Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 5/4 – Medford Begins Enforcement of Prohibited Camping Ordinance, Rural Metro Fire Responds To 4 Different Wildfires In Less Than 24 Hours In Josephine County

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, May 4, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Mostly cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 78. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday- A chance of rain before 11am, then a chance of showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 70. Light and variable wind becoming west northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Friday- A 30 percent chance of showers. Snow level 3900 feet rising to 4700 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 63.
Saturday- A slight chance of showers. Snow level 3100 feet rising to 5500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 66.

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Oregon reports 540 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 2,502, the Oregon Health Authority reported 540 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 186,877.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (12), Clackamas (91), Clatsop (3), Columbia (5), Coos (1), Crook (3), Deschutes (49), Douglas (10), Harney (2), Hood River (1), Jackson (16), Jefferson (1), Josephine (3), Lane (56), Lincoln (4), Linn (42), Marion (74), Multnomah (137), Polk (12), Sherman (1), Tillamook (2), Wallowa (1), Washington (1) and Yamhill (12).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 17,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 15,437 doses were administered on May 2 and 2,460 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 2.

The 7-day running average is now 33,153 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,647,730 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,317,295 first and second doses of Moderna and 97,625 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,295,638 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,860,194 who have had at least one dose.

To date, 1,939,275 doses of Pfizer,1,584,800 doses of Moderna and 229,500 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.

New features released on vaccination dashboards

The statewide and county graphs featured on the COVID-19 Vaccinations Trends dashboard now display the seven-day running averages of administered doses of COVID-19 vaccines. This improves information sharing for administered doses over time and may be helpful for showing trends for less populated counties.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Metrics dashboard now includes a toggle switch that lets users choose between two different population denominators: the total Oregon population and the population in Oregon eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The total Oregon population includes all people in Oregon, while the eligible population only includes people age 16 and older.

As of today, 42.9% of the total Oregon population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 52.4% of people 16 years of age and older in Oregon.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 351, which is six more than yesterday. There are 80 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is four more than yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,354, which is an 18% increase from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 351.

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Medford Begins Enforcement of Prohibited Camping Ordinance With 72-Hour Notices

Medford officials state it has started implementing a prohibited camping ordinance that was passed in early April. The Medford Police Livability Team posted 72-hour notices at seven campsites along Bear Creek Greenway.

While this is not the only aspect of the regulation, the rule allows Medford to prohibit camping or sleeping of any kind on the greenway and Prescott Park during the months of high fire risk, defined May 1st through September 30th.

Monday’s efforts identified seven campsites, but Medford said the number of camps may change.

“Reducing fire hazards and addressing public safety concerns along the Bear Creek Greenway are our top priorities as we begin enforcing the Forbidden Camping Act,” said Scott Clauson, police chief.

The city said members of the MPD Livability Team and other organizations will continue to work with campers to connect them to accommodation and services during this 72-hour period. Medford said Rogue Retreat’s municipal campground, the Kelly Shelter, Hearts with a Mission, and Medford Gospel Mission will “have one or more sanctuaries” as of Monday.

Once the 72 hours are up, the city announces that the crews will help any remaining people remove their belongings from the greenway, followed by cleaning up the area. Individuals who refuse to provide services and do not leave the area can be charged with an offense.

The larger process of clearing the greenway and enforcing the ordinance is expected to take “weeks, possibly months,” the city said.

Rural Metro Fire Responds To 4 Different Wildfires In Less Than 24 Hours In Josephine County

Rural Metro fire says that they’ve responded to four different wildfires on Sunday, including one that happened on the 4300 block of New Hope Road.

RMF says that fire crews quickly arrived to the scene and knocked down the fire this afternoon around 6:30 p.m. Fire crews say that the flames were contained to one-tenth of an acre and that the flames were contained before it could reached any homes nearby.

According to Rural Metro, this was the fourth wildfire reported in their service area including other wildfires in Merlin, Leland and Fort Vannoy Neighborhoods. 

