Rogue Valley News, Thursday 8/4 – Wards Creek Fire Update, Suspects Arrested After Multiple In-Custody Jackson County Jail Fentanyl Overdoses

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

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Air Quality Alert

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality continues the air quality advisory through Friday August 5 for Jackson and Klamath Counties due to smoke from the McKinney fire in Siskiyou County, near Yreka, California.

DEQ expects the air quality advisory to last until at least Friday, Aug. 5. DEQ and partner agencies will continue to monitor smoke in the area.

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, DEQs Air Quality Index, or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone. For additional information...please visit the Oregon DEQ web site at http://www.oregon.gov/deq   

Wards Creek Fire Update

𝙒𝘼𝙍𝘿𝙎 𝘾𝙍𝙀𝙀𝙆 𝙁𝙄𝙍𝙀 𝙀𝙑𝙀𝙉𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙐𝙋𝘿𝘼𝙏𝙀: (8/3)Despite numerous challenges, firefighters are holding containment lines on the #WardsCreekFire, located in the hills above the 3100-block of Wards Creek Road east of Rogue River. The fire continued to push to the east, growing to an estimated 10 acres, however it remains 40% lined.

The fire is burning on private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and has been determined to be caused by lightning.On Wednesday, three 20-person crews were assigned to the incident, as well as numerous engines, tree fallers, a water tender, bulldozer, and two Type 2 helicopters.

Increased heat in addition to steep terrain and dense brush fueled fire behavior. Tanker 104 was ordered to drop two loads of retardant on the east flank, bolstering perimeter lines. Meanwhile, tree fallers were able to remove roughly 50% of the hazardous trees on the fire, greatly reducing the risk to firefighters on the incident. This work will continue on Thursday.

During Wednesday’s dayshift, a firefighter suffered a heat-related illness while on the line. With the help of the Jackson County Sheriff Oregon and Brim Aviation, the firefighter was transported by air to the bottom of the road and taken to Three Rivers Medical Center by Jackson County Fire District #1 personnel. Tonight, the firefighter is reported to be in stable condition. Hydration and breaks are a priority on the fire line, and as temperatures continue to trend upward, the safety of firefighters remains a top priority.

Overnight, three new 20-person hand crews will be assigned to the incident, along multiple engines, a water tender and ODF overhead personnel. Goals remain closing the fire line, and firefighters will take advantage of cooler conditions overnight to continue this progress. At this time, no structures are threatened.

Local Task Force Investigates, Arrests Suspects After Multiple In-Custody Jail Fentanyl Overdoses; Possible Federal Charges

The Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) task force made three arrests recently after investigating the multiple in-custody Jackson County Jail fentanyl overdoses on June 20. At 11:25 the morning of the incident, a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Corrections deputy was nearby when an Adult-In-Custody (AIC) began suffering from an apparent medical emergency. The deputy responded with Jail Medical to begin treatment when a second AIC also began exhibiting signs of an apparent overdose. Multiple agencies responded to assist including Medford Police Department (MPD), Medford Fire, JCSO Corrections and Patrol deputies, and Mercy Flights ambulances. In total, five doses of Narcan were administered between the two patients and they were both responsive as they were transported to a local hospital. After the initial emergency, MADGE began their investigation into the incident. 

MADGE discovered the primary suspect, Sylvia Rose Hutchinson-Hernandez, 26, of Toledo, Ore., brought more than an ounce of fentanyl inside the jail when she was lodged for a firearms charge. The fentanyl was concealed in multiple bags inside a body cavity. She then distributed the fentanyl to two additional suspects. She has been charged with unlawful possession of fentanyl – substantial quantity, unlawful delivery of a schedule II-controlled substance, unlawful manufacture of a counterfeit schedule II-controlled substance, and supplying contraband.

