Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/24 – Oregon State Police Make Illegal Grow Busts Outside Eagle Point and Cave Junction, Child Predator Arrested in Grants Pass

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

Friday, June 24, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Oregon State Police SW Region Drug Enforcement Team Makes Illegal Marijuana Bust Outside Eagle Point in Jackson County

On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Southwest Region (SWR) Drug Enforcement Section (DES) team, assisted by the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) of the Medford Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, served an illegal marijuana search warrant in the 11000 block of East Antelope Rd. Eagle Point, Jackson County.

As a result, 2,864 illegal marijuana plants contained in ten (10) greenhouses, were seized. Also located and seized were 209 pounds of processed marijuana bud packaged for sale on the black market, eight (8) firearms, body armor and over $10,000.00 in US Currency. Two (2) individuals were detained, identified, and interviewed.

Jackson County Code Enforcement also responded to the property for multiple code violations. A total of $66,000.00 in fines were levied on the property owner for violations of unapproved greenhouse structures, multiple unapproved electrical installations, unapproved marijuana production, prohibited camping within a marijuana grow site and solid waste.

The investigation is on-going and no further information is available at this time. 

Oregon State Police SW Region Drug Enforcement Team makes illegal marijuana bust-Josephine County

On Thursday, June 23, 2022, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Southwest Region (SWR) Drug Enforcement Section (DES) team, assisted by the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET), served an illegal marijuana search warrant in the 600 block of Pinewood Way, Cave Junction, Josephine County. 

As a result, 3,944 illegal marijuana plants contained in seven (7) large, industrial sized greenhouses, were located, seized, and ultimately destroyed. Additionally, the property is subject to multiple code violations through Josephine County Code Enforcement, for unpermitted structures, multiple unpermitted electrical installations, and unpermitted excavation. Josephine County will move forward with legal action against the property owner which could result in closure of the property for one calendar year (illegal drug cultivation) and possible civil forfeiture.

The investigation is on-going and no further information is available at this time.

Child Predator Arrested in Grants Pass

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On Monday, 06-20-22, the Grants Pass Police Department responded to a reported sex offense that occurred at the Grants Pass YMCA.  The complainant reported her 6-year-old daughter had been subjected to sexual touching while swimming at the pool.  Management at the YMCA was advised of the incident and assisted law enforcement with the investigation. 

Through the assistance of the YMCA, the individual involved in the incident with the child was identified as 66-year-old Rex McCurdy, a registered sex offender from California.  The YMCA staff advised law enforcement when McCurdy arrived back at the facility on Wednesday, 06-22-22.  McCurdy was subsequently arrested by Grants Pass Police Detectives and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for two counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree.

Due to the nature of this incident, the Grants Pass Police Department is concerned there may be other children who may have had inappropriate contact from McCurdy, who frequented the facility with a male friend.  Therefore, we are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying any additional victims.  Anyone with information regarding McCurdy or his associate is encouraged to call Detective Heather Yerrick at 541-450-6344.

We also want to ensure the public that the YMCA does run federal and state background checks on individuals requesting membership at their facility and has been proactive in denying membership when there are concerns about an applicant.  Unfortunately, due to restrictions in place during COVID, McCurdy’s sex offender status, as well as that of his male companion, was not accessible during the background check conducted by the YMCA.  The YMCA has been provided additional resources to prevent this from occurring in the future until all public records are appropriately updated from the COVID backlog.  The Grants Pass Police Department wants to thank the YMCA for their assistance with this investigation and the brave child who came forward in this case.  Grants Pass Police Department

Stabbing Incident on Plaza Leads to Arrest

On June 22, 2022 at approximately 10:10 p.m. officers from the Ashland Police Department responded to the area of The Plaza in the heart of downtown Ashland, for a report of a fight involving a knife. APD was assisted in this response by officers from the Talent and Phoenix Police Departments, as well as deputies from the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office.

The investigation revealed that one of the involved parties had been stabbed in the chest. Witnesses gave a description and direction of travel for the suspect, who was quickly located and detained by officers.

The victim was transported by Ashland Fire & Rescue to Rogue Regional Medical Center where he remains in stable condition.

Officers arrested Francisco Valenzuela, 41 years, a Grants Pass resident, for Assault 2nd Degree. Valenzuela was lodged at the Jackson County Jail where he remains on $100,000 bail. 

Detectives with the APD are continuing to investigate this case and anyone with additional info is asked to contact Detective Lindsey Rochon-Evertt at the Ashland Police Department. Ashland Police Dept.

Josephine County ballot boxes to be refurbished, returned with new county logo

Josephine County’s official ballot boxes are undergoing scheduled maintenance and will return to county streets with fresh paint and new branding.

Josephine County maintenance crews removed the five official ballot boxes on the morning of June 22 and transported them to Grants Pass Collision. There, the boxes will be cleaned, stripped down and refurbished, a process that should take two to three weeks. After that, the boxes will be decked out with the county’s new logo, which was formally approved in February 2020.

