Rogue Valley News, Friday 3/10 – Josephine County Sheriffs Serves Search Warrant At Illegal Grow in Williams, Psilocybin Facilitator Trainings Starts Next Week In Ashland

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

Friday, March 10, 2023 

Rogue Valley Weather

Active Weather Alerts



* WHAT...South winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph expected.

* WHERE...Southeastern Jackson County, including Ashland, Phoenix, Talent, and portions of Interstate 5 and Highway 140.

* WHEN...From 1 PM Thursday to 7 PM PST Friday.

* IMPACTS...Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.

* View the hazard area in detail at

* WHAT...Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 1 to 4 inches with up to 1 foot in higher terrain. Winds gusting as high as 45 mph.

* WHERE...Elevations above 2500 feet in eastern Curry County and Josephine County- Kalmiopsis Wilderness, Eastern Douglas County Foothills and northern Jackson County. This includes the communities of Toketee Falls, Butte Falls and Prospect and portions of Highway 62, Highway 227 and Highway 138.

* WHEN...From 10 PM this evening to 4 PM PST Friday.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be difficult and could impact the morning commute. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Wet, heavy snow on tree branches combined with gusty winds could result in broken tree limbs. Additionally, lowering temperatures and snowfall on wet roads
could result in a layer of ice formation, resulting in additional hazardous road conditions.

* View the hazard area in detail at

Josephine County Sheriffs Serves Search Warrant At Illegal Grow Williams 03/09/23

On March 9, 2023, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) with the assistance of Josephine County Public Health & Building Safety, executed a search warrant in the 1000 block of Panther Gulch Road, Williams, regarding an illegal indoor marijuana grow site.

During the execution of the warrant, more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana and 1,500 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed. 

The property also had multiple electrical, water, and solid waste code violations. These violations could result in the civil forfeiture of the property. 

Domeniko Evtimov was taken into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.

Amid Some Disruptions Statewide, One Of Oregon’s First Psilocybin Facilitator Trainings Starts Next Week In Ashland

An Ashland-based organization is gearing up to begin one of the country’s first psilocybin facilitator training programs next week.

Beginning March 15, the Entheogen Institute will host a 12-week course with an additional week of practicum for those interested in becoming a facilitator. Classes will be interactive and offered in-person or online.

The Entheogen Institute says classes will be led by instructors with advanced degrees and backgrounds in health, end-of-life care, somatic and trauma-informed care, psychology, counseling, yoga, music, and more.

The course includes 120 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of practicum training. Participants must have a high school diploma or GED and be Oregon residents. The cost of the program for initial cohorts is $6,500. For more information, visit the Entheogen Institute website.

Meanwhile…One of Oregon’s approved and licensed psilocybin facilitator training programs just canceled classes amid bankruptcy, leaving students hoping to get licensed, some of whom paid $10,000, in limbo and uncertain what to do next.

Synthesis Institute, a Dutch company with U.S. subsidiaries, has offered programs to train psychedelic facilitators since 2018.

A spokesperson for Synthesis said Monday that they didn’t immediately have the exact number of students enrolled in programs, but participants estimate that 200 or more students are affected by the shutdown, both in Oregon and elsewhere. An email sent by the company to program participants Monday night went to 292 recipients.

Psilocybin facilitator training is required for people who want to be licensed psilocybin facilitators as part of Oregon’s voter-approved therapeutic psychedelic mushroom program. That program officially began in January, though training programs have been up and running since fall of 2022.

In November, Synthesis, one of 21 programs active in the state, began offering its “Psychedelic Practitioner Core Training” for Oregon students hoping to become facilitators in the state’s legal, therapeutic psilocybin program. That program was set to take 13 months and cost a minimum of $9,997 for those who paid in full upfront.

The first sign of trouble came on Feb. 16, when Synthesis abruptly canceled an online conference just a day before it was due to begin.

