Rogue Valley News, Friday 9/10 – Southern Oregon’s Largest Ever Sex Offender Sweep, Community Honors Fallen Medford Wildland Firefighter

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

Friday, September 10, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather 

Air Quality Alert

Today– Scattered showers and thunderstorms before 11am. Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Saturday– Widespread haze before 11am. Areas of smoke after 11am. Mostly cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Monday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83.
Tuesday– Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 86.

Southern Oregon’s Largest Ever Sex Offender Sweep

Joint Task Force Sweep Arrests Six Local Suspects for 61 Felony Counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse, Investigations Uncover Nearly 7000 Explicit Images

The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force arrested six separate suspects Thursday on 61 Encouraging Child Sex Abuse felony charges. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies and the US Marshals’ Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force (PNVOTF) along with Central Point Police Department (CPPD), and Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) assisted with the operation that included warrants served throughout Jackson and Josephine County.

Although the cases are not connected, in total investigations uncovered nearly 7000 images of child exploitation among the six suspects. Felony charges include 44 first-degree, and 17 second-degree Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse. Out of those arrested, one-third had local child victims.

Investigations led the task force throughout the Rogue Valley including addresses in Ashland, Central Point, Grants Pass, Medford, Talent, and White City. These locations included where suspects uploaded child exploitation images, as well as their residences and places of employment. 

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) tips started each investigation, which led to subpoenas, followed by search warrants at the respective residences. Digital devices were seized, additional warrants were obtained, and the digital devices were forensically examined at the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF) where evidence was located.

Cracker

Anthony Paul Craker, 33, of Ashland, was arrested on 15 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 500 block of Tulipan Way in Talent where child exploitation images were uploaded. During the course of the investigation it was discovered Craker was communicating sexually with underage minors and was found to be in possession of more than 700 child exploitation images. Craker was arrested Thursday in the 200 block of Lowe Rd. in Ashland. He is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.

Bouchard

Jon Paul Bouchard, 31, of White City, was arrested on two felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 500 block of Benson St. in Medford where the images were uploaded to social media. Bouchard was arrested in the 3700 block of Falcon St. in White City. He is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $50,000 bail.

Galvan

Omar De Jesus Galvan, 19, of White City, was arrested on 10 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 3400 block of Avenue C in White City where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. During the course of investigations, De Jesus Galvan was found to be in possession of more than 3600 images of child exploitation. He was arrested at his place of employment in the 7500 block of Crater Lake Highway in White City, and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.

Habermann

Stephen Bernard Habermann, 60, of Grants Pass, was arrested on 11 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 3000 block of Old Military Rd. in Central Point where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Images were also uploaded at his place of employment in the 800 block of O’Hare Pkwy. in Medford. Investigations discovered images of local children downloaded from social media and altered so the victims looked nude. The images were then traded online for child pornography. Habermann was found to be in possession of more than 500 child exploitation images. He was arrested in the 400 block of “I” St. in Grants Pass, and is now lodged at the Josephine County jail on $250,000 bail.

Savage

Christopher Randall Savage, 39, of Medford, was arrested on two felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and 12 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 700 block of Crater Lake Ave. in Medford where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Savage was found to be in possession of more than 2000 images of child exploitation. He was arrested at his place of employment in the 1200 block of East McAndrews Rd. in Medford, and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.

Central Point Police Officers assist in the third arrest of the day. Pictured here are members of the SOCET task force devising their plan to approach the suspect’, Desmet’s home in Central Point

Matthew Alan Desmet, 38, of Central Point, was arrested on four felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and five felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 4000 block of Old Upton Rd. in Central Point where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Desmet was found to be in possession of 19 child exploitation images. He was arrested in the 4000 block of Old Upton Rd. in Central Point and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Medford Police Department (MPD), GPDPS, Oregon State Police (OSP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

JCSO Case #’s 21-1870, 20-17946, 21-0038, 21-0840, 20-7217, 20-17750 — Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office

Community Honors Fallen Medford Wildland Firefighter

Friends, family, and fellow firefighters from around Oregon gathered at the Jackson County Expo Thursday to honor the memory of Frumencio Ruiz Carapia.

