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 20, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 73. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 78. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 76. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Friday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 77.
Saturday- Rain likely, mainly after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64.
Oregon reports 473 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 0 new deaths
There are no new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, so the state’s death toll remains at 2,460. The Oregon Health Authority reported 473 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 175,592.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Clackamas (63), Clatsop (4), Columbia (6), Coos (3), Crook (1), Deschutes (44), Douglas (2), Hood River (2), Jackson (15), Jefferson (3), Josephine (3), Lane (65), Lincoln (3), Linn (15), Marion (65), Multnomah (135), Polk (16), Tillamook (1), Wasco (8), Washington (1) and Yamhill (15).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 25,474 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 17,649 doses were administered on April 18 and 7,825 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 18.
The 7-day running average is now 35,522 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,333,009 doses of Pfizer, 1,126,590 doses of Moderna and 88,547 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,033,175 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,600,343 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,1,535,625 doses of Pfizer,1,318,100 doses of Moderna and 215,500 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 publishes two data dashboards on COVID-19 vaccination
OHA has launched two new dashboards on its public Tableau site which highlight the state’s progress on COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The first dashboard, Tracking the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort, shows the percent of people living in Oregon who have been vaccinated at both the state and county level. The dashboard also shows how many people still have to receive another dose of vaccine to be fully vaccinated and how many have completed their vaccination series.
This information is broken down by age group at the state and county level, as well as by race and ethnicity at the state level. Future versions of this dashboard will include race and ethnicity at a regional level. For people who received either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the dashboard shows the percentage of people who completed the series by the number of weeks between their first and second doses.
As of today, 37% of Oregonians have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, while 13.1% are in progress to be completely vaccinated and 23.9% are fully vaccinated.
Lincoln, Hood River, Benton and Deschutes counties are leading the way in the vaccination effort. Vaccination estimates for these counties show that more than 40% of their population have received at least one dose.
The second dashboard is the Daily COVID-19 Vaccine Update, which is helpful for state planning purposes because it provides a snapshot each morning of vaccine administration, allocation and delivery data. This information has previously been distributed by email each morning and will continue to be available in Tableau format. Please be aware that COVID-19 vaccine deliveries are commonly re-distributed throughout the state between locations and do not reflect future inventory at each location.
As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the
opposite direction and many residents are fuming about it. A top health official is
considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all
businesses in the state. The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no
longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.” Michael
Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health,
said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a
“permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.
Family Still Searching – Offers $50k Reward For Missing Lane Co. Woman Who Went Missing In Josephine County
Months after a woman went missing in Josephine County, her family is upping the reward. The family of a Lane County woman who went missing in Josephine County is now offering a reward for any information leading to her return.
It’s been 9-months since 45-year old Fauna Frey went missing. Her father is now offering a $50,000 reward for the return of his daughter. Other smaller cash rewards will be given for any information leading to Fauna’s disappearance.
“Somebody somewhere has to know something and that’s what we need to find out,” said John Frey, Fauna’s father.
For nearly 10 months John Frey has been searching up and down the Pacific Northwest for information leading to his daughter’s disappearance. His daughter, Fauna Frey visited the Grants Pass area after her brother died.
“I knew she was distressed before she left. And the phone call just added to that where I was just really worried,” said John.
Gooseberries in Grants Pass is the last known place Fauna Frey was before she vanished.
Nearly a year later, John still comes down to Josephine County two to three times a week from lane county in hopes of being reunited with his little girl.
Here’s article from earlier this year:
This is an ongoing story and help from the public needed. – Fauna Frey’s family has set up a tip line at 541-359-5638. You can also contact the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office with any information.
Jackson County/FEMA Await Almeda Fire Response Report
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will send more workers to Phoenix and Talent next month to assist Almeda Fire victims.
During a news conference Monday, John Vial, director of Jackson County’s Emergency Operations Center, stated that crews are making significant progress cleaning up burned areas.
“We are well on our way to getting this mess cleaned up and that’s exciting,” Vial said. “We’re estimating that the cleanup process is well over 50% complete.”
Vial says that mobile park homes were prioritized ahead of others because it is quicker to rehouse owners. Talent Mobile Estates, Oak Ridge, Totem Pole Trailer Park, Mountain View Estates, Rogue Valley Mobile Village, Whispering Pines, Wagner Creek Estates and one other mobile home park has been fully cleaned up in Tier 1. The other sites is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
An outside agency has recently briefed local officials regarding the emergency response to the Almeda fire. The first draft of the report is expected to be released in the summer.
“The purpose of that after action report is to look at those things [Jackson County] did well and what we need to improve on.” Vial said.
With fire season quickly approaching, Vial says Jackson County is taking “aggressive steps” to ensure this year is not a repeat of last fall.
