Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 10/26 – Grants Pass Police Dept. Seeks Help to Identify Attempted Carjacking Suspect, Pacific Crest Trail Hiker Rescued

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, October 26, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

Grants Pass Police Dept. Seeks Help to Identify Attempted Carjacking Suspect

On October 24, 2022, at approximately 11:33 AM, Grants Pass Police Officers responded to “Udders Ice Cream and Gelato,” at 1893 NE 7th Street, to the report of an attempted carjacking. 

It was discovered that a white male adult used force against a 66-year-old female resident of Grants Pass when he attempted to physically remove her from her vehicle by pulling on her arm as she was seated in the driver’s seat. 

The male suspect also attempted to grab the keys for the vehicle.  Two male citizens came to the aid of the female victim which prevented the furtherance of the suspect’s attack.  The female victim sustained minor injuries due to the attack. 

The male suspect was described as a white male adult in his 20’s.  The male had short brown hair, a slender build, and was wearing blue jeans, boots, and a dark hooded sweatshirt from Diamond Lake.  The back of the sweatshirt read, “To Fish or Not to Fish.”  After an extensive area search, the male suspect was not located, but evidence was discovered nearby.  

The Grants Pass Police Department would like to thank those who assisted the victim by intervening during this crime and would ask for further public assistance in attempting to identify the male in the attached photo.  Anyone with more information about this case is asked to contact the Grants Pass Police Department (541) 450-6260 and reference case number: 22-46794.     

Pacific Crest Trail Hiker Rescued by Douglas County Search and Rescue

A Pacific Crest Trail hiker was rescued in the Diamond Peak Wilderness on the Deschutes National Forest by Douglas County Search and Rescue. 

On Friday, October 21, 2022, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Klamath County Search and Rescue requested Douglas County SAR take a mission in the Diamond Peak Wilderness on the Deschutes National Forest in Klamath County due to not having available resources. A 57-year-old Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker, Hassan Falsafi of Weaverville, California, had called 911 and reported he had tried to beat the incoming weather front but was unsuccessful and needed emergent assistance. Falsafi stated all of his clothing, sleeping bag, and other camping supplies had become soaked with rainwater and he was experiencing hypothermia symptoms. 

Douglas County Search and Rescue deployed and was able to access the wilderness area from the PCT trailhead at Summit Lake and hike north on the trail to Falsafi’s location. While searchers were enroute the weather continued to worsen from rain to sleet, hail, and eventually snow. Temps dropped from 36 F to 30 F; for period of time snow was falling so fast that 3/4 of an inch accumulated on the ground in 20 minutes. 

Searchers located Falsafi at approximately 4:15 a.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2022, and treated him for moderate hypothermia by providing dry clothing and helped to warm him. After Falsafi had improved, searchers escorted him out to a waiting warm vehicle at the trailhead. They arrived at the trailhead at approximately 7:00 a.m. and it was determined an ambulance was not necessary. Falsafi was transported to Roseburg where he arranged for family to pick him up.

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Fire Season Ends On ODF Southwest Oregon District

After a long, dry and un-seasonably warm season, the 2022 fire season on the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District has officially ended.

Public Information Officer Natalie Weber said the ending of the season eliminates all public regulated use restrictions and industrial fire precaution level requirements. Weber said this announcement affects 1.8 million acres across Josephine and Jackson counties. This fire season on the Southwest Oregon District spanned 147 days.

Southwest Oregon District Forester Tyler McCarty said, “We’ve seen longer seasons that have hung on into late-October and November before, but its been unseasonably dry this month”. McCarty said, “Southern Oregon is very fire prone, but the heightened risk has passed at this point with the amount of rain we’ve received this week”.

Weber said between the start of fire season on June 1st through Tuesday, there were 240 fires across the district for a little over 21,703 acres burned. Lightning proved to be the main catalyst for fire starts in the season, causing 73 fires across Josephine and Jackson counties, including the Westside Complex in Jackson County and the Lightning Gulch Complex in Josephine County.

Weber said these complexes were made up of more than 50 fire starts caused by lightning strikes, spawning the Rum Creek and Hog Creek Fires near Merlin. The Rum Creek Fire would become the season’s largest fire, burning a total of 21,347 acres. It destroyed two homes, six structures and took the life of contract firefighter Logan Tyler.

Fire prevention tips and information from the ODF Southwest Oregon District is available at: www.swofire.com.

Senators Announce Over $43 Million In FEMA Funds Coming To Oregon For Fire Recovery Efforts

On Tuesday, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced that the Oregon Department of Transportation will receive more than $43 million in additional recovery funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for continued hazard tree and debris removal after the 2020 fire disasters.

Wyden said, “Recovery efforts from the catastrophic 2020 fire season have been steady, but too many small communities have carried the challenging and expensive burden of taking immediate action to clean up and clear roads after the fires were out”.

Merkley said “Oregon’s devastating 2020 wildfire season took a heavy emotional and financial toll on many of our small communities and we need to do everything we can to help them recover and rebuild”.

