Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 11/22 – SOU “Pathway” Programs for Latino Youth get Boost from State Grant, Governor Brown Pardons 47,144 People For Marijuana Convictions

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY ISSUED: 2:59 AM NOV. 22, 2022 – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

...AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST FRIDAY...

* WHAT...Stagnant air is expected, which may lead to deteriorating air quality.

* WHERE...The valleys of Central Douglas County, Eastern Curry County and Josephine County, and Jackson County.

* WHEN...Until 10 PM PST Friday.

* 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...In the wake of a front that will move through today, mixing heights will only exceed the 1000 ft. threshold for stagnating air by a few hundred feet and transport winds will remain weak. Only slight improvement will occur as a result. With stagnant conditions expected to return Wednesday, and with coordination from DEQ, the advisory remains in effect through Friday evening.

* View the hazard area in detail at https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/map/?wfo=mfr

SOU “Pathway” Programs for Latino Youth get Boost from State Grant

Southern Oregon University’s pathway programs that introduce local Latino/a/x students to the promise of higher education have received funding that will allow them to rebuild toward pre-pandemic numbers and achievement rates.

The highly successful Pirates to Raiders program in the Phoenix-Talent School District and the Bulldogs and Hornets to Raiders programs in the Medford School District will be boosted by a $250,000 grant for the current academic year. The grant is from the Oregon Department of Education’s Latino/a/x & Indigenous Student Success program, funded by the 2019 Oregon Legislature. Pending legislative approval and measurable progress toward its goals, funding for the SOU programs will be renewable at up to $200,000 per year.

“These programs and others across the state will receive significant needed support, thanks to the Legislature’s recognition that systemic inequities that Latino/a/x and Indigenous students have historically experienced must be addressed,” said Rachel Jones, SOU’s director of outreach and engagement. “Our communities will benefit from the success of their students, and their future involvement throughout the region.”

The SOU grant focuses primarily on the Pirates, Bulldogs and Hornets to Raiders programs – located at Talent Middle School and Phoenix High School, and at Medford’s McLoughlin and Hedrick middle schools and North and South Medford high schools – but will also support other ongoing SOU programs and events, including Academia LatinaLatino Family Day and the Cesar Chavez Leadership Conference.

The Pirates to Raiders program began in 2011, Bulldogs to Raiders in 2015 and Hornets to Raiders in 2017. All are intended to open doors to Hispanic students by forming partnerships between students, their families, their school districts and SOU to ensure that the students remain on track for high school graduation and college. Family members make sure their students attend school, manage their studies and participate in events related to the program. The university and school district offer mentoring, financial aid information, transportation to program events and opportunities to learn about SOU. The students take appropriate college preparatory courses, attend two program-related events each year and sign contracts, promising to stay on track to graduate on time.

The programs had grown to a total of about 375 students prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving a high school graduation rate that was 43 percent higher than Oregon’s Latino/a/x student benchmark, double the statewide rate of higher education enrollment for Latino/a/x students and 3.8 times the rate of four-year college enrollment. The programs suffered through the pandemic, hurt by online-only instruction and staffing challenges in their host school districts.

The grant will enable SOU to hire Latino/a/x community members to serve as project coordinators supporting Latino/a/x students at the host schools. The programs have previously relied on staffing from site coordinators hired by the host schools, but those positions have been overtaxed with other duties and have seen high turnover. The new project coordinators from SOU will work with the schools’ site coordinators to provide more consistent services to students, increased engagement with parents and additional attention to culturally responsive curricula and teaching.

Students in the pathway programs will have increased access to mentoring, tutoring and workshops, and the programs will be better able to offer incentives – such as field trips and awards – for students who are on track academically or achieve key academic milestones.

Parents will receive regular updates on their students’ progress, have another trusted contact at their children’s school and receive support completing applications for extracurricular programs, financial aid and college admission. A new Parent Leadership Team made up of the parents of Latino/a/x students in four local school districts – Phoenix-Talent, Medford, Central Point and Eagle Point – will be formed to better incorporate community input into the pathway programs.

SOU will also partner with the Southern Oregon Education Service District’s Migrant Education Program to establish Latino Student Unions at schools that host the pathway programs; the SOU English Department will design a Cultural Empowerment Institute to help secondary school teachers focus on anti-racist and culturally responsive teaching; and the university will provide various offsets for opportunities such as dual-credit courses, college credit for foreign language skills, college application fees for those with demonstrated financial need and college move-in expenses for a limited number of students. (press release and photo from SOU)

Ashland Ice Rink Opens For The Holiday Season

After a delayed start from the weekend, the Ashland Ice Rink has opened for friends and family to enjoy during the holiday season. The rink will be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day this week, excluding Thanksgiving.

The popular outdoor activity was originally set to open on November 19th and 20th but due to warm weather, they were unable to open.

