Rogue Valley News, Tuesday, May 19 – Election Day in Oregon Today

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, RogueValleyMagazine.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Today, Election Day A 20% chance of showers across the valley today. Mostly sunny, with a high near 65.

Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 70.

Thursday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 66.

Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 66.

Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 75.

Today’s Headlines

Late Monday night, the Oregon Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling that invalidated Governor Brown’s recent stay at home executive orders.

As a result, the Governor’s executive orders remain in place until further consideration by the court.  These orders impose certain requirements and limitations aimed at slowing the spread of the disease according to Brown.

Earlier in the day, a county judge has effectively suspended Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order while presiding over a lawsuit brought by Oregon churches and other individuals.

The Baker County Circuit Court judge approved a request from the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction on the order, denying a request from state attorneys for a stay on the decision. The lawsuit itself comes from at least 10 Oregon churches and multiple individuals who argue that Governor Brown’s orders are not consistent with the state constitution or legal statutes. 

They are represented by attorney Ray Hacke of the Pacific Justice Institute. Brown’s lawyers requested a 48-hour hold on the judge’s Monday decision, but the Baker County judge denied the request.

According to Hacke, this makes Brown’s coronavirus orders “null and void.” Governor Brown’s legal team immediately filed an emergency motion with the Oregon Supreme Court for a stay of Monday’s decision, which the liberal court acted on on the Governor’s behalf. Stay tuned.

Today is election day. The May primary has arrived. While it’s too late to mail your ballot in, boxes will be available at many locations to drop off your vote through 8pm tonight.

After 30 years in office, Congressman Greg Walden is retiring and there are many challengers on both sides of the ticket.  Remember, polls close at 8pm sharp.

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 138, the Oregon Health Authority reported yesterday.

No new cases were reported once again in any southern Oregon counties. Oregon Health Authority reported 62 new confirmed cases and two new presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 8 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 3,687.

The new confirmed and presumptive cases are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (5), Clatsop (1), Deschutes (5), Jackson (1), Lane (1), Malheur (2), Marion (16), Multnomah (12), Umatilla (5), Union (1), Washington (10), Yamhill (2). Oregon’s 138th COVID-19 death is a 69-year-old man in Marion County, who tested positive on May 16 and died the same day at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.

County by county in Southern Oregon the coronavirus cases currently stand as this:

Jackson County 50 cases, 43 recovered.
Josephine County 21 cases, 20 recovered
Douglas County 25 cases, 23 recovered
Curry County 4 cases, 4 recovered.

Klamath County 41 cases, 33 recovered.

To see more case and county level data, please visit the Oregon Health Authority website, which OHA updates once a day: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management lead the state response.

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has left many Oregon families without resources to pay rent, buy food, make utility payments, and provide other necessities.

OHCS’ COVID-19 Rent Relief Program provides much needed rent assistance for people who have experienced a loss of income and are at risk of homelessness due to COVID-19.  

Many Oregonians are struggling to pay rent, and low-income Oregonians and communities of color are more likely to be rent burdened than their white counterparts. OHCS allocated these funds through a needs based formula to regional Community Action Agencies (CAAs). The formula weighed severe rent burden data, poverty data, homelessness data, and unemployment claims. The $8.5 million was allocated statewide to local communities.

If you are in need of rent assistance or want more information, call (541) 882-3500

The administration of Southern Oregon University (SOU) reacted on Saturday following the discovery of a hate symbol carved into a campus residence hall.

SOU president Linda Schott wrote an address to students and staff on Saturday, saying that she was “angry and very sorry” to report the discovery of a large swastika carved into the panel of an elevator in the Shasta Residence Hall. A staff member reportedly found the hate symbol on Friday and immediately reported it to the campus Housing Administration, prompting an investigation by Campus Public Safety and the Office of Equity Grievance.

The vandalism was also reported to Ashand Police, which documented the evidence and created a case file. The swastika was buffed out of the elevator panel so that it is no longer visible, Schott said. There have been several incidents of this type of vandalism on the SOU campus this year.

A reminder that Phase One of the reopening of Oregon plan is in full swing now and is loosening coronavirus restrictions. 

