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
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today– Sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming west northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday– Sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Friday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Saturday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 98.
Medford Sushi Restaurant Ordered To Pay Employees $280,000 After Stiffing Them On Tips
A Medford sushi restaurant tried to pull a fast one on its employees but it didn’t get past the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency has recovered $280,124 in back pay from Misoya Bistro that will be split among 36 employees.
Federal investigators say that for the past two years, the restaurant paid its employees an hourly “tip wage” that was “significantly lower” than what they earned in tips.
“I think employers sometimes may think that because they pay the state minimum wage which is higher than the federal minimum wage, means that they can be involved in tips,” Carrie Aguilar, district director for the Wage and Hour Division’s Portland office, “That’s just not the case. Tips should always go to the employees.”
Investigators also found the restaurant didn’t pay overtime to several employees when they worked over 40 hours a week.
The bistro has agreed to pay the back wages and tips and the investigation will be closed once this is confirmed. No charges have been filed against the owner.
“Restaurant workers are among the nation’s lowest-paid and are often unfamiliar with their legal rights regarding tips, minimum wages and overtime. The pandemic made clear these workers are essential to our economy and they must be paid all of their hard-earned wages,” Aguilar said. “Employers who violate the law hurt workers and their families. They also gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors who operate legally.”
OLCC Targeting Illegal Marijuana Grows In Jackson And Josephine Counties
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) indicated on Monday that it would be putting more attention to the issue of illegal marijuana in southern Oregon as local agencies struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of grow operations.
Representative Lily Morgan championed House Bill 3000, which was drafted to bridge the enforcement gap. It directs the OLCC to work with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and other state and local agencies to crack down on illegal grows.
“What’s going on in southern Oregon with the cartel takeover of cannabis growing through the guise of hemp and our role in being able to enforce that is all incredibly important,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. “We and our partners are poised to begin eradicating this illegal activity, to bring stability to disrupted communities starting in Jackson and Josephine counties, and to ensure that our legal, licensed, tax-paying cannabis licensees aren’t being undermined by illegal market activity.”
According to the OLCC, HB 3000 also puts the chemicals extracted from marijuana and hemp under stricter control. The agency helped provide technical support to legislators on the issue.
“Currently Delta-8-THC, which is chemically extracted from hemp, can be sold to children at neighborhood convenience stores; House Bill 3000 requires the OLCC to keep THC products away from kids,” the agency said in a statement.
Effective August 2, the OLCC’s official name will change to the “Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission” (it will remain the OLCC).
In both Jackson and Josephine counties, a coalition of law enforcement and other agencies have stepped up raids on illegal marijuana grows since the beginning of the year. Investigators raided a small “compound” north of Eagle Point on July 15, preceded on July 13 by a series of raids in Josephine County.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Gov. Brown Set To Speak On The State’s Wildfire Response This Morning
Wildfires in Oregon and Washington have already burned more than 500,00 acres this year. This time last year, about 24,000 acres had burned.
The governor is set to speak at 11:30 a.m., you should be able to watch it here : https://www.youtube.com/c/GovernorKateBrown/featured
Bootleg Fire 365,000 acres after 9 straight days of extreme fire behavior and has merged with The Log Fire. It is also creating its own weather.
The Bootleg Fire has made history, becoming just the fourth wildfire in the modern history of Oregon to surpass 300,000 acres burned. The Bootleg Fire is also the largest wildfire in Klamath County’s history.
The only other wildfires now larger than the Bootleg Fire, in the modern era, are the Buzzard Complex (395,747 acres), the Biscuit Fire (500,000 acres) and the Long Draw Fire (558,198 acres). Fire officials have told Wynne Broadcasting’s TV partner, NewsWatch 12, that the Bootleg Fire was extremely active on Sunday and that there was a significant increase in fire activity compared to previous days. Officials also say that the fire picked up steam once again on the northern and southeastern flanks.
Sunday was the ninth day consecutive day of extreme behavior from the Bootleg Fire, which is still growing in size 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. As of Monday, it was 303,791 acres in size and firefighters had 25 percent containment. More than 2,100 personnel are on site fighting the fire. Firefighters moved to safety zones and looked for opportunities to re-engage, according to fire managers.
