Rogue Valley News, Friday 9/30 – Human Caused Wildfires Near Lithia Park in Ashland, Task Force Serves Search Warrant for Child Porn at Central Point Residence

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, September 30, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

Human Caused Wildfires Near Lithia Park in Ashland

Two fires are burning on Glenview Drive just down the road from Lithia Park. Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District, Ashland Fire, and Jackson County Fire District 5 were engaged in the aggressive initial attack.

(Oregon Department of Forestry)

There were two separate fires started approximately 500 feet apart. Due to the mild conditions the fires spread slowly, aiding firefighters. The fires were human caused and an ODF fire investigator, aided by Ashland Fire & Rescue, is conducting an investigation.

According to ODF both fires are now wet-lined and are estimated to be 3/4 of an acre total. Firefighters are making good progress on the line. 

If you have any information about the cause of the fire, please contact the Ashland Police Department. No evacuations were needed after due consideration by chief officers on scene.

Joint Task Force Serves Search Warrant After Child Porn Uploaded from Local Central Point Residence

JCSO Case 22-0837 CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force served a search warrant this morning at a residence on the 2500 block of Rabun Way in Central Point. SOCET served the warrant this morning after discovering numerous images of child exploitation were uploaded from the residence. Detectives are interviewing possible witnesses and involved parties, and investigations are ongoing.

During the warrant, investigators seized digital devices which will be forensically examined by the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF) for further evidence of child exploitation. A tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) started the investigation, which led to subpoenas, followed by the search warrant at the residence. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Jackson County District Attorney’s office, and SOHTCTF assisted with the warrant service.

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Grants Pass Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and HSI; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

Federal Court Upholds Ruling That Grants Pass Violated Constitutional Rights Of Homeless

A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a ruling that found the city of Grants Pass in southern Oregon violated the constitutional rights of people experiencing homelessness through a series of ordinances designed to prevent sleeping outside on public property.

In a 2-1 decision, judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld a 2020 injunction issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke, which ruled several ordinances designed to prevent people from sleeping on sidewalks and streets, violated the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment.

“We affirm the district court’s ruling that the City of Grants Pass cannot, consistent with the Eighth Amendment, enforce its anti-camping ordinances against homeless persons for the mere act of sleeping outside with rudimentary protection from the elements, or for sleeping in their car at night, when there is no other place in the City for them to go,” Roslyn Silver, a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Arizona states in the court’s opinion. Circuit Court Judge Ronald Gould signed onto Silver’s opinion. Both judges were appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

The decision Wednesday rests on a 2018 ruling from the Ninth Circuit, known as Martin v. Boise, which found a person cannot be punished for sleeping in public if there’s nowhere else for them to go.

That case has had widespread implications for municipalities throughout the Western United States that have tried to regulate where people without shelter can spend the night.

In Wednesday’s ruling, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Daniel Collins dissented. He stated the ruling “effectively requires the City of Grants Pass to allow all but one of its public parks to be used as homeless encampments.” Collins, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, stated that Martin and the Grass Pass case, “should be overturned or overruled at the earliest opportunity.”

Wednesday’s decision also held that homeless people sleeping in public cannot be fined. And the court found if the city did not provide enough shelter beds, people forced to sleep outside could use tents, or other forms of protection from the elements, or sleep in their vehicles.

Grant Pass city manager Aaron Cubic said the city was still reviewing the decision and didn’t have an initial comment.

Medford Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting a joint Targeted Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on Friday

On Friday, September 30, 2022 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, the Medford Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting a joint “Targeted Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation” on E 4th Street and Bartlett Street within the City of Medford.  

The operation will focus on drivers failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk.  It is important to know there are two marked crosswalks at this location that cross E 4th Street.   

These operations are to raise pedestrian safety awareness through enforcement of pedestrian right of way laws with the use of a decoy pedestrian operation at targeted locations.  Violators may be cited for failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian in a marked or unmarked crosswalk or passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Both violations carry a presumptive fine of $265.00.  Drivers should be reminded there is a crosswalk at every intersection, regardless if it is marked or unmarked.           

Drivers are reminded of the Oregon laws that require a driver must stop and remain stopped if a pedestrian is walking in your lane of traffic or the lane adjacent, remembering this applies on single and multi-lane roadways.  Oregon law also prohibits passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection if the vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway. Medford Police Dept.

Opioid overdoses increased in 2021, OHA report shows

Fentanyl and methamphetamine help fuel rise in deaths and hospitalizations

PORTLAND, Ore.—Methamphetamines and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl helped drive an increase in opioid overdoses and related deaths in 2021, according to a new Oregon Health Authority (OHA) report.