Under the retail ban lifting — as long as retailers aren’t in a mall and they follow the new COVID-19 health guidelines, businesses can be open. Proper safety measures include employees wearing face masks, limiting the number of customers, enforcing physical distancing and frequently sanitizing high traffic areas.

That means standalone furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques that were closed by executive order weeks ago can reopen. But, stores in outdoor- and indoor-shopping centers are an exception. Everything is now on a county by county approval basis.

On Saturday, April 25, the Medford Police Department received an anonymous report by the organization “SafeOregon.”

The anonymous report indicated that Noah Berman, a Physical Education teacher at South Medford High School, was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a juvenile female student who attends South Medford High.

This tip was sent to both law enforcement and the School District. On April 27th, the school district placed Berman on administrative leave.

A Medford Police Detective was assigned the investigation and determined the relationship between Berman and the underage student had been ongoing since November of 2019, which ultimately became sexual in nature.

Detectives also learned that much of the communication between Berman and the student occurred through the social media app “Snapchat.”

The “Tampering with a Witness” charge stems from the detectives learning the suspect told the victim not to disclose the relationship to investigators, as law enforcement began looking into the case.

On Thursday, May 14, 2020, Medford Police Detectives served a search warrant at Berman’s residence on Kaufmann Way in Medford. Detectives seized possible evidence and Berman was arrested without incident. He was lodged at the Jackson County Jail on the listed charges.

Suspect: Berman, Noah Scott, 30 yrs old

Charges:

                Sex Abuse 2 – 2 counts

                Sex Abuse 3 – 3 counts

                Tampering with a Witness

                Luring a Minor


Bail: $45,000

On May 12th, detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team served a search warrant at a residence in the 3000 block of Griffin Creek Road.

This was after a two month long investigation into drug sales occurring out the home, as well as information the residents were selling drugs throughout the valley.

Detectives arrested four subjects at the residence. Jeffery Cole, 26, and Justice Austin, 21, were the targets of the search warrant. Joel Dixon, 54, was determined to be involved in drug possession and sales in the home. The fourth subject, Pedro Villagrana, 44, was arrested on warrants and his involvement remains under investigation.

Detectives located over 5 pounds of meth, two ounces of heroin and over $5,000 in cash.

Cole and Austin were lodged for Possession, Manufacturing, and Distribution of both Meth and Heroin. Dixon was arrested for Possession, Manufacturing and Distribution of Meth.

Oregon Food Assistance Provides $30 million more in relief

Oregonians receiving food benefits will get additional assistance in June, to help with continued impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Oregon Department of Human Services began issuing additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in April and May 2020. Individuals and families have received the maximum allotment based on the number of eligible members in the household during this time. Due to the continued state of emergency, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Services has provided an additional $30 million to help children and adults in Oregon buy food.

“There are many Oregon families who continue to be caught between reduced hours or unemployment and waiting for other temporary assistance to help them make ends meet until it is safe to return to or find new work,” said Dan Haun, director of Self-Sufficiency Programs. “Having an additional month of federal funds available for eligible recipients, we can help ensure people have access to the basic necessity of food during this ongoing crisis.”

The additional funding will allow Oregonians on SNAP to receive the maximum benefit amount for June. For example, a family of four who currently receives a $346 monthly allotment, would receive a supplement of $300. For reference, the maximum SNAP allotment chart is available online.

Supplemental payments for the month of June will be issued on June 11 for all current recipients and June 30 for new recipients between June 11 and June 30. Recipients who already receive the maximum allotment will not receive additional SNAP benefits.

The remaining May supplemental payment will be issued on May 29, 2020.

Learn more about the food assistance program at needfood.oregon.gov, and apply online at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits.

State Provides $8.5 Million for Rent Relief

SALEM, OR – The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has left many Oregon families without resources to pay rent, buy food, make utility payments, and provide other necessities. OHCS’ COVID-19 Rent Relief Program provides much needed rent assistance for people who have experienced a loss of income and are at risk of homelessness due to COVID-19. 

“Through no fault of their own, many Oregonian families are facing an abrupt loss of income and find themselves unable to pay their rent during this pandemic,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Through Oregon Housing and Community Services, we can deliver immediate rent relief so that more families can stay housed as we work to build a safe and strong Oregon.”

