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
Monday, November 21, 2022
Rogue Valley Weather
AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY ISSUED: 8:15 AM NOV. 20, 2022 – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
...AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST MONDAY... * WHAT...Stagnant air is expected, which may lead to deteriorating air quality. * WHERE...Central Douglas County, Eastern Curry County and Josephine County and Jackson County. * WHEN...Until 10 AM PST Monday. * IMPACTS...Air stagnation is likely to result in diminishing air quality with time, especially in and near areas with significant sources of air pollution. Diminished air quality is likely to cause health issues for people with respiratory problems if precautions are not taken. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The trend is for the front arriving Mondaynight to not be strong enough to produce prolonged mixing. We will be evaluating the need to continue this advisory further on Monday. * View the hazard area in detail at https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/map/?wfo=mfr
Southern Oregon Cities Get Grants For Vehicle Barriers To Prevent Casualties At Events
According to a news release issued by the city of Medford, the cities of Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass will have more robust anti-vehicle protection at outdoor festivals by next summer.
Each of the three cities will receive a modular, easily deployable and effective anti-vehicle system that includes eight barriers and a trailer.
The cities have an agreement to share their barrier kits with other Southern Oregon municipalities within Jackson and Josephine counties, meaning that events such as Pear Blossom Festival in Medford, the Halloween parade in Ashland and Boatnik in Grants Pass will each have as many as 24 steel barriers to protect crowds.
The Archer 1200 kits are designed to protect against a variety of threats such as vehicle-ramming attacks, vehicles unintentionally striking pedestrians and keeping vehicle-borne explosive devices far away from the center of the crowd.
The barrier systems were funded by a Regional State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment grant issued by Oregon Department of Emergency Management.
The tethered steel barriers are designed to be light enough that city staff can move them quickly in the event they need to bring in emergency vehicles, according to the manufacturer website. The kits are expected to arrive by the middle of 2023, according to the city of Medford.
Rogue Valley events drawing a crowd hardly went unprotected earlier this fall. At the Southern Oregon Pride festival in downtown Ashland, for instance, the city barricaded the road to the Plaza with multiple dump trucks to prevent any incoming vehicles. Similar heavy-vehicle barricades were witnessed in October around the new Heart of the Rogue Festival in downtown Medford.
Rebuilding of Royal Oaks to provide homeownership opportunities for survivors of the Almeda and South Obenchain fires
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC) and partners broke ground on the much-awaited rebuilding of Royal Oaks. The development is a manufactured home park in Medford that was destroyed by the Almeda Fire, displacing hundreds of people.
Representative Pam Marsh, spoke at yesterday’s event and highlighted the importance of this development. “The Almeda fire displaced thousands of our neighbors. The re-establishment of Royal Oaks provides a chance for 118 of those families to come home.”
The much-needed affordable housing community is expected to open in late 2023 providing homeownership opportunities for people affected by the Almeda and South Obenchain fires.
“I think we can all agree that recovery for the survivors of these devastating fires has taken far too long. That’s why today is so important as we celebrate one of the first publicly supported, permanent affordable housing developments for wildfire survivors: Royal Oaks,” said Caleb Yant, deputy director at OHCS. “We look forward to survivors moving in next year and supporting hundreds of other households through the ReOregon program, which will launch in the spring. OHCS is never successful without our partners who plan, develop and manage affordable housing; in this case, we are particularly thankful for HAJC’s partnership.”
HAJC purchased the burned 21-acre Royal Oaks site with funding provided by the Oregon Legislature and OHCS is supporting the development of the site with a portion of the $150 million the Oregon Legislature allocated for affordable housing for fire survivors. The housing development, which will include 118 modular homes, is located on South Pacific Highway, which has easy access to public transportation, I-5, schools and other services in the neighboring towns.
“While we wish the work that we’ve begun wasn’t necessary, we’re grateful that we now have the opportunity to begin it and to ensure that there will be a safe and secure place where residents who lost everything can return to and call home,” said Ryan Haynes, director of real estate development at HAJC.
The Royal Oaks homes will be made available to low- and moderate-income households that lost a manufactured home that they owned in the Almeda or South Obenchain fires. Low and moderate income is defined as those with an income at or below 80% of area median income.
