The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Rogue Valley Weather
Grants Pass Getting Ready for Boatnik!
Officials Warn Dangerous River Conditions in Southern Oregon
“The water temperature in the Rogue River is currently in the low 50s, which is significantly colder than average for this time of year,” said Wayne Nelson, Battalion Chief with Grants Pass Fire Rescue. “This cold water can cause hypothermia, even with experienced swimmers.
In addition, the river CFS is currently above 4550, which is considered high water. This high water can make it difficult to control a boat or raft and can also increase the risk of strainers.”
Strainers are submerged objects that can trap swimmers and boaters. They can be trees, logs, or even man-made objects like bridge pilings. If a swimmer or boater is trapped in a strainer, they can quickly drown.
Please take the following safety precautions:
• Wear a life jacket.
• Check the river conditions before you go.
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Don’t swim or boat alone.
• Be prepared to get out of the water quickly if necessary.
• Always let others know your river plan, including time in and place and expected time out and location.
“By following these safety precautions, you can help to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable springtime on the river.”
Medford Conducts Citizen Alert Tests
Tuesday afternoon, the City of Medford conducted a test run for their “Citizen Alert” system. Residents in Jackson County will be able to receive notifications on their phones about wildfires, extreme emergencies or any other hazards.
“Education is power. And, you know, people want to have that information, education,” said Aaron Ott, the city’s emergency manager. “It’s just a way for the city or as the county to notify people that are in a certain area of high risk or immediate threat to take appropriate actions to spur safety for themselves.”
To sign up, residents will be asked to provide their evacuation zone and can add five frequent addresses such as their home, work or school.
“It could be anywhere from if there’s an evacuation notice either or a level one, two or three, maybe there’s a hazardous spills that occurs either on one of the freeways or something like that,” Ott said. “And then extreme events, a bit of a large industrial or structure complex fire where we want to let the surroundings residents know and pertinent information.”
Jackson County residents can receive this notification from any social platform such as a tablet or a computer. To sign up for emergency notifications, people can go to the Everbridge website: https://member.everbridge.net/1332612387832182/login
*MISSING PERSON – ATTEMPT TO LOCATE*
Josephine County Missing Person Rally
FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2023 AT 10 AM – 6 PM
Bureau of Land Management announces Pacific Northwest fire restrictions to protect local communities
Fire restrictions go into effect on May 23 for all Bureau of Land Management public lands throughout Oregon and Washington. The BLM encourages all visitors to be aware of active restrictions and closures as warmer, drier weather sets in around the Pacific Northwest.
Starting May 23, the use of fireworks, exploding targets or metallic targets, steel component ammunition (core or jacket), tracer or incendiary devices, and sky lanterns will be prohibited. These fire restrictions will help reduce the risk of human-caused fires.
“Although we had a wet winter, we must still be careful with activities that can cause a spark to keep our first responders, local communities, and public lands safe from accidental wildfires,” said Anita Bilbao, BLM Oregon/Washington Associate State Director. “We are seeing more invasive grass due to the wet weather, which dries out quickly without rain. Everyone can help by following fire restrictions and practicing fire safety while out on your public lands.”
Those who violate the prohibition can be fined up to $1,000 and/or receive a prison term of up to one year. In addition, those found responsible for starting wildland fires on federal lands can be billed for the cost of fire suppression.
May is also ‘Wildfire Awareness Month’. Visit NIFC.GOV for wildfire prevention tips: https://www.nifc.gov/fire-information/fire-prevention-education-mitigation/wildfire-prevention.
For more information on Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington seasonal fire restrictions and fire closures, please see www.blm.gov/orwafire. To learn more about fire careers with BLM Oregon-Washington, please see https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire/state-info/oregon-washington/careers.
-BLM- The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Oregon Senate Republicans Continue Walkout
Tuesday marked the fifteenth day of an Oregon Senate Republican walkout, and with 33 days left until the session is over, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are digging in their heels.