Fire crews say that increased fire activity during this warm, dry spring serves as a reminder for everyone to use caution with anything that may spark a fire.

Common activities this time of year that catch people off-guard include open burning in the afternoon when winds pick up, old ash piles that retain heat and come back to life, overheated mulch piles, and hitting a rock while mowing dry grass.

The Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District is investigating the cause of these fires. 

Sheriff’s Office Suspends Search for Swimmer Lost near Gold Hill

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office says it is suspending the search for a man who disappeared while swimming in the Rogue River Sunday afternoon.

Deputies responded to Rock Point Bridge near Gold Hill shortly after 4 p.m., having received reports about the missing swimmer. JCSO Marine units, Search & Rescue, and Fire District 3 crews responded to assist with the search, which lasted into nightfall.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, a group from California was visiting from California and went down to the river near Rock Point Bridge that afternoon. Witnesses told investigators that they were not planning to swim, but one man decided to go into the water in order to cool off. He was identified as 21-year-old Jesus Flores-Galindo of the Lamont, California area.

After entering the river, witnesses said that Flores-Galindo suddenly went under the surface and “came up splashing.” JCSO said that Flores-Galindo may not have known how to swim, and may have stepped into a deep pool amid the cold river temperatures.

JCSO SAR helped with search efforts that continued on Monday. After two passes by dive teams, airplane flights over the area, use of boats and the deployment of an underwater drone, searchers were still unable to find Flores-Galindo. JCSO said that the active search has now been suspended.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

State to Honor and Remember 189 Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officers on May 4, 2021 in Salem

May be an image of text that says 'OREGON DEPARTMENT DEP DEPARTMEN OF PUBLIC SAFETY STANDARDS THEEUNITORD AND TRAINING'

The State of Oregon will honor and remember 189 fallen law enforcement officers, and the families they left behind, during a memorial ceremony on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 1 PM.  The event will take place outdoors, at the state memorial which is located at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.  This year a small number of invited guests will attend, as the ceremony is closed to the public in order to adhere to safety restrictions in place due to the current pandemic.  Governor Kate Brown will attend the ceremony as a guest and as a speaker.

The names of two fallen Oregon law enforcement officers have been approved for addition to the state memorial during this year’s ceremony by the Board on Public Safety Standards and Training; Constable Hansford “Harry” Greenfield, End of Watch February 25, 1942, Silverton Police Department and Marshal Zachariah H. Stroud, End of Watch September 11, 1912, Harney City (Now part of city of Burns and Harney County). Both of these Officers are being added under the historic recognition program which allows fallen officers from previous years to be honored on the memorial after careful review and approval. 

The Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Ceremony is a significant event that the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is proud to host each year in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and Oregon’s various statewide law enforcement associations.

The memorial honors 189 fallen Oregon law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty since the 1860s. This includes officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies who have served as law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and parole and probation officers.

The Oregon memorial is held the week ahead of National Police Week events in Washington, D.C. so that family members and co-workers can attend both memorial ceremonies.  More than 21,000 officers who have died in the line of duty are honored on the national memorial

Background on the names being added to the Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial in 2021:

Harney City Marshal Zachariah H. Stroud had encountered four individuals carelessly firing weapons in front of the post office.  He cautioned the group to stop or else they would be arrested.  The group resisted resulting in a fusillade of gunfire, injuries to several of those involved, and the death of Harney City Marshal Stroud.  Stroud was 44 years of age at the time of his death, unmarried, and left behind his mother and father.  Three of the four individuals involved in the incident were found guilty of manslaughter.

On Wednesday, February 25, 1942, The Capital Journal of Salem, Oregon reported that a Silverton Police constable had died.  Constable Hansford “Harry” Greenfield died as a result of a heart attack on February 24, 1942 while engaged in helping Night Officer Vic Grossnickle investigate a break-in at a local tavern.  While discussing the case with his fellow officer, he complained of feeling ill and collapsed in a nearby lavatory.

The Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund raised funds to build the state memorial more than 20 years ago and hosts the annual ceremony.  For more information on the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund and the statewide license plate that is available to honor fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters please visit: https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/BD/MFB/Pages/Oregon-Law-Enforcement-Memorial-Trust-Fund.aspx
 

For more information on the Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial please visit:

https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/Memorials/LawEnforcement/Pages/default.aspx

For more information about National Police Week, please visit www.LawMemorial.org/policeweek. — Ore. Dept. of Public Safety Standards and Training

Foster Care Month highlights how foster care can strengthen the whole family

Governor Kate Brown has proclaimed May 2021 to be Foster Care Month in Oregon.

The theme this year is “Foster Care can Strengthen the Whole Family.”

State of Oregon: Foster Care - Support a Foster Child

Foster Care Month is a time to recognize how foster care supports and strengthens families, to honor the experiences of the children and young people in foster care, and to show gratitude for the contribution that resource families make to the well-being and safety of children and families throughout Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, believes that foster care should always be the last possible and temporary option for a child and family when there is a child safety concern. The trauma inflicted on a family by separating them during foster care needs to be carefully considered. If foster care is necessary, reunification should be the primary goal.

In Oregon, there are 5,975 children in foster care and thousands of resource families who step up to support them and their families.

Resource families, formerly called foster families or foster parents in Oregon, are affirming and supportive to both the child and their family. Resource families ensure cultural and community connections for children and young adults. They work hard to partner with families to offset the tremendous grief and loss children and young adults experiencing foster care may have. They are partners in achieving the best possible outcomes for families while providing for the safety, health and well-being of the children and young people they’re committed to caring for in their home. Resource families in Oregon support family preservation and reunification whenever possible and are also available to provide a permanent and supportive home when needed.

“This month we recognize the lived experiences of the children and families touched by the foster care system,” said Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston. “We know that it is traumatic for a child to enter foster care and to a parent when their child enters foster care. Foster care is intended to be a temporary intervention and not a replacement or punishment for parents. We are incredibly grateful for and appreciate the resource families that have stepped up throughout Oregon to care for and support the children, young people and families who are in crisis.”

To learn more about becoming a resource parent, contact Every Child at EveryChildOregon.org. The Division partners with Every Child to recruit resource families and support children and families impacted by foster care.

“We are committed to supporting the children and young people in foster care with resource families who support connections to their family, culture and community,” said Director Jones Gaston. “That is why we are asking Oregonians statewide to consider stepping up to become a resource family to care for and support the children, young people and families in their community.”

For those looking for other ways to support the children and families in their communities, Every Child’s MyNeighbOR program is another way to help meet the essential needs of children, families, and young adults impacted by foster care. Learn how to provide support at EveryChildOregon.org.

To learn more about foster care in Oregon visit the Department website.

About the ODHS Child Welfare Division

The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division is committed to transforming itself to better support the individual needs of families and to best serve Oregon’s children and young people. Learn more about the Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. — Oregon Department of Human Services

You can make a difference during Wildfire Awareness Month

The Office of State Fire Marshal wants to remind Oregonians that YOU are the greatest resource in protecting homes and neighborhoods.  With some simple steps, you can protect your home and community from wildfire. Now is the time to prepare your home and your property for the 2021 fire season.

Remember to keep your defensible space defined, keep grass and weeds cut low and always be prepared to respond to wildfire. With this in mind, the Office of State Fire Marshal urges you to take a look around your property in the “home ignition zone,” where glowing embers can ignite spot fires and vulnerable areas like decks, patios, and fences that can spread flames to your home. The most significant risk of structures catching fire during a wildland fire event is from the advancing ember shower that can reach your property long before an actual flame front. 

Good defensible space can not only prevent ember ignition of your home, but it can also prevent the flames from reaching your home at all. We can reduce the vegetation within 30 feet of home and eliminate flammable plants from touching our home.

