Rogue Valley News – Monday, 8/3 – Oregon Reports One New Coronavirus Death

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, August 3rd 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Today: Sunny, with a high near 94. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon

Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 95. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 85

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 90

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 326, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Sunday. Oregon Health Authority reported 285 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 19,097.

Jackson County reported 15.  Oregon’s 326th COVID-19 death is a 68-year-old man in Malheur County who tested positive on June 29 and died on July 30, at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. He had underlying conditions. This includes cases confirmed by diagnostic testing and presumptive cases. Presumptive cases are those without a positive diagnostic test who present COVID-19-like symptoms and had close contact with a confirmed case. County of residence for cases may change as new information becomes available.

Around the State of Oregon

Oregon officials said Friday that an administrative change will enable the state to offer early prepayments to “tens of thousands” of unemployed workers waiting to have their claims adjudicated.

The state’s adjudication process has been clogged by a backlog that typically runs between 12 and 16 weeks, leaving many newly jobless Oregonians without income for months during the coronavirus pandemic, The Oregonian reported. Qualifying workers will receive prepayments while their claims work through the adjudication process. They will have to pay the money back if Oregon ultimately denies their claims, but the state says it chose participants who are likely to have claims approved. The prepayments will still take “several weeks,” according to David Gerstenfeld, the Oregon Employment Department’s interim director.

On Saturday, August 1, 2020, at approximately 1:22 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the intersection of Hwy 97 and O’Neil Hwy for a two-vehicle crash.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a 2004 Honda Odyssey, operated by Robert Gregg (53) of Madras, was entering Hwy 97 when it was struck by a southbound commercial motor vehicle operated by Alfonso Lopez (56) of Colton, CA.

Gregg and his passenger, Antonia Romero (46) of Madras, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased.

Lopez was not injured. Hwy 97 was partially closed for several hours during the investigation.  Oregon State Police was assisted by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Redmond Fire Department and ODOT.

The Worthington Fire started at approximately 3 PM on July 30. The fire is burning about 5 miles northeast of Eagle Point in forest and brush on public lands administered by the BLM and private property. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Jackson County Fire District #3 (structural protection) and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department continue to make good progress on the Worthington Fire. The fire is 100% lined with a mixture of dozer and handline and is currently 70% contained. Currently, fire crews have mopped up and secured the fire line 50-100’ towards the interior of the fire from the established fire line. This fire mop-up will continue for the next several days as crews work to strengthen the fire line.

Size: 750 acres Personnel: 600 Containment: 70% Hand Crews: 21 Dozers: 15 Water Tenders: 3 Helicopters: 9

Residents beginning in the 1500 block of Worthington Road and higher number addresses have been lowered to a Level 2 evacuation. A Level 2 evacuation means “BE SET” to evacuate. This level indicates there is significant danger to the area, and residents should be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. The Oregon Department of Forestry increased the official fire danger level to Extreme (red) on all state, private and county forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties on July 31.

On Sunday, 08-02-20 at about 5:00 am, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety received a report of a disturbance at the 7/11 Store located at 790 SW 6th Street in Grants Pass.

The report was of a man, later identified as Lavester White, yelling and screaming at another person and then firing off a handgun in a residential neighborhood.  Police arrived on scene and contacted White who was identified by multiple witnesses as the suspect in the incident.

During the investigation, White was found to have been involved in a disturbance with another man who had just left the 7/11 store.  The disturbance continued on SW M Street heading toward 5th Street. White was reported to be yelling at the man when he pulled a handgun from his pocket and discharged it in the area SW 5th Street and SW M Street.  During the investigation, White was found to be in possession of a concealed handgun, along with concealed brass knuckle/switch blade knife, cocaine, and methamphetamine.  White was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the listed charges.  Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to contact the Grants Pass Police at 541-450-6260.

On Saturday, August 1, 2020 at approximately 10:37 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers were dispatched to a reckless driver and hit and run crash located on Hwy 101 milepost 233 just north of North Bend, OR.

The reporting person advised they were stopped at the traffic signal at East Bay Dr. and Hwy 101 when they were struck  from behind. The suspect vehicle, a green older Dodge 1500 pickup with a green canopy bearing CA license plate, then accelerated attempting to push the vehicle into the intersection.

None of the occupants were injured and the Dodge continued northbound on Hwy 101 driving recklessly. OSP was notified by the Coos Bay Police Department they were investigating the same Dodge pickup for striking several vehicles while traveling north on Hwy 101 through the city of Coos Bay. 

