Rogue Valley News, Monday 3/13 – Firefighters Tackle Vehicles On Fire Between Carquest & Ac Delco Building In Medford, Multiple Agencies Responded To A Structure Fire In Gold Hill Following An Explosion

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

Monday, March 13, 2023 

Rogue Valley Weather

Firefighters Tackle Vehicles On Fire Between Carquest & Ac Delco Building In Medford

Firefighters tackled several vehicles on fire that apparently sparked around 6:55 p.m. Saturday night.

Several vehicles were on fire in an alley between Carquest and ACDelco on Knutson Ave in Medford. Firefighters jumped in right away to get a handle on the flames. Witnesses say they did not see anyone leaving the scene

Firefighters had put out the flames around 7:20 p.m. The exact cause and damages of the fire are unknown at this time and the fire is under investigation.

Multiple Agencies Responded To A Structure Fire In Gold Hill Following An Explosion

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On Friday, Jackson County Fire District 1 firefighters responded to a report of an explosion in the 4400 block of Right Fork Foots Creek Road.

According to fire officials, when they arrived, crews found a single wide structure that was fully involved and was threatening sparking an additional fire.

Crews went into defensive attack, working from the exterior to extinguish the fire as well as protect the exposure. The fire was brought under control and crews overhauled the fire to ensure there were no hot spots. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Jackson County Fire District 3, Rural Metro Fire and Grants Pass Firefighters all assisted in the call.

Structure Fire in the Illinois Valley – 3/11/2023

3/11/2023 06:31:48; Structure Fire; 4xx TAURUS LN, Cave Junction;

IVFD, Rural Metro, and AMR responded to a Fully Involved Structure Fire. Fire was contained to one home. All occupants were out. Pacific Power was notified. Fire is under investigation.

Menacing/Unlawful Use of a Weapon Arrest in Selma

On March 9th, 2023 at 1:22 p.m., Deputies from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a disturbance with shots fired in the 500 Block of Terrace Heights Drive in Selma.

While enroute, Deputies were advised a male subject identified as Ryan Gregory Vanhoy, entered the victim’s residence, pointed a firearm at the victim then fired a round into the victims refrigerator before leaving on foot back to his residence.  Both Vanhoy and the victim live in different residences on the same property.  The victim was not injured and advised Vanhoy possessed numerous weapons and body armor. 

Two Deputies arrived on scene and contacted the victim.  It was at this time, Vanhoy exited his residence with a firearm and started to approach the Deputies on foot.  Based on the distance between Vanhoy and the Deputies location, the Deputies were able to tactically retreat off the property preventing a potential use of deadly force with Vanhoy.  Having to retreat off the property, the Deputies were forced to leave their patrol vehicles at the location with Vanhoy still on foot in the area. The victim was also able to retreat to safety.

Numerous other Deputies responded to the area to locate the Deputies who had retreated.  Once located, a plan was put in place to respond back to the incident location and retrieve the patrol vehicles which contained department issued weapons and “Gibbs” the Sheriff’s Office therapy and compassion K-9. 

While responding back to the incident location, Deputies encountered the Vanhoy in his vehicle which had crashed over the embankment on Terrace Heights Drive.  Announcements were given to Vanhoy to exit his vehicle, however he refused, stating he was armed with a shotgun and had cut both of his wrists.  After several more announcements, Vanhoy exited his vehicle and stood next to the open vehicle door and yelled at Deputies to shoot him.  Three less lethal bean bag rounds were deployed striking Vanhoy and incapacitating him long enough for Deputies to take him into custody without further incident.

With Vanhoy secured, Deputies continued to the incident location to retrieve the two patrol vehicles. The patrol vehicles were located, both having sustained several shotgun rounds through both of the windshields, hoods and engine compartment.  K-9 Gibbs was located unharmed.  At this time, it is believed the metal shell of the kennel installed in the police vehicle prevented the shotgun rounds from penetrating and injuring him.