There was active fire overnight Sunday into Monday on the southeastern corner. A fire slop over across the 28 Road is estimated to be over 2,500 acres in the Elder Creek area. Firefighters worked through the night to limit growth. On the north edge, firefighters disengaged when the fire aggressively moved past retardant lines three to four miles north toward Long Creek. The Nature Conservancy station at Sycan Marsh was evacuated and firefighters provided structure protection.
Missing Firefighter on Bootleg Fire Found Safe
Firefighters and law enforcement officers started a search mission on Sunday after learning that a firefighter had gone missing while working near the Bootleg Fire.
According to the incident management team, a fire crew was working to contain spot fires in the Happy Camp area of the Fremont National Forest when one of the firefighters got separated from the rest of the crew. A report about the missing man went out at 6:30 p.m.
Another fire crew joined the search, in addition to personnel from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Fire officials said that a Rapid Extraction Module, “a highly skilled and specially equipped team used to provide emergency medical services and extraction to firefighters on the line,” also deployed to help in getting the firefighter out.
Officials said that the firefighter was in good spirits when they reached him, and he was able to hike to the road where an ambulance was waiting. Medical staff took him to Lakeview Hospital for evaluation.
Evacuation levels have been downgraded for the Jack Fire, meaning only a Level 1 order — the lowest of the three — remains in place.
The Dry Creek community and surrounding areas are no longer under the higher Level 2 Be Set order. All areas previously under a Level 1 are no longer under an official notice.
Containment has surged to 50% as crews work to line the fire, which has burned nearly 18,000 acres.
Drivers should use caution along Highway 138 which was recently reopened.
Firefighters are deepening control lines north of the highway and are continuing to mop up and secure line. On the eastern flank, burnout operations are underway, and snags and at-risk trees are being removed to make roads safe.
South of the highway, crews are preparing control lines and burned vegetation on the west and southwest flanks. To the south and southeast, crews are clearing roads used as control lines.
Mop up and patrols continue around structures in the Dry Creek area and around Horseshoe Bend Campground.
Deschutes and Jefferson County emergency officials dropped all remaining evacuation levels Monday on the 6,032-acre Grandview Fire northeast of Sisters as crews brought the fire to nearly 60 percent containment.
The Grandview fire acreage remains at 6,032 acres. Containment on the fire is now 57%. Crews are pushing mop up from 50 feet to 100 feet or more inside the fire line. The goal over the next few days is to remove all heat at least 300 feet from the fire’s edge. Searching for lingering heat is done by carefully searching in grids, finding hot spots in the ground, and cooling them. Each grid is searched several times to ensure that all heat is gone.
Team 2 successfully conducted an incident-wide simulated Incident Within an Incident, followed by a safety stand down to allow crews to discuss and review the safety protocols for rapid response to aid an injured firefighter. Snags are a continuing concern around the perimeter of the fire and felling crews will work to remove them to reduce risk of hazard. Temperatures will be in the low 90’s with light winds out of the NW.
Elbow Creek Fire:
The Elbow Creek Fire is continuing to grow in size. As of the latest update, the blaze burning southwest of Troy is at a reported 16,432 acres, with the latest total including growth not previously captured by infrared mapping, according to the Type 1 Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 3 that is battling the fire.
There are a total of 343 firefighters currently working on the fire, the team said.
“Crews continued to manage northside lines of the fire perimeter successfully,” the update stated. “Growth occurred on the southwest side with winds out of the northeast pushing the fire through the canyons. Steep and rocky terrain continues to be challenging in the canyons of the Grande Ronde River.
With a limited number of crews, the incident management team will focus efforts in the most challenging areas along the southwestern portions of the fire in the Grossman Creek Drainage. Dozers are also being utilized in this area along the top of canyon shelves where they can be more effective. The eastern edge of the fire is holding and has transitioned to mop-up operations.”
Weather conditions could bring additional challenges to firefighters. A red flag warning is in effect, with the potential for severe lightning and thunderstorms in the forecast. “Thunderstorm activity could also bring erratic winds, further challenging fire suppression actions,” the update read.