“Wildfire safety starts with all of us and our property. Now is the time to take action to prepare our homes, families, and communities for wildfires by starting on our property before there is smoke on the horizon,” says Mariana Ruiz-Temple, State Fire Marshal.

To address the risk of wildfire, the Office of State Fire Marshal recommends the following steps that people can take right now to help protect themselves against the upcoming fire season:

  • Clear roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles that could catch embers
  • Ensure your roof is in good repair
  • Move any flammable material away from exterior walls, i.e., mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles
  • Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches
  • Give your home a non-combustible area where a fire in the landscape can’t reach your home, strive for a 5-foot perimeter
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove ladder fuels (vegetation under trees) so a surface fire cannot reach the crowns.  Prune trees up to six to ten feet from the ground; shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.

With firefighting resources doing their best to tackle large wildfires, communities that focus on neighborhood-wide Firewise ideals can not only increase an individual home’s survival but the whole neighborhood’s.

“A neighborhood-wide approach can increase the chances of homes surviving a wildfire. By taking a neighborhood approach to defensible space and community preparedness, you are also protecting our firefighters,” Ruiz-Temple explains. “Ultimately, individuals taking the right steps on their property before fire season make firefighters safer and more effective,” she adds.

Creating whole neighborhoods that are holistically preparing for wildfire is a large piece of Fire Adapted Communities. A fire-adapted community acknowledges and takes responsibility for its wildfire risk by taking actions to address resident safety, homes, neighborhoods, businesses and infrastructure, forests, parks, and open spaces all Oregonians enjoy. — Oregon State Fire Marshal

For more defensible space tips, visit: https://www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/Wildland-Urban-Interface.aspx

During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be introduced each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more wildfire preparedness and prevention information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at https://keeporegongreen.org/, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s restrictions map https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/Pages/fireprevention.aspx, OSU’s new Fire Program at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/fire-program and OSU’s Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer tool: https://oregonexplorer.info/topics/wildfire-risk?ptopic=62

Oregon DMV Making Changes To Address Appointment Backlog

The backlog has been going on since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some people are waiting as long as four to five months for an appointment, and the grace period just ended.

DMV states the Oregon Legislature just passed a bill that will extend the moratorium on expired license and registration dates through this year.

Oregon DMV spokesman David House said he expects that will be signed by the governor this week. House said the current wait time for registration is about 15 weeks.

“The DMV has attacked the backlog in many, many ways. The first thing we did is we completed installation of our new computer system last July and that has opened the door to all kinds of online services. A year ago you could do three things online with DMV, now it’s two dozen,” he said. House said they also added permanent and temporary staff to meet the need.

House said right now people can order a trip permit online, which can act as a temporary solution. Most people can also renew their driver’s license through the Oregon DMV website starting this week.

Delilah Buys Hometown Station in Reedsport That Launched Her Career

Syndicated nighttime host Delilah Rene just signed a deal to buy the small-town station in coastal Oregon that first opened the door to the girl that has since become radio’s biggest female personality.

Cover picture for the article

Rene’s Big Shoes Productions has filed a deal with the Federal Communications Commission that will see her pay $60,000 to buy oldies “K-Dune 1030” KDUN in Reedsport, OR from Post Rock Communications. The FCC filing is fairly run of the mill, noting the first-time buyer will need to buy new Emergency Alert System equipment to bring the station up to code. And if she wants to check on her soon-to-be new venture, Rene currently broadcasts from her home in Port Orchard, WA, which is about a six-hour drive from Reedsport.

Rene is a native of Reedsport and while still in junior high school she got her first radio job at KDUN – then at 1470 AM – after winning a speech contest in 1974 that was judged by the station’s former owners. They enlisted her to report on school news and sports, and she hosted “Delilah On the Warpath” commentaries. Rene also produced commercials which led to her doing on-air work.

After graduating high school, Rene went on to work at several stations in Oregon before landing at KLSY Seattle in 1984 where the style of show that most radio listeners know the Broadcasting Hall of Fame winner for today was developed.