Search warrants were executed at Vanhoy’s residence and his vehicle. Numerous firearms including a shotgun along with body armor were located and seized as evidence. 

At the time of this press release, Vanhoy is being treated at a local hospital for the self-inflicted injuries to his wrists.  Deputies will remain with Vanhoy until he is discharged from the hospital where he will be transported and lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the above listed charges. 

This investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released at this time.

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.

OHCS launches new updates to data dashboards on affordable rental housing and homeownership

Oregon Housing and Community Services

Oregon Housing and Community Services has worked over the past several years to build up data systems to improve transparency around affordable housing development and services provided to households with low to moderate incomes. The two newly updated data dashboards, Affordable Rental Housing and Homeownership, reflect this work and commitment.  

“We are excited to announce updates and improvements have been made to the data dashboards that represent the collective work of and outcomes for the people of Oregon,” OHCS Director Andrea Bell said. “Let the data be yet another proof point that positive housing outcomes can prevail when we tackle the urgency of the affordable housing crisis with data-driven solutions that center our collective humanity.”    

The Affordable Rental Housing Dashboard provides data for OHCS-administered funding programs such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT). This dashboard provides details on the number of homes (units) the state has funded, if the properties are new construction or were preserved, if they are rural or urban, and other information about the affordable housing portfolio. Data shown is from January 2016 to September 2022.  

The Homeownership Dashboard shows data on who received counseling and education at a homeownership center, down payment assistance, Oregon Bond Residential Loans, and other program services that create pathways to homeownership. Data shown is from January 2017 to December 2022.  

These data dashboards are updated quarterly and will continue to evolve and change along with our programs as we work to improve service to Oregonians. Our vision is that all Oregonians will have access to safe, stable and affordable housing.   

About Oregon Housing and Community Services – Oregon Housing and Community Services provides resources for Oregonians to reduce poverty and increase access to stable housing. Our intentional focus on housing and community services allows the agency to serve Oregonians across the housing continuum, including preventing homelessness, providing housing stability supports, financing the building and preservation of affordable housing, and encouraging homeownership. 

$4.6 million in funding available for community-based organizations to support immigrants and refugees from Ukraine

The deadline to apply is March 27, 2023.

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) Refugee Program is inviting community partners to apply for a portion of $4.6 million in funding that is available to provide services and support to certain individuals from Ukraine or those who entered through the Uniting for Ukraine program.

The deadline to apply is March 27, 2023, and the application can be found online.

The U.S. Resettlement Program is operated by the U.S. Department of State through contracts with national non-profit organizations called resettlement agencies. These organizations have local affiliate offices throughout the nation. 

The ODHS Refugee Program is responsible for some of the services that are outside of the initial resettlement provided by the resettlement agencies.  The Refugee Program provides cash, medical, employment and acculturation services to refugees (and those eligible for refugee services) who are within 60 months of gaining their eligible immigration status.

Since February 2022, over 3,100 individuals from Ukraine have resettled in Oregon. 

The purpose of this request is to ask for applications from culturally and/or linguistically responsive organizations who provide services to immigrants or refugees (and those eligible for refugee services) to increase services and supports. 

Funding is available to support:

  • Housing and food assistance services: $2 million
  • Statewide outreach, sponsor coordination and connection to existing case management services: $200,000
  • Employment services assistance: $221,800
  • Health and mental health services: $675,000
  • Child care: $100,00
  • Legal services: $800,000
  • Youth mentoring: $100,000
  • School assistance: $515,000
  • Senior services: $50,000

Organizations may express interest in supporting more than one service area. Community organizations are eligible to submit proposals for the funding. 

More information the ODHS Refugee Program can be found online

About the Oregon Department of Human Services – The mission of the Oregon Department of Human Services is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. 

Deschutes County DA’s Office Releases Final Report On Melissa Trench’s Death

The death of Melissa Trench, the Bend woman whose body was located in Shevlin Park in January after she went missing in December, was deemed a suicide, according to reports from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Trench, 38, was last seen by her family on Dec. 26. The next day, she called an ex-boyfriend from years prior telling him she was injured in the forest. Soon after Trench called the ex-boyfriend, her family was alerted and a search involving law enforcement and members of the public began.