Until recently, Rachel Aidan was the CEO of Synthesis Institute. Aidan lives in Oregon and is engaged to Tom Eckert. Eckert is one of the architects of Oregon’s legal psilocybin program and the director of another psilocybin facilitator program, InnerTrek.

Synthesis was also in the process of developing a psilocybin service center in Jackson County called Buckhorn Springs.

According to the Jackson County Assessor’s Office, Oregon Retreat Centers LLC, a company associated with Synthesis, purchased Buckhorn Springs for $3.6 million in June 2021. Though Jackson County voted to opt-in to psilocybin services in the county, county commissioners passed time, place and manner rules that say psilocybin businesses can only operate in “general commercial areas” of unincorporated Jackson County.

Rogue Valley Indoor Golf To Open March 15th

The Screenskeeper (Rogue Valley Indoor Golf) will open its doors on Wednesday, March 15th, finally bringing a public indoor golf facility to the Rogue Valley!

Golfers of all levels are invited to book a tee time and experience golf in the new indoor simulators firsthand, with prize raffles and giveaways taking place each day during our Grand Opening week (3/15-3/19).

The facility will open at 12pm on weekdays and 10am on weekends (closed Mondays/Tuesdays), just below the Four Corners on Table Rock Rd in Medford/Central Point.

ODOT Warns Snow and Rain in the Forecast – Mountain Pass Travel Hazardous

Yet another round of heavy snow and rain is coming through our state with the heaviest amounts hitting tonight and into tomorrow. Expect our high elevation mountain passes to get hit hardest: the #Cascades, #Siskiyous, #BlueMountains, and the Coast Range.

We’re prepared and ready for this system, but we want to make sure you are too. Many coastal areas could see flooding. Snowfall amounts in some mountain areas could reach nearly two feet in 24 hours. What does this mean, and where’s the math?! 😡

It means that even with crews working around the clock, you can expect roads to still be covered in snow. You read that right. Remember those story problems or yore? Well:If we have one plow working a 25 mile stretch of highway, that plow is covering 50 miles if the highway is only one lane in each direction. When plowing, the truck’s speed is around 25 mph. That means one plow will only pass the same spot every two hours (if they don’t stop for any reason). If it snows 18 inches in 12 hours, that’s 1.5 inches of snow per hour. So, you could be driving in three inches of snow even with our crews plowing around the clock!

In light of that, please plan ahead and pack accordingly if you plan to travel in affected areas. Heavy snow, wind and rain can cause problems other than just challenging road conditions. Whiteouts, snow drifts, slides and debris falling onto the road are all possibilities. Take your time and slow down along your journey so you are ready for whatever is around the next corner. We want everyone to make it to their destination safely. You count on our crews to be out there responding – and we’re counting on you to make wise travel decisions. Before you go:

Oregonians Encouraged to Sign Up for SOLVE’s Statewide Event, the Oregon Spring Cleanup

Portland, Ore., March 7, 2023 – Join thousands of Oregonians this Earth Day for the Oregon Spring Cleanup, presented by Portland General Electric. With the support of SOLVE, community leaders and partner organizations host restoration events, urban litter cleanup projects, and beach cleanups. Volunteer registration is now live, and all Oregonians are encouraged to sign up for this statewide cleanup event. Most Oregon Spring Cleanup events will occur on Earth Day, April 22nd, but SOLVE will be highlighting community events occurring between April 15th-23rd.

PGE has been supporting SOLVE’s mission to take care of Oregon’s natural spaces for more than thirty years. Each volunteer project is aimed at caring for one of Oregon’s most precious resources, our water, from source to sea. Removing invasive plant species, nurturing native plants, and collecting litter are all easy ways volunteers can create a positive impact on Oregon’s water quality.

Last year, during the 2022 Oregon Spring Cleanup, over 3,500 volunteers removed 44,000 pounds of litter and debris statewide. Sign up to volunteer today and let’s continue to build upon the momentum of last year’s events!

Each piece of litter collected prevents it from entering a nearby river, waterway, or storm drain, where it will eventually make its way to the sea and contribute to our global marine debris crisis. 