“I can’t wait for our residents to see these refurbished ballot boxes,” said Rhiannon Henkels, Josephine County clerk. “While Oregon residents can return their ballots by mail, we know many prefer to use these boxes to return their completed ballots straight to us.”

In the May 2022 primary election, more than 60 percent of Josephine County voters returned their ballots using a county ballot box.

All ballot boxes will be returned to their original locations except for the Merlin box, which will be relocated to the parking lot of Ray’s Food Place, 3500 Merlin Road. This ballot box had been located on Monument Drive.

Invent Oregon Competition at RCC in Grants Pass

Beginning today (Friday), three teams will be competing in the Invent Oregon competition at RCC in Grants Pass. Invent Oregon” is a college-level competition for students with ideas for inventions.


Students from Southern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology and Klamath Community College are competing. They’ll share their ideas with judges throughout the day.

The Invent Oregon program supports students with mentors, education and grants.
At the Invent Oregon finals this weekend , students will complete for $30,000 in cash prizes.

MORE INFO: https://www.inventoregon.org/

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: http://ow.ly/ul4R50JG4RL

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and hospitalizations. Test positivity has decreased, and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.
Heat exhaustion: Faint/dizzy, excessive sweating, rapid/weak pulse, nausea/vomiting, cool pale clammy skin, muscle cramps. Help person to a cooler, air conditioned place. Encourage them to drink water if they're fully conscious. Heat stroke: throbbing headache, confusion, may lose consciousness, rapid/strong pulse, nausea/vomiting, body temp above 103F, red hot skin. Call 911, cool off person quickly with cool water.

It’s going to be hot this weekend! The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting temperatures in the 90s across many parts of the state and around 100 in parts of southern Oregon. Keep your community safe by learning the signs of heat-related illness and what to do if you see someone with these symptoms: http://ow.ly/u86450JGhb7

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State Treasurer Encourages Support For Student Aid Grants

A joint message from:  the Oregon Student Association; the Oregon Community College Association representing Oregon’s 17 community colleges; the Oregon Council of Presidents representing Oregon’s eight public universities; and the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universitiesrepresenting 13 Oregon independent non-profit colleges and universities.

June 23, 2022, Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Federal Pell Grant. The Oregon Opportunity Grant enjoyed its 50th Anniversary in 2021.  

A campaign to #DoublePell is underway. It has bipartisan public support and will help more students earn a degree, get good-paying jobs, and graduate with less debt. At a press conference held today to commemorate the event, Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read said, “Funding financial aid for students creates opportunities and is really important for the Oregon economy. Pell Grants are the federal government’s main tool for helping lower-income students and families access high education. Unfortunately, the funding levels have not kept up with costs. If I’ve learned anything in my work as Treasurer, it’s that there is no better investment than in the potential of rising young people.

With the help of a Pell Grant and other student aid, Nicole Paredes-Cisneros recently graduated debt-free from the University of Oregon with two undergraduate degrees. Paredes-Cisneros is a first-generation student and stated that the Pell grant for her provided a sense of relief, sending her the message that “we’ve got it covered, just go and make us proud.” She urged Congress to double the amount of Pell Grants that are transformational and create opportunity for all students. She described the grants  as “a light, a light that’s motivated students to reach for the sky, day-by-day”.  

Chemeketa Community College student McKinzie McBride said, “The Pell Grant and scholarships that I have received widened the door of possibilities for me and my family. As a full-time mother, employee, and now student, completing college will be one of my greatest accomplishments in life and I am so thankful for having some of the financial burden relieved. The Pell Grant has helped make my dreams come true.”

“The Pell Grant has made college more affordable and will help me graduate without the burden of significant student loan debt,” said Ian Curtis, a senior at Willamette University. “As the costs associated with attending college increase, the Pell Grant must increase as well. The Pell Grant program is a strategic investment in the future of our nation. It is time to double the Pell Grant and invest in a program that will yield strong returns in the years to come.” 

A video of today’s press conference can be seen here.

Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in July

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Wikipedia

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in July.

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive temporarily increased emergency food benefits in July
  • Approximately 422,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $68 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org 
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center 

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

Because the federal government approved these emergency benefits for July, Oregon will also be able to issue them in August. However, the emergency benefits are expected to end when the federal public health emergency ends.

In July, approximately 422,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $68 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on July 12. Emergency allotments will be issued July 29 or Aug. 2 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Emergency-Allotments.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

If your household receives SNAP and your income or the number of people in your household has changed, it could impact your benefits. It is important to make sure ODHS has the most up-to-date information. 

You can report any changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: ONE.Oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/benefits/Pages/index.aspx . For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

Plans To Increase Federal  Wildland Firefighter Pay

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced plans to increase federal  wildland firefighter pay  as required by the bipartisan infrastructure law. This move is part of a series of steps that also includes the establishment of a new wildland fire management job series.

Last week, senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sent a letter to the office of personnel management for the immediate implementation of these changes. And while Senator Jeff Merkley welcomes this announcement, he says he would like to see more.