Flags flew at half-staff around the state in his honor.

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.

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.

Fielder Creek Fire Contained at 32 Acres

Crews made progress on the Fielder Creek Fire burning northwest of Rogue River on the 900-block of Fielder Creek road holding the line and keeping the fire at 32 acres.

According to a press release from the Oregon Department of Forestry South West District, resources assigned to the fire have been bolstering fire lines, falling hazardous trees, and continuing mop-up operations.

The fire is affecting private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Minimal fire activity was reported today, with only a few hotspots flaring up well within the interior of the fire.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Emergency Management lowered evacuation notices to residents on Fielder Creek Road to a Level 1 (BE READY) just after 6 p.m on Wednesday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Oregon reports 2,437 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 21 new deaths

There are 21 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,394, the Oregon Health Authority reported 2,437 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 294,392.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (22), Benton (27), Clackamas (204), Clatsop (37), Columbia (27), Coos (45), Crook (39), Curry (13), Deschutes (152), Douglas (168), Grant (20), Harney (6), Hood River (8), Jackson (190), Jefferson (21), Josephine (90), Klamath (25), Lake (7), Lane (189), Lincoln (18), Linn (134), Malheur (75), Marion (203), Morrow (2), Multnomah (203), Polk (98), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (119), Union (22), Wallowa (3), Wasco (23), Washington (180) and Yamhill (52).

Link to today’s Oregon Health Authority media availability

Thursday afternoon, Oregon Health Authority Senior Health Advisor Dr. Bukhosi Dube was available to answer media questions regarding the COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon.

To watch the video of the media availability, click here.

ODHS expands COVID-19 Recovery Unit network statewide 

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) expanded its network of COVID-19 Recovery Units to eight long-term care facilities statewide to ensure Oregonians have access to care with the spread of the Delta variant.

These dedicated units, located within existing licensed long-term care facilities, give the state more flexibility in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities and help ease demand for hospital beds statewide. Five of the units will also provide monoclonal antibody therapy which can prevent an individual infected with COVID-19 from experiencing severe complications and symptoms.  

Facilities with a total of 238 beds under contract to maintain a COVID-19 Recovery unit are:

• Avamere Riverpark, Eugene, 21 beds and monoclonal antibody therapy;
Avamere at Three Fountains, Medford, 30 beds and monoclonal antibody therapy;
• Bend Transitional Care, Bend, 20 beds and monoclonal antibody therapy;
• Rose Haven Nursing Center, Roseburg, 20 beds;
• Salem Transitional Care, Salem, 16 beds and monoclonal antibody therapy;
• The Pearl at Kruse Way, Lake Oswego, 45 beds and monoclonal antibody therapy;
• The Springs at Willowcreek, Salem, 16 beds; and
• Pacific Health & Rehabilitation, Tigard, 70 beds.

The number of beds under contract could fluctuate as needs evolve statewide.  
The ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities selected facilities based on their ability to care for individuals with COVID-19 in a dedicated area that is separated from other residents and their capacity to provide the number of beds needed in a region. During the previous surge in COVID-19 cases at the end of 2020 and early 2021, ODHS had maintained contracts for seven COVID-19 Recovery Units and more than 1,300 Oregonians were served; from August through Sept. 5 of this year, 212 Oregonians have been served.

These dedicated units fill the following needs:  

• Provide care and services to residents of long-term care facilities that are in crisis due to staffing shortages. This can be because they are not able to effectively cohort COVID-19 positive residents, with dedicated staff, because they lack enough direct-care workers facility-wide.  
• Provide care for COVID-19 positive Oregonians with long-term care needs who have been discharged from the hospital and are still COVID-19 positive. 
• Serve as a care setting for COVID-19 positive Oregonians who do not require hospitalization and are unable to have their care needs met in their current home. 
• Assist with long-term care staffing and bed shortages statewide by preventing individual facilities from having to each set up their own dedicated COVID-19 wing with dedicated staff.

