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
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today– Widespread haze. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Friday– A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before noon. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. Widespread haze before 9am, then widespread haze after 3pm. Patchy smoke between 9am and 3pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 86. Light and variable wind.
Sunday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 85.
Monday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 84.
Gov. Brown Orders Flags Flown At Half-Staff For Fallen Medford Firefighter Who Will Be Honored in Memorial Today
Flags at Oregon state institutions will fly at half-staff on Thursday in honor of Frumencio Ruiz Carapia, a Medford man who died while working as a contracted wildland firefighter in Lane County last month.
Locals will have a chance to pay their final respects to a Medford man who was killed while fighting a wildfire in Lane County.
The National Wildfire Suppression Association will hold a ceremony in Ruiz Carapia’s honor at noon on Thursday at the Jackson County Expo.
The life of 56-year-old Frumencio “Mencio” Ruiz-Carapia will be honored at noon Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Olsrud Arena of the Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road in Central Point.
On Aug. 23, Ruiz-Carapia was working the Gales fire burning southeast of Eugene — part of the Middle Fork Complex burning in the Willamette National Forest — when he was killed by a falling tree.
Ruiz-Carapia worked as a squad boss leading a crew for the Medford-based GE Forestry, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.
In the release, GE Forestry owner Estoban Gonzalez expressed gratitude for the calls and well-wishes from the firefighting community since Ruiz-Carapia’s death.
“It has meant a lot to me, to all our firefighters and to the family,” Gonzalez stated. “My thanks go out to everyone who has been involved in making sure Frumencio is honored tomorrow for his service.”
Gov. Kate Brown ordered flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Thursday in honor of Ruiz Carapia.
“On behalf of the State of Oregon and a grateful community, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Frumencio Ruiz Carapia,” said Governor Brown. “Wildland firefighting is often difficult and dangerous work that requires those who do it to leave those they love and cherish to protect people they may never meet. We honor the memory of Mr. Ruiz Carapia and will remember his sacrifice.”
Following the ceremony arranged by the National Wildfire Suppression Association, Ruiz-Carapia’s body will be sent to Querétaro, Mexico, where his mother and brothers live, according to the governor’s office.
Seating will be limited because of social distancing protocols intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Those wishing to send flowers to the memorial can send them to Jackson County Expo, Ruiz-Carapia Memorial, 7 Feathers Event Center, Door #1, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point, OR 97502.
There are two GoFundMe pages set up to support Carapia’s family and help with funeral expenses: one from a friend and neighbor and another set up by family members. Both have exceeded their initial $10,000 goal.
UPDATE: Medford Shooting Investigation
On September 7th, 2021, at about 8:28 p.m., officers and medical personnel were dispatched to a report of shots fired in the parking lot of Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, near Holmes Avenue.
Upon arrival, one victim was unconscious and suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to a local hospital by ambulance. No other subjects were on scene.
Two other victims were transported to local hospitals by private party, with gunshot wounds.
A 19-year-old male was shot in the head and life-flighted to Portland where he is in serious but stable condition.
A 20-year-old male was shot in the torso and is in serious but stable condition at a local hospital.
A 20-year-old male was shot in the legs and left a local hospital against medical advice.
Currently, no suspects are in custody. Detectives believe the involved parties knew each other and were involved in a dispute. There is evidence of several rounds being fired by multiple different weapons. The case remains under investigation. Medford Police Dept.
Hornbrook Man Arrested on Multiple Charges in Ashland
Suspect: Thomas Lee Ackley, 34, of Hornbrook CA —- At approximately 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 Siskiyou County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Ackley on charges they are bringing, and on behalf of the Ashland Police Department as noted below. Ackley remains in jail in Siskiyou County pending their charges and extradition to Oregon to face charges in Jackson County.
On Tuesday, September 7, 2021 at approximately 10:00 p.m. Ackley approached a man in the parking lot of the Ashland Safeway. Without warning, Ackley attempted to stab the man with a knife but did not succeed. Ackley fled the scene in a vehicle as officers responded to the area.
APD officers located the vehicle a short time later and attempted to stop the vehicle, the vehicle fled to the area of southbound I-5 near exit 11, where it attempted to drive northbound on I-5 in the southbound lanes of traffic. Realizing the extreme danger this would pose to other drivers an Ashland police officer used his patrol car to ram the suspect vehicle, not allowing it to continue northbound. The suspect vehicle exited the freeway via an adjacent nearby country road and officers could not locate it further.
While officers were trying to find the suspect vehicle, Ackley entered onto nearby private property and stole a pickup truck. During the commission of the theft of this truck, Ackley attempted to run over the owner of the truck.
Ackley was later arrested in Siskiyou County, as noted above.
During this event the Ashland Police Department was assisted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Talent Police as well as the Oregon State Police and, as mentioned above, the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Office. Ashland Police Dept.