Upon receiving the fentanyl from Hutchinson-Hernandez, Jennifer Rene Wilkes, 34, of Talent, delivered the drugs to two AICs in her housing unit. She has been charged with unlawful delivery of a schedule II-controlled substance. After taking the fentanyl, both AICs began exhibiting signs of overdose and were transported to the hospital. One of the AICs was placed on a ventilator in the ICU, but both have since been cleared for confinement and are back in the Jail.

MADGE interviewed Sheena Ann Cortez, 37, of Medford, who admitted to receiving fentanyl from Hutchinson-Hernandez and delivering the drugs to another AIC in her housing unit. She has been charged with unlawful delivery of a schedule II-controlled substance and supplying contraband.

MADGE consists of detectives from MPD and JCSO and focuses on the illicit drug trade and gang activity in the Rogue Valley. This case is being forwarded to the Assistant United States Attorney’s (AUSA) office for possible additional federal charges. Further information will come from the Jackson County District Attorney’s office or AUSA.  Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office 

Siskiyou County Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction Will Be Held At Jackson County Expo August 12 through the 14

Siskiyou County is in a State of Emergency and the 2022 Siskiyou Golden Fair in Yreka has been cancelled due to the McKinney Fire. This has lead to a new plan to hold this year’s Junior Livestock Auction on Aug. 12 through the 14 at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point.

“We had many offers to assist in our time of need but the closest fairground us is Jackson County even though it is in the State of Oregon” said CEO Cliff Munson. “The support we are getting from our neighbors to the north is beyond anything you would expect and I personally will be forever grateful for their assistance.”

Fair officials are also working on providing a facility in Siskiyou County that will livestream the livestock show so Siskiyou County residents can participate without having to travel to Oregon. This location is yet to be determined, fair officials said.

The Saturday night livestock auction will include an onsite meal at the Expo and at the viewing facility in Siskiyou County starting at 5:00 pm with the sale starting at 6:00 pm and the Sunday morning Sale will start at 10:00 am after a buyer’s breakfast.

Exhibitor Information:

Exhibitors showing the following species can arrive as early as Thursday, Aug. 11, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm but must arrive by 8:00 am on Saturday morning for weigh-in. It is mandatory that all exhibitors with these species are on site by 8:00 am Friday morning. Showmanship animals must be on site but not weighed.

The scale will open for weighing all species at 7:00 am:

  • Steers
  • Heifers
  • Rabbits
  • Poultry
  • Turkeys

Exhibitors showing the following species can arrive as early as Friday, Aug. 12 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm but must arrive by 8:00 am Saturday morning. (showmanship animals must be on site but not weighed) The scale will open at 6:00 am on Saturday morning for hogs and 7:00 am for sheep and goats.

The Jackson County Expo has dry camping spots available. Fair officials are working with the Expo’s staff to create a map of spaces at this time.

“The Junior Livestock committee will be making every effort to ensure that no child is left behind,” Munson noted in the release.

Junior Livestock committee vice president Jeff Fowle will be the point of contact for exhibitors that need assistance and can be reached by phone or text at 530-598-5104 or by email at jefffowle90627@gmail.com.

For all other questions or concerns please contact the Siskiyou Golden Fairground at info@sisqfair.com or by phone at 530-842-2767 — MORE INFO: https://www.sisqfair.com/p/about/10th-district-jlac

Check The Air Quality Anywhere In The State With This Interactive Map

Wildfires are burning in Oregon again this summer, causing air quality to suffer. A recent study conducted by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, which operates air-monitoring stations around the state, found that wildfires have been burning more acres than usual in recent years, causing longer stretches of poor air quality in the state.

