Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 12/6 – White City Armed Robbery Suspects On-The-Run, Mountain Mikes Pizza Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested

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, December 6, 2022 

Rogue Valley Weather

White City Armed Robbery Suspects On-The-Run

JCSO 22-7060 —- WHITE CITY, OR – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is attempting to locate two suspects from a reported armed robbery at the Purple Parrot in White City this evening. At 5:54 p.m. JCSO deputies responded to a panic alarm on the 7300 block of Highway 62 in White City. Upon arrival, deputies learned an adult man and woman came in to the store, pointed a gun at the cashier and stole money.

The first suspect is described as a Hispanic female adult in her 20’s with brown/red curly hair, wearing a skull mask and a black zip up sweatshirt. The second suspect is described as a Hispanic male adult wearing a dark baseball cap and a black bandana. There is no suspect vehicle description at this time and they left in an unknown direction.

If you have any information about the armed robbery or suspects involved, please call ECSO dispatch at (541) 776-7206.

Mountain Mikes Pizza Armed Robbery Suspect Arrested

At 5:56 pm on December 5 2022, Medford Police units responded to the report of an armed robbery in progress at Mountain Mikes Pizza located at 2640 E Barnett Rd Medford, Oregon.

Witnesses provided the clothing description of the suspect, his direction of travel, and stated he was armed with a handgun.  A patrol unit in the area located the suspect nearby and took him into custody without incident. 

The money taken in the robbery was recovered. The weapon was discarded by the suspect prior to contact and later located in the parking lot of a nearby business.  No one was injured or harmed during the incident. The name of the suspect is being withheld at this time due to an ongoing investigation. 

Project To Clean Up Damaged Water Facilities From Almeda Fire In Talent Almost Done

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been working on a project to clean up the damaged water facilities near Highway 99 in Talent.

Contractors are replacing the bottom of the water facilities that contain leftover ashes and slit from the fire.

Gary Leaming with ODOT said these are not new facilities, they are just putting new materials in them. “The whole purpose of the project is to clean out those contaminants now before the next big flood,” said Leaming.

Water quality facilities are designed to hold stormwater that may contain oils or other toxins from the highway.

Leaming said the facilities are used to prevent contaminated water from entering Bear Creek. “The reason we’re bringing them back is so when flood waters occur,” said Leaming. “And they overflow, we don’t want those materials back into Bear Creek.”

Contractors have been working on this project for about a month. According to ODOT, this is a $5550,000 project. The contractors plan to finish by next week.

Suspects In Tillamook Homicide Investigation Arrested In Hawthorne Nevada

Two women who were named persons of interest associated with a homicide in Tillamook Oregon have been apprehended in Hawthorne Nevada. 

The Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office posted on their Facebook page that they were conducting a suspicious death investigation where a 52-year-old deceased male was located in a campsite in the Tillamook State Forest.

Officials say while making campsite visits in the East Fork of the Trask area of the Tillamook State Forest on Friday, December 2, a Tillamook County Sheriff’s Deputy located a deceased 52-year-old male in a campsite and his barking dog tied to a nearby tree.

Evidence found on scene indicated the man had been shot and his vehicle had been stolen. Spent cartridges and a firearm were also located on scene.

Later that day, the sheriff’s office announced the suspicious death was being investigated as a homicide. 

The persons of interest were identified as Alyssa Z. Sturgill, 40, and Lisa M. Peaslee, 41 and it is believed Sturgill and Peaslee had taken the victim’s light blue 2002 Toyota Sienna minivan.

On Sunday, December 4, 2022, Sturgill and Peaslee were stopped in the victim’s minivan by Sheriff’s Deputies in Mineral County, Nevada.

Peaslee and Strugill were taken into custody on local Nevada charges, including Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, and were held on a no-bail hold.

Detectives have traveled to Hawthorne to begin the extradition process of returning the duo to Tillamook County, Oregon, to face charges of Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Firearm and Theft in the First Degree.

On Monday, December 5, officials with the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office said Sturgill, Peaslee and the victim’s vehicle were apprehended in Hawthorne.

“We are extremely grateful for the professionalism and the cooperation of all of the agencies involved that led to the quick apprehension of these two criminals,” said Detective Sgt. Michelle Brewer. “Those agencies include Tillamook 911, Oregon Department of Forestry, Tillamook Police, Oregon State Police and Crime Lab, Tillamook County District Attorney’s Office, and Mineral and Washoe County Sheriff’s Offices in Nevada.”