Victims are able to schedule appointments during business hours with FEMA officials if they still have questions. Help is available in English and Spanish, and in person appointments will take place next month.
Spanish: (Phoenix-Talent School District) 541-821-7697
English: (Phoenix-Talent School District) 541-821-7135 or 541-770-3480.
FEMA helpline: 1800-521-3362 (7 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Oregon OSHA fines Lowe’s stores in Redmond and Albany more than $35,000 for COVID-19 violations, including willful infractions
(Salem) – Oregon OSHA has fined Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Redmond and Albany more than $35,000 for violating standards designed to protect workers from the coronavirus disease.
Both sites potentially exposed employees to the disease by willfully failing to ensure that all customers inside the retail stores wore a mask, face covering, or face shield to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The citations, totaling $35,600 in fines, resulted from inspections of the Southwest Canal Boulevard and Ninth Avenue Southeast locations in Redmond and Albany, respectively. The inspections were initiated in response to multiple complaints.
Through employer and employee interviews, and an examination of records, the inspections determined supervisors at the stores were fully aware of the requirement to ensure customer use of facial coverings and yet intentionally decided against carrying out their responsibilities.
The stores’ purposeful infractions illustrate failures to account for reasonable and established measures to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 through customer-to-employee transmission.
“It is not enough to leave the protection of employees in the hands of cooperative customers,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “As most employers recognize, they must take appropriate steps to ensure that the rules in place are actually followed. When an employer is not prepared to take such steps, we can and will use our enforcement tools to address the issue.”
Altogether, the inspections documented three violations of workplace health and safety standards at the Lowe’s in Redmond and one at the store in Albany. The citations and penalties – all issued under Oregon OSHA’s temporary rule addressing COVID-19 risks in the workplace – were as follows:
- Both stores chose to disregard Oregon Health Authority requirements to ensure customers (older than age 5) who are inside the establishments wore a source control device, such as a mask, face covering, or face shield. Oregon OSHA issued willful citations, each carrying a $17,500 penalty.
- The Redmond store was also cited for two serious violations. The employer did not develop and implement a complete risk assessment to identify potential employee exposure to the virus. The employer also failed to develop and implement an infection control plan. A penalty of $300 was imposed for each violation.
In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers and workers a variety of consultation, information, and education resources addressing COVID-19. Those resources include an advisory memo, including best practices, for employer enforcement of facial-covering requirements. It is available in English and Spanish.
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.
Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit osha.oregon.gov.
The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov. — Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services
Oregon’s Proposed Gun Storage Law Would Be Among The Toughest In The U.S.
A proposed gun storage law that would be among the toughest in the U.S. is headed for a vote in the Oregon Legislature, with backers saying it will save lives and opponents contending it could lead to deaths.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, a less sweeping gun storage bill was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jared Polis., who said: “It’s a sensible measure to help avoid immeasurable heartbreak.”
Colorado’s new law creates the offense of unlawful storage of a firearm if a person stores a gun knowing that a juvenile could access it without permission or if a resident of the premises is ineligible to possess a firearm.
Oregon’s bill generated testimony from hundreds of people, mostly in writing because there wasn’t enough time to take all the oral testimony.
A vote in Oregon’s House of Representatives on the bill, initially scheduled for Monday, was pushed back by a week to enable Democratic representatives to work with the Senate “to guarantee the bill is on track to pass and be enacted,” said Hannah Kurowski, spokeswoman for the majority House Democrats.
Among those testifying was Paul Kemp, whose brother-in-law Steve Forsyth was killed with a stolen gun in a mass shooting at a Portland-area shopping mall in 2012.
“I will never forget the screams I heard when we had to tell my teenage nephew that his father had been killed at the mall,” Kemp said.
But opponents say forcing people to keep guns locked up could waste precious moments if they need to defend themselves against armed intruders.
Jim Mischel, of Sheridan, Oregon, described how his wife woke up when he was away one night in 1981. She heard a noise, went to investigate and saw that a man had broken into their home.
She returned to the bedroom and tried to get to a pistol that was in a locked gun box in the nightstand.
“She was unable to get the box unlocked and the pistol out before he got into the bedroom and threatened her with his gun,” Mischel said. “She has never recovered.”
The debate in Oregon over guns mirrors similar discussions being held nationwide, with little movement on gun control even as the number of mass shootings climbs again as the nation eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Massachusetts is the only state that requires that all unattended firearms be stored with locking devices in place, according to the Giffords gun safety advocacy group. Penalties for violations can range from imprisonment to thousands of dollars in fines.
States that have passed laws requiring some level of firearms safe storage include California, Connecticut and New York, said Allison Anderman, senior counsel at Giffords.
Similar bills this session have failed in Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico and Virginia, Anderman said.