OSP received a report the Dodge was observed at the trailhead to Siltcoos Lake, near the city of Florence, where the vehicle had intentionally struck several more vehicles and was again observed driving recklessly.

One occupant from a struck vehicle was injured and transported by West Lane Ambulance to Florence Hospital.

Oregon State Police Troopers responded to the area and located Kevin Simpson (47) of Eureka CA. on Hwy 101 near milepost 196. He was lodged a the Lane County Jail for failure to perform the duties of a driver (hit and run), reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and criminal mischief. The Dodge was located nearby and had crashed through a gate leading to private property and become stuck in the sand.  The Dodge was reported stolen out of Eureka, CA.  Oregon State Police is requesting information from witnesses to the reckless driving and crashes or victims of crashes to contact the Oregon State Police Southern Command Center at 541-269-5000 or *OSP and leave information for Trooper Douglas Laird.  Simpson stated that he believed he had struck 26 different vehicles

BLY, Ore. – Forest Service road crews made excellent progress this week on Forest Service Road 3790, also known as Fishhole Creek Road, on the Bly Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Over the past week, crews worked to prepare and shape the road surface for chip sealing, removed extra vegetation, took out and backfilled a cattleguard, paved around the two remaining cattleguards in an effort to strengthen the road in those areas, and began preparing for paving at the junction with Oregon State Highway 140. While there were some challenges, including some unexpected extended road closures and high temperatures that caused delays in the asphalt setting up around the cattleguards on Friday, overall the project has gone smoothly so far.

“We are fortunate to have an extremely skilled and professional road crew and traffic control in place on this project, and they have been highly efficient this week while being responsive and trying to accommodate area residents,” said Engineering Staff Officer Aaron Eklund.

Originally it was planned that the paving at the junction of Fishhole Creek Road and Highway 140 would start Monday morning.  Due to the paving challenges Friday, there is still prep that needs to be done at the junction and some final touches to prepare the rest of the road for chip seal. 

As a result, there will be a temporary road closure for approximately 2 hours Monday sometime between mid-morning and early afternoon.  There will be live updates on the status of the closure posted to the Forest Facebook page at and on Twitter @FremontWinemaNF.

Paving at the junction is expected to start Tuesday morning and the road will be closed to all traffic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for that work. There is a Forest Closure Order in place to complete that work that goes through noon on Wednesday, August 5.  It is formally referenced as order number 06-02-03-20-01. Violations of the closure order are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than 6 months or both.

The Boulder Creek Bridge on Fremont-Winema National Forest Road 28 will be paved today, Monday, August 3, on the Paisley Ranger District. While there is not a road closure in place, the public is encouraged to avoid the area if possible.  For those traveling in the area who need to cross the bridge, delays up to 2 hours can be expected. The Boulder Creek Bridge is located on the 28 Road, just south of Forest Road 28-332, also known as the Slide Mountain Road.  The north end of the bridge is located just before the Hanan and Sycan Trailhead and Campground. The bridge was replaced last summer, but conditions were too cold for paving.  Conditions are more favorable now and the paving should be completed successfully tomorrow. Road striping on the bridge is expected to occur within the month, but there should be minimal impacts with that work.

State health officials are warning people not to eat onions from Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, California, after 76 people in 13 Oregon counties fell ill with matching strains of Salmonella bacteria. Eighteen of the cases have been hospitalized, and none have died. Epidemiologists at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Public Health Division say the Oregon cases are part of an outbreak that has sickened more than 400 people in about 40 states as well as consumers in Canada. U.S. and Canadian public health officials implicated consumption of red onions; and the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traced the onions to Thomson International, Inc. Although red onions are the likely source, Thomson will be recalling all varieties of onions that could have been cross-contaminated. People who have eaten red onions but not gotten sick do not need to seek or notify a health care provider. Each year, 400 to 500 cases of salmonellosis are reported in Oregon. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps one to seven days after exposure. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.

Back to our Rogue Valley Magazine Homepage

Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Friday 7/23 – Kirtland Road/OR 140 Weekend Closure Begins Today, Arrest Warrant Issued For Former Gold Hill Clerk, Grants Still Available For Josephine County Businesses

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 12/26 – U.S. Marshals Task Force Arrests Kansas Child Sex Abuse Suspect in Jackson County & Other Local and Statewide News…

Renee Shaw

Find Local Farm Stands, CSAs with Oregon’s Bounty

Brian Casey