Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/9 – Josephine County Missing Person Rally in Grants Pass Today, Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office Serves Marijuana Search Warrant

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
Friday, June 9, 2023
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Josephine County Missing Person Rally in Grants Pass Today

FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2023 AT 10 AM – 6 PM Josephine County Circuit Court

Our intention is to bring renewed awareness to over 30 of the 50 active missing persons cases in Josephine County, Oregon. We will have signs held outside of the courthouse, some will be held by family members of the local missing, others will be held by community volunteers who simply wish to see these cases resolved.

We will have tables of fliers set up for any curious folks who are passing by. There will also be snacks and drinks, though bringing your own provisions is highly encouraged. this is a PEACEFUL demonstration, but peaceful certainly doesn’t have to mean quiet. We need to get loud, and let people know that we will not let our missing be forgotten. We need to demand answers. Too many of these cases hinge on people coming forward with information. Now is the time to let them know they can.

UPDATE JUNE 9th-— Hello everybody! A few things that I’d like to update y’all on before the rally. We have 28 signs. Ideally this means that we’d like 28 people consistently holding those signs. I understand that not everybody will be there for the full 8 hours, but a rotating influx of volunteers will be necessary for us to pull this off.

I will have JCSO and GPPD records request forms available for anybody who would like to fill one out on behalf of their missing loved one in order to gain further insight on their case. If you get the records before we do, you can email them to us later on.

PLEASE bring whatever accommodations you need to be comfortable and safe while we’re out there. Sunscreen! If you use it, bring it! Chairs! Legs get tired, some of us (me) have bad knees and stuff. No shame in sitting with your sign!

Folding tables! A few folks have said they’d bring some but we need something to put these flyers on and I’m getting nervous that there won’t be enough!

And now for a pretty cool announcement! Will there be press? YES! While few media outlets that I reached out to actually responded to my messages, I was surprised just a few days ago by a journalist for Southern Oregon’s PBS station when they messaged me asking if they could cover the rally for a segment. They also said that if any friends or family of the missing wanted to speak specifically about their loved ones to promote their cases, they’re happy to speak with you.

❤❤❤ let’s show up for our locally missing, make some new friends, and give Josephine County something to talk about!

Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office Serves Marijuana Search Warrant 06/08/23 

 INCIDENT DATE: June 8, 2023

REPORTING DEPUTY: Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET)

ARRESTED: Darlene Johnson, 53 years-old

Omar Gonzalez, 36 years-old

CHARGES: 1- Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana

2- Unlawful Possession of Marijuana


On June 8, 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 Takilma Road, Cave Junction, regarding an illegal marijuana grow site.

During the execution of the warrant, more than 1,920 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed marijuana were seized and destroyed.

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

While authorities were on scene, three individuals at the property were detained for the duration of the search. After each of the individuals were interviewed by detectives, it was determined that one of the detainees was not involved in the illicit activity and was released from custody. The other two individuals were determined to be participating in the illegal marijuana operation. As a result, Darlene Johnson was charged with Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. Omar Gonzalez was charged with Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana. Both Darlene and Omar were lodged in the Josephine County Jail.

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

Marine Law Enforcement Annual Drift School Set for the Rogue River 


JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – During the week of June 12 through 16, Marine Law Enforcement officers from around the state will be learning and perfecting their drift boating skills on the Rogue River. Students will learn to swim in whitewater, study hydrodynamics, practice rescue techniques, navigate up to Class III whitewater, and operate in remote environments using drift boats, rafts, and catarafts.

“Navigating whitewater is a perishable skill and it requires constant training and practice so law enforcement can respond to emergencies quickly and confidently,” says Eddie Persichetti, Law Enforcement Training Coordinator for the Oregon State Marine Board. “Each day the students drift different sections of the Rogue River. As the week progresses, instructors build on the skills from the day before and then move on to more advanced skills with more difficult rapids throughout the week.”

Persichetti adds, “The key component to this training is the attention on reading white water. It’s incredibly important to see the whole run ahead vs. the next ten feet in front of the boat. This year, rivers statewide are exceptionally swift, high, and cold. Students will first learn self-rescue techniques in the water and then dewatering drills, all while improving their drift boat skills throughout the course.”

The training and experience the officers gain during drift boat school provides a strong foundation for when they return to their local waterways for patrol. “The goal is to develop the skill sets and confidence in officers because safety of everyone recreating on the water is our top priority,” Persichetti explains. “Oregon’s waterways are becoming more crowded. For those recreating on Oregon’s waterways, a simple task such as wearing a life jacket can mean the difference between a tragedy and going home that day. Please be safe, vigilant and wear it!”