Republicans have vowed to come back on June 25, which is the last day of the session. They say on that day they are only willing to pass the budget and bipartisan bills.
Senate President Rob Wagner has said that he will not allow that to happen, which means we could get to the end of session without passing a budget.
Gov. Tina Kotek has committed to calling a special session to pass the budget if that does not happen by the time the legislative session adjourns.
If that happens, any bills that haven’t already passed the Senate would die.
Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp sent out a written statement that reads in part, “Democrat leadership including President Wagner are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. … We guarantee that we will be back before constitutional sine die to address the issues most important to Oregonians — homelessness, affordable housing, public safety, cost of living, job creation, and fully-funded education.”
Senate Democratic Leader Kate Lieber also sent a written statement that reads, “Senate Democrats will be here, doing our jobs, ready to pass the budget and act on urgent Oregon priorities today, tomorrow, and every day until session ends. We are upholding our constitutional duty to show up for work and vote on the floor.”
While the stalemate continues on the Senate side, House representatives are still busy at work.
House Minority leader Vikki Breese Iverson, R-Prineville, says the Republican caucuses of both chambers are in communication daily and believe that Senate Republicans will have enough time to pass a budget and bipartisan bills on the final day of session.
“Senate Republicans have said that they will come back on June 25th and take care of the budget business and large bipartisan bills that we can get across the floor for them to consider, and the House will stay here to do the business and that is exactly what we are doing,” she said.
Breese Iverson said her party feels Oregon Democrats have broken their trust before and said this is why Republicans have been standing their ground in negotiations.
“The action of trust is something that has to be earned, not just talked about and that trust happens when we have a conversation and then there are steps forward that all parties agree to,” she said. “The Republicans have been in this place for several sessions now where we have sat at the table there have been opportunities in front of us for bipartisanship and opportunities for trust to be given and accepted, and it has been proven that it didn’t work out so well for us, so there is a big leap to try to have trust on this end.”
Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, said he feels much of the work of the House may be in vain this session.
“Having 10 Senate Republicans hold the session hostage is disturbing to me,” he said. “We cannot move any budgets, we cannot move any House bills because there is no quorum in the Senate. So, quite frankly, it is really frustrating having to navigate that system, having to navigate that situation going on in the Senate. Our Senate Republicans have the obligation to show up and vote.”
The walkout began May 3, ahead of a final vote on House Bill 2002, a controversial reproductive rights bill, and a gun control bill, House Bill 2005.
Among the list of demands, Knopp said they want Democratic lawmakers to kill roughly 20 bills that they say are hyper-partisan.
Ballot Measure 113, passed by a majority of Oregon voters in all 36 counties last year, bars lawmakers from reelection if they have 10 or more unexcused absences on days they are scheduled to vote.
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The measure was intended to prevent tactics like a walkout, which has been used by both parties to deny a quorum needed to vote on legislation. (SOURCE)
Early numbers show nearly 70% of Oregonians to keep benefits in first round of renewals
State to send updates third week of the month
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) are committed to transparency and will be sending monthly information about medical coverage among Oregonians as the agencies continue to track the state’s progress in determining eligibility for medical programs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the federal government allowed states to keep people on Medicaid once they became eligible and did not require annual eligibility renewals. During this historic health emergency, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP), Oregon’s Medicaid program, grew to nearly 1.5 million people.
In April, Oregon began the process of redetermining eligibility for everyone on OHP. While most people will continue to qualify for existing benefits, OHA is required to review eligibility for all OHP and Medicare Savings Program (MSP) members by mid-2024.
In April, Oregon began processing eligibility redeterminations for all 1.5 million members receiving OHP and other Medicaid-funded services and supports. The federal government requires Oregon to disenroll any members who are no longer eligible or fail to respond to renewal notices.
All OHP households will receive a renewal notice over the next 10 months. People are encouraged to check that their contact information is up to date so that they can be contacted by the state and receive renewal notices.
