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, August 3, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today– Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 101. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday– Areas of smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 100. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Friday– Sunny, with a high near 89.
Saturday– Sunny, with a high near 91.
About 50 Fires From Sunday’s Thunderstorms Are Reported In ODF’s SW Oregon District
Firefighters Busy Fighting Wildfires In Jackson And Josephine County After Hundreds Of Lightning Strikes Occurred There Sunday
An estimated 50 fires have been reported following thunderstorms that passed though the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Southwest Oregon District on Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters, dispatchers and detection specialists worked through the night to locate and extinguish fires.
Approximately 50 fires were reported from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning; of those, 35 fires were confirmed as active. Of those 35, 20 have been put out, and 15 are in various stages of response; the majority are 100% lined and are currently in mop-up operations.
Private contract resources have been brought on to bolster firefighters, tree fallers and water tenders on active fires. This will also free up our district resources to respond to new fire starts as they are discovered throughout the day.
On the Medford unit, the two largest fires are both estimated to be 3.5 acres each. The North Fork Anderson Creek Fire, located on Anderson Butte outside of Talent is 100% lined and 5% contained. The Buck Rock Fire, located 5 miles north of Trail, is 30% lined and 5% contained. On the Grants Pass unit, the largest fire our resources responded to is the Bear Camp Road Fire; it’s estimated to be 4-5 acres. This fire is burning on U.S. Forest Service Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest land, however, ODF responded as mutual aid due to close proximity to our protected area.
The second largest incident in Josephine County is the Placer Road Fire located southwest of King Mountain at 1.5 acres. It is 100% lined and mopped up at this time. In the same area, the Oxyoke Fire near Hugo was extinguished as well; it was caught by ODF and Rural Metro Fire resources overnight at just over half an acre. This is the only fire that was burning near homes.
At this time, there are currently no homes threatened, despite the large amount of fires burning on the landscape. A reconnaissance flight was sent out at 8:30 a.m. to fly over current incidents and look for new reports of smoke; new fires will likely emerge throughout the day as temperatures heat up. Residents in areas where lightning struck should report any smoke by calling 9-1-1.
Jackson County Sets Record For Daily And Weekly Number Of Covid Cases Since Pandemic Began Last Week
Health officials in Jackson County continue to sound the alarm about the unprecedented spread of coronavirus, largely attributed to the highly contagious Delta Variant that is now believed to account for the vast majority of infections in Oregon.
Jackson County Public Health reported last Friday the highest daily count of new cases since the pandemic began.
On Monday, the agency added that last week produced the highest weekly case count since the beginning of the pandemic, with 626 new cases.
“Jackson County Public Health is continuing to see a sharp increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 outbreaks, and people hospitalized for COVID-19 at an alarming rate,” the agency said in a statement. “Jackson County has a high level of transmission per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 data tracker.”
The agency reported 132 new cases as of Monday morning, with includes cases from over the weekend. There were 83 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between Jackson and Josephine counties, with 23 in intensive care. JCPH also reported the death of an 81-year-old woman.
The CDC’s new mask guidance, released last week, urged people in areas of high or substantial transmission to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. The Oregon Health Authority and JCPH quickly followed suit, reiterating those recommendations as the state began rapidly seeing the effects of Delta variant transmission.
By the CDC’s critera, Jackson County has a “high” level of transmission.
Across the U.S., COVID-19 cases increased about 300 percent between June 19 and July 23, driven by the Delta variant. JCPH noted that the three vaccines still offer high levels of protection against severe illness and death from the Delta and other variants. The difference with Delta, based on current CDC data, is that it can result in high viral loads in both unvaccinated and vaccinated people who become infected, resulting in increased risk of transmission.
“Unlike with other variants, this raises the concern that vaccinated people who become infected with the Delta virus can transmit the virus,” JCPH said.
Local public health officials continue to highly recommend that everyone 12 and older get a COVID-19 vaccination, as it still represents the best way to stop the spread of Delta. Due to the spike in cases, low local vaccination rate, and the prevalence of the Delta variant, JCPH is also still recommending that everyone age 5 and older wear face coverings indoors when in public.
Josephine County Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash Update
On August 1st, 2021 at 7:10 pm, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a single motor vehicle crash in the 1100 block of Plumtree Lane. Personnel from Rural Metro Fire Department and American Medical Response responded as well.
