Rogue Valley News, Wednesday, 9/30 – Covid-19 Cases Continue To Soar in Oregon

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.comfrom Wynne Broadcasting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Today Widespread haze. Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 95. Overnight will be clear, with a low around 58. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Thursday   Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 95. Light and variable wind.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 89.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 299 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, eight new deaths

COVID-19 has claimed eight more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 555, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. OHA also reported 299 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 33,291.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (8), Clackamas (28), Clatsop (2), Columbia (3), Coos (1), Crook (1), Deschutes (7), Douglas (7), Jackson (11), Jefferson (4), Josephine (5), Klamath (10), Lane (32), Linn (4), Malheur (9), Marion (49), Morrow (4), Multnomah (52), Polk (3), Umatilla (11), Wallowa (1), Washington (41), and Yamhill (5).

MEDFORD PODIATRIST PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE BY FRAUD

Patrick T. Code, 60, pleaded guilty today to a one count information charging Obtaining Possession of a Controlled Substance through Misrepresentation, Fraud, Forgery, Deception and Subterfuge.  

“Substance addiction is a public safety and health crisis for this community, and no one is immune from the ravages of addiction including professionals in health care. However, the defendant’s conduct in illegally obtaining and using powerful drugs while acting as a trusted health care provider is particularly alarming”, said United States Attorney Williams.  “This case was brought in order to protect the community from the ongoing risk to patients posed by the defendant’s actions.”

 According to court documents, for several years between June 2016 and May 2019, the defendant wrote prescriptions for 2,876 – 50 mg tablets of tramadol and 78-10 mg tablets of zolpidem using the names of fake patients or the names and information of relatives who were not aware of the prescriptions. The defendant acquired the controlled substances from pharmacies falsely claiming the drugs were for others and used the drugs to feed his own drug addiction

Code faces a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 1 year of supervised release. Code will be sentenced on December 3, 2020, before U.S. District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the public’s assistance with obtaining identifying information regarding an unknown male who may have critical information pertaining to the identity of a child victim in an ongoing sexual exploitation investigation.

Photographs and an informational poster depicting the unknown individual, known only as John Doe 42, are being disseminated to the public and can be found online at the FBI website at https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/ecap/unknown-individual—john-doe-42.

Initial video of the unidentified male, John Doe 42, shown with a child were first recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in August of 2019. The EXIF data embedded within the video files indicated that the files were produced in October of 2015.

John Doe 42 is described as a White male with gray hair and wearing a red and black plaid shirt. He is heard speaking English in the video. Due to the age of the images, it is possible that the individual’s appearance may have changed over the years. Anyone with information to provide should submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov or call the FBI’s toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). The public is reminded no charges have been filed in this case and the pictured individual is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This individual is being sought as part of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) initiatives, both of which represent strategic partnerships between the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Impacted individuals and households who reside or have a business located in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties are eligible for the relief. Taxpayers in localities added later to the individual assistance disaster areas, as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be eligible to receive the same relief.

If you are a victim of Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds, any penalty and interest imposed for late filing or late payment related to due dates that fall on or after September 7, 2020 and before January 15, 2021 will be waived if you file and pay by January 15, 2021. If you receive a billing or adjustment notice from Revenue related to a late filing or late payment caused by a disaster situation, follow the instructions in the notice to request a waiver of penalty and interest.

The Oregon relief applies to all affected taxpayers who are filing any income, payroll, and excise taxes originally due during the relief period. See our website for a list of qualifying tax programs and frequently asked questions.

Copies of past tax records
Affected taxpayers who need to obtain copies of Oregon tax records will be able to receive replacements free of charge. To obtain copies of critical tax records on file with the Oregon Department of Revenue, please call us at 800-356-4222. These records may include copies of prior tax returns filed with the department, information returns such as W-2s and 1099s, and notices that we’ve issued.

Updating taxpayer information
Affected taxpayers may also need to update their account information, such as an address or phone number. Address changes can be made by calling 800-356-4222, logging into Revenue Online, or by filling out and submitting a change of address form on the Revenue website www.oregon.gov/dor.

