail and grocery stores, restaurants are open.

Today’s Rogue Valley Headlines

Pacific Power restored power to approximately 1,900 customers during the night with additional crews and equipment coming in from across the region to assist with clearing downed trees and restoration efforts.

Many downed trees have hampered power restoration efforts in Southern Oregon after last week’s snow storm.

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 are open in a few areas as emergency shelters for those still 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 722797Text 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.

Around the state

Brandon Michael Vanderploeg, 39, of Winchester Bay, Oregon, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and two years’ supervised release for assaulting his then-girlfriend aboard a fishing vessel in August 2018.

According to court documents, on August 16, 2018, members of the U.S. Coast Guard were dispatched to a situation at sea involving the report of a woman who had been assaulted by her boyfriend onboard a commercial fishing vessel. A coast guard helicopter located the vessel 17 nautical miles off the Oregon Coast. Two members of the coast guard boarded the vessel and made contact with Vanderploeg and the victim.

The victim reported that Vanderploeg had assaulted her on several occasions since leaving Winchester Bay. She specifically reported that Vanderploeg held her down, punched her repeated in the face, head-butted her in the nose, and slammed her head down on a tool box. The assault resulting in a three-inch laceration to her right cheek, a depressed nasal fracture, multiple contusions to her knees and arms, and a cervical strain.

During the investigation, the coast guard crew who boarded and conducted a sweep of the vessel, immediately noted a strong smell of alcohol coming from Mr. Venderploeg, who admitted to drinking. Mr. Vanderploeg tested positive for alcohol, registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .183. An individual operating a commercial vessel is considered intoxicated at a BAC of .04 or more.

On September 30, 2019, Vanderploeg pleaded guilty to assault within the maritime jurisdiction of the U.S. and operating a commercial vessel under the influence of alcohol. As part of his plea agreement, Vanderploeg agreed to pay restitution in full to his victim as ordered by the court. A restitution hearing will be held at a later date.  This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Alex Spenser, a Klamath Falls activist and writer is running to represent Oregon’s Congressional District 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives in the race for retiring Greg Walden’s seat.

Spenser began her involvement in this election as a campaign strategist for Raz Mason, a woman running for the seat from The Dalles, but when Mason withdrew from the race, she suggested Spenser take her place. Spenser has lived in Klamath Falls for 10 years after growing up near Dallas, Texas and living throughout the country from New York City to Arkansas to California.

Her platform consists of working toward comprehensive healthcare from head to toe, energy reform, pharmaceutical reform, gun responsibility and fair water rights. Her time in Klamath Falls has given her a glimpse at how crucial an issue water is to the region, but she sees the Congressional District 2 as a potential example for the rest of the country should she be able to accomplish successful water legislation.

The American Farm Bureau Federation presented one of its highest honors, the Farm Bureau Founders Award, to Oregon’s Barry Bushue during AFBF’s 101st Annual Convention in Austin.

The Farm Bureau Founders Award was established in January 2017 to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations.

Barry Bushue served as the vice-president of AFBF from 2008-2016 and is known as a tireless worker, mentor and fundraiser. He served as the Oregon Farm Bureau President from 1999-2018 and on the AFBF Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Trade Advisory Committee and the Vision for Action Task Force. He is a firm believer that farmers and ranchers should get involved in education and the policy making process.

Bushue says, “Activism needs to be a part of your business plan. You budget for fertilizer, you budget for your seed, you budget for maintenance, you budget for all these things you do, new tractors, whatever it is you need. But, if you don’t have a line item that somehow represents an activist piece of what it is you do and show your passion for agriculture, then I think you are missing something on your farm.”

Bushue and his wife, Helen, invite members of the public to their family farm outside Portland, Oregon, to pick various fruits, vegetables, and a fall favorite, pumpkins. Bushue says opening his farm to the public comes with its challenges but he has developed a customer base that recognizes the value of agriculture.

