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Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 12/8 – Jackson and Josephine County Murders, Health Insurance Open Enrollment Set to End

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

Tuesday December 8, 2020 

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Partly sunny, with a high near 54. Calm wind.

Wednesday- A 30 percent chance of rain before 10am. Areas of fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. Calm wind.

Thursday- A 20 percent chance of rain after 10am. Patchy fog before 10am. Snow level 2500 feet rising to 3400 feet in the afternoon. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 47. Light and variable wind.

Friday- A 20 percent chance of rain after 10am. Snow level 2200 feet rising to 2900 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45.

Saturday- A chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 48.

HEADLINES

Oregon COVID-19 updates, Dec. 8:
COVID-19 has claimed 12 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,045, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today. 

OHA also reported 1,331 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 85,788. 

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (19), Clackamas (134), Columbia (7), Coos (9), Crook (6), Curry (8), Deschutes (66), Douglas (11), Grant (1), Harney (3), Hood River (3), Jackson (21), Jefferson (44), Josephine (21), Lane (78), Lincoln (17), Linn (50), Malheur (11), Marion (165), Multnomah (330), Polk (24), Umatilla (15), Union (7), Wasco (16), Washington (225), Yamhill (35). 

SOREDI grants are available for businesses impacted by COVID-19 in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Another round of grant funding is now available for small businesses in southern Oregon that have been impacted by coronavirus. In Jackson and Josephine counties, those funds are offered through Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. In Jackson County, more than $2.4 million in grants are available, while Josephine County has been allocated more than $1.2 million. SOREDI has been contracted as the grant administrator for both counties.

“This is a significantly large allocation for grant funding with priority given to the entertainment and hospitality sector impacted by the Governor’s recent ‘freeze’ mandate,” says Colleen Padilla, Executive Director of SOREDI.

Applications for Jackson County opened at noon on Friday. For Josephine County, applications will be available starting at noon on Saturday. Businesses can apply until funds are exhausted or until noon on December 29, whichever comes first.

While any eligible business can apply, preference will be given to businesses who were under mandated closures from Governor Kate Brown’s executive order. “It is imperative that eligible businesses apply immediately and provide all requested documentation; the circulation of these new funds to small business and the trickle-down impact to the local workforce, is critically important for the success of our regional economy in this time,” said Padilla.

The application takes at least an hour to complete, and only electronic submissions will be accepted.

To apply, visit the SOREDI page here.

Grant funds are available to all 36 Oregon counties through $55 million from the state. Businesses in Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties can apply at the CCD website here. Douglas County applications are currently open, while Coos and Curry applications open on Monday at noon.

Medford Police launch murder investigation into body found at Best Western motel – The Medford Police Department has launched a murder investigation after discovering a man’s body at the Best Western Horizon Inn on Sunday night.

Officers responded to the motel on Barnett Road just after 8 p.m. for an assault report. Arriving at unit number 136, Medford Police said that they found the body of a 28-year-old man in the room. “Injuries to the deceased male were consistent with an assault,” Medford Police said in a brief statement. The victim was identified as 28-year-old Jeffrey Blackwood.

Officers found a suspect in the assault, identified as 18-year-old Jackson Frischman, at the scene. He was taken into custody without incident and lodged at the Jackson County Jail. Frischman was arraigned on Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court and charged with Murder in Second Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. The latter charge references a baseball bat that Frischman allegedly had “with intent to use unlawfully” against Blackwood.

Medford Police said that the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Medford Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 541-774-2230.

7-hour standoff in Cave Junction domestic violence call ends with one hostage and suspect dead – Authorities have announced that a standoff that began early this morning in Cave Junction has come to an end with two deaths including the suspect.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office said that it received a call for service at 6:19 am reporting a domestic violence incident on Pinewood Way in the Illinois Valley. “The caller reported her husband threatened to kill her with a firearm that he had in his possession,” the department said in a press release. “The caller advised he had pointed the firearm at her during the confrontation. The caller advised she was able to get out of the residence and go to a neighbor’s residence to call 911.”

Though the suspect’s wife was able to escape she told dispatchers a roommate was unable to get out of the house when she did. Hostage Negotiators from the City of Grants Pass Department of Public Safety were requested and responded to the area, along with a contingent of GPDPS SWAT Officers to help contain the incident location.

A second request was made to the Oregon State Police for the assistance of OSP SWAT and the request was authorized. “GPDPS Negotiators were able to make telephonic contact with the male subject,” the press release read. “At approximately 1:30 PM shots were fired by both law enforcement and the male resident. Both, residents remaining within the home were located and pronounced deceased.”

At this time names of the deceased will not be released pending notification of next of kin. There is no further threat to the public stemming from this incident.

AROUND THE STATE of OREGON

HEALTH INSURANCE OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS DEC. 15: IT’S THE ONLY TIME OF YEAR THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN PURCHASE THEIR OWN HEALTH INSURANCE AND IT’S ENDING SOON

OHIM logo

Open enrollment, which began Nov. 1, will end Tuesday, Dec. 15. Oregonians who do not receive health insurance through work, Medicare, or the Oregon Health Plan will need to sign up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov before Dec. 15 if they want to have coverage in 2021.

Despite the tumultuous nature of this year, Oregonians have enrolled in health insurance at the same levels as this same point last year.

“We’re glad to see Oregonians choosing to stay covered during this pandemic,” said Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. “But we know there are thousands more Oregonians out there who could get help paying for health insurance. There is help available for them, but only if they act quickly.”

Consumers can look at plans and find out how much of a subsidy they are eligible for by going to HealthCare.gov.