“The rebuilding of Royal Oaks will provide fire survivors who are still working towards long-term permanent housing, the opportunity to navigate into affordable housing, become homeowners and to continue on their path to recovery,” said Joe Vollmar, housing director at ACCESS.
Former residents of Royal Oaks will receive priority for the new homes—and exceptions to the income limit will be considered for those former residents. Any survivor of the Almeda or South Obenchain fires that needs assistance with rebuilding or finding new housing should contact the ACCESS Center for Community Resilience by calling 541-414-0318 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. ACCESS will be managing the process to match survivors with Royal Oaks and other opportunities.
Two-Story Structure Fire in Selma
11/20/2022 call time 2248 hours IVFD, Rural Metro Fire – Josephine County and AMR-Josephine County responded to 15xx Hogue Drive for a structure fire. The fire was a two story home and has been contained.
There will extensive mop up. The fire is under investigation, and the fire scene will be monitored throughout the night. Very little spread to the wildland.
DETAILS: On Friday, November 18, 2022, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office received multiple reports regarding attempted telephonic scams. In the reoccurring attempts, persons identify themselves as members of the Sheriff’s Office and demand payment for missed jury duty. Scammers are telling citizens to purchase a MoneyPak and meet at the Sheriff’s Office to make payment.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind you that law enforcement does not operate in this fashion. Funds are NOT solicited by law enforcement from citizens to avoid arrest. The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind citizens to remain vigilant and report any potential scams that come their way. Persons should never provide financial or personal information to anyone until they are certain who they are speaking to. Please be aware of these scams and call the Sheriff’s Office if you have questions or concerns.
Lawsuit Filed To Block Measure 114
A federal lawsuit has been filed to block the voter-approved gun regulation Measure 114 three weeks before it’s scheduled to go into effect. It’s one of the nation’s strictest, and the lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional in several ways.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Pendleton by Portland attorney John Kaempf on behalf of three plaintiffs: the Canby-based Oregon Firearm Federation, Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey and Keizer gun store owner Adam Johnson. It names as defendants Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Measure 114 expands background checks, bans “high-capacity” ammunition magazine clips with more than 10 rounds and requires local entities to offer a training course and a permit process before a firearm can be purchased.
The lawsuit notes that “millions of law-abiding Americans own firearms equipped with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition,” saying they are popular because “in a confrontation with a violent attacker, having enough ammunition can be the difference between life and death.”
It also alleges that “(Measure) 114 violates multiple constitutional provisions,” as it “impermissibly burdens Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights,” also violating the “Takings Clause” by panning possession, along with sales and use, of magazines that were legally acquired before the measure’s approval.
The ban on large-capacity magazines would not apply to current owners, law enforcement or the military.
To qualify for a permit under the measure, an applicant would need to complete an approved, in-person firearm safety course, pay a fee, provide personal information, submit to fingerprinting and photographing and pass a federal criminal background check. The permits would be processed by local police chiefs, county sheriffs or their designees.
Proponents of the measure say it would reduce suicides — which account for 82% of gun deaths in the state — mass shootings and other gun violence.
Opponents, including the left-wing Socialist Rifle Association, say it would infringe on constitutionally protected rights and could reduce gun access among marginalized communities and people of color if law enforcement agencies are the arbiters of the permitting process. They also say permitting fees and the cost of the firearms course could also be barriers to access.
The Oregon State Sheriffs Association came out against the measure after it made the fall ballot. Since its passage, several sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the measure, should it survive legal scrutiny, both on constitutional grounds and due to the added cost amid limited staff. Others have said that enforcement of the measure would not be a priority. You can read the full lawsuit here: https://ktvz.b-cdn.net/2022/11/Measure-114-lawsuit.pdf (source: www.ktvz.com)
OHA offers $4 million in grants for peer delivered services.
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has issued a Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) offering approximately $4 million in grants to incentivize peer-delivered services in Oregon.
The grants will focus on expansion of peer-delivered services through professional development, continuing education opportunities, and workforce training. The funding is being made available under House Bill 4071(formerly House Bill 2949), which invested $60 million to improve access to behavioral health services for people of color, tribal members, and residents of rural areas.
