Rogue Valley News, Monday, 5/4 – State Capitol Protesters Want Oregon To Re-Open; Tensions Mounting Across the State

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the valley,

Monday, May 4, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Sunny, with a high near 77. Overnight, partly cloudy with a low of 48.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. West northwest wind 3 to 5 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 87.

Sunny, with a high near 91.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 90

Today’s Headlines

Coronvirus Cases in Southern Oregon

Jackson County: 0 new cases. 11 active cases, 38 recovered cases (49 cases total).

Josephine County: 1 new case. 9 active cases, 12 recovered, 1 death (22 cases total).  

Klamath County: 0 new cases. 8 active cases, 31 recovered (39 cases total).

While no new Covid-19 cases were reported in Jackson County over the weekend, Josephine County is reporting one new case.

For the state of Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority says the death toll stands at 109 with 2680 cases in the state. There were 45 new cases reported over the weekend.

They also reported 45 new cases of COVID-19 as of 8 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 2,680. The new COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (1), Coos (4), Hood River (2), Josephine (1), Malheur (1), Marion (21), Multnomah (5), Umatilla (3), Washington (7).

Grants Pass fire

At 9:45 am Sunday morning, a citizen called 911 and reported a fire in her living room at 225 NW Blossom Ave.

Grants Pass Fire Rescue arrived on the scene approximately 3 minutes after the 911 call. First arriving unit observed smoke coming from the front door of the house. Crews quickly pulled a hose line and extinguished a fire in the living room that was beginning to spread to other rooms in the house. Crews then determined that the fire had not extended to the attic.

The owner of the house was taken to Three Rivers Hospital for observation by AMR due to smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.  Units from Grants Pass Fire Rescue, Rural Mero Fire Department , Grants Pass Police and American Medical Response responded to the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Anyone having information on the fire should call Grants Pass Department of Public Safety at 541-450-6200. 

Grants Pass Fire Rescue would like to remind everyone of the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home.

Also Sunday, Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Officers were alerted to a suspect caught on video checking door handles of vehicles near the intersection of NE A St and NE Elida. 

Officers responded to the area and began looking for the suspect.  A gold Toyota Highlander was found leaving the area and the driver was recognized as the suspect from the video.  

Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, which fled at a high rate of speed into the parking lot of Elmer’s Restaurant.  Officers moved to contain the vehicle which drove around to the north side of the Holiday Inn Express.  The suspect then ran from the moving vehicle, sending it towards parked cars in the Holiday Inn parking lot.  A GPDPS Officer used his patrol car to block the moving vehicle, preventing damage to the citizen cars in the parking lot, but causing extensive damage to the passenger side of the patrol vehicle.  

The Toyota Highlander was determined to be stolen out of Douglas County with stolen license plates on the vehicle.  The suspect was last observed crossing the Grants Pass Parkway and officers established a perimeter and called a K-9 unit to the scene to assist.  With the aid of a GPDPS Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and K-9 Maro, a search was conducted in the area of Foothill Blvd and Lawless Lane. 

The suspect was located by K-9 Maro hiding in a marsh over an embankment. The suspect was taken into custody without incident and identified as 32 year old Jacob Leroy Ellis. Ellis was found to be in possession of several hundred dollars in fake currency.  He was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the following charges: 

Unauthorized Entry into a Motor Vehicle (Attempted)
Douglas County Warrant- Attempt to Commit Felon in Possession of a Firearm
Attempt to Elude Police- Felony
Attempt to Elude Police- Misdemeanor
Recklessly Endangering Another
Reckless Driving
Criminal Mischief 2
Driving While Suspended- Misdemeanor

Anyone with information regarding the case or video of the suspect, is asked to contact the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety at (541)450-6260 regarding case 20-19839

Around the State of Oregon

Early this Monday morning at approximately 12:21 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a vehicle crash on Interstate 5 southbound near milepost 29.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Mazda sedan, operated by Sidney De La Cruz (26) of Ashland, was southbound on Interstate 5 when she struck a pedestrian that was in the travel lanes of Interstate 5.  A second vehicle, a Ford utility work truck, operated by Shawn Child (49) of Molalla, also struck the pedestrian.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased on scene.

De La Cruz and Child were not injured. Interstate 5 southbound was closed for approximately 2.5 hours following the crash. OSP was assisted by Medford PD, Central Point PD, Mercy Flights, Medford Fire, and ODOT.

The name of the pedestrian will be released at a later time.

Demonstrators flocked to the state Capitol on Saturday, the latest in a series of national protests demanding governors ease social distancing restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A few hundred folks gathered in front of the Oregon State Capitol, rain alternately pounding and drizzling as many attendees waved signs with slogans like “Reopen Oregon,” “Open schools” and “no more masks.”

