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Rogue Valley News, Thursday, 10/15 – Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity is Helping Fire Victims with Furniture

Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity is providing fire victims with furniture. It was first providing them with sifting kits to recover what they could from the ashes. Today it has shifted its mission to now supply the displaced victims with what many could not recover- furniture. When Habitat for Humanity first started accepting donations the director said the community was quick to help. Their store and it’s storage areas quickly filled up. Now they are only accepting the “must have” items that make a house a home.

“We’re stocked except for a few items that we’re a little bit low on,” the program and operations director Brandom Thom said. “Some of the items that we’re really short on that we’re asking for the community’s help– dressers. Dressers are a hot commodity. Everybody needs them.” He said the preference is small dressers.

“Unfortunately its one of those things where one couch can service an entire family but everybody really needs a dresser so um those are in short supply,” Thom said. In addition to dressers– he said the elderly who are displaced have been asking for recliners.

The staff will have people do what they call an intake process where they find out the specific things they are in need of. From there they will schedule you an appointment to come in and match those needs. “Its not open to the public. Its not first come first serve,” Thom said. “We want you to have your own protected time to come in and see what we have available and see if it will fit the needs of you and your family.”

If you are looking to donate you can call ahead to make sure they are still in need of the item you are looking to bring. The director said that with their mission of building affordable housing, they are excited to play a big role in the long term of helping Oregonians on the road to recovery.

“We’re just keeping involved and trying to help our neighbors with every step of the need their experiencing,” Thom said. For more information on Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity check their website here:

Bad news coming out of Jackson County as public health officials there marked a new daily high for coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 28 new confirmed and presumptive cases. Of those cases, at least 195 are still considered “active infectious.” A total of 103 people have been hospitalized with the virus since March — up from 10 at the beginning of July. This week saw the beginning of several free COVID-19 testing events in the county, with testing available to anyone — regardless of symptoms. The process uses a “PCR” test, collecting nasal swabs with results expected within four days.

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Oregon reports 390 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths

Oregon Health Authority reports todays COVID-19 numbers which has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 608. Oregon Health Authority reported 390 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 38,160.

Oregon’s new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (27), Clatsop (1), Columbia (1), Coos (3), Crook (2), Deschutes (7), Douglas (8), Jackson (28), Jefferson (2), Josephine (2)Klamath (2), Lane (60), Lincoln (2), Linn (5), Malheur (11), Marion (63), Multnomah (88), Polk (4), Umatilla (14), Wallowa (1), Washington (51), and Yamhill (5).

Around the state of Oregon

Today OHA released its Weekly Report which showed that during the week of Oct. 5 through Oct. 11, OHA recorded 2,418 new cases of COVID-19 infection—up 18% from last week’s tally of 2,055 and the highest weekly total reported in Oregon to date.

The number of Oregonians newly tested rose 26%, to 28,490, and the percentage of tests that were positive rose slightly to 6.4% from 6.3% the prior week. Twenty-seven Oregonians were reported to have died in association with COVID-19—compared to 25 last week. One hundred forty-seven Oregonians were hospitalized, up from 119 in the previous week, and the highest weekly figure since mid-July.

Meanwhile, If passed by voters, Measure 108 in Oregon would increase taxes on cigars, cigarettes and nicotine vaping devices. The measure is on the ballot this November. It would increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $3.33 per pack, up from the current amount of $1.33. It would also increase cigar taxes to $1 per cigar, doubling the current rate of 50 cents. The measure would also create a 65% wholesale tax on e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products. Ten percent of the new tax money would go toward smoking prevention programming while 90 percent would go to the Oregon Health Plan.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.0 percent in September from 8.5 percent, as revised, in August. For the past few months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has closely tracked the national unemployment rate which fell to 7.9 percent in September from 8.4 percent in August. Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 5,100 jobs in September, following a revised gain of 16,200 jobs in August. Over the past three months the rate of job growth slowed, with 39,000 jobs added in that time, following more rapid growth in May and June, when 83,100 jobs were added. Despite the recent slowdown, Oregon employers added jobs in each of the past five months, and the state has recovered 45 percent of the jobs cut in March and April. Over-the-month job gains in September were largest in leisure and hospitality (+2,600 jobs); financial activities (+1,600); health care and social assistance (+1,600); retail trade (+1,500); and information (+1,200). Employment totaled 163,200 in September, which was down 53,400 jobs, or 24.7%, since its peak month of February.