The report, Opioids and the Ongoing Drug Overdose Crisis in Oregon, shows that overdoses involving multiple drugs – known as polysubstance overdoses – also rose during 2021 and now account for more than half of all fatal overdoses. In addition, hospitalizations increased in 2021 following decreases between 2018 and 2020. Charges for drug overdose-related hospitalizations reached $170 million and overdose-related emergency room charges reached $50 million.

“What this report tells us is that, even as prescription opioids were on the decline in Oregon over the last decade, misuse of synthetic and prescription opioids and other drugs continues to take a heavy toll on everyone in our state,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy health officer and deputy state epidemiologist at OHA’s Public Health Division, who served as an advisor on the report. “We need to continue our efforts focused on enhanced prevention across the continuum of drug use.”

The report also describes those at highest risk for unintentional drug overdose death in 2021, which were non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives, non-Hispanic Blacks, and males. At lowest risk were people of Hispanic ethnicity and non-Hispanic Asians and Pacific Islanders.

“These are populations that have been unfairly affected by systemic racism, socioeconomic and political injustices and bias, which through multiple pathways can worsen health outcomes and increase the risk of experiencing a drug overdose,” Jeanne said.

The report noted some trends that presented opportunities for intervention with those at risk of overdoses.

For one, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel administered naloxone, a drug that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, during 5,556 encounters in 2021, which is up from 3,758 encounters in 2019. In most of these cases the patient was transferred to a medical care facility for treatment.

In addition, there were almost 73,000 emergency department visits and more than 17,000 hospitalizations related to substance use disorder or intoxication issues other than an overdose in 2021. Such health care interactions represent opportunities to connect patients to treatment, prescribe naloxone – a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose – and provide other supports to reduce their risk for experiencing future overdoses, the report explains.

Providing comprehensive, non-stigmatizing harm-reduction services for people who use drugs is among a number of response strategies the report points to. Others include education for people who have never used drugs; resilience building and support to strengthen protective factors among those at higher risk for drug use and for developing substance use disorder; ensuring universal access to culturally sensitive treatment; and maintaining strong support for people in recovery, including peer support workers.

“Each non-fatal overdose and medical or behavioral health care visit has the potential to be a touch point with prevention, treatment and recovery services to support recovery and reduce the risk of a future fatal overdose,” according to the report.

An overdose is always a medical emergency. Individuals should call 911 before administering naloxone. Oregon’s Good Samaritan Law protects the caller and the person who has overdosed against possession and paraphernalia charges.

OHA’s Naloxone Rescue for Opioid Overdose webpage contains naloxone frequently asked questions and a map showing Oregon pharmacies that distribute the medicine. In Oregon, naloxone is available without a prescription. Anyone actively using opioids, or other illicit substances, can get naloxone and other harm-reduction materials at no cost through syringe service programs. Syringe service programs are available to anyone who uses drugs, regardless of whether they inject them. Here is OHA’s list of syringe and needle exchange services available in Oregon.

OHA has developed the following guidance for people who use drugs:

  • Unless a pharmacist directly hands you a prescription pill, assume it is counterfeit and contains fentanyl.
  • Assume any pills obtained from social media, the internet or a friend are counterfeit and contain fentanyl.
  • If you are using pills, don’t use alone and always have naloxone on hand and visible.
  • Test your drugs with fentanyl test strips before you use them. Fentanyl test strips can often be accessed at local harm-reduction sites.

OHA seeking applicants for peer run respite programs in Oregon. Deadline is Oct.6

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has issued a Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) seeking state-based organizations to operate peer-run respite programs for people who experience a mental health crisis or emotional distress that may lead to a higher-level of care.

The program, established under House Bill 2980, will distribute $6 million in grants to operate up to four peer-run centers in four geographic regions: The Portland-Metro area, central or eastern Oregon, southern Oregon and the Oregon coast. At least one of the centers must offer culturally specific services.

Peer-run respites are voluntary, non-clinical, short-term residential programs operated in home-like settings for people experiencing emotional distress. The respites are staffed by people with lived experience and run independently of other behavioral health support providers.

The program is being operated through OHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience. More about the grants and the program can be found here.

Eligibility is limited to peer-run organizations currently operating in Oregon. Information on how to apply for the programs, including the RFGA can be found here. The deadline for RFGA applications is Thursday, Oct. 6.

Division of Financial Regulation warns student loan borrowers about scams

SALEM – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is warning people about the uptick in student loan scams. With recent changes to federal student loan programs, scammers are bombarding borrowers with fraudulent offers for loan forgiveness and refinancing.

The division reminds people to ignore phone calls, emails, social media messages, and other unsolicited messages from people claiming they can help you get your student loans forgiven faster or telling you that you should refinance your loan. Do not accept these unexpected offers without first checking to see if the offer is legitimate. Chances are it is a scam. Scammers may use the phrases such as “pre-enrollment for all loan forgiveness” or “you must apply within the next 24 hours.”