Regarding collections
Taxpayers should not skip or reduce current payments. Those who are unable to pay their debt in full can resolve outstanding debt and avoid automated collection by arranging a payment agreement with the department. Those unable to comply with their existing payment agreement between now and January 15, 2021 can request a modification to their payment plan by calling the department at least five business days before their payment due date.

Taxpayers can find agency contact information, more tax resources, tools, and COVID-19 or wildfire relief tax information at www.oregon.gov/dor or by calling 800-356-4222 or 503-378-4988.

This relief follows the IRS’s announcement on September 16, 2020 that victims of Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds now have until January 15, 2021 to file and pay various individual and business taxes.

Details on the federal relief can be found at www.irs.gov/newsroom under “Tax Relief in Disaster Situations.”

To get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, visit www.oregon.gov/dor or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. You also can call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing- or speech-impaired), we accept all relay calls.

The Bear Creek Greenway area is today reopening from Medford through Phoenix to Talent.  The area had been closed earlier in the month due to hazards left behind after the unforgettable Almeda Fire.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that the Greenway will be open for public use north of Suncrest Road in Talent.

“If you are heading out to enjoy the Greenway please stay out of the burned area and remain on the path, as hidden hazards may be present,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Work will be continuing along the Greenway, and more sections are set to be reopened later as they are deemed safe. The Sheriff’s Office said that bridges between Ashland and Talent and a significant number of hazard trees still have to be dealt with.

“Trees are being selectively removed, per the judgement of a certified arborist and only those trees that present an immediate hazard to trail users, or nearby structures are being felled,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “All other trees that do not present a safety concern are being left for wildlife habitat.”

Fire officials are warning residents sifting through rubble on burned property in the Almeda fire area no to dig through the debris without professional monitoring assistant.

“Burned properties may contain hazards such as asbestos fibers, toxic chemicals, unstable trees, and dangerous structures,” Jackson County officials said. “Complying with state and federal hazardous waste laws is complex, and contractors completing this work must have special licenses and certifications. Lastly, insurance policies may not cover the cleanup’s full cost if not completed correctly.”

Emergency Operations Center Director John Vial said, “With property owner permission, over the next few weeks, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, using EPA Strike Teams, will begin to remove household hazardous wastes from burned properties. This is the first step in the cleanup process, and our goal is to make this process as easy for property owners as possible and to ensure that it is completed in a comprehensive, safe, and organized fashion.


”County officials said avoiding any sort of haphazard cleanup can have “significant benefits” to property owners, explaining the state has organized a task force to deal with the massive cleanup.


“Getting the whole burn scar area cleaned up systematically will help maintain property values, avoid blight, and ensure compliance with state and federal laws,” Jackson County explained. “If a property owner chooses to remove debris themselves, they should receive clearance from local authorities, mitigate hazards, and wear an N95 mask, gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy shoes. Avoid rinsing debris or waste into storm drains.”

The county provided the following contacts for more information:

  • City of Talent: (541) 535-1566
  • City of Phoenix: Email joe.slaughter@phoenixoregon.gov
  • Jackson County: (541) 774-6238
  • FEMA: (800) 621-3362
  • DEQ, Medford Office: (541)776-6010

Around the State of Oregon

Les Schwab Tire Stores Sold
Officials at Oregon-based Les Schwab Tires confirmed Tuesday they have agreed to sell the company to Meritage Group, a family-owned investment firm.

“The decision to sell has always been about securing the long-term success of the company,” said CEO Jack Cuniff.

Cuniff said Meritage Group has a history of preserving culture and values while growing a company over time.

“This is a great fit, and aligns well with Les’ vision and all we have built together,” he added.

Managing Director Aubrey Barth with Meritage said Les Schwab is an ideal investment for them. They also own Columbia Distributing, which is based in Portland.

“The company’s exceptional employees and programs, strong financials, and respected, customer-focused brand set it up for success for years to come,” Barth said.

The sale is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Les Schwab opened its first location in 1952 and has since expanded to multiple states and hundreds of locations.

Impacted individuals and households who reside or have a business located in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties are eligible for the relief. Taxpayers in localities added later to the individual assistance disaster areas, as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be eligible to receive the same relief.