Oregon will be able to process many renewals automatically. This means that every OHP member will receive a renewal notice, and the notice will explain whether the member needs to provide additional information or take action to keep their coverage.
Although the state has taken many steps to prepare, the large number of OHP redeterminations, along with renewals of long-term services and supports, is expected to cause greater wait times, delays, and possible interruptions to people’s OHP benefits. OHP members are encouraged to respond as quickly as possible after they receive a request for information to avoid any possible delays. The fastest way members can provide an update is by going to benefits.oregon.gov and logging into their ONE account.
Members losing OHP coverage have other coverage options and will receive at least 60 days advance notice. Many people will be eligible to enroll in health plans through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace (OHIM) with financial help. Other people may be eligible for Medicare or employer coverage.
- April was the first month Oregon began processing medical renewals, during this reporting period: 133,232 individuals, or 75,436 cases have had their OHP renewed.
- 46,894 individuals, or 29,072 cases needed to provide more information to complete the process.
- 13,208 required individuals to review, sign and send back their renewal packet.
- 8,394 people were ineligible and received a 60-day notice of termination of coverage. When people are ineligible, they are referred to the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace for other options for health care coverage.
Early data for May shows 66% of people will retain benefits.
Members losing coverage should report changes to their income or household information immediately if any of the information used to make the decision is inaccurate. They also should apply for other health coverage as soon as they know their coverage ending date to prevent a gap in coverage.
Two new dashboards became available in April 2023 for the public to track Oregon’s progress.
- Medical Redeterminations Dashboard for tracking the state’s progress in determining eligibility for medical programs. This dashboard is updated daily. The types of data in this dashboard will expand over the next few months.
- ONE Customer Service Center Dashboard for monitoring the customer service experience for people calling the ONE Customer Service Center to apply for or ask for help with medical, food, cash and child care benefits. The ONE Customer Service Center Dashboard is updated every day.
To get help, people can also:
- Learn more about how to renew your Oregon Health Plan medical coverage.
- Call the ONE Customer Service Center: 800-699-9075 (all relay calls are accepted, and help is available in multiple languages).
- Stop by a local ODHS office or Area Agency on Aging Office. People can find their local office at: https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/Offices/Pages/one-services.aspxm
- Visit a community partner for free, in-person help. To find one near you visit https://oregonhealthcare.gov/GetHelp (English) or orhim.info/ayuda (Spanish).
Get help finding other health coverage at OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp
OHA investigating 4 Salmonella infection cases linked to Papa Murphy’s cookie dough
PORTLAND, Ore. — Recent cases of Salmonella infection are being linked to the consumption of Papa Murphy’s cookie dough, Oregon health officials announced today.
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) epidemiologists investigated a cluster of four cases with identical strains of Salmonella bacteria. The cases range in age from 20 to 57 and reported onset of symptoms between April 1 and April 21. None of the cases were hospitalized, and there have been no deaths. The Washington State Department of Health has reported matching cases of Salmonella as well.
Eating raw cookie or S’mores Bar dough sold by Papa Murphy’s restaurants was significantly associated with contracting this strain of Salmonella. Papa Murphy’s, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., sells uncooked or “take-and-bake” pizzas and cookie dough that are intended to be baked at home.
“People should contact a health care provider if they believe they’ve had symptoms of salmonellosis, including diarrhea, after eating raw cookie dough,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the OHA Public Health Division. “It’s important to remember, though, that most people with salmonellosis will recover without needing medical care or antibiotics.”
He added: “We recommend anyone who has any of the potentially contaminated cookie or S’mores Bar dough to discard it and wash your hands afterward.” People who have eaten cookie or pizza dough but not gotten sick do not need to notify a health care provider.
OHA epidemiologists are working closely with the Washington State Department of Health, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the outbreak. Efforts to trace the source of the Salmonella are ongoing.