Sharon Waterman, also a former president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, talks about Bushue’s affection for Farm Bureau, “Barry talks about the Farm Bureau family and what we can do as a Farm Bureau family because if we stand together for agriculture, we can move forward.”

Bushue says his father told him if he was going to farm smart, he needed to be part of Farm Bureau, adding, “He said, ‘We’re going to go to the [Farm Bureau] meeting tonight, and you’re going with me. I embraced it and I loved it. I’ve always had a passion for it, I think I inherited that, it’s probably genetics in our family.”

Barry Bushue was nominated by the Oregon Farm Bureau. A national Farm Bureau committee selected each of the winners.

VIDEO: See a YouTube video about Barry Bushue here: https://oregonfb.org/barryfoundersaward/

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 over the weekend 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 HousingChair 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.

It has been announced that the Lakeview Federal Sustained Yield Unit, also known as the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit, on the Fremont-Winema National Forest has been officially discontinued.

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen signed the letter ending the Unit at the recommendation of Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa and Fremont-Winema National Forest Supervisor Barry Imler following the conclusion of the regular 10-year review in September.

Put in place nearly 70 years ago, the Unit has evolved through the regular 10-year reviews, including the change in name to the Lakeview Stewardship Unit in 2001 and a restoration-focused policy statement. 

Even with those changes, nearly 20 years later, the Unit was found during the latest review to be no longer viable or meeting its objectives. 

The 492,000-acre Unit was established in 1950 to benefit local economic stability in the communities of Lakeview and Paisley by providing forest products.  Initially there were three mills as part of the designation, with the mills restricted to only purchasing timber from within the Unit. 

Over the past several years, the number of operating mills has decreased to one – Collins Pine in Lakeview.  The decision to discontinue the Unit will allow that mill to bid on timber sales on all National Forest System Lands in the area.

Press Release from the Oregon Association of AARP

AARP Oregon praised Oregon’s entire House delegation vote today for bipartisan legislation to combat age discrimination – the “Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” (POWADA).  The House of Representatives vote approving the bill is the most important action yet in the long drive toward passage.

“Thank you Representatives Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio, Schrader and Walden in sending a clear message that age discrimination must be treated as seriously as other forms of workplace discrimination,” said  Ruby Haughton-Pitts, AARP Oregon State Director.

“Today’s vote is especially heartening for older workers, who make vital contributions to society and to their work places, and whose numbers are growing.  The law must be strengthened because age discrimination is widespread, yet too often it goes unreported and unaddressed.  AARP urges the Senate to take up and pass these important protections,” she said.

Closer to home, AARP Oregon and other advocates are working to create an Age Discrimination Task Force in the hopes of passing legislation in 2021 to strengthen the state’s age discrimination laws. “It’s time to fight back and say that in our state, we don’t tolerate sexism, racism or ageism. All forms of discrimination must be rooted out of our society,” said Haughton-Pitts.

POWADA was first introduced, with AARP backing, after an adverse 2009 Supreme Court decision (Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.) that made it much more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age.  The legislation would restore longstanding protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which covers workers aged 40 and over.

In the Senate, the bipartisan companion legislation (S.485) is sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bob Casey (D-PA).

The House action comes as older workers play an increasingly important role in the workforce. Estimates are that by 2024, 41 million people ages 55 and older will be in the labor force, nearly an eight percent increase from the current number.  In addition, next year the oldest millennials will start turning 40 and  they will be covered by the ADEA.

The percentage of those 65 and older in the workforce has been increasing incrementally for more than three decades, with more than one in five in that cohort currently working or seeking work.

At the same time, the 2018 AARP “Value of Experience” study showed that age discrimination remains alive and well. The survey found that 61 percent of older workers said they had either faced or observed age bias.

The 61 percent figure is consistent with past surveys on the question and parallels an Oregon survey which found that 62 percent of workers 40 and older had seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

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