Recreational boaters can expect to see law enforcement officers drifting on the Upper and Middle Rogue from Lost Creek Reservoir to Argo Canyon from June 12th through June 16th.

For more information about boating laws and regulations, visit

Oregon Democratic lawmakers stood on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday and implored Republicans, who have been boycotting the Senate, to return and vote on a number of bipartisan bills that are at risk of dying because of a political standoff that has now lasted a month.

Several statehouses around the nation, including Montana and Tennessee, have been ideological battlegrounds this year. Republicans in the Oregon statehouse conducted walkouts in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to deny enough members for voting on measures. But this one is the most serious yet, threatening hundreds of bills and the approval of state budgets for the next two years.

Democrats who held a news conference Tuesday cited a range of bills about urgent issues facing Oregon, including ones aimed at reducing drug overdoses, mitigating wildfire risks and shoring up seismically vulnerable dams, that are in limbo because of the ideological rift.

Yet neither side is budging on a bill on protections for abortion and transgender care, with Democrats saying it isn’t negotiable and minority Republicans insisting it die or be changed. Republicans reject a provision that would allow doctors to provide abortions regardless of age, with doctors not required to notify parents when doing so could endanger the child, such as in cases of incest.

“If Democrat leaders truly prioritized bipartisan budgets and policy proposals Oregonians desperately need, they would work to resolve this impasse in a bipartisan fashion,” Senate Republican Leader Sen. Tim Knopp said. “Instead, Democrat leadership is clinging to an unlawful, extreme agenda.”

The standoff is down to a matter of which side blinks first. If there is no compromise well before the session is constitutionally required to end by June 25, the hundreds of bills that haven’t passed both the House and Senate will die.

Sen. Jeff Golden, a Democrat who represents southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, said among them are bills to improve response and protections from wildfires like ones that devastated parts of the state in 2020.

“Like the other bills you’ve been hearing about, these are teetering on the edge. We are looking at serious damage — as in life-and-death kind of damage — if we abandon these bills now,” Golden told reporters and supporters under a hot sun, a harbinger of the coming dry season in this drought-stricken state.

Rep. Travis Nelson, a Democrat who is a registered nurse, said also among measures frozen by the Republicans’ longest walkout in state history is a bipartisan opioid harm-reduction package that includes making overdose medication like Naloxone available in restaurants, grocery stores, police departments and schools.

“This is going to save lives and give people a chance to recover, and we must pass this bill,” said Nelson, who wore blue nursing scrubs at the news conference and rally.

Knopp was unmoved by the Democrats’ dire warnings.

“Well, there are always lives at stake as it relates to policy that is being debated here in the state Capitol,” Knopp told reporters after the rally. “However, unfortunately, their ire is misplaced, and the Senate Democrats could have ended this weeks ago.”

Rep. David Gomberg, a Democrat who represents the coast, said a bill he worked on with Democrats and Republicans would provide $70 million in support for small farmers, fishermen, small businesses and create more housing. If another bipartisan measure, aimed at attracting the semiconductor industry, dies, Oregon stands to lose billions of dollars in federal funds to other states, Gomberg said. A related bill passed before the walkout with broad support.

Seismically vulnerable dams would be replaced by another bill that’s at stake. Without it, Oregon could lose out on $60 million in federal matching funds, Gomberg said.

Jan Kaplan, president of the city council of the coastal town of Newport, said dams that create reservoirs for Newport’s drinking water are the most seismically vulnerable in the state.

“Even a modest earthquake could cause the dams to fail and send water rushing through a neighborhood just downhill. People would die,” Kaplan said. “The flood would breach Highway 101, our principal coastal arterial.”

The boycott has prevented the Senate from reaching the two-thirds quorum required to vote on bills, with all but two of the 12 Republicans and the lone Independent staying away.

The walkout happened despite a ballot measure, approved by Oregon voters last November, that disqualifies lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from being reelected in the next term. The measure, now part of the state Constitution, is expected to be challenged in court by Republican senators if the secretary of state’s office prevents them from registering as candidates.

On June 1, Democrats in the Senate voted to fine senators $325 every time their absence denies the chamber the two-thirds quorum it needs to conduct business.

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek can call a special session this summer for the House and Senate to approve the state’s budgets for the next two years if they’re not all approved by June 25. But most of the bills that die because of the walkout wouldn’t be resurrected until 2025, because next year’s “short session” lasts barely one month.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Democrat from Portland, grew emotional as he described the frustrating walkout.