Interested community members are encouraged to visit to see a list of volunteer projects and sign up. The website allows you to see a map of Oregon and helps to easily locate projects near you! All necessary tools and supplies will be provided. The Oregon Spring Cleanup presented by PGE is a great way to connect with family members, coworkers, and neighbors, all while collectively giving back to some of Oregon’s most beautiful places.

SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model of volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas, and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit for more information. 

FBI Portland and FBI Seattle Field Offices Offering $25,000 Rewards for Information About Energy Facility Substation Shootings

PORTLAND, OREGON/SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The FBI Portland and the FBI Seattle Field Offices are seeking the public’s help to identify the individual(s) responsible for vandalism at electrical substations in Tumwater, Washington and Oregon City, Oregon.

The FBI is offering rewards of up to $25,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for each of these crimes.

On November 22, 2022, in the early morning hours, Puget Sound Energy discovered an incident at the Barneslake Substation in Tumwater, Washington. Fluid was leaking on the ground after one of the radiators of transformers had been punctured multiple times and caused the substation to go offline for several hours. Three 9 mm shell casings were located. The outage resulted in loss of power to 5,200 individuals.

On November 24, 2022, shortly before 2:00 a.m., several reactors were shot at the Bonneville Power Administration Ostrander Substation in Oregon City, Oregon. Investigators found a hole cut in the perimeter fence of the energized yard and discovered bullet holes in several reactors. 

“Attacks on power grid substations have gripped our nation’s attention in recent months because of the devastating threat they pose to our infrastructure.  Entire communities – hospitals, schools, and local businesses – might conceivably be incapacitated for many days,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office.  “The FBI continues to work diligently not only to identify and arrest those responsible for these wanton acts but also to disrupt any future criminal plots which might wreak even greater havoc to our community.  Presently, we remain unclear on the motive for their actions.  However, we do understand fully their catastrophic potential.  Consequently, apprehension of those responsible must be a top priority for law enforcement and this is why we are now urgently requesting our citizens’ help in identifying those responsible.”  

“Interfering or tampering with our power grid can have deadly consequences.” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “An attack like this is not just an inconvenience for home and business owners, think of medical facilities or vulnerable people who depend on electricity for their health.  It’s our hope that by attaching a reward offer, someone who has that missing piece of information we need may be enticed to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), contact their local FBI office, or submit a tip online at You may remain anonymous. 

Murder Suspect Escapes Washington County Courthouse In Hillsboro During Trial

Courthouse surveillance video shows an Oregon murder suspect sprinting away from bailiffs after they unshackled him in court – a requirement under state law – then escaping the building and prompting a massive manhunt.

Edi Villalobos Jr., a 28-year-old accused of murder and a slew of other felonies, was supposed to stand before the court for the start of his trial. Instead, he ran down the hallway and out an employees-only exit, video shows.

“Per Oregon law, the deputies removed all restraints from Villalobos during the jury selection process,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “At around 11 a.m., the court took a break, and restraints were placed back on Villalobos. When the break ended, deputies again removed all restraints from Villalobos, as directed by Oregon Law.”

The incident happened on Feb. 27, but the sheriff’s office didn’t make the video public til Thursday 3/9.

After a roughly two-hour manhunt, police arrested him in a Hillsboro apartment, where a neighbor called 911 to report they heard someone trying to break in, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Deputies entered the apartment and located Villalobos hiding in a closet underneath a blanket,” the sheriff said.

Now he faces two new felony burglary charges and another for escaping custody. Villalobos is due back in court March 21 for a status hearing.

Wondering about your refund? Use the Oregon Dept. of Revenue’s Where’s My Refund Tool

Salem, OR— The Oregon Department of Revenue has begun issuing refunds due to taxpayers who have filed their 2022 tax returns. Through March 3, the department had received and processed 681,099 returns and had issued 495,606 refunds.