Upon arrival, Deputies located a heavily damaged vehicle crashed into a tree and power pole. The vehicle had one occupant who was the driver. The driver was determined to be deceased upon arrival.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as 49-year-old Rodney Paul Jones of Grants Pass, OR. Next of Kin has been notified. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office
Masks required at Roseburg City Hall, Library, Public Safety Center
ROSEBURG, OR – Roseburg City officials are asking residents to limit City Hall visits and wear masks inside City buildings after the Oregon Health Authority began recommending universal mask use for all public indoor settings this week.
“This is not the news that we want to hear, but as an organization, we have committed to following the guidance from the beginning, and we plan to continue,” City Manager Nikki Messenger said.
Roseburg Public Library patrons are asked to resume wearing masks at all times starting Thursday, July 29. While Messenger asked residents to do as much business with the City as possible online or by phone or email, visitors to City Hall, the Public Safety Center and other City buildings will be asked to wear masks beginning Monday, August 2.
Visitors’ access to City Hall will be limited to the lobby and Council Chamber, and masks will be made available for anyone not wearing one. In addition, city employees will be required to wear masks inside buildings or in vehicles carrying at least two people starting Monday.
The increased restrictions are a safety precaution meant to protect City residents and employees as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged this week in Douglas County and throughout the state.
For now, Roseburg commission meetings will continue to be held virtually via Zoom and shown online via Facebook Live. A decision regarding in-person City Council meetings is expected to be made next week.
Residents are encouraged to do business online, or by phone or email:
• Administration: email@example.com or 541-492-6866;
• Community Development: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-492-6750;
• Finance: email@example.com or 541-492-6710;
• Fire Department: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-492-6770
• Municipal Court: email@example.com or 541-492-6720;
• Parks and Recreation: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-492-6730;
• Public Works: email@example.com or 541-492-6730
Roseburg Public Library Offers Outdoor Youth Programming
ROSEBURG, OR – Roseburg Public Library invites children, youth and families to attend hands-on, outdoor craft programs throughout August.
Every Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. through August 25, library staff will host a program at the Stewart Park pavilion next to the playground. The events are best for children aged 6 to 12. However, children of all ages are welcome. Parents or caregivers must accompany children younger than 10.
Library staff also will offer outdoor craft programs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings in front of the library on the grassy area at the corner of Jackson Street and Diamond Lake Boulevard. Children and youths aged 9 to 18 are invited to come for crafts August 7 and 21. Children aged 6 to 12 are invited August 14 and 28.
Staff asks parents or caregivers to register their children or groups for these programs by visiting www.roseburgpubliclibrary.org. Click on “Events” for a calendar view, then click on the program title to register.
All supplies will be provided for the programs, which are made possible through the K-12 Summer Learning Fund of Oregon Community Foundation.
For more information, contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-492-7050.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Hot and dry conditions are expected to continue today and Wednesday. Thunderstorms will continue over eastern Oregon on Tuesday and expand to cover more of central and eastern Oregon on Wednesday. More instability and potentially stronger southwest general winds are likely late Wednesday before a significant cooling trend takes hold over on Thursday. The instability, lightning, and increased winds appear more likely over southwest and central Oregon than elsewhere. Monitor NWS forecasts closely for fire weather details and red flag warnings for your local area.
Hot, dry, and unstable weather will contribute to rising fire danger today and Wednesday. The growth of holdover fires and new ignitions is most likely today and Wednesday over southwest and central Oregon. The approaching weather system on Wednesday will further boost the risk of growth of such fires and ignition of new ones.
This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information: https://keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/
Yesterday crews reported smokes from smoldering and torching fuels inside the burn area as they widen the fire line and soak remaining heat and flames. Dozers continue to straighten the ragged edge of the fire line on the east side for improved containment. If a spot fire were to start, or if the existing fire jumped the line, contingency lines are in place to stop its progression. Due to the crews’ tremendous efforts over the past few days, the percent containment has increased and the miles of active fire edge have decreased significantly.
Because of the Bootleg Fire’s size and local conditions, it still holds a lot of heat. Even though progress has been made and fire advisors are confident in the containment measures, severe conditions remain for fire hazard. “Megafires” like this do not usually burn out until late fall or early winter when moisture increases and temperature decreases.