“Re-establishing a statewide network of COVID-19 Recovery Units is essential to the state’s effort to best use available care resources during the current surge in COVID-19 cases. Care providers of all types face staffing shortages and this network represents a collaboration that maximizes available direct-care employees,” said Mike McCormick, interim director of the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities. “These units also serve a crucial need in rural areas where care options may be limited.” Oregon Department of Human Services

Researchers at the University of Oregon say proper ventilation — such as opening a window — may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

The researchers say a small study of quarantined students who had tested positive for the coronavirus indicates that opening a window in their room resulted in a decrease of the virus in their rooms.  They say masking is still important but that other strategies — such as ventilation — can help manage the virus.   

The Conquer Covid In Klamath Campaign Announces Its Winner For Week 2

The Conquer Covid in Klamath campaign announces its winner for week 2. Gillian Bradford won $6,000 worth of groceries from Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Klamath Falls. Gillian was selected in a random drawing of all Klamath County residents that have entered at conquercovidinklamath.com.

Each week the prize changes and this week it is a top-of-the-line Traeger Pellet Grill along with 12 bags of premium pellets from Diamond Home Improvement. The drawing for this week’s prize will take place on Monday morning.

There is a different prize each week along with the Grand Prize, which is the winner’s choice of a new Dodge RAM pickup or a new Dodge Durango SUV. There are numerous runner-up prizes as well.

To enter Klamath County residents can go to conquercovidinklamath.com. The site also lists all prizes, rules, and vaccination sites.

Fire Investigators Seek Information on Human-Caused Wildfires in Lake County

Fire investigators in Lake County are seeking information on wildfire starts in the area.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon State Police (OSP), U.S. Forest Service and Lake County Sheriff’s Office are investigating wildfire causes, including the Cougar Peak Fire.

This fire season has seen an increase in human caused fire starts. To help with the investigations, the OSP has a phone line for area residents and visitors to call in with information that could help.

If you have information regarding a human-caused wildfire in Lake County, please call 1-800-442-0776 or OSP and reference Trooper Mike Hansen and OSP Case Number SP21-257103. Oregon State Police

The Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview continued to grow unabated on Wednesday, surging to an estimated 25,000 acres with no containment as of Thursday morning.

The fire was first reported on Tuesday afternoon, growing quickly among elevated winds and dry conditions. It is located about 15 miles to the northwest of Lakeview, burning primarily to the northeast within the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands. Fire officials said that the fire remained highly active on Wednesday, with the flames running, torching, and spotting amid mixed conifer and brush.

To the south, A series of fires sparked by lightning across Siskiyou County at the beginning of August have come roaring back after several weeks of progress made by fire crews. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued new evacuations for the River Complex fires and Antelope Fire on Wednesday. On the Antelope Fire to the east of Mount Shasta, the new evacuations covered the area east of Forest Road 15 Davis Road, south of Bonita Butte, west of Fourmile Hill and north of Little Glass Mountain.

Fire officials said that the Antelope Fire remained active overnight, heading into critical fire weather conditions on Thursday. By 5:30 a.m., fire crews saw active spotting as the fire again started its inexorable march to the north and east.

Several wildfires across Oregon and California, including locally, are contributing to periods of thick smoke and haze across the state

The wildfire smoke will continue to impact parts of the region this week. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality advisory on Thursday for central, eastern, and southern Oregon, plus parts of the Oregon Cascades, due to unhealthy levels of smoke from fires in both Oregon and Northern California.

Jackson, Klamath, and Lake counties are expected to be under an air quality advisory until at least Monday afternoon. To the east, Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties could be under the advisory until at least Saturday morning. The eastern portions of Douglas, Lane, Linn, and Marion counties may also continue through Monday afternoon, depending on nearby fire activity.

According to DEQ, pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health conditions. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Consult a doctor and follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition. Health officials advise people to refill inhalers and air out homes and businesses when smoke levels improve to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index).

https://keeporegongreen.org/prevent-wildfires/

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/

Oregon Employment Department and WorkSource Oregon Host statewide ‘Back to Work Day’ Sept. 15

The OregonEmployment 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.

