Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 7/27 – Task Force Raid on Black-Market Marijuana Grow Near Central Point, Oregonians Urged to Sign Up for New Emergency Alert System

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 27, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today– Isolated thunderstorms, then scattered showers and thunderstorms after 8am. Widespread haze. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 87. Light north wind. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Wednesday– Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 98. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon

Thursday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 102. Light and variable wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Friday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 104.

Saturday– Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 103.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Task Force Raid on Black-Market Marijuana Grow Near Central Point Finds Illegal Weed, Guns, Unsafe Living Conditions

A task force raid on a black-market marijuana grow near Central Point uncovered illegal marijuana, guns, and unsafe living conditions. Authorities from multiple federal, state and local agencies discovered nearly 7,400 marijuana plants in 35 non-permitted greenhouses, more than 1,800 lbs. of processed marijuana, 71 vials of marijuana extract, 10 ½ grams of cocaine, six guns, a large amount of ammunition, and more than $9 thousand cash. During the investigation 35 people were detained and interviewed.

At around 7 a.m. Thursday, July 22nd, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Medford Police Department (MPD), and the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET), along with Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE), US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and US Marshals served a warrant at a black-market marijuana grow on the 2000 block of Vilas Rd. near Central Point. The property did not have any permits to grow or process marijuana for recreational, commercial, or medical purposes.

Various firearms were seized from the site including three AR-style rifles, an AK-47, and a 9mm handgun with a high-capacity drum magazine. One of the rifles was reported stolen out of Los Angeles, Calif.

Living conditions for migrant workers at the grow site were uninhabitable. Living and working areas were filthy, cramped, and otherwise unsafe with many sleeping on cardboard inside shipping containers with little or no access to bathing and bathroom facilities. Multiple electrical and building code violations were also discovered. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was summoned, sending two inspectors with sanctions forthcoming.

While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley.  IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.  The task force includes personnel from JCSO, MPD, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.  

The investigation is ongoing.  No further information is currently available for release. — JCSO Case #21-3832 Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office

Fire at Willow Lake

ODF and U.S. Forest Service- Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest engines responded to a vehicle fire and subsequent wildland fire at the Willow Lake campground just after 5 p.m. tonight.

May be an image of outdoors and tree

The fire is now 100% lined and 100% mopped up; firefighters were able to stop it at a quarter of an acre. No injuries have been reported. The campground was evacuated for a short time before firefighters arrived and as they worked to extinguish the fire.

It has since been opened back up to people in the area. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office – Oregon will be investigating the cause of the vehicle fire.

Grants Pass Dept. of Public Safety Seeking Information – Shooting Investigation

On June 10, 2021 at 9:41pm, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) received a report of a drive-by shooting occurring in the 2000 block of NW Hawthorne Ave. Two female occupants yelled at five males before firing several rounds from the vehicle.

After shooting at the males, the vehicle continued northbound on Hawthorne Ave while firing additional shots at two more people. No one was injured, and the suspect vehicle fled outbound on NW Vine St. We are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and/or locating the vehicle and suspects.

Suspect 1: Female – no further description

Suspect 2: Female, 20s, medium complexion, heavyset, average height, long dark hair in a ponytail

Suspect Vehicle: Dark four-door sedan, possibly a 2010-2015 model, with tinted windows and quiet exhaust

If you have any information about this incident, please contact GPDPS at 541-450-6260 and refer to case number 21-25667. — Grants Pass Dept. of Public Safety

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Oregonians Urged to Sign Up for New Emergency Alert System

Governor Kate Brown is urging Oregonians to prepare for emergencies by signing up to receive alerts through Oregon’s new emergency alert notification system, OR-Alert.

OR-Alert : Emergency Notifications : State of Oregon

A release from Brown said the system has been fully implemented in 26 counties and is being actively implemented in another 8.

The rollout comes as Oregon has recently faced severe weather events including ice storms, extreme drought, and a record-breaking heat wave that has contributed to an early and dangerous wildfire season. The release said with OR-Alert, people can now sign up for alerts custom to their geographic area and receive notifications in the most convenient way possible.

Brown said, “Last year’s historic fire season has taught us that being prepared can truly be the difference between life and death”. Brown said with Oregon now facing increasing climate-related weather events, “…there’s never been a better time to make a plan with your family to be prepared”.

Statewide Interoperability Coordinator William Chapman said between extreme weather, wildfire and the pandemic, it became clear that the state needed a streamlined and customizable way to enable emergency managers at the local, county, Tribal and state level to communicate with the populations they serve across the state and at a moment’s notice.

To get signed up, go to: https://oralert.gov/

How to sign up for alerts

StepDirections
1Find your local alert system using the search feature
Each jurisdiction has its own unique notification system. Use the search bar on this page to locate your county system by county, city, or zip code. Click Select & Continue to visit your county’s sign-up form.
2Fill out your contact details and select topics
The notification system only requires basic information like your name and phone number. Fill out the form, select what notifications you’re interested in, and click submit to begin receiving notifications.

