Rogue Valley News, Monday 12/13 – Another Homicide Investigation in Medford, Medford Teacher Arrested for Sex Abuse

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, December 13, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Winter Storm Warning until December 13, 10:00 PM PST

Today– Rain. Snow level 2400 feet. High near 39. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Tuesday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Calm wind.

Wednesday– Snow likely before 10am, then rain and snow between 10am and 1pm, then rain after 1pm. Snow level rising to 2400 feet in the afternoon. High near 39. South southeast wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Thursday– A 50 percent chance of rain, mainly before 10am. Snow level 2600 feet rising to 3100 feet in the afternoon. Cloudy, with a high near 40.

Friday– Partly sunny, with a high near 38.

Another Homicide Investigation in Medford

On December 11th, 2021 at about 6:50 a.m., Medford Police officers and rescue personnel were dispatched to a report of shots fired in the 600 block of Belmont Street. Another caller reported that a person was down on the ground. 

Upon arrival, officers found a male laying outside on the ground, suffering from gunshot wounds. Life saving efforts were made, but not successful. The person was pronounced deceased. The case was turned over to detectives.

The shooter was on scene and cooperated with law enforcement. The investigation revealed that the decedent, a 31 year old male, was outside causing a disturbance after an apparent night of drinking. The decedent did not live in the area, but was visiting an associate who lives nearby, whom he was upset with.

A California resident, visiting a neighbors house, heard the commotion and confronted the disorderly individual. The conversation deteriorated and the disorderly individual produced a handgun and fired at the person, who had a concealed handgun license and was carrying a handgun. This individual returned fire, ultimately killing the decedent. No one else was injured.

Medford Police Detectives were assisted by the Jackson County DA’s Office and the Oregon State Police Crime lab. The scene investigation was completed by 2:00 p.m. and the scene was released. The shooter has not been charged, and the case will be referreed to the District Attorney’s Office.  The decedent will not been identified pending notification of next of kin. Medford Police Dept.

Teacher Arrested for Sexual Relationship with Student

Cienfuegos mug shot

On December 8th, 2021, the Medford Police Department became aware of a possible inappropriate relationship between a student and a teacher at South Medford High School.

Officials with the Medford School District were notified and the teacher in question was immediately placed on administrative leave.

An investigation was conducted which resulted in probable cause to arrest the teacher, Tyler Cienfuegos, 26 years old, for the following crimes:

  • 8 counts Sex Abuse 2nd Degree (felony)
  • 5 counts Sex Abuse 3rd Degree (misdemeanor)
  • 10 counts Contributing to a Sexual Delinquency of a Minor (misdemeanor)

On December 10th, 2021, at 3:30 p.m., Cienfuegos was contacted and arrested without incident. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on the above listed charges, bail: $135,000.

Medford Police Detectives have no information to suggest there are other victims at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact Medford Police, 541-770-4783, and reference case 21-19893.  Medford Police Dept.

Grange Co-op Scholarships Open

As part of the GrangeGives initiative, Grange Co-op has awarded more than $132,000 to local high school seniors over the last nine years.

Grange Co-op will continue investing in hard-working students in local communities by announcing the opening of the 2022-2023 Grange Co-op scholarship application window.

This year, Grange Co-op is offering nine scholarships to high school seniors, including eight $1,500 scholarships
and one $2,000 scholarship, totaling $14,000 in available aid. To qualify for these scholarships, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher and have participated in FFA, 4-H, Young Farmers, Horticulture, DECA, FBLA, student body leadership, sports, or non-related activities such as work experience.

In addition, students must reside in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Curry, Douglas, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Del Norte, Modoc, Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Glenn, or Butte counties.

The application window opened November 1 and will close January 31, 2022. Students can apply by visiting https://www.grangecoop.com/scholarship-program. Reach out to scholarship@grangecoop.com for additional questions.

