Rogue Valley News, Friday 12/2: Winter Weather Effecting I-5 Traffic, Rogue Creamery’s Blue Cheese On The Menu At White House State Dinner

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, December 2, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

Winter Weather Effecting I-5 Traffic from Siskiyou Summit to Cottage Grove

CHAINS OR SNOW TIRES ARE REQUIRED ON I 5 FROM 3.2 MILES NORTH OF MT. SHASTA CITY TO WEED.

Winter driving season has begun. Studded tires are legal for use in both Oregon and California. Snow Zones with chain laws in effect from Redding to Cottage Grove.  By law, you must carry chains with you at all times, or have studded tires on.

Spots of ice at Siskiyou Summit. De-icers and sanders working. Use caution. Spots of ice between Grants Pass and Canyonville. De-icers and sanders working. Use caution.

THUR Night—- Two semis have possibly jackknifed. This is I-5 northbound coming out of Siskiyou County into Oregon. Please wait for this to clear. Traffic diverted at exit 2. Southbound is not impacted.

Northbound Interstate 5 is closed just north of the California-Oregon border because of winter conditions, Caltrans says. There is no estimate for when the freeway will reopen.

— The winter weather created challenging conditions on the North State’s mountain roads and highways.

For several hours on Thursday, the California Department of Transportation was screening northbound traffic on Interstate 5 at the Fawndale exit north of Redding. Caltrans started doing the screening around 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

But by 11 a.m. Thursday, Caltrans had lifted the restrictions and vehicles were no longer being screened.

Arriving late Wednesday night, the storm dumped snow in the higher elevations, especially on I-5 in Siskiyou County.

The California Highway Patrol reported spinouts and other traffic hazards due to the weather on I-5 and Highway 89 in Siskiyou County, as well as on Highway 299 in Shasta County.

By Thursday afternoon, chains were still being required on I-5 two miles north of Mount Shasta to Weed. Statewide Oregon Road Conditions: https://www.tripcheck.com/DynamicReports/Report/RoadConditions

Check TripCheck.com for updates before traveling.

Rogue Creamery’s Blue Cheese Was On The Menu At White House State Dinner Thursday Night

The Rogue Creamery team in Central Point has a lot to be proud of: Their world-champion Rogue River Blue will be served at the White House state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, on Thursday.

“What an immense honor,” said Marguerite Merritt, Rogue Creamery’s cheese emissary and marketing manager. “We hope that President Biden, President Macron, their families and guests enjoy every bite and find that it lives up to its storied reputation as one of the world’s greatest cheeses.”

At the 2019 World Cheese Awards, Rogue River Blue was judged to be the best in taste, color, consistency and texture compared to 3,800 competitors from around the globe.

“This was the first time in the competition’s 38-year history that an American-made cheese received that top honor, and we like to say that in that moment, the world was turned on its rind,” said Merritt. “It proved that U.S.A. cheesemakers can compete — and win against — the very best cheesemakers around the world.”

Rogue River Blue is made from the distinctively flavored milk that cows produce in the autumn at the creamery’s certified-humane dairy in Grants Pass.

The cheese wheels are wrapped in locally grown Syrah grape leaves soaked in pear liqueur, and aged for a year before being ceremoniously released around the autumnal equinox.

White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford selected the Oregon-made blue as part of a trio of American cheeses offered during the dinner to the head of state of a nation revered for producing the finest fromages.

Comerford told reporters Wednesday at a White House preview of the black-tie event that she found out about Rogue River Blue from the French: “Actually, on my trip to France a couple years ago, my chef counterparts asked me, ‘Have you ever tried Rogue River? It’s the World Champion of Cheese.’ And I said I never did.”

Other cheeses chosen for the state dinner are Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, a soft ripened goat cheese from California, and a cheddar by family-run Deer Creek creamery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

At the request of the White House chef, five-pound wheels of Rogue River Blue were shipped FedEx Priority Overnight from Oregon to Washington, D.C.

Also sent to the White House as a gift from the 89-year-old creamery: Rogue Creamery’s Bluehorn Blue, which was awarded a Super Gold medal at the 2022 World Cheese Awards, and the extra-aged sharp cheddar, called Cheese Is Love, which earned a bronze medal at the international competition.