Oregon DOJ Cracks Down On Unwanted Phone Calls From Company Selling Extended Car Warranties

The Oregon Department of Justice is cracking down on a company selling extended car warranties. As part of a settlement, Endurance Warranty Services will be banned from making unwanted phone solicitations in Oregon for the next five years and be forced to pay up to $550,000 in fines.

The Oregon DOJ opened the investigation into the Illinois-based company after receiving more than a dozen consumer complaints, records indicate. Endurance sent hundreds of thousands of mailers to Oregonians from 2016 to 2019 and sold more than 1,600 extended car warranties, according to the Oregon DOJ.

The state investigation found the company’s mailers contained multiple false claims, according to the Oregon DOJ. For example, Endurance pretended to know when someone’s car warranty had expired or was about to expire.

During the investigation, Endurance stopped sending the mailers, according to the Oregon DOJ.

The Better Business Bureau has also had issues with the company’s advertising. “Since May 2019, the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois has requested on multiple instances for Endurance Warranty Services, LLC to modify, or discontinue their promotional mailers being distributed nationwide,” the BBB wrote on its website. “The businesses mailers contained aggressive and confusing language, that often intimidated consumers.” The BBB posted an update in April 2020 indicating the mailers meet the BBB Code of Advertising.

As part of the settlement filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Endurance is banned from making unwanted sales calls in Oregon for the next five years. Additionally, the company will have to implement an independent review process for all advertising direct toward Oregon residents and pay a fine of up to $550,000.

Oregon Job Openings Slow Down Signaling Economic Shift

The pandemic’s aftermath has been unusual in many ways, but one of the most remarkable has been what happened to the job market.

The number of Oregon job vacancies has outnumbered the number of unemployed people for more than a year, an extraordinary situation that has left schools, hospitals, fast-food restaurants and nearly every other kind of organization scrambling to fill openings.

Now, there are signs that Oregon’s labor squeeze is finally beginning to ease.

The number of job openings in the state plunged by 11% in the summer, according to the most recent survey data from the Oregon Employment Department.

That’s the biggest drop since the pandemic began, at a time of year when the number of job vacancies usually increases. And at the same time, the number of people seeking work has been creeping up. Job openings still outnumbered the unemployed, but by fewer than 8,000. And the gap may continue to shrink.

Oregon had more than 90,000 unemployed in October and a jobless rate of 4.1%. That’s low by historical standards, but well above the 3.5% unemployed the state recorded last spring.

Similar trends are playing out nationally. Fewer job openings and rising unemployment aren’t good for workers, of course, but modest changes could still be a positive sign for the broader economic outlook.

That’s because the worker shortage has been one factor pushing up inflation, raising labor costs and straining supply chains.

An ease to the labor crunch could be a sign that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy and constrain prices are beginning to have some effect. It’s far too soon to know if these trends will continue or how painful the job losses might get.

In their most recent forecast, Oregon economists predicted the state will fall into a “mild” recession next summer, with unemployment rising to 5.4% in 2024.

One positive sign in their report: It appears most of the decline in job vacancies is because employers are hiring fewer workers who already have jobs.

“The decline in job openings so far this year, both nationally and here in Oregon, is coming from the poaching component and not the unemployed portion,” the state’s economists wrote. “This is encouraging that unemployed workers are still able to find jobs quickly, and that overall workforce churn may be slowing as well.”

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas across the West, and for the parched mega-drought region, the December snow is a welcome gift

With back-to-back-to-back winter storms across the West, the snowpack is thriving. Parts of the Sierra and the Pacific Northwest are seeing above-average snowpack for this time of year.

In Central California, the Sierra stands at 200% of normal for snowpack average to date.

The drought monitor released some of the numbers Thursday, which showed some of the driest areas in the West with decent snow. Here is where the West stands as of right now for snowpack:

  • Great Basin 157%
  • Lower Colorado 152%
  • California 135%
  • Pacific Northwest 134%
  • Upper Colorado 98%

“We’re looking fairly good up here at this point,” Andre Schwartz, research scientist at the University of California-Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory said. “We’re definitely above average, as far as how much snow we have on the ground.”

But Schartz also urged us not to get too excited. If we’ve learned anything from last year, anything can happen. Take December 2021 as the perfect example.

“We had this record-breaking number of 18 feet of snow or just under that, and then we had a January through March period, that was the driest on record,” Schwartz explained.

This year, more frequent, smaller storms – in combination with colder temperatures – have allowed the snow to stick better, as opposed to last year, when the snowpack completely melted between snowstorms, exposing dry ground again.

“The snow lover in me is very excited to see the snow come in, and I’m hopeful it means that we’re going to have a good season. The skeptic in me, and the person that worked through last year, is a little bit more hesitant,” Schwartz admitted.