Oregon reports 2,352 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 47 new deaths
There are 47 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,373. The Oregon Health Authority reported 2,352 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 291,978.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (13), Benton (40), Clackamas (137), Clatsop (6), Columbia (18), Coos (154), Crook (30), Curry (37), Deschutes (86), Douglas (132), Gilliam (2), Grant (2), Harney (19), Hood River (5), Jackson (201), Jefferson (8), Josephine (86), Klamath (85), Lake (21), Lane (142), Lincoln (12), Linn (118), Malheur (82), Marion (257), Morrow (6), Multnomah (147), Polk (64), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (115), Union (7), Wallowa (2), Wasco (29), Washington (135) and Yamhill (139).
Roseburg Infant Dies From COVID-19 Complications
An infant in Douglas County has died from COVID-19 complications, officials said.
Officials report the infant, who was under age 1, was diagnosed with COVID-19-related symptoms on Aug. 20 and died Monday, according to the Douglas County COVID-19 Recovery Team.
The baby was one of 13 deaths listed in the county’s Wednesday report. Children under age 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. All but one of the others who died and were mentioned in the Wednesday report were not fully vaccinated, officials said.
“The significant number of deaths over the past month have been so incredibly tragic and heartbreaking,” Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said.
He said officials have chosen not to provide detailed case information out of respect for patient privacy and because of ethical responsibility to medical records laws.
“We can say that some of those who died were perfectly well before they contracted COVID and died,” Dannenhoffer said.
Oregon Health Authority updates its hospital capacity dashboard
Today, a hospitalization by facility tab was added to the Oregon Health Authority hospital capacity dashboard.
Tracking the seven-day average number of COVID-19 positive patients at individual hospitals can provide more local information about the burden of COVID-19 on these facilities.
The new dashboard shows all Oregon hospitals that are reporting COVID-19 positive patients in hospital beds, including ICU beds, and it allows for searching by individual counties.
Mystic Mountain Fire Update
Fire crews made significant progress on the Mystic Mountain Fire this evening, allowing the Sheriff’s Office to reduce or eliminate the previously issued evacuation notices.
- All homes on Mystic Mountain Road have been reduced to a Level 2 “BE SET” evacuation advisory.
- All homes on Little River Road starting at Mystic Mountain Road up to the Peel Store, including all homes located between these two points are no longer under an evacuation advisory.
An interactive evacuation map can be found at www.dcso.com/evacuations.
Little River Road has been re-opened to traffic, although the public is asked to avoid the area due to emergency resources working in the area.
Residents are urged to monitor the situation through official sources and media outlets.
The Sheriff’s Office received support and assistance from the Search and Rescue, Oregon State Police, Douglas County Public Works and the American Red Cross. Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office
Residents are urged to monitor the situation through official sources and media outlets.
Devils Knob Fire Forces Level 3 “GO!” Evacuation Notice
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has upgraded evacuation notices as a result of the Smith Fire burning within the Devil’s Knob Complex Fires.
Based on information provided to the Sheriff’s Office from U.S. Forest Service Fire Managers, the following homes are now under a Level 3 “GO!” Evacuation Notice:
- All homes on Ash Valley Road
- All homes on South Umpqua Road starting at Dumont Creek Campground to the 28000 block of South Umpqua Road.
Level 3 “GO!” means: LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! Danger to your area is current or imminent and you should evacuate immediately. If you choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand that emergency services may not be able to assist you further. DO NOT delay leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home or any structure. THIS WILL BE THE LAST NOTICE YOU RECEIVE.
Homeowners who evacuate are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org so additional resources and information may be provided.
Fire activity information can be found at the following locations:
Devils Knob Complex Fires:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/2021-Devils-Knob-Complex-112079071131008
Fire Information: (541) 900-6133 (8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
The Cougar Peak Fire, burning approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, is now estimated to be more than 3,200 acres with no containment.
Fire behavior overnight continued to be active, with running, torching and spotting in mixed conifer and brush. The fire is burning primarily to the northeast on the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands.
Meanwhile, Concerns about the Antelope Fire, which is rapidly spreading, has caused Lava Beds National Monument to close southwest section of the park. Park officials said the Antelope Fire spread beyond containment lines near Red Cap Mountain on Monday, then made a rapid run four miles north before crossing Forest Road 15 overnight.
The closure includes Merrill Cave, the Whitney Butte Trail, Heppe Cave, Mammoth Crater, the Big Nasty Trail, and the Medicine Lake Road. Fleener Chimneys also remains closed due to wasp activity.
There currently are no active wildfires burning in Lava Beds and the park is not under evacuation orders.
InciWeb has INFO on the larger fires still burning in Oregon.
