Rogue Valley News Tuesday 4/13 – FEMA Trailers Being Used for Oregon Wildfire Survivors Brings Out Gun-Toting Conspiracists, Government-Run COVID-19 Vaccination Site Will Open in Central Point

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, April 13, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Sunny, with a high near 69. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 70. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 73. Light and variable wind.

Friday- Sunny, with a high near 79.

Saturday- Sunny, with a high near 83.

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Oregon reports 294 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 1 new death

There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,441. The Oregon Health Authority reported 294 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 170,850.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (2), Clackamas (39), Clatsop (6), Columbia (5), Coos (2), Deschutes (23), Douglas (6), Jackson (11), Jefferson (4), Josephine (13), Lane (38), Lincoln (6), Linn (15), Marion (43), Morrow (1), Multnomah (54), Polk (4), Tillamook (3), Wasco (3), Washington (3) and Yamhill (7).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 27,503 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 17,823 doses were administered on April 11 and 9,680 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 11.

The 7-day running average is now 38,420 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,176,173 doses of Pfizer, 1,027,792 doses of Moderna and 81,255 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 916,207 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,447,624 who have had at least one dose.

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).

To date,1,377,675 doses of Pfizer, 1,203,300 doses of Moderna and 203,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines 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.

OHA asks the state’s vaccine providers to immediately stop administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately stop administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, per the announcement from the U.S. CDC and FDA this morning. This is out of an abundance of caution as they review six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in women ages 18-48 after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. OHA will be sending out more detailed communications shortly.

Government-Run COVID-19 Vaccination Site Will Open in Central Point at The Jackson County Expo Center on April 21st.

The site will be run by the federal government and the plan is to give out 1,000 shots a day.

The federal government is putting a mass vaccination site in Central Point, Oregon.Its part of the national push to get COVID-19 vaccines out across the nation, an effort that continues to pick up steam.

“To provide even more capacity to administer all the vaccine supply we have, we are accelerating our effort to put more vaccinators in the field and to add more vaccination sites,” said Andy Slavitt, the Biden administration’s point person for the pandemic. “So on this front we’re excited to announce today a new federally run mass vaccination site in Central Point, Oregon.”

The site will operate out of the Jackson County Expo Center. It will be the first federal mass vaccination site in Oregon. It will open on April 21 and stay open for at least eight weeks, offering 1,000 shots a day that will come from the federal supply, not Oregon’s statewide allotment.

Gov. Kate Brown said the center is needed in part because of the devastating wildfires in the area last year. She said they destroyed 2,400 homes, that 90 families are now living in FEMA portable housing, and 780 are still in temporary shelters.

“So it’s a very vulnerable population,” Brown said. “It also has a high poverty rate so its critically important that we provide vaccines that are accessible and convenient, and and the location in Central Point will help make that happen.”

The announcement comes as cases statewide are on the rise, and a week before everyone 16 and older in Oregon will be eligible for the COVID vaccine.

“I think people have pandemic fatigue. You know, they’re tired of the restrictions,” said Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “We’ve opened up more businesses and we have more contagious variants circling in the community.”

She and her hospital group members are watching case numbers creep back up. According to the Oregon Health Authority, since the beginning of April the state has averaged 497 cases a day.

“So a fourth wave is not a surprise but our actions now and in coming weeks are really going to determine whether this fourth wave puts increasing strain on our hospital system,” Hultberg said.

She added that the best way to slow the new wave is to get the vaccine as soon as you can. And people should continue to follow the same steps we’ve done for more than a year: social distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands often.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

FEMA Trailers Being Used for Oregon Wildfire Survivors Brings Out Gun-Toting Conspiracists

Federal officials say that trailers at an industrial site in Medford, which were rumored to house unaccompanied immigrant children, are actually for survivors of the September 2020 wildfires. Rumors spurred people with guns to show up at the site to protest the presence of the trailers.

A new staging area for wildfire disaster trailers has rumors flying and has attracted visitors armed with guns.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has about a hundred trailers set aside for wildfire survivors from Jackson County.

It originally had those trailers staged at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, known as the Expo, as officials looked for potential housing sites nearby. But they recently had to relocate them three hours away to an old mill in Gardiner, which is on the coast north of Reedsport.

Since then, FEMA officials say they’ve been fielding phone calls from locals concerned about the trailers’ sudden appearance.

“A lot of conspiracy theories that we were developing this RV park for immigrants from the southern border,” says FEMA spokesman Paul Corah. “The truth is we need those mobile homes for fire survivors in Oregon.”

Some calls have come from local and national media, including two people who said they represented the American Free Press, a far-right newspaper. Corah says they showed up to the site carrying sidearms — which alarmed some FEMA staffers — but the incident ended without physical confrontation. The newspaper didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Despite the rumors, Corah says all of these trailers are intended for wildfire survivors and the agency isn’t currently housing undocumented immigrants in Oregon.

Officials say the group did not brandish their weapons in a threatening manner and no one was hurt.