Winston Man Arrested in Connection with Fatal Vehicle Crash

UPDATE:

WINSTON – A Winston man has been arrested on charges related to the fatal vehicle crash that occurred on Willis Creek Road on Thursday, December 9, 2021. 

Preliminary indications were that Samantha Star Cole was the only occupant of the vehicle and was believed to be the driver. However, while conducting the follow up investigation, deputies and detectives received information that 32-year-old Andrew James Lott of Winston, may have been in the vehicle at the time of the crash. 

On Friday, December 10, 2021, detectives located and interviewed Lott at a residence on Willis Creek Road. During the interview, Lott admitted to driving the vehicle at the time of the crash, while Cole was a passenger. Lott stated he and Cole were involved in a disturbance when he took his hands off the steering wheel and reached over into the passenger compartment grabbing onto Cole. 

The vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree. Lott stated he crawled out of the vehicle and knew Cole was injured. Lott made no efforts to summon emergency help and hid nearby. 

Lott was arrested and lodged at the Douglas County Jail on the following charges: 

  • Criminally Negligent Homicide
  • Fail to Perform the Duties of a Driver to an Injured Person

Lott was also lodged on an outstanding arrest warrant from another state.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 440-4471 referencing case #21-5473. Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office

###

ORIGINAL RELEASE 12/09/2021 5:00 pm

WINSTON, Ore. – A Roseburg woman died this morning in a single vehicle crash on Willis Creek Road near Winston. 

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, shortly after 8:00 am, 9-1-1 dispatchers received a report of a single vehicle crash in the 3400-block of Willis Creek Road. 

Deputies arrived on scene to find a 2000 GMC Envoy approximately 10′ off of the eastbound shoulder. Fire and EMS on scene determined the female driver, 23-year-old Roseburg resident Samantha Star Cole, had died at the scene. 

Deputies determined Cole had been traveling northbound on Willis Creek Road, when for an unknown reason, the vehicle went off of the roadway striking a tree. Next of kin have been notified.

The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (541) 440-4471 referencing case #21-5473.  

Oregon reports 834 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 25 new deaths

Oregon passes 400,000 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases

There are 25 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,381. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 834 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 400,188.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (14), Clackamas (66), Clatsop (6), Columbia (19), Coos (38), Crook (9), Curry (1), Deschutes (48), Douglas (40), Grant (1), Harney (2), Hood River (6), Jackson (42), Jefferson (9), Josephine (23), Klamath (8), Lane (63), Lincoln (19), Linn (49), Malheur (4), Marion (60), Morrow (3), Multnomah (125), Polk (25), Tillamook (9), Umatilla (11), Union (5), Wasco (2), Washington (86), Wheeler (9) and Yamhill (28).

In the nearly 22 months since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Oregon, the state has crossed another milestone, recording more than 400,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases yesterday.

“COVID-19 has impacted every community in our state from the most rural counties to our largest city, and today we are reminded again of just how many persons have been touched personally by the pandemic,” said Rachael Banks, Public Health Director.

“Our communities of color have been disproportionately and unfairly impacted, from both hospitalizations and deaths following COVID-19 illness. OHA remains committed to addressing these inequities rooted in historic racism and discrimination, including its ongoing efforts to increase vaccination rates in these hardest hit groups to ensure they have the best possible protection from severe illness.”

COVID-19 data collected shows cases rates remain more than twice as high among Tribal residents and persons who identify as Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders and nearly twice the rate among African-American and Latinx/o/a residents compared to whites in Oregon.

While daily numbers of positive and suspected cases of COVID-19 have come down from the late summer surge tied to the spread of the Delta variant, Oregon is still counting more than 500 cases daily. The good news is, more than 80% of all Oregonian adults 18 years and older are now vaccinated, and as of Dec. 9, more than a quarter of adults have either received a booster or third dose for additional protection.

For those who have not been vaccinated, appointments can be made in every county, including at pharmacies, local health providers, Tribal clinics, and community vaccination events. Boosters are also now recommended for all persons 16 years and older for those who are eligible.

