Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 6/1 – Airplane Crashes Into The Rogue River Near Galice, Grants Pass Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Airplane Crashes Into The Rogue River Near Galice

On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at approximately 9:30 AM, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of an airplane that crashed into the Rogue River near Ennis Riffle.  Deputies responded as well as personnel from Rural Metro Fire Department.

Upon arrival, it was learned that the pilot and passenger in the aircraft were able to exit the aircraft without injury.  A local rafting outfitter, OARS, was performing water rescue training in the area and were able to pick up the pilot and passenger who were across the river from Galice Road.

Upon speaking to the pilot, Deputies learned that engine failure occurred around Hellgate Canyon and the plane glided to smooth waters above Ennis Riffle where a safe water landing was executed.  No injuries were noted to the pilot or the passenger.  The FAA and NTSB have been contacted for a follow-up investigation in this matter.  

Grants Pass Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested

ARRESTEE: Denney, Donald L.  41 year old male  Resident of Rogue River, Or. 

On 05-28-2022, at approximately 1:16 pm, the suspect in the bank robbery which occurred on 5-23-2022 at First Interstate Bank on Union Avenue was arrested and lodged in the Josephine County Jail.  

After the press release was sent out, numerous tips about the identity of the suspect were received.  Detectives continued to follow up leads and utilized numerous video and photos to positively identify the suspect as Donald Denney.  The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was in the process of looking for Denney to assist with the case when Denney called and surrendered. Once Denney was detained, he was turned over to Grants Pass PD officers and transported back to Josephine County. 

Denney was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the listed charges.  The department would like to thank the public for their assistance in identifying the suspect in this case and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for assisting with locating him and ultimately his surrender.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260. Grants Pass Police Department   

EPA Announces $97 Million in WIFIA Loans to Modernize Water Infrastructure in Medford

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $97 million to the Medford Water Commission of Medford, Oregon. These WIFIA loans will help finance the Rogue Valley Water Supply Resiliency Program to provide safer and more resilient drinking water and meet growing demand for the Rogue Valley.

“Water is an essential and irreplaceable part of our daily lives, but for far too long our water infrastructure has been taken for granted. That is changing in Medford, thanks in part to $97 million through EPA’s WIFIA loan program,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “This investment in Medford’s critical water infrastructure will strengthen water system resiliency, improve water quality, and increase capacity to support growth. EPA is delivering the benefits of water infrastructure improvements to communities across the country, through WIFIA and with $50 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

“Access to reliable clean water and a resilient water infrastructure system is crucial to the health and strength of every family,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, who authored the WIFIA law. “I am pleased that the Medford Water Commission’s Rogue Valley Water Supply is receiving two WIFIA loans to carry out vital projects ensuring the water in their community is safe and the infrastructure is resilient to natural disasters, without burdening the ratepayers. I will continue to work to ensure that Oregonians have access to clean and reliable drinking water and support programs like this.”

The Rogue Valley Water Supply Resiliency Program coincides with the 100-year anniversary of Medford Water. EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance this multifaceted program to improve treatment that reduces lead and copper in drinking water; expand treatment and storage capacity at the Robert A. Duff Water Treatment Plant; increase transmission and storage capacity for customers; and modernize processes to improve taste and odor while addressing potential emerging contaminants. The program also includes building a resilient Water Campus to house administration and operational functions. 

“Investing in our water infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the Rogue Valley is crucial,” said Mayor of the City of Medford Randy Sparacino. “These funds will help Medford Water complete a number of projects that will ensure continued access to high-quality water at affordable rates for our residents.”

“I am proud of the strategic financial planning that our organization has undertaken to secure this competitive funding,” said Chair of the Board of Water Commissioners Bob Strosser. “The terms of this WIFIA program provide us with a unique opportunity to advance resiliency and capacity—adding projects that will allow us to continue to serve future generations of the Rogue Valley.”

