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
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Sunny, with a high near 78. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Friday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. Light and variable wind.
Saturday- Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Sunday- Showers. Snow level 4300 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 55.
Oregon reports 580 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 1 new death
There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, and the state’s death toll remains at 2,460 because of a data correction from a previously reported death. The Oregon Health Authority reported 580 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 176,157.
Note: Reported case counts and electronic laboratory report (ELR) totals are lower than expected today due to unexpected downtime of Opera, Oregon’s COVID-19 case database, which occurred during business hours yesterday. This downtime paused the processing of ELRs received yesterday, and OHA expects that all delayed ELRs will be processed today. OHA anticipates case counts and ELR totals to be higher than expected tomorrow due to this delay.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (20), Clackamas (47), Clatsop (1), Columbia (3), Coos (6), Crook (11), Curry (4), Deschutes (42), Douglas (8), Gilliam (1), Grant (8), Harney (7), Hood River (3), Jackson (47), Jefferson (1), Josephine (12), Klamath (47), Lake (1), Lane (67), Linn (13), Malheur (2), Marion (21), Morrow (2), Multnomah (86), Polk (7), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (15), Union (2), Wallow (1), Wasco (3), Washington (81), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (9).
Updates to indoor sports metrics, effective April 23
Recognizing the importance of athletics for the physical and mental health of Oregon’s youth athletes and at the direction of the Governor’s Office, OHA has updated Oregon’s metrics for allowing the resumption of indoor full-contact sports. Sports organizations are required to follow health and safety measures for indoor full-contact sports to lessen the risk of COVID-19 infection. Additional guidance for indoor full-contact sports from OHA is forthcoming.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 26,051 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 17,762 doses were administered on April 19 and 8,289 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 19.
The seven-day running average is now 34,935 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,349,485 doses of Pfizer, 1,135,323 doses of Moderna and 88,696 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,044,211 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,615,363 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, 1,645,605 doses of Pfizer, 1,360,500 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.
Oregon National Guard Continue Supporting COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts Statewide
Oregon National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have now vaccinated nearly 300,000 people since being activated by Governor Kate Brown on Jan. 8, assisting the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and regional medical partners distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition to military medical vaccination support, Guardsmen have been trained to assist 211 Information, a local community information call center that helps connect people with health and social service organizations. Since being call-up on Feb. 5, the Guardsmen have now handled approximately 80,000 phone calls, providing information about testing, vaccinations, appointments and other community resources stressed by the lingering pandemic.
On April 19, President Joe Biden announced, “As of today, everyone is eligible to get the vaccine. We have enough of it, you need to be protected.”
With a waiting line outside the Oregon Convention Center doors to receive the vaccine on April 19, the latest CDC reports confirm that 2,549,201 total doses had been administered in Oregon with 1,600,343 total people vaccinated, and of those, 1,033,175 have completed their series. The number of vaccinated Oregonians continues to rise on a daily basis, as more doses have become available.
The 7-day average for new infections in the State of Oregon is currently on the rise at 650 new cases per day and in total, has claimed the lives of more than 2,450 Oregonians since the initial outbreak in mid-March of 2020. Having the military members support the vaccine efforts will help increase distribution of the vaccine to everyone who now wants to receive the vaccine.
In addition to the Oregon Guardsmen working at the largest mass vaccination site located at the Portland Convention Center, 16 members of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River are currently helping provide administrative support.
Since March of 2020, Oregon National Guardsmen have been activated to support the state’s COVID-19 Pandemic response, distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout the state, establishing contingency hospitals areas, assisted with the largest wildfire season on record last summer, and helped protect lives and property during civil disturbances. — Oregon Military Department
Southern Oregon Report on Wildfire Clean-up and Housing Efforts
Those affected by last year’s wildfires were heard and their voices prompted the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center to give updates today in a press conference on how far Southern Oregon has gotten with wildfire clean-up and housing efforts.
The EOC says though many are still in need of permanent housing, 91 people at the Southern Oregon RV Park have been housed. 97 households still have a housing need and to meet those needs, FEMA is working on
locating those families. Right now, 747 survivors are staying in 20 different hotels and being fed by the Department of Human Services in Oregon. In total, EOC estimates that the cleanup process is well over 50 percent complete.
