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
Monday, November 29, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Monday– Areas of drizzle and fog before 11am. Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 56. Calm wind.
Tuesday– Areas of fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 54. Calm wind.
Wednesday– Areas of fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 64.
Thursday– Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 59.
Friday– Partly sunny, with a high near 58.
Menorah Lightings Scheduled for Ashland, Grants Pass, and Medford for the Start of Hanukkah
Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon hosted its 18th annual Menorah lightings in downtown Ashland on Sunday and has lightings planned in Medford and Grants Pass for the start of Hanukkah.
A 10 foot Menorah will be proudly displayed with its universal message of light over darkness, goodness over evil, and love over hate.
“Chanukah is a holiday that enriches our lives with the light of tradition” said Rabbi Avi Zwiebel, director of the Chabad Jewish Center. The Menorah lighting will be broadcast on the Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon Facebook page each night of Hannukah.
The Ashland Menorah lighting will take place twice on the Plaza in Downtown Ashland; On the first night of Hanukkah, Sunday, November 28 bringing in the 8 day Holiday. And on the final night of Hanukkah, Sunday, December 5th at 4:00pm the lighting will again take place lighting up all 8 branches of the Menorah.
The Grants Pass Menorah lighting will take place Monday, November 29 at 4:00pm at Riverside Park at the Waterfront Pavilion.
The Medford Menorah lighting, with local dignitaries will take place Tuesday, November 30 at 5:30pm at the Vogel Plaza on Central Av in Downtown Medford.
The festivities will include the lighting of the 10 foot Menorah with local dignitaries, music, latkes and a Hanukkah pop-up store. The 10 foot Menorahs will be on display in Ashland and Medford for the duration of the holiday of Chanukah.
The events are open to all regardless of your religious preference. The Menorah lighting will be broadcast on the Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Oregon Facebook page each night of Hannukah: https://www.facebook.com/ChabadSouthernOregon
Pilot Gas Station In Central Point Filled Some Cars With Diesel Instead Of Regular On Thanksgiving
Multiple people are claiming that when they went to get their vehicles filled with gas at the Pilot Gas Station, in Central Point at 1600 Pine Street, that their vehicles were filled with diesel instead of regular unleaded on Thanksgiving.
Multiple people on a Facebook group, recently created, claim that shortly after they filled up their cars at the gas station, their vehicles broke down.
One local also claims that while asking Pilot for answers, he was able to speak with a technician on scene who confirmed that there was diesel in the regular gas tank.
Pilot’s Corporate Headquarter’s response is that they would not confirm whether diesel had been put into the regular gas tank and that they have disabled some of their pumps.
The timetable from the company on when the gas pumps will be fixed is currently unknown at this time.
Oregon reports 862 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 50 new deaths
There are 50 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,116. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 862 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 387,485.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (10), Benton (12), Clackamas (71), Clatsop (11), Columbia (14), Coos (13), Crook (7), Curry (7), Deschutes (88), Douglas (37), Harney (1), Hood River (8), Jackson (67), Jefferson (2), Josephine (12), Klamath (21), Lane (67), Lincoln (15), Linn (51), Malheur (7), Marion (68), Morrow (2), Multnomah (93), Polk (23), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (15), Union (5), Wallowa (5), Wasco (3), Washington (94), and Yamhill (29).
Scheduling note: OHA was closed Thursday, Nov. 25, and Friday, Nov. 26, so employees can commemorate Thanksgiving with family and friends. For this reason, there will be no Daily Media Release, Oregon Coronavirus Update or other OHA reports and communications Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Nov. 25 – 28. OHA will be open regular hours on Monday, Nov. 29. Thank you for understanding.
COVID-19 weekly cases and hospitalizations decline, deaths rise
OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows a decrease in daily cases and hospitalizations and an increase in deaths.
OHA reported 5,698 new cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, Nov. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 21. That represents a 2.4% decrease from the previous week, despite a 19% increase in reported tests.
