Rogue Valley News, Monday 5/10 – Housing Advocates Push Back As Medford Enforces “No Camping” Ordinance, Homicide Investigation at Concert in Cave Junction

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

Monday, May 10, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday- Sunny, with a high near 86. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 89.

Friday- Sunny, with a high near 85.

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Oregon reports 610 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, two new deaths

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,530 the Oregon Health Authority reported 610 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 191,405.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (13), Clackamas (78), Columbia (10), Coos (3), Crook (8), Curry (1), Deschutes (35), Douglas (5), Harney (1), Hood River (2), Jackson (16), Jefferson (3), Josephine (6), KIamath (22), Lane (40), Lincoln (1), Linn (31), Malheur (6), Marion (76), Morrow (1), Multnomah (144), Polk (10), Tillamook (4), Washington (81) and Yamhill (13).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 37,726 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 13,606 doses were administered on May 8 and 24,120 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 8.

As of today, there are 1,968,933 people who have had at least one dose of a vaccine. A total of 1,340,794 have received a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The seven-day running average is now 33,133 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 3,315,448 million vaccine doses, which includes: 1,812,149 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,393,975 first and second doses of Moderna and 107,870 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines (1,454 doses were administered but did not specify product information).

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).

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

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 318, which is 11 fewer than yesterday. There are 76 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight fewer than yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,325, which is a 0.1% 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.

Governor Kate Brown has approved new guidance for indoor recreation and indoor entertainment facilities.  In Moderate Risk counties, they can have 20-percent occupancy or 100 people, whichever is larger.  In High Risk counties, they can have ten-percent occupancy or a maximum of 50 people.  The new rules took effect on Wednesday.


Homicide Investigation at Concert in Cave Junction

INCIDENT DATE AND TIME:  May 9, 2021 at 12:01 AM 

INCIDENT LOCATION:  1300 Block of Rockydale Road, Cave Junction

REPORTING DEPUTY:  Undersheriff Travis Snyder

ARRESTED:  Trenton Cole Kepple, 27 year-old-male 


On Sunday, May 9, 2021 at approximately 12:01 AM Deputies from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a reported shooting incident in the 1300 block of Rockydale road in Cave Junction, OR.  Information reported to Deputies was that a person had been shot at a concert.  Upon arrival, a deceased person was located at the concert. 

Detectives from the Oregon State Police responded to the Sheriff’s Office request for investigative assistance with this incident.  The above listed subject was arrested by Oregon State Police for the charges of 1st Degree Murder and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.  The name of the victim will not be released at this time.  Oregon State Police personnel along with Sheriff’s Office personnel continue to investigate this incident. 

No other details are available at this time.   Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office

Housing Advocates Push Back As Medford Enforces  “No Camping” Ordinance

More than a half dozen campsites along the Bear Creek Greenway were cleared by the Medford Police last week under a local ordinance that prohibits people from sleeping outside. The ordinance makes it a crime for people to sleep or lie down in public for more than 24 hours at a time.

Supporters of the ordinance say it’s an effort to clean up unsanitary conditions and reduce fire risk along the Bear Creek Greenway, where many unhoused people live.

Jay Hoffman with the Housing Justice Alliance says the ordinance isn’t a solution to that.

“By continuously displacing folks, you know, we’ve heard folks say things like, ‘okay, how can we hide from them this time?’” says Hoffman. “It creates even more fire danger and spread of COVID with people constantly moving and being displaced and having to start over.”

Medford Police gave 72 hours notice before clearing the camps. During that time, they brought resources and social workers to help homeless people transition out of their camps. Medford Police said the people who were evicted “accepted transitional shelter options, or made other arrangements.”

Derek DeForest, a local housing advocate, says the provided options were insufficient.

“So this ‘other arrangement’ seems code for ‘we just pushed them elsewhere along the greenway’ or ‘they’re now sleeping in a parking lot’ or ‘they now have a hotel voucher that they can’t use because they don’t have an ID.’” he said. “It doesn’t sound like much of an arrangement to me.”

DeForest says one man who was displaced from his camp was given a hotel voucher, but couldn’t use it because he didn’t have an ID to check into the hotel. Now, instead of sleeping in a tent, he’s sleeping in his truck.

The evictions also raise health concerns. The National Homelessness Law Center wrote to the city last week, saying the ordinance violates COVID guidelines from the C.D.C. as well as raises constitutional concerns of cruel and unusual punishment.