The Oregonian/OregonLive’s interactive Oregon Smoke Forecast map allows you to check the air quality where you are. Specifically, it ranks the air quality in vibrant color for Good, Moderate, Unhealthy (Sensitive Groups), Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy and Hazardous air. https://projects.oregonlive.com/wildfires/map

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. Note: Reported COVID-19 case counts are higher than expected for Aug. 2. Our initial investigation found no apparent technical issues.For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/rn9b50Kb2Ab

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases and hospitalizations. Test positivity and vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.
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McKinney Fire Wildfire Update 8/4/2022

Location: Siskiyou County, CA
Size: 58,668 acres
Cause: Under Investigation 
Start Date: Friday July 29, 2022 at 2:15pm
Percent Contained: 10%  
Vegetation: Timber (Litter and Understory), Tall Grass, and Brush
Number of Personnel Assigned: 2,219

Tuesday’s thunderstorms dropped 1-3 inches of rain on the eastern flank of the McKinney Fire. The higher amounts fell on the eastern one third. Heavy debris flow occurred as a result in multiple drainages and blocked lower lying portions of Humbug Creek Rd. On Wednesday morning, heavy equipment was used to reestablish access into the area for the firefighters working that branch of the fire. Although a considerable amount of rain fell, many pockets of heat remain. As the area dries in the coming days, fire activity in the east is expected to pick up once again. The western half of the fire did not receive measurable precipitation.

Yesterday morning fire behavior was minimal over the entire incident with very little active burning. Pockets of heavy fuels continued to smoke throughout the morning and fire activity picked up on the western portion of the incident as fuels, heated by the afternoon sun, began to dry out. The fire was most active near Mill Creek Road in the southwest portion and Pipeline Gap in the northwest. Pipeline Gap is an area with high potential for fire spread. Helicopters and air tankers were used to support firefighters on the ground as they fought to limit spread in both areas. Aircraft dropped over 50,000 gallons of retardant during the operational period.

Progress in fireline construction has been steady but slow going along the fire’s edge. Difficult terrain and heavy fuels have been a challenge. However, dozer lines have been completed in multiple areas surrounding the fire. The fire is holding along the river’s edge east of Horse Creek along Highway 96.

An increase in fire behavior due to weather changing over the next several days will add to the challenge. Firefighters will keep a close eye on conditions today as they continue direct line construction wherever it is safe to do so. They will also evaluate options near Pipeline Gap, Bald Mountain and Baldy Gap where direct line construction may not be an option.

COMMUNITY MEETING:
A community meeting is being planned for tomorrow night in Yreka at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds. Details on the time and specific meeting location will be announced shortly.

Questions desired to be answered are appreciated in advance and can be sent to 2022.mckinney@firenet.gov

WEATHER:
The fire area will be warmer and drier today. Humidity on peak and ridges started out lower today and winds will primarily out of the west this afternoon.

Fire restrictions are in effect on the Klamath National Forest. For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/klamath/alerts-notices/

Pacific Crest Trail Information: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/closures 

As wildfires continue blazing in Southern Oregon and Northern California, rain moved into the region. But not enough to help firefighters. Instead, the rain brought with it lightning strikes and the blazes increased in size.

The McKinney Fire, which began began Friday near Yreka, California, grew in acres. It is now at 56,165 acres, maintaining its status as the largest of the wildfires that are gripping Northern California.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday morning the McKinney Fire had claimed two more lives, bringing the total number of known deaths up to four. Two individuals were found in their separate homes along Highway 96.

According to the Klamath National Forest Service (KNFS), the 1,300-person firefighting crew was able to make some amount of progress on the wildfire Sunday, when humidity was high, preventing the flames from spreading as rapidly, however, containment remains at zero percent.

According to Meteorologist Miles Bliss of the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Medford, with the rain came more than 2,000 lightning strikes in the region. Bliss said the average number of lightning strikes this time of year
is a little more than 200 a day. However, low pressure off the west coast shoreline and high pressure to the east, near the four-corners region, combined with tropical storms off the Baha and California coasts, created a “perfect storm” which led to this unusual spike.

The 2022 wildfire season has taken off in Oregon and Washington with dozens of fires now reported. This is a roundup of the biggest fires in the Pacific Northwest as of August 3, 2022.

Dodge/Miller Fire

Evacuation advisories were issued in Wasco County, Oregon as the Dodge/Miller Fire burns through the Pine Grove area, officials announced Tuesday.

As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, officials report the fire has doubled in size and 0% is contained.