During 2013–2022 — the most recent 10-year period — Oregon averaged 459 (range, 337–585) reported cases of salmonellosis per year. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps one to seven days after exposure. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.
Although most people recover without treatment, some have severe infections. Infants, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness. Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and, in rare cases, can be deadly.
For general information, visit OHA’s salmonellosis page, or the CDC’s Salmonella page.
Boating on Oregon’s Waterways – Pay Attention, Be Prepared
There’s something magical about being on the water and Oregon offers incredible boating opportunities. Regardless of what’s calling you to the water and the type of boat you’re in, be aware of your surroundings, be prepared, and make good decisions.
“Inexperience and solo operation continue to be a growing trend of boating fatalities in Oregon. Planning ahead, boating with others, always keeping a sharp lookout, and wearing a properly fitted life jacket for your boating activity should be at the top of all boaters’ focus,” says Brian Paulsen, Boating Safety Program Manager for the Oregon State Marine Board. “The Marine Board has many resources to help boaters have a safe and enjoyable experience on all of Oregon’s waterways,” adds Paulsen.
The Oregon State Marine Board advises boaters to plan ahead and check out the Marine Board’s interactive boating access map. The map displays public boat ramps and local rules for boat operations. Also, check the weather forecast, water levels, and tides. See if there are any reported obstructions, and have the right gear for your boating activity. Boaters can also check the Marine Board’s website to find out what equipment is required based on the size and type of boat.
The Marine Board would like to remind boaters:
- Boat Sober. Abstain from consuming marijuana, drugs, or alcohol, which impair judgment, reaction time, and coordination and cause dehydration. Boating demands sharp situational awareness.
- All children 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket when underway on all boats (motorized and nonmotorized). All boaters on Class III whitewater rivers are required to wear a life jacket.
- Be courteous to other boaters and share the waterway. Stage your gear in the parking lot or staging area regardless of your boat type. This makes launching faster and everyone around you happier.
- In Oregon, all boaters must take a boating safety course and carry a boating safety education card when operating a powerboat greater than 10 horsepower. Paddlers of non-motorized boats 10’ and longer are required to purchase a waterway access permit. The Marine Board also offers a free, online Paddling Course for boaters new to the activity.
For more information about safe boating in Oregon, visit Boat.Oregon.gov.
Museum Kicks Off Summer with Return of Raptors of the Desert Sky Flight Program
BEND, OR — The High Desert Museum’s signature outdoor flight program, Raptors of the Desert Sky, returns beginning Saturday, May 27. The demonstration takes place daily during the summer at 11:30 am through Labor Day.
Hawks, owls, falcons and even turkey vultures soar from perch to perch directly over the crowd seated in a natural amphitheater nestled in the Museum’s ponderosa pine forest. A Museum expert narrates the action, sharing the hunting strategies and natural behaviors of these spectacular birds of prey, as well as what we can do to help preserve them in the wild.
“The outdoor flight program is a highlight of the High Desert Museum summer season,” says Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “For so many visitors, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the power of these extraordinary birds up close while learning about their incredible adaptations from wildlife staff and volunteers.”
The program takes place weather and air quality permitting. The Museum website will be updated to reflect any time changes, such as an earlier start time to accommodate for high temperatures that might stress the birds.
Tickets are separate from Museum entry ($5 for members, children 3-12 and seniors, $7 for non-members, free for children 2 or younger) and must be purchased at Admissions by 11:00 am. They are not available online. Tickets often sell out before 10:00 am. The Museum strongly recommends that visitors arrive when the Museum opens at 9:00 am to secure tickets from Admissions.
Raptors of the Desert Sky is made possible by Fly Redmond with support from Bigfoot Beverages. Learn more at highdesertmuseum.org/raptors-of-the-desert-sky.
In addition, the Museum’s summer schedule of daily talks begins Saturday. Visitors can meet a mammal in the popular Desert Dwellers talk at 3:00 pm, and they can also learn about wolves, raptors and other High Desert species in other talks. Daily talks are free with admission. Talk details are at highdesertmuseum.org/daily-schedule.