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/
Sept. 8 Oregon Employment Department Media Statement
Economic Update — Trends in Oregon’s Unfilled Jobs
Each quarter, the Oregon Employment Department surveys private employers from all industries and areas of the state to ask about the job vacancies they are actively trying to fill. Throughout the eight-year history of the survey, the department has asked employers to identify if any of their job vacancies are hard to fill, and if so, to explain in their own words the primary reason why.
This provides direct insight from the hiring, or “demand side,” of the labor market, by showing employers’ perspectives on hiring, both before and during the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the most common reasons employers gave for difficulty filing vacancies were either that they had too few or no applicants (generally described as a “lack of applicants”), or that they couldn’t find candidates with the mix of skills, experience, and training for the job (a “lack of qualified candidates”). When the pandemic recession began in Oregon, OED kept tracking the existing reasons employers gave for difficulty filling vacancies.
During the pandemic period, from summer 2020 through spring 2021, employers gave the same top two general reasons for difficulty filling job openings as they did before COVID-19 shut down many parts of the economy – too few applicant or a lack of stilled applicants. What changed was, as the number of job vacancies skyrocketed to a record of 98,000 this spring, the share of difficult-to-fill vacancies with a lack of applicants did too.
- In summer 2020 and winter 2021, about 6,000-8,000 hard-to-fill job openings (roughly 25%) had a lack of applicants.
- Between April and June of 2021, about 34,000 (or 48%) of all hard-to-fill job openings had too few or no applicants.
Unprecedented Hiring Fuels Shortages
Once the pandemic hit, the OED research team also started tracking new, pandemic-specific reasons employers gave for their hiring challenges. Interestingly, private employers in Oregon said COVID-19 reasons were not the biggest challenge in filling most job vacancies over the past year.
Oregon businesses cited pandemic-related reasons as their main hiring challenge for 10% to 20% of hard-to-fill jobs between summer 2020 and spring 2021. Among those that did report COVID-related challenges as their biggest hiring issue, broad themes included the virus itself, relatively high unemployment benefits, or a combination of both. In summer 2020, UI benefits represented 7% and COVID-19 5% of difficult-to-fill vacancies.
Amid a surge in COVID cases during fall 2020 and winter 2021, Oregon businesses said unemployment benefits were the biggest barrier to hiring for less than one out of 10 hard-to-fill jobs. In spring 2021, employers began citing UI benefits as a hiring challenge with more frequency. Between April and June of this year, 14% of difficult-to-fill vacancies had relatively high UI benefits reported as the primary reason employers had trouble filling job openings.
Leisure and hospitality was the top industry for the pandemic-related, difficult-to-fill vacancies. For difficult-to-fill job openings, non-pandemic-related vacancies, the top occupations were personal care aides, retail salespersons, and restaurant cooks. There are not many differences between these vacancy types based on industry or occupation. It seems like the sheer volume of hiring taking place in recent months has had the biggest impact on businesses’ challenges finding workers.
Hiring When Pandemic Unemployment Benefits End
Twenty six states withdrew from the federal assistance in June and July 2021 ahead of the Sept. 4 programs’ expiration date. Most ended all federal benefits, but some only ended the extra $300 weekly payment.
A new paper authored by economists at Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Toronto, found that ending unemployment insurance benefits did not translate into immediate moves back to work. States that ended federal benefits early did see larger job gains among the unemployed as compared to those that didn’t end benefits early. However, only 1 in 8 unemployed individuals who were cut off from benefits had found a job by the first week of August.
Research suggests that more than just enhanced unemployment benefits is contributing to ongoing hiring challenges. Other reasons 7 out of 8 workers whose pandemic-related benefits ended might not have returned to work in the short term include:
- A lack of in-person school in spring or summer, or lack of available child care slots;
- Workers’ health concerns during the ongoing pandemic, including the Delta wave of COVID-19;
- Workers relocating or changing industries of employment; or
- Some workers opting to retire.
More information about employer responses to the pandemic is available at QualityInfo.org.
Back To Work Day
The Oregon Employment Department, in partnership with WorkSource Oregon, is launching a statewide Back To Work campaign Thursday, Sept. 15, to help people find jobs and businesses to find talented workers. WorkSource Oregon and its partners are coordinating job fairs and hiring events across Oregon in 24 locations. OED is a major partner in the WorkSource Oregon system.
WorkSource offices have planned job fairs, drive thru and virtual hiring events, scavenger hunts, and even a “Large Business Extravaganza’ in Albany with more than 50 employers. People can find out what events are happening in their area by contacting their local WorkSource center or visiting the WorkSource Oregon website.
All events will follow state and CDC guidance to make sure everyone is safe during these events. To ensure the safety of our visitors and employees and to prevent further spread of COVID-19, all customers and employees must wear masks.
Temporary Federal Programs Expire — As of Sept. 4, the following federal pandemic benefit programs have expired:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and the
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program.
