Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 2/23 – Medford School District Kindergarten and First Grade Students Back to In-Person Learning, Plans to Convert Medford Motel into Rental Housing Depends On Getting Funds For Remodeling

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Sunny, with a high near 55. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday- Patchy freezing fog before 11am. Partly sunny, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 53. Light and variable wind.

Thursday- A 20 percent chance of rain after 11am. Snow level rising to 3800 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 50. Light and variable wind.

Friday- A chance of rain and snow showers before 11am, then rain showers likely. Snow level 2000 feet rising to 3100 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday– A chance of rain and snow showers before 2pm, then a slight chance of rain showers. Snow level 1400 feet rising to 2100 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 47.

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Oregon reports 324 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 0 new deaths

There are no new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, keeping the state’s death toll at 2,155. The Oregon Health Authority reported 324 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 153,134.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (8), Clackamas (25), Columbia (3), Coos (18), Curry (10), Deschutes (11), Douglas (14), Harney (2), Hood River (1), Jackson (43), Jefferson (4), Lane (12), Linn (2), Marion (26), Morrow (1), Multnomah (83), Polk (12), Tillamook (1), Union (1), Washington (32) and Yamhill (10).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 18,907 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 13,790 doses were administered on Feb. 21 and 5,117 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 21.

Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 821,311 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 924,575 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

Oregon’s plan to make increasingly more seniors eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine
throughout February keeps rolling forward, despite an overall supply shortage and
shipments delayed by severe weather across the county.

Monday marks the date that seniors 70 and older become eligible, with the full population of people 65 and older set
to become eligible on March 1. Throughout last week, winter storms in northwest Oregon and throughout the country delayed shipments of the vaccine — another wrinkle for the already limited supply of doses in the U.S.

Jackson County Public Health reiterated on Monday that there are more seniors who want the vaccine than there will be doses available “in the coming weeks,” so eligibility will not necessarily translate to an available appointment while Klamath County was able to hold some preliminary vaccinations for seniors over the weekend, although there are no doubt many seniors 70 and older in the area who are still seeking their first doses.

Difference between the tools on covidvaccine.oregon.gov

Medford School District Kindergarten and First Grade Students Back to In-Person Learning

The Medford School District welcomed back kindergarten and first grade students to in-person learning this week. Kindergarten and first grade students will be in class full-time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, they’ll be on Zoom for two hours.

“We just really appreciate our parents exercising some patience with us as we learn all of the new procedures and expectations. We know it’s been a hard, long year for our parents as well, and we just really appreciate them,” said Wilson Elementary School principal Charity MacLeod.

For first grade teacher Erica LeBleu, getting back into a normal routine was long-awaited. “It’s just so nice to have students in the room and not be seeing them on the computer,” LeBleu said.

LeBleu says she tries to make her classroom feel more comfortable for them. “I put up lights so that they can put their work up,” LeBleu said. “I feel like I’ve made more of an effort than ever this year to make sure that the classroom felt more like a home.”

LeBleu says details like this help her students take their minds away from the reality of the situation. “Even though it isn’t the same, it is the same because we’re all together again,” LeBleu said

Plans to Convert Medford Motel Into Rental Housing Depends On Getting Funds For Remodeling

Southern Oregon-based nonprofit Rogue Retreat plans to convert a Medford motel into rental housing for victims of last summer’s wildfires and homeless. The question is whether they can afford the cost of turning motel units into apartments.

Project Turnkey is a state plan to buy motels to provide shelter for homeless people.

Rogue Retreat applied for funding to buy The Redwood Inn Motel in Medford and convert it into affordable housing. Project Turnkey will pay for the property purchase but not the renovations it would need.

Harry Weiss is the director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, the city department that‘s deciding whether to cover the renovation costs. He says that this is a chance for the city to turn struggling hotels into desperately needed housing.

“We already had a housing crisis before the Almeda fire,” says Weiss. “So now you look at that and go, ‘well, where are the opportunities to quickly stand up rental housing?’ well, those conversions of motels, a lot of which suffered because of the COVID pandemic, become attractive opportunities to explore.”

Weiss says they’re still working out the feasibility of the renovation process and whether they can help fund it. He estimates the renovations will cost around a half million dollars.

“It becomes a question for us to say, ‘well, these are the resources that we have to work with, these are the other things we could spend the money on,” said Weiss. “Because there’s way more things you can spend your money on than you have money to spend. So that will be a question of prioritization and saying this is a significant bang for the buck.”

Project Turnkey wants assurances that the city will cover the cost of renovation before it pays to buy the motel. Weiss hopes the state will provide part of that cash. That decision is expected to be made in the next two weeks.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Douglas County Major Crimes Team Investigating Shooting at Roseburg Motel

The Roseburg Police Department has responded to a reported shooting at a motel in the 1000-block of NE Stephens Street in Roseburg.

On February 22, 2021, at approximately 2:57 pm, 9-1-1 dispatchers began receiving multiple reports of a shooting that had taken place at a motel in the 1000-block of NE Stephens Street. Officers with the Roseburg Police Department as well as partner agencies responded to the scene.

Several people have been transported by EMS for treatment. Their names and conditions are being withheld at this time.

Investigators are processing the scene and conducting interviews. There is no longer an on-going threat to the public.

This is still a very active scene and ongoing investigation. Additional details will be released as they become available. Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office

More than 21,000 Customers Still Without Power in Northwest Oregon – 10 days
After a Series of Powerful Storms.