“This is very painful for me,” Dembrow said. “As many of you know, this is my last long session in the Legislature. I’ve been here for 15 years. I’m not running again. I was not looking to end in this way.” (SOURCE)

Wildfire Class Action Suit Against PacifiCorp Goes To Jury

Attorneys for both PacifiCorp and victims of four of Oregon’s catastrophic fires on Labor Day 2020 made their closing argument to jurors Wednesday in the $1.6 billion class action lawsuit that has played out in Multnomah County Circuit Court during the last seven weeks.

Oregon wildfires could lead to 'greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire' in state's history, governor says – The Hill

Jurors will now determine whether PacifiCorp’s power lines were responsible for all or a substantial part of the damage caused in four of those Labor Day fires, whether the utility was negligent for, among other things, failing to de-energize its power lines before and during the events, and whether the utility subsequently destroyed evidence of its culpability in the fires.

The 2020 Labor Day fires were the most costly in Oregon history, killing at least nine people, demolishing thousands of homes, and burning more than 1 million acres. The case against PacifiCorp revolves around wildfires along the Oregon Coast, in Southern Oregon and in the Santiam Canyon.

Throughout the trial, plaintiffs’ attorneys largely focused on executives and decision makers at PacifiCorp, saying they opted to keep the power on even as line workers for the company fielded calls about damaged electrical equipment. Those same executives, plaintiffs’ attorneys said in their closing, then took no responsibility at the trial, instead saying it was company policy to let front-line workers make de-energization decisions.

In three of the fires at issue in the case — the Echo Mountain Complex, 242 and South Obenchain fires — attorneys for the plaintiffs told jurors that PacifiCorp had failed to offer any alternative explanation on how the fires started if the cause wasn’t electrical equipment.

Several people who lost homes or live in the fire areas testified that they saw PacifiCorp’s equipment spark after being hit by trees and branches that fell in extreme winds on Labor Day. For fires in which both sides agreed trees hit power lines, PacifiCorp lawyers said the branches either couldn’t have sparked the line or they were healthy trees no one could have predicted would fall.

PacifiCorp’s attorneys have variously called the fires unprecedented, the result of climate change and an act of god. The company said it had done all it could in its planning given the scope of the 2020 fires.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs noted that PacifiCorp focused its fire preparation efforts primarily on the 17% of its service territory it considered at highest risk.

Jurors in the trial will begin deliberations Thursday, where they will decide on damages for each of the named 17 plaintiffs in the case. If the jurors also decide PacifiCorp is responsible for damages to members of the class, the case will go to a second phase with a separate court proceeding to calculate those damages.

Oregon To Hold Landowners Responsible For Illegal Pot Grows

Oregon has long been known as a mecca for high-quality marijuana, but that reputation has come with a downside: illegal growers who offer huge amounts of cash to lease or buy land and then leave behind pollution, garbage and a drained water table.

Now, a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature seeks to tackle that by making the landowners themselves responsible for the aftermath. The bill also prohibits the use of rivers or groundwater at the illegal site, as well as criminalizes seizing the identity papers of migrant workers who tend the plants or threatening to report them for deportation.

Under the bill, local governments are authorized to file a claim of lien against property used for illicit marijuana, if the owner doesn’t pay for the cleanup.

The Senate approved the measure before GOP senators began a walkout on May 3 over Democratic measures on abortion, gender-affirming care and gun safety. The House passed the marijuana bill on a 53-3 vote on May 31. The bill will now go to Kotek to sign into law, taking immediate effect.

Arrest Made In Valley River Inn Fire

Eugene Police Violent Crimes detectives have made an arrest in this case. Morgan Christopher Immesoete, age 47, of Cheshire, was arrested without incident today in W. Eugene. He is being lodged at Lane County Jail on Arson in the First Degree.

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PREVIOUSLY RELEASED INFORMATION: Three-Alarm Fire at Valley River Inn On Tuesday, February 28 at 11:07 a.m., Eugene Springfield Fire (ESF) responded to the report of a fire at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. The fire started on the second floor on the south side of the building, and quickly spread to the third floor and attic, turning the incident into a three-alarm fire. All available ESF crews are actively working to contain the fire at this time. The building’s sprinkler system was not activated but the fire alarm allowed for a successful building evacuation with no injuries reported. The building suffered a partial roof collapse and extensive damage. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

ODFW Asks People to Stay Away From Seals On Oregon Beaches

This is the peak of harbor seal birthing season at the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking you to keep pets leashed and give the seals plenty of room. The mother will leave her pup alone while she gets food and if there are people around when she returns, she might abandon the pup.

Map of the West Coast showing areas of Harbor Seal pupping

This is also the time of year when California sea lions travel south to breed, and you might see them resting on sand or rocks. Elephant seals are molting, which makes them look sick, but they’re not. If you see an injured, stranded or dead animal please call NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 866-767-6114.
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