Toney Raines, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s coordinating officer for the state of Oregon said Those rumors are false. We are not utilizing the manufactured home units or any of the travel trailers to house unaccompanied immigrants or individuals who are crossing the border in the south, the north or any other border. The trailers and units have been hauled to several communities impacted by the fires, including 96 in Jackson County.

Grange Co-Op Celebrates Arbor Day with Free Tree Sapling Giveaway 4/13

Grange Co-op is celebrating Arbor Day by giving away 1,500 tree saplings at its locations in southern Oregon and California, the company announced Wednesday.

Grange Co-op | Pie a Day Give Away

The event starts on Tuesday, April 13, beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting until all of the saplings are given away, limit of one tree per household. Giveaways will happen at every retail store — in Ashland, Medford, Central Point, White City, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Yuba City.

This year, the event will include seedlings for Red Maple, Japanese Maple, Eastern Redbud, Maidenhair tree, Heartleaf Hornbeam and Korean Dogwood trees.

“We recognize how difficult 2020 was, however one thing that many people discovered was the love of gardening and landscaping,” says Jason Wall, Marketing Manager at Grange Co-op. “By continuing with our annual tradition of Arbor Day, we can collectively help the environment along with creating an opportunity for customers to plant a tree they can enjoy for decades at their home.”

——- In celebration of Arbor Day, we’re giving away over 1,500 trees to our customers this April 13th! Varieties on hand will be an assortment of Japanese maple, red maple, eastern redbud, Korean dogwood, maidenhair tree and heartleaf hornbeam. We will begin offering tree seedlings to customers at 11:00AM. Traditionally, these free trees do not last long and they are only available while supplies last, so don’t wait! Each of our stores will have free trees available in the nursery where customers can stand in line following social distancing guidelines. Here is a preliminary description of each of the trees available for free that day: https://www.grangecoop.com/event/arbor_day_tree_giveaway/ *Event will be held following COVID-19 guidelines. Limit one per household. While supplies last.

Grange Co-op started the annual tradition of giving away tree saplings on Arbor Day in 2014. FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/grangecoop/ — Arbor Day INFO: https://www.arborday.org/

Fatal Crash Hwy 199 – Josephine County

On Monday, April 12, 2021 at approximately 6:50 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Highway 199 near mile post 25.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Dodge Durango, operated by Billy Thornhill (60) of Kerby, was entering Hwy 199 from a driveway and pulled in front of a Freightliner dump truck (towing a 33′ flatbed trailer), operated by Mark Tripp (51) of Grants Pass, was unable to stop and collided with the Durango. 

Thornhill sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Tripp was not injured. 

OSP was assisted by the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois Valley Fire District, and ODOT. — Oregon State Police 

State Budget – Make Your Voice Heard!
April 12, 2021
I am back in Salem this morning for another week of committee meetings and floor votes. We are currently scheduled to have 41 hours of floor session, including nights and all day Saturday. You can watch live floor sessions HERE.

Dates for 2021 Budget Virtual Hearings The Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means announced the dates for the 2021 Oregon Budget Virtual Hearings to receive public feedback on how the Legislature should balance the state budget and use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Oregonians are encouraged to attend the hearings and offer their views on the state budget for the 2021-23 biennium.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, these hearings will be conducted virtually and organized by congressional district. Members of the public will be able to submit written testimony, as well as provide live testimony by phone or video during the hearings. Meeting details will be posted on the Oregon Legislative Information Site.
The Co-Chairs – Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) – recently released their 2021-23 Budget Framework. The document serves as a starting point for the budget cycle.

As a constituent of my legislative district, you live in either Congressional District 2 and can testify on Saturday, April 17 from 1:00-3:00 pm or you live in Congressional District 4 and can testify on Thursday, April 22 from 5:30-7:30 pm.

Department of Revenue Recently, the Department of Revenue announced that it will adjust the tax returns for Oregon taxpayers who have already filed their 2020 returns and are due relief from income taxes paid on recently exempted unemployment benefits earned in 2020. Oregon taxpayers who received unemployment in 2020 and have not yet filed their tax returns, can do so by following instructions recently provided by the IRS.  You can read more about this announcement and view frequently asked questions HERE.

All my best,

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Oregon Dept. of Revenue Reminder: Tax filing deadline postponed until May 17

SALEM, OR—With April 15 approaching, the Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that the deadline for filing individual income tax returns for the 2020 tax year has been postponed to May 17, 2021.

The IRS and Oregon both announced the postponements last month.

Individual taxpayers, including those who pay self-employment tax, can also postpone state income tax payments due on their 2020 tax year return until May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties as long as they pay all taxes due by the postponed deadline. Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any unpaid balances as of May 18, 2021.

Oregon has not postponed the due date for first-quarter estimated income tax payments for 2021. Estimated tax payments are still due April 15, 2021. Taxpayers may choose to pay directly from their bank account or by credit card using Revenue Online. More information about the postponement of the individual income tax filing and payment due dates is available in a list of frequently asked questions the department’s website.

Update on 2020 unemployment benefits tax relief Revenue has started adjusting 2020 income tax returns for Oregon taxpayers who paid taxes on exempted unemployment benefits, and thousands of refunds have already been issued. The manual process began March 30 and is on track to be completed over the next several weeks. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law March 11, exempts up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 per individual from taxes for households with less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income.