A release said the FEMA dollars come in addition to the more than $218 million in federal reimbursement for hazard tree and debris removal in Lane, Jackson and Marion counties. That follows an increased FEMA cost share formula for all major emergency and disaster events, such as the 2020 fire events in those counties.

OHCS nationally recognized as a leader for the agency’s work to increase permanent supportive housing in Oregon

OHCS staff receiving the award. From left to right: Sharon Nickleberry Rogers, Housing Stability Council member; Amy Cole, state development resources manager; Caleb Yant, deputy director; Kate Gonsalves, Communications manager; Nicole Stingh, assistant director of Government Relations; and Chelsea Bunch, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Oregon’s housing finance agency is praised for its permanent supportive housing initiatives that use a tenant-centered and trauma-informed method to provide housing for people who are chronically homeless.

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) was awarded a 2022 Award for Program Excellence at the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) annual conference this week. These awards are one of the highest honors in state housing finance. Oregon was selected as a leader in its Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program.  

PSH is a proven model that serves individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness. By providing on-site, individualized services, PSH stabilizes individuals addressing their needs holistically using a housing-first approach. In the long term, PSH is shown to increase societal benefits while decreasing the cost of public services.  

“We do not accept homelessness as a fact of life,” said OHCS Director Andrea Bell. “To the people of Oregon struggling to get by: We see you and will continue working every moment for you. The progress of our state should be measured by how people are doing. Our collective humanity means that we are most effective when everyone is being served and has their basic needs met.”  

“Thank you to our peers across the nation and the National Council of State Housing Agency for recognizing Oregon’s work in providing housing for those who struggle with chronic homelessness. We are just getting started.” 

One thing that makes Oregon unique is the Oregon Supportive Housing Institute. Organizations interested in developing and managing PSH homes are selected to participate in the institute from across Oregon. The project teams receive targeted training, technical assistance, and project planning support through the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). Since 2019, 27 teams have completed the institute and are developing PSH units throughout Oregon.  

As a result of the concentrated effort on PSH, Oregon was able to surpass its 2019-2023 Statewide Housing Plan goal of funding more than 1,200 PSH units more than a year in advance. This would not be possible without the collaboration and learning of other state housing agencies across the nation who have also implemented permanent supportive housing programs.  

Oregon Department of Human Services and Oregon Food Bank Announce $2.6 million Investment in Local Food Purchases, Anti-hunger Efforts

(Salem) — The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Food Bank (OFB) today announced a $2.6 million investment in anti-hunger efforts through local food purchases. Part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, the grant will significantly expand the food bank’s Community Grower Support Fund — investing in historically underserved producers while also addressing rising food insecurity in urban, rural and remote communities that have faced disproportionate hunger and poverty for generations.

“As communities in Oregon continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that many are experiencing hardship and are struggling to get enough healthy food for themselves and their children,” said Jana McLellan, interim director of ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We are grateful to play a part in connecting individuals and families with fresh, nutritious food grown by local producers.”

Authorized by the American Rescue Plan, Local Food Purchase Assistance provides opportunities for state and tribal governments to strengthen local and regional food systems. Through grants like the $2.6 million awarded to the Oregon Department of Human Services in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank and Oregon Department of Agriculture, the program supports farmers and producers to establish or expand partnerships with area food distribution networks.

“This grant is a triple win for Oregon communities: it allows us to strengthen local food systems, support producers of color and provide fresh, locally-grown food to people experiencing hunger,” said Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan. “With as many as 1.5 million people seeking food assistance this year, government investments like these are critical to our shared effort to end hunger and its root causes.” 

Grant funds will provide a boost to local economies through expansion of the Community Grower Support Fund, which purchases food directly from socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers — a U.S. Department of Agriculture classification that includes groups that have been subject to systemic racial or ethnic prejudice. This locally produced food is distributed to urban, rural and remote underserved communities throughout the state. Funds will also improve storage and transportation infrastructure, helping to build more resilient local food systems for the long-term.

ABOUT OREGON FOOD BANK

At Oregon Food Bank, we believe that food and health are basic human rights for all. We know that hunger is not just an individual experience; it is also a community-wide symptom of barriers to employment, education, housing and health care. That’s why we work systemically in our mission to end hunger in Oregon: we foster community connections to help people access nutritious, affordable food today, and we build community power to eliminate the root causes of hunger for good. Visit OregonFoodFinder.org to find resources in your community.

ABOUT THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN  SERVICES

The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.  

A Eugene Police DUII Traffic Enforcement Results in Largest Fentanyl Seizure in Department History

At around 10:49 p.m. on October 19, a Eugene Police officer was working impaired driver and traffic enforcement for his assigned shift and responded to the intersection of E. 11th Avenue and High Street for a welfare check on a driver slumped over the steering wheel at the stop light.