Some people who opted out of the state-funded clean-up process still have time to change their minds. If you want to be included in the state wildfire clean-up you can contact the state at wildfire.oregon.gov. All of the work will be free of charge to property owners.
Rogue Valley Gained Jobs In March Despite Pandemic Impact On Overall Employment
Both Jackson and Josephine counties added jobs in March, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon Employment Department, though the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact the job market overall.
OED said that Jackson County added 1,760 jobs in March, most of those coming from the leisure and hospitality sector as eased COVID-19 restrictions allowed for indoor dining to resume.
“This is giving consumers more impetus to resume some pre-pandemic activities and some businesses confidence to continue adding jobs,” the agency said. Jackson County also saw gains in construction, education and health services, and manufacturing.
Over the past year, Jackson County lost a net 2,690 jobs — a drop of 3 percent. Those losses came from a number of different sectors, though leisure and hospitality accounted for the biggest drop.
In neighboring Josephine County, recovery has been slower but pandemic impacts were also less severe. In March, OED said that the area gained 270 jobs, with leisure and hospitality again accounting for the biggest increase. Josephine County lost a net 680 jobs over the past year, a drop of 2.5 percent.
“Leisure and hospitality accounts for nearly one-half of the county’s jobs losses since March 2020,” OED said. “A few industries are now showing over-the-year job gains in Josephine County.”
OED said that it plans to release April unemployment rates and job data at the end of May, with statewide numbers coming a week earlier. — https://unemployment.oregon.gov/
Rogue Community College and Klamath Community College Partner to Provide Paramedic Degree Program
Rogue Community College and Klamath Community College kicked off a partnership that will allow Klamath Basin residents to earn a paramedic degree. The program is designed for students new to the emergency response field, as well as professionals looking to take their careers to the next level.
Students who earn an associate of applied science in paramedicine will have an opportunity to sit for the National Registry of Paramedics exam.
KCC Emergency Medical Technician lead Kasey Lanning said that students in the program will enroll at KCC for the first year of study, in which they will learn foundational skills such as patient assessment and basic treatment options as they prepare to sit for the exam. In the second year, students will enroll with RCC but be able to learn at KCC by having courses synchronously streamed in real-time.
Paramedic program course requirements can also provide a foundation to enter a number of medical fields, including nursing or physician’s assistant. Graduates who choose to continue their education can do so by attending a school of their choice or by transferring to a four-year institution.
Grants Pass Water Backflow Testing Schedule
The City of Grants Pass is reminding city water customers that water backflow testing has begun. Wherever the city’s public water system connects with a private customer system, the city requires a proper backflow prevention device.
Backflow in the form of back siphonage and/or backpressure can allow contaminated water and other undesirable liquids from homes and businesses to enter the public water system.
Backflow prevention devices block this from occurring. These various approved devices have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that can wear out over time. The law requires that these devices be inspected and tested every year.
Precision Backflow is the city’s approved testing contractor. Members of their team have begun the annual testing process in the northwest portion of town and Sequoia Village. Contractors have official city identification badges and their vehicles are appropriately labeled.
The schedule of testing will include Northeast Grants Pass in May and June, the Southeast in June, and the Southwest in July and Aug.
For additional information call Precision Backflow at: (541)916-5253.
Customers with questions or concerns can contact Heidi Drinkworth at the City of Grants Pass Water Distribution Division at: (541)450-6115.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
New Online Storymap Highlights all of Oregon’s Tree City USA Communities
As part of Oregon Arbor Month – the celebration of trees and their benefits extended to a full month for the first time this year by Gov. Kate Brown – the Oregon Department of Forestry has created an online guide to all 69 Tree City USA communities in the state.
The storymap can be viewed here.
Kristin Ramstad, manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program, said the map is a way for any Oregonian to see how Tree City USA communities have strengthened their urban forestry programs.
“Each city was asked, ‘What does earning Tree City USA recognition mean to your city?’,” said Ramstad. “With this information, my colleague Katie Lompa worked with Michael Lathrop, ODF’s ArcGIS expert, to create an inspiring and engaging story, combining images, text, and an interactive Oregon map showing the location of each Tree City USA in the state.