Following an extensive investigation by the sheriff’s office and the Bend Police Department, which found no evidence of foul play, Trench’s body was located by her brother at the south end of Shevlin Park near Forest Road 4606, the Bend Police Department said in January.  After Trench was located, her body was examined by a medical examiner who concluded Trench’s death was a suicide, the report showed. (SOURCE)

Oregon State University Research on Wildfires

Oregon State University research into the ability of a wildfire to improve the health of a forest uncovered a Goldilocks effect – unless a blaze falls in a narrow severity range, neither too hot nor too cold, it isn’t very good at helping forest landscapes return to their historical, more fire-tolerant conditions.

The study led by Skye Greenler, a graduate research fellow in the OSU College of Forestry, and Chris Dunn, an assistant professor in the college, has important implications for land managers charged with restoring ecosystems and reducing fire hazard in dry forests such as those east of the Cascade Range.

The findings, published in PLOS One, shed light on the situations in which managed wildfires, as well as postfire efforts such as thinning and planting, are likely to be most effective at achieving restoration goals.

Wildfire has shaped ecosystems for millennia, the researchers note, but its impacts have become an increasing social, economic and ecological concern across the western United States. Aggressive fire exclusion policies, forest and resource management practices and climate change have altered forest structure and composition – increasing forests’ vulnerability to extreme wildfires and drought.

“As wildfire activity continues to intensify in the West, it’s becoming clear that a variety of management activities are necessary to make ecosystems healthier and to lower wildfire risk,” Greenler said. “Fuel reduction treatments like mechanical thinning and prescribed fire can reduce community and ecosystem risk, but in most places, the pace and scale of treatments are way below what’s needed to substantially alter fire effects and behavior.”

In an independent project, Greenler and Dunn in a collaboration with College of Forestry colleagues James Johnston, Andrew Merschel and John Bailey developed a new way to predict the fire severities that are most apt to help eastern Oregon forests return to their historical density, species composition and basal area, a measure of how much ground in a specific area is occupied by tree stems.

“We built probabilistic tree mortality models for 24 species based on their characteristics and remotely sensed fire severity data from a collection of burned areas,” Greenler said. “Then we looked at unburned stands in the Ochoco, Deschutes, Fremont-Winema and Malheur national forests to model postfire conditions and compared the results to historical conditions. That let us identify which fire severities had the highest restoration potential.”

The research team, which also included scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Forest Service and Applegate Forestry LLC of Corvallis, generally found that basal area and density targets could be met through fire within a fairly narrow range of moderate severity.

However, one blaze can’t restore species composition to its historical norm in a forest that evolved amid frequent, low-severity fires, the scientists found.

“Landscapes have likely passed thresholds that preclude the effectiveness of managed wildfire alone as a restoration tool,” Greenler said. “In a large number of fire-prone western landscapes, forest structure and composition are no longer resistant or resilient to natural disturbance processes like fire, drought, and endemic insects and pathogens, and interactions among all of those.”

Although more and more wildfires are burning large areas and at high severity, the majority of fires in the West still burn at low or moderate severity, the authors note. They cite a recent analysis that found about half of the burned area in Oregon and Washington from 1985 through 2010 did so in low-severity fires – in systems characterized historically by low- and mixed-severity fire regimes.

“Low severity may be ‘too cold’ to meet restoration objectives in areas where significant tree density reduction or big shifts in tree species composition are needed,” Greenler said. “For a better understanding of the fire severities that are the most restorative, we need empirical modeling that can be applied beyond individual fire events and across a broad range of conditions. Our study lets managers and researchers link forest restoration goals with maps of predicted post-fire conditions.”

About the OSU College of Forestry: For a century, the College of Forestry has been a world class center of teaching, learning and research. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates more than 15,000 acres of college forests. (SOURCE)

Wondering about your Tax 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.
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