They also said that because accessible local shelters have several hundred applicants on the waitlist, houseless people don’t have access to alternative shelter.

Previous court rulings say it’s unlawful to prohibit people from sleeping outside without an alternative. They say that because the Kelly Shelter — the only low barrier, year-round shelter in Medford — has over 580 people on the waitlist, reasonable alternatives aren’t available.

Although public camping in Medford is now a criminal misdemeanor, no one was arrested last week. But police say these sweeps will continue for months.

Housing advocate Jay Hoffman says they saw people’s belongings being thrown away before bulldozers drove through the camps.

“I’m super grateful that people were not put in jail. But that bar is so low,” says Hoffman. “The fact that people’s homes were just fully demolished. You know, they’re homes, and the police don’t see it like that.”

Search Underway for Missing Roseburg Man Near Twin Lakes

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is continuing search efforts in the Twin Lakes area for a missing Roseburg man. 

69 year-old Harry Burleigh was reported missing at 10:15 pm on Friday, May 7, 2021 after he failed to return home from a camping trip in the Toketee area. Burleigh was originally due to arrive home on Thursday, May 6, 2021, but failed to do so. 

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue was dispatched to begin searching for Burleigh. On the morning of Saturday, May 8, 2021, Burleigh’s vehicle was located at the lower trailhead to Forest Service trail 1500, which leads into Twin Lakes. Burleigh, a fisherman, is believed to have attempted to walk into the lakes to fish before going home. 

Search efforts continue today, Sunday, May 9, 2021, with additional search and rescue resources from other counties assisting. 

Burleigh is described as a white male adult, 6’2” tall, weighing at 175lbs with dark brown graying hair and blue eyes. His clothing description is unknown, but he may be carrying a day pack and collapsible fishing pole.  

Anyone who believes they may have information which may assist in the search is asked to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 440-4471 referencing case number 21-2033. Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office


Wyden and Merkley Announce Major Disaster Declaration For Oregon

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have announced that President Biden has granted a Major Disaster Declaration for Oregon following the severe winter storm that occurred in February.

A release said the move will free up federal funding to assist communities’ recovery and resilience to future storms.

Merkley said that February’s extreme storm killed four people and left over two hundred thousand Oregonians without power. Merkley said, “From clearing debris to restoring and rebuilding impacted buildings, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to put this storm behind us”. Merkley said he will continue to work with the administration and local leaders to make sure Oregonians get the assistance they need to get back on their feet.

Wyden said he is gratified the Biden administration has declared the devastation a major disaster, “…releasing the flow of federal help that Oregon communities need for a full recovery”.

The release said that communities in Benton, Clackamas, Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties are eligible for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. In addition, all areas in Oregon are eligible to apply for hazard mitigation assistance, which include steps to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards during future national disasters.

Funds will be distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Oregon to Cut Wild Horse Herd in Half Under New Forest Service Plan

A herd of more than 120 horses roaming free in the Ochoco National Forest will be cut in half as part of a management plan to control their numbers.

Something is Awry in Oregon – Straight from the Horse's Heart

The 2021 Ochoco Wild Horse Management Plan will establish a management level of 47 to 57 horses that can reside in the national forest, according to a news release on Friday from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Big Summit herd is the only one in Oregon and Washington to be managed solely by the U.S. Forest Service. Most of the other wild horse herds in the Pacific Northwest are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The number of horses permitted in the herd takes into account forage availability in winter and the management of a lack of genetic variability in the horse herd. The decision also includes an emergency action plan that provides protocols for how the Forest Service will intervene on behalf of sick, injured or starving horses.

The herd is located about 25 to 30 miles east of Prineville and grazes on 27,000 acres of land located at 4,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation.

The management plan, which became effective on Friday, updates the original herd management plan drafted 46 years ago.

The horses are believed to have first appeared in the area in the 1920s, when it is believed that ranchers at that time turned loose quality animals from a good breeding stock to ensure a future supply of good horses.

“In general, wild horses and burros are descendants of animals released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners or Native Americans,” said Kassidy Kern, a spokesperson for the Ochoco National Forest.

While horse lovers are fond of seeing the animals roaming wild in the forest, the Forest Service says the herd is damaging riparian areas by chewing up forage along river banks.