Ramstad said the answers reveal wide recognition from small towns to large cities of the many ways in which trees enrich lives of urban Oregonians. “We hear from many of these communities how their urban forests serve as vital green infrastructure for everything from flood control and buffering of air and noise pollution to moderating urban heat. The Tree City USA program provides a framework for cities to focus their urban forestry efforts.”
The storymap also lists the number of Heritage or Peace trees the city has, with a link to that information, added Ramstad.
Besides giving the number of years a community has been recognized as a Tree City USA community, Ramstad said the storymap also indicates other recognitions from the Arbor Day Foundation. ODF administers the program in Oregon on behalf of the Foundation. Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Firefighters Continue To Make Significant Progress On The Ponina Fire Near Beatty
Firefighters continue to make significant progress on the Ponina Fire, which continues to burn about 5 miles north of Beatty, helped by rain yesterday.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire held steady at 1,641 acres, but containment grew to 40 percent. Seven structures were destroyed, which were mostly outbuildings. Area residents who were evacuated Sunday can return to their homes, but should be prepared to evacuate if conditions change.
The cause of the fire, which was first reported about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, remains under investigation. The Ponina was estimated to be 1,400 acres in size on Monday, and the larger number on Tuesday was due to more accurate
mapping, not fire growth. Firefighters on Monday were able to hold their lines and there was no additional growth. Mop-up activities are now underway.
Oregon House of Representatives Delays Sessions Due to Covid Case
The Oregon House of Representatives will delay further floor sessions after someone present at the Capitol was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the office of Speaker Tina Kotek.
Kotek’s office said that potential exposure may have occurred on the House floor on April 15. Anyone who was in close contact with the person is being notified. The House adjourned on Tuesday morning and will halt floor votes until 11 a.m. on Monday, April 26.
Remote committee work will continue in the meantime. Capitol facilities staff will be fumigating the House chamber and wings, on top of the already-enhanced cleaning regimen. The House saw similar delays in March after a pair of cases connected to the Capitol.
Former Oregon Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse has Died.
Former Oregon Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse has died. Officials say Furse died at her home Sunday night at the age of 84. Furse served Oregon’s first Congressional district for three terms in the 1990s.
She was an advocate for Native American rights and helped five Oregon tribes regain federal recognition. She also established the Institute for Tribal Government within the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
Her work on tribal issues dated to the 1970s. In 1992, running as a Democrat from Washington County, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives without ever having held elected office.
After she left Congress voluntarily at the end of her third term in 1999, she became founding director of Portland State University’s Institute for Tribal Government. She also co-owned and operated Helvetia Winery with her second, now former, husband, John Platt, for nearly three decades.
Furse, who was born a British citizen in Kenya when it was still a British colony, grew up mostly in South Africa and, as a young woman, was active in the anti-apartheid movement. She married a U.S. citizen and, after moving to the United States, became a citizen. She was the first person born in Africa elected to Congress, according to her close friend Kerry Tymchuk, now head of the Oregon Historical Society.
Furse is survived by her children, Amanda Briggs of Beaverton and John Briggs of Seattle, and by Platt, with whom she remained close friends. Platt said he and the family are planning a memorial service to be held sometime this summer.
Redistricting Initiative Petition
A group that failed to get a redistricting initiative before Oregon voters last year is laying the groundwork to get a similar petition on the ballot in 2022.
Next year’s election will come after the state’s new legislative and congressional districts are drawn up, but that isn’t stopping “People Not Politicians” from trying to depoliticize the redrawing of political maps.
The petition would create a 12-member independent redistricting commission, similar to those used in Washington and California. The members would be selected from a pool of applicants that has been reviewed by a panel of administrative law judges.
Currently, Oregon lawmakers are given the primary right to redraw the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts, which are typically recalculated to balance districts’ populations following the once-a-decade U.S. census. While that process has been delayed this year due to late-arriving census data, a recent state court decision means the Legislature will still get first crack at drawing the maps.
MISSING PERSON Alert from Roseburg Police Department
The Roseburg Police Department is seeking any information regarding the whereabouts of John Daniel Riley. The last known contact with Riley was by his family members on
April 16, 2021, although police say there was an unconfirmed sighting of him in the
Roseburg area, also on April 16.
It is believed Riley may have been traveling between job sites in the Tyee or Glide area near the time of his disappearance. Please be on the lookout and notify Law Enforcement with any information.
