Rogue Valley News, Friday, 11/13 – Weekend Winter Storm, Covid-19 Cases Rising in County and Across Oregon

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

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Friday Showers all day. Snow level 3900 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 47. West wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Overnight, showers likely before 10pm. Snow level 3400 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming south southeast after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Saturday A chance of showers between 10am and 1pm, then a chance of rain after 1pm. Snow level 3100 feet rising to 4200 feet in the afternoon. Cloudy, with a high near 50. Southeast wind 3 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday Rain, mainly before 10am. High near 58. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Monday A 10% chance of rain after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 61.

Tuesday Rain likely, mainly after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59.

Heavy snow over the Cascades, near Mount Shasta, and in higher terrain of the east side is expected today.  

A potent storm system is expected to move into the area today and tonight for much of Southern Oregon and Northern California. This system is poised to bring heavy snow and strong winds to elevations above 5000 feet for areas from the Cascades and Siskiyou’s. Accumulating snow is possible above 4000 feet.  

Heavy snow combined with strong, gusty winds could cause significant tree damage and bring whiteout conditions at times. For those traveling in the region, Winter Storm Warnings are reported up and down the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington.

Snow, cold, wind and ice may conspire in the days ahead to create potentially hazardous traveling conditions throughout Central Oregon.  Snow in the Cascades and a mix of snow and rain in Central Oregon is possible over the next few days.  Rain, possibly heavy at times, is expected to affect the recently burned areas adjacent to OR22 and OR126.  ODOT has prepositioned equipment to handle the potential effects of the approaching weather system. 

Crews are on 24/7 alert. ODOT asks travelers to think twice before trying to drive over the mountain passes which are expected to get several inches of snow.

Oregon tallied 1,112 new confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, shattering its previous record and blowing past more than 1,000 new daily cases for the first time as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly statewide.

The previous daily record was 988 on Saturday. The percent of people testing positive was 12% statewide, more than double what it was over the summer months, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority. Multnomah County, home to Portland, had 350 cases on Thursday. A portion of the new cases this week are attributable to at least five Halloween parties, including one that had 100 guests, state health authorities said. The source of many new cases announced Thursday are still being investigated.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in the state reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (20), Clackamas (102), Clatsop (1), Columbia (8), Crook (5), Curry (3), Deschutes (28), Douglas (14), Grant (4), Harney (1), Hood River (3), Jackson (123), Jefferson (1), Josephine (4), Klamath (13), Lane (65), Lincoln (1), Linn (8), Marion (102), Morrow (3), Multnomah (351), Polk (19), Umatilla (44), Union (2), Wasco (5), Washington (169), and Yamhill (26).

Jackson County Public Health reported another record-breaking daily count for coronavirus cases on Thursday, alongside two new deaths attributed to the virus.

Officials reported 123 new cases, bringing the County’s total since the beginning of the pandemic to 2,606. Of those total cases, 676 are still considered active and infectious. Two men in their 80s died of the virus at Asante

Rogue Regional Medical Center on Tuesday, Jackson County Public Health said. One was an 80-year-old man who tested positive on November 3, another was 87 and tested positive on November 6. Both reportedly had underlying health conditions. The two latest fatalities bring Jackson County’s total to 10.

A man accused of trying to prey on children in Jackson County over the internet was arrested earlier this week at his home in Bend, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

JCSO said that the investigation began in May of this year, and included local detectives, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the Southern Oregon High Tech Crime Task Force. Just before 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, officers served a search warrant and an arrest warrant on the suspect, identified as 69-year-old Steven Lee Genereux, at his home on Tumalo Circle in Bend.

According to court documents, the “child” that Genereux contacted was actually an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a minor. Genereux was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail on three counts of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the Second Degree and seven counts of Luring a Minor.

All charges are Class C felonies with total bail of $150,000.

A homeless man died overnight outside a Rite Aid on SE Third Street in Bend, the frigid air and high winds an apparent factor.

At the time, David Melvin Savory, 57, was on the waitlists of several homeless shelters in the area. But Bend is currently without a cold-weather shelter, which could have saved Savory’s life. And with winter approaching, local homeless service providers worry it may not be the last death this year. The victim was a double amputee and was confined to a wheelchair.

Wednesday afternoon Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 5 near milepost 62.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Toyota Highlander, operated by Matthew Ryan (49) of San Francisco, CA. was northbound when it went off the road and struck a tree. Ryan sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by Rural Metro Fire Department, Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, and ODOT.\

Medford Police “Click It or Ticket” Campaign begins November 16 with border to border kickoff event

On Monday, November 16, the Medford Police Department will be teaming up with law enforcement agencies nationwide for a Border to Border (B2B) law enforcement event to kick off the annual Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign which runs through November 29.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking all states to participate in B2B, a 1-day national seat belt awareness event coordinated by participating state highway safety offices and their respective law enforcement liaisons. The B2B initiative aims to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement and providing seat belt fact sheets for drivers. 

