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.
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Today: Sunny with a high of 89 today.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Oregon reports 264 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths
COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 271, the Oregon Health Authority reported late yesterday. Oregon Health Authority reported 264 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 15,393.
The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (3), Clackamas (24), Clatsop (1), Coos (3), Crook (2), Curry (1), Deschutes (8), Douglas (2), Grant (1), Hood River (4), Jackson (11), Jefferson (6), Josephine (1), Klamath (6), Lane (6), Lincoln (2), Linn (6), Malheur (13), Marion (31), Morrow (3), Multnomah (51), Polk (4), Umatilla (24), Wasco (1), Washington (45), and Yamhill (4).
Oregon’s 270th COVID-19 death is a 77-year-old man in Umatilla County who tested positive on July 9 and died on July 20 in his residence. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
Oregon’s 271st COVID-19 death is an 82-year-old man in Umatilla County who tested positive on July 16 and died on July 21 at Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.
More changes announced for Oregon citizens from Gov. Kate Brown yesterday. Effective Friday statewide, Brown said that face covering requirements — which now cover both indoor and outdoor public spaces — will be expanded to include children age 5 and older.
Face coverings are still recommended for kids ages 2 through 5 under Oregon’s guidance. Face covering exceptions for indoor exercise will also be removed, meaning that people working out in gyms or fitness centers will have to wear masks even while exercising. Gathering size will be limited to 100 in all indoor venues — including churches, gyms, and movie theaters. The outdoor gathering limit of 250 will remain unchanged, Brown said. Bars and restaurants will also be required to stop serving customers at 10 p.m. statewide.
All of these changes go into effect on July 24. The new mask requirements for children mean changes for how schools operate when classes resume in the fall. Most southern Oregon school districts have indicated that they will provide a combination of full in-person learning, particularly for younger students, and a hybridized model for students to learn both at home and in classrooms. However, plans are likely to change depending on conditions as the school year draws closer.
The Jordan Cove Energy Project hit another roadblock after a state agency reversed local approval for part of the project’s construction.
A major part of the pipeline would be located near Malin here in Klamath County. The city of North Bend had approved a local land use permit last year for Jordan Cove to operate a dredging project in the Coos Bay Estuary, which would make room for natural gas tankers to dock at its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.
To deepen portions of the Coos Bay Deep Draft Navigation Channel, the company would construct a temporary pipe to transport the dredged material to two sites, along with a bridge between those sites and an offloading facility in the estuary connected to the pipe. The pipe and other dredging infrastructure would run through several zones of an estuary. Each zone’s designation involves a specific set of management practices that development projects must abide by. The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and Coos Bay organization Citizens for Renewables appealed the city council’s decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), raising objections to the city’s approval on the grounds that Jordan Cove’s project would not satisfy those management goals.
LUBA agreed with several of these points, two of which were significant enough to reverse the decision and require Jordan Cove to reapply for the permits.
While many of Oregon’s coronavirus restrictions have been lifted under the first two phases of reopening, long-term care facilities have been on lockdown since March — with visits to residents all but completely banned in an attempt to limit COVID-19 exposure for those most at risk.
Now providers can begin allowing visits as long as they are held outdoors with proper precautions in place, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Facilities have to develop a plan in order to adhere to “required safeguards” that will continue to keep coronavirus from spreading to the elderly and those with health conditions, the agency said. Those prerequisites include health screenings for visitors, use of face coverings, physical distancing, and limits on the number of visitors.
The outdoor visitation change applies to all nursing homes, assisted living centers, residential and memory care facilities, and adult foster homes. Any facilities that are currently dealing with COVID-19 cases or suspected cases cannot offer outdoor visits until “DHS determines that the outbreak has resolved.”
The Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal’s Bigfoot: Believe in Fire Safety campaign, asking Oregonians to protect their communities by preventing wildfires, has expanded for the 2020 fire season, collaborating with fire agency partners.
Now in its second season, the OSFM’s popular messenger, Bigfoot, continues to be seen on highway billboards, entrances to campgrounds, on beaches, in Oregon airports, on Portland metro-area buses and on social media shared by residents, visitors, businesses and fire agencies.
“Fire prevention education plays a critical role in reducing the impact of human-caused wildfires in Oregon, particularly in areas at the highest risk — the wildland urban interface,” says Claire McGrew, assistant chief deputy. “Our campaign began in 2019. Because of its appeal to many Oregonians and visitors, our office expanded it for 2020. Bigfoot is an icon beloved by many Oregonians, and firefighting and resource management agencies have enthusiastically welcomed the region’s new friend in wildfire prevention.”