The driver, Andre Lavell Johnson, age 42, of Portland, was found unconscious and police pinned the vehicle in before rousing him. When he woke up, Johnson attempted to start the vehicle and refused commands to stop. He was removed from the vehicle and during this officers spotted a firearm near his feet. Officers also saw bags containing pills, later determined to be fentanyl, matching the description of currently circulating counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

A search incident to arrest found Johnson had a large amount of cash, multiple phones. Street Crimes Unit drug detection K9 Jack alerted to the presence of controlled substances on the cash and the firearm, which was found to be stolen out of another jurisdiction. Johnson also had warrants for his arrest. Johnson was lodged at Lane County Jail on his warrants as well as probable cause charges of DUII Felony, Driving While Suspended Felony, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, two counts of Unlawful Delivery of a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance and Eugene Police continued to investigate.

Over the next 28 hours officers and detectives conducted follow-up search warrants on Johnson’s vehicles and residence where they seized approximately 18 pounds of suspected fentanyl in both powder and pill form, 12 firearms and over $47,000 in cash. Of the firearms seized in this case 6 were confirmed to have been previously stolen. This continues to be an active investigation and additional charges are pending. Case 22-15902

Weather Forecasters Warn Oregon Should Prepare For A Stormy Winter

Pacific Northwest meteorologists and hundreds of weather enthusiasts gathered Saturday at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for the 30th Annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference, and they all agreed: Oregon should prepare for a stormy winter.

“After record-setting April snow and October heat, Mother Nature is really swinging from one extreme to another this year,” said Scott Pierce, president of the Oregon American Meteorological Society and KOIN 6 meteorologist. “It will be very interesting to see what is in store for the upcoming winter months.”

He and other meteorologists predict that surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean will be below average this winter. That means folks inland will experience what’s called a La Niña winter, the third in a row. This year’s La Niña conditions are expected to be weak or moderate, according to April Vogt, a meteorologist for private technology company WeatherFlow.

It’s rare to see three consecutive La Niña winters. The last stretch of colder winters was from 1998 to 2001, according to Vogt.

In the past, weak La Niña winters have brought an average of 6 inches of snow at Portland International Airport over the season, compared with 10.45 inches for moderate winters, Vogt said. She expects 3 to 9 inches of snow this year.

Temperatures are expected to fluctuate, but may be slightly over half a degree Celsius lower than normal, Vogt said.

Oregonians should be prepared for icy roads and possible “arctic blasts,” Vogt said. While an ice storm like the one in 2021, which left hundreds of thousands of customers without power, isn’t expected, it’s not impossible.

“To say that it would happen again, I think meteorologically is irresponsible,” Vogt said. “But I think we could have another ice event.”

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center expects temperatures slightly below normal and precipitation slightly above normal from December through February, according to Meteorologist Rebecca Muessle.

“The important thing to remember with that is that one month could be incredibly cold and the next month warm,” Muessle said.

Muessle said the weather service can’t predict for certain an overly snowy winter, but said that Oregonians should prepare for winter conditions.

“The best motto in my mind is prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” she said. “Definitely have your homes and your families ready for power outages, really cold temperatures, ice, things like that.”

On the plus side, these weather predictions bode well for Oregon’s skiers.

Much anticipated rain Friday brought cooler temperatures to Portland, even bringing some snow to Mount Hood, possibly allowing Mt. Hood Meadows to open earlier than planned.

ODOT and ODFW Reminding Drivers to Watch for Wildlife Crossings

Close encounters of the deer and Honda kind isn’t what most of us are looking for this fall season, that’s why we’re teaming up with our partners at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to ask you to watch out for wildlife this time of year and follow these tips:

  • Be careful when driving in areas that have special signs warning you about the possible presence of wildlife. These signs are posted for a reason. 
  • Be alert in areas with dense vegetation along the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road can be hard to see. 
  • If you see one animal, stay alert. There may be others nearby. 
  • If you see wildlife on or near the road, slow down and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes happen when drivers lose control as they swerve to avoid wildlife. 
  • The same advice applies to smaller wildlife like raccoons; try to stay in your lane and do not swerve for these animals. They are less dangerous to your vehicle than big game animals and maintaining control while driving is most important. 
  • ALWAYS wear your seat belt. Even minor collisions can result in serious injuries. 

To increase safety, we’re partnering with organizations to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions by building wildlife crossings. These crossings allow wildlife to safely follow their migration patterns over or under a road. 

Wildlife crossings on US 97 near Sun River have reduced vehicle-wildlife collisions by nearly 90 percent. 

Last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress provides $350 million in competitive grants to states for wildlife crossings and other mitigation, so expect that we’ll continue to work with our partners on securing more funds for future projects.

Voting in Oregon feels GOOD

It’s time to get #VoteReady: Just grab your ballot and a blue or black pen!☑️ You don’t even need a stamp☑️ It’s not a test: you can vote on every candidate and measure, or leave some blank☑️ How you vote is private. Make a plan to vote! http://OregonVotes.gov#TrustedInfo2022

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'MISSING PERSON Date: 10/13/2022 Name: Richard Champion Age: 59 Ht Wgt: 5'10", 190 lbs Gray hair, unknown clothing Last seen September 11, 2022 in the Stayton Aumsville area. වමดට MCSO Case 22-15179 Non-emergency dispatch: 503-588-5032'

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