Rogue Valley News, Monday 6/21 – Over 200,000 Plants Seized as Illegal Marijuana Search Warrants Served In Josephine County, Strange Twist in North Bend Murder Case

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

Monday, June 21, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today– Sunny and hot, with a high near 104. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday– Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Sunny, with a high near 94. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 97.

Friday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 98.

COVID UPDATES

Oregon reports 200 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 2,754. The Oregon Health Authority reported 200 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 206,774.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (5), Clackamas (19), Clatsop (5), Columbia (5), Crook (1), Curry (3), Deschutes (13), Douglas (6), Harney (2), Jackson (6), Jefferson (1), Josephine (10), Klamath (1), Lane (19), Linn (9), Marion (21), Multnomah (42), Polk (4), Union (3), Washington (21), Yamhill (3).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 10,006 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 5,675 doses were administered on June 19 and 4,331 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on June 19.

The seven-day running average is now 12,724 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 2,437,234 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,704,526 first and second doses of Moderna and 162,520 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 2,102,735 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,352,425 people 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, 2,921,715 doses of Pfizer, 2,216,660 doses of Moderna and 299,100 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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 149, which is five more than yesterday. There are 35 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 1,102, which is an 8.7% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 174.

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.

Oregon Short Of Brown’s Goal to Reopen 

Oregon did not meet Gov. Brown’s vaccination goal to fully reopen by Monday falling just short of the milestone of 70% of adults receiving at least one COVID-19 shot by June 21.

Brown has said she will eliminate virtually all pandemic restrictions when 70% of residents 18 and older receive at least one vaccination against COVID-19. She set a goal of reaching that milestone by June 21.

But the Oregon Health Authority did not report enough additional vaccinations were administered on Sunday. As of Friday, the last day when the percent was updated. 68.5% of adults had received at least one shot, leaving 51,616 to go. But on June 20, the health authority reported only 10,006 new does had been added to the immunization registry by Friday — and that only 12,724 vaccinations a day had been added for the previous week.

The demand for vaccinations has been falling and the two mass vaccination sites in Portland have closed. Brown still has the authority to life the restrictions whenever she wants, however.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Over 200,000 Plants Seized as Illegal Marijuana Search Warrants Served In Josephine County

On June 17, 2021, search warrants were executed as part of an investigation of illegal marijuana grow operations in Selma and Cave Junction, Oregon.  Members of the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) served the search warrants in partnership with Oregon State Police, Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE, consisting of Grants Pass DPS, OSP and Josephine County Parole and Probation), Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET, consisting of Jackson County SO and Medford PD), Southwest Regional Marijuana Team from OSP, Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Josephine County Code Enforcement and the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office.

In total, over 200,000 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed between six properties where search warrants were executed.  Numerous water pumps, generators, trailers, and a tractor were seized as instruments used in criminal conduct relating to the illegal growth of marijuana. 

Numerous subjects were detained and interviewed.  At the time of this press release, no arrests have been made.  No further details are being released at this time.  Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office 

Jackson County Man to Serve 17 Years in Prison over String of Armed Robberies

A local man will serve almost 17 years in prison for his part in a string of armed robberies that took place in 2018 and 2019, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. Christian Miller worked with several co-conspirators to steal marijuana and cash, the DA’s office said.

The men would arm themselves, dress in tactical gear, then “raid” locations with large quantities of cannabis while posing as law enforcement.

The first of three robberies happened on May 11, 2018. According to the DA’s office, Miller and a co-defendant set up a drug deal at the White City Ponds. When the other party arrived, Miller awaited them in tactical gear — announcing that they were DEA and that it was a raid. The victims were held at gunpoint while the suspects stole marijuana, cash, and credit cards.

A second robbery happened just days later, on May Miller set up another drug deal, then made a deal with some co-conspirators to provide a gun if the other men would carry out the robbery. Police later found Miller with zip ties, tactical gear, guns and ammunition.

Arrest Made in Shooting Incident in Grants Pass

On June 11, 2021, at approximately 11:00pm, officers from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety responded to the 200 block of Grandview Avenue for a report of multiple shots fired. Officers quickly checked the area for any victims and the suspect(s).  Officers confirmed there were no injuries.  