“For local residents, warm, dry, windy weather in this area is not a surprise,” said Tom right, Incident Meteorologist of the National Weather Service, Medford. “In fact, this is a common weather pattern, but it usually occurs in September—not the end of July and early August.” But this year is different. Several events led to the extremely dry conditions this year. Klamath and Lake counties are in an “exceptional” drought and have been in drought conditions for more than two years. Rainfall is at barely half the normal amount for the water year, and it is unlikely that the percentage will catch up, since the remainder of the year is the dry season. The record heat event in late June that included three consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit also had a major impact on drying trees, vegetation, and soil.
Today’s weather will include isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms with scant amounts of rain. Over the next few days, temperatures will increase, humidity will decrease, and winds will pick up, creating critical fire weather conditions. Fuels around the fire are nearly 100% receptive to ignition if lightning strikes or an ember lands.
MIDDLE FORK COMPLEX:
The complex includes 12 wildfires ignited by lightning on the Willamette National Forest- five of those fires are at full containment.
Level 3 evacuations remain in place in areas near one of the fires that make up the Middle Fork Complex east of Lowell.
Homes along Big Fall Creek Rd. as well as Puma and Bedrock campgrounds remain under GO NOW! evacuation orders Monday. A complete evacuation map can be found at www.lanecountyor.gov.
The Gales Creek fire south of county road 18 is burning across 400 acres. Steve Hawkins is the Deputy Incident Commander with the Northwest Incident Management Team 9. In a Sunday fire update he said the Gales Fire was “burning in heavy, downed fuels on steep ground.” The Gales Creek Fire is moving toward the Elephant Rock Fire, which is approximately two miles to the southeast.
Firefighters are developing plans for primary and alternate containment lines on the 50-acre Ninemile Fire.
The 24-acre Kwis fire is the closest fire to Oakridge and is located south of Road 24 near Salmon creek. It is the highest priority fire in the complex. Crews are building primary and alternative lines to contain that fire.
SKYLINE RIDGE COMPLEX:
A number of fires have been reported in the South Umpqua River Corridor and the Upper Cow Creek area, as a result of recent thunderstorms. Douglas Forest Protective Association has ordered an Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team to assist with the suppression efforts of the fires in the South Umpqua River corridor and the Upper Cow Creek area. ODF IMT 1 is scheduled to in-brief with all cooperating agencies on Monday (August 2nd) evening and is expected to take command at 6:00 a.m. on August 3rd.
DFPA crews, industrial resources, and contract crews assigned to the Skyline Ridge Complex remained engaged on the multiple lightning caused fires throughout the day and were able to take several small fires out of play. The high afternoon temperatures combined with gusty winds and low relative humidity levels resulted in active fire behavior which challenged containment lines on several of the larger fires. Increased fire activity on the larger fires in the area continued into the evening, resulting in an orange glow that was highly visible throughout the area.
As of Monday evening, no homes were threatened by the fires within the Skyline Ridge Complex, however, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office did issue a Level 1 “Be Ready” notice for residents located between 18300 and 20700 Upper Cow Creek Road due to the Wildcat Fire, which is burning on the Umpqua National Forest. Fire officials with the Skyline Ridge Complex are in communication with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in the event that additional evacuation notices are needed for the area.
Below is the status of the highest priority fires within the Skyline Ridge Complex:
O’Shea Creek Fire, located three miles east of Canyonville: The O’Shea Creek Fire spotted across containment lines around 5:30 PM and grew to about 80 acres. Ground resources are assigned to the incident overnight.
Poole Creek Fire, located eight miles west of Tiller: The Poole Creek Fire saw active fire behavior Monday evening which resulted in multiple spot fires across containment lines, single tree torching, and short crown runs. The Poole Creek Fire is estimated to be 100 acres in size. Ground resources are assigned to the incident overnight.
Ike Butte Fire, located nine miles southwest of Tiller: The Ike Butte Fire was located early Monday morning and was several acres in size upon discovery. Strong afternoon winds resulted in the fire increasing in size to an estimated 25 acres. Two bull dozers worked throughout the afternoon to construct containment lines around the fire. Resources will remain engaged on the incident overnight.
ROUGH PATCH COMPLEX:
This is a complex of 19 fires north of Glide. 352 Acres and 1% contained. Direct engagement is occurring on most of the fires within the Rough Patch Complex. Indirect planning area is being identified for the larger Chaos fire using existing access features. Steep slopes and drought stricken fuels will continue to drive fire spread. Timber litter will spread into jackpots and lichens, encouraging torching and spotting.