Sign up to receive emergency alerts and severe weather warnings that could directly impact you and your family.

This free service allows fire, police and other emergency response agencies to issue emergency alerts to warn citizens of events such as severe weather, fire, flooding, hazardous materials, need for immediate evacuation, civil danger, local area emergencies, and missing persons.

You can indicate the types of alerts and notifications you would like to receive and your preferred contact methods. Enter your PHYSICAL address and zipcode to receive advanced warning of severe weather or emergencies that directly impact the area in which you live or work. 

These alerts are provided free of charge, however standard text messaging rates and other charges may apply.

WILDFIRE and Weather UPDATES

BOOTLEG FIRE:

As firefighters successfully patrol and hold the containment line around the southern area of the Bootleg Fire, activity continues on the northern edges.  As of 7/26 it is 410,731 Acres — 53% contained.

Along the northwest perimeter of the fire, crews have been building indirect line utilizing forest roads from Coyote Creek, north to Round Butte. A burnout operation was conducted overnight to remove fuels ahead of the fire to stop its spread into timber stands.  

A dark smoky night sky shows flame in the middle with one firefighter on the left.

“The challenge today,” said Pacific Northwest Team 2 Operations Chief Kyle Cannon, “is to secure the northernmost section of the fire north of Round Butte to the west side of 27 Road.” 

Contingency line construction and structure protection continue around Summer Lake and Paisley. Incident managers are optimistic about the effectiveness of these efforts, but threats remain and evacuation levels have not yet changed. They encourage people to remain vigilant and updated on conditions. 

Along the southern border, crews continue to progress deeper into the burned area extinguishing hot spots.  This will further secure the fire’s edge. Firefighters have made excellent progress, with 98 miles of completed fire line in this zone. As they continue to patrol, any areas of remaining heat that could pose a future threat to the containment line will be extinguished.  

Over the course of the fire, more than 90 fire departments from across the country have responded to the fire to serve the impacted communities. Today, an additional 120 Oregon National Guardsmen are arriving—six crews of 20—to join the firefighting force.  

Weather and smoke conditions are improving over the next few days. Last night’s light, favorable winds from the north facilitated night operations. Although rainfall is rare this time of year, today thunderstorms are expected to roll in and produce rain tonight and tomorrow. While there is a danger of lightning, the rainfall, higher humidity, and cooler temperatures overall will assist firefighting efforts. Air quality has also eased across the state with most monitoring stations recording good to moderate air quality. 

JACK FIRE:

The Jack fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain with some areas inaccessible to fire crews. Fire activity remains within the containment lines north of Hwy 138. Patrol and mop up operations will continue north of Hwy 138. The fire is currently at 21,609 acres with 58 percent containment.

South of Hwy 138, firefighters continue to have success containing fire activity within the control lines along the western flank. Crews on the south end of the fire will prep control lines for possible burning operations and scout for alternative line. On the eastern flank crews successfully extinguished small spot fires near the control line and plan to improve existing handline along the Twin Lakes road.

Air support continues to support ground resources with water, particularly in the eastern portion of the fire, to limit the spread of fire. On Saturday, aviation resources dropped 69,830 gallons of water on the Jake Fire and spent 13.5 hours in the air. Currently, all aircraft, including drones are prohibited from flying over the Jack Wildfire. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been established to protect aircraft that are involved in the firefighting operation. It is a federal crime to fly a drone near the fire. Please do not use these devices, or any other restricted aircraft listed, within the TFR designation.

ELBOW CREEK FIRE:

The Elbow Creek Fire is approximately 22,790 acres and 32 percent contained. More firefighting personnel and equipment arrived today, filling all fire line resource needs.

Crews continue to suppress spot fires in the area and tie a short section of containment line together. Tonight, the priority is finishing the last bit of burnouts. Due to the incredible work of our firefighters, fire progression has been stopped in the Sickfoot Creek drainage. The focus here will now transition to mop-up operations. To the east of Sickfoot, in the southern corner of the fire perimeter, a couple of minor spot fires were caught today. These have been taken care of but reminds crews to stay diligent, even in times of stable fire conditions.

The conditions on the east side of the fire have not changed. Tomorrow’s operations will include deeper interior mop-up as well as strengthening of the fire line. The 6213 Road will be opened briefly tomorrow to allow wildland fire investigators access to complete their investigation of the fire.

Weather patterns will remain consistent with what they have been, although temperatures will lower slightly. Winds will remain relatively light, and humidity will increase a little. The forecast does predict a very slight chance of rain and thunderstorms during tomorrow’s operational period. Evacuation levels within Wallowa County remain unchanged for now. It has been discovered that two single residences were destroyed during the course of the fire, as well as four minor structures. 

BRULER:

The Bruler Fire received an infrared flight yesterday, showing the areas of heat within the fire perimeter. Firefighters were able to focus mop up on portions of the fire that registered heat. This tactic ensures firefighters are setting up the next incident management team for success. The helicopter was not used yesterday, as the fire activity remained low. The helicopter remains available for the Bruler Fire today. Containment is now listed at 47%.