A Level 3 “GET OUT NOW” evacuation advisory has been issued from Victor Road and Walters Road North to the south side of 216 to Highway 197, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office announced. Additionally, officials called a Level 2 “BE PREPARED” evacuation order for the east side of 197 and all of Oak Spring Road to 216, along with the city of Maupin.

Vantage Highway Fire

The Vantage Highway Fire started on August 1 and as of 7 a.m. Wednesday has consumed 10,500 acres , or 16.4 square miles, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. Officials said 18% of the fire is contained.

Fire crews confirmed a cabin and three outbuildings were destroyed in the fire.

Residents of Vantage are not under any evacuation notices as of Tuesday night. Prior to this, a Level 2 “BE PREPARED” evacuation notice was issued before being upgraded at 9 p.m. Monday to a Level 3 “GET OUT NOW” evacuation advisory. Those orders were ultimately cut back as firefighters minimized the threat — allowing residents to return to their homes.

Fly Creek Fire

Evacuation orders are still in place around Lake Billy Chinook Tuesday as the Fly Creek Fire continues burning, now at 280 acres and as of 10 a.m. Wednesday 80% of the fire was contained.

The Level 3 “GO NOW” evacuation order remains in place for Perry South and Monty campgrounds, but officials scaled the notice for Three Rivers down to a Level 1.

Firefighters have the majority of a bulldozer line built so it doesn’t spread further, however, officials said they are continuing to establish and connect control lines around the edge of the fire.

Windigo Fire

Fire crews have gained some ground at the Windigo Fire, with about 978 acres still burning Wednesday.

On Tuesday, an estimated 1,200 acres was burning in the Umpqua National Forest, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

The forest service said the blaze is 0% contained . The fire is actively burning in timber nearly 20 miles southwest of La Pine near Crescent Lake.

State of Oregon Fires and Hotspots Dashboard
Northwest Interagency Coordination Center

Potter Fire

The Potter Fire, which was first reported on the morning of July 31 , has grown to 97 acres while containment remains at 0%, according to officials.

On Monday, the Northwest Interagency reported the fire grew an additional 340 acres, but officials said Tuesday night the acreage was reduced to 85 due to “more accurate mapping.”

It is burning near the south side of Potter Mountain on the Middle Fork Ranger District, closing the trail section between OR 138 and Summit Lake.

Beech Creek Fire

The Beech Creek Fire near Long Creek is burning 248 acres and is 15% contained, officials announced Wednesday. The fire is reportedly threatening nearby structures

Tolo Mountain Fire

The Tolo Mountain Fire is now 75% contained and remains 41 acres . Crews will stay in place until full containment is reached. The local Type 3 team will hand the management of the fire back to the Crescent Ranger District at 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 2

Oregon Real ID deadline 9 months away – expect it to get busier so best not to procrastinate

Oregon Department of Transportation : Real ID Information : Oregon Driver &  Motor Vehicle Services : State of Oregon

Oregonians will need more than a standard Oregon driver license or ID card at airport security checkpoints to board a flight within the U.S starting May 3, 2023.  Residents will need a Real ID-compliant driver license or ID card, or a passport or other federally acceptable ID.

It’s now nine months to that deadline.

The Transportation Security Administration has a full list of identity documents it will accept for air travel at TSA.gov.

The big key here is do not wait until the last minute, because thousands of other people may also wait until the last minute. DMV offices in Oregon and across the country are busy, and the U.S. Department of State has a backlog for passport applications and renewals. As the REAL ID deadline approaches, DMVs and the State Department will get busier.

Is your license or ID card expiring in the next nine months?

You can renew your Oregon license or ID card up to 12 months before your expiration date.

If you need to renew between now and May 3, 2023, the Oregon Department of Transportation recommends to do it early and add the Real ID option in order to save you a second trip to DMV or the wait for a passport.

Real ID is optional in Oregon because you may already have a passport, passport card, military ID or other credential for air travel.

However, if you want the Real ID option on your Oregon driver license or ID card, don’t wait until you book a flight.