COTTONWOOD CREEK FIRE:
John Day– Operations across the 159 acre Cottonwood Creek Fire have fully transitioned to mop-up work. Hoselays have been completed, with water being distributed to all parts of the fire as needed. Containment for the fire has increased to 40% as of late Monday afternoon. The fire was ignited by lighting from a passing thunderstorm Thursday afternoon, but was not reported until mid-day Friday. Dozers, wildland engines, helicopters and airtankers were successful in stopping forward growth of the fire by late Friday evening.
Burning snags and “rollers” have concerned firefighters for the last several days as they worked to strengthen firelines and keep the fire within the original footprint. “Rollers” are burning chunks of logs or other material that can ignite un-burned fuels as they roll down steep terrain. These “rollers” and embers from the snags can create spotfires outside the fire’s edge. The work completed by firefighters to mop-up and cool active areas of the fire,
fall snags and widen the cold black adjacent to the dozer line has significantly mitigated the risk of the fire moving outside the fireline. Firefighters will continue mop-up work on the fire, focusing on areas of active flames and gridding for heat near the fireline.
The fire is being managed by a Type 3 organization from ODF’s Central Oregon District. Ten wildland engines, five hand crews, three water tenders, and additional overhead are assigned to the fire. Local aircraft are available as need to support firefighting activities.
As of Monday, August 2, the Jack Fire has burned 23,002 acres and is 76 percent contained. Yesterday afternoon, an isolated lightning storm over the Jack Fire’s southeastern flank ignited several new starts, and firefighters already working in that vicinity quickly moved to suppress these new starts. Later that evening another storm generated lightning with confirmed strikes over both the Jack Fire and Rough Patch Complex. Today’s efforts will focus on identifying and containing any new starts that may have been created overnight.
Other crews working north of Hwy 138 are successfully holding containment lines, while those south of Hwy 138 are making progress tying into established control lines to contain the Jack Fire. Yesterday, crews mopped up and patrolled the entire perimeter, chipping across the northern flank and reducing fuel along the contingency line to the east on the 28 road.
ELBOW CREEK FIRE:
Due to the reduced complexity of the Elbow Creek Fire, Oregon Department of Forestry’s Type 1 Incident Management Team 3 will hand the fire over to a smaller Type 3 organization tomorrow morning. The team would like to again thank the communities in the area for their kind hospitality and support during our stay.
The forward spread of the fire has been stopped for several days and stands at 22,960 acres and 95% contained.
The Type 3 organization will be working for the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, the Vale District of the BLM and the Northeast Oregon District of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The main responsibility of the new team will be to complete any remaining mop-up, patrol the perimeter, backhaul fire cache supply such as hose, pumps and portable water tanks, and continue suppression repair work.
The fire camp located at the Stampede Grounds in Elgin will be shut down. All personnel working the south end of the fire will be working out of the main fire camp located about three miles up Promise Road from Highway 82. A spike camp for crews working on the north end of the fire will be located on the 62 road at Fry Meadow Seed Orchard.
Resources working under the team will include eight 20-person crews, nine engines, four water tenders, four dozers and 2 excavators.
Today, the South Cascade Interagency Type 3 Team continues to mop-up and strengthen contingency lines. Containment is at 65%. Crews will remain vigilant as weather conditions change. A south and southwest wind will be over the Willamette National Forest today, which may result in thunderstorms near the fire starting in the afternoon and lasting through this evening.
There is a possibility of gusty winds more than 40 mph. The combination of this with low humidity will result in critical fire weather conditions for the area today. The threat of thunderstorms will end Tuesday when afternoon temperatures will warm to around ten degrees above normal. Overnight relative humidity will likely be lower over the next couple of days.
There will be a higher chance of showers and thunderstorms starting again on Thursday. Precipitation could occur Friday and Saturday but may end up north of the incident. The Willamette National Forest will maintain its large closure area to prioritize safety of the public and firefighters.
The BLM closure order for the Quartzville Backcountry Byway has been lifted. The Byway is now open to mile post 25, where the Forest Service closure begins. The BLM closure may be reactivated at any time as needs warrant. Campfires are currently prohibited on Willamette National Forest land, as well as on BLM lands east of the I-5, including Quartzville Creek corridor. This includes dispersed sites and established campgrounds with fire pits. This will be the last regular update. As there are any updates to fire progression or significant events, we will be releasing information at that time.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has issued Level 1 “Be Ready” evacuation advisory as a result of the Wildcat Fire burning off of Upper Cow Creek Road.