Schwartz explained the key to a successful season is to have consistency.

“We don’t have to have every storm drop feet of snow. They could still be four to six inches at a time. But we just can’t have those super long dry periods where we see midwinter melt that doesn’t normally set us up with a whole lot of success,” Schwartz pointed out.

More snow expected this week —- Both the Sierra and the Rockies will get hit with more snow this week as multiple storm systems traverse the West.

Snowfall totals for the highest elevations could end up in the one- to two-foot range this week. More widespread snow totals will be less than a foot.

After a snowy end to last week and a snowy weekend, another round is affecting the Rockies today through Wednesday.

“Snow totals from this second system are still favoring widespread 6+ inches of accumulation, with the highest terrain seeing upwards of a foot,” the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction said.

The Colorado River Basin and Sierra will need a lot more snow to end with an average season, but the steady stream of snow has been a good sign so far.

“I think there’s optimism because we’re starting with a really good foundation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to translate into help with a drought,” said Schwartz. “We still have time where it may not snow, and we may still wind up with below average precipitation, but so far, we’re looking pretty good.”

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it is delaying the enforcement of REAL ID another two years.

The deadline for residents of states, including Oregon, to become REAL ID compliant was May 3, 2023. DHS now says it will be May 7, 2025, to give states and the District of Columbia the extra time they need to make sure residents get REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses or identification cards.

DHS says the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are to blame for the postponement.

“REAL ID progress over the past two years has been significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic,” DHS said in a statement. “Many of these agencies took various steps in response to the pandemic including automatically extending the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifting operations to appointment only.”

Oregon has not been immune to these problems. Staffing issues over the summer forced the temporary closure of the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Redmond.

Once REAL ID goes into effect, a non-REAL ID license or identification card will not be enough to get you through airport security to board even a domestic flight. You’ll need REAL ID, a passport or some other federally-accepted form of identification.

For those in Oregon who don’t have a REAL ID license or identification card, this delay means they can wait for their renewal date — if it comes before May 7, 2025 — to get REAL ID.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, but the deadline has been constantly pushed back.

Oregon’s Average Gas Price Falls In Past Week; Down 64 Cents In Past Month, Up 42 Cents Over Year

Average gasoline prices in Oregon have fallen 24 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $4.18/gallon Monday, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 1,307 stations in Oregon.

Prices in Oregon are 64.3 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 42.4 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 13.6 cents in the last week and stands at $5.06 per gallon, GasBuddy says.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Oregon was priced at $3.35/g Sunday while the most expensive was $5.49/g, a difference of $2.14/g.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 15.8 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.36/g Monday. The national average is down 43 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 1.5 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

Historical gasoline prices in Oregon and the national average going back ten years:
December 5, 2021: $3.75/g (U.S. Average: $3.34/g)
December 5, 2020: $2.52/g (U.S. Average: $2.16/g)
December 5, 2019: $3.13/g (U.S. Average: $2.60/g)
December 5, 2018: $3.04/g (U.S. Average: $2.44/g)
December 5, 2017: $2.79/g (U.S. Average: $2.47/g)
December 5, 2016: $2.40/g (U.S. Average: $2.18/g)
December 5, 2015: $2.31/g (U.S. Average: $2.04/g)
December 5, 2014: $2.97/g (U.S. Average: $2.70/g)
December 5, 2013: $3.27/g (U.S. Average: $3.24/g)
December 5, 2012: $3.42/g (U.S. Average: $3.38/g)

Oregon cities and their current gas prices:
Eugene- $4.07/g, down 31.1 cents per gallon from last week’s $4.38/g.
Salem- $3.90/g, down 22.9 cents per gallon from last week’s $4.13/g.
Portland- $4.31/g, down 23.7 cents per gallon from last week’s $4.55/g.

“For the first time in 670 days, the national average price of gasoline has fallen below its year-ago level, dropping for the fourth straight week to its lowest level since January,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Every state has again seen average gasoline prices drop in the last week, and it remains very possible the national average could fall under $3 per gallon by Christmas. There has also been a drop in diesel prices, which this week will fall back under $5 per gallon, and could soon thereafter fall to their lowest level since March.

“However, despite all the good news about fuel prices, there may be some concerns coming, as the price cap on Russian oil kicks in. Retaliation is possible, and while OPEC+ upheld production cuts from last month, they could always cut more production. For now, however, we’ll likely see another week of declines at the pump in nearly all areas.” GasBuddy data is accessible at http://prices.GasBuddy.com

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