GPDPS Detectives responded to the scene to conduct further investigation.  This investigation is in its early stages with detectives continuing to follow up all leads.  Further information will be relayed as it becomes available. 

On June 17, 2021, Detectives with GPDPS served a warrant at 1849 Harbeck Road in connection to the June 11th shooting.  During the course of the warrant service, Detectives were able to obtain evidence linking William “Brodie” Miller to the shooting at the intersection of Harbeck Road and Grandview Avenue.    At the time of the warrant service, Miller was in custody at the Josephine County Jail on an unrelated manner.

Miller was re-contacted at the jail and lodged on additional charges of Unlawful Use/Carry of a Dangerous Weapon and Menacing.  

We are asking for the public to continue to call and report any suspicious activity. 

Anyone who may have been in the SE area of Grants Pass or with any additional  information is encouraged to call Detective Shali Marshall at 541-450-6260.  Additionally, the Department of Public Safety would like to assure citizens the recent shooting incidents have the highest priority for our personnel. — Grants Pass Dept. of Public Safety

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Strange Twist To Murders in North Bend as Fugitive Murderer Kidnaps Springfield Woman and Forces Her to Drive Him to Wisconsin Where He Turns Himself In

A man sought in the killings of his father and two other people in a small Oregon city forced a woman to drive him more than 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) to Wisconsin, where he surrendered to police, authorities said Sunday.

Oen Evan Nicholson approached Laura Johnson, 34, after she returned to her parking spot during a her lunch break on Friday in Springfield, Oregon, and forced her to drive him in her car, police said. Authorities were notified Sunday morning that Nicholson had surrendered to police peacefully in Milwaukee but did not release details about how he gave himself up.

Johnson was not hurt and was returning to Oregon, Springfield police said in a statement.

“He approached her in her vehicle with a gun,” Johnson’s father, Dennis Johnson says. “They said she was forced to drive 33 hours to where they’re at. She was able to talk him into turning himself in.”

Nicholson is suspected of killing his father, Charles Simms Nicholson, whose body was found in a trailer in an RV campground of The Mill Casino in the coastal city of North Bend, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) southwest of Springfield, on Friday.

While driving his father’s pickup truck, Nicholson is suspected of hitting and killing Anthony Oyster, 74, at the campground and critically injuring his wife, Linda Oyster, 73, Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier said.

Shortly after, Nicholson is also suspected of shooting and killing resident Jennifer L. Davidson, 47, at a marijuana dispensary in North Bend, Frasier said.

The pickup was found Friday crashed and burned about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Springfield. A witness reported an armed man got out and ran into the woods, prompting a unsuccessful search, police said.

Nicholson was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his father, Oyster and Davidson as well as second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and failing to help a person injured in a traffic accident, Frasier said.

Nicholson will appear in court in Milwaukee in the coming days before returning to Oregon to face the charges, Fraiser said. It was not clear if Nicholson has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation Awards Community Grants to 120 Nonprofits

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Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: UMPQ) announced today that the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation has awarded 120 community grants to local nonprofits across its five-state footprint totaling $423.5K.

The grants represent the first of three funding cycles in 2021.

Nonprofits were selected from hundreds of applicants who demonstrated a strong commitment to serving their communities, particularly those focused on reaching low-to-moderate income or under-resourced populations in one of the following eight categories: family engagement and resiliency; financial competency; housing stability and home ownership; college, career or technical readiness; entrepreneurship and business expansion; vibrant and equitable neighborhoods; technical and digital connectivity; and small business support and financial guidance.

“With local community-focused nonprofits, we are able to work together for better,” shared Randy Choy, vice president of community giving & nonprofit partnerships and managing director of the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation. “Their grassroots efforts are key to post-pandemic recovery, and we’re honored to support their work.”

Umpqua Bank, through the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation, continues to evolve its community giving strategy and community grants program to reflect a deeper commitment to improving economic prosperity, especially for under-resourced individuals, families, and small businesses. The foundation invests in nonprofit organizations, communities, and leaders to support direct-service programming that incorporates a diversity, equity, and inclusion focus.

The community grants are part of an overall foundation and corporate giving program that has invested more than $12 million since the foundation was formed in 2014. The next deadline for community grant applications is Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Learn more at www.UmpquaBank.com/Community.