How do I get the Real ID option in Oregon?

  1. Make sure you have the documents you need to qualify for Real ID. Create your own checklist at Oregon.gov/Realid.
  2. You must apply for Real ID in person. You can visit a DMV office or make an appointment at DMV2U.Oregon.gov.
  3. Bring the documents on your checklist and your current license or ID card, and pay the $30 Real ID fee in addition to the regular issuance, renewal or replacement fee.
  4. Then the process is the same as a standard Oregon card: signature, get your photo taken and receive a paper interim card until your Real ID plastic card arrives in the mail in 5-10 business days. You cannot use the interim card for air travel.

“You may already have the ID you need for air travel,” Joyce said.

“But if you don’t, please act now – get or renew your passport, or add the Real ID option to your Oregon license or ID card. Oregon DMV offices are already very busy, but they will get busier in 2023 because of Real ID.”

Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Busts Illegal Marijuana Grow In Sprague River

On Tuesday, August 2, 2022 the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at the property belonging to, Erick Vianey Castillo-Vasquez, located west of Sprague River, Oregon. Surveillance of the property showed 20 greenhouses containing what appeared to be an illegal marijuana grow operation.

Upon arrival, several people fled on foot into the wooded area and were not located. Brian Valencia-Nieto, 22 of Mexico, Salvador Lopez-Lopez, 30 of Corning, California and Jose Anguiano-Perez, 48 of Pasco, Washington were arrested and lodged at the Klamath County Jail. All were charged with:
• Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (ORS 475B.337)
• Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana (ORS 475B.349)
• Unlawful Use of Ground Water (ORS 537.535)
In addition, Jose Anguiano-Perez was also charged with Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine (ORS 475.894).

The on-scene investigation revealed 20 large greenhouses, each measuring approximately 150 feet long. The greenhouses and surrounding property contained over 10,000 illegal marijuana plants in various stages of maturity. Also discovered was the illegal use of ground water to irrigate the marijuana. Deputies located infrastructure for drying in addition to stored and potentially harmful fertilizers.

Deputies observed multiple tents and bedding areas to accommodate numerous trafficked workers along with a considerable amount of trash and debris. Much of the debris consisted of thousands of feet of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) piping, plastic drip tubing, plastic greenhouse coverings and more. Trash and debris are scattered throughout the property.

It is estimated that 360,000 gallons of water, over a period of 4 months, was illegally used to grow this amount of marijuana.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Basin Inter-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team, Klamath County Solid Waste, Klamath County Code Enforcement, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State Waster Master.

Please Report Illegal Marijuana to: (541) 850-5380 or mjtipline@klamathcounty.org

Zadeh Kicks Owner and Chief Financial Officer Charged in $85 Million Wire Fraud and Bank Fraud Conspiracy

Fraud victims asked to submit loss information to the FBI

EUGENE, Ore.—The former owner and chief financial officer of Zadeh Kicks LLC, a now-defunct Oregon corporation that sold limited edition and collectible sneakers online, made their first appearances in federal court today after being charged with perpetrating a fraud scheme that allegedly cost customers more than $70 million in unfulfilled orders and defrauded financial institutions out of over $15 million.

Michael Malekzadeh, 39, a Eugene resident, has been charged by criminal information with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and money laundering. Bethany Mockerman, 39, also of Eugene, has been charged with conspiring with Malekzadeh to commit bank fraud. 

According to court documents, Malekzadeh started his business in 2013 by purchasing limited edition and collectible sneakers to resell online. Beginning as early as January 2020, Zadeh Kicks began offering preorders of sneakers before their public release dates, allowing Malekzadeh to collect money upfront before fulfilling orders. Malekzadeh advertised, sold, and collected payments from customers for preorders knowing he could not satisfy all orders placed.