He is currently entered in LEDS/NCIC as a missing person, RPD said.
Riley is 39 years old and stands at 6’3″ and weighs 170 pounds.
Riley was last seen in a white 1999 Ford F-350 Super Duty work truck (VIN# 1FDWX37S5XEA16931) with an amber light bar over the cab.
The vehicle was towing a black 2021 Southland SL714 dump trailer (VIN# 2SFKL3364M1066831) with white and yellow Southland Trailer decals on the side.
If you have any information, contact the Roseburg Police Department Tip Line at (541) 492-6794 or the Douglas County Dispatch Center at (541) 440-4471.
North Bend Man Arrested and Charged with Sexually Exploiting a Child, Additional Potential Victims Sought
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug announced today that a North Bend, Oregon, man has been charged with sexually exploiting a minor female victim.
On April 15, 2021, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned a three-count indictment charging Shannon Stacey Weatherbee, 47, with sexual exploitation of children.
According to the indictment, beginning around July 2017, Weatherbee is alleged to have knowingly coerced a minor female to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct. These visual depictions were transmitted online.
On April 16, 2021, investigators arrested Weatherbee while executing a search warrant on his North Bend residence.
Weatherbee made his initial appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered detained pending a jury trial scheduled to begin on June 22, 2021.
This case is being investigated by the FBI with assistance from the North Bend Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Jeffrey S. Sweet, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Shannon Stacey Weatherbee is a resident of Oregon, United States. Here are 13 more things about him:
- He lives in North Bend, Coos County, Oregon. (a)
- Aside from North Bend, he has lived in other parts of Oregon including Coos Bay. (b)
- He has lived in different parts of California, USA including Fontana, Ukiah, Yucaipa, Magalia and Beaumont. (b)
- He previously lived in Lake Village, Chicot County, Arkansas, USA. (b)
- He was accused of knowingly coercing a minor female to engage in sexually explicit conduct beginning around July 2017 for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct, which were transmitted online. (a)
- On April 15, 2021, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Lane County, Oregon returned a three-count indictment charging him with sexual exploitation of children. (a)
- On April 16, 2021, investigators arrested him at his home in North Bend. (a)
- He was 47 years old when he was arrested on April 16, 2021. (a)
- On April 20, 2021, he pleaded not guilty during his arraignment before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in federal court and was ordered detained. (a)
- He is expected to attend a jury trial, which will start on June 22, 2021. (a)
Anyone who has information about possible crimes committed by Weatherbee, or the physical or online exploitation of any children, are encouraged to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
If a child discloses an incident that did happen to him or her, or that they observed happen to someone else, the parent should not ask the child detailed questions about the incident. Instead, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI immediately.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon
Bureau of Land Management Seeks Community Partners to Support Management and Protection of Wild Horses and Burros
The Bureau of Land Management has released a funding opportunity inviting new public and private partners to help support the agency’s mission to manage and protect wild horses and burros on public lands. The funding opportunity is open to a variety of organizations, including local and state governments, Native American tribes, other federal agencies and non-profit organizations, among others.
“The BLM has a long history of partnering with national and community-based organizations to help manage and protect wild horses and burros,” said Nada Culver, BLM Deputy Director for Policy. “We are excited to announce this new, simpler and more streamlined process to partner with the BLM on projects to improve the conditions for our nation’s wild horses and burros. I encourage all those who are interested in supporting the well-being of America’s Living Legends to submit a proposal.”
Partnerships formed through this funding opportunity will support critical activities important to the management of wild horses and burros. Proposed projects could include activities such as establishing training programs for wild horses and burros, facilitating the placement of excess animals into private care or assisting with management efforts on public lands, including fertility control application and building range improvements. Applications to care for excess wild horses and burros in off-range facilities, as well as proposals to fund research, are not eligible under this funding opportunity.
Applicants may propose to partner with BLM field, district and national offices. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the BLM subject matter expert in the relevant office where the proposed work would take place to discuss the type of projects that are available, and whether they meet the requirements under this funding opportunity.
To learn more or for instructions on how to submit a proposal, visit the Notice of Funding Opportunity on Grants.gov. The deadline to submit a proposal is 5 p.m. Eastern Time on May 28, 2021.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $111 billion in economic output across the country in fiscal year 2019—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 498,000 jobs.