Oregon’s bill mandates that gun owners secure unattended weapons with trigger locks or in locked compartments. Those who don’t would be strictly liable for any injuries or property damage. If a minor gets ahold of an unsecured firearm, the gun’s owner would face a maximum $2,000 fine.
Tensions are running high as the Oregon Legislature considers this and other gun bills, even leading to death threats.
Recently, six Republican state senators stayed for a vote on a different firearms bill, instead of doing a walkout in what has become a tactic for them to prevent a vote from taking place. That bill would ban guns from the Capitol and other state buildings and allow local jurisdictions to decide whether people with a concealed handgun license can bring guns into public buildings.
They voted “nay” on the bill instead of joining a GOP boycott to deny a quorum. All six GOP senators who stayed got threatening emails. They have been turned over to the Oregon State Police for investigation
“You should be shot,” said one of the emails.
Advocates for the gun storage bill have said it would reduce suicides. Anderman said putting anything between a person’s impulse to take their own life and a gun could give the person a moment to reconsider.
Elizabeth Klein testified in favor of the bill “on behalf of my deceased brother,” who killed himself with a gun.
“My family is devastated by my brother’s gun suicide. It always seems preventable to me,” Klein wrote.
Safe storage could also reduce school shootings. Minors who commit those attacks often obtain the gun from their home or the home of a relative or friend. Opponents have said the bill is an infringement on the constitutional right to bear arms.
“As usual, the Second Amendment is under attack because attacking it is a perennial favorite with Democrats and has been for years,” said James Purvine of Eugene, Oregon, who testified in writing to the House Committee on Health Care about the bill.
Tongue Point Job Corps Center Contract Open as it Faces Cuts
The U.S. Department of Labor contracts with private companies to operate around 130 job corps centers providing workforce training for low-income students between the ages of 16 and 24. Management and Training Corp. has operated Tongue Point since 1989.
Supporters of Tongue Point Job Corps Center in Astoria are scrambling to undo the proposed elimination of several programs in a contract to operate the workforce training campus.
Most contracts last three to five years. The Department of Labor recently opened the contract for operation of Tongue Point up to proposals.
The new contract would begin in October and keep the center at 473 students. But the initial contract would have stopped the use of 15 World War II-era houses on Tongue Point by staff and their families. It would also eliminate culinary and two different office administration programs, while cutting enrollment in the medical assisting program in half and reducing the geographic area from which the center can draw students.
Representatives with the Department of Labor were not immediately available for comment. Tita Montero, a Seaside city councilor and the former community liaison at Tongue Point, has been part of an effort reaching out to local, state and federal legislators to rescind the cuts.
“We wanted to let people know in this economy where there’s almost no housing to be had, that if that contract continued not to have housing on Tongue Point, that would be putting 15 families into an economy that would not be able to absorb them,” Montero said.
The efforts led to an amended contract proposal that included staff housing. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley called the inclusion great news for the staff at Tongue Point.
“While we still have work to do, this immediate housing security is an important first step,” the Oregon Democrat said in a statement. Tongue Point “is a community asset, and we’ll continue working to make sure (Department of Labor) supports the center and its students.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said, “Tongue Point has proven for decades on the North Coast how to train young people for good jobs, and I’m gratified after hearing constituent concerns about the Trump administration’s cut of on-campus housing that I was able to help this community mainstay.
“That housing is essential for Tongue Point’s ongoing success, and I’ll continue working with the U.S. Labor Department to restore all the offerings needed for job corps students to keep succeeding in this vital program.”
The amended contract proposal still would eliminate Tongue Point’s culinary, medical office management and office administration trades. The slots available for students wanting to study medical assisting would be cut in half.
“One of the reasons that we’ve heard was because those trades … people don’t go out and get high-paying jobs automatically when they leave Tongue Point training,” Montero said. “They’re the lower-paying trades.”
Montero argued that many culinary students go into the workforce and receive further training on the job, while trades like office management and medical assisting are always in demand. Office trades are also more prevalent among women and members of the LGBT groups, she said.
“We’ve had quite a few students from Tongue Point who end up going to a job in the admitting department at (Columbia Memorial Hospital), jobs at Providence (Seaside Hospital),” she said. “Medical assistants are kind of at a premium. So it doesn’t make sense to cut those trades.”
Montero also raised concern about a proposal in the new contract to reduce the recruitment area of Tongue Point from most of the Pacific Northwest to almost entirely from Oregon, despite the center having to maintain 473 students.
“If you cut back where you’re attracting from, and you cut back the choices people have in what they want to learn, there is no way you can stay at that (473) level,” she said. “… And, on top of that, if you don’t maintain that, they will penalize you. So it’s almost like setting it up to fail.”