Despite its past connection with Rene, KDUN does not currently air Premiere Network’s syndicated “Delilah” show. But local listeners can hear their hometown broadcaster via McKenzie River Broadcasting’s AC “Mix 94.5” KMGE Eugene-Springfield, OR which covers the coastal community. We look forward to what changes this will make for coastal radio!

Southern Oregon Coast’s Loeb State Park Opens to Camping

Oregon State Parks

One of the favorite state parks at the southern edge of the Oregon coast gets its camping back after a year of revenue shortfalls and COVID restrictions.

Alfred A. Loeb State Park near Brookings reopens its campground on May 17, allowing visitors to once again to reserve campsites, cabins and group picnic areas starting at 6 a.m. May 3 for all stays May 17 and beyond.

April 29, 2021 Note: The campground reopens May 17.  Reservations for campsites, cabins and group picnic areas start at 6 a.m. May 3 for all stays May 17 and beyond.

  • 43 reservable electrical sites with water. 5 first-come, first-served sites (20-foot length)
  • Three reservable rustic log cabins (one pet-friendly)
  • Day-use/picnic facilities (3 areas reservable May-Sept.)
  • Flush toilets and hot showers
  • River and gravel bar access for fishing
  • Firewood for sale
  • No dump station

Universal Access: One campsite, one cabin and one picnic area are accessible to campers with disabilities.

For More Info: https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=park.profile&parkId=51

Klamath Falls Man Pleads Guilty to Cashing More than 40 Years’ Worth of Deceased Relative’s Social Security Checks

Social Security Disability Benefits | Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC

A Klamath Falls, Oregon man pleaded guilty today after cashing more than $458,000 worth of social security checks issued in the name of his deceased aunt.

George Doumar, 74, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds.

According to court documents, in February 2020, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Anti-Fraud Programs identified a 114-year-old supercentenarian who appeared to be the second-oldest living person in the U.S. receiving Social Security retirement benefits. The last known update to the recipient’s SSA benefit record was in July 1989, when the recipient’s address was updated to Frontier Parcel & Fax Service on S. 6th Street in Klamath Falls.

In March 2020, an investigator with SSA-OIG interviewed two of the benefit recipient’s nieces. Both nieces claimed that their aunt died in the 1960s or 1970s and recalled attending her funeral in Brooklyn, New York, where she had reportedly lived her entire life. According to one niece, their aunt did not have any children and was not married. She recalled that Doumar was named the sole beneficiary of her aunt’s insurance payout.

Investigators soon discovered that Doumar himself was an active Social Security beneficiary and received his checks at the same address on S. 6th Street in Klamath Falls. According to SSA records, Doumar purchased the property on S. 6th Street seven days prior to the address on his aunt’s benefit record being changed to the same address.

On June 16, 2020, SSA-OIG investigators obtained a copy of the aunt’s death certificate from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, confirming that she had died on March 7, 1971 in Brooklyn. Investigators determined that Doumar had added his aunt to he and his wife’s shared checking account in 1989. His aunt’s Social Security checks were often bundled in deposits with other checks made payable to Doumar.

Investigators obtained bank surveillance footage from February 2020 that showed a man, who appeared to match Doumar’s physical description, depositing one of his aunt’s retirement checks. On July 14, 2020, investigators from SSA-OIG and USPIS interviewed Doumar at his Klamath Falls residence. When asked about his aunt, Doumar sighed, slumped his head, and stated, “that’s a long story…what happened was, well she’s passed and yes, I’ve been collecting her Social Security.”

On August 11, 2020, Doumar was charged by criminal complaint with theft of government funds and mail theft.

Doumar faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on August 3, 2021 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

As part of the plea agreement, Doumar has agreed to pay $458,992 restitution to the SSA and $1,200 to the IRS.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

The SSA-OIG and USPIS jointly investigated this case. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

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