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 22, 2022
Rogue Valley Weather
Independent Candidate For Oregon Governor Visits Medford
Betsy Johnson, the Independent candidate for governor of Oregon, visited Medford on Monday. She connected with voters over a beer at Common Block Brewing Company as part of her campaign to fill the seat being vacated by the outgoing Kate Brown. Dozens of community members came out to see her and get a better sense of who they might be voting for.
“This is a moment in time when enough Oregonians are feeling that their government is not working for them, whether it’s on crime and lawlessness, housing, or schools,” Johnson said.
Oregon has not had a governor unaffiliated with either party take office since 1930. In the past, Johnson has been both a Republican and a Democrat, serving in the Oregon legislature for twenty years before resigning last year to focus on her run for Governor.
Johnson says that people feel badly served by the current state government, although she acknowledges she herself has been a member of the legislature for many years.
“I was, and I railed against it hard. I have a well-earned reputation for being pretty grumpy with state agencies and pretty hard on budgets when they weren’t showing up,” she said.
Johnson is running against Democratic Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Republican House Minority Leader Christine Drazan. One area Johnson may be at odds with the electorate in Oregon is her history of voting against gun control legislation, particularly in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde.
When asked what she would say to someone who would like her to be stronger on that issue, she pointed to recent statements that she would support stricter measures.
“I’ve softened my position. This is a profound moment in time, and I’m a responsible gun owner. I don’t shy away from that. You cannot punish responsible gun owners, conversely, we’ve got to figure out how to just stop this gun-no gun debate,” she said.
Johnson was not on the ballot in last month’s primary for either party and is still looking to acquire the appropriate number of signatures to be eligible in the general election in November.
During a lengthy Q&A period on Monday, several topics came up, such as what she would do to combat homelessness, as well as how she would ensure the Rogue Valley gets a better seat at the table when it comes to statewide issues in Salem.
“I like her. I like her spunk. I’m a Republican. I know she’s coming from a Democratic side but she’s very centrist. In order to bring this polarized state and nation together in some way, we have to have somebody in the middle,” said attendee Lisa North.
When asked what her number one priority in office would be, Johnson said tamping down crime and lawlessness in Portland.
Medford Law Agencies Participate In Active Shooter Training
This week Medford SWAT is hosting their active threat training for Medford’s police department along with other agencies. Practicing potential scenarios for active shooters in schools and businesses.
In light of recent shootings in our county, local law agencies are constantly learning the latest tactics when it comes to an active threat. Corporal Patrol with Medford Police Department Salvador Garcia says when these mass casualties happen, there will be lots of agencies responding.
“We learn the latest trends of what’s happening across the country regarding an active threat. And what’s happened over the last several years is that multi agency’s response and so we’ve also incorporated the Medford fire department in our training as well,” says Garcia.
Captain with the Medford Fire Department and member of Medford SWAT Chuck Glose says these trainings smooth over any loose ends and practice their role of getting the injured out of a dangerous situation.
“Taking an ugly situation and trying to create order out of chaos, taking care of the injured and dying which is our major role,” says Glose.
Today’s training took place in a local high school, groups listened to presentations and practiced live scenarios such as clearing a hallway, distracting the attacker, guarding open doors, and teaming up in tight spaces. Allowing agencies to have a good understanding of what different layouts could look like.
“For us, it’s understanding what our role is – making sure that we get to the location where the incident is occurring and understanding that this is a larger picture that’s going to affect our community,” says Garcia.
This in-depth training creates a sense of preparedness when it comes to responding to an active threat. Preparing our law enforcement for the worst.
Truck Crash Shuts Down Northbound I-5 in Medford
UPDATE 6/21 5:17 pm: All northbound I5 lanes now open. Southbound lanes are now congested due to a secondary crash which ODOT said has been cleared.
UPDATE 4:25 pm: Interstate 5’s northbound slow lane is now open, the fast lane is still closed.