If you are a victim of Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds, any penalty and interest imposed for late filing or late payment related to due dates that fall on or after September 7, 2020 and before January 15, 2021 will be waived if you file and pay by January 15, 2021. If you receive a billing or adjustment notice from Revenue related to a late filing or late payment caused by a disaster situation, follow the instructions in the notice to request a waiver of penalty and interest.

The Oregon relief applies to all affected taxpayers who are filing any income, payroll, and excise taxes originally due during the relief period. See our website for a list of qualifying tax programs and frequently asked questions.

Copies of past tax records
Affected taxpayers who need to obtain copies of Oregon tax records will be able to receive replacements free of charge. To obtain copies of critical tax records on file with the Oregon Department of Revenue, please call us at 800-356-4222. These records may include copies of prior tax returns filed with the department, information returns such as W-2s and 1099s, and notices that we’ve issued.

Updating taxpayer information
Affected taxpayers may also need to update their account information, such as an address or phone number. Address changes can be made by calling 800-356-4222, logging into Revenue Online, or by filling out and submitting a change of address form on the Revenue website www.oregon.gov/dor.

Regarding collections
Taxpayers should not skip or reduce current payments. Those who are unable to pay their debt in full can resolve outstanding debt and avoid automated collection by arranging a payment agreement with the department. Those unable to comply with their existing payment agreement between now and January 15, 2021 can request a modification to their payment plan by calling the department at least five business days before their payment due date.

Taxpayers can find agency contact information, more tax resources, tools, and COVID-19 or wildfire relief tax information at www.oregon.gov/dor or by calling 800-356-4222 or 503-378-4988.

This relief follows the IRS’s announcement on September 16, 2020 that victims of Oregon wildfires and straight-line winds now have until January 15, 2021 to file and pay various individual and business taxes.

Details on the federal relief can be found at www.irs.gov/newsroom under “Tax Relief in Disaster Situations.”

To get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, visit www.oregon.gov/dor or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. You also can call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing- or speech-impaired), we accept all relay calls.

FATAL CRASH ON HWY 138W – DOUGLAS COUNTY

On Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at approximately 1:15 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel  responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 138W near MP 23A.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Toyota Rav, operated by Sara Myers (45) from Sutherlin, was westbound slowing to turn south (left) onto Dovetail Lane when an also westbound Honda motorcycle, operated by Keith Berry (34) from Sutherlin,  attempted to pass.  The Honda motorcycle crashed into the drivers side of the Toyota Rav. 

Berry and his passenger, Caylla Ritchie (27) from Roseburg, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased.

Myers was transported by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center with serious injuries. 

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) received federal approval to issue Pandemic EBT benefits in September to promote increased food security for families who receive no-cost meals through participation in the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program.

Benefits will start being distributed Sept. 28 for an estimated total amount of more than $35.6 million in federal money. Recipients may see two deposits on their Oregon EBT card – an initial deposit of $100 and a second deposit for all students receiving an amount over $100. Amounts vary by the school district.

“These additional federal funds provide much needed assistance for our families as they manage the transition back to school,” said Dan Haun, ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs Director. “We hope these benefits bring some relief to families facing today’s uncertainties.”

“Child Nutrition Programs know that the P-EBT benefit plays a crucial role in supporting students’ nutritional needs during this time of crisis and change,” ODE School Nutrition Program Manager, Damasita Sanchez said. “We appreciate the partnership with DHS to provide this critical support for Oregon communities.”

Students must be enrolled in an eligible school for the 2020-21 school year to be eligible for September P-EBT. There is no application process for this benefit.

Eligible students who receive Oregon SNAP benefits, or were mailed an Oregon EBT card with P-EBT benefits in the past, will receive their September P-EBT benefits on their existing Oregon EBT card. Families who lost their Oregon EBT card can request a new one by calling their local ODHS office. New Oregon EBT cards will be mailed in October.

Many families eligible for P-EBT are also eligible for on-going food assistance benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and are encouraged to check eligibility and apply at https://apps.state.or.us/onlineApplication/#NewClientAccount.

Eligible students will receive up to $176 depending on their school’s start date. Visit https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/food-benefits/pages/p-ebt.aspx for details.

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance, and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefitsFor local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1.