The historic High Desert Ranger Station will be open weekends from 10:00 am — 3:00 pm starting Saturday, as well. The U.S. Forest Service ranger station was built east of the Sierra Nevada in 1933 and moved to the Museum in 2008 in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Forest Service Association of Forest Service retirees (known as the Old Smokeys). Old Smokeys staff the station to engage with Museum visitors. The ranger station will be open daily starting July 1. The building’s history is at highdesertmuseum.org/high-desert-ranger-station.
And an immersive art exhibition that evokes the High Desert history of vaqueros and braceros, Vistas del Cielo, Views from the Sky in Spanish, also opens May 27. Artist Justin Favela uses piñata paper to create immense, colorful murals. The exhibition is open through November 26. Learn more at highdesertmuseum.org/vistas-del-cielo. The exhibit is made possible by Gold 107.7 with support from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.
Learn more about visiting the Museum at highdesertmuseum.org.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM: THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
ODOT Travel Tips For Memorial Day Weekend
Summer travel season is coming fast and as you make your plans, there are a few things to know before you hit the road. Make sure all of your travels will be safe and enjoyable this holiday weekend and beyond by knowing what the road ahead will bring.
Memorial Day weekend
Expect heavier traffic over Memorial Day weekend. Consider other ways to reach your destination that mean you don’t have to sit behind the wheel in traffic. Public transportation, buses and trains are all great alternatives. Plan to stay local? Think about how to get around town without driving to reduce the number of cars on the road.
Tripcheck.com has live cameras all over the state so you can see what the conditions look like along your route and at your destination. To check for construction delays, look for traffic cone icons on the map.
While a lot of our construction work will pause over Memorial Day weekend, some impacts and delays will remain. Here are some areas that could see extra congestion.
In Portland, work along the OR 217 for the auxiliary lane safety project could cause minor delays. Work will be scaled back through the holiday weekend.
In Bend, four new roundabouts are coming to U.S. 20 on the north end of Bend. Expect some delays traveling through this area.
On U.S. 26 between Mount Hood and Warm Springs, a 15-mile stretch of highway with poor pavement condition recently had a speed reduction to 45 mph.
If you plan to recreate or travel between Bend and Eugene, remember that McKenzie Pass, OR 242, is still closed. The earliest opening date for everyone is the third Monday in June. If you plan to take OR 58 over Willamette Pass, there are several work zones to keep an eye out for around Oakridge.
For more information on construction projects around the state check out our Project Tracker and see what we have planned.
Following Memorial Day weekend, summer travel and construction begins to ramp up. We want to ensure your entire season of travel is both safe and enjoyable. As you plan your adventures, make use of our summer travel tips and resources website. On this site, you’ll find valuable insights to navigate through Oregon’s construction and wildfire season, and safety and preparedness tips for all the ways you travel Oregon’s transportation system. Bookmark this resource to become a seasoned summer travel all-star!
The month of May highlights many national transportation safety messages. The big takeaway from all of the campaigns is to drive, bike, and ride thoughtfully. Watch out for fellow road users and for our maintenance and construction crews. Remember to slow down and move over to give our emergency responders space to safely do their jobs.
Free Fishing Weekend, June 3-4, 2023
• Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, 7 a.m-2 p.m.
• Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon (for ages 10 and younger)
• Enterprise, Marr Pond, 8 a.m.-noon
• Estacada, Small Fry Lake, Promontory Park, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (for ages 17 and younger)
• Eugene, Alton Baker Park, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Silverton at Silverton Reservoir, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Ukiah, Twin Ponds, 9 a.m.-noon. Note trophy trout will not be stocked for this event due to disease concerns with these trout; other legal-size trout will be stocked.
• Lake Marie, Reedsport, Noon- 5 p.m.