Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 2/1 – Suspect In Central Point Bank Robbery Arrested in Las Vegas, Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team Busy in 2021

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, February 1, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Today– Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Sunny, with a high near 47. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Areas of freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 47. Light and variable wind.

Thursday– Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 53. Calm wind.

Friday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.

Saturday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.

Suspect In Central Point Bank Robbery Arrested in Las Vegas After Robbing Other Banks in California

The man suspected of robbing People’s Bank in Central Point and two Northern California banks within the space of a few days has reportedly been arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The first known robbery happened on January 11 at the People’s Bank in Central Point. Though the suspect could be seen on surveillance video, he had left the scene by the time officers arrived.

Redding Police reported the second robbery on January 19 at Sierra Central Credit Union.

“After the teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect left the bank and was last seen southbound on Bechelli Lane,” the agency said. “RPD officers and the CHP helicopter canvassed the neighborhood, but were unable to locate the suspect.”

A bank in Yuba City was robbed the next day. Detectives quickly determined that the same suspect was responsible for all three robberies.

Investigators in Redding, Central Point, and Yuba City shared notes over the next ten days, though initial tips and leads hit a dead-end.

On January 27, Redding detectives identified the suspect’s “get-away vehicle,” linking it to all three robberies. The next day, Central Point detectives learned from Oregon State Police that a 52-year-old Thomas James West could be associated with the vehicle, though he was not the owner.

Redding detectives said they found a photo of West, identifying him as the suspect in all three robberies. RPD said West had an “extensive and violent criminal history” in Washington and Oregon.

At the same time, detectives learned that the vehicle was in Las Vegas, Nevada. After police in Redding got an arrest warrant, Las Vegas police began searching for West. He was taken into custody in less than three hours, RPD said.

“The successful identification and arrest of Thomas West was made possible by many days of hard work by RPD detectives and their successful collaboration with Central Point Police, Yuba City Police, Oregon State Police, Shasta County District Attorney’s Office and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,” Redding Police said.

Award-Winning Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team Busy in 2021

GRANTS PASS- Even with 2021 being a COVID year, the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team (RADE) based in Grants Pass, had a very busy year. As a major accomplishment, RADE dismantled five separate drug trafficking organizations with ties to the area. Many of these investigations involved multi-state operations that shut down drug sales networks across the nation.

RADE detectives also executed 22 search warrants, assisted on 27 additional search warrants, made 78 arrests, and during the year seized the following:

  • 39.6 lbs. of Methamphetamine
  • 3.25 lbs. of Heroin
  • 27,000 pills and 2.2 ounces (powder) of Fentanyl
  • 104,918 lbs. of Marijuana (including plants and processed)
  • 132 Firearms

RADE, an award-winning team that focuses primarily on the most dangerous narcotics, is comprised of members from the Grants Pass Police Department, Oregon State Police, Josephine County Community Corrections, ATF, and Josephine County District Attorney’s Office. Citizen tips, proactive policing, and the hope of a safer community continue to drive this team to success year after year.

(Most of these cases are still ongoing and cannot receive further comment.) Grants Pass Police Department

UCAN continues to meet urgent needs in Josephine and Douglas Counties

While local economies rebounded in 2021, UCAN continued to address high levels of need. Nowhere was this more evident than in housing, where the skyrocketing cost of housing worsened our region’s housing crisis. From June-December alone, UCAN distributed about $10 million in rent assistance. We continued to innovate our approach to delivering services to meet soaring needs, as COVID hindered direct office operations. To help thousands avoid eviction, we opened a rent assistance call center, and staffed it with many local residents familiar with barriers local households face in making rent payments. Highlights of services we provided in 2021 include: 

  • Emergency Food-Feeding Umpqua (our Douglas County emergency food provider) distributed approximately 2 million pounds of food in the County. Residents were served 105,753 meals in kitchens and obtained 22,230 food boxes from pantries offering this food.    
  • Rent Assistance-For all of 2021, UCAN was able to keep 5,152 individuals from being evicted in Josephine and Douglas County. 
  • Energy Assistance-We helped 3,410 households pay their utility bills, an increase of 50% from 2020, reducing energy costs throughout the region. 
  • Homeless Services-We offered a variety of services to those lacking housing or stable housing in the region. We were able to obtain housing for 566 individuals, despite extremely low vacancy rates.
  • Health-We provided over 15,000 rides to healthcare appointments for those living in Douglas, Coos and Josephine County. We also provided services to 576 individuals quarantining with COVID, ensuring that they were able to have their basic needs met while isolating at home. 
  • Head Start-In Douglas County, we offered Head Start services to 635 children ages 6 weeks through 4 years. Children in Head Start received education while having their nutritional, developmental and health needs met. Their parents also received assistance to better support their children’s development.
  • WIC-Our Douglas County WIC program offered a variety of services to families with young children, ranging from free food to nutrition counseling to developmental and health screens. We served on average about 3,000 households monthly through this program. 