A truck crash has blocked all northbound Interstate 5 traffic north of Exit 27. The northbound on-ramp is also blocked.
Local Schools Start Summer Meal Programs
Now that summer is in full swing for local students, many school districts have started their summer meal programs.
To find the summer meal closest to your location, visit the Oregon Department of Education’s Summer Meals Map webpage.
Something new this summer is that meals will need to be consumed on-site. During the pandemic, meals could be retrieved and taken away because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) waived many of the program requirements, offering flexibilities to meal service operations in an effort to serve participants safely and minimize exposure to COVID-19. Several of those waivers are set to expire in the near future.
Any school that is hosting a summer school program of any sort is also offering any child breakfast and lunch for free if they are 18 or younger. For more information concerning locations and meal service times, please text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” 304-304.
All children aged 1-18 are eligible for meals at no charge! Children do not need to be of school age, registered in the District, or attending school programs.
The following schools will be serving meals Monday through Friday:
- Jackson Elementary School, June 13-August 18; (Lunch only June 13-17); Entrance off Summit ave., North entrance.
- Howard Elementary School, June 21-August 11; Enter from Mace, First Parking lot (East side of building), all the way to the back. Walk around the corner of the school and enter through the cafeteria door.
- Oak Grove Elementary, June 21-August 11; Walk to the cafeteria door from the end of the parking lot on the northeast corner into the cafeteria.
The following schools will be serving Monday through Thursday
- North Medford High School, June 21-August 11; North side of campus off North Keene Way Dr and Roberts Rd.
- Kennedy Elementary Schoo, June 21-August 11; Pull into the North parking lot and enter from the cafeteria door on the West side of the building.
All Schools will be closed on July 4th
All children aged 1-18 are eligible for meals at no charge! Children do not need to be of school age, registered in the District, or attending school programs.
Locations for meals:
Central Point Elementary – 450 S 4th Street, Central Point, please enter on the 2nd street side of the building
Breakfast: 8:10a – 9a Lunch: 11:50a – 12:30p / Friday 11:30a – 12:30p
Crater High School – 655 N 3rd St, Central Point. Meal service will happen in the Student Center/Cafeteria. Park in the staff parking lot off of 3rd street. The student center is the building facing the parking lot, north of the BIS office
Breakfast: 7:45a – 9a Lunch: 11:50a – 12:30p / Friday 11:30a – 12:30p
Patrick Elementary – 1500 2nd Ave, Gold Hill. Please enter from the front of the building and water directly back, the cafeteria is directly back from the front of the building.
Breakfast: 8:10a – 9a Lunch: 11:50a – 12:30p / Friday 11:30a – 12:30p
Don Jones Water Park – 223 W Vilas Rd, Central Point, we serve close to the splash pad.
Breakfast: no service Lunch: 11:40a – 12:05p
Rainey’s Market – 4865 OR-234, White City, look for the yellow van, we’ll be serving from the van.
Breakfast: no service Lunch: 12:20p – 12:45p
The Phoenix-Talent School District will offer free summer meals at the following two sites:
- Phoenix Elementary School (215 N. Rose St., Phoenix): Monday-Friday, June 20-Aug. 18.; Breakfast: 7:45 a.m.-8:15 a.m.; Lunch: Noon-12:30 p.m.
- Talent Middle School (102 Christian Ave., Talent): Monday-Thursday, June 27-Aug. 12.; Breakfast: 7:45 a.m.-8:15 a.m.; Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
These meals are available to ALL children age 18 and younger regardless of which school they attend or in which school district they reside. Siblings are welcome to join summer school students during meal time.
If you have questions about our summer meals program, please contact Amy Honts at: email@example.com, or 541-227-4739.
The Rogue River doesn’t currently have a Summer Meal program; participation in previous years was too low, though the district will feed students who come for summer learning programs and summer school.