“I commend Medford Water for their efforts to obtain this low-cost financing from the Environmental Protection Agency. This loan will support investment in vital water infrastructure that is essential to our residents and local businesses,” said Central Point City Manager Chris Clayton. “The Rogue Valley Water Supply Resiliency Program is a dynamic way to meet the growing needs of our communities and address the challenges we face. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Medford Water to support the delivery of safe drinking water long into the future.”

“Infrastructure challenges are at an all-time high as we enter our second 100 years of service to our community,” said Medford Water General Manager Brad Taylor. “The WIFIA loan for our Rogue Valley Water Supply Program helps us manage these costs while still keeping our rates affordable.”

The Medford Water Commission will save approximately $12 million by financing with EPA’s WIFIA loans. Construction is expected to be completed in 2028 while construction and operation are expected to create approximately 600 jobs. 

Ashland Gun & Archery Club Hosts Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Celebration June 4th

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) will be at the Ashland Gun & Archery Club for their Law Enforcement Appreciation Day celebration Saturday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The club is celebrating its 111th anniversary by honoring the men and women of Law Enforcement. This free event is open to the entire community and is an opportunity to show appreciation and interact with local law enforcement, including JCSO and Ashland Police Department, as well as service members from the Oregon Army National Guard.

Meet and talk to JCSO’s Command staff, Corrections, Patrol, SWAT, K9 Teams, Search and Rescue (SAR), and Records Division. The SWAT & K9 Teams will demo capabilities and equipmentthroughout the day. SAR and Records will be on hand to answer questions and assist with Concealed Handgun licensing applications. There will also be a chance for the public to fire a SWAT sniper rifle.

The Club is providing a free barbeque lunch for all attendees and a free drawing for firearms and accessory items.  555 Emigrant Creek Rd. Ashland, OR 97520

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently.This report covers the four-day period from May 27 to May 30, 2022. Visit our dashboard, linked below, and hover over the new cases graph to view new presumptive and confirmed case numbers reported to OHA by date.For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/m9TB50JmyhC

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and test positivity. Hospitalizations and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

St. Charles Urgent Care clinics are now federally designated Test to Treat (T2T) sites where people at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness can get fast and easy access to therapeutics. At each T2T site, people can get tested for COVID-19. If they are positive and at high risk of severe illness, they can receive and fill a prescription for an oral
therapeutic or schedule monoclonal antibody treatment—all in one visit.

Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines are available at T2T sites for people wanting to start their series or get a booster. In early March, the federal government expanded access to COVID-19 therapeutics for those who are at high risk for severe illness. Until recently, Walgreens was the only pharmacy chain with T2T sites in Oregon.

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State continues paying out Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program applications to renters and landlords across Oregon

More than 55,000 Oregon households facing pandemic hardship receive over $363 million in rental assistance relief

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is processing for payment applications submitted through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) which stopped accepting applications on March 21, 2022. As of today, the agency has paid out $363.36 million in emergency rental assistance to 55,656 households

OHCS is ahead of schedule to meet the deadlines established by U.S. Treasury for federal funds and is on track to obligate by June 30, 2022, the $100 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature during the December 2021 Special Session. Only one other state has provided a higher percentage of assistance according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, ranking Oregon second in the nation in the percentage of emergency rental assistance funds paid out and obligated.

As application processing and payout of applications received after Dec. 1, 2021, continues, tenants are being asked to verify documents to ensure the basic eligibility criteria are met. Applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria are moved to the standard denial process before redirecting available funds to other eligible applicants. Program staff will contact eligible tenants who previously applied and have unpaid rent balances or need a few additional months of assistance to be made whole. 

The OERAP portal remains closed to new applicants; however, local-level assistance is available for applicants who meet minimum eligibility criteria from Community Action Agencies. Tenants with questions about local-level resources and supports can call 2-1-1 to be connected with their regional Community Action Agency.

Landlords can be reimbursed for eligible non-payment costs such as rent and late fees incurred during the “safe harbor” period by applying to the Landlord Guarantee Program

Oregon DMV Staffing Shortages Across the State

Staffing shortages have closed some Oregon DMV offices and many have limited days they are open.