There were 133,410 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Nov. 14 through Nov. 20. The percentage of positive tests declined slightly to 6%, down from 6.5% the previous week.
The overall incidence of reported COVID-19 in Oregon varied by county vaccination rate but continues to be less in counties with higher vaccination rates and the lowest in the five counties where the vaccination rates were more than 70%.
There were 268 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, down from 356 last week — a 25% drop.
There were 214 reported COVID-19-related deaths, up from 183 reported the previous week, bringing the state’s toll for the pandemic to more than 5,000. The past three weeks of data for COVID-19 related deaths also reflect ongoing data reconciliation of COVID-19-related deaths that primarily occurred from May to Aug. 2021, as reported last month.
Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 61 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.
On Friday, Jackson County Public Health Officials reported six new deaths for the county, raising its’s total up to 355.
Just last month, county health officials reported that the county surpassed 300 COVID-19 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic, a nearly 300% increase when compared to 2020 which had 72 deaths by the end of December.
Jackson County has averaged around 50 deaths per month for the last several months, and with COVID cases beginning to spike slightly in the county, 28% compared to last week, more deaths could be on their way.
Health officials are also reporting 27 new cases for Friday and 45 new cases for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Extended Deadline For State Employees To Get Vaccinated Is Tuesday 11/30
November 30 is the final day for about 38,000 state employees, volunteers or contractors to be fully inoculated. This was negotiated by unions representing some of these workers or granted by the state.
As of the October 16 deadline, 460 workers in Oregon’s prison system had not yet begun their vaccine process or been approved for an exemption yet. That’s around 10% of the Oregon workforce, totaling 4,500 people.
According to reports, some departments have lagged behind the rest of the executive branch, including the Department of Agriculture with 65% fully vaccinated and 10% approved for an exception, the Forestry Department with 65% fully vaccinated and 11% approved for an exception and the Department of Corrections with 67% fully vaccinated and 18% approved for an exception
The World Health Organization classified a new variant B.1.1.529 as a Variant of Concern and has named it Omicron
No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date. CDC is following the details of this new variant, first
reported to the WHO by South Africa. WHO is working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant, as they continue to monitor its path.
CDC is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. They expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S. To date the new version of COVID has not been detected in Oregon.
Oregon’s Emergency Rental Assistance Funds Backlogged
Nearly half of those approved for assistance over the summer have not received their funds. 51,000 households have been approved for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but fewer than half have received their money due to a backlog of applications.
Officials said they don’t know when they’ll get through the backlog. So far more than 22,000 applications have been approved and nearly $150 million has reached renters.
The state is pausing the program for at least six weeks starting Dec. 1. Officials hope the pause will give them the chance to work through the backlog and get renters like Mwango the money they’ve been promised.
Learn more about the emergency rental assistance program online by clicking here.
Oregon’s Unemployment Rate was 4.4% in October
The state has regained 74% of its pandemic recession job losses, compared with 81% for the U.S. The Employment
Department also recently released unemployment rates and jobs numbers for all Oregon counties in October.
Eleven of Oregon’s counties had unemployment rates at or below the statewide rate of 4.4%. Wheeler County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state (2.8%), while Grant County had the highest rate (6.4%) in October. Oregon’s rural areas are still further ahead in their collective recovery than the state’s metropolitan areas. As of October, rural counties had regained 81% of the jobs lost in spring 2020.
Oregon’s metropolitan areas have seen more improvement in job gains in recent months. As of October, Oregon’s metropolitan areas have regained seven out of 10 jobs lost in the spring of 2020. At least nine out of 10 jobs have been regained in the Albany and Bend areas.
Oregon Preparing to Take in Afghan Refugees
Oregon is preparing to take in approximately 1,200 Afghan refugees in the next 12 months and state lawmakers are asking the Legislature’s emergency board for an additional $18 million to expand services and capacity.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported on Friday, that a letter — issued last week by state Rep. Khanh Pham and state Sen. Kayse Jama — outlined the need for the state to invest in everything from housing assistance and case management to legal services for newly arrived Afghans. While dozens of refugees have already arrived in Oregon, 570 more people are expected to arrive by the end of February.