According to NHTSA, in 2018, there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. In Medford, Oregon, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $115.

“If the enforcement campaign wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success,” said Sgt. Geoff Kirkpatrick of the Medford Police Department. “If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits. Help us spread this lifesaving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone—front seat and back, child and adult—needs to remember to buckle up—every trip, every time.”

For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.

AROUND THE STATE OF OREGON

The Oregon Employment Department is making more progress reviewing unemployment claims that need special investigation.  

In September, there were 52-thousand claims that needed adjudication.  There are now 26-thousand claims that need to be reviewed.  The employment department has hired and trained new adjudicators to speed up the process.

Oregon’s Democratic lawmakers will fall short of winning enough state legislative seats to prevent Republicans from staging walkouts that have halted action at the Capitol in recent years.

Following the unofficial results of the 2020 election, Oregon Democrats are predicted to hold onto their three-fifths supermajority in the state Senate and House. However, the party did not pick up enough seats to expand to a quorum-proof majority, which would prevent work from ceasing in the Capitol if Republicans leave Salem again.

Democratic lawmakers easily won in reliably blue areas such as Portland and comfortably held onto seats in the suburbs. But along the coast three Democratic seats had flipped, according to unofficial vote counts published on Oregon’s Secretary of State websiteNone of the three seats had a Democratic incumbent candidate running.

Oregon State University has the largest enrollment in the state for the seventh year in a row.  

Despite the pandemic, OSU added 585 students, an increase of one-point-eight percent.  A total of 33-thousand-359 students are enrolled this fall.  Enrollment of veterans increased 11-percent.  The number of students of color increased seven-percent and make up a record 27-percent of the school’s overall enrollment.

The Portland Trail Blazers have announced that in collaboration with the NBA and public health officials, fans won’t be allowed in the MODA Center when the season begins in December.

The Blazers say they’ll continue to evaluate the COVID-19 pandemic for when fans can return to the games.  They say health and safety are their top priority.

Unemployment tax rates for employers subject to Oregon payroll tax will move to tax schedule four for the 2021 calendar year. Despite facing the highest unemployment rate in Oregon’s history, the 2021 payroll tax schedule is a modest shift from the 2020 tax schedule, with an average rate of 2.26 percent on the first $43,800 paid to each employee.

The specific rate each employer will pay under the new schedule depends on how much they have used the state unemployment insurance system during the last three years. There are two reasons for this modest change in Oregon’s payroll tax schedule:

  1. The period covering the COVID-19 pandemic accounts for only eight percent of the three-year time period used to determine the tax rates for 2021 (July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020).
  2. Most of the benefits paid out in Oregon during this recession are federally funded programs created by the CARES Act, not regular unemployment benefits paid by Oregon’s Trust Fund.

Even after paying approximately $1.8 billion in regular unemployment insurance benefits since March, Oregon’s Trust Fund, which kept Oregon solvent through the Great Recession and is on track to remain solvent through the current recession, is one of the healthiest in the nation. This is due to the tax formula used to fund it. Oregon’s tax structure is self-balancing, with two major parts:

  1. Movement between eight tax schedules: When the tax schedule changes, all employers move to that tax schedule.
  2. How an employer is assigned a tax rate within a schedule: Individual employer tax rates depend on their ‘experience rating’ or benefit ratio, which measures the rate at which their employees have received UI benefits.

As of Nov. 4, 2020, 21 states have already borrowed a total of $40 billion to pay regular unemployment insurance benefits. The borrowing costs are passed on to employers and is expected to continue growing for some time. That will not be the case in OregonWhile employers in other states will see additional UI taxes and other costs, Oregon employers have saved $685 million in payroll taxes over the past decade through UI Trust Fund interest earnings.

The Oregon Employment Department mailed notifications to businesses regarding their individual tax rates and encourages employers to wait until they receive their individual notice before attempting to contact the department with questions.

Any employer who has not received their notice by Nov. 20, 2020, can email OED_Taxinfo_User@oregon.gov or call 503-947-1488. Due to the projected high call volume, we encourage employers to contact us by email. More information can be found on our employer taxes webpage.

Oregon Heritage, in partnership with UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management’s Institute for Policy Research & Engagement (IPRE), the City of Cottage Grove and several local nonprofits worked over the last year to develop a new model for heritage resource disaster planning.

The initiative resulted in organizational plans for five heritage organizations, a community-wide plan for the city and a guidebook so the process can be duplicated in other communities.