To reduce the number of incidents for the 2020 fire season, OSFM pushed out its “Bigfoot in box” media kits to more than 140 fire agency partners statewide. These included Bigfoot stickers; pop-up Bigfoot displays; and information on yard debris removal, campfire safety, recreational vehicles and wildfire prevention — all to support ongoing community-based prevention education.
On its website, the OSFM is sharing more than 20 new and downloadable images for 2020, showing Bigfoot responsibly extinguishing campfires, clearing defensible space and recreating in familiar Oregon natural areas. Messages for July focus on campfire safety, fire risks from motor vehicles, outdoor grilling and more.
Bigfoot billboards encouraging travelers to “protect your community” and “prevent wildfires” can be seen on Interstate 5 in southern Oregon, on Interstate 84 in Portland, on State Highway 97 near Bend and State Highways 20/26 at 101, near Cairo. The sign near Cairo is now in its second year, through a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management.
The U.S. Forest Service based in Prineville is displaying the OSFM’s mobile Bigfoot billboard at various locations in central Oregon. In the Portland metro region, the OSFM has teamed up with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which placed a Bigfoot image on Metro buses in its service area with the tagline, “What do we say to wildfire…not today.” Clackamas Fire District No. 1 has used outdoor Bigfoot images throughout the county.
On the Oregon Coast, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue placed Bigfoot on stickers affixed to beach buckets, as part of its efforts to reduce injuries from beach campfires and to remind tourists to put out their campfires. The Corvallis Fire Department turned the Bigfoot stand-up character into a larger than life cardboard pop-up that is being moved around town for fire prevention education efforts all summer.
The Sublimity Rural Fire Protection District’s volunteer firefighters are wearing Bigfoot T-shirts saying “believe in fire safety” to help spread the word about fire safety and prevention including fire dogs.
Bigfoot images can also be found in Portland International Airport (check the baggage terminal area to do a selfie) and the Redmond and Eugene airports.
The OSFM continues to encourage Oregonians to share Bigfoot’s message to “believe in fire safety” with the hashtag #BelieveInFireSafety.
To learn more about wildfire prevention and preparedness, or to find and download your favorite Bigfoot image and spread the word, visit the OSFM website. You can also follow the OSFM and Bigfoot on the OSFM Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the Rogue Pack of wolves is responsible for a dead steer in Klamath County. The 725 lbs. yearling steer was found dead Friday afternoon on private land. The steer was partially eaten. ODFW says fresh wolf tracks were found at the scene. This is the third wolf attack attributed to the Rogue Pack this year. The Rogue Pack has been one of the most active of the protected gray wolf groups in Oregon when it comes to preying the livestock of farmers and ranchers. The Rogue Pack topped depredation lists over both 2019 and 2018.
Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview has been recommended for closure by the Ways and Means Committee, according to a letter from the Oregon Department of Corrections. The decision is not final, and will require a vote during a special legislative session. The closure is recommended to ease Oregon’s massive projected budget shortfall of more than $1 billion due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy. The plan proposed by the Ways and Means Committee suggests that WCCF would remain open for the remainder of the current biennium but would be slated for closure during the 2021-23 biennium. Closure of WCCF would result in employee layoffs. The facility employs 110 people. WCCF Superintendent Steve Brown noted that the majority of the facility’s staff are union employees and, based on their seniority, could find other jobs within the Department of Corrections System if WCCF closes. But as WCCF is the only correctional facility in the region, those staff would have to relocate.
Late Tuesday night, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office acted on a tip received from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Task Force (MADGE) regarding an armed and wanted subject possibly in possession of a large quantity of narcotics in the parking lot of Dairy Queen, located at 7635 Hwy 62, White City. Upon arrival, deputies contacted the suspect and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, a deputy discharged his firearm, striking the suspect. The man was transported via
ambulance to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. A firearm, that was in the suspect’s possession, was located at the scene. The Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigative Unit (MADIU) responded to the scene; Oregon State Police is the lead agency. Personnel from the following agencies are assisting: Medford Police Department, Ashland Police Department, Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and Jackson County Fire District 3. The suspect has been identified. However, his name, as well the names of the involved deputies will not be released at this time. The case remains under investigation.
On Tuesday evening Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 234 near mile post 12. Preliminary investigation revealed that a Honda motorcycle, operated by Mark Nienhouse (42) of Medford, was traveling west on Hwy 234 when it struck an elk in the roadway. Nienhouse and his passenger, Jennifer Ayala (30) of Central Point, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Fire District 3, and ODOT.