For a full list of the nonprofit grant recipients by state, visit https://www.umpquabank.com/blog/umpqua-bank-charitable-foundation-awards-community-grants-to-120-nonprofits/.Umpqua Bank 

Bill Approved to Extend Deadline For Tenants

The Oregon Legislature is expected to pass a bill that’ll give renters a grace period if they face eviction after June 30th when the eviction moratorium ends.  Under the bill, if the renter has applied for federal relief, the landlord wouldn’t be able to evict the tenant for 60 days.  The bill passed the House and returns to the Senate, where it previously passed, for approval of changes before it goes to the governor.

Fatal Crash on Hwy 140 in Klamath County

A Klamath Falls woman died Friday in a single vehicle crash on Highway 140. Donna Palmer, 65, was driving eastbound about 11 a.m. at milepost 60 when her vehicle left the road and rolled down an embankment.

According to Oregon State Police, Palmer was transported by air ambulance to Rogue Regional Medical Center where they were pronounced deceased. The sole passenger in the vehicle, Gerald Berton, 66, of Klamath Falls, was transported to Sky Lakes Medical Center. His condition was not known as of Saturday. OSP was assisted by Klamath Fire District 1 and ODOT.

Central Oregon Fire Burns Near Warm Springs as Smoke Drifts Across Parts of Oregon

Smoke from a 6,700 acre wildfire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon is expected to drift into Columbia County and other parts of Western Oregon this week.

The National Weather Service reports the smoke is drifting in from the southeast.

“We’re starting to get a couple phone calls about haze or smoke in the air southeast of Portland,” NWS posted on Twitter. “This is indeed smoke, from the #S503Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation. More of this smoke will probably work its way into the Portland metro over the coming hours.”

Firefighters continue to battle the fire that began Friday, June 18. The cause of the blaze was unknown as of early Monday morning.

The NWS also issued a Heat Advisory for the region in effect until 9 p.m. Monday, June 21.

BLY and BONANZA, OREGON CUTOFF FIRE UPDATE

Fremont-Winema National Forest is reporting that firefighters on the ground are using bulldozers, other heavy equipment, and hand tools to build containment lines around the Cutoff Fire near Bonanza. In the air, skies above the fire were busy with heavy air tankers, helicopters, and single-engine air tankers (SEATS) dropping water and retardant to slow the fire’s spread.

Fire managers estimate that over half of the fire’s 1,500-acre perimeter has been lined. Containment sits at 10%, indicating that the control lines will need to be significantly strengthened before they will withstand forecasted hot, dry weather. The fire is burning on a mix of public and private forestland and threatens approximately 125 structures.

The priorities for the coming days including improving protection around structures and strengthening control lines. The weather forecast calls for continued hot and dry weather with the potential for thunderstorms.

American Red Cross and the Klamath County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) have set up shelter at the Living Springs Fellow Church (31897 Mission St, Bonanza, OR 97623). The shelter offers temporary housing, meals, first aid and a pet shelter. 

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Bly Mountain Cutoff Road, Jaguar Lane and Keno Springs Road are closed except for Emergency Vehicles and residents exiting the evacuation area. Following is updated evacuation information, at the request of the Cutoff Fire Incident Commander, issued by Klamath County Emergency Management:

Level 3 (GO NOW) East of Bly Mountain Cutoff Rd, North to Grizzly Ln, West of Hummingbird Dr, and South to Keno Springs Road.
Level 2 (GET SET) East of Bly Mountain Cutoff Rd, North to Keno Springs Rd, West of Forest Service Rd 3812, South three miles.
Level 1 (GET READY) East of Bly Mountain Cutoff Rd, North to Hwy 140 and Kingfisher Dr, West of Hummingbird Dr, South to Grizzly Ln. Residents in areas affected by smoke and falling ash should keep animals indoors and avoid all outdoor activities, such as running with dogs. If visibility is less than 5 miles, smoke has compromised the air quality and reached unsafe levels. Anyone who sees animals in distress and is unable to help should note their locations and alert authorities immediately. Trapped horses and other animals can’t outrun wildfires. They should never be locked in their stalls or confined in any way so that they’re unable to flee. 

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