Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 5/11 – Man Sentenced To 11 Years In 2nd Fire Near The 2020 Almeda Fire, Standing Stone Brewing Company Announces They Will Close, Catalytic Converters Stolen From Phoenix/Talent School Busses

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Man Sentenced To 11 Years In 2nd Fire Near The 2020 Almeda Fire

The man convicted of starting a fire during the Almeda fire was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Michael Jarrod Bakkela started this fire in Phoenix that destroyed 11 homes on September 8th of 2020.

Last week Bakkela and his attorney reached a stipulated plea deal with the state. In that deal he pleaded “no contest” to 16 criminal counts, one count of arson, and 15 counts of criminal mischief. As well as pleading “nocontest” and accepting responsibility for two counts of animal abuse.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markie wicz said nothing that the criminal justice system is going to do today will make the victims of this fire whole again. As well as the reclassification of the victim’s homes and all the taxes involved with it.

The Judge and Markiewicz made it clear that Bakkela is not being sentenced to eleven years for causing the Almeda fire. They state that there is no evidence that leads him to the Almeda fire that started earlier on September 8th, which is still being investigated.

Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland Announces They Will Close

Standing Stone Brewing Company has been serving locally sourced, farm-to-table pub fare, and uniquely crafted brews for the past 26 years and has been a staple in downtown Ashland. They posted this yesterday on Facebook:

Now, wildfire smoke and a pandemic are getting responsibility for causing the closure of the Ashland restaurant. Standing Stone Brewing Company says today it will be close its brew pub permanently. It plans to close at the end of normal business hours Sunday, May 29th, 2022 with that date contingent on retaining sufficient staff to serve guests.

They have supported various community causes, including raising six-thousand dollars in March for World Central Kitchen to provide meals to Ukrainian refugees. We know a lot of people will be very sad to see them close.

Catalytic Converters Stolen From Phoenix/Talent School Busses

Thieves stole 7 catalytic converters from 5 buses that normally serve the Phoenix Talent School District Saturday, May 7th. One of the First Student bus barns was targeted. Two of the buses were for special education students. Each school bus has 2-3 catalytic converters inside them.

First Student’s corporate media group said, “Our team noticed catalytic converters had been removed from the buses when they arrived for work Monday morning. We notified the Phoenix-Talent School District and authorities about the incident. Our team took immediate action to minimize the impact to service, bringing in buses from nearby locations to cover bus routes until repairs are complete.”

In response to the theft, First Student brought 2 buses from the Roseburg School District, 2 from the Central Point School District and one from the Grants Pass School District.

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard:

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and test positivity. Hospitalizations show an increased trend. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit for more.
Map shows Columbia, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, Benton, Deschutes and Malheur Co "medium"; others "low" COVID-19 Community Level as of May 5.  Low: Stay up to date w/ COVID-19 vaccines & boosters. Symptoms? Get tested. Medium: High risk for severe illness? Consider mask & precautions. Stay up to date w/ vaccine & boosters. Test if symptoms. Mask if COVID-19 symptoms, positive COVID-19 test or exposure COVID-19

The CDC‘s COVID-19 Community Levels tool, updated every week, uses multiple factors to rate the level of COVID-19 spread in your county and can help you make decisions about how to approach activities such as grocery shopping, masking, travel and more.To learn more, read our recent story about how to use regional CDC and OHA data to help make those decisions:…/

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Secretary Of State’s Office Is Moving To Protect The Integrity Of Its Online System Where Campaign Finance Records Are Published After A Web Hosting Provider Was Hit By A Ransomware Attack

A week before Oregon’s primary election, the secretary of state’s office is moving to protect the integrity of its online system where campaign finance records are published after a web hosting provider was hit by a ransomware attack.

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s office said people inputting records into the ORESTAR state campaign finance reporting system may have been affected, and have been sent detailed instructions on how to proceed.

The Oregon Elections Division said it learned on Monday that Opus Interactive — a web hosting provider used by the campaign finance firm C&E Systems — was the victim of a ransomware attack.

“C&E’s database was compromised, which includes their client’s log-in credentials for ORESTAR accounts,” Fagan’s statement said. The Secretary of State’s office said it is requiring all 1,100 affected users to reset their passwords.

But Jef Green, owner of C&E Systems, gave a lower number of affected users, saying only about 300 clients are political committees involved in the 2022 midterm elections in Oregon.

“At least 500 of the committees don’t exist anymore,” Green said. His company offers help with all aspects of campaign compliance and reporting, and indicated the ransomware attack is more of an annoyance than anything.

“This isn’t going to affect any of our clients as far as the reporting (of campaign spending and contributions). None of the candidates are going to be affected by this because, even though we don’t have access to our fancy database to make it easy for us, we can still do everything that needs to be done manually,” he said.

While candidates for state and local elections use ORESTAR, candidates for national office like Congress use a different system.