The agency began processing returns January 23 in the order they were received. However, each year, the department waits until after February 15 to issue personal income tax refunds as part of its tax fraud prevention efforts. The delay allows for confirmation that the amounts claimed on tax returns match what employers report on Forms W-2 and 1099. 

Now that the agency has begun issuing refunds, taxpayers can check Where’s My Refund on Revenue Online to see the status of their refund. To check the status of their refund, taxpayers will need their:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN);
  • Filing status; and
  • The exact refund amount shown on:
    • Line 46 of their Form OR-40, or
    • Line 71 of their Form OR-40-N, or
    • Line 70 of their Form OR-40-P

The Department of Revenue recommends that taxpayers wait one week after they have electronically filed their return to use the Where’s My Refund tool.

Where’s My Refund will tell taxpayers whether their refund has been issued electronically, a check has been mailed, their refund has been adjusted, there are questions about their return, or their return is being manually processed.

E-filing and requesting direct deposit is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund 34 days sooner than taxpayers who mail their paper returns and request paper refund checks.

All Oregon resident taxpayers preparing their own returns in 2023 can file electronically at no cost using one of Oregon’s free file options.

Taxpayers can check the status of their federal tax refunds on the IRS website.

Six common reasons refunds take longer and what to do about it

  • Filing a paper return. Paper returns take longer to process and, as a result, it takes longer to issue related refunds. File electronically instead. 
  • Filing electronically and requesting to receive a refund via a check takes longer. Request direct deposit instead.
  • Filing more than once. Sending a paper return through the mail after e-filing will a delay a refund. Taxpayers should file just once.
  • Filing during peak filing periods. Refunds are also issued slower during peak filing periods, like the last few weeks before the April 18 deadline. Filing well ahead of the deadline will help taxpayers get their refunds sooner.
  • Refunds can also be delayed when errors are identified on returns. Taxpayers who receive a letter requesting additional information are urged to respond promptly through Revenue Online to speed the processing of their return. 
  • Taxpayers who check Where’s My Refund one week after they file and receive a message saying their return is being manually processed should watch their mailbox for correspondence from the department. If it has been 12 weeks or more since they filed their return and they haven’t received a letter from the department, taxpayers should call 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 to speak with a customer service representative.

Price Of Gas Is Increasing Across The Country And In Oregon

The price of gas is increasing across the country and in Oregon. Triple-A reports refineries are starting to make summer blends of fuel that produce less pollution and that’s causing the prices to rise.

 Gas prices are rising across the country, mostly due to the seasonal switch to summer-blend gas. This blend is designed to lower emissions during warmer weather and is more expensive to produce. Increased demand for gas is also putting upward pressure on prices. For the week, the national average for regular unleaded jumps six cents to $3.42. The Oregon average ticks up two cents to $3.91.

“The switch to summer blend usually adds about five to 10 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. California’s deadline to switch to summer-blend gas is April 1, while the federally mandated date for summer-blend gas is May 1. So the West Coast often sees the seasonal increases earlier than other parts of the country.”

More info on summer- and winter-blend gasoline can be found at the EPA website.

Crude oil is trading around $78 today compared to $77 a week ago. In February, West Texas Intermediate ranged between about $73 and $80 per barrel. In January, WTI ranged between about $73 and $82 bbl. and was $119 a year ago as the Russian invasion of Ukraine had started. Crude reached recent highs of $123.70 on March 8, 2022, and $122.11 per barrel on June 8, 2022. The all-time high for WTI crude oil is $147.27 in July 2008.

Crude prices tend to increase in response to positive economic news, as growing, thriving economies tend to consume more oil. Crude prices also climb when geo-political events have the potential to disrupt supply. Crude prices rose dramatically leading up to and in the first few months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and gas prices also skyrocketed. Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers and its involvement in a war causes market volatility, and sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and other western nations resulted in tighter global oil supplies. Oil supplies were already tight around the world as demand for oil increased as pandemic restrictions eased.