The change affects thousands of Oregon taxpayers who had already filed their state income tax returns, paying taxes on 2020 unemployment benefits before Congress made the change to the tax code. The department is adjusting the returns for those taxpayers. Affected taxpayers will receive refunds or have a lower tax bill.

Oregon taxpayers, who received unemployment in 2020 and have not yet filed their tax returns, can do so now following the instructions the IRS recently provided. Most e-file software providers have indicated they have the necessary software updates in place. Taxpayers should check with their tax preparer or software provider if they have questions about the updates.

E-filing and free filing
The department reminds taxpayers that e-filing your return and using direct deposit is the fastest way to get your Oregon tax refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks. More information about e-filing can be found on the agency’s website.

All Oregon taxpayers preparing their own returns can file electronically at no cost using Oregon’s free fillable forms. There are many free or low-cost preparation options available for both federal and Oregon tax returns. Some software companies offer free software use and e-filing for eligible taxpayers. More free filing information is available on the department’s website.

To get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, visit www.oregon.gov/dor or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. You also can call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing- or speech-impaired), we accept all relay calls. — Oregon Dept. of Revenue

Bill Aimed At Banning Online Sales Of Vaping Products Has Passed The Oregon House Of Representatives.

A bill aimed at banning online sales of vaping products has passed the Oregon House of Representatives. One of the bill’s chief sponsors is Rep. Pam Marsh of Jackson County.

House Bill 2261 would ban all online sales of “inhalant delivery systems,” requiring face-to-face purchases of those products. It specifically appears to target tobacco or nicotine-related products, not marijuana vape devices.

Proponents of the bill say that it would make it more difficult for people under the age of 21 to get vaping
products.

House Democrats said that more than one in four high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days, according to data from 2019.

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Offer Conference Scholarships To Young Ranchers

Oregon Cattlemen's Association

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association offers the opportunity for six young ranchers to attend the OCA Mid-Year Conference, July 11-13, at the Salishan Coastal Lodge.

The scholarship is available to young ranchers interested in learning more about the work of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. The scholarship will cover the expense of lodging and event registration. Candidates must be able to attend the full conference and be willing to participate in all facets.

This is an excellent opportunity for young ranchers to immerse themselves in the work and mission of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association for the future of the cattle industry.

The application can be found at www.orcattle.com. Any questions may be addressed to the OCA office at 503-361-8941.

Idaho Lawmakers Hear Pitch To Absorb Three-Fourths Of Oregon

Picture for Idaho lawmakers hear pitch to absorb three-fourths of Oregon

Idaho lawmakers appeared intrigued but skeptical on Monday when pitched a plan to
lop off about three-fourths of Oregon and add it to Idaho to create what would become
the nation’s third-largest state geographically. Representatives of a group called Move
Oregon’s Border For a Greater Idaho outlined their plan to a joint meeting of Idaho
lawmakers from the House and Senate on Monday.

The Idaho Legislature would have to approve the plan that would expand Idaho’s southwestern border to the Pacific
Ocean. The Oregon Legislature and the U.S. Congress would also have to sign off.

Supporters of the idea said rural Oregon voters are dominated by liberal urban areas such as Portland, and would rather join conservative Idaho. Portland would remain with Oregon. If everything falls in line with Oregon, supporters envision also adding adjacent portions of southeastern Washington and northern California to Idaho.

Backers said residents in those areas also yearn for less government oversight and long to become part of a red state insulated from the liberal influence of large urban centers that tend to vote Democratic.

The Oregon Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Legislature will have until Sept. 27 to complete the redistricting process

The Oregon Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Legislature will have until Sept. 27 to complete the redistricting process, giving lawmakers more time to draw political boundaries following a delay in crucial census data. The unanimous decision by the justices will give legislative leaders nearly three extra months to do their work.

Redistricting, the process where lawmakers redraw legislative and congressional districts, occurs every 10 years following the census. Districts must be equal in population to each other. Although there’s a set number of state legislative districts, due to Oregon’s population growth in the last decade it is likely that the state will receive an
additional seat in the United States House of Representatives. This means that the number of congressional districts would increase from five to six.

Former Nike Marketing Manager Enters Guilty Plea In Fraud Case

Errol Andam, 49, of Beaverton, Oregon, a former marketing manager at Nike, Inc., pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements on a loan application as part of a scheme to defraud his former employer, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

According to court documents, from 2001 until his termination in 2018, Andam was employed by Nike at its headquarters in Beaverton. Most recently, Andam worked as a manager in the company’s North American Retail
Brand Marketing division wherein he managed the design, build-out, and operation of “pop-up” retail venues, temporary Nike shops situated near and tailored to sports competitions and other special events around the U.S.

Under the terms of Andam’s plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will recommend a sentence of 37 months in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 12, 2021. Andam will ask for a sentence of not less than 24 months. He has also agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution and forfeit $212,838 in criminally-derived proceeds.

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