OHA also wants to thank all Oregonians who continue to care for their coworkers, neighbors and fellow residents by continuing to wear masks and distancing from others when possible. We also want to acknowledge the hardships COVID-19 illness has had on so many, who have been sickened, who may continue to experience health problems and who have taken measures such as isolating to protect others once they learned of their infection.

Oregon health officials are opening 11 “high-volume” COVID-19 vaccination clinics statewide, offering free walk-in-only shots in an effort to boost vaccination rates.

Some clinics, including one opening shop Sunday in Wood Village, will run only several days. The clinics will offer Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as booster doses for people who have already been vaccinated and doses of the Pfizer shot for children five to 11. Insurance is not necessary, the Oregon Health Authority said. Many of the sites will have between 500 and 1,000 available doses per day, a health authority spokesperson said.

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Lawmakers Meet Today, Dec. 13th, For Special Session

Lawmakers return to the Oregon State Capitol for a special session on today. Gov. Kate Brown said eviction protections and rental assistance won’t be the only topics of discussion.

Following bipartisan conversations with leaders in the Legislature, Brown Friday outlined additional priorities that lawmakers have agreed to address — including drought relief, illegal cannabis proliferation and humanitarian impacts and support for Afghan refugee resettlement.

Arguably the most pressing issue is that thousands of Oregon households are currently struggling to pay rent. More than 67,000 Oregon households recently reported that they feel “not at all confident” they can cover next month’s bills, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau survey.

After working with lawmakers from both parties, Gov. Brown proposed $215 million in funding and policy changes to protect renters from eviction. That includes:

  • Extending protections against eviction for individuals who have already applied for rental assistance and who initiate safe harbor protections by June 30, 2022. Those eviction protections would remain in place while applications are being processed, and would end no later than September 30, 2022
  • Repaying landlords in full for unpaid back rent
  • Up to $100 million in additional emergency rental assistance
  • $100 million to support partnerships with existing programs, as the state transitions from emergency rental assistance to locally-delivered eviction prevention services

“Oregonians facing potential eviction do not have time to wait––they need an immediate solution that keeps them in their homes. And, in the last year, people across Oregon have faced unprecedented challenges due to record heat and persistent drought conditions,” said Gov. Brown in a news release. “I’d like to thank the legislators from both sides of the aisle who have worked with me over the last several days to put together a package of policies and investments that meet the pressing needs of Oregonians.”

Gov. Brown also proposed $25 million to address illegal cannabis grow operations around Oregon, as southern Oregon in particular sees a boom in illegal farms, and $100 million for drought relief, which would include forgivable disaster relief loans, money for agricultural workers who miss work during unsafe working conditions, domestic and community well assistance and drought resiliency upgrades.

Her proposal also calls for $18 million to help with Afghan refugee resettlement in Oregon. The legislature will also address other issues, Gov. Brown’s office said, including affordable housing, grants to outdoor recreation outfitter guides affected by the drought or the pandemic, Oregon Health Plan dental funding, an East Metro outreach, prevention and intervention program and demonstration projects for cross-laminated timber housing.

Quakes still Rumbling off the Coast

A 4.4 magnitude earthquake rattled about 250 miles off the Oregon Coast Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake happened around 9:52 a.m. in the Blanco Fault Zone — Oregon’s most active fault. The epicenter was about 259.8 miles west of Newport, the USGS said.

Sunday’s earthquake comes days after a cluster of more than 100 earthquakes shook the ocean floor since last Tuesday along the same fault. Like those quakes, Sunday’s was also at a depth of 10 kilometers.

There was no tsunami concern from Sunday’s quake either. Experts said the magnitudes would have to be above eight at that fault for a tsunami to occur.

Oregon Grocery Workers Vote To Authorize Strike

In a response to multiple alleged unfair labor practices (ULPs) committed by Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers, Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their Union Leadership to call for an unfair labor practice strike.