A matching donation to a southern Oregon food bank is made for every $14 sale of an eight-ounce block of Cheese Is Love.

Rogue River Blue will have its state dinner debut on Thursday, but this is not the first time the cheese, aged in Central Point caves modeled after Europe’s finest, has been presented at a special occasion. The blue cheese was served at former President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball in 2009, and again in 2013.

Merritt said the late Queen Elizabeth II was “quite partial to this cheese,” and “we took great pleasure in sending her wheels to enjoy over the years.”

The Rogue Creamery’s wide selection of award-winning blue and cheddar cheeses can be ordered at  RogueCreamery.com and shipped in two days or overnight to all U.S. states.

The seasonal Rogue River Blue is limited and is expected to be sold out around the New Year, and not available again until next fall, said Merritt.

Missing Adult From Grants Pass

On November 29th, 2022, Josephine Golden (72), a resident of Grants Pass, was located by Curry County Search and Rescue in the early evening hours on a remote road near the Lobster Creek area.  Search and Rescue personnel provided Golden with fuel for her vehicle and escorted her back to the Gold Beach area.

Golden’s vehicle was observed in the Grants Pass area the following day on November 30th, 2022, at approximately 8:00 pm, but she has yet to return home.  Golden has been demonstrating uncharacteristic behavior and confusion as of late, and she has been entered as a missing person. 

Josephine Golden drives a dark purple, 2015 Toyota Scion XB, with Oregon license plate 652 LGX.

The Grants Pass Police Department is asking the public to report any sightings of Golden or her vehicle, or if you have information about her possible whereabouts.  Due to winter weather conditions, any assistance from community members could make a significant impact on ensuring Golden’s safe return home. 

Anyone with information about Josephine Golden can contact the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260 and reference case #22-52403.

Grants Pass Town & Country Market Robbery — UPDATE

Suspect

Grants Pass, Ore. – On November 25th, 2022, at approximately 8:50 pm, Grants Pass Police responded to a robbery at the Town & Country Market on Williams Highway. A store employee reported that a suspect had committed a theft and fled on foot. When the employee followed the suspect outside, the suspect discharged a firearm in the direction of the store. 

Police arrived within minutes and confirmed that no one had been injured in the incident. Grants Pass Detectives responded and took over the criminal investigation. 

UPDATE: Grants Pass Police Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect captured on store surveillance video. Anyone with information on the suspect’s identity is asked to call Detective Justin Hoy at 541-450-6343.

Josephine County Fairgrounds Shooting — UPDATE

Jesus

Grants Pass, Ore. – On November 26th, 2022, a few minutes before midnight, Grants Pass Police Officers responded to the Josephine County Fairgrounds for reports of a man firing a gun. Due to the rapidly evolving incident, law enforcement requested Three Rivers Medical Center lockdown while a search of the Fairgrounds was underway. GPPD officers and Oregon State Troopers cleared the Fairgrounds and confirmed the suspect had already fled.

A private party was being held at the Fairgrounds, and the suspect fired a firearm into the ceiling of the building. No one was injured at the party. The suspect’s connection to the event is still being determined. Grants Pass Police detectives responded to assist with the criminal investigation.

The Grants Pass Police Department would like to thank the Oregon State Police and Three Rivers Medical Center for their assistance.

UPDATE: Grants Pass Police Detectives are seeking to question Jesus “Chuy” Morales-Martinez (42 years of age) for his alleged involvement in the shooting incident. It is believed Morales-Martinez may have fled to California. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Morales-Martinez is requested to call Detective Justin Hoy at 541-450-6343.

Bend Police Release Documents and Video Timeline of Deadly Safeway Shooting

The Bend Police Department released a final update into their investigation of a deadly Safeway shooting last August. The update includes a timeline of the events leading to the shooting that left three dead, including the gunman.

The 20-year-old Bend gunman who fired over 100 shots before and after he entered Bend’s Eastside Safeway on Sunday, August 28, killing a customer, then a store worker who hid and confronted him with a produce knife, was acting alone, police said Thursday, concluding their investigation and releasing chilling video of the attack.

