Rogue Valley News, Monday, 11/2 – Election Day Tomorrow in Oregon and Across the Nation

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting and RogueValleyMagazine.com.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Monday Sunny, with a high near 78. Overnight will be cloudy with a low near 41.

Tuesday Partly sunny, with a high near 74. Calm wind.

Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.

Thursday A chance of rain after 5pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 71.

Today’s Headlines

Tomorrow is election day in Oregon and across the nation. Be sure and exercise your right to vote. It looks af if Oregon voters’ record level of participation is largely driven by excitement and anticipation about the presidential election and election officials’ ability to ensure each person’s vote counts in an unusually tumultuous year.  Hold on to your hat.

Early in Oregon’s election, Democrats began to lead the turnout and Republican voters are catching up around the state, perhaps closing the gap in the state by 8PM on election day.   Still, Oregonians can expect the state will remain a solidly blue link in Democrats’ West Coast “blue wall.” That is because Democrats hold a 10 percentage point registration advantage over Republicans, according to state data. For the record, Democrats have already cast more ballots than there are registered Republicans in the state.

There are now far more non-affiliated voters — 935,000 — than Republicans, although they are much less likely to vote than members of either major party.

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 691, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Sunday, Nov. 1st.

Oregon Health Authority reported 524 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday bringing the state total to 45,429.

Another 38 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Jackson County.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (35), Clatsop (3), Columbia (5), Coos (6), Curry (2), Deschutes (28), Douglas (8), Grant (2), Hood River (2), Jackson (36), Klamath (4), Lane (35), Lincoln (2), Linn (7), Malheur (8), Marion (132), Morrow (2), Multnomah (116), Polk (5), Umatilla (5), Union (1), Wallowa (1), Wasco (4), Washington (67), Yamhill (7).

Around the state of Oregon

In what would be a first in the U.S., possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other hard drugs could be decriminalized in Oregon under a ballot measure that voters are deciding on in Tuesday’s election.

Measure 110 is one of the most watched initiatives in Oregon because it would drastically change how the state’s justice system treats people caught with amounts for their personal use. Instead of being arrested, going to trial and facing possible jail time, the users would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers. The centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Last week Oregon health officials delivered a concerning message: If the state remains on the path it is now with increasing daily COVID-19 cases, hospitals in Oregon could reach capacity by mid-December.

Out of Oregon’s 721 listed intensive care unit beds, 24% were available, based on data from the health authority’s website Thursday. Out of the non-ICU adult hospital beds in the state, 14% were available. As of Thursday afternoon there were 156 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals. However there have been days in months past, such as July and August, where the number has surpassed 165. In the month of October, Oregon has surpassed its record of daily cases multiple times. On Friday officials reported a new daily record — 600 COVID-19 cases.

On Saturday, October 31, 2020 at approximately 5:15 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 38 near mile post 34. 

Preliminary investigation revealed a Honda Odyssey, operated by Jose Torres (40) of Van Nuys, CA.  was westbound when it left the roadway, traveled down an embankment, and rolled.

The passenger, Alfredo Valdez-Perez (46) of unknown, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. 

Torres was transported by air ambulance to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield.

On Saturday, October 31, 2020 at approximately 6:10 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 26 near milepost 31.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Toyota Tundra, operated by Colin Banwell (54) of Hillsboro, was eastbound when it left the roadway and struck a tree.

Banwell sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

FATAL CRASH ON HWY 20 – LINCOLN COUNTY

On Friday, October 30, 2020 at approximately 3:15 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a multiple vehicle crash on Hwy 20 near milepost 20.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Ram 2500 pickup, operated by Daniel Ruiz (27) of Monroe, was eastbound when it crossed into the westbound lanes.  The Ram collided with two vehicles before colliding with a westbound Mazda MZ3 operated by Lexi Brockmann (20) of Lebanon.

Brockmann sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

There were no serious injuries resulting from the first two collisions.

Ruiz was arrested for outstanding warrants in Linn and Benton counties.  He was also charged with Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Manslaughter II.  He was lodged at the Lincoln County Jail.

The investigation into the Thursday, October 29, 2020 Officer Involved Shooting in Salem is continuing.

The name of the deceased is being released – Rodolfo “Rudy” Martinez-Cortez (30) of Salem.

Officer Parsons sustained a grazing gunshot would to the leg and was treated and released.

No more updates are expected before the Marion County District Attorney presents the case to a Grand Jury – which is standard protocol in Marion County.

Original story: On October 29, 2020 at approximately 9:50 a.m., a Salem Police patrol officer was conducting a traffic investigation when the involved vehicle crashed at 17th and Court STS NE. The driver fled from the vehicle on foot. The officer, on foot, pursued the driver into a resident backyard on Court ST NE.

Shortly after confronting the driver in the backyard, shots were fired. The officer was struck in the ankle. The suspect was also struck by gunfire and pronounced deceased at the scene. The officer was treated by medical staff and released. As per Salem Police policy, the involved officer has been placed on administrative leave. In accordance with Senate Bill 111, the Salem Police Department has requested the Oregon State Police be the lead investigative agency for the incident.

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that an Ontario, Oregon resident, and a Weiser, Idaho resident have been charged with interstate trafficking of methamphetamines and other drugs.