“We are hosting scavenger hunts, job fairs, drive thru and virtual hiring events, and even a ‘Large Business Extravaganza’ in Albany with more than 50 employers,” said Jim Pfarrer, director of workforce operations at the Oregon Employment Department. “We have a deep well of experience helping people find work during and after a recession, and our dedicated and knowledgeable employees can help people find the right job or training.” 

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.

People can find out what events are happening in their area by contacting their local WorkSource center or the WorkSource Oregon website.

All events will follow the state and CDC guidance to make sure everyone is safe during these events. To ensure the safety of our visitors and employees and prevent further spread of COVID-19, all customers and employees must wear masks.

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 

Klamath National Wildlife Refuge To Receive Released Water To Wetland Habitat

The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from the Klamath River to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Sept. 3. Advocates hope it will improve wetland habitat on the refuge for migrating birds this fall.

Last week, California Waterfowl Association officially purchased approximately 3,750 acre-feet of water from Agency Ranch in the Wood River Valley, above Upper Klamath Lake, having announced the purchase and fundraising effort this spring.

Lower Klamath has been plagued by insufficient wetland habitat due to a lack of deliveries from the Klamath Project for the past 20 years. All wetland habitat on Lower Klamath is dry save for Unit 2, on the northwest part of the refuge. It contains Sheepy Lake, the last piece of open water on the refuge, which had been drying up all summer, stranding molting waterfowl and making them prone to predation by raccoons and coyotes.

Water is now headed there through the Ady Canal. However, not all 3,750 acre-feet will enter the refuge this year. Because the water right only allows for diversion through September 30 at a maximum rate per day, only about 700 acre-feet will be available to divert this summer. 

Bust at Alfalfa Illegal Pot Farm

Deschutes County drug enforcement team raided and dismantled a 30-acre illegal marijuana grow operation in Alfalfa that detectives say was operated by a Mexican drug cartel.

The team seized 9,227 plants and 2,800 pounds of processed marijuana in what is considered the largest drug bust in county history. Two pistols and an AR-15 rifle were also seized. Detectives, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, arrived Thursday at the property at Dodds Road and Alfalfa Market Road.

The officials detained and released about 21 people, mostly Mexican residents illegally trafficked into the United States to work in the illegal marijuana trade, said Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp. The workers were found living in wooden structures and dome tents with limited clean water sources, Vander Kamp said.

Several suspects in charge of the operation have been identified, but their names have not been released by the sheriff’s office. A Bend woman who oversaw the workers and the property was arrested and released with a citation to appear in court, Vander Kamp said. Other local people are suspects, and detectives expect to make more arrests.
Through the investigation, which began two years ago, detectives found

Sandy Oregon Mayor Running for Governor

The mayor of Sandy, Oregon — Stan Pulliam — has announced he’s running for governor on the Republican ticket.  

Earlier this year, Pulliam had announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the race next year.

 Pulliam has been a critic of some of the COVID-19 restrictions installed during the pandemic.  He joins several other Republicans seeking the nomination, including Bud Pierce, who sought the governor’s office in 2016 as a challenger to Governor Kate Brown.  Brown cannot seek reelection because of term limits.

Man Dies Trying to Jump Devil’s Churn Near Yachats

Oregon State Police are investigating a death after they say a person tried to jump across Devils Churn. This is at the USFS Park located at Cape Perpetua south of Yachats.

At 2:40 p.m., Lincoln County/Newport Fire Search and Rescue asked for OSP’s help to recover a person who fell into the ocean at Devils Churn.

Preliminary investigation revealed Steve Allen (67) of Walnut Creek, CA attempted to jump across Devils Churn and fell into the ocean. Fellow visitors attempted to rescue Allen but were unable to retrieve him from the water. Allen was last observed by rescue agencies unresponsive prior to losing sight of him. 

The spouse was on scene and police are withholding the name of the person until family can be notified. 

The United State Coast Guard and other responding agencies suspended their search at approximately 6:40 PM. Allen is presumed to be deceased.

OSP was assisted by Lincoln county Sheriff’s Office, Newport Fire Department, Yachats Fire and Rescue and the United States Coast Guard. 

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