In what police called a “final update” on the act of violence that rocked the Central Oregon community, Communications Manager Sheila Miller wrote that as of now, “Bend Police have found no evidence that anyone other than the suspect was involved in” the assault. The city of Bend’s police department has a link to a five-and-a-half-minute video, redacted by blurring out faces and without sound, of the incident.

The release of the new information and footage follows “dozens of public records requests for video and reports,” that were denied due to the open investigation. With the case no longer active, the Bend police have released 398 pages of reports and a video used in their investigation.

The over 5-minute video begins with Ring camera footage of the shooter, 20-year-old Ethan Blair Miller moving through the Fox Hollow Apartments, already firing. Miller then leaves the apartments, heading for the parking lot between Costco and Old Navy. Footage at this point switches to show the east-facing Costco view and an inside view of Big Lots where people begin reacting to gunfire. Shots are then fired through the front door of Big Lots and Miller walks past the doors.

The footage shifts again to show two angles of Safeway’s west entrance. Smoke from gunfire can be seen as Miller enters the store.

During the shooting inside of the store, Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, was shot and killed at the front of the store and Donald Ray Surrett, 66, a man who was a Safeway employee was shot and killed at the back of the store.

As the suspect moves through the store towards the produce section, two Bend police officers enter through the east entrance. Miller then sits and shoots himself.

The full 398 pages of documents, as well as the footage released by Bend police, can be found here.

US 30 will remain closed about 20 mi. east of #Astoria until #landslide repairs can restore safety enough to reopen at least one lane of travel with flaggers.

UPDATE from ODOT: Our first goal is making the area safe enough to reopen one lane while we continue working on the lanes closer to the hillside. We don’t have an estimated time for reopening a single lane, but it expect it to be no sooner than Friday, Dec. 2.

Our work will continue tomorrow and through the weekend if necessary to reopen the highway as soon as it is safe to do so. More info on the slide:

The slide started Tuesday night about 100 feet above the roadway, likely due to rain and strong winds on trees with deep roots in the rocky hillside. The slide is about 110 feet wide and sent at least 1,800 cubic yards of mostly rock onto the highway. The semi caught in this initial slide has been removed from the debris, but still needs to be towed out. We’re grateful that the driver of that truck is okay.

In addition to debris removal work that began yesterday, our geologist found two car-sized sections of hillside that need to be removed because they are large enough to block the highway again if they fall.

Before we can reopen one lane: We’ve got to remove those two very large sections of hillside that are on the verge of sliding and blocking the entire highway. We also need to clear enough debris on the road surface so we can reopen one lane with enough additional space so crews can continue their work and catch any new smaller rock slides. We also need to repair any pavement damage to prepare the surface for our single lane detour.

For travelers during our closure: If you’re planning to travel between the #Portland metro area and the northern #OregonCoast in the next few days, please use an alternate route. Currently, US 26 is your best alternative. OR 47 and 202 are options for passenger vehicles, but OR 47 has length restrictions on commercial vehicles. Winter weather conditions continue throughout the area, so make sure to check your alternate route for the latest conditions on TripCheck.com

If you need to travel in this area – please do not use your GPS to detour on less developed roads. This can be dangerous for you, especially with the severe weather conditions we are seeing. Remember also to slow down in wintry weather when visibility is generally lower and stopping distances are longer on wet and/or freezing conditions. Always bring traction devices if you cross snow zones. Snow zone and chain restriction information is also located on our TripCheck website. Check TripCheck.com for updates before traveling.

Section Of I-84 Closed In Eastern Oregon Due To Crashes And Winter Weather

UPDATE: 11:53 p.m. I-84 is now reopen for traffic in both directions.

According to ODOT the road is now open from Pendleton to La Grande, however, drivers should expect winter conditions and should use caution when driving.

Check TripCheck.com for updates before traveling.

Multiple crashes and severe winter weather have forced a stretch of Interstate 84 to close in eastern Oregon Thursday evening, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reported. 

Both eastbound and westbound lanes are closed between Exit 216, 6 miles east of Pendleton, and Exit 265, 4 miles east of La Grande. 

Only local traffic is able to use OR 204, also known as Tollgate Highway, according to ODOT. No alternate routes for I-84 are available in the area. 

