The latest news stories from around the Rogue Valley and across the state of Oregon from RogueValleyMagazine.com.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Today A 20% of rain before 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. Overnight, mostly cloudy, with a low around 40. Calm wind.
Thursday Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 56. Calm wind.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 58.
Saturday A chance of showers, mainly between 10am and 4pm. Snow level 3700 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 49.
Mobile voting seems to be working in Jackson County.
Currently the state of Oregon votes by mail, but that could all change in the future. Jackson County was one of just two counties in the state that tested out mobile voting for this past fall’s special election. It was the first time the county had ever used that type of voting technology.
Jackson County tested the program with about 200 people, using an app. Included were active duty military and residents living abroad. Participants voted through a mobile app on their smart phones. So far the pilot program has received positive feedback.
Officials say the county is cautious with voting security, but recognizes the need for accessibility. With the successful trial run, she says this is just the first step toward the future of voting. The hope is that the general public will eventually be able to cast their vote the same way.
The Timber Unity organization, a coalition of Oregonian truckers, loggers, and other opponents of a divisive cap-and-trade proposal plan to rally at the state capitol in Salem this week, protesting the inevitable return of a bill that roiled Oregon last year.
In June of 2019, Republican senators fled the state to deny a vote on the legislation, which Democratic lawmakers supported as a method of lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Opponents of the bill argued that it would prove devastating to logging and other industries that employ many Oregonians — particularly in rural areas of the state.
Cap and trade will force businesses to move and cost thousands of living-wage jobs for Oregonians. Democrats prioritize special interests over hard-working Oregonians.
In solidarity with the Republicans and in vehement opposition to House Bill 2020, truckers and loggers — many of them loosely organized under the “Timber Unity” banner — gathered in Salem to oppose the legislation.
Buckle Up Oregon. Between February 3, 2020 and February 16, 2020, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is utilizing grant funding to put more deputies on the streets with a focus on seat belt usage.
We urge everyone, whether you are a driver or a passenger, to use your seat belt! Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
In 2015, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 people from dying. From 2011 to 2015 seat belts saved nearly 64,000 lives—enough people to fill a large sports arena.
Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. In fact, if you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag; a movement of such force could injure or even kill you. Visit www.nhtsa.gov/airbags for more on air bag safety.
With seat belts, proper fit matters. To be sure your seat belt fits you better here are some tips to consider. Before you buy a new car, check to see that its seat belts are a good fit for you. Ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters, which can help you get the best fit. If you need a roomier belt, contact your vehicle manufacturer to obtain seat belt extenders. If you drive an older or classic car with lap belts only, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts.
For more information on seat belt safety for children and pregnant women, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov/seatbelts. Y
ou will find information on when your child is ready for an adult seat belt and NHTSA’s seat belt recommendations for pregnant women to buckle up the right way every trip, every time.
Gov. Brown appointed nine members to the new Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee who will advise the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on expenditures related to the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.
The Oregon Legislature created both the Advisory Committee and the Conservation and Recreation Fund in House Bill 2829 in 2019.
The Fund is a new way for Oregonians to support projects that protect and enhance the species and habitats identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy and create new opportunities for wildlife watching, urban conservation, community science and other wildlife-associated recreation.
The Legislature has challenged Oregonians to demonstrate support for fish and wildlife conservation by generating $1 million for the Fund at which point the state’s General Fund will match with an additional $1 million.
Around the state
More state elections directors are expressing interest in Oregon’s vote-by-mail elections, Oregon’s elections director said Tuesday as Democratic Party officials in Iowa struggled to announce votes from their presidential caucus.
Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout said he just got back from a conference of all the state election directors and there’s more and more discussion, more and more questions about can vote by mail help us. He said obviously we’ve been doing this for over 20 years now successfully. He appeared at a press conference alongside FBI Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon and U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams to discuss election security.
In addition to Oregon, Washington , Colorado, Utah and Hawaii also vote by mail. With Oregon voters mailing their ballots or leaving them at official drop boxes, hackers have fewer places to get in and target the election system.
While customers often remember the cookie sellers they see in front of area businesses like Fred Meyer, JOANN (fabric and craft stores), Safeway-Albertson’s and Wal-Mart, they may never know about the countless hours contributed in support of Girl Scouts by volunteers.