When selecting grantees, OHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience will prioritize peer-run organizations and programs that serve individuals and groups experiencing inequities in access to health care resources. To be considered peer-run, an organization must be largely run by people with lived experience in addictions or mental health recovery and operate independently from other behavioral health providers.
All funds awarded through the program must be spent by June 30, 2023.
Eligible funding projects must fall under the following categories:
- Development of culturally specific and linguistically appropriate certification curriculums.
- Remote and in-person workforce training.
- Professional development opportunities, employee wellness programs, and incentives to recruit and retain workers.
Interested applicants can learn more about these grant opportunities, eligibility requirements or apply for the funding here.
OHA staff will host community information sessions about the program. Details and access information can be found here.
The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2022, at 11 p.m. OHA will make award notifications no later than Dec. 31, 2022.
Oregon Part Of $3 Billion Walmart Opioid Settlement
Oregon will be part of the three-billion-dollar settlement with Walmart over the way their pharmacies dispensed opioids. The money will be divided by the states that sign on to the agreement. At least 43 states need to sign on by the end of the year.
The money will be used to provide opioid addiction treatment and recovery services. The settlement also requires Walmart to take action that will prevent future fraudulent prescriptions from being dispensed. Negotiations are also underway with CVS and Walgreens regarding their expected settlements.
Governor Brown tweeted Saturday that she tested positive for COVID-19
Brown said her and her husband, Dan Little, had just returned from Vietnam when they got the positive test results. She said they were recovering at home. Brown was overseas for the Vietnam-United States Trade Forum.
This comes as a wave of infections is expected to arrive this fall. Oregon officials warn that the combined effects of COVID-19, the flu and RSV – or Respiratory Syncytial Virus – could strain hospitals in the coming months. As people gather and travel for the holidays, it could be a difficult fall and winter to come.
Oregon Economists Expect A ‘Mild’ Recession Beginning In 2023
After months of record revenue growth, Oregon economists now expect the state to enter a “mild” recession next summer.
State economists told a legislative panel Wednesday that economic forecasters in Oregon and around the country anticipate a recession within the next year because inflation remains higher than the Federal Reserve wants it to be, with the Fed expected to continue raising interest rates. In a quarterly report released Wednesday, officials from Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis likened the interest rate hikes to slamming on a car’s brakes.
“Slamming on the brakes of a speeding car will cause it to skid and even fishtail,” the report said. “The question is whether the driver is able to pull out of it or end up in the ditch. Most economists today believe a recession is likely, even if the exact path of the economy is uncertain.”
The forecasted recession envisions losing about 24,000 jobs, primarily in construction, manufacturing and related industries including finance and transportation. It would likely be rougher in the Portland suburbs and central Oregon, where rapid population growth means a significant portion of the local economy is tied to construction.
State economist Mark McMullen told lawmakers the signs of an upcoming recession are different this year than they have been in the past. It will be driven by a decline in housing and business investment due to high interest rates, he said. The current forecast calls for employment rates, which have risen quickly and steadily since plummeting in the early days of the pandemic, to dip in late 2023 and begin rising again the following year.
“It’s rather mild, at least from a historical perspective,” McMullen said.
There are three reasons to expect a mild recession, he said. First, businesses, financial markets and people expect inflation to slow. Second, the labor market has been so tight that employers aren’t likely to let go of workers even if their sales slow. And finally, many people still have higher savings from wage growth, stimulus payments and limited spending during the pandemic – though those savings are concentrated in higher-income households.
Some of the state’s urban areas are most at risk, forecasters said. Clackamas, Columbia, Deschutes, Jackson and Washington counties, along with rural Crook and Gilliam counties, are at highest risk because much of their economies depend on construction, manufacturing or transportation and warehousing. The Portland suburbs, Bend and Prineville are growing quickly with many jobs in housing construction, while 10% of Gilliam County jobs are in transportation or warehousing. That county’s largest employers are landfills.
Other rural counties used to have more volatile economies when they relied on the timber industry and mills would regularly shut down and reopen, McMullen said. Now, those rural counties don’t experience the same economic booms as the rest of the state, but they also don’t see the same downswings in bad economic times.
Meanwhile, Oregon lawmakers will begin drafting the state’s next two-year budget in a couple of months, and they’ll have about $3 billion less to work with than they did during the current two-year budget cycle. That’s because many wealthy Oregonians cashed out capital gains in 2021 and federal stimulus checks increased the amount of money collected in state income taxes.