Many Oregonian are struggling to pay rent, and low-income Oregonians and communities of color are more likely to be rent burdened than their white counterparts. OHCS allocated these funds through a needs based formula to regional Community Action Agencies (CAAs). The formula weighed severe rent burden data, poverty data, homelessness data, and unemployment claims. The $8.5 million was allocated statewide to local communities

CAAs will begin taking applications in the coming days. Oregonians in need should contact their local CAA directly. Tenant income loss documentation and other materials are required to access this program. Rent payments will be made directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.

“The last two months have been trying for many in our communities,” said Director Margaret Salazar, “Oregonians were already struggling to find a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. As families grapple with lost wages, the need is even greater. I am so grateful to get this assistance in the hands of our friends and neighbors in need, including farmworkers and their families who are facing unique housing challenges.”

The $8.5 million was allocated by the Oregon Legislature through the Joint Emergency Board.  OHCS anticipates additional resources from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be made available in the weeks ahead.

Fatal Auto Accident Near Tillamook

On Sunday, May 17 at about 2pm, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 101 milepost 63,  just north of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a BMW Z3, operated by Samuel Hacker (36) of Scappoose, was traveling northbound when for unknown reasons veered into the southbound lane where it struck a Ford Explorer, operated by Julie Leonnig (43) of Tillamook.

Hacker sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

A passenger in the BMW, Shayna Tacadena (32) of Gresham, was transported by ground ambulance to Adventist Health Tillamook Hospital with serious injuries.  Leonnig received minor injuries.   Hwy 101 was closed for approximately 3.5 hours following the crash.

Oregon has received its first shipments of Remdesivir, an experimental drug that has been used to treat patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19. 

On May 12 and May 15, Oregon received allotments of the drug, which has not been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but is being used under a federally issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

The EUA allows health professionals to use the drug to treat some severely ill COVID-19 patients who meet clinical criteria. Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences Inc. and has been tested in patients with various diseases, such as Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). According to Gilead’s website, “it is not known if remdesivir is safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Preliminary clinical testing by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease shows that some patients treated with the drug experienced faster recoveries.

“The Oregon Health Authority is committed to distributing Oregon’s allotment of remdesivir to Oregon hospitals for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 in accordance with the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization,” said Dr. Dana Hargunani, Chief Medical Officer. “Because of the experimental nature of the drug, shared decision-making between patients and providers is paramount, and informed consent must be obtained prior to its use.”

BLM begins to restore access to certain developed rec areas.

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is increasing recreational access in Oregon.

The BLM is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a case-by-case basis.

Visitors should expect differing levels of services and available facilities across Oregon.

Updates on affected Oregon BLM facilities can be found online at https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington/covid-access-restrictions or by calling your local BLM office:

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. Across the state, our operational approach will be to examine each facility, function, and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance. We continue to work closely with the Department of the Interior and are following CDC guidance to ensure public and employee spaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. 

The restoration of access to BLM recreation sites will be gradual and in coordination with the state of Oregon and our local partners.

“We’re all in this together. BLM districts are ensuring that we’re taking the appropriate steps to protect the health and safety of our visitors and our recreation workforce,” said Jose Linares, Acting State Director for BLM Oregon/Washington. “Although we look forward to welcoming visitors back to our developed recreation facilities, we are asking for the public’s patience during this time of transition. We can’t stress enough that everyone should continue to follow guidance from the CDC and local officials when visiting their public lands.”

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating on public lands prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health. The BLM encourages all visitors to incorporate the following outdoor recreation practices for safety and to avoid placing unnecessary strain on local communities and America’s public lands:

  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Practice physical distancing and good hygiene. Follow CDC guidance on social distancing, maintaining at least six feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Avoid touching high-traffic surfaces.
  • Stay close to home. The state is still discouraging non-essential travel; this is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Be sure to bring enough food, water, sunscreen, etc., for the entire day so you can avoid unnecessary stops.
  • Plan ahead to avoid crowds. Consider planning day trips during off-peak visitation times, such as early in the morning or on weekdays. Avoid crowding by not spending extra time in parking lots, at trailheads, or at boat launches. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.
  • Come prepared. Visitors will likely find reduced or limited access to restrooms as the BLM begins restoring access at individual recreation sites and should bring their own soap/water/hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
  • Leave no trace. Many BLM recreation sites are also likely to have reduced or suspended trash collection services at developed recreation sites. All visitors are expected to follow Leave No Trace practices, including packing out all items they packed in, such as toilet paper, disposable gloves and masks, and food refuse.
  • Avoid unnecessary risks. Health care workers and first responders are working hard to keep us all safe. Visitors should avoid high-risk activities that could potentially put a strain on local first responders, medical providers, and/or search and rescue teams. 
  • Prevent wildfires. As the region enters the spring and summer months, the BLM asks visitors to use fire prevention practices and reminds visitors that the use of fireworks, target shooting with exploding targets, and fire tracer or incendiary devices is prohibited on BLM-administered public lands in Oregon.
  • Be kind to others. The BLM is proud to play a role in restoring access to some of America’s backyard treasures and provide nearby communities with the opportunity to enjoy their public lands during these stressful times. We are all in this together, so please be considerate of and welcoming to other visitors from appropriate physical distances. Please be particularly kind to park staff during these challenging times and help them do their jobs by doing your part to take care of each other and our beloved outdoors.

Details and updates on operations will continue to be posted on our website, https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington/covid-access-restrictions and social media channels. Updates about BLM operations will be posted on www.blm.gov.

On April 8, 2020 Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers served search warrants relating to an extensive investigation into multiple wildlife crimes. 

The subject of the investigation is William Hollings (34) of Philomath.

Evidence was seized relating to the following crimes:

  • Felon in Possession of Firearm
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Buck Deer
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Bull Elk
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Black Bear
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Cougar
  • Lend/Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag
  • Hunt Closed Season
  • Hunt No Big Game Tag
  • Fail to Properly Check in Cougar to ODFW

Fish and Wildlife Troopers located evidence of additional wildlife related crimes and three additional suspects. 

On April 25, 2020 Fish and Wildlife Troopers served  several more search warrants relating to these wildlife crimes. 

These warrants involved: 
Nicholas Lisenby (39) from Lebanon
Amanda Hughes (37) from Lebanon
Eric Hamilton (33) from Alsea  

Evidence was seized relating to the following wildlife crimes:

  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Buck Deer
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Bull Elk
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Black Bear
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Cougar
  • Unlawful Take/Possession of Bobcat
  • Lend/Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag
  • Hunt Closed Season
  • Hunt No Big Game Tag

Based on evidence seized or processed, troopers believe the three males participated in the unlawful take/possession of 27 big game animals within the last two years, with evidence indicating many of the animals were killed during closed season or prohibited hours.

Values attributed to Oregon’s wildlife by Oregon Revised Statute 496.075 could total $162,700.00 in restitution to the State of Oregon.  The listed crimes occurred throughout the following counties: Benton, Lane, Linn, Lincoln, Polk and Tillamook, and charges have been forwarded for consideration of prosecution.

Cash rewards are available for those leaving tips that lead to arrests.

How to Report a Wildlife and/or Habitat Law Violation or Suspicious Activity: 

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP(677)

TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

AROUND THE STATE

Regional Teachers of the Year in Oregon Announced

The pivotal role of teachers has become especially evident in these last several months as schools have transitioned to distance learning in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers have stepped up in countless, innovative ways to ensure students are safe, healthy and engaged to reach their full potential, making this a fitting opportunity to recognize the excellence of Regional Teachers of Year throughout the state!

Riverside Elementary School’s physical education teacher, Jordan Werner was named Southern Oregon’s 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year! Werner wins a $500 cash prize and is in the running for Oregon’s 2020 Teacher of the Year – to be announced this fall.

“I believe in the power of classroom creativity, that movement is for everyone, and that given the right exposure to different activities every student can find something they enjoy,” Werner is quoted from his application.  

Regional Teachers of the Year are nominated by students, colleagues, administrators, friends or family members to apply for the award, and are selected by a diverse panel of regional representatives. Later this fall one of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be named the 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Adel School District’s teacher, Stacey Martin was named Lake’s 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year!  Martin wins a $500 cash prize and is in the running for Oregon’s 2020 Teacher of the Year as well.

“I am so happy to represent the greatest profession there is. Helping young people find their gifts and see in themselves what we see in them is what all teachers strive to do,” Martin is quoted from her application.