For example, in 2021, Malekzadeh began selling preorders of Nike Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey sneakers. Zadeh Kicks received and accepted preorder sales of over 600,000 pairs of sneakers, resulting in payments to Malekzadeh of more than $70 million. Malekzadeh had no way of acquiring the quantity of sneakers needed to fill the preorders received. In fact, he was only able to acquire just over 6,000 pairs. Customers were either left with unfulfilled orders or they received a combination refund of cash and Zadeh Kicks gift cards.

By April 2022, Malekzadeh owed customers more than $70 million in undelivered sneakers and unknown additional millions held by customers in worthless company gift cards.

In her role as Zadeh Kicks chief financial officer, Mockerman conspired with Malekzadeh to provide false and altered financial information to numerous financial institutions—including providing altered bank statements—on more than 15 bank loan applications. Together, Mockerman and Malekzadeh received more than $15 million in loans from these applications.

As part of the government’s ongoing criminal investigation, federal agents have seized millions of dollars in cash and luxury goods that Malekzadeh acquired with the proceeds of his fraud. The seized items include nearly 100 watches, some valued at over $400,000, jewelry, and hundreds of luxury handbags. The government also seized nearly $6.4 million in cash which was the result Malekzadeh’s sale of watches and luxury cars manufactured by Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and others.

Malekzadeh and Mockerman are cooperating with the government’s investigation, including the seizure of assets described above. Both made their first appearances in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai and were released conditions pending further court proceedings.

If you or someone you know were a Zadeh Kicks customer with unfulfilled orders or otherwise believe you were defrauded by Malekzadeh or Mockerman, the FBI wants to hear from you. Please visit FBI.gov/ZadehKicks to complete a brief online questionnaire. Your voluntary responses will assist with the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation and help to identify you as a potential crime victim. Based on your responses, you may be contacted by the FBI for more information.

This case is being investigated by IRS–Criminal Investigations, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Oregon Intellectual Property Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gavin W. Bruce and Quinn P. Harrington are prosecuting the case. The related asset seizures and forfeitures are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie de Villiers and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division.

A criminal information is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Oregon Will Vote This November On One Of The Strictest Gun Laws In The Nation

Oregon voters will decide on Measure 114 this Nov. 8, which would require anyone buying a gun to apply for a permit first. The measure would require anyone applying for a permit to:

  • Pay a fee.
  • Submit a photo ID.
  • Be fingerprinted.
  • Complete an approved safety training.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Not be prohibited from possessing firearms.

Law enforcement would be able to deny a permit to anyone likely to be a danger to themself or others. This denial would be appealable.

This law would also prohibit the manufacture, purchase or possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Current Oregon law requires a background check before sale or transfer of a firearm, which would remain in place if Measure 114 fails.

Report Finds Housing Costs and Remote Work Contribute To Oregon Applicant Shortage

Like companies nationwide, employers across Oregon are having difficulty finding qualified applicants for their open jobs. But a new study finds that Oregon’s high housing costs are a major contributor, and that the rise of remote work may put some Oregon firms at an even bigger disadvantage.

The workforce study is conducted by the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest every two years for the state Oregon Workforce, Talent Development Board and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. This year’s is the third, and the first since the pandemic wholly transformed the employment landscape.

It’s based on a survey of more than 300 employers across 11 industries and interviews with 31.

The hospitality and healthcare sectors are having the hardest time refilling positions cut during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study found.

It’s no coincidence that they’re two industries that rely on in-person workers, said John Tapogna, a lead researcher for the study.

The hospitality industry, in particular, downsized dramatically early in the pandemic, as hotels, bars and restaurants shut down or transformed their businesses for normal operations. But as service industries began to reopen, and demand from consumers surged, the businesses scrambled to restaff in response.

In trying to fill active positions, companies across the board have raised pay to lure new employees. Wages have increased across all sectors by 17% on average from pre-pandemic levels.

But inflation has eroded purchasing power in the last two years. After accounting for higher costs, the actual wage increase is closer to 5%, according to ECONorthwest, giving jobseekers less incentive to enter the fields where wages are growing fastest.

Fuel and rent are among the biggest contributors to the inflation spike of the past two years.