The majority of the outages were in Clackamas County, where more than 10,700 people were still in the dark as of 6 a.m. Monday.

Marion County accounted for another 7,900 outages with the rest scattered among Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill counties. Portland General Electric had said last week that it hoped to have power restored to all but 15,000 customers by Friday night. But officials with the utility said that, as crews have surveyed the damage, the estimates for restoration for lengthened.

PGE said that up to a quarter of the customers who lost power have had multiple outages, meaning crews had to return to some areas to complete work twice. In some areas, downed trees have impeded crews’ access to downed lines and substations.

Oregon driver had 0.77% blood alcohol. That’s nine times Oregon’s legal limit.

Oregon DUI suspect had staggering BAC more than 9 times the legal limit

A driver who crashed while fleeing the police in Oregon was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.77%, police said.

The unidentified 28-year-old man was pulled over in a Ford Explorer around 1 p.m. Friday near Madras, in central Oregon. Police had been chasing him after a report that he had driven off after hitting another vehicle at a gas station on the Warm Springs Highway. After about half a mile, he tried to pass another car on the two-lane highway, encountered oncoming traffic, attempted to swerve back into his lane and lost control. He hit a concrete barrier and came to a stop

When Warm Springs officers pulled him over, “they observed the driver to be HIGHLY intoxicated,” said a police statement. He reportedly refused to get out of his vehicle and began driving again, with the officers in pursuit.

The driver was taken to a hospital “for medical evaluation,” police said. Criminal charges are pending.

The blood alcohol level was more than nine times Oregon’s legal limit. A level of 0.5% is considered highly dangerous and potentially lethal, though there are reports of people surviving levels of greater than 1%.

Kroger’s Fred Meyer and QFC Hacked

Kroger Co. says personal data, including Social Security numbers of some of its pharmacy and clinic customers, may have been stolen in the hack of a third-party vendor’s file-transfer service. The Cincinnati-based grocery and pharmacy chain, whose subsidiaries include Fred Meyer and QFC in the Pacific Northwest, said in a statement Friday that it believes less than 1% of its customers were affected, specifically, some using its Health and Money Services, as well as some current and former employees because a number of personnel records were apparently
viewed.

It says it is notifying those potentially impacted, offering free credit- monitoring. Kroger said the breach did not affect Kroger stores’ IT systems or grocery store systems or data and there has so far been no indication of fraud involving accessed personal data.

A Kroger spokeswoman said via email that affected patient information could include “names, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers” as well as information on health insurance, prescriptions, and medical history.

Federal law requires organizations that handle personal healthcare information to inform the Department of Health and Human Services of any data breaches.

Oregon Fines Community $429K After they Drain Reservoir and Cause Fish to Die

BIRKENFELD, OR — The state of Oregon has fined Fishhawk Lake Reserve and Community northwest of Portland $439,200 for draining a reservoir and allegedly killing more than 30,000 fish.

The homeowners association plans to appeal the fine, The Astorian reported. Fishhawk Lake is a private community around a reservoir formed in the 1960s by an earthen dam. The homeowners association maintains the lake, processes water and treats sewage.

The lake feeds into Fishhawk Creek and the Nehalem River. The homeowners association drained the lake in 2019 to fix a broken drain in the dam.

A state investigation found draining the lake and the turbidity it caused downstream killed 20,539 endangered coho salmon, 4,047 steelhead trout, 5,346 cutthroat trout and 459 trout of undetermined species.

The state also directed the homeowners association to create a water quality management plan and a 10-year schedule for becoming compliant with standards for temperature and dissolved oxygen within the lake and creek.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking a separate claim against the association for the fish kill, but didn’t disclose the amount.

The homeowners association has argued that the state mandated the drain repair and was kept informed through the process. It also denied being responsible for a fish kill.

Fishhawk Lake “implemented specific measures to prevent fish mortality, including following the direction of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct the work during the in-water work window.”

Five Rural Oregon Counties to Vote in May to Become Part of Idaho

Apparently, some Oregonians have decided they won’t want to live in Oregon anymore. But they’re not moving. Instead, residents of five Oregon counties successfully put forth ballot initiatives to add their counties to Idaho.

Move Oregon’s Border, the group behind the map-change that’s promoting what’s come to be called the greater Idaho movement, announced Sunday that the initiative would be on the ballot in May in four counties, Lake, Grant, Malheur and Sherman, with a fifth county, Baker, awaiting signature verification.

The organization continues to collect signatures in seven other counties too, including Curry, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Harney, Morrow and Umatilla.

Mike McCarter, the president of the group, said, “Oregon is a powder keg because counties that belong in a red state like Idaho are ruled by Portlanders.”

He added, “Rural Oregon is unrepresented in the Democratic caucuses in the Oregon House and Senate. Since state leadership doesn’t consult Republicans, rural interests are completely ignored when it comes time to apportion state spending around the state.”

McCarter explained that this kind of change not only makes sense for rural residents but also for the country, saying it doesn’t affect the U.S. Senate or create a new state.

He said nobody wanted to leave their homes or “change a single thing with Idaho,” but that he and his followers simply no longer wish to live under the Oregon state government.

He said, “We love our communities. We’re tied into them. It’s just the state government that we can’t stand.”

If the counties vote yes, for the changes to be approved, the ballot would have to be approved by the legislatures of both states as well as Congress.

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