Regional Teachers of the Year are nominated by students, colleagues, administrators, friends or family members to apply for the award, and are selected by a diverse panel of regional representatives. Later this fall one of the Regional Teachers of the Year will be named the 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Thanks to the Oregon Department of Education’s partnership with the Oregon Lottery, the 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year receives a $5,000 cash prize (with a matching $5,000 going to their school!) and serves as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers. Three finalists will receive $2,000 with a matching $2,000 going to their school. Please visit OregonTeacheroftheYear.org for more information.

Douglas County Major Crimes Team members are investigating a deceased body found just off the Tiller Trail Highway Monday morning. 

Local deputies and the Milo Fire Department responded to the scene.  According to initial reports, the investigation is regarded as suspicious.  No further details have been provided to the media.

On Monday, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 5 northbound near milepost 219.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Honda Odyssey, operated by Forrest Davisson (77) of St. Helens, was northbound when it left the roadway, struck a guardrail, and overturned.

Davisson sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

On Monday morning in the 10AM hour, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 20 near milepost 11.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Honda Accord, operated by Max Metcalf (86) of Waldport, was traveling eastbound when it lost control and slid into the westbound lane.  The Accord was struck by a westbound Peterbilt log truck, operated by Rodney Smith (67) of Philomath. 

Metcalf sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Smith was not injured.   Hwy 20 was closed intermittently for five hours following the crash. 

Youth-detention numbers are down by nearly a quarter across the country, according to a recent survey.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation polled facilities in 30 states – including Oregon – and finds the number of young people in detention centers fell by 24 percent in March. That’s the same drop that occurred nationally over seven years from 2010 to 2017. Lisa Kay Williams, supervising attorney for the Portland-based group Youth, Rights and Justice, says the coronavirus outbreak is providing an opportunity for jurisdictions to reconsider their juvenile-justice policies.The researchers note the data is significant, but only a snapshot of juvenile-justice systems nationwide. So far, there have been no reported cases of youth or guards at detention centers testing positive for COVID-19 in Oregon.

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is increasing recreational access in Oregon.

The BLM is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a case-by-case basis.

Visitors should expect differing levels of services and available facilities across Oregon. Updates on affected Oregon BLM facilities can be found online or by calling your local BLM office:

The BLM states that the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. Across the state, our operational approach will be to examine each facility, function, and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance. We continue to work closely with the Department of the Interior and are following CDC guidance to ensure public and employee spaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.

The 173rd Fighter Wing has cancelled the outstanding event, the 17th Sentry Eagle air-to-air combat exercise that was scheduled for July 15 to 19, 2020. Additionally, the Open House on Saturday, 18 July is also cancelled.

“I regret to inform you of this, as we all look forward to this outstanding event for Kingsley Field and the community,” said Col. Jeff Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander.

The decision to cancel the exercise and Open House came after weeks of discussions primarily focused on COVID-19. Kingsley Field commanders and the Sentry Eagle project officer, Lt. Col. Adam Gaudinski, determined there were significant risks in hosting the public and other military units while adhering to Governor Brown’s Executive Orders and Department of Defense policy regarding COVID-19.

“Cancelling Sentry Eagle 2020 is not something that we wanted to do, but ultimately, the decision was made with the best interest of the 173rd Fighter Wing and our local community in mind,” said Gaudinski. “The unified resolve of Kingsley Field and Klamath Falls is unbreakable. I speak on behalf of all the men and women of the 173rd Fighter Wing when I say this, Kingsley Field resides in the greatest, most supportive community by far. Thank you.”

One of the Air National Guard’s largest air-to-air exercises, Sentry Eagle provides military pilots of the National Guard, Active Duty and Reserve components a forum in which to test their flying skills including basic fighter maneuvers and air combat tactics against different types of aircraft, close-air support and large-force employment training.

Sentry Eagle is typically held every two years and was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2019. However, construction projects on the ramp, flight line, and across the base prevented it from happening, and will
likely delay the event again until 2022.

“I am extremely grateful to all those who helped in planning for Sentry Eagle, including our community partners,” said Edwards. “Your efforts provide an outstanding foundation as we look forward to planning for Sentry
Eagle in 2022.”


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

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