UCAN continued offering new services begun in 2020, like our Baby Bounty Program, which provides free diapers, wipes, and safety items to families with infants. We also stepped up with numerous partner agencies to operate emergency shelters in both Josephine and Douglas County on extremely cold nights in December, 2021. 

“We had hoped that we had seen the worst impacts of COVID in 2020, but unfortunately that did not come to pass, said Shaun Pritchard. And the housing shortage is really making matters much more difficult for households we serve. Needs will remain high regardless of the direction the Pandemic goes this year. We will continue to work closely with local funders, donors and partner agencies to best meet this need.”

In addition to the services noted above, UCAN also offers many other services, including Medicare outreach and enrollment, tax assistance, weatherization, and home-visiting programs for vulnerable families and children. To learn more about UCAN and its services, visit ucancap.org.  UCAN -United Community Action Network 

Fatal Motorcycle Crash In White City

At least one person has been confirmed dead after a fatal crash in White City. Jackson County Sheriff Officer Aaron Lewis confirmed this information. 

Around 8:30 Sunday night, Pulse Point reported a traffic collision at 8025 Thunderhead Avenue. Information has also been learned from police that the crash involved a single motorcycle crashing into a parked vehicle and the crash is still under investigation.

Oregon reports 13,443 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 15 new deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. — There are 15 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,100, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

OHA reported 13,443 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 638,876.

The 15 new deaths and 13,443 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the three-day period between Jan. 28 and Jan. 30.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (41), Benton (286), Clackamas (1,070), Clatsop (97), Columbia (146), Coos (164), Crook (140), Curry (45), Deschutes (893), Douglas (216), Harney (19), Hood River (61), Jackson (817), Jefferson (208), Josephine (285), Klamath (369), Lake (7), Lane (1,353), Lincoln (127), Linn (611), Malheur (61), Marion (1,622), Morrow (30), Multnomah (1,807), Polk (302), Tillamook (69), Umatilla (281), Union (120), Wallowa (10), Wasco (81), Washington (1,741) and Yamhill (364).

Oregon reports 6,802 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on January 28, 4,011 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on January 29, and 2,630 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on January 30

Early trials on the efficacy of hemp compounds blocking COVID-19 will begin within the next few months, according to the Oregon State University scientist leading the project.

Richard van Breemen, a researcher with OSU’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, announced in early January that certain hemp compounds showed promise in preventing coronavirus infection through early studies. Preclinical research generally involves the use of cell culture or animal models to test the safety and efficacy of a new drug candidate, van Breemen said.

The FDA requires these studies before human clinical trials can begin. Specific formulas and delivery methods for these compounds will no doubt emerge in the preclinical and clinical trials, but some hemp businesses have already pivoted to producing supplements based on the study.

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Oregon State Treasurer Will Hold Online Auction Of Unclaimed Property

The Oregon State Treasury will celebrate National Unclaimed Property Day by holding an online auction of items from abandoned safe deposit boxes received by its unclaimed property team. 

Bidding is open now on first edition books, art, coins and currency, jewelry, and other unique treasures from safe deposit box contents collected through Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program, with a live online auction scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 3.

“Events like National Unclaimed Property Day and our online auctions help remind people to go online and check to see if Oregon is holding money that belongs to them,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. “We took in our largest amount ever of unclaimed funds this fall, and we want to return every dollar to Oregonians.”

The live auction will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 3. Capitol Auction & Estate Services will host the auction on its website, and pre-bidding on items is available now at capitolauction.net. This is the second all-online auction Treasury has conducted. The first, held in November, brought in more than $25,700 to Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program. Well in advance of any auction, program staff attempt to contact safe deposit box owners before items are put up for sale. Items such as military medals or other insignia are never sold through auctions; instead, people can search for unclaimed medals on the website: oregon.gov/treasury.

The auction date was selected to align with National Unclaimed Property Day on Feb. 1, which puts the spotlight on the millions of people across the country whose unclaimed property is protected by programs like Oregon’s. Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program safeguards assets on behalf of original owners or their heirs in perpetuity.