Other demonstrators waved the U.S. flags or “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, while others waved banners reading “Trump 2020.”

Organizers say they view the social distancing mandates issued by Gov. Kate Brown as government overreach.

Since mid-March, Brown’s orders have shuttered many businesses, put some parks and campgrounds off limits and required public schools to adopt distance learning programs. The reserved parking lot in front of the building was packed for much of the three-hour event. A sizable crowd formed across the street between the Department of Education headquarters and state library building as country and hard rock music blasted from tents and horns blared from a non-stop parade of vehicles circling the block.

The highest rate of coronavirus cases in Washington state is in Yakima County, an agricultural giant that has more than double the state average of cases.

In fact, the county of 250,000 people has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases of any county on the West Coast. Health experts point to a large number of essential workers, a large number of cases in long-term care facilities and a large agricultural workforce living and working in close quarters as the causes.

The new Department of Labor and Industry rules require growers and operators to have procedures for a suspected or confirmed case of the virus, to educate workers on health recommendations, and to have employees stay home if they are sick. They are also required to ensure social distance and physical barriers between workers, to have hand-washing stations and to increase sanitation.

More information is being released on the criminal investigation of a deadly house fire on Tuesday in Sweet Home.

Police have identified the four victims found dead in the home as 63-year-old John Shobert, 41-year-old Tiffany Shobert, 15-year-old Johnathon Shobert, and two-year-old Charlotte Shobert. Investigators say autopsies have been concluded, but the causes of death are being withheld pending contact with family members and additional investigative work. Police said during the initial examination, there was evidence of gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month in Oregon, and federal, state and firefighting agencies are encouraging Oregonians to make sure their homes and property are protected from wildfire.

The Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal and Keep Oregon Green, in collaboration with Oregon forest protective associations, the Office of Emergency Management and federal wildland agencies, are taking this opportunity to promote defensible space around homes before fire strikes this summer. With many Oregonians spending more time at home because of statewide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, residents can use the coming weeks to reduce risks and make their homes and communities safer.

“The roof is one of the most critical parts of the house when it comes to wildfire protection,” says Oregon State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “Embers can collect and ignite on the roof, in gutters and enter unscreened openings around the house. Non-combustible roofing material is preferred. Regardless of the construction, please keep your roofs, gutters and eaves clear of all leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.”

To reduce the risk, fire officials suggest removing dead vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around homes and other structures. In most cases, trees and healthy plants do not need to be removed. However, trees should be pruned and grass kept short and green to keep fire on the ground and more manageable by fire crews. Maintain a five-foot fire-free area closest to the home using nonflammable landscaping material and fire resistant plants.

“Defensible space is a property’s first line of defense against wildfire,” says Oregon Department of Forestry Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “Creating and maintaining defensible space around homes can improve your property’s likelihood of surviving a wildfire. Having defensible space also makes it safer for firefighters who may have to defend someone’s home.”

Homeowners should also consider access issues for large fire trucks. Long driveways should be at least 12 feet wide, have 10 feet of vegetation clearance from the centerline out, and about 14 feet overhead. Large vehicle turnaround areas are critical for your safety as well as firefighter safety.

Should a fire occur near a community, Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps encourages residents to be prepared if an evacuation is necessary. “Wildfires can come without warning and move quickly, so residents need to prepare now in case they have to leave their home,” Phelps said. “Make sure to put together a ‘Go Kit,’ register for emergency notification systems in your community and make a plan where your family will go and how you will stay in contact if evacuated.”

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to protect their homes by building defensible space. For more information, visit the websites for the Office of State Fire Marshal, the Office of Emergency ManagementKeep Oregon Green and the Oregon Department of Forestry, or call your nearest ODF or forest protective association office.

Additional information on preparing for wildfires can be found on the website.

Near Lakeview, an Oregon State Police Trooper conducted a traffic stop on a  Dodge sedan, for traffic violations, on Hwy 140 near milepost 89 late last week.

A search of the vehicle revealed 31.8 grams of heroin, 32.9 grams of methamphetamine, $2,606.00 in U.S. currency, a .45 caliber handgun and ammunition were located.

The driver, Dennis Langahit (37) of Redding, California, was lodged in the Lake County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession of Heroin, Unlawful Delivery of Heroin, Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine, Unlawful Delivery of Methamphetamine, Laundering a Monetary Instrument, Tampering with Evidence, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Criminal Conspiracy.

The investigation led Troopers to a residence in the Lakeview area where they located additional items of evidence related to the distribution of methamphetamine.

The latest State of Oregon Covid-19 News & Preparedness Information Here.

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