The Bruler Fire was detected on July 12, 2021 and is located near the boundary between the Detroit and Sweet Home Ranger Districts. The fire is burning near the junction of Forest Road 11 (Straight Creek Road/Quartzville Road) and Forest Road 1133 approximately 8 miles south of Detroit Lake. Local firefighters and aircraft rapidly responded to aggressively attack the fire.
A Type 2 Northwest Incident Management team, Team 13, has taken command of the fire. Additional resources have been ordered and are expected to arrive in the coming days.
Smoke will continue to be visible from the town of Detroit and Santiam Pass. There may be increased fire traffic on Highway 22. The fire is not currently threatening any communities or structures. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Darlene Fire 85% contained and evacuation levels further reduced.
This decision was made after consultation with fire managers. We will continue to work with fire managers to ensure public safety and prevent conflicts between citizens and fire operations. Please refrain from unnecessary travel through these areas as fire equipment and personnel are moving through the area.
Several property owners sustained damage from the fire. At this time, preliminary reports indicate 2 residential buildings, several outbuildings, RVs, and other vehicles were damaged or destroyed. Property owners inside the fire area, should be aware of hazards including burned trees, structures that may been destroyed by fire, and hazardous substances. Please use caution if your property was impacted by fire.
Game Hog Creek Fire:
As of the afternoon of Sunday, July 18, the 182 acre Game Hog Creek Fire was kept in check and showed low fire activity thanks to the aid of aircraft used Saturday on the fire.
Crews were also able to complete line construction into the Elk Creek drainage where the terrain is steepest, halting the spread of the wildfire.
The jump from 135 acres to 182 acres appears to be the result of better mapping, not a significant new spread of fire.
Oregon reports 777 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 9 new deaths
There are nine new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,826. The Oregon Health Authority reported 777 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 212,755.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (19), Clackamas (73), Clatsop (3), Columbia (7), Coos (13), Crook (5), Deschutes (29), Douglas (33), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (56), Jefferson (11), Josephine (57), Klamath (1), Lane (53), Lincoln (4), Linn (36), Malheur (2), Marion (35), Morrow (9), Multnomah (196), Polk (10), Sherman (3), Tillamook (9), Umatilla (22), Union (10), Wallowa (3), Wasco (1), Washington (58) and Yamhill (17).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 2,497 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 1,717 doses were administered on July 18 and 780 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on July 18.
The seven-day running average is now 4,794 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered 2,617,037 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,768,355 first and second doses of Moderna and 176,631 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
As of today, 2,452,035 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,279,253 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.
These data are preliminary and subject to change. Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 148, which is six more than yesterday. There are 39 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is five fewer than yesterday.
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.
Most Oregon Children Will Soon Receive Up To $1,100 Each To Help Buy Food
This week, Oregon children will begin receiving the first of three monthly payments of up to $408 per child to help their families afford to feed them.
The payments, which have barely been publicized, are intended to make up for the free or reduced-cost meals that more than 400,000 preschoolers and public school students missed out on during the past year, while their schools and child care centers were closed.
That means most Oregonians age 18 and under will get the money, which can be spent on any of the wide array of foods and beverages that people are allowed to purchase with food stamps.
For children enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the extra money will be loaded onto their parents’ Oregon Trail cards between Thursday and July 29, then again in late August and late September.
Former Douglas County Commissioner Killed in Crash Riding His Motorcycle
Former Douglas County Commissioner Joe Laurance died Monday when he crashed into a car while riding a motorcycle on Oregon’s North Umpqua Highway 138E.
Laurance, 71, suffered fatal injuries in the crash between Glide and Steamboat around 12:30 p.m. Monday, July 19.
Oregon State Police said the initial investigation found that a Subaru Forrester driven by a 54-year-old from Wisconsin “was westbound and attempted to turn left into a roadside pull out when it was struck by an also westbound Honda motorcycle” driven by Laurance.
The driver of the Subaru was not injured, police said.
Laurance served as a Douglas County Commissioner in position #2, currently occupied by Commissioner Tim Freeman, for two terms (eight years) from January 2007 to December 2014.
OSP was assisted by Glide Fire Department and ODOT.