“These convenient online auctions help us reach potential buyers across Oregon and the country while reducing our storage of older unclaimed items,” said Trust Property Director Claudia Ciobanu. “The program overall and special projects like auctions are designed to ensure we’re protecting people’s unclaimed money until they step up to claim it.”

For safe deposit auctions, proceeds from all items sold are held in trust in the Common School Fund, an investment fund overseen by Oregon State Treasury. The fund generates interest earnings that are distributed to Oregon K-12 public schools, while the principal amount from each sale is saved in Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program for the item’s owners to claim. Oregonians’ ability to submit claims on unclaimed money held in their name never expires.

Each fall, companies, nonprofits, and government agencies across the state must report and remit unclaimed property to Oregon State Treasury. During the 2021 reporting period last October – the first since the program moved to Treasury – a record $80.8 million was reported, representing property such as uncashed checks, unreturned deposits, forgotten bank accounts, and abandoned safe deposit boxes.

Since the program came to Oregon State Treasury in July 2021, more than $13.3 million has been returned to nearly 11,000 claimants. Oregonians who want to see if the state is holding unclaimed property on their behalf can visit unclaimed.oregon.gov and search on their name.

Court Gives Governor Brown Date to Respond to Clemency Lawsuit

The Marion County Circuit Court issued an order on Monday that requires Governor Brown and state agencies to respond to a lawsuit filed by two District Attorneys and several victims. The order states she must respond by Feb. 16th, 2022.

The lawsuit is asking that the Governor follow clemency law, stating that she unlawfully released nearly 1,000 convicted felons early from their sentences. According to a press release from the Mannix Law Firm, the full hearing regarding the case will be held on Feb. 28th, 2022.

The firm has reached an agreement with the State that no additional felons will be released between Feb. 2nd, and March 2nd, by which point the court plans to rule on the matter.

Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow is listed on the suit and is stating that Gov. Brown was violating the clemency law. “Victims have a right in Oregon, they have constitutional and statutory rights and for her not to take any of that into consideration,” said Perlow. “To have granted these juvenile clemencies and then delegate the ultimate authority is just a violation of law.”

Kevin Mannix, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, stated: “The Governor has not been following the process that requires her to notify the victims and provide them an opportunity to be heard. The District Attorneys are supposed to be given a chance to comment on whether the use of clemency is warranted. The Governor and the state agencies are not following the legal process.”

The law firm of Kevin L. Mannix, P.C., on behalf of Common Sense for Oregon, represents District Attorneys Patty Perlow and Doug Marteeny, and four crime victims: Randy Tennant, Samuel Williams, Amy Jones, and Melissa Grassl.

Harrisburg Woman Crowned Miss Oregon USA

The new Miss Oregon USA has been crowned.

Arielle Freytag of Harrisburg has been competing for the last 6 years. “It really is a dream come true for me,” she said.

When she’s not walking the runway or training for flight school, her platform is volunteerism.

But the person she helps the most is her mom, who was diagnosed with cancer just last year. “I left my full-time job so I could be home and take care of her,” Freytag said. She’s her mom’s primary caregiver, and mom has been there with her every step of the way.

“She’s behind me 1000%, and she even helped me down to right before I went on stage for the finale. My shoe broke, and she rushed over my backup shoe so I was still able to go on stage and win. She’s my superwoman. I love her.”

What would it mean for her to not only win Miss USA but also be the first Oregonian to win?”

“I’m humbled and just excited about the experience of competing at Miss USA,” Freytag said, “but the icing on the cake would be bringing back the title for the first time to Oregon. And I really hope I can make Oregon proud.”

In March, Freytag and her mom will be traveling to Paris Fashion Week. Freytag will be modeling for designer RC Caylan. The date for the 2022 Miss USA pageant has yet to be set.

Oregon Historical Society Launches a New Online Museum Portal

The Oregon Historical Society has officially launched its Museum Collection Portal, a public online database.

“The portal is an important tool for researchers, students and curious individuals around the world,” OHS deputy museum director Nicole Yasuhara stated in a press release. “We hope that users will discover the amazing objects that OHS stewards, and in doing so, will learn something new about Oregon history.”

Quilt-install-1_cropped OHS Exhibit Production Manager Franc Gigante and OHS Deputy Museum Director Nicole Yasuhara install the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt in the pavilion at the Oregon Historical Society in September 2020. (Oregon Historical Society)

OHS’s museum is home to over 75,000 objects that document the history of the region. Over 10,000 of those will be featured on the portal, including artifacts that date back to the Oregon Trail.