“You can get help paying for health insurance based on your income,” said Flowers. “Don’t assume you make too much to be eligible.”

Individuals making $51,040 or less per year, and families of four making $104,800 or less, may get help paying for coverage. In 2020, more than seven in 10 Oregonians who chose plans through HealthCare.gov got financial help for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. These savings lowered the average premium to just $145 per month.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov, and a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

STATE AND INSURANCE COMPANIES REACH AGREEMENT TO EXTEND REBUILDING TIMELINES FOR WILDFIRE VICTIMS

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has reached an agreement with several insurance companies to extend timelines to at least two years from the date of loss for 2020 Labor Day wildfire victims to rebuild homes and replace damaged personal property.  

The following insurance companies have signed on to the rebuild timeline agreement:  

Allied InsuranceHarleysville InsuranceQBE
AllstateHomesite InsuranceSafeco
American FamilyLiberty MutualScottsdale Indemnity
Austin MutualNational Casualty CompanySublimity Insurance
Crestbrook InsuranceNationwide InsuranceUnited Heritage
CSAA General InsuranceNGM InsuranceUSAA
Encompass InsuranceNorth Light SpecialtyWestern Protectors Insurance
EsuranceOregon Mutual 
Grange InsurancePEMCO Mutual 

The complete list, including additional subsidiary companies, is listed on the division’s wildfire insurance page that list will be updated as more insurance companies commit to the agreement.

“The ability to rebuild homes after a catastrophic event is often delayed by the need to effectively address safety hazards in the area and the increased demand on construction resources,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “We are glad to see these companies agree to provide time for wildfire victims to effectively work through the recovery process.”

Many insurance policies limit the time a person has to rebuild their home after it is damaged, and require that homes be rebuilt at the address listed on their policy’s declarations page. This agreement also provides people the ability to rebuild their homes at a different location.

The agreement helps accomplish three things:

  • It alleviates demand on construction resources in wildfire damaged areas
  • It allows victims the ability to recover faster
  • It helps control the cost of construction by extending the rebuilding timeframe

This agreement does not extend the amount of additional living expense benefits available under a policy, nor does it alter any other terms of the policy contract.

Visit the division’s wildfire insurance page for more information on this agreement, watch videos of the virtual town halls, and review several insurance claim tips.   

If you have questions about the agreement or your claim, or if you do not see your insurance company on the list, contact your agent or insurance company for more information.

If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. Call 888-877-4894 (toll-free), email dfr.insurancehelp@oregon.gov or visit dfr.oregon.gov/help to connect with the Advocacy Team.

About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.  

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and http://dfr.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

The University of Oregon is assisting ODOT to help preserve historical and heritage landmarks – Eugene, OR – The museum will map out locations in fire zones across the state that have Native American sites, historical landmarks, and archaeological sites.

Tom Connolly, Director of Archeological Research at the museum, said they have worked with ODOT for decades on numerous projects. He said this project will be a team of three and they are going to use government and local databases to create these maps.

Connolly said the goal is to make sure sites are not damaged further than they already are from the wildfires when crews are cleaning up fire zones. He said preserving these sites is important to understand the past. “Everything we know about that deep past comes from the archeological record,” Connolly said. “It’s a record that is fragile and is disappearing at kind of an alarming rate. It’s the only record of human history to tell the story of the place we live.”

Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday: Avoiding holiday shopping fraud online

Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday: Avoiding holiday shopping fraud online

This week, the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment focuses on building a digital defense against holiday shopping fraud online.  

This time of year, there are many bad actors who are ready to take your money and leave you with a lump of coal in place of that perfect present.  

There are all kinds of shopping scams, but we will start by talking about frauds involving online buying and selling platforms.

These platforms range from being hyper local to national. All of them allow you to buy items, and many let you sell items. The traditional transaction has the seller and buyer meeting in person to do the deal… or the buyer sending payment and the seller shipping the product.  

There are the local deals, where you plan to meet the person to exchange money for goods. These can be physically dangerous if the other person intends to rip and run.  

There’s also what we call the jackpot scam. You locate a hard-to-find electronic or luxury item on a website at a really low price. Jackpot! That special someone in your life is going to get a great gift. If you are lucky enough that a box actually shows up at your door, there’s a good chance that you just bought a bunch of junk.  

Fraudsters are also using social media to advertise fake online stores. They look high-end with great websites, but the website and the scammer tend to disappear pretty quickly after hooking enough people. 

So how do you protect yourself from all of these kinds of scams? 

  • Be wary if someone requires you to pay by purchasing and transferring gift cards to them, by using virtual currency, or by using wire transfers. All are huge red flags.  
  • Make your purchases using a secure portal – look for the lock symbol and HTTPS (with the “s” at the end) – in the website’s address. That’s not a guarantee of safety, but it is a safer bet. Also consider using a credit card that has good consumer fraud protection benefits. 
  • Watch out if the seller tries to move you away from established payment portals – like PayPal or an online platform’s secure payment system – for a “private” transaction. 
  • Do check a website’s reviews before purchasing, particularly if it is one you haven’t used before. 
  • Check the site’s return and refunds policy. Reputable platforms will have detailed dispute handling processes listed as well. 
  • If you are doing a local meet – make sure you pick a very public place, such as a police station parking lot – during the day. Don’t pre-pay. Do make arrangements to pay through a bank-backed electronic system that has consumer protections. 
  • Finally – as always – if the deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is. 

Remember – no system is completely free from fraud, but you can take some basic steps to keep yourself safe and your stocking full this holiday season. 

If you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.

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