Commuting is one of the biggest costs for working. For companies that can adapt to workers telecommuting from home, it’s suddenly less of a stretch to consider that a worker could telecommute from anywhere — including less expensive states.

Oregon firms that have embraced remote work are suddenly flooded with applications from anywhere and everywhere, and their local applicants face much more competition.

Some companies will pay an applicant from outside of Oregon the same amount they would have offered if the applicant were living in Oregon — an extra incentive for employees living in cheaper locales.

This puts Oregon at a long-term disadvantage if it can’t get housing costs under control.

“What could prevent us from realizing the full upside of that remote work transition is the underproduction of housing and high prices,” Tapogna said. “It would be more of a benefit if Oregon can get its production (of housing) moving and could ease the upward pressure on prices.”

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Women Missing Since May 1st 2022 between Medford, Grants Pass and Roseburg per Oregon State Police

MAKENNA KENDALL                                   5/3/2022
ERICA LEE  HUTCHINSON                          5/26/2022                          
MARIAH DANIELLE SHARP                          6/12/2022          
KAITLYN RAE NELSON                                  6/14/2022                 
BROOKLYN JOHNS                                     6/14/2022
DONNA LEPP                                               6/27/2022  
BARBARA  DELEPINE                                    7/4/2022                     
****KENDRA MARIE HANKS                              7/7/2022 FOUND MURDERED 7/21/2022
CORI BOSHANE MCCANN                             7/8/2022
SHYHAILA SMITH 7/12/2022
ALEZAE LILYANNE MARTINEZ 7/13/2022
RAVEN RILEY                                                7/13/2022
TAHUANA RILEY                                        7/13/2022
DANIELLE NEWVILLE 7/14/2022
CONNIE LORAINE BOND 7/19/2022
KARIN DAWN RUSSELL 7/19/2022
CHEYENNE SPRINGS 7/19/2022
KAREN ANNETTE SCIORTINO 7/22/2022
MARLENE HICKEY 7/23/2022
MAKAYLA MAY VAUGHT 7/23/2022
WENDY JEAN HAZEN 7/26/2022
SHAHE SOPHIA CATRANIDES 7/27/2022

Women Missing Since May 1st 2022 in Lane County per Oregon State Police

REISA RAQUEAL SIKEL                            5/3/2022
HANNAH MARIE RHOTEN                             5/17/2022
MARISSA ALEESA DAMBROSIO                  5/18/2022
ISABELLA BROSOWSKEYOUNGBLOOD    6/7/2022             
LOUISA DAY AVA                                           5/28/2022             
AMY CHRISTINA SULLIVAN                          6/1/2022
NIKKI ELIZABETH  ZEREBNY                              6/6/2022
SHADOW STAR SEVIGNY                               6/17/2022
SHAUNA LEAH HOGAN                             6/17/2022
AIRIONNA CHEALSEY RHODES                    6/27/2022           
KARISSA RENEE ADAMS                                7/6/2000
VERONICA ESSYNCE DELERIO                    7/6/2022
AUBRIE HANNA STEPHENS                           7/10/2022     
LARA IVEY STEINMETZ                                 7/11/2022
SARA LINDSAY SCHAEFER                            7/12/2022
ANGELINA MARIE NAZAR 7/16/2022
LUCIA MARTHA PANNIER 7/17/2022
MALINA LINN COATS 7/20/2022
KATHY A VERNACCHIO 7/23/2022
LILLY ANNE WARMUTH 7/28/2022
MALINA LINN COATS 7/29/2022
JORDYN CLARA GOHL 7/31/2022
QAVAH ALAH TILLILIE 7/31/2022

As of 8/2/2022, there are now 44 women missing between Medford and Eugene. Sadly Kendra Hanks has been found murdered, though that takes her off the list. We send thoughts and prayers to her family as well as the families of all missing people in our area.

44 women missing in 3 months. That averages out to 14+ missing per month. Something needs to be done.

This is just a small compilation of missing women’s pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten. https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

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