The administration also announced the creation of a program to support the health and wellbeing of firefighters.
Senator Merkley added it’s important to support the firefighters as we enter into the peak of Oregon’s wildfire season

Record High Prices Not Discouraging Travel

Record-high gasoline prices are not discouraging car travel, according to Independence Day projections from AAA of Oregon.

The auto club expects a record 42 million Americans to travel for the July 4th holiday by car. That includes 441,000 Oregonian who will hit the roads for the upcoming holiday.

Overall, AAA expects 47.9 million Americans to travel via air or car for the 2022 holiday. That approaching pre-pandemic levels of travel, In 2019, AAA reported 49 million Americans traveled for the Fourth of July holiday.

Airlines have been challenged by canceled flights and higher fares due to higher fuel prices. Only 7.4% of travelers will do so by air, according to AAA. That is lowest level since 2011.

The average price of gasoline nationally was $4.97 per gallon nationally in Tuesday, July 21. The average price is $5.53 per gallon in Oregon and $6.38 per gallon in California, according to AAA.

In the Pacific region, which includes California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, AAA expects 6.8 million people to travel for the July holiday.

Life-Changing Electric All-Terrain Trackchairs available for free trial in Seaside July 4th weekend

Providing a new way to get out on the beach and into nature for people with mobility challenges, on July 4th weekend David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems is bringing seven electric all-terrain wheelchairs to Seaside’s promenade (between Broadway and Avenue A) for mobility challenged guests to try for free.

From 9am to 5pm on Saturday July 2 and Sunday July 3, people who register at https://davidschair.org can have a chance to buckle in and experience the freedom to travel along the beach without having to be concerned about the sand or water.

Anyone with mobility impairment, requiring the assistance of wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes or crutches, will be able to use these chairs at no charge.

David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems and Oregon Parks Forever are collaborating to add 10 additional locations where mobility challenged visitors can pick up and use an electric all-terrain wheelchair at no charge.

These chairs will provide a new freedom for a mobility challenged park visitor – to get off the pavement and out into nature.

With increased accessibility to trails, lakes, rivers and beaches, through demanding conditions like sand, snow and mud, mobility-impaired visitors will be able to participate in activities never-before possible.

From birdwatching and fishing, to riding along the beach, to simply enjoying the fresh air and solitude of nature, these all-terrain chairs will invite many new people to share the wonders of the great outdoors in our parks.

See these chairs in action at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4KIrqu47WY

Over the next couple of years, the partners are working to locate hosts at American Legion, VFW and Tourism related entities along the Oregon Coast and the I-5 corridor where a chair and trailer can be stored and made available for free use by visitors with mobility challenges. 

We are doing this to provide easier access to these chairs to a wider number of people.  Under the current operating model for David’s Chair, anyone wishing to borrow one of their seven current chairs (for free) must bring a trailer hitch-enabled vehicle to Medford and pick up a chair and trailer to take where they would like to use it.  This severely limits access to other parts of the state.  One of the most popular uses for these chairs is to get out on the beach, hence our desire for host locations along the Oregon Coast.  Also, there are many parks in areas such as Springfield, Eugene, Salem and Portland along the I-5 corridor that visitors would like to access.

Reservations for free use can be made at: https://davidschair.org

Oregon Man Breaks World Record For Fastest Time Alphabetizing Alphabet Soup

Jacob Chandler, an Oregon resident, has broken the record for the fastest time to find and alphabetize the letters in a can of alphabet soup, with a time of 2 mins 8.6 sec.

This record entails fishing out the letters A-Z from a can of alphabet soup and placing them in alphabetical order in the quickest time possible. The 26 letters were laid out on a piece of card on top of that same printed letter.

“I was intrigued by the idea of alphabetizing a canned soup. I’ve eaten plenty of alphabet soup in my life but never stopped to think someone would make a challenge out of organizing the letters.” – Jacob Chandler

“I’ve always had a knack for taking on new challenges. At a young age my father taught me to try new things just to see what I liked or disliked.”

He decided to attempt a Guinness World Records title to prove that, with proper preparation and dedication, he could achieve any goal he set for myself.

Before his attempt, Jacob reviewed about a half dozen records before settling on this alphabet soup record.  

“I needed to know about that soups specifics like (M vs W) or (O vs Q) and what each individual letter looked like. Many of the letters had similar features and I needed to know that before the attempt.”

Jacob also did multiple practice runs, varying his bowl, spoon and can of soup placement to find the optimal layout and ease of accessibility for his attempt.

“By conducting this mental and physical walkthrough of the attempt, it would give me the best possible chance so I was not losing any precious seconds on nonsense movements.”

However, there were some things Jacob couldn’t prepare for, namely how many of each letter would appear. 

Jacob was inspired to attempt this record to show his 11-year-old son, Brycen, that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it. 

However, Jacob doesn’t intend to stop at just the one record. He has his sights set on a few more, including the most tea bags thrown into mugs in 30 seconds and the distance-based record using a Mentos and soda bottle vehicle. (https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2022/6/man-alphabetizes-letters-from-alphabet-soup-in-record-breaking-time-708368)

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