The department said their offices in Ashland, Cave Junction, downtown Portland, Lebanon, Redmond, Sandy and Stayton are closed. The coast is also having staffing shortages and offices there have closed off and on too.

“We’re closing six of our smaller offices and redeploying those people to nearby offices that need them on a day-to-day basis,” said David House with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Oregon DMV said that staff shortages at its offices are forcing the agency to temporarily reduce business hours at 10 of its 60 field offices and temporarily close six smaller offices, including Redmond, likely through the busy summer season.

“As we enter DMV’s busiest time of year with a severe staff shortage, we recommend going online to DMV2U more than ever,” DMV Administrator Amy Joyce said. “Every time you need a DMV service, see if you can get it done at DMV2U.Oregon.gov. We’ve added over two-dozen services in the past three years.”

DMV spokesman David House states the closures are likely to last “at least for the busy summer season, but it’s impossible to predict because it depends on hiring. So it’s likely we’ll restore offices/hours office by office, not all at once.”

Some services, like adding the Real ID option to your license, must be done in person. Before you go to DMV, make sure your local office is open by visiting the office’s page at OregonDMV.com.

Temporary office closures

Starting May 31, DMV will temporarily close these offices so that remaining staff can reinforce larger nearby offices:

  • Ashland
  • Cave Junction
  • Lebanon
  • Redmond
  • Sandy
  • Stayton

Reduced business hours

As of May 31, these will be the business hours for the following offices:

  • Astoria: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except opening at 10 a.m. Wednesdays; closed 12:30-2 each day for lunch
  • Canyonville: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays; closed 12:30-1:30 each day for lunch
  • Downtown Portland: Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays
  • Heppner: Open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays only; closed 11:30-12:30 each day for lunch
  • Hermiston: Open at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays
  • Junction City: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays
  • Klamath Falls: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except opening at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays; closed 12:30-2 each day for lunch
  • Lake Oswego: Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays
  • Lincoln City: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays; closed noon-1:30 each day for lunch
  • Milton-Freewater: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; closed 12:30-2 each day for lunch

“We’re preparing for the busiest time of year for DMV by temporarily redeploying staff to fewer offices,” Joyce said. “Lately we’ve been closing offices – without notice – across the state when we don’t have enough staff that day. We need to stabilize the staffing so customers can know ahead of time which offices are open. As we recruit and train new employees, we will work to reopen offices and restore full business hours, and that will take several months at least.”

Drive tests in particular are in high demand in the summer as many teens get a license for the first time. Drive test appointments fill up fast at DMV, so please consider an approved Oregon testing company. It costs more than a drive test at DMV, but you likely will get an appointment sooner – and maybe on an evening or weekend.

DMV keeps a list of approved third-party test providers here

DMV Job openings in your area

“DMV has been experiencing the same shortage of applicants for job openings as other employers statewide and nationwide,” Joyce said. “The people working at your local DMV live in your community – and could use your help.”

Apply for a job at ODOT today at www.odotjobs.com – select “Department of Transportation” under the Company menu.

“In the meantime, please be kind and patient to your local DMV staff – they are your neighbors, friends and maybe even family.”

Summer is the busiest time of year mainly because of teens getting licenses for the first time.

​Services may be limited and you may have longer wait times or need to return another day.  Not all business requires you to go to the DMV as many services are available online.

There’s no word when the offices will return to full operations.   Staffing levels will be re-evaluated in the fall.

Hiker Dies In 300 Foot Fall Near Brookings

According to Curry County Sheriff John Ward, Nam Ing, 56, of Penngrove California, was hiking with friends at Natural Bridges Viewpoint when he slipped and fell to the rocks below, a distance of approximately 300 feet.

Personnel for Curry County Sheriff’s department, OSP, Cal Ore Life Flight Ambulance, Brookings Fire, and Cape Ferrelo Fire responded to the incident.