The University of Oregon said Tuesday that winter term courses will continue to be largely remote and online. The university in Eugene said it will continue to offer some classes in-person, such as science labs and physical education courses, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Thoe in-person courses will require face coverings and physical distancing, according to the university. The university in October has reported nearly 200 cases of coronavirus in university employees and students living on and off campus. Likewise, Lane County, where UO’s main campus is located, has also reported an increase in cases, some from the university community as well as other spikes such as workplace outbreaks.

Measure 107 is packed with proposed new limitations on campaign contributions that would amend the Oregon Constitution. The measure, which will be on the ballot this November, would allow the Legislature, local government bodies and voters to create laws that would limit political campaign contributions and expenditures, require disclosure of political campaign contributions and would require advertisements to display information about who funded them. Currently there are no such limitations on political campaigns in Oregon. A “yes” vote on the measure would allow laws to be created in Oregon that limit those contributions and expenditures. A “no” vote would keep current laws on the books.

Oregon State Police are investigating the unlawful killing of a wolf in the Keating Wildlife Management Unit on or about September 24, 2020. 

This incident occurred north west of New Bridge, OR in the Skull Creek drainage of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest.  The United States Forest Service 7741 Road accesses the Skull Creek drainage and the wolf was located off the 125 spur road.   

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact OSP Sergeant Isaac Cyr through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (mobile).

** Report Wildlife and Habitat Law Violators** 

The TIP program offers preference point rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of big game mammals.

The TIP program also offers cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose, Elk, Deer, Antelope, Bear, Cougar, Wolf, Upland Birds, Waterfowl, and Furbearers. Cash rewards can also be awarded for the unlawful take of Game Fish and Shellfish and for Habitat Destruction.

* $1,000 Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose 
* $500 Elk, Deer and Antelope 
* $300 Bear, Cougar and Wolf 
* $300 Habitat Destruction 
* $100 Upland Birds and Waterfowl 
* $100 Furbearers 

* $100 Game Fish and Shellfish 

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: (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

A former U.S. Postal Service employee was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing mobile phones out of packages at the Portland postal sorting facility, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Rico Alvarez, 24, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

 “It is imperative that the community has confidence and trust in the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service” said United States Attorney Billy J. Williams “Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, this defendant is held to account for violating that trust.”

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Western Area Field Office, Executive Special Agent-in-Charge John D. Masters said, “The U.S. Postal Service has a long and proud history dating back to 1775. The Postal Service employs over 630,000 men and woman who are dedicated public servants. Mr. Rico Alvarez willfully chose to violate that public trust and his duties. Today’s sentencing of Mr. Alvarez demonstrates that theft of U.S. Mail, committed by a Postal Service employee, will not be tolerated and carries serious consequences.”

According to court documents, beginning in about August, 2019, Alvarez, an employee of the United States Postal Service, began stealing smartphones placed into the mail for delivery to customers.  Over the course of the next three months, Alvarez stole more than 400 phones, by surreptitiously opening the box as it passed his mail sorting station, removing the phone, and then sending the empty package on for delivery to the intended recipient. On the day he was caught by Postal Inspectors, he had over a dozen stolen phones in his possession. When interviewed, Alvarez admitted to stealing high end, recently released, smartphones, which he subsequently sold for his own profit.

On June 25, 2020 Alvarez was charged by criminal information with Theft of Mail. He plead guilty to the charge on July 20, 2020. During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ordered Alvarez to pay $253,550 in restitution.

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