Free lunches are available on weekdays for kids and teens from June 21, 2022, to August 12, 2022 All summer meals include fruits and vegetables with 100% fruit juice or low-fat milk.
Menus are subject to change based on availability, and children, ages 18 and under, must be present to receive meals.
MEAL TIMES AND LOCATIONS
- Allen Dale Elementary 2320 Williams Hwy.; Serve Time: 11:15 – 12:15
- Highland Elementary 1845 NW Highland; Serve Time: 11:15 – 11:45
- Lincoln Elementary 1132 NE 10th Street; Serve Time: 12:00-12:30
- Parkside Elementary 735 Wagner Meadows; Serve Time: 11:00 – 11:30
- Redwood Elementary 3163 Leonard Rd.; Serve Time: 11:15 – 12:15
- Riverside Elementary 1200 SE Harvey; Serve Time: 11:00 – 11:30
- GPHS Caveman Pool Corner of NE 9th St and Wharton Dr.; Serve Time: 11:45 – 12:15
- Reinhart Park 1690 SW Webster Rd.; Serve Time: 11:45 – 12:30
To find the site nearest you, dial 2-1-1, or text “FOOD” to 304304. You can also visit www.summerfoodoregon.org.
Three Rivers School District is offering free meals to all children ages 1-18. The meal program started on Monday, June 13th, and runs Monday through Friday until August 19th, except on June 20th and July 4th.
- Fruitdale Elementary – Breakfast 8am-8:30am, Lunch 11:30-12:00pm; 1560 Bill Baker Way, Grants Pass
- Harbeck Village – Lunch 11:00 am – 11:30 am; 1760 Harbeck Rd. Suite 2, Grants Pass
- Rogue Garden View Apartments – Lunch 11:45 am -12:15pm; 1100 Fruitdale Dr. #61, Grants Pass
- Lorna Byrne Middle School – Breakfast 8am-8:30am, Lunch 12:00pm-12:30pm; 101 S Junction Ave, Cave Junction
- Jubilee Park – Lunch 11:45 am – 12:15pm; 307 S Junction Ave, Cave Junction
*Please note that Breakfast is only served at Fruitdale & Lorna Byrne in addition to Lunch. Questions? Contact food service at 541-476-4183 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also options available at the Josephine County Food Bank see: https://www.jocofoodbank.org/pantry-list
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 June 17 to June 20, 2022.For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/46fP50JE5n2Note: The most recent emergency department visit data are currently not available due to a technical issue with the server. We’re working to resolve the issue.
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. Three Oregon counties are at “high” community level, as of June 16. To learn more how to use regional CDC and OHA data to help make decisions about masking and taking other precautions, visit http://ow.ly/9CO850JCWKj.
Oregon OSHA launches new, free resources to help employers understand and comply with rule protecting workers against wildfire smoke
Salem – As a rule addressing protections for workers against potential exposure to wildfire smoke is set to take effect July 1, Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers to use new resources developed by the division to help understand and comply with the rule.
The following free resources are now available online:
- Wildfire smoke online course: Designed to satisfy certain training requirements found in the wildfire smoke rule, the course addresses such topics as air quality measurements, health effects and symptoms, the proper use of filtering facepiece respirators, and other safety measures.
- Fact sheet about the key requirements of the wildfire smoke rule: This six-page document highlights the rule’s key overall requirements, offering a reader-friendly summary of what employers and workers need to know about the rule.
“These new tools underscore our ongoing commitment to provide employers with resources in advance to help them comply with the rule and protect their workers from the potential dangers of wildfire smoke,” said Renee Stapleton, acting administrator for Oregon OSHA.
Oregon OSHA adopted wildfire smoke and heat rules in May. Both rules encompass initial protective measures for workers who rely on employer-provided housing, including as part of farm operations. The heat rule took effect June 15. Resources to help understand and comply with the heat rule are available, including the recently released sample plan for the heat illness prevention plan and sample plans for rest breaks and acclimatization.