New State of Oregon Wildfire-Affected Business Information

The Small Business Navigator provides current information for businesses affected by Covid-19 and wildfires. Call them at 833-604-0880. Additional wildfire-related information can be found at http://wildfire.oregon.gov

In response to a federal disaster declaration, the Small Business Administration is accepting applications for federal disaster loans to businesses and private nonprofits in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties. Find more information here.

Affected by wildfire, winds, and smoke? If you’re concerned about your business/nonprofit registry with Secretary of State Corporation Division, just email corporation.division@oregon.gov.

Wildfire Resources for Employees

The Oregon Employment Department is currently working with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to implement Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for those affected by the Oregon wildfires. The agency is waiting for federal approvals. Employees impacted by the wildfires can get information about unemployment here.

Free Small Business Training & Resources

The Small Business Advocacy Team regularly conducts free, educational seminars online. These seminars are available for anyone to attend. Recordings of presentations are available on our YouTube channel. Register to participate in a live webinar online.

Learn about topics ranging from Covid-19 resources for businesses to the difference between independent contractors and employees. Doing business from home? Check out the webinar on Business Licenses and Home Occupations.

If you have questions or concerns about state or local government, contact the Small Business Advocacy Team or visit their website

E-Notices for your business

You’ve been asking for the Secretary of State to  email reminders to file your annual report and/or renew your Assumed Business Name instead of mailing them through USPS.

To opt in for emailed or email and paper reminders, go online to this website or click on the image to the right. Choose Sign Up Now and follow the prompts. Our system sends you a validation email. Follow the instructions in the email to validate, and then you’ll be set up. Email corporation.division@oregon.gov with questions. 

Les Schwab Tire Center and Oregon FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) have partnered for a Drive Away Hunger Initiative to collect food and raise hunger awareness for the month of October.

The Drive Away Hunger initiative is one that Oregon FFA and Les Schwab Tire Centers have been partnering on annually since 2015. Each year Oregon FFA members, advisors, volunteers, Les Schwab employees, and our partnering stores across Oregon have worked together to increase the impact of the initiative.

Through Saturday, Oct. 31, non-perishable food donations can be dropped at any Les Schwab Tire Center, Wilco, or Grange Coop store. Last year the Oregon FFA’s Drive Away Hunger initiative helped raise 580,084 pounds of food, equal to 435,171 meals. The Oregon FFA is part of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America. It is a national youth organization of 760,113 student members, all preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business, and technology of agriculture. There are 8,739 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Oregon FFA is made up of more than 11,000 members in 114 chapters throughout the state.

Salem – Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi will host the statewide virtual Wildfire Insurance Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 1, at noon.

He will be joined by representatives from the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation to answer common questions about wildfire insurance, the claims process, and how the division can help Oregonians.

Everyone affected by the wildfires are encouraged to tune in to the live stream on the division’s video webpage. You can also listen to the town hall by calling 888-808-6929 (toll-free), access code 1369311.

“Our goal for the wildfire town hall is to provide Oregonians with important information they can use right now to take some initial steps toward recovery,” said Stolfi, who is also the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “Recovery will take time, but we are here to help Oregonians through every phase of their insurance claim.”

Oregonians can submit questions before the town hall. The commissioner and division representatives will answer as many questions as possible during the event.

The town hall will be recorded and captioned in both English and Spanish for people who have difficulty hearing, as well as many of those who are not native English speakers. That recording will be made available as soon as the captioning is complete.

The division’s wildfire insurance page has resources and contact information to help answer many wildfire insurance questions. The division is also prepared to help people in any language they choose. Visit dfr.oregon.gov/help for more information.

Back to RogueValleyMagazine.com

Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/17 – Task Force Busts Black-Market Grow Near Eagle Point, OSP Arrest Josephine County Murder Suspect in Bend

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Monday 2/6 – Wolf Creek Woman Accused Of Helping Benjamin Foster Pleads Not Guilty, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Identifies “Suspicious Death” as 29-Year-Old Medford Woman

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 7/10 – Jackson County Fair Starts Today, Josephine County Commissioners Have Voted Not To Allocate Funds To Oregon State University’s Budget For Operations In The Area

Renee Shaw