Fire Managers with the U.S. Forest Service have notified the Sheriff’s Office that the Wildcat Fire continues to burn and is moving toward some residential areas near Upper Cow Creek Road. Based on this information, the Sheriff’s Office is instituting a Level 1 “Be Ready” advisory for the following residences:
- All homes on Upper Cow Creek Road with addresses starting at 18300 through 20700.
Level 1 “Be Ready” means: Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information. This is the time for preparation and precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile property and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock. If conditions worsen, emergency services personnel may contact you via an emergency notification system.
Residents can opt in to receive emergency alerts based on their address by registering at www.dcso.com/alerts.
An interactive evacuation map can be found at www.dcso.com/evacuations.
Information regarding the Wildcat Fire will be released by the U.S. Forest Service. Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office
Oregon reports 2,056 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 5 new deaths
There are five new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,863, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
Oregon Health Authority reported 2,056new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 221,799.
The 2,056 cases reported today include new infections recorded by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, July 30th and Sunday, Aug.1st. Oregon reports 1,055 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Friday, July 30: 549 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Saturday, July 31: and 452 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Sunday, Aug.1.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (9), Benton (34), Clackamas (183), Clatsop (39), Columbia (21), Coos (23), Crook (11), Curry (33), Deschutes (105), Douglas (123), Harney (2), Hood River (13), Jackson (132), Jefferson (24), Josephine (116), Klamath (6), Lane (305), Lincoln (17), Linn (100), Malheur (8), Marion (85), Morrow (9), Multnomah (320), Polk (21), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (112), Union (41), Wallowa (1), Wasco (23), Washington (87), Wheeler (1), Yamhill (37).
PeaceHealth Restricts Visitors at Hospitals and Clinics As COVID Cases Rise
PeaceHealth is restricting visitation at four Oregon hospitals and all of its medical group clinics in response to rising COVID-19 cases.
According to a news release from the health system, the restrictions are in place at the following hospitals in Lane County:
- PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield
- PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District in Eugene
- PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center
- PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence
“We recognize the importance of having loved ones visit patients in our hospitals and made this decision only after careful consideration,” Todd Salnas, chief executive of the PeaceHealth Oregon network, said in a prepared statement. “Our priority is the health and safety of our patients, caregivers and community.”
There are exceptions to the rule, but they will be decided on a case-by-case basis for patients who are not COVID positive. The exceptions include:
- Two support persons for end-of-life patients
- Two parents/legal guardians of a minor patient
- One support person for Emergency Department patients
- One support person for Labor and Delivery and Mom-Baby at Sacred Heart RiverBend and Peace Harbor Medical Center; may also have a certified doula or community midwife for labor and birth
- Two parents of a NICU patient (Both parents must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.)
- One support person to help a patient with mobility challenges or discharge instructions
“We urge all who are eligible to get vaccinated if they have not already done so,” said Dr. Jim McGovern, PeaceHealth Oregon’s chief medical officer. “We recommend that anyone who has questions or concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine reach out to their healthcare provider.”
COVID-19 patients will not be able to have visitors except in the following cases:
- One visitor for patients receiving end-of-life care
- One parent or legal guardian of a minor
- One support person for labor and delivery
- One visitor for patients with cognitive or physical disability who require assistance
Hospitals are surging with unvaccinated patients infected with the Delta variant — which could affect car accident victims and other non-Covid-19 patients who need hospital care, doctors say.
The news comes as Oregon reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths over the past three days. There were 340 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon Monday, and more than 2,860 people in Oregon have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Protections for OR and WA Renters Set to Expire This Fall
The federal eviction moratorium expired Saturday, but renters in Oregon and Washington are still protected from eviction a bit longer if they’ve applied for rental assistance.
Oregon is still struggling to get that money out. At the beginning of July, the state had paid less than 2% of tenants who applied for help through Oregon’s emergency rental assistance program. Today, just under 5% of households have been paid.
“We’re very concerned about the pace at which the rental assistance is getting out to those households that need help,” said Michael Havlik, the deputy executive director for Multfamily NW.
He said that as of July, around 10% of households reported they still can’t pay rent and desperately need funding to prevent a wave of evictions.
There’s still a lot of work left to do and not a lot of time to do it before protections for renters expire. If a tenant in Washington can show they’ve applied for rental assistance, they are protected from eviction until Sept. 30.