Both rules were proposed in February, following 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 wildfire smoke rule addresses an array of exposure assessments and controls, and training and communication measures. The heat rule requires access to shade and cool water, preventive cool-down breaks, and prevention plans and training.
More resources are available:
- A worker’s right to a safe and healthy workplace.
- Free Oregon OSHA consultations for employers to improve workplace safety and health programs – no fault, no citations, no penalties.
- Questions about how to apply rules to your workplace? Contact Oregon OSHA specialists.
- A-to-Z topic index, including updated pages for wildfire smoke and heat illness prevention.
- Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (includes Oregon OSHA as a division) Multicultural Communications Program, providing outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. Toll-free number: 800-843-8086.
- Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers for help understanding workplace safety and health rights, and workers’ compensation rights. Toll-free number: 800-927-1271
Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.
The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.
DCBS audits found RHEA violations with health care insurers
Salem – Oregon insurers failed to fully comply with the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) in several areas, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation concluded in a report the division released today. RHEA requires health insurers to cover certain reproductive health, sexual health, and other health care services – including contraception and abortion – without imposing cost sharing.
The report, which summarizes marketwide findings, came after the division discovered variations in coverage on RHEA claims and indications of potential widespread noncompliance with the law – specifically the inappropriate application of cost sharing for some services covered by RHEA. This prompted the division to conduct an audit – called a market conduct examination – on RHEA coverage and the insurers’ application of the law.
Generally, violations included failure to implement claims adjudication processes that identify services covered, failure to pay claims according to the requirements of the law, misinterpretation of cost-share requirements, improper application of medical management during claims adjudication, failure to update claims adjudication systems resulting in improper consumer cost share for RHEA services, and outdated consumer and provider complaint handling practices. Not every violation was found at every insurer.
Some insurers failed to provide coverage of certain benefits until 2020 or later, including preventive services covered by the Affordable Care Act. Examinations also determined that specified services required to be covered without cost share by RHEA were being violated. Those violations included abortion, anemia screening, contraception, pregnancy screening, sterilization, and sexually transmitted infection screening.
The division is finalizing insurer-level reports for public release. As part of that process, the Insurance Code requires the division to provide an opportunity for insurers to review and comment on findings in a hearing with the division. Once finalized, the individual insurer reports will be published and made available to the public. In the interest of transparency, the division is releasing this anonymized, aggregate report while individual reports are being collated.
In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3391 – known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act. Some services required to be covered by RHEA are also required without cost sharing as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act. Health benefit plans, such as individual, small group, and large group, are subject to RHEA. Other plans, such as those offered by a self-insured employers and Medicare, and plans that provide limited benefits, are not subject to RHEA. The enacted provisions of RHEA were applicable to commercial health insurance plans issued, renewed, modified, or extended on or after Jan. 1, 2019.
The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.
State of Oregon increases child care reimbursement rates for providers
(Salem) – Child care reimbursement rates are increasing for providers caring for children of families who receive support with child care expenses through the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS).
ODHS pays child care providers for child care provided to families receiving child care assistance through the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.
The new child care reimbursement rates are effective June 1, 2022 and increasing due to the passage of House Bill 4005 of the 2022 Legislative Session.
The average monthly reimbursement rates for full-time care are increasing by:
- 18% for family, friend and neighbor care
- Between 6 and 20% for child care centers
- Between 11 and 25% for licensed home-based care
“For many families the cost of child care can be a barrier to meeting their goals and entering and staying in the workforce,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs. “These reimbursement rate increases will ensure families have equal access to quality child care.”
“As our child care system continues to struggle with staffing shortages and lack of child care supply, this is an important first step to ensure our child care providers are paid a fair wage,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “I appreciate the Legislature’s investment in our system and what this will mean for Oregon families who receive support for their child care expenses.”
Actual child care reimbursement rates vary depending on provider type, child age and what community the provider is in. A complete list of reimbursement rates can be found online at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/CHILD-CARE/Pages/Rates.aspx.