“There are no fees associated with signing up for student loan forgiveness, so don’t fall for these scams,” said TK Keen, administrator for DFR. “Everyone will have the same opportunities and there are no ways to cut in line and get loans forgiven faster.” 

There are recent and upcoming changes to federal student loans and forgiveness of loans, as well as the Biden Administration’s one time cancellation. With those changes, unfortunately, there are people who will prey on those seeking help.

“There is not yet an application available for President Biden’s relief plan,” said Lane Thompson, Oregon student loan ombuds. “People can get alerted once the program is live by visiting the U.S. Department of Education website and check the box title ‘NEWII Federal Student Loan Borrower Updates.’”

One helpful reminder is that if it is not a .gov website, it is not an official site of the federal government. The key signs to watch out for are if they tell you there is an urgency, a guarantee, and any secrecy.

“Any time the Department of Education announces changes to the student loan program, scammers come out of the woodwork,” Thompson said. “The advice remains the same: if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.”

If you have questions regarding your student loan’s eligibility, it is best to go to studentaid.gov. If you believe you received incorrect information from your servicer, email .bankingproducthelp@dcbs.oregon.gov“>dfr.bankingproducthelp@dcbs.oregon.gov or call our consumer hotline at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).

About Oregon DFR: 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 www.dcbs.oregon.gov and dfr.oregon.gov.​​

Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Still Searching for Armed-And-Dangerous Suspect

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is warning people that an abduction suspect who’s on the loose could be a risk to them. KCSO says Koon is armed and dangerous as a kidnap and burglary suspect with a felony warrant for assault.

It says 19-year-old Eric Koon could have changed his appearance.  The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) also says people who help him could be at risk.

The photos below show Koon in January (facial photo) and another image came from KCSO today showing him in a yellow hoodie.

It says Koon is the estranged boyfriend of 20-year-old Molly Swedensky whom he tried to take from her home September 18 when, “He bound her wrists with zip ties, taped her mouth and fled only after she escaped and alerted help,” before she was missing two days later.

It says on September 20, 2022 KCSO deputies found Swedensky at a Pilot Travel Center in Chemult, starting pursuit of Koon south on Highway 97 at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.

KCSO says its deputies’ spike strips and Oregon State Police (OSP) help caused Koon’s pickup (in photo) to stop near milepost 222 where he went into a wooded area armed with a handgun.

Since then, KCSO deputies, OSP, Klamath Falls Police Department and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement have searched the area, unable to locate Eric Patrick Koon.

KCSO says people might have helped Koon in the last few days, and with Koon armed and dangerous the “public should know they are putting themselves at risk if they attempt to help him. . .  If you see Eric Patrick Koon do not approach please call 911 immediately.”

It welcomes any related information at the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 541-850-5380.

Governor Brown Visits the Cedar Creek Fire Command Center in Oakridge

Governor Kate Brown paid a visit Thursday to one of the state’s largest wildfires this year. 

The Cedar Creek Fire, which has caused smoky skies in Central Oregon in recent days. The fire is now 120,546 acres and 27% contained after burning for over two months. 

Governor Brown visited with representatives from USFS, OSFM, ODF, Oakridge Fire District, Eugene Springfield Fire Department to hear about the fire’s background and current operations at the incident command center in Oakridge. 

“For me, this is about coming and saying thank you to all of our partners,” Brown said. “I had a visit with the City of Oakridge, the mayor and the fire chief there, to hear about their experiences on the ground and the impact that Senate Bill 762 had on the community.” 

SB 762, passed by the Oregon legislature last year, provided more than $220 million for wildfire preparedness throughout the state. 

“The work on the local level, the county level, the state level, and our federal partners has truly made difference in terms of keeping communities safe and keeping people alive,” Brown said. “That level of collaboration, I think, is unusual.” 

The fire has cost more than $100 million to fight over the past couple of months. 

The location and nature of the lightning-caused fire made a quick elimination impossible. During the briefing, officials spoke about how the fire began on a cliff next to Cedar Creek, and the 70-80% slope and lack of road access made it difficult to reach. 

Many living in Oakridge are still shaken from evacuations earlier this month, when a wind event pushed the fire east and brought a large part of the town under Level 3: Go Now evacuation orders. 

The cooler temperatures and rain this week have hampered the fire’s growth, but the work is far from over, as nearly 1,300 fire personnel operate from the bases in Oakridge and at Mt. Bachelor. 

“We’re incredibly grateful that all of these folks are wiling to put their lives on the line to protect Oregon resources to keep people safe and to protect property,” Brown said. 