“The horses will be managed through gathers beginning in the fall of 2021,” said Kern. “It will likely take five years or more to gather down to the appropriate management level set out in this plan.”

Kern said about 100 horses will need to be removed over that five-year period. The current herd size is between 120 to 150 horses.

“Gathering a little at a time allows us to gather valuable genetic information to work with wild horse genetics experts to ensure that we have adequate genetic variability in the herd,” said Kern. “Additionally, when we bait the horses into the corrals, we typically only get smaller bands of 5-10 at a time. Gathering this way minimizes stress on the animals.”

According to the decision notice, horses removed from the territory may end up in one of three places. These include the Bureau of Land Management corral facility in Burns or a Forest Service corral. A third option could see the horses transported to leased or contracted private facilities, where they will be prepared for adoption or sale.

After removal of the horses, the numbers will be maintained through contraception and sterilization.

For more information on the project and to view the decision notice, visit the project web page:

Federal Judge Denies Klamath Tribes Efforts to Keep Water Flow for Spawning

A federal judge denied the Klamath Tribes’ efforts on Thursday to have the Bureau of Reclamation reduce flows on the Klamath River and keep Upper Klamath Lake’s elevation more suitable for spring sucker spawning. “Here, the Defendant Bureau, in coordination with expert agencies and all competing interests, is better equipped to serve the public interest than a judge with a law degree,” wrote United States District Judge Michael McShane.

The Tribes sued the Bureau earlier this year on Endangered Species Act grounds, arguing that the agency violated Sections 7 and 9 of the law by allowing Upper Klamath Lake to dip below 4,142 feet in elevation during April and May
in two consecutive years: 2020 and 2021. Those levels were established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 biological opinion, based on research showing that low lake levels in the spring result in reduced spawning activity among C’waam and Koptu.

The BiOp had stated that failing to meet those conditions would put the Bureau in violation of the incidental take statement and thus in violation of the ESA, the Tribes argued.

Brookings Man Dies In Crash On Highway 101 In Curry County

 On Saturday, May 8 at approximately 8:50 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 342.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Ford Flex, operated by 53 year old Robert Pope III from Brookings, was northbound and crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Ford F250 operated by 56 year old Robie Sell of Coos Bay.

Pope III sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Sell and his passenger, 62 year old Robin Sell of Coos Bay, received minor injuries and were not transported.

OSP was assisted by Curry County Sheriff’s Office, Gold Beach Fire Department, and ODOT.

Travel Oregon, Portland International Airport and AARP Offering Webinar for Summer Traveling

With vaccination rates increasing, people are making summer plans again.

webinar is offering Oregonians tips to keep in mind when traveling. The webinar is Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., sponsored by AARP, Portland International Airport and Travel Oregon.

Walter Marchbanks, passenger programs and services manager for the Port of Portland, sensed there’s a lot of pent-up demand, since many didn’t take trips last year.

He also recognized travel during the pandemic can be stressful, so the Portland airport is doing what it can to make people feel comfortable.

“We look at it as being able to provide some information,” Marchbanks outlined. “Some resources about what the airport is doing to help keep people safe, the types of cleaning that we’re doing, the safety protocols and measures that we put in place.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people delay travel until they are fully vaccinated.

Marchbanks noted one of the changes at the airport is people greeting travelers are not permitted.

“Only by exception, if they’re providing assistance to people that might need help,” Marchbanks explained. “So if you have to help a family member to the ticket counter so that they can get a wheelchair or meet somebody that’s coming off a flight and greeting the wheelchair provider and, you know, that type of thing.”

Marchbanks added people can check out the Portland airport’s website to learn more about what to expect, especially if they have accessibility issues and need more details on arrangements. He also pointed out there are people in the airport who can answer questions.

“The website will get you so far, but people need direct help. They need direct service,” Marchbanks acknowledged.


Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 8/23 – BLM Closes Lower Rogue River and Rogue River Trail For Public and Firefighter Safety, Town Hall on White Nationalism in Southern Oregon Event Tonight at SOU

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Rogue Valley News, Friday 5/5 – 65-year-old Mushroom Hunter Missing Outside Ashland, Witnesses Take Stand In Ashland Murder Trial 

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Rogue Valley News, Thursday 2/4 – Project Turnkey Milestone Announcement Slated for Today will Impact Help with Housing in Southern Oregon, Almeda Fire Clean Up Enters 2nd Phase

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