Westbound I-84 is also closed to truck traffic between Ontario (Exit 374) and Baker City due to limited parking availability from the closure near La Grande. The section is open to passenger vehicles, ODOT said. 

Trucks must exit the freeway before or at Exit 374. For the latest updates on closures, visit TripCheck.com or call 511 at 800-977-6368. For those outside of Oregon, call 503-588-2941.

Federal Judge In Portland Will Hear Oral Arguments Friday On  Measure 114

Midterm voters in Oregon narrowly passed one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, buoying the hopes of gun control supporters, but the new permit-to-purchase mandate and ban on high-capacity magazines now faces a lawsuit that could put it on ice just days before it’s set to take effect.

A federal judge in Portland will hear oral arguments Friday on whether Measure 114, which is scheduled to go into law Dec. 8, violates Americans’ constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Depending on the outcome, the groundbreaking law could be delayed for months or longer as it works its way through the courts, legal experts said.

Various other entities, including the National Rifle Association affiliate the Oregon State Shooting Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, filed legal actions this week as well, but court dates have not been set in those cases yet.

The Oregon ballot measure is part of a national trend of gun policy being decided by voters because “significant reform is stalled and that has put all the battles over gun control and gun safety at the state level,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor and expert in gun policy at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

“Ballot measures are one way for people to seize the reins of policy-making. People can act for themselves to change the law and on an issue like gun safety there is a really growing and active gun safety movement in America,” he said. “That’s not something we probably would have said 20 years ago.”

Measure 114, which passed by a slim majority in November, was born out of concern about the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida and gained public momentum last spring following massacres at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y. and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, said Mark Knutson, chairman of the interfaith Lift Every Voice Oregon campaign and pastor at Portland’s Augustana Lutheran Church.

“The arc of the moral universe is bending towards justice, and justice today is going to be ending gun violence in this country,” he said. “That’s why I trust this process will work … and a year and a half, two years from now, it’ll be 70% of the population saying this was the right thing to do — not the 51% that passed it.”

The biggest legal flash point is a ban on magazines over 10 rounds unless they are owned by law enforcement or a military member or were owned before the measure’s passage. Those who already own high-capacity magazines can only possess them in their homes or use them at a firing range, in shooting competitions or for hunting as allowed by state law after the measure takes effect.

The law also requires gun buyers to obtain a permit to purchase a new gun. Permit applicants must take a state-approved, hands-on gun safety training course with live or dry rounds, submit a photo ID and undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check. The state will keep a list of permit-holders that’s exempt from public disclosure; the $65 permits will be good for five years and can be used to buy multiple guns in that five-year period with a fresh background check.

The lawsuit filed by the Oregon Firearms Federation, a local sheriff and a gun store owner asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and issue an injunction to prevent it from going into effect next week. Alternatively, the plaintiffs seek a partial order on the high-capacity magazine ban.

In court papers filed late Wednesday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the plaintiffs were “wrong and unlikely to prevail” and that the state’s new law would save countless lives. Seven appellate courts have previously found that bans on large-capacity magazines are consistent with the Second Amendment, she wrote, and the New York case doesn’t change the legal landscape for Oregon’s law.

“Measure 114 allows those who, like Plaintiffs, currently own large-capacity magazines to keep and use those magazines as long as they do so within the law’s restrictions,” the filing reads.

Oregon’s ban on high-capacity magazines will nonetheless face scrutiny and the court will also take a close look at Oregon’s “permit to purchase” mandate to determine if the additional steps now required to gain access to firearms are also a Second Amendment violation, said Norman Williams, a constitutional law professor at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon.

While supporters of Measure 114 have cited the recent mass shootings in Colorado and Virginia as further evidence the law is needed and timely, Williams says that likely won’t have much bearing on the courts’ rulings in this case.

“It’s going to take the federal courts months, if not years, to sort out what parts of Measure 114 are constitutional and what parts, if any, aren’t … and I think this is the type of measure that the U.S. Supreme Court itself might have some interest in reviewing,” he said.

“Proponents of gun safety regulations, in emphasizing the continuing gun violence in our society, are in some sense making an argument that doesn’t resonate with the federal judges considering the constitutionality of these measures.”