Resources assigned include: 33 Engines 26 Handcrews 5 Dozers 22 Masticators 9 Helicopters 2 Air Attack Platforms

May be an image of 1 person and outdoors
Photo of the Day – Friday, September 30, 2022: Firefighters from U.S. Forest Service-Bridger-Teton National Forest use a combination of water, dirt, and tools to mop up hot spots in Division X. Mop up is an operation where crews work to extinguish and remove burning material near control lines after an area has burned to help reduce risks to containment and to reduce residual smoke. 📸 Alan Thorton, Public Information Officer

Check out continuing coverage of the fire here on Facebook. To check out our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/c/CedarCreekFire

Oregon Spent Millions On Kids Who Were Never Enrolled In Preschool

Millions of dollars meant to help low-income families send their children to preschool did not meet Oregon’s enrollment requirements, according to state records.

The Early Learning Division, part of the Oregon Education Department, spent about $26 million on preschool slots over the past two school years for low-income kids that never enrolled.

With gas prices soaring and inflation pushing many Oregonians to pinch pennies, Jeff Myers, a Beaverton parent, said he believes government agencies should be doing the same. That’s why he dug into how Oregon’s Early Learning Division spent taxpayer dollars.

“I basically just got a tip that there was something wrong with this particular program,” he said. “These are literally millions of dollars that are being thrown away that could go to schools.”

ELD blames under-enrollment on the pandemic. Division leaders refused to do an on-camera interviews. In a written statement it said, in part, “Following the lead of the federal office of child care, the Early Learning Division did not reduce funding to under-enrolled programs during the pandemic.”

As restrictions were lifted in the 2021 to 2022 school year, many preschools that were under-enrolled picked up their numbers. Some did not.

Oregon DEQ Takes Comments On Gas Vehicle Ban

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is planning to implement California’s ban on gas powered cars and light-duty trucks by 2035. The agency is taking public comment through Friday October 21st. The rule requires vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero emission vehicles starting in 2026 and by 2035, all new cars and light trucks must be zero emission. The rule also requires manufacturers to meet minimum technology requirements for range, battery warranty, and charging. Comments can be made on the DEQ’s website

The proposed rules also include Low Emission Vehicle requirements to ensure new gasoline vehicles sold up until 2035 are as clean as possible. These changes clarify both existing definitions and testing requirements and reduce cold-start emissions and lowers the maximum exhaust and evaporative emission rates.

Public Comment

DEQ is asking for public comment on the proposed rules. Anyone can submit comments and questions about this rulemaking. A person can submit comments by email, regular mail or at the public hearing.

Comment deadline— DEQ will only consider comments on the proposed rules that DEQ receives by 4 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Submit comment by email to: Levzev2022@deq.oregon.gov

By mail — Oregon DEQ Attn: Rachel Sakata 700 NE Multnomah St., Suite 600 Portland, OR 97232-4100

Public Hearings — DEQ plans to hold two public hearings. Anyone can attend these hearings by webinar.

Hearing 1: Date: Oct. 18, 2022 Start time: 6:30 p.m. Join online via Zoom

Join by phone Call-in number: 1-253-215-8782 Meeting ID: 872 5685 8105 Passcode: 274275

Hearing 2: Date: Oct. 19, 2022 Start time: 10 a.m. Join online via Zoom

Join by phone Call-in number: 833-548-0276, US Toll-free Meeting ID: 846 6176 8619 Passcode: 341424

The public hearing is online only. Instructions for joining webinar or teleconference: Instructions

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022

It’s the time of year when we’re all gifted an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday night. One may wonder why folks can’t just look at a calendar to determine when this will happen, but then how many people buy a calendar anymore?

The Tumultuous History of Daylight Saving Time | OpenMind

Here’s where some might get tripped up. The time change doesn’t always happen on the same date. The United States has the time changes happening the second Sunday of March, and the first Sunday of November. Due to calendar changes each year there are seven possible dates for each of these events.

In 2018 the “fall back” date was Nov. 4. This year it’s Nov. 6. Last year was the latest date it can change, Nov. 7.
In any case, until the federal government allows the big change to one uniform time for Oregon (and Washington and California) we’ll be changing the clocks again next spring. For those who like to plan ahead, that date will be March 12.

The push to permanent Daylight Saving Time is mostly based the opinion of many experts that time changes are actually dangerous, increasing rates of things like car accidents and heart attacks. There are many studies showing the affect of the time change on safety-related incidents.

But until this all gets sorted (and it will take a lot more than just an extra hour this fall) be ready to adjust any non-computer or satellite clocks you may have BACK one hour before going to bed on Nov. 5.

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This is just a small compilation of missing women and their 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. 

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https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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