Potential operators have until Thursday to turn in proposals to the Department of Labor. But if backers can gain enough support to rescind the cuts, Montero said, the contract could be further amended and the search for a new operator extended. —
Tongue Point Job Corps Center website: https://tonguepoint.jobcorps.gov/
Poor Conditions In The Klamath River Trigger Fishery Closures along Oregon Coast
Federal fishery managers are recommending that Chinook salmon fisheries along 200 miles of Oregon and California coast be closed or severely restricted due to conditions in the Klamath River.
The restrictions would extend through the Klamath Basin Zone, which runs between Coos Bay, Oregon, and Fort Bragg, California.
For years, Chinook salmon in the Klamath River have been hit with deadly outbreaks of a parasite called C. Shasta. These infections have worsened with rising water temperatures and low water levels.
Glen Spain is with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association. He says that the spike of disease is bad news for future salmon runs.
“C.Shasta levels are going up through the roof, and we may have another year where the very few salmon that are coming back and will lay their eggs, those eggs will die too,” said Spain. “So we may be losing most of this year class to another bout of disease caused by poor water quality and the blockages created by the dams.”
Salmon are a crucial revenue source for fishermen in coastal communities, many of whom are likely to be put out of work for the season. Restrictions on salmon fishing have been tightening for years, resulting in more economic loss each year.
“What it means is lost jobs, lost economic opportunity, lost income for hundreds if not thousands of people up and down the coast that nearly depend for their livelihoods on those fish being there,” says Spain. “The fish are gone.”
The restrictions are expected to go into effect in the next few weeks, once the decision is finalized by the Secretary of Commerce.
Large Wildfire Near Beatty
Though it’s only April, fire season has started in Klamath County. Firefighters made significant progress overnight on the Ponina Fire, which is still burning approximately 5 miles north of Beatty.
As of yesterday, the fire was estimated at 1,400 acres and 10 percent containment. Two structures have been lost. The fire’s cause is under investigation. It was first reported around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Area residents, who were told to evacuate as the fire grew Sunday night, are now able to return if they want.
However, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office noted people should be prepared to evacuate if conditions change. Smoke is highly visible in the surrounding area, including Highway 140.
Police Still Searching For Suspect Who Shot Person and Fled Scene In Eugene
Law enforcement is on the lookout for a 55-year-old suspect in the shooting another man Friday night in Eugene. Authorities say the suspect should be considered armed and dangerous.
The 56-year-old victim is in stable condition, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies are now looking for a suspect in the case, identified as Darren Lee Woods. Wood was last seen driving a 1998 Dodge 1500, the sheriff said. Oregon license plate 125MEA.
The truck has a sticker across the back window with black lettering. The wheels on the truck were described to be chrome and the truck is lifted and “sporty.”
Oregon Lawmakers Approve Measure To Increase Notice Before Sweeping Homeless Camps
The measure, House Bill 3124, would require notice be posted at the entrance and exit of a homeless encampment for 72 hours before sweeping the area. If passed, the bill would also require making it clear where people’s belongings are stored if they are confiscated during the sweep. The measure mandates personal items be stored for 90 days in the same community where the person was living.
Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, sponsored the bill and said it was about treating those living without shelter with more humanity. Increasing the notice requirements, he said, would also help groups in the community, such as nonprofits, help the people living in the camp find some place else to go before being displaced.
In written testimony, Juniper Harwood, told lawmakers she spent three years living on the streets.
“There is absolutely no good reason to perform camp sweeps without proper notice. Performing a sweep effectively evicts people from their homes. Personal belongings are often confiscated and thrown away. Would you want to be evicted on such short notice? Would you know where to go or what to do? What if you were simply removed and weren’t given answers or proper resources, or you were told you should’ve left faster?” she wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
Several people submitted testimony urging for larger solutions, such as stopping camp sweeps all together or finding more long-term housing solutions so people don’t have to live on the street. But others testifying believed the bill was a step in the right direction.
The current notice requirement is 24 hours.
Leigh Galbraith, from Eugene, submitted testimony saying increasing it to 72 hours would give people time “to gather their belongings and homes so that they do not lose all that they have.”
Some said the bill requirements go too far. The city of Portland currently provides 48 hours before sweeping camps.
In written testimony, Lucas Hillier, the program manager for the City of Portland Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program, said the 48 hours posting is more workable, providing balance between giving “individuals enough advance notice while at the same time still allowing us to be respons(ive) when necessary.”
The storage requirements of the measure are also burdensome, Hillier wrote.
“Currently, the City of Portland will hold an individual’s possessions for 30 days. In the overwhelming majority of instances, people collect their belongings within days of the cleanup. The City would need to triple the capacity of our current 5,500 sf storage facility at a significant cost as it is a leased space ($80,000 annually),” he wrote.
The 72-hour posting requirement would not be mandatory if there is a public health emergency or when there are other safety emergencies. The bill now heads to the Senate.