The $18 million requested by the two Democratic lawmakers is comprised of $5.3 million to support the Department of Human Services’ emergency management unit, $3.7 million to bolster case management and community outreach, $6 million for housing assistance and $2.9 million for legal services.
Klamath Basin to Receive $160 Million in Infrastructure and Jobs Act Funding
More than $160 million will be headed to the Klamath Basin over the next five years, thanks to the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by Congress. It is the largest singular federal investment in the basin to date, and it could help watershed restoration efforts take a big step forward.
Signed into law by President Biden on November 15, the funding package will allocate $162 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for “Klamath Basin restoration activities,” according to the text of the bill. That includes planning and designing projects, applying for permits, paying contractors and maintaining projects after they’re completed, among other purposes.
Those familiar with the funding say it’s a unique opportunity for the Klamath Basin to get to work on large-scale projects that measurably, positively impact water quality and species habitat. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, which helped lead a bipartisan coalition that secured billions of dollars of investment in Western water infrastructure through this legislation. Keppen said the funding will be huge — and the fact that so much was set aside specifically for the Klamath Basin is unique.
Sea Lion Found Wandering Around Lincoln City
A sea lion was found roaming around the streets of Lincoln City Friday afternoon, and first responders spent a couple of hours trying to get her back into the water.
The sea lion had wandered onto Southeast 51st Street from the Siletz River, Lincoln City police said in a social media post. Someone called authorities at around 5:20 p.m.
The officers who responded named the sea lion “Tiffany.”
Lacking in experience with herding lost sea lions, police recruited the help of the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division and North Lincoln Fire and Rescue.
Police said the sea lion seemed keen to stay in the middle of the roadway as she inched toward Highway 101, so authorities kept her away from oncoming traffic as they developed their first plan to get her back into the water: luring her with fresh fish.
An officer went to nearby Kenny’s IGA Village Market and explained the situation. Police said the staff donated several packages of fish and refused payment, insisting they “wanted to do what they could to help out the animal.”
Police presented Tiffany with the fish, and she seemed interested — but would not follow the bait. She was likely overstimulated, police said.
Then authorities came up with a new plan: make a mobile corral with sheets of plywood and herd Tiffany to the nearest river access, about three blocks away.
This plan slowly started working, as Tiffany began to move in the right direction. The officers gave the sea lion several breaks and a few soaks from garden hoses along the way before she finally made it to a river access point.
“The tide was currently out and would be a while longer before she would be covered in water completely, but she settled down happily [in] a small stream section and seemed content to wait it out until the next tide,” police said.
An OSP sergeant with more than 20 years patrolling the area said this situation was a first for him.
Scammers posing as the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are texting cell phones claiming that a refund is available.
It is a fake message and a phishing scam trying to get payment information from unsuspecting Oregonians. DMV urges customer not to click on any links and delete the message.
“DMV does not text customers to let them know about a payment issue, or issue refunds via text message,” DMV Customer Services Manager Katie Hafner said.
DMV staff members are aware of the issue and are unable to provide any technical assistance with a customer’s phone. If customers have questions about how to block a number, they should contact their cell phone provider.
If you are issued a refund by DMV, you will receive it through the mail or directly back on your payment card. DMV will not text or call to inform you that you will be receiving a refund.
This holiday season customers are encouraged to skip the trip and visit the DMV online at DMV2U.oregon.gov. Customers can go online to renew vehicle registration, notify DMV of a vehicle sale, renew or replace a license/ID card and more.
The Federal Communications Commission has issued the following consumer tips to avoid such phone scams:
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be aware: Caller ID showing a “local” number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
- If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.”
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
- If you use robocall-blocking technology already, it often helps to let that company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls so they can help block those calls for you and others.
- To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.
For the latest DMV news, visit www.oregondmv.com.