An EMT with the Brookings Fire reached the victim and confirmed he was deceased.

Curry County Sheriff’s Dispatch contacted the US Coast Guard and Reach Air though they were unable to assist, due to the location of the accident. The Coast Guard helicopter remained nearby until they were no longer needed.

A search and rescue team established a rope system to lower a member down to retrieve Ing. Next of kin has been notified.

The Curry County Sheriff’s Department shared their condolences and counseled others about the dangerous nature of the trail: “This is such a tragedy and from all of us here at the Curry County Sheriff’s Office, we send our condolences to the Ing family. We also want to remind everyone that even though the area of Natural Bridges is so beautiful to visit, it is also very dangerous. We seem to be called to that area often for rescues and recoveries.”

Suspicious package received at Department of Corrections Headquarters

On May 31, 2022, at approximately 8:36 a.m., the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) headquarters building in Salem received a suspicious package addressed the DOC Director. The mailroom area was secured and the building evacuated. Oregon State Police were on site to evaluate the package for any hazardous substances or materials – none were detected. Approximately 30 employees were working in the building at the time, and no one required outside medical attention. Employees have been allowed back into the building

DOC takes any potential risk or threat to the safety and security of employees and adults in custody very seriously. DOC Director Colette S. Peters would like to thank the headquarters mailroom staff and the Oregon State Police bomb squad for their quick action.

DOC employs 4,500 staff members at 12 institutions, two community corrections offices, and several centralized support facilities throughout the state. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of over 12,000 adults sentenced to more than 12 months of incarceration, and direct or indirect supervision of 31,000 offenders on felony supervision in the community. DOC is recognized nationally among correctional agencies for providing adults in custody with the cognitive, education, and job skills needed to become productive citizens when they transition back to their communities. 

Oregon Receives $1.65 Million For Restoration Projects

Oregon will receive $1.65 million in federal funding this year for fish passage, prairie restoration, and other environmental projects.

The money is part of the $26 million the U.S.Bureau of Land Management will spend nationally this year to restore ecosystems and comes from last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

“Most Oregonians will tell you that our forests, coastline, rivers, mountains, high desert, and more are what make this state such a special place to live,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the bureau.

Animals ranging from salmon to Western Monarch butterflies are at risk from climate change and human encroachment, Merkley said. The restoration projects aim to restore and protect pockets of nature to allow those animals and the plants that form their habitat to survive.

A little more than $500,000 will be spent surveying and designing fish passages in streams along the mid-coast. Another $350,000 will go toward fish passage and improving irrigation on Honey Creek in Lane County.

BLM will spend $275,000 to replace culverts and ensure safe passage for fish in Smith Creek in Tillamook County, and $40,000 to do the same in Michaels Creek in Lane County.

There’s $95,000 to repair the habitat for Coho salmon in Swartz Creek, also in Lane County. Woodward Creek, a stream in Coos County, will get $75,000 worth of fish habitat improvements.

In eastern Oregon, the bureau will spend $198,000 repairing riparian fences along the North Fork John Day River. Years of heavy grazing by cattle has damaged the natural plants that grow along riverbeds, and losing that shade causes stream temperatures to rise to unhealthy levels for fish.

Another $95,000 will go toward eradicating invasive plants in prairies and in wetlands west of Eugene.

The bureau manages 15.7 million acres in Oregon, about a quarter of the state’s land.

Oregon Free Fishing Weekend June 4th-5th

A rainbow trout being held by a person. You can only see the person's hands in the image.

The first weekend in June is Oregon’s traditional Free Fishing Weekend. And each year ODFW and its partners sponsor several free fishing events throughout the state. June 4-5 (Saturday & Sunday)

On Free Fishing Weekends, you don’t need a license to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. That’s no license, no tag, no endorsement needed.

To find an event near you, and to check out other family fishing events throughout the spring and fall, visit our Take the family fishing page. This page also features everything you need to know to plan your own Free Fishing day adventures.

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