Alma Lorena Pacheco Ortiz, 52, and Victor Gomez Casa 26, have been charged by criminal complaint with possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, and Pacheco was also charged with possession of a firearm by a person unlawfully in the United States.

“Rural communities across Oregon have been ravaged by the effects of methamphetamine addiction” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams “We cannot succeed in breaking the cycle of addiction and affliction in these communities when individuals like the defendants, motivated by greed, continue to provide a steady supply of poison. We are proud of the collaborative efforts to disrupt this long term drug trafficking enterprise”

 “Communities are struggling to reduce or eliminate the physical and mental damage caused to individuals and communities by illicit drug addiction,” said Steven Romero, Ontario, Oregon Chief of Police.  “Area law enforcement continue to use a ‘force multiplier’ approach for disrupting or dismantling international, multi-state and local drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.  We’re proud work together with our law enforcement partners to make our communities safer.”

“I applaud the work of Federal, state, and local law enforcement in this effort,” said Malheur County, Oregon Sheriff Brian Wolfe.  “People are being held accountable for serious illegal activity which in turn makes our communities safer.”

“Oregon State Police Troopers work diligently to observe signs of criminal activity during every traffic stop,” said Captain Tim Fox. “As part of this coordinated effort, our OSP Troopers engaged these observation skills which proved fruitful in pulling a significant amount of drugs off the streets.”

An Oregon prosecutor said Thursday he will file charges against seven people who were involved in violent clashes during dueling political events at a park in Bend, Oregon earlier this month.

Those facing prosecution include people from both sides of the political spectrum. Bend police had recommended charges against 15 people, but Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel declined to charge more than half of them.

The district attorney also released 200 pages of police reports related to the case after police Chief Mike Krantz took the unusual step last week of publicly releasing his department’s charging recommendations.

The charges resulted from an Oct. 3 confrontation between racial justice demonstrators and President Donald Trump supporters at Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park. Police said a man broke a $20 Trump flag off a truck and a brawl ensued.

Trump administration officials on Thursday stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states and tribes in charge of overseeing the predators.

The U.S. Department of Interior announcement just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election could lead to resumption of wolf hunts in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — a crucial battleground in the campaign between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It’s the latest in a series of administration actions on the environment that appeal to key blocs of rural voters in the race’s final days, including steps to allow more mining in Minnesota and logging in Alaska.

The Bureau of Land Management Medford District sold nearly 25 million board feet of timber during an oral auction on Thursday, Oct 29.  

Timber Products was the high bidder for the “Bear Grub” timber sale. The 12 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $1,085,651.20. The sale is located on Oregon and California Railroad Grant (O&C) Lands in Jackson County.  

Boise Cascade was the high bidder for the “Lodgepole” timber sale. The 11.2 million board feet of timber sold for $3,447,965.60 million, significantly above the appraised value of $2.2 million. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Jackson County.  

Estremado Logging was the high bidder for the “Savage Murph” timber sale. The 0.828 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $51,077.20. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Josephine County.  

Macs LLC was the high bidder for the “Wild Bill” timber sale. The 0.549 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $90,977.20. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Josephine County. 

The BLM manages 2.4 million acres of timberlands in western Oregon, under two programs: O&C Lands and public domain lands. Timber sales like these are a critical part of the BLM’s active forest management and are important for promoting resilient landscapes. BLM timberlands are some of the most productive in the world, and contain a diversity of plant and animal species, wild and scenic rivers, wilderness areas, and cultural and historical resources. In addition to opportunities for harvest, these timberlands provide multiple uses including recreation, mining, grazing, and more. 

A sustainable forestry program is critical to the economies in western Oregon. Local communities rely on the jobs and timber that come from BLM land, and the BLM is committed to providing predictable and sustainable timber harvest opportunities. Revenue generated from timber sales on O&C lands are split between 18 western Oregon counties and the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, as designated under the O&C Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937. The revenue generated from the timber harvested on Public Domain land is deposited with the U.S Treasury.  

It takes approximately 16,000 board feet of lumber to frame a 2,000-square-foot home. The combined 25 million board feet of timber sold today is enough to build approximately 1,575 family sized residential homes. 

For additional information on the Bureau of Land Management’s timber program, please visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/forests-and-woodlands/timber-sales 

Oregon Health Authority saw an alarming spike in drug overdose deaths in Oregon this past spring compared to last year, and public health experts believe use of illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine is driving the increase.

Analysts in the Injury and Violence Prevention Section at the OHA Public Health Division found that Oregon saw a nearly 70% increase in the number of overdose deaths during April and May 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. There also was a nearly 8% increase in the number of overdose deaths during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The preliminary data come from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), which includes combined and abstracted data from medical examiners and death certificates.

Additionally, the analysis found, between April and May 2020 there was a 28% increase in overdose deaths, and a more than 15% increase in overdose deaths between March and April. Opioid-involved deaths increased nearly 70% in April and May compared to the previous two months. And opioid-involved deaths accounted for almost 73% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

Of opioid-involved deaths, the data show, fentanyl and heroin continue to be the drugs most frequently involved, and fentanyl-involved deaths accounted for almost 40% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

The analysis also uncovered a continuing alarming trend in methamphetamine use: Methamphetamine/amphetamine-involved deaths accounted for more than 40% of all overdose deaths in May 2020.

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