The portal promises to help chronicle both inspiring and chilling chapters in Oregon’s history. Among the collection is pro-and anti-Rajneeshpuram memorabilia, bringing to life the period of 1981 to 1985 when the Oregon Rajneesh commune established oppressive control over the town of Antelope.

Yasuhara believes that the portal will be a way to draw users into the organization’s larger mission.

“Every day that the museum collection staff handles or catalogs an object, we learn something new, and we hope to bring that knowledge to our community and beyond,” she said.

The portal can be accessed at museumcollection.ohs.org.

The American Hospital Association yesterday announced Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls as the 2021 recipient of the Rural Hospital Leadership Award.

The award recognizes small or rural hospital leaders who guide their hospital and community through change and innovation. The awardees display outstanding leadership, responsiveness to their community’s health needs and a collaborative process that has led to measurable outcomes. The award will be presented at the AHA’s 35th Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, which will be held in Phoenix on February 6-9.

Sky Lakes Medical Center is a 176-bed hospital serving about 80,000 people in several rural Oregon and California counties. Through collaboration with a community-wide coalition, Sky Lakes Medical Center began a comprehensive initiative to improve population health.

A critical part of these initiatives is the Sky Lakes Medical Center Wellness Center, which offers classes in fitness, mindfulness, nutrition and lifestyle coaching. These elements demonstrate an effective model for strengthening individual health and well-being and guiding long-term progress in addressing the societal factors that
influence health.

A comprehensive community health needs assessment served as a foundation for all of this work. This resulted in the 18-acre Klamath Works Campus, which helps residents with employment and economic opportunity. Sky Lakes Medical Center was also recognized as a Blue Zones Project, a designation that provides resources and support for initiatives to help residents make healthy choices a more permanent part of their lives.

Oregon Department of Agriculture Launch Websites to Assist Food and Beverage Companies and Producers

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has launched a new business resource website that serves agricultural producers and small to mid-sized food and beverage companies in Oregon who want to grow and become more successful.

Additionally, through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the new site also includes the launch of Oregon’s Harvest for School’s web presence.

ODA used state grant funds to create the dual-focused website to expand opportunities for Oregon food and beverage businesses and agricultural producers.

The Oregon Harvests for Schools Program connects Oregon producers with schools to provide healthy, local products. The new site includes:

  • A toolkit of resources to help producers get started selling Oregon products in the ODE Farm to Child Nutrition Program.
  • Information on how to get listed in the Oregon Harvest for Schools Directory where schools can find and buy local food.
  • Regional contacts to make it easier for producers to build relationships with local school buyers.
  • Upcoming announcements and events for producers and food businesses interested in school markets.
  • Resources for farm and agricultural education.

On the business roadmap side of the site, visitors will find an online resource guide and expert articles. Oregon’s small to mid-sized food and beverage businesses face many obstacles in growing their business. Although many resources are available throughout the state, knowing and finding what you need can be challenging. The roadmap design helps a business by pulling together many statewide, regional, and national resources in one place. Micah Elconin, founder of Season to Taste, a regional food system consulting firm, and Hannah Kulberg, a regional food and beverage mentor, assisted ODA in the organization and content, ensuring the needs of the food and beverage industry are addressed.

The site’s Oregon Harvest for Schools components is now available. https://www.oregon.gov/odaroadmap/harvestforschools/Pages/default.aspx

The business roadmap has additional features coming soon and will fully launch next month. https://www.oregon.gov/odaroadmap/Pages/default.aspx

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Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Asks for Public’s Help in Search For Trucker Suspect

The first real clue to come in on all the missing person cases in the area. Help Klamath Falls Oregon Sheriff Office ID this trucker. He was the last to see this woman alive and could be the key to not only solving this woman’s disappearance but a number of the hundred other women missing in PNW. IF you have any information, please call (541) 883-5130

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A 17-year-old was reported missing in Salem and detectives say the teen might be the victim of an online catfishing scheme.

Ezra Mayhugh, 17, was last seen on October 15, 2021 after being dropped off in downtown Salem by a friend, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. He was reported as a runaway the following day when he did not return home.

Investigators say he might be in Washington or California. They hope to reunite Ezra safely with family members.

He’s described as about 5-foot 11-inches tall, weighing 130 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.

If you have had contact with Mayhugh since October 15 or have other helpful information on his whereabouts, the sheriff’s office asks you to contact Detective M.J. Sphoon at 503-588-6808 or to submit a tip by texting TIPMCSO and your tip to 847411.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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