As of right now, we still estimate that approximately 81,000 people will no longer receive benefits for weeks after Sept. 4. Here are the latest benefits numbers:
- Benefits paid to Oregonians from March 15, 2020 – Sept. 7, 2021: $10.9 billion to more than 615,000 people.
- Last week we paid about $93 million to 129,000 people.
With the expiration of federal pandemic benefits, more people will be eligible for the SNAP Training and Employment Program (STEP), which is designed to assist individuals receiving SNAP benefits to obtain skills, training, work experience, and employment to increase their ability to obtain living-wage employment. We encourage people who may be eligible for this program to contact their local WorkSource Center for more information.
Resources and Other Assistance
We want to make sure people know what assistance is available now that the temporary federal benefits have ended, such as:
- Rental and housing assistance
- Health care services from Oregon Health Plan
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, and
Although temporary federal programs have ended, approximately 11,000 people who had been receiving PEUC have a deferred claim. That means they may continue receiving regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits after the PEUC program ends, though they will no will longer receive the extra $300 weekly FPUC payment. A deferred claim happened when claimants reached the one-year mark on their claim, and federal rules required they be paid PEUC funds. This essentially deferred, or paused, the new regular UI claim for some people. These individuals will need to complete the waiting week and will then begin to receive benefits from their deferred claim. They also will need to file a weekly claim for the waiting week and complete their required work-search activities.
The department has notified these individuals that they have a deferred claim and that will have to serve a waiting week before they can begin receiving benefits on their regular UI claim
Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. Oregon Employment Department
Helicopter Crash In Tillamook County Downs Power Lines and Sparks Small Fire
The Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a helicopter crash that downed power lines and sparked a small fire late Wednesday morning.
At about 11:00 a.m., deputies and other emergency crews responded to the area of South Fork Road and Simmons Ridge Road. TCSO said only the pilot was on board when the helicopter crashed.
The pilot appeared uninjured and refused medical attention.
TCSO said there is a powerline down, and a small fire is burning at the crash site. Bonneville Power is responding to the scene and has asked emergency crews to stay away until they arrive “because the high voltage line is extremely dangerous.”
It’s unclear if the down power line will cause any areas to lose power, deputies said.
Fire crews from Stimson Lumber, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Tillamook Fire District are in the area awaiting Bonneville Power Administration’s response.
The investigation is ongoing, and the owner of the helicopter is unknown at this time.
Man Killed On I-84 After Tires Fly Into Windshield
A driver was killed on Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon after two tires detached from a tractor-trailer and flew into the air, landing on his windshield, troopers say.
Hassen Ibrahim, 38, was driving his Freightliner west between Baker City and Ontario on Monday when two tires came loose from his flatbed trailer, according to the Oregon State Police. The tires flew into the center barrier of the interstate and bounced high into the air before landing onto the windshield of an eastbound Freightliner, troopers said.
Ibrahim and his passenger, 61-year-old Mohamed Kulale, put chains on the bare wheels of Ibrahim’s trailer before leaving the scene, according to the state police.
The driver of the eastbound Freightliner, 50-year-old James Green, was dead when troopers arrived at the scene about 6:40 p.m., the state police said.
Troopers later found Ibrahim in Baker City. Neither he nor Kulale was hurt. The interstate was closed for about 6 hours.
Log Truck Crash Blocks Hwy 20E Near Sweet Home
A log truck overturned and spilled its load of timber Wednesday morning on US 20 east of Sweet Home.
The crash scene is west of a complete closure of the highway which is in effect through Friday, for a construction project.
The driver was not injured. Officials at the scene said the driver reported the load shifted coming down hill. The Oregon Department of Transportation said the crash blocked the highway and took more than 3 hours to recover the logs and clear the scene.
Oregon State Police Have Cited Two People in Wildlife Poaching Case
A release said OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers from Roseburg began an investigation on August 30th following information obtained from an area resident regarding the potential unlawful take of a trophy class bull elk in the Glendale area. By September 6th, two suspects were identified, interviewed, and charged with the crimes.
OSP said the main suspect, 39-year old Jeremy Pritchard of Dillard, confessed to shooting the bull elk with a rifle on August 30th, during the general archery season in the Powers Hunt Unit.
Additionally, the suspect allegedly used his general archery season Tiola Hunt Unit archery tag to tag the bull a day later after taking it with his rifle.
Pritchard was cited and released on charges of hunting a game mammal prohibited method, hunting a game mammal prohibited area, criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm, failure to immediately validate a big game tag, and unlawful possession of a game mammal.
The release said the suspect’s accomplice, a Glendale man, confessed to knowingly aiding the suspect in the possessing and transporting of the illegally taken trophy bull elk. He was cited and released for aiding in a game violation. OSP said the elk antlers, game meat and rifle were seized as evidence.
Those who observe any unlawful activity can call the OSP tip line 24-hours a day at 1-800-452-7888.