Today, firefighters will continue to improve established contingency line on the southwest side of the Bruler fire. Mop up will continue on the contingency line for the next few days.

Experience has shown that homes with defensible space, free of flammable fuels, can often survive a wildfire.  Defensible space later offers firefighters the advantage of extra room to operate equipment to safely reach and extinguish any active fire. There are many other things you can do if you are landscaping your yard or remodeling your home that may add to the safety of your home and the likelihood firefighters will be able to defend it.  For more information and tips about landscaping go to www.firewise.org.

Today, the weather is forecasted to be warmer and drier, with temperatures in the mid-80s and relative humidities near 20%. Light west winds are forecasted over the fire area. Weather is forecast to get warmer and drier through the weekend, but the winds are forecast to stay light.

The State of Oregon Fire and Hotspot Dashboard can be found here.

COVID UPDATE:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coronavirus-update-1-1.jpg

Oregon reports 993 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,838.

Oregon Health Authority reported 993 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 215,853.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (20), Clackamas (102), Clatsop (6), Columbia (7), Coos (4), Crook (3), Curry (4), Deschutes (65), Douglas (59), Hood River (3), Jackson (24), Jefferson (7), Josephine (67), Klamath (4), Lake (1), Lane (93), Lincoln (3), Linn (67), Malheur (3), Marion (28), Morrow (3), Multnomah (197), Polk (18), Tillamook (7), Umatilla (53), Union (20), Wallowa (7), Wasco (8), Washington (79), Wheeler (1), Yamhill (27). 

Josephine County announces death of COVID-19 patient

A Josephine County individual has died from complications relating to a COVID-19 infection.

A 90-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 July 15 and died July 25 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. He had underlying conditions. He had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Josephine County now has a total of 80 COVID-19-related deaths. Of those patients, 79 died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections. None of the individuals were fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

On Monday, OHA reported that 2,517 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. The seven-day running average is now 4,557 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,641,101 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,777,797 first and second doses of Moderna and 179,091 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Health officials say there was an increase in deaths from non-COVID-19 related conditions during the pandemic.  A Providence Health study found unplanned hospitalizations were cut up to 50-percent while deaths increased 20-percent.  

People held off going to hospitals for heart issues, strokes and care for chronic conditions due to fear they’d get COVID-19.  Doctors say people need to know that medical clinics, hospitals, and emergency rooms are safe places to get medical care.

Increased Emergency SNAP Benefits Continue in August

SNAP Office - Snap Offices West Eugene

Need to know

Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in August. 

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020, to give SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In August, approximately 417,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $66 million in emergency allotments in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide emergency benefits to most SNAP households in Oregon,” said Dan Haun, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Program. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we encourage them contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Emergency allotments will be available on Aug. 11 for current SNAP households. New SNAP households will receive the emergency allotments Aug. 31 or Sept. 2.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to local ODHS offices or by calling the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If you are a SNAP household and your income or the number of people in your household has changed that could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure we have the most up-to-date information. 

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372. Oregon Department of Human Services

Lane County Deputy Drowns Trying To Save Child

A Lane County Sheriff’s deputy drowned on Sunday while trying to help a young child at Foster Reservoir.

The sheriff’s office is mourning the death of Courtney Couch, a US Army veteran who had been a deputy with LCSO for seven years.

Couch, 36, had been enjoying the reservoir with her family and was paddle boarding when she tried to help a young child. She fell in the water and did not resurface. Authorities say Couch was not wearing a life jacket.

Bystanders brought Couch to the surface, and Linn County Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics tried to save her life, but she did not survive. 

“Her sudden and tragic death has knocked the wind out of us. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Courtney and her family following this heartbreaking tragedy,” a statement from the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities confirmed the child involved in the incident is OK.

Linn County deputies are investigating the drowning. If you have any information, you are asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 541-967-3950.

Salmon Dying In Klamath River Due to Drought

Hundreds of thousands of young salmon are dying in Northern California’s Klamath River as low water levels brought about by drought allow a parasite to thrive, devastating a Native American tribe whose diet and traditions are tied to the fish.

And wildlife officials said the Sacramento River is facing a “near-complete loss” of young Chinook salmon due to abnormally warm water. A crash in one year’s class of young salmon can have lasting effects on the total population and shorten or stop the fishing season, a growing concern as climate change continues to make the West hotter and drier. That could be devastating to the commercial salmon fishing industry, which in California alone is worth $1.4 billion.

Fishermen who make their living off adult salmon, once they enter the Pacific Ocean, are sounding the alarm as blistering heat waves and extended drought in the U.S. West raise water temperatures and imperil fish from Idaho to California.

Federal fisheries officials predicted in May that more than 80% of baby salmon could die because of warmer water in the Sacramento River. Now, state wildlife officials say that number could be higher amid a rapidly depleting pool of cool water in Lake Shasta. California’s largest reservoir is filled to only about 35% capacity, federal water managers said this week.

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