“Fred Meyer and QFC have repeatedly violated their legal duties to negotiate in good faith with Local 555, with the most blatant example being Fred Meyer’s refusal to provide information necessary for the Union to negotiate a new agreement and to process grievances. The way these employers have violated the National Labor Relations Act has left grocery workers no choice but to take action,” said UFCW 555 President Dan Clay.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 represents over 29,000 workers in Oregon, Southwestern Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming. Their membership consists of workers in retail, manufacturing, health care and many other industries.

UFCW Local 555 has been in negotiations for a new contract for these same grocery workers since July 2021.

“The pandemic has highlighted both the importance of grocery workers to our communities as well as the struggles they endure to make ends meet, all while producing record profits for Fred Meyer and QFC. Essential Employees deserve the same care and respect now that they have shown our neighbors over the last two years. These employers refuse to acknowledge that their worker’s wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, leaving them and their families at risk while providing food for our community,“ added UFCW 555 Secretary-Treasurer Sandy Humphrey.

Fred Meyer and QFC have agreed to continue the bargaining process on December 14th – 16th.

Winter Storm Brings Snow to Mountains – Wind, Power Outages and Avalanches

A winter storm that brought high winds and lots of precipitation knocked out power for thousands of Oregonians continues to bring bouts of heavy rain and snow to the region.

About 30,000 Oregonians from the Willamette Valley up to Portland lost power Saturday morning. Most outages had been addressed by Sunday morning, but cold and snow continued to affect much of the rest of Oregon.

KGW reporter notebook: Portland snow and ice storm, Saturday | kgw.com

The National Weather Service reported 2 to 6 inches of snow above 1,500 feet elevation along the northwestern and central coast ranges until 10 p.m. Sunday.

Even heavier snow hit the eastern slopes of the Cascades, with 12 to 24 inches forecasted above 4,000 feet elevation through Sunday afternoon, along with winds as high as 40 mph.

The Central Oregon Avalanche Center in Bend warned of a considerable avalanche risk west of Sisters. It advised travelers to be particularly careful on east-facing slopes above treelines.

An avalanche swept through a ski area southeast of Seattle Saturday morning, killing a 60-year-old man and temporarily trapping five others. Although they were experienced backcountry skiers, a warning had been issued against skiing in the Silver Basin area of Crystal Mountain.

Closer to Oregon’s northwestern and central coast, a sneaker wave warning remained in effect until Monday afternoon. Sneaker waves can suddenly sweep people and animals off rocks and beaches into the frigid water. Further south, a high surf advisory expected to last until late Monday afternoon.

Large waves hit beaches along the southern Oregon coast in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. High surf can cause beach erosion and damage infrastructure like sewage systems or roads.

Wet conditions contributed to a landslide that closed all lanes of U.S. Highway 101 north of Florence Saturday afternoon. It took state transportation officials several hours to clear about 40 yards of debris by that night. A landslide east of Eugene also closed all lanes of Highway 58 Saturday morning.

Big snow this weekend means ski and snowboard season is officially underway in Oregon: both Mount Hood Meadows and Timberline Ski area were set to open for the season Sunday morning.

The snow base at Timberline as of 10 a.m. Sunday was 39 inches, and Mount Hood Meadows reported a base of 36 inches.

The Oregon Department of Transportation wasn’t reporting any unexpected major mountain road closures as of late Sunday morning. As snow continued to accumulate over the weekend, the agency began to require vehicles to use traction tires or chains on some high elevation passes, including Santiam Pass, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.

With fewer people available to drive the state’s snowplows, heavy snowfall could take longer to clear from major roadways than in the past.

Check Tripcheck.org for the latest traffic conditions on major roads and highways in the state.

Moving into the week, the region can expect more rain and possibly some wet snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Weather Service forecasts snow between 600 to 1,200 feet elevation, but very little is expected to stick around, especially as the weather shifts to rain into next weekend.

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