For tenants in Oregon who live in Multnomah County and can show they’ve applied, protections last through Sept. 25. For all other counties in the state, rental protections are set to expire at the end of August.
For More INFO: Oregon Emergency Relief Assistance Dashboard
“There is ample funding in the state to prevent anybody from getting evicted who needs the help right now, and people are actively applying for the money to get that help, but it just, right now, it seems like the pace is just not fast enough to get the help to the folks that need it,” said Michael Havlik, deputy executive director for Multifamily NW.
The state is also up against a deadline for federal funding.
Federal dollars set aside for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance program have to be committed by Sept. 30, and 65% of resources must be spent by then. If it’s not, the money goes back to the U.S. Treasury and is then up for grabs to be used by other states.
“There is ample funding in the state to prevent anybody from getting evicted who needs the help right now and people are actively applying for the money to get that help,” Havlik said. “But it just, right now, it seems like the pace is just not fast enough to get the help to the folks that need it.”
Oregon Housing and Community Services said it has hired more people to speed things up and is now bringing in an external vendor to help – because 70% of rental assistance applications in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties haven’t even been processed.
“Certainly when we learned about the funding last December, we never thought that we might be up against a timing deadline for this,” Havlik said. “So the fact that we’re even thinking about deadlines for getting the money out is problematic.”
WorkSource Centers Open for In-Person Assistance; Refreshed WorkSource Oregon Website Launched
Monday the Oregon Employment Department, in partnership with WorkSource Oregon, launched two efforts to support Oregon’s economic recovery.
- Thirty-five WorkSource Oregon centers reopened for in-person services since closing April 7, 2020 due to the pandemic, and
- A refreshed WorkSource Oregon website was launched in English and Spanish. Google Translate is available on the website and nine additional languages will be added over the coming weeks.
“WorkSource Oregon helps people find jobs and businesses find talent and the reopening of local WorkSource Oregon centers is a major milestone in Oregon’s recovery from the pandemic. We are very happy to be open again and helping customers find work and explore their career options in person. The refreshed website will showcase the range of personalized, high-quality employment and training services that our skilled WorkSource staff can offer to job seekers and employers,” said Jim Pfarrer, director of Workforce Operations for the Oregon Employment Department.
To ensure the safety of our employees and visitors and prevent further spread of COVID-19, masks must be worn by all employees and customers.
For individuals interested in in-person help, center operating hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. To reduce wait times, Oregonians are encouraged to first call their local WorkSource Oregon center and make an appointment for in-person services.
People also may continue seeking WorkSource Oregon job assistance virtually and by phone. All services are available to users at no cost because they are paid for by state and federal revenue
Services provided in these centers include:
● Workforce development programs
● One-on-one help from an employment specialist
● Job matching
● Workshops on resume writing, interviewing and other skill-building activities
● Hiring events
● Public computers
● SNAP Training and Employment Program (STEP)
● On-the-job training
● Veterans Services
“We are thrilled to be welcoming Oregonians back into our WorkSource centers,” said Karen Madden Humelbaugh, director of the Office of Workforce Investments at the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Office. “When you make an appointment and come into one of our locations, you can expect to be welcomed by a staff member and receive one-on-one service. We will listen to your needs and connect you to trainings, workshops, employers–whatever makes the most sense for you and your career goals.”
It is important for Oregonians to know that the look and feel of WorkSource Oregon has changed, meaning the logo and materials may look different. For people concerned about fraud, communications with this new logo are safe, as long as they come from the Employment Department or a WorkSource Oregon office. The website URL, worksourceoregon.org, also remains the same.
The WorkSource Oregon centers’ reopening and website refresh dovetails with changes to work search requirements. As of the week of July 25-31, 2021, all people receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are required to report work search activity when they file a weekly claim. In addition, people receiving regular UI and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) must register through iMatchSkills and complete their Job Seeker profile.
Two other work search requirements–being able and available for work– are being phased in through Sept. 1, 2021. The Employment Department is closely monitoring how the ongoing pandemic may impact peoples’ ability to meet these requirements.
Oregon has nine Local Workforce Areas that support locally-driven decisions and programs. WorkSource Oregon’s integrated one-stop service delivery provides a flexible, unified workforce education and training system that consistently exceeds customer expectations. Vocational rehabilitation and on the job training services are available.
For more information, visit WorkSourceOregon.org or a WorkSource partner. Oregon Employment Department