ERDC helps eligible families pay for work-related child care expenses, including registration and enrollment fees. ERDC is a subsidy program, which means some families, depending on their income, may be required to pay a copay.
TANF supports individuals engaged in the Job Opportunity and Basic Skills (JOBS) program in attaining their goals by providing direct child care payments to providers as well as assistance with enrollment fees.
Oregonians can apply online for ERDC, TANF and other government supports online at One.Oregon.Gov or by phone at 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711.
Resources to help meet basic needs
- Find a food pantry: foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org
- Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211 for help finding local resources and supports, including child care in your community.
- Visit www.211info.org for help finding local resources and supports, including child care in your community.
- Oregon Department of Human Services Resources
The Oregon Department of Human Services, Self-Sufficiency Programs operates the Employment Related Day Care program. The Employment Related Day Care program helps working families pay for child care, including registration and enrollment fees. It also works with partners statewide, including the Early Learning Division, to help families find quality child care.
A new grant program aims to help members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized Native American tribes with the cost of attending college next academic year.
The Oregon Tribal Student Grant program will cover attendance costs, beyond what federal and state financial aid cover, at eligible colleges or universities in the state. Students can use the money for tuition, and they can also apply it to other expenses like housing, books and transportation.
The Oregon Legislature approved the program for one year. Already, more than 500 people have started applications,
according to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. State officials encourage students to apply for the grant by Aug. 1, which is the “priority deadline.”
Tribal representatives including Sandy Henry, the education director for the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians, were involved in the rule-making process for the grant program.
A 32-year-old woman faces attempted murder, arson, animal abuse and car theft charges after allegedly lighting a pickup truck and camper trailer — that was occupied by a woman and her two dogs — on fire earlier this month.
Porsha Marie Weaver, 32, of Bonzana, has been arrested by the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office in connection to the alleged arson and car theft June 4. The arson occurred near Bluebill Lane and Wigeon Drive.
According to police, they were greeted by a woman who told them Weaver intentionally lit a truck and occupied trailer on fire and then fled the scene in a stolen motor vehicle.
The allegedly stolen car was recovered but Weaver alluded police until she “presented herself” at the Klamath sheriff’s office June 8.
Weaver is charged with attempted murder, arson in the first degree, animal abuse in the first degree, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief in the first degree.
Escaped Psych Patient Arrested
A man facing charges in Oregon and California who escaped from a psychiatric unit in Bend is back in custody.
41-year-old Jeremy Allbritton was reported missing on Monday morning.
Then at around 11:20 p.m. that evening, St. Charles Medical Center staff called 911 to report that Allbritton had arrived back at the hospital. Bend police and Deschutes County deputies arrested Allbritton a short time later.
Allbritton faces charges of coercion, menacing, fourth-degree assault and harassment, as well as two Deschutes County warrants, a California warrant and a violation of his release agreement.
Oregon’s Minimum Wage Set To Increase July 1st
Minimum wage workers in Oregon will see an increase in pay starting July 1st.
In 2016, Oregon lawmakers created a three-tiered minimum wage. That means while many of Oregon’s minimum wage workers will see a new rate of $13.50 an hour, employees in the Portland area will get an increase to $14.75. Those are both increases of 75 cents per hour. Meanwhile, the minimum wage in rural parts of the state will jump by 50 cents to $12.50 an hour.
The Oregon Employment Department says roughly five percent of Oregon’s hourly workers earn the minimum wage.
This is the seventh and final increase that was written into the 2016 law. Next year, minimum wage increases will once again be indexed to inflation, though urban and rural areas will still have different rates.
“It’s not going to be a fixed (increase) like it has been for the last several years,” said Bob Uhlenkott, a researcher with the Oregon Employment Department. “Now it will float, based on the Consumer Price Index.”
Oregon’s rate remains among the highest minimum wages in the nation.