Opus Interactive’s website was down Tuesday morning. A person who answered the phone at the company said he couldn’t comment on the ransomware attack. An online “status page” about the issue from the Portland company said “Opus Interactive and certain Opus-hosted customer virtual servers and backups were hit by a ransomware attack which encrypted the server disk files.” It added industry-leading cybersecurity and digital forensics experts have been engaged to assist in the company’s response.

Fagan’s office said it works with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the FBI year-round to ensure the integrity of its systems.

As of Tuesday morning, 288,337 completed ballots have been returned out of a total of just over 2.9 million registered voters, according to unofficial ballot counts from the secretary of state.

Extra State Funding To Help Fire Agencies Prevent Late Season Layoffs

Oregon state fire agencies will have an additional $200 million dollars to fight this year’s wildfires with the passing of Oregon Senate Bill 792 in 2021.

“The state fire marshals will be able to issue grants to local communities so that fire agencies that are on the ground can hire additional help, especially at that time of season when the risk is highest,” said Pam Marsh, state representative for District 5.

According to Marsh, the state has been experiencing longer and more robust fire seasons over the last ten years, so the additional money will help the agencies have a more proactive approach this season.

“ODF will be able to hire more people on their team to make sure they are there for a longer period of time because what we’re finding is that fire season is creeping into months where we never saw fires before, especially on that back end of the year,” Marsh said.

According to Marsh, the bill also allows Oregon to partner with other states and help them combat fires as well.

“Right now we have personnel who are down in New Mexico where there has been some raging fires for a couple of weeks, providing them with some extra support at a time where we don’t have fire on the ground,” Marsh said. “What we hope is that when we do have fire on the ground we will see the same kind of mutual aid from other states.”

Oregon Department of Forestry’s goal is to have enough funds to prevent the typical September firefighter layoffs caused by the lack of money while fires can continue to rage through October.

Oregon OSHA adopts rules protecting workers against high heat and wildfire smoke

Salem – The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) announced today the adoption of rules to protect workers from the hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke. The heat rule addresses access to shade and cool water, preventive cool-down breaks, and prevention plans, information, and training. The wildfire smoke rule includes an array of exposure assessments and controls, and training and communication.

Both rules encompass initial protective measures for workers who rely on employer-provided housing, including as part of farm operations.

The rules, which take effect June 15 for heat and July 1 for wildfire smoke, are the most protective of their kind in the United States. The rules reflect the need to strengthen protections in the workplace against the extraordinary hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke while focusing on the needs of Oregon’s most vulnerable communities.

“As we enter what we expect will be another hot and dry summer, all workers, including Oregon’s hard-working agricultural and farmworkers, deserve health and safety protections from extreme heat and wildfire smoke,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “With these new rules from Oregon OSHA, I am proud that Oregon will be a national model for heat and wildfire smoke protections for all workers, regardless of income-level, occupation, or immigration status.”

Oregon OSHA – part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) – adopted the rules, which were proposed in February. Proposal of the rules followed a development process that included worker and community stakeholder listening sessions, input and review by rule advisory committees, and input from employer and labor stakeholders. The rules build on temporary emergency requirements that were adopted in summer 2021 following several months of stakeholder and community engagement. 

The rules are part of Oregon’s larger and ongoing work – initiated by Gov. Brown in her March 2020 executive order 20-04 – to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We know the threats posed by high heat and wildfire smoke are not going away,” said Andrew Stolfi, director of DCBS. “These rules reflect that reality, and they bolster our ability to prepare for those hazards in the workplace.”

“As we move forward with these rules, Oregon OSHA will continue to offer free training and education resources to help employers achieve compliance,”  said Renee Stapleton, acting administrator for Oregon OSHA.


Read the rules:

Crash Closes All Northbound Lanes of Interstate Bridge

Tuesday afternoon drivers attempting to head northbound on the Interstate Bridge had to wait through long delays after all northbound lanes closed due to a crash.

Traffic backup on I-5 north at Interstate Bridge.(ODOT)

The crash happened around 5 p.m. when multiple traffic agencies began sharing the closure was causing serious backups. By 6:30 p.m. all but one lane had reopened while workers continued cleanup.

OHA issues Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) for Licensed Residential Treatment Services and Supportive Housing

OHA is accepting applications for projects to acquire real property, new construction, or renovation to develop and open licensed behavioral treatment facilities. OHA is accepting applications for projects that provide community-based housing options for individuals with SPMI so they can live independently, with appropriate support services.

The goal of both RFGAs is to create substantially more capacity in Oregon’s continuum of community-based residential and housing services for people with behavioral health needs.  This will ensure that people are supported in the most appropriate, integrated settings that best meet their needs.   

The RFGA will be open through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 29. Interested applicants can learn more about these grant opportunities on the Social Determinants of Health web page.

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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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