Crude oil is the main ingredient in gasoline and diesel, so pump prices are impacted by crude prices on the global markets. On average, about 56% of what we pay for in a gallon of gasoline is for the price of crude oil, 20% is refining, 11% distribution and marketing, and 14% are taxes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Demand for gasoline in the U.S. jumped from 8.91 million to 9.11 million b/d for the week ending February 24. This compares to 8.74 million b/d a year ago. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by nearly 1 million bbl to 239.2 million bbl. The increase in gas demand, amid tighter supplies, has contributed to rising pump prices. If demand continues to grow, drivers will likely continue to see pump prices increase. Find current fuel prices at

Red Cross Home Fire Campaign reaches goal of installing 2.5 million free smoke alarms nationwide

Since October 2014, the campaign has saved at least 18 lives in the Cascades Region

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, with the support of community partners, has achieved its goal of installing 2.5 million free smoke alarms and making 1 million households safer across the country. 

Since launching in October 2014, the campaign has saved at least 1,583 lives nationwide — including at least 18 people in the Cascades Region — from the threat of home fires, which claim seven lives every day in the U.S. Most often, these tragedies occur in homes without working smoke alarms.

“We are proud of our incredible work with community partners to help save lives by providing free smoke alarms in Medford as part of the national Home Fire Campaign,” said Priscilla Fuentes, CEO, Red Cross Cascades Region. “This amazing effort has been made possible by every volunteer, donor and supporter who teamed up to care for vulnerable families in our community.”

Locally across the Cascades Region, Red Cross volunteers and partners have:

  • Installed nearly 40,000 free smoke alarms
  • Made more than 12,000 households safer
  • Educated more than 6,000 children through youth preparedness programs

FREE HOME FIRE SERVICES TO CONTINUE Because home fires remain a daily threat and the campaign has made a lifesaving difference, the Red Cross will be continuing the program with community partners as part of its standard services, including a Sound the Alarm event on March 11, 2023, in Medford to install around 100 free smoke alarms with the Medford Fire Department.

Visit for a home fire safety visit and free smoke alarm installation. During 20-minute appointments, volunteers will share information on the causes of home fires, how to prevent them, what to do if a fire starts and how to create an escape plan.

In addition, the campaign’s other services will continue, such as teaching children about the threat of home fires and what to do through youth preparedness programs, installing accessible fire safety equipment like bedshaker alarms and strobe light smoke alarms for residents who are deaf or hard of hearing, and providing home fire safety resources in American Sign Language.

Home fires account for most of the more than 60,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to annually in the Cascades Region and across the country. So far in 2023, Red Cross volunteers have helped more than 400 people affected by 123 home fires in the Cascades Region by providing emergency lodging, financial assistance for urgent needs like food and clothing, and one-on-one recovery support for navigating next steps and connecting with community resources.

Read more stories and see the campaign’s national impact at

HOW TO GET INVOLVED Help save lives through the campaign by becoming a volunteer or making a financial donation to prepare, respond and help families recover from home fires. Learn more at

You can also help your family by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your two-minute home fire escape plan. Additional safety tips are available at and on the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in mobile app stores).

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners like Leatherman, a Portland-based company that’s been in business for nearly 40 years.

“At Leatherman our products were designed to be there when needed and to help the user take on the expected and unexpected.  The Red Cross does this every day through their work and as an Oregon based company, we are proud to continue to partner with the Red Cross Cascade Region to support the work they do to serve our community,” said Melissa McClary, Brand Marketing Manager, Leatherman.

About Leatherman:

Founded in 1983 by Tim Leatherman, Oregon-based Leatherman Tool Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of high-quality multipurpose products with distribution in more than 80 countries. The company is built upon three principles: unwavering perseverance, ingenious design, and the ability to save the day. Leatherman has empowered people around the world to solve problems, big and small. Proudly based and manufactured in Portland, Oregon, the brand’s factory is located in the same building as the company headquarters. For more information visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.American Red Cross – Cascades Region
Call us at 541-690-8806.  Or email us at

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