The state will also pay out in 2024 a record “kicker” tax credit, which is triggered when the state collects more in personal income taxes than it budgeted. Oregonians who paid taxes in 2022 and 2023 will receive credits totalling $3.7 billion when they file their tax returns in 2024, with larger credits for those who paid more in taxes.
“We’ve never seen kickers like this,” McMullen said.
Lawmakers can reduce or eliminate the tax credit with a two-thirds vote – 20 senators and 40 representatives. They did so in the early 1990s, when the nation faced a recession tied to the Gulf War, and progressive groups have long pushed for legislators to reduce or reform the kicker.
But such a vote seems unlikely next year. Democrats will still have a majority in the Oregon House and Senate, though they lost their supermajorities in both chambers. Getting enough votes to suspend the kicker would require not just every Democrat but multiple Republicans in the House and Senate to vote for it, and GOP legislative leaders have consistently pledged to protect the kicker as is.
“Before we all run away thinking we can quickly spend that kicker on something else or hold it, that’s a high bar and a pretty big lift and there’s probably better things to spend your time on,” Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, warned his colleagues.
Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, asked whether pandemic-induced changes to consumer spending will affect how Oregonians spend their extra money from the kicker. More people purchased goods online than from local brick-and-mortar stores, and it’s unclear how much of the money returned to taxpayers will make it to Oregon businesses.
McMullen said much of the tax rebate already goes to people who may not spend it. People who pay more in taxes receive higher kickers, and while people living paycheck to paycheck spend nearly every dollar they have, people with more money might save their rebates.
Oregon’s lack of a retail sales tax has also made it hard to track spending trends, McMullen said, but the state will have more data because of the corporate activity tax passed in 2019. The tax applies to businesses’ gross receipts and effectively functions as a hidden sales tax because businesses pass the costs on to consumers.
“One place that’s pretty darn clear is that when we give out a big kicker, video lottery sales go through the roof,” McMullen said.
Legislative Democrats and Gov. Kate Brown responded to the forecast by saying Oregon is well-positioned to weather economic challenges. In a statement from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she is traveling on a trade mission, Brown praised the state’s “continued fiscally responsible decisions.”
“Because we have made prudent financial decisions, the state has the ability, if needed, to invest in resources to help Oregonians who may feel its impacts,” she said. “With this forecast, the Legislature should also be prepared, as they enter the upcoming session, to respond to economic challenges and take meaningful action to benefit Oregon’s working families.”
House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, agreed that Oregon’s almost $1.8 billion in cash reserves leaves the state in a good position. It still would take a three-fifths majority – 18 senators and 36 representatives – to tap into the reserves.
“The state has historic cash reserves and is set up better than ever to handle any potential economic downturn thanks to years of responsible budget management by Democratic leadership,” Rayfield said. “We are poised to take advantage of the upcoming 2023 legislative session, soften the impacts of any potential downturn, make our communities safer and focus investments on working families and communities of color.”
And Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, pledged that Democrats will continue recent spending on health care, housing and other sectors.
“We will continue to build on our recent historic investments in health care, housing, jobs and education,” Wagner said. “Due to the fiscally responsible leadership of Oregon Democrats, our state’s budget reserves are currently the strongest they’ve ever been in Oregon’s history.”
His counterpart in the House, Rep. Julie Fahey of West Eugene, said spending by the Oregon Legislature and recent federal money from the Biden-Harris administration made the state’s economy strong. She called for continued spending to address the state’s ongoing affordable housing crisis, provide support for mental and behavioral health and drive down the cost of living.
“We also know that should a global recession hit, Oregon is prepared to mitigate its impact because of the work Democrats have done to set aside historic levels of reserves,” Fahey said. “This work will allow us to continue supporting our most vulnerable communities.”
Legislative Republican leaders, meanwhile, issued a joint statement saying it was a time to be cautious and prepared.
“Hard-working Oregonians continue to pay the price of high inflation and take the brunt of the current recession,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend. “The upcoming legislative budget and policy decisions made around the economy must be focused on relieving their burden, not adding to it.”
Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville and the House minority leader, added that legislative Republicans will oppose any new taxes.