Volunteers serve in a variety of important roles, including booth sales coordinators, cookie inventory managers, cookie rally organizers, incentive organizers, regional volunteer organizers and warehouse coordinators.
Girl Scouts that participate during Depot Days gain exposure to these operations and hone business and entrepreneurial skills including communication, customer service, logistics, math, and group management.
“The amount of Girl Scout Cookies moved during Depot Days is truly amazing. It’s a huge endeavor, and volunteers, girls and their families make it happen,” says Victoria Foreman, Director of Product Sales for Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington. “We love that girls get to see behind the scenes of Girl Scout Cookie inventory management, from planning to organization to execution. These are key skills needed to run a business, and girls get unique, hands-on practice through the cookie program.”
Girl Scout Cookies are distributed on Saturday, February 8, at warehouses located in Eugene, Tualatin, and Vancouver, and deliveries are made throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington from February 6-12.
Oregon counties, tribes and community partners are using a 2019 legislative investment to continue modernizing the state’s public health system, including expanding interventions to prevent and respond to emerging disease threats.
The Legislature’s 2019 allocation for public health modernization, the initiative launched seven years ago to upgrade the state’s governmental public health system, provides an investment of $15.6 million for the 2019-2021 biennium.
“A key to building a modern public health system in Oregon is ensuring every person in Oregon — regardless of income, race, ethnicity or geographic location — has access to essential public health services,” said Lillian Shirley, public health director at the Oregon Health Authority. “A modern public health system provides core public health functions and maintains the flexibility needed to focus on new health challenges, such as emerging infectious diseases, climate change, threats from human-caused and natural disasters, and chronic diseases.”
She adds, “We’re seeing the importance of a modern public health infrastructure in our preparations for and responses to recent emerging disease crises, such as those created by the outbreaks of vaping-associated lung injuries and novel coronavirus.”
The bulk of the funding, about $10.3 million, is being distributed to local public health authorities — county public health departments — to address local priorities for controlling communicable diseases. The funds also continue support for seven regional partnerships, covering 32 of 36 counties, and allow expansion of successful approaches to communicable disease control efforts started in 2017. The approaches demonstrate new models of public health programs considered among the foundation of essential services for every community to protect and promote health.
Examples include deployment of regional teams to respond to outbreaks; improving immunizations among 2-year-olds and adolescents; providing training and technical assistance to the health care community on controlling sexually transmitted infections; sharing information about public health threats with the health care provider community; using data analytics to improve infectious disease data access, analysis and sharing; and building relationships with populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of communicable disease and poor health outcomes.
Theron Gilbert Geber, 36, a resident of Coos Bay, Oregon, was sentenced to five years in federal prison followed by a four-year term of supervised release for distributing methamphetamine and unlawfully possessing sawed-off shotguns.
According to court documents, in March 2019, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) learned that Gerber, who had prior state felony convictions, was selling firearms and methamphetamine in the Coos Bay area.
On April 4, 2019, an undercover ATF agent met with Gerber for a firearms purchase. Upon entering Gerber’s home, the agent saw drug paraphernalia and approximately 20 to 25 firearms displayed for sale. During the meeting, Gerber stated, “everything’s for sale for the right price.” Gerber then sold the agent a short-barreled shotgun, a Glock pistol, three magazines, three drum magazines, and 91 rounds of ammunition—all for $600.
The agent arranged a second purchase the following week. On April 11, 2019, the agent again met with Gerber inside his residence. This time, the agent purchased an AK-style rifle for $500 and asked if Gerber would sell methamphetamine. Gerber agreed to sell the agent approximately 13 grams of methamphetamine for $240.
Finally, on April 25, 2019, the agent brokered a third firearm purchase from Gerber. Gerber sold the agent a second sawed-off shotgun, an AR-style pistol, 181 rounds of assorted ammunition, six 30-round AR-style magazines, and a Colt .45 caliber “Night Defender” pistol for $1,500. A short time later, ATF agents executed a search warrant on Gerber’s residence and arrested him.
As part of his plea agreement, Gerber agreed to forfeit the firearms described in the indictment.
On January 6, 2020, Geber pleaded guilty to one count each of unlawful possession of a short-barreled firearm and distribution of methamphetamine.
This case was investigated by ATF and prosecuted by Nathan J. Lichvarcik and William McLaren, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.