“If we get up over 55 degrees, we’ll start to struggle to keep a hard ice surface because it can be dangerous especially when we first form the ice because there are pockets of air that people can hit,” says Parks Manager Lonny Flora.

He says it takes weeks to get the ice rink set up. They begin in October and they have to hire the right number of staff.

“We’ve been working since mid-October to get plans coordinated, of course, like everyone else we’ve run into some issues when it comes to getting the supplies, we need the service we need to get the ice surface ready for everyone and get our staff on board,” says Flora.

Not only do the residents of Ashland enjoy the seasonal rink, but people from all over Southern Oregon do too. Flora says they get people from Klamath Falls, Northern California, the coast, and even as far as Portland.

“Not only are people coming and visiting downtown Ashland, but this is also another one of those spots here that really make wintertime really festive and a joy to be at,” says Flora.

Until the rink is fully staffed, the Ashland Parks and Recreation department is still working on other programs at the rink, such as figure skating, hockey, private lessons, and school programs.

For more updates on the Ashland Ice Rink, click here to visit their website.

House Fire In Phoenix Contained Quickly

Jackson County Fire District 5 says a home in Phoenix caught fire Monday. According to officials, smoke was coming from the back of the house when first responders arrived.

Residents inside the home safely evacuated, and a water supply was established from a nearby fire hydrant.

The fire was contained in a rear bedroom.  The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental ignition from a heat source. No injuries were reported.

State historic cemeteries commission seeks volunteer representatives from the Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon

The Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries (OCHC) is seeking two new members, one for the position representing Southern Oregon and one representing the Willamette Valley. 

The Commission is seeking a member with knowledge related to, or interest in:

  • cemeteries;
  • historic preservation;
  • genealogy;
  • cultural and burial practices of ethnic groups found in Oregon;
  • landscape and native plants; and
  • history.

In particular the commission is seeking at least one person who works with a cemetery actively doing burials. 

The Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries is comprised of seven citizens. It is empowered by the Legislature to maintain a listing of all historic cemeteries in Oregon, make recommendations for funding, seek legislative appropriations for historic cemeteries, and assist in the coordination of restoration, renovation and maintenance of historic cemeteries statewide. The commission has developed many online resources, offers workshops, and promotes the value of historic cemeteries through storytelling.

The group meets four times per year in different locations around the state and online. There may be an occasional additional meeting for extra projects, programs, and grant selection. Commissioners are also asked to provide informal meetings in their regions or work on other projects outside of meeting time. Travel costs are reimbursed. 

To apply, send a letter of interest and resume to commission coordinator Kuri Gill at i.Gill@oprd.oregon.gov“>Kuri.Gill@oprd.oregon.govor 503-986-0685.Please include your reasons for wanting to serve on the commission, any skills or knowledge you will bring to its work, and ideas or goals you have for your participation. Please submit your information before January 9, 2023. 

More information about the Historic Cemeteries program is available online at www.oregonheritage.org.

Governor Brown Pardons 47,144 People For Marijuana Convictions

The Governor’s Office announced Monday that over 45,000 people previously convicted of marijuana possession in Oregon will be pardoned and $14 million in fines forgiven.

Governor Brown is pardoning the 47,144 convictions for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana going back several decades. Criminal convictions, even for possessing small amounts of marijuana that would be legal now, can be barriers to employment, housing and education.

“No one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana — a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years. My pardon will remove these hardships.”

She noted that while all Oregonians use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latino people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of marijuana possession at disproportionate rates.

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union applauded Brown’s action on Monday, saying her move followed an important step by President Joe Biden last month to pardon thousands of people nationwide of federal convictions for marijuana possession.

Officials with the ACLU of Oregon said Brown is the first governor take this action on pardoning.

Sandy Chung, executive director of ACLU of Oregon, said they were grateful for Brown’s use of clemency to address the state’s outdated and racially-biased practices, including policies from the failed “War on Drugs.”

“The path to justice is through our values of equity, care and humanity — not vengeance or criminalization,” Chung said.

According to the Governor’s Office, the pardon applies to electronically available Oregon convictions for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in pre-2016 cases in which the person was 21 years of age or older, where this was the only charge, and where there were no victims.

This pardon does not apply to any other offense related to marijuana or other controlled substances.

Following Brown’s pardon, the Oregon Judicial Department will ensure that all court records associated with the pardoned offenses are sealed. About $14 million in unpaid court fines and fees associated with the pardoned convictions will be forgiven.

The pardoned marijuana convictions will no longer show up on background checks of public court records, but the conviction may show up on background checks conducted by law enforcement officials or licensing authorities as a pardoned conviction.

Brown said the pardons were a step toward creating a more equitable future for many Oregonians.

“We are a state, and a nation, of second chances,” she said. “Today, I am taking steps to right the wrongs of a flawed, inequitable, and outdated criminal justice system in Oregon when it comes to personal marijuana possession. For the estimated 45,000 individuals who are receiving a pardon for prior state convictions of marijuana possession, this action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.”