“Oregonians spoke in the recent election by breaking the supermajority in the Legislature,” she said. “Republicans will respond in the upcoming legislative session by holding strong against growing government or taxes.”
Stephanie Kim appointed to Oregon Arts Commission
Salem, Oregon – Stephanie Kim of Hillsboro, a senior color designer at Nike, has been appointed to the Oregon Arts Commission by Governor Kate Brown.
Kim received her BFA in textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design. Upon graduating she pursued NYC’s fashion industry, working for various brands like Ann Taylor, Tory Burch and Tibi until she was recruited by Nike in 2016. She currently works as a senior color designer for Nike Women’s Footwear.
“We are thrilled to have Stephanie join the Arts Commission,” said Commission Chair Jenny Green. “Her experience and appreciation of the power of the arts, added to her passion for arts access, will contribute to the work of the Commission and our focused effort to bring the arts to previously underserved audiences.”
Kim has established roots in Oregon and believes in serving her local community. She currently sits as a board member on the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council and Five Oaks Museum and is actively serving as a mentor in her Korean immigrant community.
“I strongly believe in the power of art and feel it is my duty to be a bridge for Korean immigrants and the wider Asian community to fully integrate into society and create accessibility in the arts,” said Kim.
Kim begins her four-year term immediately.
The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts. The Arts Commission became part of Business Oregon (formerly Oregon Economic and Community Development Department) in 1993, in recognition of the expanding role the arts play in the broader social, economic and educational arenas of Oregon communities. In 2003, the Oregon legislature moved the operations of the Oregon Cultural Trust to the Arts Commission, streamlining operations and making use of the Commission’s expertise in grantmaking, arts and cultural information and community cultural development.
The Arts Commission is supported with general funds appropriated by the Oregon legislature and with federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust. More information about the Oregon Arts Commission is available online at: www.oregonartscommission.org.
Free parking at Oregon State Parks the day after Thanksgiving
SALEM, Oregon – Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites Oregonians to head outside the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.
Popularly known as “Green Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving has become a tradition in recent years. Oregon state parks will once again waive day-use parking fees in the 24 parks that are open and charge for parking on that day.
“We’re proud to promote this tradition and offer Oregonians an alternative to the busiest shopping day of the year,” said Lisa Sumption, director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
Parking is free year-round at almost all state parks; the waiver applies to the parks that charge $5 daily for parking. Fee parks include popular destinations such as Fort Stevens, Cape Lookout, Silver Falls, Champoeg, L.L. Stub Stewart, Smith Rock and Milo McIver. A complete list of parks that require day-use parking permits is available online at stateparks.oregon.gov (Fall Creek is listed, but closed for the season).
The fee waiver applies from open to close on Nov. 25, except at Shore Acres State Park, where it expires at 4 p.m. for the Holiday Lights event that runs Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
Use #OptOutside and #OregonStateParks on social media to share your adventures. Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.
Free Fishing Days after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-26
#OptOutside the two days after Thanksgiving and make fishing part of your plans with friends and family. Everyone can fish, clam and crab for free in Oregon on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26, 2022.
No fishing/shellfish licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required those two days. Both Oregon residents and nonresidents can fish for free.
All other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for rules and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at the Recreation Report especially for salmon and steelhead fishing. Click on the zone where you want to fish and then click the “Regulation Updates” tab to see the in-season changes.
The Recreation Report is updated weekly and features the best bests for fishing for the upcoming week. Depending on water levels and conditions, fishing could be good for Chinook or coho salmon.
For beginners, Easy Angling Oregon is a great guide to getting started fishing in Oregon, https://myodfw.com/EAO And if you live near Portland , Bend , Medford , Roseburg or in Lane County , there are lots of nearby options.
Prefer to crab or clam instead? MyODFW has all the information you need to get started clamming or crabbing . Remember to check ocean conditions and take safety precautions: always clam with a friend and never turn your back on the ocean.
Currently, crabbing is open in bays, beaches, estuaries, tide pools, piers and jetties along the entire Oregon coast. Crabbing is closed in the ocean due to the annual closure from Oct. 16-Nov. 30 each year.
Remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 or check their Shellfish page before you go clamming or crabbing. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat. Currently, razor clamming is closed along the entire coast but this closure may change by Thanksgiving weekend.