Details about the permit process and hands-on training are still being worked out and some local agencies have complained they don’t have the budget or staff necessary to enforce the law’s provisions. Several local sheriffs have said publicly they won’t enforce the law in their jurisdictions.

State lawmakers are likely to advance legislation to aid the law’s implementation and provide funding in the upcoming session, said Elizabeth McKanna, chair of the Measure 114 legislative committee.

The uncertainty around Measure 114’s future has driven a surge in firearms sales that began after it passed as gun owners worry they might not be able to obtain a new permit for weeks or months if some or all of it goes into effect.

As of this week, Oregon State Police had more than 35,000 pending background check transactions for gun purchases and was averaging 3,000 requests a day compared to less than 900 a day the week before Measure 114 passed, according to agency data. On Black Friday, the agency received 6,000 background check requests alone, OSP Capt. Kyle Kennedy said in an email.

Meanwhile, OSP is “working diligently” with local law enforcement agencies to implement the law next week, Kennedy said.

Insurance tips for freezing temperatures, snowstorms

SALEM – The weather is turning cold and with that comes the chance of ice and snow. 

Winter weather can lead to damage due to falling trees or limbs, burst pipes, ice dams on your roof, cracks in your home’s foundation, car crashes, and more. Some of these losses may be covered by your insurance policy and others may not. 

Before your home, vehicle, or possessions are damaged by storms and winter weather, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage.

You can also take actions to help prevent losses from occurring in the first place. You can:

  • Inspect and maintain your foundation, gutters, and roof
  • Insulate and maintain water pipes
  • Monitor tree health and trim them as needed
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter driving

If your home or vehicle is damaged in a storm, call your insurance company or agent to ask about your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles before filing a claim.

Before filing a claim, it is important to know if the amount of your loss is worth the effect filing a claim can have on your premium rates. It may be better to handle repairs yourself, if the loss is less than or close to your deductible.

Homeowners — A typical homeowners policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or limbs and weight of ice and snow. If your home received minor damage, such as the wind blowing a few shingles off your house, your homeowners insurance will probably replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.

Winter storms can also create sudden damage caused by an ice dam on the roof or pipes bursting due to freezing. This type of damage is typically covered, and can be extensive – if a pipe burst floods a home – or minor, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.

If your home sustained severe structural damage from a fallen tree or other storm debris, and it is deemed uninhabitable, and your policy has additional living expenses coverage, it can help cover the extra costs of lodging, meals, and even pet boarding while you are unable to live in the home. Those who have renters insurance can also take advantage of this policy coverage.

If your home lost power and received only minor damage, it will probably still be considered safe to live in, so additional living expenses may not apply. Check with your insurance agent or provider to confirm your coverage.

Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to a power outage. If you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can typically be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.

Auto — There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that typically apply to winter storms:

  • Comprehensive covers damage caused by falling trees or limbs. This includes while your vehicle is parked inside a garage. Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for vehicles, even while parked inside your garage. 
  • Collision covers damage to your vehicle that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
  • Liability covers damage you accidentally caused to another person’s property or to a person who is injured in an accident.

Once again, if the cost to repair your vehicle is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.

Remember, you want to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage and take steps to reduce your risks. Check with your insurance agent or company to determine your policy coverages, exclusions, and deductibles. 

If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. You can contact the division’s advocates three ways:

Visit the division’s storm insurance resource page for more information.

### 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 dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.

Oregon State Parks offers $5 off annual parking permit purchases in December 

SALEM, Oregon— Give the gift of the outdoors and save this season with the Oregon State Parks 12-month parking permit sale through December.

The permit hangtag once again features whimsical designs from Portland artist El Tran. Holiday shoppers can buy the annual parking permits for only $25, which is a $5 savings starting Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 31. The pass is good for 12 months starting in the month of purchase.

Purchasing passes is easy. Buy them online at the Oregon State Parks store. Parking permits are also sold at some state park friends’ group stores and select local businesses throughout the state. For a complete list of vendors, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.

Parking costs $5 a day at 25 Oregon state parks unless you have a 12- or 24-month parking permit or a same-day camping receipt. The 24-month pass is $50 and is also available at store.oregonstateparks.org. The permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle.

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