Heritage resources like historic downtowns, museums, historic districts, cemeteries, genealogical libraries, etc. are valuable community assets. They are also wonderful resources to assist communities in recovery from disasters. The effort to strengthen these organizations’ resilience following a disaster is critical.

According to Kuri Gill, grants and outreach coordinator with Oregon Heritage, it was time to try something new. “After working for years with heritage organizations on disaster planning and response, we discovered some challenges. Remaining focused on disaster planning and preparation when organizations are trying to keep the doors open and the lights on is tough.” It seemed that a community plan with coordinated goals would help drive the work and make it easier to access resources. The next step was to find the right team to pull off a pilot project.

Oregon Heritage coordinates the Oregon Heritage All-Star Community program, which recognizes communities that support, promote and coordinate their heritage resources. Cottage Grove is one such community, that also has an award-winning preservation plan which includes the community’s heritage resources. Since they were already coordinating heritage organizations and incorporating them into city planning, the city was an ideal pilot partner.

Oregon Heritage, then reached out to IPRE. They had worked together on past projects including a historic theaters study. IPRE has produced excellent community planning projects and disaster resilience work through its Community Planning Workshop (CPW). This project is a good example of the power of university-community partnerships, explains Robert Parker, director of strategic and technical solutions, for IPRE. “Oregon Heritage has long worked to support preservation of Oregon’s heritage, the CPW provided need capacity to bring the guidebook to completion,” said Parker.

“The project supported the mission of Oregon Heritage, of heritage organizations in Cottage Grove, and provided our graduate students a robust learning platform on emergency management and resiliency in the middle of a global pandemic.”

PacificSource Health Plans has been recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a gold level Workplace Health Achievement Index recipient, the highest index recognition level awarded.

Formerly structured as the Fit-Friendly Worksite award, the index was developed in collaboration with the Association’s CEO Roundtable and its Center for Workplace Health Research and Evaluation. 

Organizations can qualify for bronze, silver, or gold level recognition based on their total index score. The index is a scored self-assessment, which is based on big-picture best practices that evaluate a workplace health program’s culture, structure, processes, and outcomes.

“One of PacificSource’s greatest strengths is that our senior leadership are really invested in supporting employees’ well-being,” said Sabrina Halstead, PacificSource employee well-being program manager. “Through partnerships with an executive wellness committee and collaboration with departments throughout the organization, we’re able to look at our employee population health and thoughtfully choose programs and opportunities that can have a lasting positive influence on employee health and well-being.”

The framework of the Workplace Health Achievement Index was built so that organizations would continue to strive to improve the health of their workplace and their workforce from one year to the next.

Additional qualifying workplace wellness programs and criteria that PacificSource has implemented includes the Healthy Life Rewards program, which is an incentive program focusing on prevention, awareness, and healthy lifestyle behaviors. PacificSource also supports employees through offerings such as an ergonomics program and sit-stand workstations, on-site fitness classes and exercise facilities, company-wide walking challenges and mental health challenges, healthy on-site food offerings, a comprehensive online health engagement web portal, an employee-focused wellness committee, and a dedicated employee wellness specialist on staff. (Note: Any in-person or onsite references above refer to pre-COVID protocols.)

PacificSource has been recognized by the AHA as a gold level recipient in 2018 and silver level in 2019 and has also previously won the organization’s Community Innovation Award.

About PacificSource Health Plans:

PacificSource Health Plans is an independent, not-for-profit community health plan serving the Northwest. Founded in 1933, PacificSource has local offices throughout Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s assistance with identifying the person(s) responsible for the unlawful taking of a buck deer in the Hood Unit.

On Thursday, November 12, 2020 a citizen reported finding a fresh deer carcass and buck head that had been dumped over a rock embankment near Cascade Locks on Herman Creek Rd.  

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers responded and found a freshly killed 3X3 buck head with a broken point and a cleaned carcass dumped over an embankment in an attempt to conceal its location. 

Due to the condition of the carcass left at the dump site it is believed that the buck was recently taken. It is estimated that the incident occurred November 10-12, 2020.

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact OSP Trooper Brent Ocheskey 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.

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: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8A-5P)

Oregon State Police are investigating a shooting of a vehicle in Marion County. 

On November 7, 2020 at approximately 10:15 P.M., a man and woman were traveling westbound on Hwy 22E near mile post 28, west of Mill City.  They heard a loud noise and the rear window of their Dodge Van broke. They did not stop due to the remote location and personal safety reasons.  When they arrived home they noticed what they believed to be bullet hole in the rear panel just below the window.  They later took their vehicle to a body shop who confirmed they also thought it was a bullet hole.

If you have any information regarding this or any other shooting at vehicles please contact the Northern Command Center at 1-800-442-0776 or *OSP and leave information for Trooper Michael Iacob, Oregon State Police – Salem Area Command.

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