Jessica Maravilla, policy director of ACLU of Oregon, said by eliminating $14 million in fines and fees, Brown is breaking down a massive barrier many have to housing, schooling, and jobs.

“For low-income communities and people of color, they can result in continued entanglement in the criminal legal system,” she said. “The Governor’s forgiveness of $14,000,000 in fines and fees is a significant step in addressing unjust systemic burdens created by prior convictions — especially, in this case, for a crime that no longer exists.”

President Joe Biden announced Thursday he would pardon people federally convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a measure seen as a strong statement on how such offenses should be handled.

The president’s historic gesture could affect more than 6,500 people but does not affect those convicted at the state level, where most such convictions occur. Biden is hoping states will follow suit.

The notion of legalizing marijuana at the federal level has been gaining steam in recent years, and many states have already approved the substance for medicinal purposes, with a handful giving the OK to recreational use.

Before he was elected, Biden had called for marijuana decriminalization on the campaign trail and in April

pardoned nine federal offenders.

This Statement from the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association is the latest information we have regarding M114 at this time. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

May be an image of text
May be an image of text

Paid Leave – New Statewide Campaign

Paid Leave Oregon has launched a statewide campaign aimed at notifying Oregon employers about their role and responsibilities in the new program, which begins in just six weeks, on Jan. 1.

To make sure employers are ready to participate in the program, the statewide campaign includes social and digital advertising featuring Oregon employers. High-resolution photos for media from the campaign are available at this link.

Paid Leave Oregon also has a new online employer toolkit, a one-stop place for employers to find all the resources they need to prepare. The toolkit includes the required notice poster, an employer guidebook, a new video, and sample social posts that employers and partners can use to share information with their employees and networks, and much more.

Resources for employers are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese.

“Paid Leave Oregon is here to support employers so they can help their employees prepare for this new program,” Paid Leave Oregon Director Karen Madden Humelbaugh said. “We are excited to share all of these new resources with employers, who we know are still learning about the program and how it will help Oregonians.”

Paid Leave Oregon allows employees to take paid time off for some of life’s most important moments. It covers leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for serious illness or injury, for taking care of a seriously ill family member, and for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment.

The new campaign targets employers, because all employers, regardless of size, will collect contributions from employees starting Jan. 1.

Both employers and employees fund Paid Leave Oregon with a total contribution rate of 1 percent of gross payroll. Employees will pay 60 percent, and large employers will pay 40 percent, of the 1 percent contribution rate. For example, if an employee makes $5,000, the employee will pay $30, and the employer will pay $20.

However, only employers with 25 or more employees also will contribute to the program. Small employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to make contributions, but they can choose to participate in coverage as a benefit to their employees.

“Paid Leave Oregon will make it easy for business owners like us to support employees, and that helps keep trained folks on our team,” said Kathryn Weeks of Peoria Gardens in Linn County.

Peoria Gardens is one of the local Oregon employers featured in the Paid Leave campaign.

“Without this program we could not afford such comprehensive coverage, and we know that our workers are also contributing,” Weeks said. “The state will confirm a worker qualifies, and of course pay for the leave itself out of the fund. This is a real service, both for us and for our employees.”

Paid Leave Oregon will administer the program, including paying employees while they are on leave and determining their eligibility for benefits. Benefits will be available to employees in September 2023. Another statewide campaign focusing on employee outreach begins in 2023. MORE INFO: https://paidleave.oregon.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in December

Need to know

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive temporarily increased emergency food benefits in December
  • Approximately 426,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $70 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • These emergency benefits are a temporary support that Oregon can provide because of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center

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

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

Because the federal government approved these emergency benefits for December, Oregon will also be able to issue them in January 2023. However, the emergency benefits are expected to end when the federal public health emergency ends.

In December, approximately 426,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $70 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Jana McLellan, interim director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “The holiday season can also bring additional stress and worry for many Oregonians who are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211, the Oregon Food Bank and their local Community Action Agency for support during this difficult time.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on Dec. 13. Emergency allotments will be issued Dec. 30 or Jan. 4, 2023 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources to help meet basic needs

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

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Recorded Off Coos Bay Coast – 4 in 4 Days in Same General Area

An earthquake recorded at 5.2 magnitude shook off the Oregon coast early Monday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Then another 2.9 west of Bandon just a few hours later.

The tremor was reported about 157 miles west of Coos Bay at 7:42 a.m. It was measured at a depth of 10 kilometers.

There was no tsunami danger, the National Weather Service Portland said.

USGS reported a 2.7 magnitude quake in a similar area Sunday morning and another one in the same general region on Friday morning that measured 4.5.

Free parking at Oregon State Parks the day after Thanksgiving

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites Oregonians to head outside the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.

North Falls at Silver Falls State Park
North Falls at Silver Falls State Park

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.

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